Fulfillment of the Feast

The outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost fulfilled what the feast symbolized - Acts 2:1-4

Photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash
In the book of 
Acts, the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost stresses the theme of fulfillment. That day, the things foreshadowed by the ancient feast began to receive their substance. The bestowal of the Spirit was an epochal event that marked the start of the messianic age, and the gift of the Spirit fulfilled what the Levitical feast symbolized - [Wheat Harvest photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash].

The receipt of the Spirit by the assembled disciples was the seminal event that inaugurated the Church and set the stage for the spread of the new faith. Unfortunately, the full force of Luke’s language is often obscured in English translations of the original Greek.
  • (Acts 2:1-4) - “And when the day of Pentecost was being filled full, they were all assembled together with one intent when there came suddenly out of heaven a sound, like of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues like as of fire parting asunder, and it sat on each of them; And they were all filled with Holy Spirit and began to be speaking with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Prior to his ascent, Jesus commanded the disciples to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they received the “promise of the Father.” They needed the Spirit’s empowerment to make them effective witnesses for the kingdom of God - (Luke 24:44-49, Acts 1:7-9).

The proclamation of the gospel began in Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish nation, but it did not end there. At the conclusion of Acts, Paul is found preaching in Rome, the center of the world empire, to both Jews and Gentiles. What occurred on Pentecost was a beginning, not an end.

Originally, Pentecost was an agricultural feast that celebrated the completion of the barley harvest. It occurred fifty days after Passover and was also known as the “feast of weeks.” In Scripture, it is called the “feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors.” The highlight was the offering of the first sheaf, the “first fruits” of the grain harvest, and every able male was required to appear at the Temple - (Exodus 34:22-23, Leviticus 23:11-16Deuteronomy 16:9-10).

The outpouring of the Spirit on the feast day was not coincidental. The theological significance is indicated by the Greek term sumpléroō in verse 1, where it is rendered “being filled up.” The verb’s sense is to become “filled up completely,” to fill something to the very brim.

In the passage, a present-tense infinitive is used to signify action in progress. In other words, the feast was in the process of being fulfilled fully as the Spirit was filling the disciples. What it symbolized was coming to fruition, the “first fruits” of the final harvest - (Compare - Romans 8:23, Luke 24:49).

Under the Law, all able males were required to attend the feast. Likewise, all 120 disciples were assembled in the Temple.  The “all” repeated in verse 4 emphasizes the point - “ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit, and ALL began to speak in tongues.” The entire company of the new people of God was gathered in prayer in the Temple.

Similarly, the passage stresses that they all “BEGAN (archomaito be speaking in tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” The verb rendered “began” echoes Christ’s command to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they received the Spirit:
  • (Luke 24:47) – “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
  • (Acts 1:8) – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
By the first century, Pentecost had become associated with the giving of the Torah at Sinai. But that was a later development in Jewish tradition. It originally celebrated the first fruits of the grain harvest, and that is the reality behind its usage in Acts.

Jesus commanded his disciples to preach “repentance, and that the remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning (archomaifrom Jerusalem.” Likewise, when the Spirit had filled all the disciples in Jerusalem, they “began (archomaito be speaking in tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

That day, the disciples gathered in Jerusalem became the “first fruits” of the end-time harvest. Almost immediately, the greater harvest began with the influx of “about three thousand” converts that very day, and, “beginning from Jerusalem,” the proclamation of “repentance and remission of sins” began to move across the face of the earth.



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