– I am hesitant to speak of Pentecost as “the birth of the church,” since this seems foreign to the Lukan message. If by “church” we mean followers of Jesus, then there have been followers before Pentecost. If by “church” we mean one group including Jews and non-Jews, then we are finding something in the narrative that doesn’t occur until several chapters later. It seems more appropriate to see Pentecost as the full inauguration of the New Covenant as depicted by the availability of the Spirit to all people, not a select few.
– It should be observed that this is not the first time people are filled with the Spirit. In Luke 1:15 John the Baptist is filled with the Spirit in his mother’s womb. In 1:41 Elizabeth is filled with the Spirit. In 1:67 Zacharias is filled with the Spirit. Old Covenant figures such Bezalel (Exodus 31:3; 35:31), Joshua (Deuteronomy 34:9), and Micah (3:8) receive the Spirit before Pentecost. This doesn’t detract from Pentecost, because Pentecost is the “democratization” of the Spirit (if you will). Moses imagined a day when all the people of God might be prophets (Numbers 11:29). In some sense (not to ignore that the New Covenant seems to include a new role of prophet distinct from that of the Old Covenant) Pentecost does make all the people of God a prophetic people. Similarly, as the prophet Joel foresaw, the Spirit would be poured out upon all sorts of people, many marginalized by society, including daughters and slaves (2:28-29). The apostle Peter interpreted the Day of Pentecost to be the fulfillment of Joel’s vision (Acts 2:16-21, though the exact nature of Peter’s interpretation is not as clear as we might like in that he includes much of the apocalyptic imagery).
– If we read Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33; 13:23, 32 we find that Pentecost is a fulfillment of the Old Covenant: the Spirit has been “poured out” upon people; the Messiah have been revealed (through the resurrection). Pentecost is connected to the resurrection of Jesus as the two stage beginning of the “already, but not yet,” the eschaton before the eschaton.
I would have to agree that it was not the start of the church but was the fulfillment of the Covenant Relationship with the Elohim and the beginning of the restoration of the Lost Sheep. For the exiled who were scattered there was the necessity of a way to enter and maintain the Covenant without having to come to Jerusalem to do so.
On another note about when Pentecost is there were 3 groups of 2nd temple judaism that celebrated is differently .I myself believe the count starts the morrow of the Passover Sabbath but have some issues with the wording “on the morrow” which can certainly mean just the next morning as these verses show
So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, 1 and they rose up to play. 2
The next morning the people got up early and built an altar there. They offered up burnt sacrifices and token of peace. 1
When the residents of Ashdod got up early the next day, 1 Dagon was lying on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set him back in his place.
So in the morning the older daughter 1 said to the younger, “Since I had sexual relations with my father last night, let’s make him drunk again tonight. 2 Then you go and have sexual relations with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 3
also its was common for the hebrew to count any part of a day as a day making the possibility that the 49th day came at sunset of the 48th day and the morrow of that coming at daylight of the 49th day which would match the Jubilee that is declared in the seventh month of the 49th year (48 years 7 months).
What are your thoughts?
Excellent points. It seems to me that it is more of an eschatological event where Peter primarily declares it to be a fulfillment of Joel, which has deep meaning for the nation at the time.
It does seem to be a bit unclear, and I don’t know that I have an answer. In the article “Festivals and Holy Days” by Daniel K. Falk in The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (eds. J.J. Collins and D.C. Harlow, p. 638) writes of Shavout/Pentecost, “It has no fixed date in Torah but is to be observed seven weeks after the offering of the first ripe sheaf of barely (Deut. 16:9; cf. Lev. 23:15-16)….” He dedicates a whole paragraph to the fact that “…the date on which the Festival of Weeks should be observed was the subject of much considerable debate among different Jewish groups.” So, it seems to ambiguity you observe is one that was shared in early Judaism. It makes one wonder whether popularly there began to emerge a date celebrated my a majority of Jews, or if Luke (or those about who he writes in Acts 1-2) favored a particular interpretation.
And then I wonder what Peter is doing with his quotation (or more specifically, what is Luke doing with Peter’s speech) when he quotes the apocalyptic imagery part. I’ve noticed that this imagery can be used in places like Isaiah to explore to collapse of national powers. Is he saying something to that regard, or does he read it literally, as being a cosmic event about to happen?
I’d let the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Hosea, SOS, and other prophetic books define the terminology, which means that none of it was ever intended to be taken literally. Look at what we know of as a historical account of David’s deliverance in Psalm 18 and 2nd Sam. 22. Did God literally come down and throw arrows or rain hail? No. Why do we think any other use of the language in scripture means anything other than it’s precedent of use? It’s all about national collapse and judgement, just as it was meant in the 1st Century, which was fulfilled as promised.
Israel was chosen as the exceptions took God literally. The exceptions being Able, Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua etc., and by definition, the prophets. Literal believing expresses the believers apart from all other inhabitants. Literal believing accomplishes the challenges presented in what believers accept as the will and Word of God. Peter is at great moments of the Holy Spirit such as the transfiguration, walking on water and daily living with the Messiah yet Jesus prays that Peter will strengthen the brethren “when” he is converted. How many there are that attend or pass through churches and assemblies without actually accepting, believing and receiving Jesus. Tragically, nearly everyone we meet throughout the day have no time for Jesus, who are at the precipice of damnation. As for literal believing, does Ezekiel’s temple restore ritual animal sacrifice for a millennium at the end of the Church Age? Eze 40:1-48:35
i believe anything that can be taken literal must be taken literal unless it can be proved figurative or spiritual . Some people think because some prophesies use figurative descriptions to describe literal beings,places and things we should interpret figuratively things which are described perfectly within normal ancient and modern comprehension . Some do so to protect doctrines that were developed from the minds of men to eliminate all the witnesses against it. Under this type of practice proof and reproof is rendered worthless .
Some one wrote “I am hesitant to speak of Pentecost as “the birth of the church,” since this seems foreign to the Lukan message. If by “church” we mean followers of Jesus, then there have been followers before Pentecost. If by “church” we mean one group including Jews and non-Jews, then we are finding something in the narrative that doesn’t occur until several chapters later. It seems more appropriate to see Pentecost as the full inauguration of the New Covenant as depicted by the availability of the Spirit to all people, not a select few.”
Brian, is this quote from you? If so, I am stunned we agree (though would likely have said instead “… finding something in the narrative that likely doesn’t occur at all ..” since God will allow no foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh to enter into His sanctuary [Eze 44:9]).
Indeed Pentecost should be seen as “as the full inauguration of the New Covenant”, just as it should be seen as the return of the Spirit of God into his sanctuary, which was previously removed when the hedge of protection was torn down [Isa 5:5], and the sanctuary and presence of the Lord withdrawn [Eze 5:11]
(God claims Israel’s sin drove him from his sanctuary [Eze 8:6] which is the same as saying ‘forcing the departure of the Holy Spirit’ since God’s presence is that sanctuary [Eze 11:16]. Also, compare the removal of the hardened hearts in [Eze 11:19 and 36:26] to [Eze 14:4-7 and 20:16] (most clear in [Eze 44:7-9] and [Hos 10:2]))
I suppose I’m saying I agree with your insights that Pentecost was neither the birth of the congregation of the Lord, or the first appearance of the Holy Spirit, but moreso the full inauguration of the New Covenant.
I wouldn’t agree, however that it is the ‘democratization’ of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. Democracy is the heritage Babylon, Assyria, Greece and Rome, and humanism. God is not democratic, he is a monarchist. Where he rests His Spirit, therefore, is a function of His Holiness, and Covenant. The Kingdom of God, therefore, He chooses to make His sanctuary is the same as the Kingdom and Kingdom he chose as His portion ([Deut 32:9] [Jer 10:16, 51:19]) and to whom he made His promises [Rom 9:6][Josh 21:45].
There is nothing democratic about it all, really …
Who can question His place at the head of all things?
He suffered the degradation and shame without being overcome by them. In this He confirmed His utter authority over them. God proved that He is over every thing. It was necessary for God to have a body to demonstrate His control over the entirety of creation.
1Cr 2:4-16, Eph 4:1-16
God has spoken, declared, directed, demonstrated and proven His Being. His creation is a living testimony of His Glory. God yearns for those who believe Him, who acknowledge His astonishing benefice.
Isa 45:5-14, Isa 53:1, Jhn 12:38, Rom 10:16
1Pe 1:7-25, Hbr 10:29-31
Our frailty, our small life’s learning is stunned with the magnitude of revelation. This must account for some of the dismissal of the Word of God. Undoubtedly the world is contrary to the testament. God is true. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. The Everlasting Gospel is unequivocal evermore. Amen.
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Bob, no one questioned that God is God of all as the head of all things. However you confusing this with ‘His portion’.
I assume you recognize that there’s a difference between the aggregate of creation and the ‘Kingdom of God’? God is creator of all, however He has fixed apportioned for Himself a portion, choosing a Kingdom templated upon his order of all things. Therefore not everything constitutes ‘the heritage of the Lord’ (by His own decree). The bible makes this clear …
That God is God of all does not mean God did not chose a portion for himself. God made creation but did not make creation itself His bride, or indeed the whole of humanity (for indeed such a notion is wine of the whore of Babylon and hence confusion). The people of God, meaning those who inherit blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, are not ‘all’ people, but only only those in communion with Him. That’s why the bible says this:
[Deut 32:9] “But YHWH’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage;
[Jer 51:19] “Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; YHWH of hosts is his name.”
Likewise, note that the only folks who say the following are in communion with YHWH:
[Psa 16:5] “YHWH is my chosen portion and my cup; The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
[Psa 119:57] “YHWH is my portion; I promise to keep your words.”
[Lam 3:24] “‘YHWH is my portion’ says my soul, therefore I shall hope in him.”
Whatever relationship God has with creation, or indeed humanity, he has a special relationship with his Bride. If you read my original response, you’ll see that proven with biblical references.
See also [1 Sam 10:1] where God calls Isarel’s King a prince over His heritage (meaning God’s heritage). This same notion is emphasised again in [Joel 3:2] speaking of the New Covenant ….
[Joel 3:2-3] “I shall gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I shall enter into judgement with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them amongst the nations and have divided up my land, 3 and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.
FWIW, I used “democratization” as an adjective, meaning “available to many, not an elite group.” I wasn’t referring to “democracy,” i.e., the form of government.
I suppose it comes down to how you define ‘elite’. I would likely consider those who inherit God’s promises, are faithful to them, and therefore the recipients of God’s favour to be ‘elite’. (I’m thinking of something like [Rom 9:4]).
It is possible ‘elite group’ means different things to different people. The only sense ‘elite group’ that matters though is what it means to God (so how it is described in the bible).
The gist of what I am saying is that the Spirit’s infilling is not limited to a special, minimal group, like Moses, the prophets of the Old Covenant, or John the Baptist, but that any one who calls Jesus their Lord can receive it. It has been made available to a greater breadth of people.
I agree, the Spirit is available to all. I don’t believe that means all will commune with the ‘Spirit’.
With respect to the ‘Sanctuary of the Lord’, meaning where the Spirit of the Lord resides, those God elects to make Holy, the new covenant is consistent with the old covenant according to the bible. God is without shade, and variation due to change, and so is his approach to sanctifying a Kingdom with His presence.
You say that anyone who calls Jesus their Lord can receive it, and I agree, however who is it that calls Jesus their Lord? Jesus said ‘My sheep hear my voice’, so clearly its not the dogs, jackals, or even the goats who call Jesus ‘Lord’ but His sheep. So who are Jesus’ sheep according to Jesus Himself or the OT prophets?
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