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The Book of Acts, lessons, commentary and study guide from the church of Christ


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Bobby Stafford Acts 2:5-21 (Lesson 6)     

The Book of Acts

Chapter 2:5-21

Verse 5  Acts 2:5 “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.”  NKJV  They were devout, religious and obedient; willing to travel great distances to observe Pentecost.  (Leviticus 23)  Even though 1500 years had passed since the Law of Moses had been given at Mt. Sinai neither time nor different cultures changed its requirements. 

Verse 6  Acts 2:6 “And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.”  NKJV  

 Apostles by being baptized with the Holy Spirit were able to miraculously speak in languages they had never learned.  Not surprisingly, the listeners were perplexed, confounded, amazed.  The apostles probably positioned themselves in different areas of the court of the Gentiles with each apostle speaking a different language.

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

The Galilean accent was distinctive and considered harsh and unattractive to the Jews.  (Mark 14:70) “But he denied it again.  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.”  NKJV  Galileans were considered uncultured with little education.  (Acts 4:13) “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  NKJV  This also seems to indicate the apostles spoke these foreign languages with the appropriate accents. 

Verses 8-12  Acts 2:8-12 “And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?  Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’  So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?”  NKJV

This speaking in tongues was the miraculous ability to speak fluently in a foreign language and even in a certain regional dialect.  Luke lists the areas from which the multitudes came.  “Mighty deeds of God” – likely the workings of God for Israel throughout history.  Many understood something of great importance was about to happen. 

Verse 13  Acts 2:13 “Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.”  NKJV

There are always some skeptics.  Drinking never made anyone able to speak a foreign language!

The First Complete Gospel Sermon

Verses 14-15  Acts 2:14-15 “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.  For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.”  NKJV  

Peter and the eleven address the multitude.  Recall Matthew 16:19 “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  NKJV  The keys are about to be used.  The charge of drunkenness had to be taken care of first.  It was the Third hour [9:00 a.m.].  Jews did not eat or drink at all prior to 9:00 on the Sabbath or a holy day.  Peter is ready to explain what is really happening.  Peter’s sermon would reveal that the time for the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies had come and that God raised Jesus from the dead and He is now the reigning Messiah. 

Verses 16-18  Acts 2:16-18 “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.  And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.”  NKJV

Peter explained that what was happening was not due to the pouring of wine but the outpouring of the Spirit.  He said what they were witnessing was the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Joel’s prophecy was to take place in “the last days.”  See also Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:1.  “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it.”  NKJV  Peter, by inspiration, defined “the last days.”  He told the multitudes that the moment you have been anticipating for centuries [the reign of the Messiah] is here.  The last days have arrived.  So it refers to the entire Christian age.  See Hebrews 1:1-2 “God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;”  and  I Peter 1:20-21. “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”  NKJV  The outpouring of the Spirit would be bestowed upon “all flesh” – not every human because not every Christian had a spiritual gift.  (I Corinthians 12:29-31)  “Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Are all workers of miracles?  Do all have gifts of healings?  Do all speak with tongues?  Do all interpret?  But earnestly desire the best gifts.  And yet I show you a more excellent way.”  NKJV  But representatives of the groups mentioned would receive miraculous gifts through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.  (Acts 8:18-19) These gifts ceased when the canon of the New Testament was completed.  (I Corinthians 13:8-10) “Love never fails.  But whether there are prophecies, they will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”  NKJV

Verses 19-21  Acts 2:19-21 “I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath; Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord; And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.”  NKJV 

Symbolic or figurative language is being used.  The phrases used here by Peter are often used in the Old Testament to describe the Lord bringing judgment upon powers and nations.  (Isaiah 13 and Ezekiel 32)  “Great and awesome day of the Lord”  Three views have been put forth.

1.  The Day of Pentecost – when God “moved heaven and earth to bring the church into existence.

2.  The Destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 – Christians were saved by following the warnings given in Matthew 24:15-16. “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  NKJV

3.  Second Coming of Christ – I Thessalonians 1:10 “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  and  II Thessalonians 1:7-9  “and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”  NKJV


This is not a mere verbal exercise.  It does mean that one realizes that Jesus is their only hope for salvation.  It means one accepts the fact that they cannot save themselves through good works or being morally good.  It also means that one accepts Christ’s way of salvation and obeys it.  (Acts 22:16) “And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”  NKJV


Bobby Stafford  March 11, 2015

Acts: Lesson 6:  Acts 2:5-21

 More Studies on Acts


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