Acts: Chapter 2

Major Theme:

  • Harvesting: In Acts 2 we see the beginning of God’s harvest. Jesus used the harvest analogy in his ministry quite frequently. Jesus’ parables are filled with agricultural analogies: seeds and planting, watering, harvesting, storing, and more. Jesus constantly told the disciples that the fields are ready for harvest as long as they would harvest. Acts 2 and the story of Pentecost shows the fulfillment of that prophecy from Jesus. Pentecost, which is a harvest time Jewish festival (see note in Culture), gathered Jews from around the globe to celebrate God’s provision. The beauty in this image is that in Christ, the true bread of life had come down to humanity! And, the disciples in Acts 2 preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and these Jews celebrating Pentecost in Jerusalem believe by faith, receive the Holy Spirit and then spread the gospel in their native countries! This is God’s harvest. And, we are a part of this same harvest. We are members of the very same church in Acts, and it is our mission to bring people into the love of God through preaching the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and risen!

People:

  • Prophet Joel (vs16): One of the minor prophets, of whom nothing is known beyond the few hints furnished in his brief but valuable prophecy. He lived in the kingdom of Judah, and at a time when the temple and temple-worship still existed, Joel 1:14 2:1,15,32 3:1. Different authors assign to his prophecy different dates, but the prevailing opinion is that he prophesied in the reign of Uzziah, nearly 800 B. C.

The BOOK of JOEL opens with a most graphic and powerful description of the devastation caused by swarms of divers kinds of locusts, accompanied by a terrible drought. The plague of locusts, one of the most dreadful scourges of the East, is highly suggestive of an invasion of hostile legions such as have often ravaged Judea; and many have understood, by the locusts of Joel, the Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, or Romans. The prophet, however, adheres to his figure, if it be one; depicts the land as stripped of its verdure and parched with drought, summons the stricken people to fasting and penitence, and encourages them by promising the removal of the divine judgments and the return of fertility. While describing this returning plenty and prosperity, the prophet casts his view forward on a future still more remote, and predicts the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the signs and wonders and spiritual prosperity of the Messiah's reign, Joel 2:28. This passage is quoted by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:16.

Culture:

Places:

  • “A Galilean (vs. 7)” - A Derogatory Name: V. 7 Galilean — an inhabitant or native of Galilee. This word was used as a name of contempt as applied to our Lord’s disciples (Luke 22:59; Acts 2:7). All the apostles, with the exception of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:11), were Galileans. Peter was detected by his Galilean accent (Matt. 26:69; Mark 14:70) This was also one of the names of reproach given to the early Christians. Julian the Apostate, as he is called, not only used the epithet himself when referring to Christ and his apostles, but he made it a law that no one should ever call the Christians by any other name. This note reminds us that God’s power does not rest with those considered “powerful” in the world. God used uneducated fisherman to display the power of his Holy Spirit. Through the disciple’s witness to Christ by the power of the Spirit, Christ has transformed the people’s hearts and the world through his church.

Cultural Background:

  • Jewish Tradition and Pentecost: The day of Pentecost, or the fiftieth day, was so called because it fell seven weeks (fifty days by inclusive reckoning) from the day after the Sabbath following Passover (Leviticus 23: 15, 16). It was also called “the feast of harvest” (Exodus 23: 16), “the feast of weeks” (Exodus 34: 22; Numbers 28: 26; Deuteronomy 16: 9,10) and “the day of the first-fruits of wheat harvest” (Exodus 34: 22; Numbers 28: 26). It was one of the three great festivals of the year when Jews and proselytes (converts from paganism to the Jewish religion) from many parts of the ancient world made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Hence crowds from east and west were present in the city on this occasion (2: 9-11). Some time before the coming of Christ, this feast began to be regarded as the anniversary of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. At that time, according to a rabbinical interpretation of Exodus 20: 18, all seventy nations on earth heard the voice of God in their own languages. A counterpart to this may be recognized as visitors to Jerusalem heard the mighty works of God proclaimed in the various native languages (2:6).

Contemplating God:

Voice of the Past:

What is this Pentecost? It is the time when the sickle was to be put to the harvest, and the food was gathered. See now what this signifies, Jesus’ ascension marked the beginning of his harvest: for here, as the sickle with a sharp edge, so came the Spirit down to harvest men and women. For hear the words of Christ: Lift up your eyes, He said, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest. And again, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. But as the first-fruits of this harvest, He himself took [our nature], and bore it up on high. Himself first put in the sickle. Therefore also He calls the Word the Seed. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these and come to salvation. For Jesus life was the seed that prepared the harvest with his Spirit through the Church. - John Chrysostom, Homily 4 on the Acts of the Apostles.

Footnotes:

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. “Joel the Prophet.”

Easton Bible Dictionary. Acts 2:7. Galilean.

Peter Elliott