Acts 2:1-21- In the last days it will be, God declares
Please, browse the many free commentaries available on https://www.katrinapearls.com/blog
When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs-- in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
`In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out 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.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming Yahweh great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name Yahweh shall be saved.' "
This is the mandatory reading from the Acts of the Apostles that will be read on Pentecost Sunday, Year C (and every Year), according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will be read aloud as either as a First Lesson or as a New Testament selection. If as the First Lesson, it will precede a singing of verses from Psalm 104, where David wrote: “There move the ships, and there is that Leviathan, which you have made for the sport of it.” If as the New Testament selection, its place will be filled by a reading from Genesis 11, which tells of the Tower of Babel. There is written: “Yahweh said, "Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another's speech.” In that scenario, if the Acts reading comes as the First Lesson, then the New Testament selection will be from Paul’s letter to the Christians of Rome, where he wrote: “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Everything will accompany the Gospel selection from John, where he wrote, “Jesus said to [Philip], "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
I have written about this standard Pentecost Sunday reading on several occasions. Here are links to commentaries I have published prior, which can be found on this website: A refresher about what Pentecost means (2021); Pentecost Sunday 2020 – Part I (Episcopal Lectionary & Acts 2:1-21); and, The Feast of Fifty Days (2018). There is not much I can add to the same verses; but, as this is the first time I have written about this during Year C, I will make references to this reading that align with the Year C reading selections [Genesis 11:1-9; Romans 8:14-17, and, John 14:8-17,(25-27)].
First, when we read the NRSV translation that says, “suddenly from heaven there came a sound,” the Greek needs closer inspection. Luke wrote, “aphnō ek tou ouranou ēchos,” which literally translates to mean, “suddenly from within out of this spirit roaring.” This says that nothing flew in the window and nothing came mysteriously through the wall, as if “heaven” is some mystical place that is somewhere not within. This becomes a statement that the soul of Jesus had entered his disciples and remained with their souls – within their beings – for forty days prior. Now, after his appearance of a physical body ascended – meaning Jesus would never again look physically like Jesus the man in a body of flesh [sorry Hollywood Jewish movie moguls] – the soul of Jesus (the seed implanted within the souls of his good fruit) came suddenly roaring out. That has to be seen and understood.
The Greek word that follows this “roaring” (“ēchos”) is “hósper,” which means “just as, even as.” The NRSV translates that as “like.” This key word says “not a violent wind,” but metaphorically “just as” that. Not too long ago, I heard a Baptist preacher bend over and look at his audience and say Jesus cried tears of blood in Gethsemane [only told in Luke’s Gospel]. He failed to understand the metaphor stated in that verse, which says “hōsei thromboi haimatos,” or “just as clots of blood” or “even as large drops of blood.” Jesus was not bleeding out from his eyes. He was sweating profusely, and the large drops of sweat were symbolic of a sacrificial lamb before the slaughter. Such errors of intellect lead the weak-minded to follow the lead of imbecilic preachers, all happily prancing together towards the great pit of ruin. Thus, Acts 2:2 speaks metaphorically of “violent wind,” not literally.
Following this revelation, when we read the NRSV translate: “it filled the entire house where they were sitting,” that makes it seem like a room in a house was filled with the ‘Holy Spirit.’ Rooms and houses are inanimate objects, all made of dead matter, possessing no soul. The Greek written says, “kai eplērōsen holon ton oikon hou ēsan kathēmenoi”. That literally translates to say, “importantly he made complete the whole this dwelling in what place they existed enthroned”. In that, two third-person verbs are found, one singular (“he”) and one plural (“they”). This references the soul of Jesus being in “the whole this dwelling,” as that soul dwelt within everyone in that room. This is important to grasp (from the use of “kai” leading this statement). The disciples were not “sitting.” The soul of Jesus and the throne of Yahweh was “enthroned” (viable translation of “kathēmenoi”) within everyone’s soul (men and women followers of Jesus). The Greek word “eplērōsen” is the third-person singular (“he”) attached to “pléroó,” meaning “to make full, to complete,” properly meaning “fill to individual capacity.” This is like how the soul of Jesus (an angel or elohim) told John’s soul about the symbol of omega (“Ὦ”), where the open allowing in sin needs to be “complete,” as the “closure” of Jesus, making the “Great O” be a “complete” circle (“Ō”).
In verse three, the Greek word “ōphthēsan” is translated by the NRSV as “appeared,” which is correct. Still, the truth of the word “horaó” says, “to see, perceive, attend to,” implying “I see, look upon, experience, perceive, discern, beware.” HELPS Word-studies says the metaphorical meaning of this word is: “to see with the mind" (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception).” This must be understood, as there were no visible tongues of any physical type flying into the mouths of the disciples. The word should be read as the disciple each “perceived” within their bodies of flesh a “tongue” that was “divided” from their natural tongue (learned language), coming not from their brains (not subliminally taught and forgot), but from the “spirit of Yahweh within their souls.”
Now, the “dividing tongues” (from “diamerizomenai glōssai”) become a reference to the reading from Genesis 11, where the story tells of Yahweh seeing mankind building a tower and everyone being one, with the same language. When Yahweh saw this would lead mankind away from seeking a Spiritual return to Yahweh, seeing human greatness as a more pleasing god to worship, Yahweh ordered His elohim (angels) to “divine their tongues,” to confuse their brains. Now, in Acts, the “Spirit” within, which was not the soul, but the “Spirit” that elevated a soul in a body of flesh to “Sacredness,” as one “Set Apart by God” [made “Holy”], the “dividing tongues” was the ability to understand everyone in a telepathic way, where physical words were not necessary. In fact, physical words only make it harder to understand what someone is attempting to say. The “Spirit” within gave all within the upper room an ability to think as Jesus, so others of different languages could hear Jesus speaking in their “tongues.”
This multiplicity is seen in the long list of languages spoken by the pilgrim in Jerusalem for the Passover-Shavuot festivals. That multiplicity says everyone there heard “magnificence of this of God” communicated to them, which was mot likely whatever Scriptural questions each had within, which no one had ever fully addressed, to further enhance his or her faith in Yahweh. Before we read specific words spoken by Peter, coming from the prophet Joel, everyone’s attention was drawn by many different enlightening words heard by their souls (seeming as if only one voice was being shouted from an upstairs room), when thousands each heard a voice speaking his or her specific language, fluently, revealing the truth of Scripture. That amazing happening froze the faithful in their places, drawing all focus and attention of some rubes, obviously from the rural setting of Galilee.
In the Greek translations of Peter quoting John 2:28-32, it should be realized that Peter was a rube Galilean, so it was not him speaking Scripture in every different language mentioned prior. Peter spoke one language, which was Hebrew. In the Hebrew of Joel’s prophecy, he wrote “Yahweh” four times in the last two verses. That is where you will find I have restored that name, replacing the poor translation that says “of the Lord” (from the Greek “Kyriou”). Every pilgrim in that area of Jerusalem [the Essene Quarter] would have known “Yahweh” to be the name of their God. They would have all memorized those Hebrew words of Joel; and, they all would know the truth of those words spoken in prophecy was being fulfilled in their presence at that time … the truth of what Joel prophesied having come true in their souls.
Each of those pilgrims, whose hearts and souls were opened because of their faith, then received the Spirit, just as Joel said. This is how Paul wrote in Romans, “you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” Paul was not one of those filled with the “Spirit” and made a “Saint” on that Pentecost Sunday. His completing the Great O would come later; but the way he explained it as he was close to his execution by the Romans who imprisoned him, he knew the soul within his soul – Jesus – made him able to call Yahweh his “Father” – “Abba” – in the same way each of those Pentecost Sunday pilgrims knew they were able to also replace “Yahweh” with “Father.” As their “Pater,” they had all (men and women alike) become Sons of Yahweh, brothers each, all because they became Jesus reborn.
It is this element of “Fatherhood” that is central in the reading from John, when a drunken Philip asked Jesus to tell them where his “Father” lived. He told them the “Father dwells in me.” He repeated, “the Father is in me.” When he then said, “I am going to the Father, I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” When the prophecy of Joel came true, the soul of Jesus entered into every soul of welcoming pilgrims, so all were able to ask the Father for anything, in the name of Jesus. Whatever they asked in that new name, it would be done.
As the mandatory reading for every Pentecost Sunday, it is important to realize this is the final day of the Easter season. It is the end of one’s internship bearing only a portion of Jesus’ soul, through extension. This prophecy of Joel says the time of preparation of the green fruit has taken place. The festival of Shavuot (the Fiftieth Day announcement that the first fruits are ready to be served to the faithful) is when those prepared to be good fruit (not rot and wasted) will be fed to those desiring the bread from heaven and thirsting for ever-living waters of eternal salvation. Those pilgrim who heard Peter and the eleven (and any others whose souls were ready to ‘speak in tongues’ in the upper room) were not listening with human ears. Their souls heard the Spirit of the Son speaking to them, pouring out the love of Yahweh, just as it had been poured out into the Son in Eden, when the seventh day began. Pentecost Sunday becomes a reflection when one is deemed good fruit to be served to the faithful. If one has not been prepared for this word to be heard, then one’s soul is not good fruit. One’s soul is turning to rot and spoiling everything surrounding that soul.