In order to understand what part Pentecost played in the purposes of God it is essential that the student have an understanding of what it was.
Pentecost was a Jewish Feast Day. In the Old Testament it was called the Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10) because it was observed seven weeks after the offering of the barley-sheaf during the Passover
season (Lev. 23:15).
Pentecost was the second of the great Jewish national feasts. It was observed on the fiftieth day, or seven weeks from the Paschal Feast.
Therefore, it was the Feast of Weeks.
The Greek word for fiftieth is "pentekoste." Thus the word was not translated in our King James Authorized Version, but rather the Greek word was Anglicized from
"pentekoste" to Pentecost. It is said that the Greek speaking Jews referred to the last day of the Feast of Weeks as Pentecost because the last day ended fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits.
THE FEASTS OF THE LORD
The 23rd chapter of the book of Leviticus sets forth the giving of the seven great feasts of the Lord. These great feasts divided Israel's year. In fact, looking carefully at these feasts we can view God's dealings with Israel during the entire period of their most eventful history.
Looking at the feasts separately we notice in Leviticus 23 the eight in number.
1. The Sabbath
2. The Passover
3. The Feast of Unleavened Bread
4. The Feast of First Fruits
6. The Feast of Trumpets
7. The Day of Atonement
8. The Feast of Tabernacles
It should be pointed out that the Sabbath occupies a very special, unique and independent place. It is first presented in Leviticus 23:3.
There we read of its proper characteristics and its attendant circumstaces fully set forth; then we read, "These are the feasts of the Lord, even
holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons" (v. 4). So the attentive reader then becomes aware of the fact that the first great
feast was to be the Passover. Therefore the Sabbath is not to be numbered with the other feasts. It was understood that there were seven feasts
of the Lord which Israel was to observe.
These seven were divided into two sections of "four" and "Three". The first section of four includes the Passover, the Feast of
Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits and Pentecost. Then there was an
interval of four months which was followed by the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Weeks began with the offering of the First Fruits Barley Harvest and ended with the ingathering of Wheat Harvest.
The first day of the Feast of Weeks was the Feast of First Fruits, the last of the Feast of Weeks was the Feast of Pentecost. Only the first and
last days of the Feast of Weeks were celebrated.
Therefore, we notice that Pentecost was fifty days from the Feast of First Fruits. Pentecost is found in Leviticus 23:15-16: "And ye
shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be
complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number
days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord." After numbering the fifty days from the Feast of First Fruits, the
last day of the Feast of Weeks is celebrated, which came to be called Pentecost
by the Greek speaking Jews.
A brief word concerning these feasts which marked off Israel from other nations is needed. These feasts were
THE FEASTS OF THE LORD. Leviticus 23:4 emphatically states that they are the Lord's
feasts. This was their true character. They were instituted by the Lord.
The people of Israel had no voice in the matter. After these were given to Israel they lapsed into a condition of apostasy and it was said of them in Isaiah 1:4:
"Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward."
Because of their iniquity the Lord further said, "Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them" (Isa. 1:14). They had ceased being the Feasts of the Lord but became the Jews feasts. Hence, when the Lord Jesus Christ was in their midst as Jehovah manifest in the flesh He referred to them as the "feasts of the Jews" (In. 2:13; 5:1; 6:4;11:55).
The Nation's first great feast was the Passover, and their seventh was the Feast of Tabernacles. The first refers to redemption, the last refers to Israel's millennial glory. The paschal lamb typified the death of Christ (1 Cor. 5:7); and the Feast of Tabernacles typified "the times of refreshing" which shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19). It typifies the "times of restitution of all things, of which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21).
Such was the opening and closing of the Jewish Nation's year. Atonement was the foundation; between these two points we have the resurrection of Christ (First Fruits) found in Leviticus 23:10-14 and the gathering of the remnant which is typified in Pentecost (vs. 15-17). The waking up of Israel to a sense of their long lost glory is viewed in the Feast of Trumpets (vs. 23-25). This takes place when the gathered remnant of Israel shall blow the trumpet for a memorial, calling to remembrance their long lost glory, which is to be used to stir up Israel to seek the Lord.
Following close on the heels of the Feast of Trumpets is the Day of Atonement which is celebrated eight days after the blowing of the trumpets. This feast looks forward to the time when Israel will accept the atonement made at Calvary. The "fountain" of Zechariah 13:1 was opened at Calvary, but rejected by Israel. After they are regathered, they will look upon Him whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10). We have already mentioned the Feast of Tabernacles, so suffice it to say that it is the last of Israel's feasts. It points toward the final harvest in which all Israel is gathered in, and established in the long awaited Kingdom.
With the brief explanation given concerning the Feasts of the Lord, let us look somewhat closer at the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost was to typify God's people who were to be gathered by the Holy Ghost. The
Jew was to bring out of His dwelling two "wave loaves" which were to be baked "with leaven; they are the
firstfruits unto the Lord"
(vs. 17). These two loaves represent not the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head but the
Church of the Acts period of Promise..
The fact that the loaves were to be baked with leaven foreshadowed those who, though endued with power from on high, had evil
dwelling in them. The assembly on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 stood in the
full value of the blood of Christ. They were adorned with the gifts Holy Ghost, but leaven was present. The enablement of the gifts Spirit did not change the old nature of the assembly on the
Great Pentecostal day. Flesh remained flesh. The gifts of the Spirit did not change flesh into spirit. The evil which was Divinely recognized was Divinely provided for. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts flesh" (Gal. 5:16). In dwelling sin was not eradicated, but the provision for it was made when the believers on the Great Day of Pentecost
received "power from on high" (Lu. 24:49).
OFTEN OVERLOOKED FACT ABOUT PENTECOST
In the ordinance of Pentecost it is noticed that provision was made for "the poor and the stranger."
"And when ye shall reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest; thou shalt leave them for the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 23:22).
Provision was made for the stranger to glean Israel's fields. The Gentile is to be brought in and to enjoy as well as participate in the overflowing goodness of God. When Israel's storehouses and barns have been furnished, there will be the precious corners with rich clusters
for the Gentiles to gather.
In light of the blessing of the Church of the Mystery there is no way in which the gleanings of Israel's fields can be prefigured to speak
of "ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3). We are not to
suppose at all that the spiritual blessing with which the Church is endowed in the heavenlies with Christ are set forth under the figure of a stranger gleaning in Israel's fields. The blessings of the One Body are not
typified in the Feast of Pentecost. The blessings of the Church of the One Body are not the gleanings of Canaan, but rather the glories of the
highest heaven -the glories of Christ.
The Church which is His Body will not be sent out to gather up, as a stranger, the sheaves and clusters in the corners of Israel's fields and from the branches of Israel's vines. No, the One New Man, the Church, tastes of far higher blessings, richer joys, and nobler dignities, than whatever Israel was ever to know. The Church of this present dispensation is not to glean as a stranger on earth, but to enjoy its own riches in glory. It will no doubt be a privilege for a "stranger" to be permitted to glean after Israel's harvest is reaped. However, the Church's portion is infinitely higher and grander than just mere gleanings after Israel's storehouses are filled to the full. The Church which is His Body is to share the dignities and the glories of Christ in heavenly places. Our blessings are laid up in store "far above all heavens", not in the ungleaned corners of Israel's fields below.
At this point it should be said that the blessings of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head could in no way be likened to Israel's left-overs. Insistence that the Church began at Pentecost would result in the Gentile believer's blessings being likened to that of Israel's leftovers.
PENTECOST IN ACTS TWO
Quoting from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume IV page 2318, "The almost universal opinion among theologians and exegetes is this: that Pentecost marks the founding of the Christian Church as an institution." Let us not be ashamed if we are not
numbered with the universal brotherhood who believes the founding of Church was on the Day of Pentecost. Being serious students of Scripture we are convinced and fully persuaded that the Scripture cannot contradict itself. With this thought in mind the readers attention called to the following two verses.
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been
HID IN GOD, Who created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:9). "Even the Mystery which hath been
HID FROM AGES AND FROM GENERATIONS, but now is made manifest to His saints" (Col. 1:26).
Notice the emphasis is upon the fact that the Mystery of the Church which is His Body is said to have been
HID IN GOD, and HID FROM AGES AND GENERATIONS. In plainer words, the truth
concering the Mystery of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head was
not hid in the Old Testament Scriptures, neither in type or shadow, rather it was
HID IN GOD. It was
HID from the prophets (i.e. from ages and from generations), it was
HID in the Heart of God and not made known unto the "sons of men" in other ages (Eph. 3:5). Adam,
Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David knew absolutely nothing about the Church of the Mystery. This revelation had been withheld from all the prophets, from all the sons of men in other ages until such time it was revealed to the Apostle Paul who was a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles.
Further evidence of the fact that the Mystery was HID is the fact that it is referred to as the
UNSEARCHABLE riches of Christ, hence indicating that the Mystery could not be searched out in the Scriptures. It was
UNSEARCHABLE! It is found only in those Scriptures which relate to it. Truth which relates to the Mystery is embodied in those epistles which are stamped with prison.
If Pentecost was the founding day of the Church then we would expect it to mark the heralding of a new and fresh revelation from God, one which had previously been
HID IN GOD and HID FROM AGES AND FROM
GENERATIONS. However, an examination of the Pentecostal address by Peter yields the fact that no new revelation was made known, but rather the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy took place on the Day of Pentecost.
PENTECOST WAS NO SECRET
The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head was the subject of a secret (i.e. the subject of a mystery). Pentecost was no secret. In Acts 2:16 Peter says:
"But THIS IS THAT which was spoken by the prophet Joel. "
After Peter says "THIS IS THAT" he quotes Joel 2:28-32 which depicts that which was taking place on the Day of Pentecost.
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will
I pour out My spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered. . . "
This quotation of Joel 2 is made in Acts 2:17-21. This certainly Pentecost in with Old Testament prophecy. Therefore Pentecost
was the subject of prophecy not a secret. If Acts 2 was the beginning of the Church of the Mystery then Ephesians 3:9 is contradicted. Pentecost was no secret but rather it was a revelation given through Joel
the prophet. The Church cannot be imported into the prophecy of Joel. The Church was
"hid in God" and "hid from ages and from generations and was not "made known to the sons of
men." Thus Joel knew nothing at all about the Church. He neither knew anything about it nor did
he in any way write anything about it. Truth concerning the Church was
When Peter stood up and spoke on the day of Pentecost he gave the Divine explanation of what was taking place.
THIS IS THAT
We will ask the reader to read the book of Joel. It will take less ten minutes to do so. Upon reading this book you are aware of the that the prophecy deals with the Nation and the nations. Joel 2:25
mentions "I will restore." This speaks of the restoration of Israel. The
question the Apostles ask the Lord Jesus in Acts 1:6 certainly echoes Joel's statement; for they ask, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore
again the Kingdom to Israel?". The fact of restoration is prominent in the Acts
of the Apostles. Peter states in Acts 3 the fact that if Israel would repent,
the "times of restitution of all things" would take place. This has to do with restoration.
In Joel we also note the GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD (2:31). This, of course, cannot have reference to the Church which is His Body. Since Peter quotes Joel 2 in Acts 2:17-21 he unhestatingly links Pentecost with the Day of the Lord.
In Peter's explanation of Pentecost he says THIS IS THAT. A look at his explanation shows that Joel's prophecy was divided into
two parts. The first part was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. The second part was to have been fulfilled when Israel repented. What is it that
fills the interval between the two parts of Joel's prophecy? Peter does not explain it. Paul does. The present interval is what fills the gap
between the two parts of Joel's prophecy. This present interval is the Mystery,
a dispensation made known by Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ. This parenthetic dispensation is not mentioned at all by Peter. We
only know that the Mystery fills the gap because the Apostle Paul made known the new dispensation.
The outline shown below depicts the two parts of Joel's prophecy and the Mystery dividing them.
1. I will pour out My Spirit
(a) Upon all flesh
(b) Sons and
A Past Day - part of Joel's
(d) Old Men
prophecy fulfilled during Acts
(e) Young Men
11. The Present Interval -
The Mystery. Israel Lo-Ammi.
III. I will show wonders
A Future Day - the conclusion
of Joel's prophecy
(e) Pillars of smoke
Therefore we see that Joel 2:28-29 was fulfilled during the Acts of the Apostles. Verses 28 and 29 in Joel 2 speaks concerning the Pentecostal signs. These signs continued all through the entire Acts period. The signs did not phase out and ultimately vanish away, but they continued until Acts 28:28. Then they suddenly were withdrawn. They stopped abruptly.
Verses 30-31 which mention "wonders in the heavens and in the earth" and etc. awaits a future day for its fulfillment.
Peter quoting Joel in Acts 2:20-21 says, ". . . before that great and notable day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." The wonders which are to be demonstrated are to be
BEFORE THE NOTABLE DAY OF THE LORD (Joel says "terrible day"). This "notable day" or "terrible day" is a reference to the Great Tribulation. This part of Joel's prophecy has not yet come to pass. These wonders in the heavens and in the earth were to take place
BEFORE the Tribulation. Therefore this part of the prophecy awaits fulfillment, but not in this present dispensation which is "signless." There will be a period of time prior to the Great Tribulation when these wonders will be shown in the heavens and in the earth.
Therefore it is noted that Peter's explanation of what was taking place on the Day of Pentecost was not in any way related to a Mystery
"hid in God", but rather he explained that which was taking place was
in harmony with God's prophetic program.
Pentecost was not the birth of the Church which is His Body. It has been pointed out that:
(1) Pentecost was no secret
(2) Pentecost linked with the Feasts of the Lord, which was Old Testament feasts
(3) Peter quotes Joel and links Pentecost with "The Day Lord."
Each of the three points, if ignored, would contradict Ephesians 3:9 and Colossians 1:26. The solution is to rightly divide.
PETER APPEALS TO ISRAEL
The Apostle Peter addresses the men of Israel on the Day of Pentecost. On that particular day the city of Jerusalem was filled with Jews from all over the Roman Empire (see Acts 2:5, 9-11). It was required that adult males attend the feasts in Jerusalem. The devout out of every nation under heaven were in the city observing the Feasts.
Therefore Peter's audience was Jewish. Gentiles were not addressed at all. These were the feasts of the Jews, Gentiles had no part in it.
"Ye men of Judaea " (v. 14)
"and all that dwell at Jerusalem"(v. 14)
"Ye men of Israel" (v. 22)
"all the house of Israel" (v. 36)
There is no intimation at all that Gentiles were addressed. In fact had Gentiles been present and might have responded to Peter's Pentecostal address his attitude would have been one of profound surprise. Not
until Acts 11:18-19 do we learn the Apostle's attitude toward Gentile converts; it is one of surprise and they glorified God for granting
"repentance unto life." Gentiles are not given opportunity to be admitted into the Kingdom calling until Acts 10 when Cornelius and his
household have the Word preached to them.
Gentiles were not to observe the Feast of Pentecost. This is not even to be the case during the millennium. However we are informed that they will go up to Jerusalem during the millennium to keep the
Feasts of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16-19). Of course, this awaits the time the Lord Jesus Christ's feet again touch the Mount of Olives. The Feast
of Pentecost which was observed in Acts 2 took place after He ascended from the Mount of Olives.
In view of Acts 21:26-36 it is foolish to think that Gentiles would have been present to hear Peter's Pentecostal address. Gentiles were not admitted into the Temple area.
The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head was to be made up of Jew and Gentile who had both been "reconciled unto God in one body" (Eph. 2:16); in Acts 2 there was certainly no reconciling of Jew and Gentile unto God in one body. A middle wall still stood between Jew and Gentile - in fact, the "middle wall of partition" separated the Jew and
Gentile until Acts 28:28 when the middle wall was "broken down" (Eph 2:14).
The Church which is His Body could not have begun at Acts 2, there were no Gentiles present. Failure to understand the origin and constitution of the Church leads to the error that the Church began on the Day
of Pentecost. Peter was preaching to the "men of Israel" not to Gentiles.
CHRIST RAISED TO SIT ON DAVID'S THRONE
In Peter's sermon in Acts 2 he states that the Lord Jesus had be raised from the dead in order to
SIT ON DAVID'S THRONE. Thus, the rule of David's greater Son over the earth is still in view. Christ ruling on David's Throne is the great subject of Old Testament prophet Again we are reminded that Ephesians 3:9 can have no connection with David's Throne.
EXALTED TO GIVE REPENTANCE TO ISRAEL
Reading the remote context of Acts 2 we note in Acts 5:31 that it says "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be Prince and a Savior
FOR TO GIVE REPENTANCE TO ISRAEL, and forgiveness of sins." Tradition inserts the Mystery into Acts 2, and by so doing robs this great fact of all of its importance to Israel. It is suggested that Acts 3:19-26
be read in connection with the Pentecostal address and compare Acts 5:31 with what was read. As a matter of fact, the Acts of the Apostles was the answer to the Saviour's prayer on the Cross, "Father forgive the for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Israel is given another opportunity to repent during the Acts period. God's long-suffering was prolonged during the 35 years which were covered by the Acts of
the Apostles. His long-suffering was finally terminated at Acts 28:28, at which time the axe was laid to the root of the Olive Tree. All that happens during the Acts period was in harmony with what the Old Testament had predicted would happen. There can therefore be no reference to the Mystery because during this period it was still
"hid in God" and "hid from ages and from generations."
ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH
In Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost "there came a sound from heaven of a rushing mighty wind . . . And there appeared unto them
cloven tongues like as of fire . . . And they were all filled with the Holy
Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:2-4). This event was the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord Jesus made to the Apostles in Luke 24:49, "And behold, I send
THE PROMISE OF MY FATHER upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye
BE ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH." In Acts 2 the enduement took the form of "tongues." The gift of tongues was the God given ability to speak a language which was foreign to the speaker. In Acts 1:4 the Lord mentions that the Apostles were to stay in Jerusalem, they should not depart, and that they "should wait for the promise of the Father." This promise was to take the form of being "baptized with the Holy Ghost", which in turn was being endued with power from on high as Luke 24:49 said. Acts 1:8 further states, "But ye shall
RECEIVE POWER, AFTER THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS COME UPON YOU: and ye shall be witnesses unto me. . ."
The expressions such as:
THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER
ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH
BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, and
YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER
all refer to the imparting of the spiritual gift of tongues on the Day of Pentecost. The enduement was the equipping of the Apostles in order for them to conduct the ministry given them in Mark 16:15-20. The immediate use of "tongues" was for the Apostles to speak the languages of all those who were in Jerusalem on the Feast day. The people in observing the Feast of Pentecost were all amazed and marvelled saying, "Behold, are not all these Galileans? And how hear we
every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" (Acts 2:7-8). They were witnesses of Christ's resurrection and the imparting of the "gift of tongues" Divinely enabled them to preach the fact that "This same Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God EXALTED" (Acts 2:32-33).
The "gift of tongues" was a sign which confirmed that the Lord was working with them (Mark 16:20). The evidential signs were part of the Kingdom program. The signs which were the gifts of the Spirit were in operation as long as Israel stood before God as a nation. Evidential signs, such as Pentecostal "tongues", were withdrawn when the Kingdom purpose was placed in abeyance.
Since "signs" such as "tongues" do not accompany those who believe today it is apparent then that the Church which is His Body did not begin on Pentecost.
REPENTANCE REQUIRED OR DEMANDED
After Peter declared that "God had made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ" the men of Israel answered and said, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).
Peter's reply was - REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED EVERYONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS
(Acts 2:38). Thus, it is noted that Peter's command to his awakened hearers was a continuation of the ministry of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:11) and of the Lord (Matt. 4:17). Here again, if the Church began on Pentecost it would have its roots in the Gospels and then of necessity in the Old Testament, which would contradict Ephesians 3:9.
The Pentecostal gospel demanded repentance, and it was associated with baptism. Truth related to the Mystery is not associated with repentance and baptism. "For by grace are ye saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8) is truth for today.
The people who believed on the Day of Pentecost were anticipating the return of Jesus of Nazareth who was their Christ, the Son of the Living God. A church began that day.
THE Church did not. "A church" was the Church of
God in a dispensation of promise. THE Church is the Church in the dispensation
of Mystery which is His Body the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:22-23). It began after Israel was set aside. The Church of God
in Acts was no secret. Christ Himself spoke about it in Matthew 16:18, "and upon this rock I will build My Church." His church was later called the Church of God which existed during the Book of Acts. This church was in existence until Acts 28:28.
THE Church was kept hid during the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is anticipatory to the coming again of the Lord and the establishment of the Kingdom. During Acts Israel is given another opportunity to repent, God's long-suffering is extended to Israel for a 35 year period - and then the axe is laid to the root of the tree (Acts 28:28). There can therefore be no reference to the Mystery while Israel was still being dealt with.
Pentecost belonged to Israel. Israel observed it. A Jewish Feast day in no way, shape, form or fashion could intelligently be considered the "birthday of the Church." It is prayerfully suggested that a re-examination of the traditional idea of the Church's beginning be made by those who are serious students and teachers of the Word.