Table of Contents
AS the disciples returned from Olivet to Jerusalem, the people looked on
them, expecting to see on their faces expressions of sorrow, confusion,
and defeat; but they saw there gladness and triumph. The disciples did
not now mourn over disappointed hopes. They had seen the risen Saviour,
and the words of His parting promise echoed constantly in their ears.
In obedience to Christ's command, they waited in Jerusalem for the
promise of the Father--the outpouring of the Spirit. They did not wait
in idleness. The record says that they were "continually in the temple,
praising and blessing God." Luke 24:53. They also met together to
present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. They knew
that they had a Representative in heaven, an Advocate at the throne of
God. In solemn awe they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance,
"Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive,
that your joy may be full." John 16:23, 24. Higher and still higher they
extended the hand of faith, with the mighty argument, "It is Christ that
died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of
God, who also maketh intercession for us." Romans 8:34.
As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled
their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief. As they
called to remembrance the words that Christ had spoken to them before
His death they understood more fully their meaning. Truths which had
passed from their memory were again brought to their minds, and these
they repeated to one another. They reproached themselves for their
misapprehension of the Saviour. Like a procession, scene after scene of
His wonderful life passed before them. As they meditated upon His pure,
holy life they felt that no toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too
great, if only they could bear witness in their lives to the loveliness
of Christ's character. Oh, if they could but have the past three years
to live over, they thought, how differently they would act! If they
could only see the Master again, how earnestly they would strive to show
Him how deeply they loved Him, and how sincerely they sorrowed for
having ever grieved Him by a word or an act of unbelief! But they were
comforted by the thought that they were forgiven. And they determined
that, so far as possible, they would atone for their unbelief by bravely
confessing Him before the world.
The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men
and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to
Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they
came close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer
to God, and as they did this they realized what a privilege had been
theirs in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ. Sadness
filled their hearts as they thought of how many times they had grieved
Him by their slowness of comprehension, their failure to understand the
lessons that, for their good, He was trying to teach them.
These days of preparation were days of deep heart searching. The
disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy
unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not
ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the
burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to
be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had
During the patriarchal age the influence of the Holy Spirit had often
been revealed in a marked manner, but never in its fullness. Now, in
obedience to the word of the Saviour, the disciples offered their
supplications for this gift, and in heaven Christ added His
intercession. He claimed the gift of the Spirit, that He might pour it
upon His people.
"And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one
accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a
rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were
The Spirit came upon the waiting, praying disciples with a fullness that
reached every heart. The Infinite One revealed Himself in power to His
church. It was as if for ages this influence had been held in restraint,
and now Heaven rejoiced in being able to pour out upon the church the
riches of the Spirit's grace. And under the influence of the Spirit,
words of penitence and confession mingled with songs of praise for sins
forgiven. Words of thanksgiving and of prophecy were heard. All heaven
bent low to behold and to adore the wisdom of matchless,
incomprehensible love. Lost in wonder, the apostles exclaimed, "Herein
is love." They grasped the imparted gift. And what followed? The sword
of the Spirit, newly edged with power and bathed in the lightnings of
heaven, cut its way through unbelief. Thousands were converted in a day.
"It is expedient for you that I go away," Christ had said to His
disciples; "for If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you;
but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." "When He, the Spirit of
truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak
of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He
will show you things to come." John 16:7, 13.
Christ's ascension to heaven was the signal that His followers were to
receive the promised blessing. For this they were to wait before they
entered upon their work. When Christ passed within the heavenly gates,
He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this
ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in
rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory
which He had with the Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal
outpouring was Heaven's communication that the Redeemer's inauguration
was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit
from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king,
received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One
over His people.
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat
upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and
began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
The Holy Spirit, assuming the form of tongues of fire, rested upon those
assembled. This was an emblem of the gift then bestowed on the
disciples, which enabled them to speak with fluency languages with which
they had heretofore been unacquainted. The appearance of fire signified
the fervent zeal with which the apostles would labor and the power that
would attend their work.
"There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation
under heaven." During the dispersion the Jews had been scattered to
almost every part of the inhabited world, and in their exile they had
learned to speak various languages. Many of these Jews were on this
occasion in Jerusalem, attending the religious festivals then in
progress. Every known tongue was represented by those assembled. This
diversity of languages would have been a great hindrance to the
proclamation of the gospel; God therefore in a miraculous manner
supplied the deficiency of the apostles. The Holy Spirit did for them
that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a
lifetime. They could now proclaim the truths of the gospel abroad,
speaking with accuracy the languages of those for whom they were
laboring. This miraculous gift was a strong evidence to the world that
their commission bore the signet of Heaven. From this time forth the
language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they
spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language.
"Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were
confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold,
are not all these which speak Galileans? and how hear we every man in
our own tongue, wherein we were born?"
The priests and rulers were greatly enraged at this wonderful
manifestation, but they dared not give way to their malice, for fear of
exposing themselves to the violence of the people. They had put the
Nazarene to death; but here were His servants, unlettered men of
Galilee, telling in all the languages then spoken, the story of His life
and ministry. The priests, determined to account for the miraculous
power of the disciples in some natural way, declared that they were
drunken from partaking largely of the new wine prepared for the feast.
Some of the most ignorant of the people present seized upon this
suggestion as the truth, but the more intelligent knew it to be false;
and those who understood the different languages testified to the
accuracy with which these languages were used by the disciples.
In answer to the accusation of the priests Peter showed that this
demonstration was in direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, wherein
he foretold that such power would come upon men to fit them for a
special work. "Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem," he
said, "be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are
not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come
to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon
all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your
young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on
My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My
Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
With clearness and power Peter bore witness of the death and
resurrection of Christ: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of
Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and
signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also
know: Him . . . ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and
slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death:
because it was not possible that He should be holden of it."
Peter did not refer to the teachings of Christ to prove his position,
because he knew that the prejudice of his hearers was so great that his
words on this subject would be of no effect. Instead, he spoke to them
of David, who was regarded by the Jews as one of the patriarchs of their
nation. "David speaketh concerning Him," he declared: "I foresaw the
Lord always before My face, for He is on My right hand, that I should
not be moved: therefore did My heart rejoice, and My tongue was glad;
moreover also My flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave
My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see
corruption. . . .
"Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David,
that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this
day." "He . . . spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was
not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath
God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses."
The scene is one full of interest. Behold the people coming from all
directions to hear the disciples witness to the truth as it is in Jesus.
They press in, crowding the temple. Priests and rulers are there, the
dark scowl of malignity still on their faces, their hearts still filled
with abiding hatred against Christ, their hands uncleansed from the
blood shed when they crucified the world's Redeemer. They had thought to
find the apostles cowed with fear under the strong hand of oppression
and murder, but they find them lifted above all fear and filled with the
Spirit, proclaiming with power the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. They
hear them declaring with boldness that the One so recently humiliated,
derided, smitten by cruel hands, and crucified, is the Prince of life,
now exalted to the right hand of God.
Some of those who listened to the apostles had taken an active part in
the condemnation and death of Christ. Their voices had mingled with the
rabble in calling for His crucifixion. When Jesus and Barabbas stood
before them in the judgment hall and Pilate asked, "Whom will ye that I
release unto you?" they had shouted, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!"
Matthew 27:17; John 18:40. When Pilate delivered Christ to them, saying,
"Take ye Him, and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him;" "I am
innocent of the blood of this just Person," they had cried, "His blood
be on us, and on our children." John 19:6; Matthew 27:24, 25.
Now they heard the disciples declaring that it was the Son of God who
had been crucified. Priests and rulers trembled. Conviction and anguish
seized the people. "They were pricked in their heart, and said unto
Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we
do?" Among those who listened to the disciples were devout Jews, who
were sincere in their belief. The power that accompanied the words of
the speaker convinced them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
"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 Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your
children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God
Peter urged home upon the convicted people the fact that they had
rejected Christ because they had been deceived by priests and rulers;
and that if they continued to look to these men for counsel, and waited
for them to acknowledge Christ before they dared to do so, they would
never accept Him. These powerful men, though making a profession of
godliness, were ambitious for earthly riches and glory. They were not
willing to come to Christ to receive light.
Under the influence of this heavenly illumination the scriptures that
Christ had explained to the disciples stood out before them with the
luster of perfect truth. The veil that had prevented them from seeing to
the end of that which had been abolished, was now removed, and they
comprehended with perfect clearness the object of Christ's mission and
the nature of His kingdom. They could speak with power of the Saviour;
and as they unfolded to their hearers the plan of salvation, many were
convicted and convinced. The traditions and superstitions inculcated by
the priests were swept away from their minds, and the teachings of the
Saviour were accepted.
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day
there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
The Jewish leaders had supposed that the work of Christ would end with
His death; but, instead of this, they witnessed the marvelous scenes of
the Day of Pentecost. They heard the disciples, endowed with a power and
energy hitherto unknown, preaching Christ, their words confirmed by
signs and wonders. In Jerusalem, the stronghold of Judaism, thousands
openly declared their faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
The disciples were astonished and overjoyed at the greatness of the
harvest of souls. They did not regard this wonderful ingathering as the
result of their own efforts; they realized that they were entering into
other men's labors.
Ever since the fall of Adam, Christ had been committing to chosen
servants the seed of His word, to be sown in human hearts. During His
life on this earth He had sown the seed of truth and had watered it with
His blood. The conversions that took place on the Day of Pentecost were
the result of this sowing, the harvest of Christ's work, revealing the
power of His teaching.
The arguments of the apostles alone, though clear and convincing, would
not have removed the prejudice that had withstood so much evidence. But
the Holy Spirit sent the arguments home to hearts with divine power. The
words of the apostles were as sharp arrows of the Almighty, convicting
men of their terrible guilt in rejecting and crucifying the Lord of
Under the training of Christ the disciples had been led to feel their
need of the Spirit. Under the Spirit's teaching they received the final
qualification, and went forth to their lifework. No longer were they
ignorant and uncultured. No longer were they a collection of independent
units or discordant, conflicting elements. No longer were their hopes
set on worldly greatness. They were of "one accord," "of one heart and
of one soul." Acts. 2:46; 4:32. Christ filled their thoughts; the
advancement of His kingdom was their aim. In mind and character they had
become like their Master, and men "took knowledge of them, that they had
been with Jesus." Acts 4:13.
Pentecost brought them the heavenly illumination. The truths they could
not understand while Christ was with them were now unfolded. With a
faith and assurance that they had never before known, they accepted the
teachings of the Sacred Word. No longer was it a matter of faith with
them that Christ was the Son of God. They knew that, although clothed
with humanity, He was indeed the Messiah, and they told their experience
to the world with a confidence which carried with it the conviction that
God was with them.
They could speak the name of Jesus with assurance; for was He not their
Friend and Elder Brother? Brought into close communion with Christ, they
sat with Him in heavenly places. With what burning language they clothed
their ideas as they bore witness for Him! Their hearts were surcharged
with a benevolence so full, so deep, so far-reaching, that it impelled
them to go to the ends of the earth, testifying to the power of Christ.
They were filled with an intense longing to carry forward the work He
had begun. They realized the greatness of their debt to heaven and the
responsibility of their work. Strengthened by the endowment of the Holy
Spirit, they went forth filled with zeal to extend the triumphs of the
cross. The Spirit animated them and spoke through them. The peace of
Christ shone from their faces. They had consecrated their lives to Him
for service, and their very features bore evidence to the surrender they
Previous Chapter l