Acts 2:7

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? Acts 2:7

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen). 

In verse 2:5, Luke made a point of recording who the people were that were seeing the events occurring, saying, “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.” Then, in verse 2:6, he noted that “everyone heard them speak in his own language.”

As was seen, the word “language” is more appropriately rendered “dialect.” This would include the “dialect” of those in (meaning “from”) Jerusalem. Because of what they were hearing emanate from the disciples, Luke next notes, “Then they were all amazed and marveled.”

Both verbs are in the imperfect tense, “they were amazed, and they were marveling.” As the tongues were being spoken, the astonishment of the people continued. The word translated as “amazed” means “to put out of place.” In other words, it is as if they were out of their mind because they were unable to grasp what was happening.

The other word is described by Vincent’s Word Studies as, “to cause ‘wonder; … to regard with amazement, and with a suggestion of beginning to speculate on the matter.’” Vincent’s is correct because the speculation immediately begins to follow. Luke says they were “saying to one another.”

In other words, the people were seeing the spectacle and were beginning to speculate on what was going on. There is a hint of contempt in their attitude towards those who were speaking because the talk is among those beholding the spectacle and not directed towards those who were engaged in what was occurring. That is clearly evidenced in the next words, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?”

The focus is on who these people are. They were understood to be Galileans. As such, they were considered the hicks of the nation. They had their own dialect that was clearly distinguished from those in Jerusalem. They were also noted for their lack of care in their speech. As Vincent’s says of them, “They were blamed for neglecting the study of their language, and charged with errors in grammar and ridiculous mispronunciations.” This is noted elsewhere in the gospels, such as in Mark 14 –

“And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, ‘Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.’” Mark 14:70

The word translated as “speech” in that verse from Mark is lalia. In classical Greek, it is used to signify babble or chattering talk. It is a word used to signify one’s manner of speech. One can see that the dialect of Jerusalem, which Luke focused on previously, was clearly distinguishable from that of Galilee –

“And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)” Acts 1:19

What is occurring here is just what Paul says the purpose of tongues was for. It is as a sign to those who do not believe –

“Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” 1 Corinthians 14:22, 23

At the pilgrim feast in Jerusalem, the presentation of tongues was to be a sign to unbelievers. This is what Isaiah prophesied of –

“Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait on the Lord,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.
18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the Lord of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.
19 And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:16-20

Instead of seeking the mediums and wizards who whisper and mutter, the people were to seek their God. The Lord was giving Israel a sign. This is evidenced in Hebrews 2:13 where the author of the epistle cites this passage from Isaiah, ascribing it to Christ and His people.

Life application: The people in Jerusalem were highly astonished at what they saw, especially because those who were speaking in tongues were “lowly and uneducated” Galileans. It would be incredible to think that such boorish people could perfectly enunciate the particular dialects of the languages that were being spoken, and yet it was occurring.

This was as much of a sign as the tongues themselves were. If someone who was linguistically proficient in picking up other languages was to stand up and speak fluently in another dialect, it wouldn’t seem so amazing. But if a person from the backwater areas of Louisiana or the deep mountains of Appalachia were to suddenly start speaking proper English in the court of the royal halls of England, it would be rather remarkable.

As such, one can see the wisdom in God’s selection of these Galileans. It provides an added touch to the incredible nature of what was occurring. The Lord chose unimpressive people to be used to bring forth an amazing sign to those in Jerusalem. This is exactly what Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians –

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God chooses those who seem least likely to do anything great or amazing in order to bring His glory to the fullest light possible. As such, if you are feeling like you have no particular capabilities or qualifications that will make an impact for Christ, you have underestimated yourself.

You may think you are the least of all people, but because you have been saved by Christ, you can be used to make the greatest of difference in the lives of others. Take time today to offer yourself, wholly and unreservedly, to the Lord. Allow Him to be glorified through you. It is certain that He can do so. And so, talk to Him about it and let His glory shine through you so that others may see and believe.

Great are You, O God, and You can do great things through the most unexpected people. This has been proven true throughout history and we know it will continue. And so, Lord, use us in the manner that will bring You the most glory. Be pleased to continue Your plan of redemption through us in the way that You see fit. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.