The Spirit

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (2:2-4)

The Holy Spirit comes upon them without warning, but He does so in a dramatic way, with the sound of a “violent wind” and an appearance like “tongues of fire” that separate and “came to rest on each of them”. We might want to keep in mind here that “like tongues of fire” isn’t literally fire because of the word “like”; Luke is telling us that in this instance, the Holy Spirit took a form that they could see. He looked something like tongues of fire, but He was most assuredly the Holy Spirit. What we really have here in the coming of the Spirit, is the Apostles receiving the Spirit with such am impact that the people in the neighborhood couldn’t miss it. The Apostles began to speak in “other tongues”, and it is worthwhile for us to note the meaning in this statement: The Greek word rendered “tongues” is glossa which means “languages”, thus in this instance the Apostles were not speaking in private prayer languages, and they were speaking human languages that they didn’t know.

In 2:5-8, Luke documents for us that hearing all of the commotion, a crowd gathers, a crowd that is amazed to find a bunch of Galileans speaking languages that the people in crowd, who are in town for the Feast speak. In other words, they are wondering how it could be that mere lowly Galileans can speak their languages. Luke also documents the places the people in the crowd have come from in 2:9-11, and more to the point, he documents what the Apostles were talking about in languages they had never studied:

we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (2:11b)
Needlessly to say, they were amazed and wondered what this all meant (2:12). Yet, as one might guess, not all were amazed…
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” (2:13)

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