Vol. 3, No. 2 Page 17 February, 2001
We may freely write about “the day of Pentecost," and some may not know what we mean by “the day of Pentecost.” We may assume that people know, when they actually do not know. The word “Pentecost” is not in the Old Testament, and it is in only three passages in the New Testament, which are Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8. These passages do not mean that Pentecost was a Christian festival day, or a special day observed by churches of Christ in the days of the apostles. Instead, it was one of the religious festival days about which God through Moses gave instructions to the Israelites and commanded them to observe it once each year. Accordingly, they observed it on the day after the seventh Sabbath following the Passover feast. Because of this, in the Old Testament it is called “the feast of weeks.” Because it occurred on the fiftieth day after the Passover feast, it was called “Pentecost” in the New Testament because that word is the Anglicized form of the Greek adjective that means “fiftieth."
Even though the death of Jesus did away with the Law of Moses and all its festival days, including “the feast of weeks,” or Pentecost, the Jews generally did not know this. Therefore, the first day of Pentecost after the death, burial and resurrection was observed according to Dr. Luke's account in Acts 2.
Pentecost was on the first day of the week, which is now called Sunday. The church of Christ was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of our Lord. If you are in a church which did not have its beginning on that Pentecost in Jerusalem, you are not in the right church! Dr. Luke tells us that on that day there were in Jerusalem "Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven,” then he names about fifteen nations represented (Acts 2:5-11). These devout Jews had come to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost. The same wisdom of God by which he "weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance” (Isaiah 40:12), he also determined that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47). Surely one of the reasons for this was that so many devout people from many countries would hear “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Ephesians 1:13) the first time it was preached, and that those converted by it would carry to many places that “word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5) which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16), and thereby the Lord's church would be started in many countries.
"The word that Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:1-4).
This profound prophecy was made by Isaiah about 700 years before the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1. The beginning of its fulfillment was on that Pentecost. On that day, the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and they "began to speak as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4).
On that same Pentecost, the Gospel began to be preached in the name of or by the authority of Christ (Luke 24:47), and Dr. Luke recorded what Peter preached on that day. The people who accepted what he preached were told to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38). When they were baptized, they were added by the Lord to his church (Acts 2:41-47). What Isaiah called "the mountain of the Lord's house" and "the house of the God of Jacob," Paul called "the house of God which is the church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15).
The Gospel that Peter preached on Pentecost was the fulfillment of what Isaiah said when he said, "out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Therefore, the Gospel is "the law of the Lord." It is not the same as "the law of the Lord" which was the law of Moses, but it is the law of the Lord of the new covenant! Acts 2:38 contains "the law of the Lord" for those who are out of Christ and lost, and they will have to obey it or be lost, for the writer of Hebrews said of Jesus Christ our Savior, he is "the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).
Everyone should be sure he does not make the mistake of thinking that under Christ and the Gospel system God does not have a law! Part of that law is God's law of morality in the Gospel. Read about that in 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Those who ignore that part of God's law in the Gospel will also destroy themselves!
Space does not allow me to recite all the other New Testament passages which identify the Gospel as the law of God! Look them up and study them. God saves us by grace when we do what he says in his law, the Gospel! Being saved by following his law in the Gospel does not make salvation any less by his grace!
Isaiah also pointed to Pentecost of Acts 2 when he said that by his law, the Lord would judge or rule among the nations and rebuke many people who would "beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."
Some argue this did not begin to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost of Acts 2, because swords and spears and wars have been in abundance since then. Isaiah's prophecy should not be taken literally. He was talking about the "war" or conflict, animosity and enmity between Jews and Gentiles, and all such within both of these groups. This all means that under the law that would go forth from Jerusalem, or under the rule of Christ, all who follow his instructions in his Gospel and trust and obey him will be at peace with God and with one another,
"For he is our peace who hath made both one [Jews and Gentiles] and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us: having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" (Ephesians 2:14-15).
In Chapter 11, Isaiah depicted this peace of the Messianic Age, or when Christ would be head of his church that began on Pentecost of Acts 2, with other strong figurative language, when he wrote:
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:6-9).
Isaiah's graphic and strong depiction of creatures that ordinarily were exceedingly hostile and enemies of each other now at peace with each other, is a clear message concerning the peace and tranquility that all who are following Christ have with each other as they submit to him and allow him to rule in their hearts as they live in his body which is his church (Colossians 1:18). When people in is church have trouble with each other, someone, some of them or all of them are not following the head, Christ Jesus!
The Old Testament prophet of God named Daniel was an intelligent, skilled and dedicated man. Over 500 years before the Pentecost of Acts 2, he was a Hebrew captive in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar, during the famous 70-year captivity of the Hebrews from Judah. The king could not interpret a dream he had which troubled him. His wisest Babylonian counselors could not interpret it either. By the Spirit and wisdom of the one true and living God, Daniel interpreted the king's dream. He told the king that in his vexing dream he saw a great image: his head was of fine gold; his breast and arms were of silver; his belly and thighs were of brass; his legs were iron and his feet wee part iron and part clay.
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that a stone was cut out without hands which smote the image on his feet, and it was all shattered into pieces, including the head of gold. He told Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou art the head of gold." Daniel explained that Babylon would be overcome by the kingdom represented by the breast and arms of the image. He then told the king that another kingdom represented by the belly and thighs of brass would conquer the kingdom represented by the breast and arms of silver. Then Daniel told the king the kingdom depicted by the belly and thighs of brass would be subdued by a fourth kingdom represented by the legs of iron, which would break up into a condition pictured by feet made partly of iron and partly of clay.
Then Daniel said, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).
Bible and secular historians agree that the kingdoms that followed the Babylonian Kingdom were the Medo-Persian Empire which subdued Babylon; the Macedonian Empire established by Alexander the Great of Macedon, which succeeded the Medo-Persian; the Empire of Alexander was followed by successors of Alexander leading various peoples, and these were succeeded by the Roman emperors, or kings. Daniel said God would set up a kingdom in the days of "these kings," the Roman kings. He did this on that Pentecost of Acts 2. That kingdom is the church of Christ, or the body of Christ or the house of God! If you are in God's family, you are a citizen in that kingdom and a member of that church! Those in that church (Colossians 1:18; 3:15) were in that kingdom (Colossians 1:13), which proves that the kingdom which God set up on Pentecost of Acts 2 is the church he established on that same day!
Liberal critics have taken uncouth and deceptive advantage of dead Daniel! They have said he could not have written the Book of Daniel because he could not have known all that history depicted by the crushed and shattered great image! So, these critics say the Book of Daniel was written soon before the time of Christ, and someone wrote it to make it appear to be prophecy when it was actually history he was looking back on.
This shallow, puerile attempt to discredit the venerable Daniel was exploded by the Jewish historian Josephus who lived when Christ lived. He wrote that when Alexander was in Jerusalem and met the Jewish high priest he was shown the Book of Daniel, "wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that he himself was the person intended" (The Works of Josephus, Book XI, Chapter VIII, page 350). Alexander the Great died in 320 B.C. which was at least 200 years prior to the time that liberals say somebody else wrote the Book of Daniel!
There are many Joels in the Bible. One of them was Joel the son of Pethuel. The time of his prophesying is not certainly known. It likely was between four and five hundred years before Pentecost of Acts 2. Dr. Luke recorded what Peter quoted on Pentecost from Joel 2:28-32. Peter also quoted David on Pentecost. This means there is triple inspiration in Acts 2. Peter was inspired; he quoted David and Joel who were inspired; and Luke who wrote Acts was inspired!
On Pentecost, Peter said of that which was happening on that day, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (2:26). Space does not allow me to expound here on all of Joel's prophecy, but I will comment on two matters. Peter quoted what Joel prophesied when he said, "I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh." The fulfillment of that prophecy began on Pentecost when the twelve apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost to guide them into all truth and show them things to come (John 16:12-13).
"All flesh" of the prophecy obviously does not include the flesh of animals, or of all humans. It meant some Jews and some Gentiles. Cornelius and his household were Gentiles and, about ten years after the Pentecost of Acts 2, they were baptized with the Holy Ghost to prove to the Jewish brethren with Peter that God wanted Gentiles to hear the Gospel too.
Peter also said Joel said, "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (2:21). As Peter continued to preach Jesus, Luke says, "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do?" (2:37). Peter then told them how to call on the name of the Lord to be saved or have the remission of their sins by answering, "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (2:38). "In the name of Jesus Christ" means upon the authority of Jesus Christ.
Ananias, a disciple in Damascus, told the penitent believer, Saul of Tarsus, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). That is what Joel meant about calling on the name of the Lord to be saved! That is how one calls on the name of the Lord to become a Christian! Amen!