Lesson 4: Apostles Filled With the Holy Ghost/ Every Man Heard in His Own Language
I appreciate the opportunity to study with you. It's my hope that you'll find encouragement in this study. May I commend you for taking the time to study the Bible. Now please get a copy of the King James version and we'll continue our study in Acts.
We're ready to read from Acts 2:4, but before we do, let's review briefly. Three days after Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, was put in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaja, he arose again, early on Sunday morning. Jesus appeared to his apostles and disciples many times during the next 40 days. He instructed the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, that is, the kingdom would soon be established. Then, Jesus miraculously departed the presence of the Apostles on Mt. Olivet on that 40th day. Per Jesus' instruction they waited in Jerusalem. Matthias was appointed to take the ministry and Apostleship of Judas, and on the 50th day, which was a Jewish feast day known as Pentecost, the 12 Apostles were together, and suddenly that Sunday morning, about 9:00 a.m., miraculous things began to happen. The Apostles heard a rushing mighty sound. They saw strange fiery phenomenon resembling tongues. That takes us down to Acts 2:4 where our lesson begins. Let's read verse 4:
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Ok. What were they filled with? Verse 4 here corresponds to the promise that Jesus had made in Acts 1:5. Thus, being filled with the Holy Ghost is the same as being baptized with the Holy Ghost. Again, the "they" that were all filled with the Holy Ghost were the apostles, not the 120. Notice that immediately they began to speak in other tongues, that is, other languages beside their native language. They spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. In other words, they were Spirit directed.
Perhaps it would be wise at this point to discuss the Holy Ghost briefly. The words "Spirit", "Holy Spirit" and "Holy Ghost" are all synonymous terms, that is, when they are capitalized as it is here. You need to understand that the Holy Spirit here is one of the personalities of the Godhead. The Godhead is made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The King James version usually says "Holy Ghost". Other versions translate the same word as "Holy Spirit". In Colossians. 2:9, it said with reference to Christ:
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Thus, the word "Godhead" is a scriptural term. In the same book, Colossians 1:19 it says:
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell:
Therefore, we must conclude that Jesus has all authority, all power with respect to the salvation of man. John 3:17 tells us that God sent his son, Jesus, into the world that the world through him might be saved. Now later in John 14:16-17, Jesus in counseling with his Apostles around the table that night at the feast of the Passover, after Judas had got up and left, Jesus told the Apostles by way of promise:
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you
another Comforter, that he may abide with you
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth him not,
Did you notice in that scripture that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the "Comforter"? Now the word "Comforter" there in John 14:16 is capitalized, just like the words "Holy Ghost" in Acts 2:4 are capitalized. Did you notice that Jesus said "whom the world cannot receive"? Did you notice also Jesus referred to this Comforter as a person or personality? Listen to it again closely:
that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Then later on that same occasion, same conversation, Jesus still speaking, John 14:26, Jesus said:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
You see, the Holy Ghost is a personality of the Godhead just like Jesus. Jesus promised the Apostles this person or this personality would comfort them and assist them by supplying information and helping them to remember. Jesus came in a fleshly body. The Holy Ghost did not come in a fleshly body, but it was worked through the Apostles and at times through other human beings. Did you notice the world cannot receive him? He was promised to the Apostles exclusively. Thus, the Apostles received a special endowment of the Spirit. Jesus figuratively described this as a baptism with the Holy Ghost in Acts 1:5. Now in future lessons we shall discuss the Holy Spirit again occasionally as we discover pertinent material. Your concept of the Holy Spirit should grow as we progress through this book. You might want to re-read verse 4 and review what is being said today, but please satisfy yourself. If you understand what was promised by Jesus and what the Apostles received here in Acts 2:4, you will not henceforth be bewildered by the many false doctrines and the many false claims, and misleading statements that are dotted about in our religious world today. What I've said does not mean that the Holy Spirit has no influence on our lives today. We shall cover this aspect at a future time. The Apostles were the only ones that received the baptismal measure of the Holy Ghost in Acts, Chapter 2. Thus, they were totally submersed in the Holy Spirit. They were filled with him, per verse 8. That is, they were Holy Spirit directed. They spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. They spake other languages that they had never learned. You see, this is power, the spiritual power, that they had been promised. So the kingdom of God had come with power just like Jesus promised in Mark 9:1.
Now, what are the implications for you and for me? Obviously, there are many. That's why we need to study this book. The author of the book of Acts was the Holy Spirit and the penman was Luke. It was written about a generation after the church was established. It was written for our benefit. You remember Jesus promised to give the Apostles the keys to his kingdom. Matt. 16:18-19. They had been promised power - not political power, not physical power - but spiritual power. Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that the Apostles would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Acts 2:4 says emphatically "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost". As a result, they began to speak with other tongues or languages as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now the Jewish people who were faithful made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem each year on Pentecost. The city was filled with visitors. Some of these foreign Jews had no doubt been to Jerusalem only seven weeks before. Some of them may have been in that crowd and even participated on that Friday during Passover week when Pilate asked "What shall I do then with Jesus?" They responded "Let him be crucified". So you see, the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles was calculated to begin the kingdom on that Pentecost at a time when it could have exposure, could have the most far reaching effects on the Jewish people and the world, both foreign and domestic. Let's read verse 5:
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
You see, the time was right. The occasion was appropriate. The Apostles were waiting, trained and ready. The spiritual power had come. This had been prophesied for centuries. This was a historical moment. Almost eight centuries before, Jehovah God has showed these things to Isaiah. Now listen just a moment to what Isaiah wrote down:
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw
concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that
the mountain of the Lord's house shall be
established in the top of the mountains, and shall
be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall
flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and
let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the
house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:1-3.
Now if you take the time to study the sermon on the mount in Matt. 5, you'll find that Jesus said there about six times, I believe, words to this effect: "Ye have heard that it hath been said of them of old time." Then, he quotes or paraphrases one of the 10 Commandments and then every time - every time - he follows with these words: "But I say unto you" and then he proceeds to give his law for the Christian age. So you can see, as I have said before, Acts 2 stands at the center of the Bible. It was the climatic fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. It was the end of the Jewish age. It was the beginning of the church that Jesus had promised.
Let's see how this sudden endowment of spiritual power to the Apostles effected the multitudes dwelling there in Jerusalem. Verses 6, 7 and 8 - let's read:
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude
came together, and were confounded, because
that every man heard them speak in his own
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying
one to another, Behold, are not all these which
8 and how hear we every man in our own tongue,
wherein we were born?
Can you see this sudden interest this spiritual power generated in the crowds? Notice the words that Luke uses to describe the multitude. They were confounded. They were amazed. They marveled, asking eager questions: "are not all these which speak Galilaeans?" "How hear we thee?" Notice at the end of verse 6 "that every man heard them speak in his own language". Now please note that what they heard was an intelligent, recognizable, native language that the hearers had known ever since they had been old enough to speak. It is not some mumbo-jumbo that only God or the angles might understand. Look at it close - "every man heard them speak in his own language." The word "language" at the end of verse 6 is used synonymously with the word "tongues" in verse 4. Check it out. Do you get the picture here? These Jews had learned foreign languages as they migrated to foreign lands. Now these foreign tongues and dialects had become their native every day language. It was all that most of them had known since birth. It was their custom to learn a little Hebrew too, enough to get them by, you know, when they visited Jerusalem on the feast days no doubt. Can you see why they were so amazed? Here they are, trying to get by crippling along on Hebrew and Greek, trying to find a hotel, trying to get something to eat, trying to get a sacrifice offered at the temple as worship. Some may have been sort of pantomiming their way and all at once here are some of the natives around Jerusalem speaking the very language that these travelers had grown up in - known all their lives - the language they spoke and understood fluently. Suddenly, the conditions they had always known and experienced were reversed. No wonder they sat up and took notice! Can you see what a miracle this was? Those people today who speak "unknown tongues" will have to get it from some place besides Acts 2. This certainly is not taught or authorized here. It's not taught or authorized any place else either, of course, but it certainly is not taught here.
Ok. What were the languages being used and what were the Apostles saying? Verses 8, 9, 10 and 11 give this information. Let's read:
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue,
wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the
dwellers in Mesopotamia and in Judaea, and
Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the
parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of
Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in
our tongues the wonderful works of God.
You can see that the whole known world at that time was represented here. It's interesting to see how these places are decrypted on a map. The words "strangers of Rome" in verse 10 may designate that some Romans were present, but perhaps had not come to Jerusalem necessarily for the purposes of worshiping. They were from the capital city of the Empire. They may have been merchants or businessmen, but nevertheless, they witnessed this phenomenon. Now the word "Jews" at the end of verse 10 may designate that some of these Romans were of Jewish parents. The word "proselyte" means that some were either Gentile, that is, non-Jews or perhaps they were born of mixed parents. We find in verse 11 a paraphrase of what the multitudes were hearing in their own language, that is, what the Apostles were saying: "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." It's only reasonable that the Apostles were explaining what was happening. The beginning of a new era, the fulfillment of prophesy. It was part of God's plan. You see, it was a miraculous act of God. Verses 12 and 13 are somewhat of a repeat, but they're calculated to impress upon us the mood of the crowd. Let's read verses 12 and 13:
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt,
saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new
Now I suppose in almost every crowd there are always a few who refuse to be serious. They invent preposterous explanations to attract attention and they are sometimes the loud mouths of the crowd. Now any serious person would understand that drinking a little booze wouldn't cause you to start speaking in Russian or some other foreign language. As a matter of fact, the very fact that they were speaking an intelligent language and discussing a serious subject would indicate that they were anything but intoxicated. Yet, in these remarks you can see the excitement of the crowd. Can't you just see all those bewildered looks? Everyone scratching their heads? "What meaneth this?" Can you imagine how analytical that everyone was listening? Verse 4 makes it emphatic -all of the Apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost. All of the Apostles began to speak. It's quite clear. All 12 Apostles were participating. Now it's not clear as to the arrangement by which they spake - were they speaking by course, that is, by turn, or was a little group of one nationality gathered around one Apostle, and another little crowd that spoke a different tongue or different language gathered around another Apostle, or were the words of the Apostles being miraculously translated between the lips of the Apostles and the ears of the hearers? This would be an even greater miracle. Remember, they didn't have amplifiers and public address systems in those days. One man's voice didn't carry very far. There were thousands in that multitude it can be established. Like I said, the arrangement and details here are not clear, but I would assume 12 Apostles - each with a separate little crowd and the crowds may be overlapping here and there - would be more plausible. However, one thing is clear, the crowd was ready to hear the message, that is, they wanted to know the explanation and the Apostles were miraculously prepared to give that explanation. Luke records the speech of only one man - the Apostle Peter. Now we'll get into Peter's 23 verse sermon in our next lesson - the good news of the kingdom, citizenship requirements, and those that accepted the terms that day. I hope you're looking forward to Lesson 5. Have a good day.