God’s Gift to the Early Church

MEMORY VERSE: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” —Acts 1:8

ACTS 2:1-6, 14, 36-42

THE Holy Spirit is the holy power of God exercised for the accomplishment of whatever purposes he may desire. In our memory verse Jesus promised his disciples that in due time they would receive power by which they would be commissioned and enabled to be his witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth. Jesus made this promise because the Heavenly Father had assured him that he would send his Holy Spirit, or power, upon his dedicated disciples. Peter explains this thought further, saying that the resurrected Jesus was “by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye do now see and hear.”—Acts 2:33

As our lesson indicates, there was a great demonstration of power in connection with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, “as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” The rushing wind was not itself the Holy Spirit but merely an outward demonstration of the fact that the holy power of God had entered the room.

There was another demonstration of the presence of God’s power in the “cloven tongues like as of fire, … [which] sat upon each of them.” “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” the record states, “and began to speak with other tongues.” This manifestation of God’s power at Pentecost, and later in the experiences of the Early Church, should not be confused with the present-day claim of being able to speak with tongues, called “giossolalia.” This latter is merely a gibberish, not understandable to anyone, and of no practical value to the hearer.

But at Pentecost there was a purpose in empowering the disciples to speak with tongues. Jews were gathered there from essentially all parts of the then known world, each speaking the language of his adopted country. The Lord wanted a witness concerning Jesus, given to these assembled Jews, so his holy power gave the disciples the ability to speak in these foreign tongues. After all, Jesus had said they were to be his witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth, and how appropriate that it should begin with those Israelites from other countries who had come to Jerusalem for the annual feast of Pentecost.

The enemies of Jesus and his followers made the accusation that the excitement which was occurring was because they were intoxicated. Peter refuted this charge, and in doing so took occasion to proclaim that Jesus had been raised from the dead to sit on the throne of David, and that God had made him both “Lord and Christ.”

“When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Baptism for the remission of sins was John’s baptism, and was limited to Israelites who had transgressed the Law, which was the case with those to whom Peter witnessed at Pentecost. Peter called for a genuine repentance, and obviously they were ready for this, for they had been “pricked in their heart” by his message.

Genuine repentance placed these Israelites in covenant relationship with God, but under Christ instead of Moses. Peter explained that “the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Here we are reminded that the intent of the witness work which began at Pentecost was not to convert the world, but was designed to reach only those whom the Lord desired to call to the “great salvation” being offered during the present age.—Heb. 2:1

Peter exhorted the repentant ones with “many other words” of which we do not have a record. But with the Lord’s help his witness was very effective, for about three thousand souls were added to the church that day.


What is the Holy Spirit?

What was the purpose of speaking with tongues?

Explain the purpose of the Pentecostal baptism.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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