Saturday, 23 October 2021
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2
Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
Note: It is a good time to remind the reader of the five basic rules for interpreting the Bible –
- Is this prescriptive (does it prescribe something)?
- Is this descriptive (does it only describe what occurred)?
- Context (Who is being addressed, what does the surrounding passage speak of, what is the dispensation, etc.).
- Context (see 3).
- Context (see 4).
Chapter 2 of Acts is a descriptive passage. It prescribes absolutely nothing for the church at this time. Instead, it is a historical account of what occurred. The fact that events occur in Acts 2 in a certain manner in no way means that they will occur in this manner ever again. An example of such an unusual event is found in Exodus 40, Leviticus 9, and again in 2 Chronicles 7 –
“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34, 35
“And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:23, 24
“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.” 2 Chronicles 7:1, 2
Such an event is not recorded elsewhere for either the tabernacle or the temple. Each was a one-time occurrence to demonstrate that the Lord had approved of the edifice that had been consecrated to Him. The events surrounding the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the words of Peter to the people of Israel in this chapter, the growth of the church noted here, and so on are all simply a historical record of what occurred. They prescribe nothing for the conversion or doctrine of any believer – Jew or Gentile – into the future. This is especially so with the words of Peter to Israel concerning their conversion as is recorded in verse 2:38, and which will be evaluated at that time.
For now, the context is an event that occurs in Jerusalem, probably at the temple, and as a demonstration of the fulfillment of the symbolism of the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) for the Jewish people to see and to understand that the Christian faith, which stems directly from the word of the Lord to and through the nation of Israel, conveys the fulfillment of those things that Israel had been promised concerning the coming of their Messiah.
With these things stated, the verse begins with, “And suddenly.” It is a new word found only three times in Acts, aphnó. It is an adverb signifying “suddenly,” or “unexpectedly.” What is occurring was unknown to the apostles as to its coming. They were told to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Promise from the Father (Acts 1:4), and now that is to be fulfilled.
In this sudden manner, “there came a sound from heaven.” It is reminiscent of the events of the past. Fire came from heaven at the consecration of the tabernacle (see above). Likewise, fire from the Lord fell upon the burnt sacrifice presented by Elijah on Mount Carmel. Events like this are given as a sign to the people that the Lord has accepted what is presented to Him. Now, a sound is heard coming from heaven “as of a rushing mighty wind.”
The word translated as “wind,” pnoé, is found only here and in Acts 17:25. It signifies “wind,” “breath,” or “gust.” It is the root of the word pneuma, or spirit, which is also a word that signifies breath, and wind. This is the same as the word ruakh in Hebrew. It likewise can be translated as wind, breath, or spirit depending on the context. The idea here is that this rushing wind is heard coming from heaven.
The word translated as “rushing,” pheró, signifies “to bear along.” One should get the notion of what will later be said by Peter concerning the word of the Lord. He uses the word three times in a row to describe what occurred while on the Mount of Transfiguration and also as it came through the prophets –
“And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
The adjective used to describe the wind is biaios, meaning “strong,” or “violent.” The sound of the wind was probably like that of a massive whirlwind, like what Job experienced when the presence of the Lord was near (see Job 40:6). That same wind Job experienced was noted when Elijah was translated to heaven as he went up “by a whirlwind.” The word is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe the tempest which surrounds the Lord as He accomplishes His work –
“Then the Lord will be seen over them,
And His arrow will go forth like lightning.
The Lord God will blow the trumpet,
And go with whirlwinds from the south.” Zechariah 9:14
The idea being conveyed is that something heavenly is occurring, and it is on the day of Pentecost, confirming again that the Lord is at work, fulfilling the symbolism of what the Leviticus feast day only typologically anticipated. With this understanding, Luke next records, “and it filled the whole house.”
The word translated as “house” is oikos. It means a house, but it is used frequently to describe the “house of the Lord,” meaning the temple and its surrounding area. For example –
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you have made it a “den of thieves.”’” Matthew 21:12, 13
There is no reason to assume that the events occurring here are anywhere else but this “house.” The temple is where the events of Exodus, Leviticus, and 2 Chronicles (noted above) occurred, and it is where the pilgrims on such feast days would have gathered. It is in this place that they would be feasting, talking about the events of the past year, and so on – just as Israelites had been doing for many generations. It is in this house “where they were sitting.”
At the pilgrim feasts, the people would gather and sit together, eating and rejoicing. It was a time of celebration and joy. It was a time to relax and to take a break during the harvest cycle. Everything about Luke’s description points to a gathering of Israel, in the presence of the Lord, just as it is described in Deuteronomy –
“But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. 6 There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deuteronomy 12:5-7
Life application: As noted above, in this and the surrounding verses, it is seen that the Lord is at work, fulfilling the symbolism of what the Leviticus feast day only typologically anticipated. As such, there is no need for it to ever occur again.
There was one cross of Christ to fulfill the Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7). There is one church that is united on one gospel in which believers are to conduct their lives in a sinless manner (1 Corinthians 5:8). There was one resurrection of the Lord that fulfilled the typology of the Feast of Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20). The giving of the Spirit in a demonstrable way was only needed to establish the church. As such, it is only found in this way in the book of Acts (see Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10, etc.).
These demonstrations do not prescribe anything. They are simply given as confirmation of the works of the apostles of Jesus Christ. Resultingly, they confirm that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah. They further confirm that the Spirit is available to Jew, Samaritan, and Gentile. Such demonstrations confirmed the apostleship of Peter (such as in Acts 8), and they confirmed the apostleship of Paul (such as in Acts 19:6).
As this is the purpose of the book of Acts, and as the book has been compiled and added to the canon of Scripture, there is no longer any need for an external demonstration of the coming of the Spirit. In fact, that would be contrary to the prescriptive writings of Paul which say that believers now live by faith and not by sight. If we require a demonstrable working of the Spirit, we are not living by faith, and we have a contradiction in the theology which governs our spiritual lives. No sign for our faith should be expected. It is presumptuous, and it excludes faith. Paul is clear –
“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Lord God, help us to be people of faith. May we never presumptuously demand a sign from You for us to accept that You are there and that Your word is true. Rather, help us to align our faith with the word You have given to us. With that, we will surely be satisfied. Your word is sufficient for our life, doctrine, and practice at this time. Thank You for this precious word. Amen.