Acts 2: 14-36

Acts 2: 14-   What’s Going On Here?

“How is this that each of us hear in his own native language” What does this mean?  Drawn by the sound of a mighty rushing wind the crowd is utterly amazed to hear these uneducated Galileans speak in their own native language. Notice this is not an ‘unknown tongue’, Paul writes of in I Corinthians 14- but known languages.

They were speaking in different languages but they were saying the same things. They were declaring the wonders of God. They were praising God for how great He is- they were not preaching the gospel yet. Interesting that the Psalms tells us we enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.

First the sound of a mighty rushing wind attracts their attention.  The mighty rushing wind is a symbol of the invisible power of the Holy Spirit. One of the Holy Spirit’s duties is to convict one of sin and righteousness.  Here the Spirit draws a crowd then empowers the 120 as they are baptized with the Spirit and Fire to do the work of the ministry.

Interesting that even today many will be drawn to a music program at a church to hear people praise the Lord for His wondrous works. We read the people that day were not only amazed – but also perplexed, they wondered and were asking:  What does all of this mean? What’s going on here? Wondered means they sought a solution- an answer to their questions.  As always  there are those who scoff at the supernatural works of God- explaining away miracles and wonders as was the case of those who claimed and accused these of being full of new wine- drunk in other words.

These unanswered questions demanded a reasonable answer. These people who wondered what was going on- wanted an answer. They wanted to understand that day what was the purpose of all of this? It set the stage for Peter to stand up and raise his voice to get the attention of this gathering crowd. Peter says ‘let me explain to you what is going on- listen carefully to what I have to say.’

Peter then precedes to tell the crowd- these men are not drunk as you suppose, it’s only nine in the morning. (*I have noticed three things about successful people in the business world and in all areas of life:  [1]they ask good questions that uncover needs;[2] they have good, well-thought out answers to frequent questions; and [3] they are able to get one’s attention.) In fact when you think about it- this is exactly what the Lord often did. From the first question in the Bible –(where are you?) to the Lord Jesus’ question-‘who do men say I am? Who do you say I am? The  Bible tells us to ‘be prepared in season and out of season’ to speak the needed word.  Certainly this is what Peter does in this situation. He is prepared with the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and prayer to ‘ correct, rebuke, and  encourage with great patience and careful instruction.’ ( 2Timothy 4:2)  It is obvious Peter has been with the Lord, has been in His Word and on his knees in prayer and filled with the Spirit. All prerequisites for effective preaching, teaching and witnessing.

Peter tells them: “ No this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel”. He then quotes the  scriptures from the book of Joel, a prophet who lived centuries before in 600 BC. Further proof to me, Peter has been engrafting  the Word of God in his heart through meditation and memorization. Notice the Spirit is bestowed on men and women, young and old and they all would prophesy. Peter does not refer to the gift of tongues which is being displayed as they are empowered to speak and be understood in different known languages. Instead, Peter’s emphasis is on the greater gift Joel spoke of that is now occurring- the gift of prophecy. Prophecy is the ability, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to declare the Word of God with power.

This new age- the age of Grace, the age of the Church will begin with the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost . It will end, Peter indicates, when the sun turns to darkness and the moon into blood. This will occur in the future as Jesus, Himself spoke of these signs of His return in Matthew 24.  This age where we are now- is the age of faith- the age of belief. The beginning was 2000 years ago at Pentecost in Jerusalem. The end lies after the Great Tribulation.

From that day at Pentecost until the Lord’s return of this we can be sure- ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!’

Now a word about tongues. When one is saved today- will they speak in tongues? Remember what John told us in I John 4 that we are to ‘ test or try the Spirits.

We must remember what this new religion was like- its leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, had come and gone. The church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ is about to be newly birthed at the day of Pentecost.  It was described as a new covenant which immediately represented a threat to the religious leaders at that time the Pharisees and members of the established Sanhedrin.

This new work which would be called, The Way ,had no Bible ( the New Testament had not been written) had a handful of leaders, and no support from the established Jewish religious community and authorities as well as no support from the government. They will in fact be persecuted by both.

It was also a time of many false religions and with false teaching creeping into even this new work, The Way. How was a person to discern what was the truth- what was from God and what was from man? We are told in Hebrews 2: 3-4: “This salvation which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.”

This is how God confirmed or authenticated His message and messengers through signs, wonders and miracles. On the day of Pentecost these believers spoke in tongues that were known languages. It was a genuine gift  and work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus performed many miracles that John referred to as signs and wonders for they authenticated He was who He claimed to be. This is what was occurring on the day of Pentecost- a sign from God that confirmed this work was from God.

Today, some believe speaking in tongues is an evidence of being filled with the Spirit. But I cannot find a verse in the Bible that tells me this is a sign and evidence of being filled, despite the fact that we are told many times in many ways to be filled with the Spirit.

Some believe the purpose of tongues is to enable them to have a prayer language between that person and God.  I do not dispute this- but Paul clearly states in I Corinthians 14:2- “ For anyone who speaks in a tongue, does not speak to men but to God.” Paul also says in I Corinthians 14:14” For if I pray in a tongue, my Spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” I take this to mean when you pray in tongues, it is produced by the Spirit and not my mind.    Now what the Scripture does tell us is  gifts are given for the common good. They are to edify, build up the church- to evangelize unbelievers and exhort the  church, console the church.  Paul says he who speaks in tongues edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church ( I Cor. 14:4)

Paul then applies some common sense: “ Now brothers if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying.” ( I Cor. 14)

Now having said all of this Paul gives clear instruction to govern the use of tongues in the church:

  1. Only two or at the most three people were to speak in tongues.
  2. Only one was to speak at a time.
  3. Each was to have an interpreter. If no interpreter was present, the person was not to speak.

Paul said in I Corinthians 14:18-19: “ I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.”


Jesus said to Thomas, the disciple who doubted His Resurrection and wanted to see and put his finger in the scars, ‘ blessed are those who have not seen- yet have believed. ( John 20)  I have not seen the Lord Jesus with my physical eyes- I have seen Him with the eyes of faith.

In Luke 16, a parable(or real occurrence) told by the Lord Jesus, the rich man  in Hades wants Abraham to send Lazarus, resurrected from the dead to warn his brothers of this place so they will repent. Abraham says they have Moses and the prophets let them listen to them. Abraham adds if they will not listen to the word of God they will not be convinced even is someone rises from the dead. Signs and miracles are not to be our evidence of the truth- but the revealed truth in Scripture.

“ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1. In other words faith exists in the area where there is no visible proof. What we have is the Word of God.

The disciples and the early church were in a stage of infancy- childhood. They needed certain signs and wonders to confirm and God provided them. But we have His complete revelation now .  “ In the past God spoke to our forefathers through prophets at many times and in various ways. But in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.” ( Hebrews 1)  That is why we do not need additional revelation or additions to the Bible. We are to take nothing away nor add anything – it is finished.



Now in verse 22 Peter begins to preach having answered the question of how these came to speak in known languages.( Remember we must have well-thought out answers to commonly asked questions.)  Now he is ready to get their attention:  “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

Peter is talking to a crowd of people, many whom have been there since the Passover- 50 days ago. They have stayed through the Festival of Weeks. Many saw Jesus come into town that Palm Sunday where he was recognized as the Messiah. They heard or saw of his arrest, trial and death. Then the story of his resurrection and appearances of which we are told in I Cor. 15 there were over 500 witnesses.  There were also among the crowd that day, many who had witnessed signs and miracles Jesus performed- the feeding of the 5000 ( more than likely 15,000) the healings, the restoring to life- Lazarus; the healing of lepers, blind who had sight restored, lame who walked were all authenticated by numerous eyewitnesses, many of which Peter says you yourselves were witnesses to or know  eyewitnesses.

Notice that Peter called Jesus of Nazareth, a  MAN accredited ( approved) by God. And it was these miracles, signs and wonders that proved this. The fact that Jesus was a man while yet also being God in flesh is difficult for us to understand. But by faith we believe the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Furthermore- we know that although He was fully God and fully man- Jesus did what he did not as Diety, for He did what He did as a MAN who relied solely on God. Jesus showed us by His life- what God intended for man to be. Jesus showed us what is possible for the person who relies completely upon God.

Peter then tells the audience- they ( the Jews with the aid of the Roman government) put Jesus to death. This death was not a tragic accident in the life of Jesus, it was the plan and program of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit since the beginning of time. It was essential. It was absolutely necessary and there was no other way to deal with sin, sins and evil except by death. If there had been another way, God the Father would have done it in answer to the request of His Only Son in the garden that night when He asked His Father if this cup- this mission could be accomplished another way. It could not- for without the shedding of blood there is no remittance for sin. There is only one way to deal with evil- death.

Verse 24, the story we are to tell continues. Not only are we to speak of Jesus, God in Flesh, who lived on this earth for 33 years as a man – tempted in every way that we are- but without sin.We are to speak of His Resurrection. This Jesus of Nazareth performed miracles, wonders and signs that testified to who he was- the Messiah. Immanuel, God with us.  When John the Baptist faced execution, he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus was He the One?  John was having doubts as he faced death- was Jesus the Messiah or should they expect someone else? Often in times of trouble, or sorrow or great testing we question the reality of the Lord Jesus as John the Baptist did. Surely if a man of such great faith can have doubts- we know we will also have doubts at times. But John the Baptist shows us what an honest doubter does- he asks the Lord Jesus. And the Lord Jesus in Luke 7, performs miracles right in front of John’s disciples and then tells them to go and report the signs and wonders he is doing ( blind see, lame walk, lepers cured, deaf hear, dead raised, good news preached). John received his answer- this is the ONE. Peter tells them of the resurrection. For it is in the Resurrection Power, power over death which could not hold Him in the grave that our faith rests.  Paul says if Christ be not risen our faith is in vain.  But Christ is risen indeed- an event many have tried to disprove but have failed to do so. Again Peter quotes from the Scriptures, Psalms 16 that tells us the Lord’s body saw no decay.

Peter clearly presents the facts: it was God’s set purpose and foreknowledge to have the Lord Jesus die. God not only delivered  the Lord Jesus  TO  death, but also delivers Him FROM  death.  Peter also states in verse 32- “God has raised Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God,He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”


Now we have been observing how the pouring out of the Spirit has affected  the preaching of the Gospel, now let us observe how it has influenced the listeners. Verse 37- says ‘when the people heard this- they were cut to the heart.’ They were convicted of their sins.  This conviction brought concern that prompted a question they wanted answered- ‘ what shall we do?’

These people had their eyes opened. They began to realize that life was not what is appeared to be- that behind the rising of the sun and the setting of the same- that every breath they took and every beat of their heart was all accomplished by the power of God. And this God was none other than this Jesus they had nailed to the cross. Surely some in this crowd had been  there that very day and yelled “ Crucify Him!” This is the work of the Holy Spirit who convicts.

I remember after I was saved and we were singing an old hymn that the writer of that hymn had experienced the same feelings I had when  I realized for years –‘I spent in vanity and pride not caring that for my sins the Savior died’. It was an overwhelming sense of sorrow and shame for what I had done and how I had lived.  It is these emotions this crowd is now sensing. The crowd was under conviction.

Peter’s answer is clear and concise. “ Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Peter’s Spirit filled preaching of the Gospel  has impacted the crowd. It will take us next week’s study to fully take in these instructions and see the two things Peter tells them to do and the one thing God and only God can do.

You do not want to miss next week’s study.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14