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The text for this lesson is Acts 2:1–21, 37–47.

Key Point

  • God sends His Spirit to establish, unite, sustain, and expand His Church.
  • Law:Without the Holy Spirit, we would be excluded from God’s salvation.
  • Gospel: Through His Word and Baptism, God grants repentance and His Holy Spirit to forgive our sins and gather us into His holy, saved people.

Discussion Points

  1. Jesus has ascended, forty days after His resurrection. Just prior to His ascension, He commanded the disciples to wait together in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit, whom God the Father would send (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). The disciples do this faithfully (Acts 1:13–14; 2:1). While they wait, they pray, likely for the promised Holy Spirit, for increased understanding of the teachings of Jesus, and in thanksgiving for the work of Jesus. During this period, they also replace Judas with Matthias (1:15–26).
  2. Pentecost originated as a festival to give thanks for the ingathering of the grain harvest of late spring. Typically called the Feast of Weeks in English translations, it also took the name “Pentecost” because it was calculated to be celebrated on the fiftieth day after the Feast of Firstfruits. Rabbinic tradition holds that the Hebrew Pentecost also marks the anniversary of God’s giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost leads to the gathering of the “harvest” of God’s people into the Church and suggests that as the giving of the Law could not bring salvation, God graciously bestows salvation to all nations through His Spirit.
  3. The disciples are in a “house” (2:2) when they receive the Holy Spirit, but it seems unlikely that this is the Upper Room where they regularly gathered (1:13), because a multitude in Jerusalem heard the rushing sound of the Spirit and the disciples speaking in various languages. An alternative explanation is that the disciples were actually in the temple, because the Greek word for “house” is often used to refer to the temple (Acts 7:47, 49; Luke 6:4; 19:46). Furthermore, it was the hour of prayer (9 a.m., see Acts 2:15), and they regularly prayed at the temple (2:46; 21:26).
  4. God overcomes the curse of Babel (Genesis 11) by restoring all nations to His salvation by the power of His Spirit. Peter cites the prophet Joel as scriptural authority for the event, demonstrating that God saves “all flesh” (not just Jews) by the Spirit (Acts 2:17). Everyone, not just those who obeyed the Law of the old covenant, but also all those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus (2:38), will be saved (2:21).
  5. Baptism is integral to the pouring out of the Spirit: Peter calls upon his hearers to repent and be baptized, by which they will receive the Holy Spirit, who gathers them into God’s people (2:38). Repentance and Baptism are not to be separated but go together for forgiveness and spiritual life.
  6. This unity of the Spirit is then demonstrated by the community life of the disciples after they are baptized: they devote themselves to apostolic teaching, breaking of bread, and prayer; they believe together and share their belongings with those in need (2:42–47). The growth of the Church also is God’s work; He adds daily to the number of those being saved.

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