The Descent of the Spirit
Acts 2:1-4
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.…

The circumstances connected with the event.

I. THE TIME. "When the day of Pentecost was fully come." It was the fiftieth day after the Passover, and beginning of the harvest festival. Harvest home! Surely it was no blind chance that made this appointment for the inauguration of the dispensation of spiritual ingathering (Revelation 14:15).

II. THE PLACE. It was "a house," the noteworthy fact being that it was not the temple. Up to this time the temple had monopolised the formal worship of Jehovah; but to-day a new order begins. The privileges of worship are to be everywhere and for all sorts and conditions of men.

III. THE DRAMATIS PERSONAE. Here were a hundred and twenty feeble folk, none mighty or noble among them, distinguished from the multitudinous rank and file of common people only by the fact that God had chosen them to be the nucleus of the Christian Church. Thus, kneeling together, they held the coign of vantage. They were sure of the blessing. May it not be that, under similar conditions, the Church of our times would be similarly blest?

IV. THE ONLOOKERS. There came together to witness this strange occurrence a motley and polyglot assemblage of "Parthians, Modes, and Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia and in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians." Was ever a more representative body of people? And this was as it should have been, for the thing about to happen was of universal importance, and the power about to descend was, like the sceptre in Balaam's vision, to smite even to the remotest corners of the earth. The time had come for the propagation of a catholic gospel; and this heterogeneous company of people was the first representative Christian congregation that ever assembled on earth. Those who, on this occasion, were "sojourning at Jerusalem out of every nation under heaven," carried back to their countrymen the announcement of the new religion; and thus the seed was sown whose full and glorious fruition will be seen at the close of history, when "a great multitude which no man can number," etc. (Revelation 7:9).

V. WHAT THEY SAW AND HEARD. At this point everything is significant.

1. The "sound as of a mighty, rushing wind." This must instantly have recalled to the minds of the disciples their Master's word, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." In Ezekiel's vision in the valley of dry bones we have a similar association of the wind or breath (Hebrew ruach) with spiritual influence: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live!" The symbol is appropriate, suggesting an influence so elevating and inspiring as to mark the beginning of a new life.

2. The fire. This would instantly recall the words of John the Baptist, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." Fire burns, subdues, purifies, penetrates, illumines, energises. .Fire is power. The heart that has received the baptism from on high is "set on fire" with a passion for all things true and right.

3. Cloven tongues. It is to be observed that the symbol used to designate the power of the gospel dispensation was not an iron rod, nor a sword, nor a pontifical mitre, but a cloven tongue — the symbol of speech, of argument, of "the foolishness of preaching." The victory by which the world is to be subjugated to the gospel is to be a moral victory; and the power which is to accomplish it is the simple story of the Cross. Jehovah is not in the storm nor in the earthquake, but in the still, small voice.


1. It marked the reformation and reorganisation of Judaism into the Christian Church. In this company of a hundred and twenty persons — like-minded as to the ruling principle of life and engaged with one accord in prayer for a specific blessing — we behold, in seed and promise, a mighty organism which is destined to survive all shocks and oppositions, gathering meat out of the eater and sweetness out of the strong, until at length it shall bring the world and lay it before its Master's feet. This is the living mechanism that Ezekiel saw by the river Chebar, "a whirlwind out of the north and a fire infolding itself and winged creatures going straight forward: whither the spirit yeas to go they went, and they turned not when they went" (Ezekiel 1:4-10). This working Church of Jesus, inspired by a purpose above all carnal ambitions and endued with power to accomplish it, is at this moment incomparably the greatest force on earth.

2. The miracle of the day of Pentecost marked the beginning of a new epoch. The old economy of types and shadows was over; the dispensation of the Spirit was at hand. Thenceforth the Holy Ghost was to rule in human affairs. It was a transitional point in history. Let us thank God that we live on the hither side of it. Nay, rather, let us thank God over and over that we are permitted to take part in the splendid achievements of these days.

3. This Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit marked the beginning of the end. At that moment God Himself made bare His arm and said, The kingdoms of this world shall be Mine! Those who looked on" were amazed and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?" In answer they were referred by Peter to the prophesy of Joel: "It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.'" It is scarcely to be believed that God will wait upon the slow processes which His people are using for the conversion of the world. He has mighty forces in reserve which we in our poor philosophies have never dreamed of; and who can tell at what moment He may bring them into requisition?

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

WEB: Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Descending Spirit
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