Speak Easy

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9 “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

Acts 2:1–13

The Holy Spirit’s first topic was the mighty deeds of God, not a salvation message (verse 11). However, Peter would soon address this subject in a dynamic sermon (verses 14-36).

For now, in many languages, the 120 or so who had dramatically received the spirit of God within them were singing God’s praises to the Jews congregated in Jerusalem at Pentecost, or who had resettled there from some 15 countries or regions over time. If studied, you’ll find countries in all directions from Jerusalem, “Judea” signifying all parts in between, including Syria.

At least three things are important, or are particularly interesting to me here. First, the gift of “speaking in tongues” is speaking (and perhaps understanding) a language you do not speak. That was what all the buzz was about. Galileans, known for their thick guttural accents, were certainly not sophisticated enough to speak in such a way! In these foundational days of the church, this phenomenon was used as a sign of salvation, and to facilitate the spreading of the gospel. We infer this, at least, from this event.

Second, you build an evangelical message—like the one that was soon to come from Peter—on the mighty deeds of God (verse 11). Perhaps the Galileans were saying something like this.

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. Psalm 40:5

If God is to save you, he must possess the infinite power to do so. It is this predicate upon which we base our salvation. Indeed, as the song says, he is “mighty to save!”

Third, when God began the mighty work of establishing his church and strategically spreading the gospel, he created a means by which there would be understandable communication. At Babel, to disrupt the evil machinations of man, he did the opposite. (Genesis 11:1-9)

Here was the birth of the church of Jesus Christ, and on cue its mockery. In typical fashion, while the founding members praised a mighty God, the critics claimed they came forth from their meeting place filled with “sweet wine.” Little did they know there’d be no prohibition of the gospel of God going forward.

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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