Acts 008 – The Beginning of the Church Age (pt. 2)Acts 2:5-13 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 25, 2023 • Acts
The Beginning of The Church Age (PT. 2)
January 25, 2023
Dr. Andy Woods
Take your bibles this evening and open them to the Book of Acts chapter 2 and verse 5. Look at Acts 2:5. And, we’re continuing this evening our verse-by-verse study through the Book of Acts. And in our first couple of lessons on this, we get adjusted a little bit. First couple of lessons together, we laid out the foundation of the Book of Acts. And then from there, we went into the introduction to the Book of Acts. Jesus has ascended back to the Father’s right hand. The apostles were told very squarely not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit would fall on them. And then we moved into Acts chapter 2, where the Holy Spirit fell. And we covered last time verses 1 through 4, where the Spirit came upon the apostles. And they were speaking languages that they had never learned. And their messages and what they were saying was understandable in people who spoke those languages. And so that’s verses 1 through 4. And we come this evening to verses 5 through 13 where we see the Holy Spirit’s impact. So as we look at verses 5 through 13, we see the circumstances, verse 5. The manifestation of what your bible’s English translations say is tongues. Which, as I tried to explain last time, tongues is not a very good translation. It should be translated languages, known languages.
And then since this is the day of Pentecost, when this happened, we see a great grouping of people from all over the known world, Hebrews. They were either Jews or what we call proselytes or converts to Judaism assembled on the day of Pentecost. You see a description of that in verses 9 through 12. And then immediately you see unbelief kick in, verse 13, where many attribute the languages that the apostles were speaking to drunkenness. And so this section here, verses 5 through 13 really sets up Peter’s sermon which is going to happen beginning in verse 14, and it’s going to go all the way through verse 36. The sermon, of course, we won’t be able to get to today. But this is all set up for that sermon. So notice, first of all, verse 5, the circumstances. It says in verse 5, “Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.” So here is a list of the feasts of Israel going all the way back to the book of Leviticus. And there were three particular feasts where the Jews were told to show up at the central sanctuary to celebrate these feasts. In other words, these feasts were mandatory. So they had to actually travel to the central sanctuary, which in this case is the temple, to celebrate these feasts. And that’s a command that goes all the way back to the book of Leviticus chapter 23. So when you study Ezekiel 23:14-17, it’ll mention three feasts.
And it says in Exodus 23:14-17, it says, “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.” And then over in Deuteronomy 16:16, it says, “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God.” And here are the three feasts: the feast of Unleavened Bread, which was basically a feast celebrating sanctification. It goes back to God having to take the Jews out of Egypt so fast that there wouldn’t be time to do normal cooking for the bread to rise. And so they were told to take unleavened bread. So the Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrates the celebration of separation from Egypt. And it became sort of identified with the walk of sanctification, separation from sin. So it says, “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God-” The feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, which is the feast where these manifestations of the Holy Spirit took place that we’re reading about here in Acts 2. And it’s called Pentecost or Weeks because it celebrated 50 days after the prior feast. And then it mentions one other feast that was mandatory that they had to show up at the central sanctuary to celebrate. That’s called the Feast of Booths. And the Feast of Booths, basically they built these little huts for themselves, the Jews did. And it commemorated how God always provided for His people.
As they left Egypt and were in route to the promised land, He provided for them through the manna from heaven, quail. He provided for them through miraculous fountains and so forth in the wilderness there in the Sinai Desert. And so those were basically the three feasts that the Israelis were told to show up at the sanctuary- central sanctuary to celebrate. You will notice that Jesus- in His earthly ministry- Jesus was Jewish. Amen. You’ll notice Jesus traveling to Jerusalem five times to celebrate various feasts. He traveled to Jerusalem, and there’s the scripture verses in John where you can find these if you’re interested. He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, an unnamed feast, the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, the Feast of Dedication, which is another feast that was added to the Jewish calendar later. And then again he goes to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover again there in chapter 13, because that’s the week in which He would die and He would be the ultimate fulfillment of Passover. So once you understand this, you understand why all of these Jews are present on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit falls. I mean, they made this regular pilgrimage to Jerusalem for at least three feasts. It’s just this time around the Holy Spirit had a surprise for ’em. And this is where the Spirit falls on this particular feast day. That’s why there was this big crowd of people present.
And that’s when God sovereignly chose to allow these manifestations of the Holy Spirit to take place. There’s a section in your Bible called the Psalms of Ascent. You’ll find those in Psalm 120 through 134. And it’s a wonderful section in the Psalter because it talks about- or it gives the different songs that the Jews would sing or chant, sing together, as they were traveling up to Jerusalem to celebrate various feasts, not the least of which is these three mandatory feasts. And I say up to Jerusalem, because Jerusalem is always up. So when you travel to the Holy Land, the land of Israel, you know, you’re going up to Jerusalem when the bus starts to kind of go up an incline. And that’s a really appropriate time, you know, to maybe read some of the Psalms of Ascent or even the group as a whole to site in unison reading the different Psalms of Ascent. So anyway, this was the occasion in which these events that we’re reading about here in Acts 2 transpired. That’s why it says in verse 5, it says, “Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.” And later on, it’s going to describe the different places that all of these Hebrews or proselytes, converts to Judaism, came from. You’ll notice this expression “devout men.” That same expression is used of a man named Simeon in Luke’s prequel to the book of Acts called The Gospel of Luke.
It says In Luke 2:25, “there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” So Simeon did not know the name Jesus, but he knew a Messiah was coming. He could discern from Old Testament prophecy the basic time period that the Messiah would show up. And so there he is in the temple, a Jewish person waiting for the Messiah. So all of these people that have assembled, I believe this, that they knew a Messiah was coming. But they hadn’t really heard much about Jesus because they weren’t those that dwelt in the land of Israel. They probably knew very little about Jesus, if anything. Peter is going to educate them here. So these are Jews from the diaspora, what’s called the dispersion, all with sort of the mindset of Simeon looking for a coming Messiah. Not necessarily, as of yet, knowing the name of Jesus. So this becomes the circumstances through which these events in Acts 2 transpire. And then you go down to verses 6 through 8 and you see the manifestation of what the English translation say is ‘tongues’, but it’s better said ‘languages’. So notice, if you will, verses 6 through 8. It says, “when this sound occurred-” what sound? That’s the apostles speaking in languages they had never learned that were understandable to all of those from dispersed areas that had congregated on the day of Pentecost.
Verse six, “when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each of them was hearing them speak in his own language.” See, that’s what tongues is here. It’s the ability to speak in a language you’ve never learned and yet be completely understandable. It would be like if I only spoke English and you only spoke Spanish, but I broke out in perfect Spanish, having never studied it or learned it that you could understand. Verse 7, “They were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Why are not all these who are speaking Galileans?” Verse 8, “‘how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?'” So one of the things that made this miracle so miraculous- sorry for the redundancy there, a miracle is miraculous- but one of the things that made this miracle stand out is it’s pointed out here that these guys that are speaking in our language are Galileans. And Galilean’s talk was sort of a confusing talk. It was known for its sort of guttural words. And so when someone was from Galilee, you could recognize it. It’s like a native Texan. You can sort of tell they’re a native Texan. Amen. It says in Matthew [26:73], concerning Peter, “A little later, the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.'”
Mark 14:70 says, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” Luke 22:59 says, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” And so when Peter was denying Christ, everyone was saying, Well, no, you can’t deny Christ because you were with Christ, because Christ came from Galilee and we can tell the way you talk. Is sort of a distinct way of expression. So that’s what made this so miraculous, is everybody knew that these apostles, the twelve of them, were Galileans, and yet they could be completely understood in the language of those who had come from different parts of the world to celebrate the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. So when you look at Acts 2:6, what you see here is the word translated languages or language is dialektos, where we get the word dialect. And last week, verse 4, when it translates tongues, they began to speak with other tongues. That’s a translation from the Greek word glóssolalia. Where we get the word glossary. So glóssolalia, glossary, verse 4. Dialektos, dialect, verse 6. Those two Greek words do not refer to gibberish. They refer to a known tongue. In this case, it was miraculous because the apostles, Galileans, had never learned those tongues that they apparently were so conversant in. And that’s what’s grabbing the attention of this massive crowd of people that’s there to celebrate the day of Pentecost.
So what is happening here is the Holy Spirit is doing a miracle to authenticate a brand new move of God. The inauguration of a new age, we call it a dispensation. Dispensation is- you’ll find it in some of the English translations in Ephesians 1, I think it’s about verse 10, in the King James version. In Ephesians 3:2, you’ll see the translation dispensation. That’s a translation from the Greek word oikonomia, where we get the word economy. It’s a compound word, two words making up a single word. Oikos, house and nomos, rules. “House rules.” What is happening here is God is changing His house rules. Because the nation of Israel has rejected her Messiah, the nation of Israel is going to be set on the shelf for a season nationally, and God is going to start a brand new man consisting of those who have trusted in, by faith, the Messiah that the nation rejected. And that new group is going to be called the Church or the Body of Christ. And that’s the group that God has been using for the last 2000 years. So there’s a serious change of rules happening right here. And when God launches a change of rules, He testifies to it through signs and wonders so people can understand that this change is really of God. This is why the apostle Paul in First Corinthians 14:22 says, “So then tongues,” or languages as I’m trying to explain it, “are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers.”
So tongues or languages here is designed to communicate to people that are not yet saved and they’re not yet Christians, that this is really of God. This change of rules that’s happening as the nation of Israel is being set aside for a season and God is raising up something brand new called the Church age- which, by the way, we are part of the church age. The church age has been going on for 2000 years. What you’re receiving here in Acts 2 is an explanation concerning how the church age started. And miracles in the Bible, as I tried to explain a little bit last week, have a tendency to cluster around eras of time where God is changing the rules. So they cluster around the time period of Moses because God is bringing forth the law. They cluster around the time period of Joshua because God is bringing in the conquest of the land of Canaan, which will become the land of Israel. They cluster around the time period of Elijah and Elisha because God is raising up there a new office to confront wayward kings called the Office of Prophet. They cluster around the time period of Jesus because there Jesus is offering the kingdom to national Israel, which they rejected. They cluster around the time period of the apostles because God is doing something brand new. He’s raising up the church. And the next signs and wonders movement on the horizon will cluster around the tribulation period and the Millennial kingdom because there, God is doing something new.
He’s establishing at long last, His kingdom upon the earth. Now, I’m not saying that God can’t and doesn’t do miracles today. If I believed that, I wouldn’t pray for people to get well. What I’m saying is when you see miracles in the Bible that are the rule rather than the exception. Because today miracles are more the exception rather than the rule. They’re less normal. But when you see time periods where they’re in the norm, it relates to time periods where God is bringing in a new epoch, a new era, a new dispensation. And so that’s what’s happening here. And the miracle that’s being used is the capacity to be understood by all those who had gathered as the apostles were speaking in languages, known languages, that they have never studied or learned. And everybody’s picking up on something very significant is happening here because these guys are Galileans. And yet I can understand them perfectly in my own native tongue. So what I am explaining here is very, very different than what is typically called the gift of tongues today. Arnold Fruchtenbaum says, “The reason was that they heard every man speaking [in] his own language. The Greek word for ‘language’ here is dialektos, the origin of the English word ‘dialect.’ It simply means ‘language.’ It explains what the tongues of verse 4 were: spoken languages with all the rules of grammar, diction, syntax, and all that a language involves. Everyone who was present heard someone speaking in his own [native] language, the language of the country from which he came.”
So this has nothing to do with repeating a couple of syllables over and over again. This is- the Greek language itself does not express that idea. So this idea of speaking in a language that’s sort of gibberish, unknown- where does that come from? I would submit to you that it does not come from the pages of Scripture. It comes from non-Christian sources. Let me give you a few examples of this. Here is Virgil, first century B.C., commenting on the priestess on the Isle of Delos. And it says, “She attained her ecstatic state and speech in a haunted cave where drafts and winds made weird sounds and music. When she became united in spirit with the god Apollo, she began to speak in tongues, sometimes understood, sometimes incoherent.” So, tongues has more in common with pagan belief systems as it’s practiced today many times, than what the scripture’s actually talking about. Here is National Geographic on the priestess at Delphi. It says, “In a trance, perhaps induced by narcotic herb, she sat on a tripod and raved. Priests enriched themselves by translating her incoherent cries into rhymed prophecies.” Here is church Father Chrysostom in the fourth century commenting on the priestess at Delphi.
And these are all pagan belief systems. He says, “This same pythoness then is said to be female, to sit at times upon the tripod of Apollo’s astride, and thus the evil spirit ascending from beneath and entering the lower part of her body, fills the woman with madness, and she with disheveled hai, begins to play the-” and I can’t even pronounce that instrument. How do you say that? Yeah, whatever. And whatever they said, I hope it was picked up by the microphone or else I’ll be speaking in tongues up here. “and to foam at the mouth, [and] thus being in frenzy to utter the words of her madness.” Interestingly enough, Mormonism, which we would consider a non-Christian cult.,Wyen you get into the sort of origins of Mormonism. You see these sort of ecstatic utterances that are unintelligible, practiced in Mormonism. So here’s Joseph Smith giving a command and he says, “Arise upon your feet, speak or make some sound, continue to make sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a language or tongue of it.” So I’ve been around many people that have told me ever since I became a Christian around 1983 that if I’m really a Christian, I need to be able to speak in tongues. And I told them I’ve prayed for the gift of tongues.
I’ve tried the gift of tongues, and I don’t have the gift of tongues. And they would say things like, Well, what you need to do is sort of- they would use this expression- you need to kind of prime the pump, meaning just start talking in incoherent words and then the Lord is going to take it all and it’s going to be your own personal language. And as exciting and interesting as that is, that’s not found in the pages of the Bible. It’s not found in Acts 2. It is found in either pagan sources, as I’ve tried to explain or in the realm of the non-Christian cults like Mormonism. Brigham Young, obviously a prominent leader in early Mormonism says, quote, “Shouting, jerks, and dancing were common in their services, and Brigham Young not only spoke in unknown tongues, but interpreted his messages to his hearers.” I found this very interesting. This is a record of somebody who claims they had the gift of tongues but in hindsight realizes that it was not the Holy Spirit that gave them that particular so-called gift of tongues, because at the time they weren’t even saved. So this person writes, quote, “Now before you sit down and write me a letter telling me how real your experience with tongues is, let me tell you about mine. I’ve spoken in tongues on several occasions. I’ve walked down aisles, I’ve prayed through at the altar, I’ve followed the instruction of spiritual leaders who were telling me how to speak in tongues, and I spoke in tongues. It was very real.” I’m not denying the fact that these are real experiences that people have.
What I’m saying is every experience a person has doesn’t necessarily come from the Holy Spirit because there’s counterfeit sources of the miraculous- right? And if it doesn’t line up with scripture, then it can’t be coming from the Holy Spirit which means it can only come from two other sources: the flesh or the fallen nature, or it can come from the realm of the satanic or the demonic. So this person says, “It was very real. It happened. There was nothing unreal about it. But it was not of the Holy Spirit! How do I know? I wasn’t even saved at the time. That’s how I know. I became convinced by the preaching. I heard that I must speak in tongues to be right with God. I was determined to do it, and I did it.” So, what is happening here in the Book of Acts is a far cry from what is typically touted as tongues today in a lot of modern sectors of evangelicalism. So we have the circumstances, the day of Pentecost, verse 5. We have the manifestation of languages, as I prefer to call it, verses 6 through 8. And then you go down to verses 9 through 12, and you’re given an in-depth description of the different Jewish groups that were assembled on the day of Pentecost and from where they came. So notice, if you will, verse 9.
And here’s a wonderful map that, if you can see it well, it kind of charts out where all of these people on the day of Pentecost came from. We know why they’re there. They’re there to celebrate the day of Pentecost because the Old Testament, which was their Bible, told them to show up at the Central Sanctuary and celebrate Pentecost. And there were two other feasts that were mandatory as well. And we’ve already- as we’ve already explained. But where do they come from? Take a look at verse 9. It says, “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia,” These are all people that essentially came from the east. Their native tongue was Aramaic. And they were the descendants of the ten Northern tribes. And so if you look at the map here, you can see those different groups. One, let me camp on just for a minute, is the residence of Mesopotamia. “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia,” Let me just explain something about Mesopotamia, if I could. Mesopotamia literally means between the rivers. Meso, between, and then you recognize the word Potomac as in river, potamia. It literally means the middle of the rivers, those rivers being the Euphrates and the Tigris. And so these people came from modern-day Iraq. The Hebrews called this territory- and this is where the Tower of Babel once stood. And there’s a really strong argument to be made that it’s in that general part of the world.
And we don’t- can’t say it with dogmatism because we don’t know how much the Flood altered the world at that time. We believe that the flood was a world-wide catastrophe, but in all likelihood, the Garden of Eden was probably in that part of the world as well. The Hebrews called it Shinar. The Greek name for it is Mesopotamia. That is for the nation of Israel was taken into the Babylonian captivity for 70 years. It says in Daniel 1:2, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the House of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar,” That’s where Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon once stood. It’s where the Tower of Babel once stood. And according to Zechariah 5:11, I believe it will be the headquarters of the future Antichrist. Another name for that area is Babylon, that you see described as a city in Revelation 17 and 18. And the reason I’m bringing this to your attention is because- and by the way, there’s where the nation of Israel traveled to into Mesopotamia or Shinar during the days of the captivity. But I bring this to your attention because this is important for how to understand First Peter 5:13. Peter closes his epistle, first epistle, by saying, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.” And.so what people do is they say, you know what, Babylon here really is a code word for Rome.
So when Peter said Babylon in the east, he really meant Rome in the west. Because that was the common literary convention that people used in that day to sort of disguise Rome. They didn’t want to be too outspoken against Rome, so they used this code word Babylon. And that’s true- that is a literary convention, but that doesn’t show up until the second century. We’re still in A.D. 64 here when Peter writes this book. So you’ll notice even the best of the best believe that Babylon is a code for Rome. I mean, here’s Charles Ryrie, one of my favorites, a man that said it’s all about consistent, literal interpretation. Here’s what he writes in his Ryrie study Bible concerning First Peter 5:13. “She who is in Babylon. The church in Rome, where Peter evidently was writing this letter [from].” So even Charles Ryrie believes that Babylon is some kind of code for Rome. And then once they develop that mindset, they then use it to rewrite Revelation 17 and 18. I mean, if Babylon is a code word for Rome, then obviously the city described in Revelation 17 and 18 could not be literal Babylon in the east, but it must refer to Rome, you know, in the West. And I bring this to your attention because I don’t have to go down that road at all.
Who was the apostle to the Gentiles? Paul. Who was the apostle to the Jews? Peter. Galatians 2:7-8 says, “But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised,” Paul writes, “just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles).” So Peter is saying I’m the apostle to the Jews. Peter is the Apostle to the Jews. Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles. This is why Peter actually went to Babylon. Peter actually went to Babylon because that’s where the Jews were. You say, Well, how do you know the Jews were in Babylon? I know that because of Acts 2:9. There were people that showed up on the day of Pentecost from Mesopotamia. It’s right there in your Bible. Peter is going to preach on the day of Pentecost. A tremendous sermon which we won’t get to tonight. But there’s going to be 3000 people saved. And what do these 3000 people from all of these different parts of the world do? Well, they went home where they came from and they started churches. And there’s no doubt in my mind that they started a church in Babylon. And since Peter is the apostle to the Jews, he traveled to where the Jewish Christians were in Babylon.
In fact, Josephus, who is first-century Jewish historian, talks about “a habitation at Babylon, where there were Jews in great numbers.” So if all of this is true, then First Peter 5:13- what does that mean when it says Babylon? It means Babylon. It’s not Rome. And if Babylon means Babylon in First Peter 5:13- because we’ve got those from Babylon or Mesopotamia, between the rivers, who hear Peter’s sermon. Some get saved and they go home to start a church. If because of all of the things I’ve said, Babylon means Babylon in First Peter 5:13 then you lose your ability to use First Peter 5:13 as some kind of basis for allegorizing Revelation 17 and 18. And if you learn absolutely nothing else from what I’ve said, just remember this: in the Bible, Babylon means Babylon. Babylon is used 300 times in the Bible. It always means Babylon every single time it’s used, including First Peter 5:13. Even though some of my heroes in the faith like Charles Ryrie are not following literal interpretation. See, the bottom line is there’s no reason not to take God at his word when he says something. And God means what He says and says what He means. And you don’t have to go into all of this symbolic, allegorical interpretation when it’s not necessary or it’s not warranted. Continuing with this list- second part of verse 9. Who else was there on the day of Pentecost?
There were people there from Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia. Judea is Galilee and Syria and those folks spoke Hebrew. And then there’s three other names mentioned sort of in the Asia Minor area that we would call modern-day Turkey. They are Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia. Those folks spoke Greek. And then you move down into verse 10 and it talks about Phrygia and Pamphylia. We know about Phrygia. Phrygia is an area in modern-day Turkey that the Apostle Paul passed through on his second missionary journey. It[Acts 16:6] says, “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” So we know exactly where Phrygia is. Phrygia is in Galatia, modern-day Turkey. There’s where Phrygia shows up on a map. And then he also mentions Pamphylia, if I’m pronouncing that right. Pamphylia, there is also in the Asia minor area, modern-day Turkey. And so these are folks in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, that basically spoke the Greek language. So you’ve got people present speaking Aramaic. You’ve got people present speaking Hebrew. You’ve got people present speaking Greek. And yet these Galilean apostles that probably had never studied or learned these particular tongues or languages were completely understandable by all of these groups that had assembled. You continue on in verse 10 and it mentions some other groups that were present. It mentions Egypt and the districts of Libya. I think it also mentions there around Cyrene.
Egypt, Libya, and Cyrene, that would be North Africa, there towards the bottom of the map. Those folks spoke Greek from North Africa. And you might remember Cyrene. Remember the man from Cyrene helped Christ carry His cross when He became depleted and exhausted as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. What was it Simon of Cyrene? Do I have that right? And also mentioned here is Rome, end of verse 10 and “visitors from Rome (both Jews and proselytes.) So what’s a Jew? All these people present are Jews. A Jew is someone who is of the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What’s a proselyte? A proselyte is essentially somebody who was a Gentile who converted to Judaism to learn about Yahweh. So this becomes the explanation as to how the church at Rome started. A lot of people think that an apostle started a church at Rome. No, the apostles never started the church at Rome. How did the church at Rome get started? Well, obviously, people from Rome on the day of Pentecost, Jewish individuals and Proselytes heard Peter preach. They were among the 3000 that were converted and they went west, just like those from Mesopotamia went east, and they started that particular church. This is why it’s Paul’s ambition to get to Rome. All the way through the Book of Acts we’ll see that. Why does he want to get to Rome? He wants to get to Rome, not to evangelize.
The church was already started. He wants to get to Rome to make sure that that church is on the proper doctrinal foundation because it was started without the assistance of an apostle. This is why Paul says in Romans 1:11, “For I long to see you-” speaking to the Romans- “so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you that you may be established.” He wants to establish them, make sure the church at Rome is going the right direction. So these are people that came from the West, they came from Europe. And those folks spoke Latin. So here are these Galileans, and they’re speaking Latin perfectly and everybody can recognize it that’s from that part of the world. And they say this is a miracle of God. God must be starting something brand new here. And then you slip over to Acts 2:11, and it mentions those from Crete. It says, “Cretans and Arabs.” Arabs- and you can see where Arabia there is, kind of in the south- What would that be?- southeastern part of the map. You can see where Crete is. It’s there in the west. It’s a little tiny island in the middle of nowhere. That’s where Titus was sent to pastor. How would you like that job given from the Apostle Paul? I’ve actually been to Crete, and other than a few shops and restaurants, there ain’t a lot going on out there, so to speak.
And here is Titus pastoring these house churches in Crete. And Paul says, by the way, all the people in Crete that you’re trying to pastor are kind of lazy gluttons. So you’re going to need some help, Titus, as you seek to pastor that group. So that’s how the church at Crete got started. They spoke Greek. It mentions Arabs. They spoke Nabataean and Aramaic. And the great miracle of the whole thing is in the second part of verse 11, “we”- that’s this whole assembled group in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. “we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And when you drop down to verse 12, you see the reaction. And there’s two reactions here. Reaction, number one, verse 12, “And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?'” That’s reaction number one. They’re not denying the existence of these languages given by the Holy Spirit supernaturally. They want to know what’s this all about? They’re not denying the supernatural. They’re saying, why did God send it? What does it mean? So they’re asking the ‘what’ question? And those interested in an answer to the ‘what’ question are going to comprise Peter’s audience where he gives one of the most amazing sermons in all of the Bible- certainly in all of world history where 3000 people were saved. Well, you can’t preach a sermon unless you got people that are listening.
This is how the Holy Spirit assembled Peter’s audience, which is going to result in 3000 conversions, which we’ll see at the end of the chapter. Unfortunately, that’s not the only reaction. There’s another reaction, verse 13. “But others were mocking.” So some were saying, what does it mean? Others were mocking. And what you’ll discover is as truth is proclaimed all the way through the book of Acts, those are two standard reactions. You’ll see this at the end of Paul’s great sermon on Mars Hill in Athens. He gives an amazing sermon there to unbelievers. And it [Acts 17:32] says this, “Now, when they-” That’s the Athenians- “heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer.” Mockery, in other words. “but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this.” And then the very end of the chapter says, “But some men joined him and believed.” So Paul preaches. Some sneer or mock, some want more information, and some believed. And so that’s a great question for anybody listening here today. What group are you in? I hope it’s in the Believing Group. So as you go through the Book of Acts, as truth is proclaimed, you’ll see those three reactions here. Two of them are mentioned. What do these tongues or languages mean and others are mocking? And what was the mockery? Verse 13. “others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” What is sweet wine?
It’s wine that only began the fermentation process. It’s not fully fermented wine. It’s wine at the initial stage of a long process called fermentation which makes people who drink it, where it has more of an intoxicating power. So the mockers heard these languages and they just said it’s drunkenness. And that is the way unbelief explains the supernatural. They try to attribute it. If your heart is already decided you’re going to reject something, you try to come up with an explanation that explains it away naturalistically. This is what people do all of the time with creation. Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness and men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made so that men are without excuse.” It’s obvious God exists because you can’t have a designed universe like the one we’re living in without a designer. I mean, I don’t get in my car to drive home and put the key in the ignition and it turns on and I say, Wow, I’m so glad that car turned on. I’m so glad random chance events assembled the car properly over billions of years. I mean, that’s a certifiably insane statement to say something like that.
But that’s what people do with creation all the time because they don’t want to believe in God, because they enjoy being God themselves. So they suppress the truth and unrighteousness and they come up with a naturalistic explanation to explain away the obvious. In our day, it’s known as evolution. People have done this for 2000 years with the empty tomb. The empty tomb is a historical fact. The enemies of Christianity could have easily gone into the tomb of Jesus and reproduced the body to stop Christianity dead in its tracks. Yet they never did that because the tomb was empty. Why was it empty? Because He arose from the dead. Now, if I don’t want to believe that, I’ve got to come up with a naturalistic explanation as to why the tomb is empty. Some believe in the swoon theory that Jesus never died and He got out at night. Some believe the body was stolen. Some believe that all of the resurrection accounts are hallucinations. Some say they went to the empty tomb because they all, every single one of them, went to the wrong tomb. And it takes more faith to believe these theories than it does simply to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Well, who stole the body? The Romans stole the body. Well, why would Rome want to fake the resurrection and make it real? Well, the Jews stole the body. Well, why would the Jews want to fake the resurrection and make it real? Well, the disciples stole the body.
Well, why would they all die for a lie? So in other words, you have to- if your heart is such that you don’t want to believe in the resurrected Jesus, then the mind works overtime to come up with a natural- naturalistic explanation to the supernatural. And what I’m saying is that’s what’s happening here amongst the mockers. They are denying what’s obvious and attributing it to drunkenness. And the last time I checked, when people get drunk, they don’t get more and more understandable and smarter- right? It’s the opposite. Now, let me leave you with this. And this is going to require a little bit of explanation. But this happened on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost is the fourth spring feast on the Jewish calendar. And in the first four feasts on the Jewish calendar called the Spring Feasts, Jesus fulfilled every feast. And yet the Jews rejected the fulfillment. So on Passover, He fulfilled that feast because He’s the Passover lamb. And yet the Jews rejected it. John 1:11. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. On the Feast of Unleavened Bread, He fulfilled that feast because He claimed to be the bread of life, and yet the Jews rejected it. Because in John 6:41 it says, “Therefore the Jews grumbled about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread that came down out of heaven.'”
First Fruits, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a fulfillment of the resurrection. This is why Paul calls Christ’s resurrection First Fruits. And yet the Jewish authorities rejected that because they made up this story. You are to say to- you are to say his disciples- I’m reading out of Matthew 28:13, as the Jews are bribing the Roman guards at the tomb. “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.'” So Jesus fulfills Passover- rejected by the nation. Jesus fulfills unleavened bread- rejected by the nation. Jesus fulfills first fruits- rejected by the nation. And here’s the fourth spring feast that is being fulfilled here. The supernatural language is a clear miracle coming from the Holy Spirit and yet the Jews- not all, there is a remnant of believers, as we will see- but the majority reject it because they attributed it to drunkenness. So what happens after the first fall feasts? You see that black line there? There’s a long hiatus between the first fall feasts. I’m sorry I had that backwards. What happens after the first four spring feasts? There we go. There’s a dark line there and it’s a hiatus. A long period of time is going to elapse between the end of the spring feasts and the beginning of the fall feasts. You see that very clearly on a Jewish calendar. Look at the difference between Pentecost and trumpets.
A long hiatus. Here’s another map that kind of puts together the Jewish calendar. Look at the length of time between the day of Pentecost or Pentecost and trumpets, a long intermission, a long hiatus. So what is the plan and program of God in that long hiatus or interim? That’s us, the church. God is working in and through the church as the nation of Israel is in unbelief having rejected the fulfillments of Jesus in the first four spring feasts. Does this mean that God is through with the nation of Israel? No, it doesn’t. Because after the first four spring feasts, after the hiatus is over, are going to come the last three fall feasts. So following the church age, after the translation of the church at the Rapture, what is going to happen for the nation of Israel is they’re going to accept Christ. They rejected Him in the first four spring feasts, but they will accept Him in the remaining three fall feasts, in the events of the tribulation period and the millennial kingdom. So they’re going to have a change of heart. So at trumpets, Christ will send a trumpet and gather His elect from the four corners of the earth at the end of the tribulation period. At Atonement the nation of Israel will look upon the one that they have pierced and mourn as one mourns for an only son, Zechariah 12:10.
At Booths or Tabernacles, which in Hebrew is [sukkah], the nation of Israel will enjoy the millennial kingdom. So if you can understand these feasts, you’ll understand God’s program for Israel. They rejected Christ when Christ was the fulfillment of the first four spring feasts. Now there’s this long pause- that’s where we come in, we’re the church. But following the church age, the nation of Israel is going to have a change of heart in the tribulation period and accept the manifestation of Jesus in the remaining three fall feasts. The best academic work that’s ever been done on this is by a man named Terry Hulbert. His doctoral dissertation at Dallas Seminary 1965 is called The Eschatological Significance of Israel’s Feasts. And here’s what he says: “When God fulfilled the first four feasts, He had provided everything [necessary] for Israel to enter into literal kingdom blessing. He had provided redemption. That’s Passover. Uh, separation. That’s unleavened bread- resurrection…” That’s first fruits “…and presence of the Holy Spirit.” That’s Pentecost. That’s what we’re reading about right here in Acts 2. Israel is rejecting the fourth spring feast. That’s what’s happening here. “Israel’s rejection of these, however, made a necessary national change- made necessary a national change of heart before the kingdom could be established…” This is why the kingdom was rejected. “…The paschal lamb of God pointed out by John the Baptist, was rejected as an impostor.” John 1:11. “The resurrection of Christ, as it answered to the Feast of First Fruits, was suppressed in its proclamation by the bribe money paid to the [Roman] sentries,” or guards.
That’s Matthew 28. “…Finally, the coming of the [Holy] Spirit-” right here, Acts 2:13- “was rejected at Pentecost as the Jews taunted the apostles with charges of drunkenness. By the…close of Acts chapter 2, God had done all He could do for Israel until they repented as a nation.” In other words, God is saying I did my part, but you all rejected it. “Thus, the significance of Peter’s second sermon in Acts 3 was that it re-emphasized the condition of millennial blessing already laid down in the Old Testament, but yet as unfulfilled.” Peter in Acts 3 is going to explain to the unbelieving Jews, You need a national change of mind, repentance. Acts 3:19-20 and 21. And until that happens, the times of refreshing, the kingdom, in other words, will always remain in a state of postponement until you nationally repent. “…Of the utmost importance here is the fact that the shedding of the blood of Christ to take away sin, and with the coming of the [Holy] Spirit to empower the life of the redeemed, all of the spiritual requirements for the Millennial kingdom had been met as far as God [was] concerned…But, God’s provision could not be operative until man,” in this case, Israel, “appropriated it. This point cannot be over emphasized, for it is not only the reason for the delay in the fulfillment of the final three feasts, it is the basis for understanding the relationship of the church to the feasts.”
What is the relationship of the church to the feasts? We are that interim period in between the last spring feast and the first fall feast. So we’re living in between a time period of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah in the first four feasts and when they will accept their Messiah in the remaining three feasts. That’s where we are. But the day is going to come where God will take the church to heaven. Israel in the tribulation period is going to have a change of heart. And what they rejected in the First Coming they’ll receive in the Second Coming as they will now accept the manifestation of Jesus in the remaining three fall feasts. So that is the significance of verse 13 and why it mentions these mockers and why God chose for the Holy Spirit to fall on the day of Pentecost. That’s the significance of it. So now Peter, verses 14 through 36 is going to stand up and he’s going to preach. And his sermon goes from verse 14 through verse 36. And he’s going to get an amazing reaction in verses 37 through 41. So I would encourage you to read through that sermon in preparation for next time. So we’re a few minutes over. So if you’ve got to collect your young ones and take off, now would be a good time for that. And if anybody wants to stick around for Q&A, we can do that as well.