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  • Writer's pictureALD

Acts 2: The Anatomy Of A Sermon

Updated: Oct 16

I apologize in advance for the length of this study. Not only does this chapter contain an above-average number of verses, twenty-six is the average in the Bible, but it also covers Peter's Pentecost sermon, which establishes the template for all future sermons.

Before we get into breaking down this chapter, let's begin with Pentecost. What was it then, what is it now, and why do we care?

In the Old Testament times, Pentecost was an agricultural feast. Also known as the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), it was the second major feast on the Jewish calendar, and its origins can be found in Lev 23:15-16 and Deut 16:9-10. As opposed to Passover, which makes the start of the season, Pentecost marks the end of the wheat harvest.

It is fitting, and no coincident, that God chose Pentecost as the day He would pour His spirit on creation. The Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) is a thanksgiving for the wheat harvest and also a remembrance of the day God gave the Torah (laws) to Moses on Mt Sinai. God came down to earth in the Old Testament to give the Israelites the laws, and then He again came down as the Holy Spirit in the New Testament to fulfill those laws. The first time the laws were written on stone, and the second time they were written on the hearts. Both times, God chose to have it happen on Pentecost.

If you go back and read the Old Testament, you will indeed discover that Pentecost was one of the Jewish feast days. Only they didn't call it Pentecost. That's the Greek name. The Jews called it the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks. It is mentioned in five places in the first five books of the Bible — Exodus 23, Exodus 24, Leviticus 16, Numbers 28, and Deut 16.


When the day of Pentecost arrived, - May 25th A.D. 33. It had been ten days since the ascension of Jesus. An interesting Side note, Pentecost is not the same day every year as Christians celebrate it. The Pentecost celebration we read about in this chapter is far different, with far deeper roots than the Pentecost Christians celebrate today. Peter is speaking to Jewish men in a Jewish town on Shavuot, a Jewish Holiday.


What does that have to do with Shavuot?

A lot! Shavuot is called the “Festival of Weeks” because it is held five weeks after the second night of Passover. Originally tied to an ancient grain festival, it eventually became the holiday that marks God’s giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The link between the two holidays lies in their names. “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word “pentekostos,” which means 50. Pentecost comes 50 days after Easter, when Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. And Shavuot comes 50 days after the second night of Passover. Some scholars believe Pentecost owes its name to Jesus’ Jewish followers ,who were gathered together to observe the festival of Shavuot.

It is amazing to see that God Gave His first Torah (The Law to Moses, written on stone) and His second Torah (The Holy Spirit with the Law now written on our hearts) on the exact same feste day. Again, we see God's patterns and must ask, what would be next in this pattern?


they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, - The text says "like" a mighty rushing wind, not that it was wind. Throughout the Bible, the wind represents the spirit. What the disciples heard was not the coming of a storm; it was the coming of the Holy Spirit. We also again see unity amongst those gathered. There were no seminary schools yet to push agendas or to teach opinions as facts.

and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. - It filled the entire house, every crack and every corner. The Holy Spirit can not live in a part of a believer; it is an all-or-nothing proposition.

And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. - These tongues may have been divided because they spoke multiple languages, which would bridge any language barriers and allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach every corner of the known world. Fire generally appears in the Bible as a form of purification or perfection. The word "rested" in Greek is "kathizó" and implies a much more forceful action, more like sitting on someone to hold them down and being in complete control.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit - ?!?!?!?! You tell me! All that can be said factually is that something happened to those present that was of supernatural nature. The mechanics of it will forever remain a mystery (at least on this side of glory).

and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. - There are two major diversions in opinion as to what it means to speak in other tongues. One idea is that the men were gifted an angelic language. The second opinion is that these men were given the ability to speak in the languages of other countries with the purpose of effectively sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. - This is speaking of the known world. At this time, people inhabited China, North and South America, Australia, and many other continents, yet only those of a specific region were in Jerusalem at this time. These were the regions where the Hebrews lived or regions filled with people whose financial beings were tied to the harvest. Remember, at this point, this new version of Judaism, Christianity, was still practiced primarily in the Jewish community with occasional converts.

And at this sound the multitude came together, - God calls who He wants, when He wants and how He wants. He created everything and there for rules it.

and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.

And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? - Galilea was not known as the intellectual epicenter of the world. The men from Galele were simple farmers and fishermen. For this group of common men to speak the languages of countries they had never been to was a miracle.

Parthians and Medes and 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 Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” - God begins to unveil His plan to offer salvation to the world. His plan to graft in the Gentiles starts with the ability to evangelize to them in their native language.


The Grafting In of the Gentiles.

As followers of Christ, we (Gentiles) are new creations, grafted into God's people. We are not a new race of people, or for that matter, even a new religion. According to Paul's word, once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become part of God's chosen people; we do not become God's chosen people.

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Gal 3:29 - Abraham'soffsprings were promised to be God's chosen people, the Israelites.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. - Romans 11:17-21 - Here, Paul seems to indicate that some segments of the current Jewish race were cut off; who exactly they are is pure speculation. What we do know for sure from Paul's word is that the "wild olive shoots" gentile believers have now become one with the main plant, the Jews, sharing equally, not prominently, God's grace and mercy with those Jewish people who share in the faith of the Messiah.


And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” - It sounds silly now and was silly then. Never has a person been so drunk on wine that they miraculously began speaking in a foreign language, earthly or heavenly.

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: - Again, we are told that the twelve stood together in unison. They had not divided into twelve different denominations or become entrenched in man's religious agendas.

“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. - The Spirit has overcome Peter and is now allowing him to speak with an authority we have not heard from Peter before. We see him now bold in his position and confident in what he is about to say.

For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. - About 9 AM.

But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel - Joel was an Old Testament prophet. We know virtually nothing about him except his name and that he most likely lived in the second temple times and preached a message of repentance. Joel, like many other earlier prophets, explained that salvation would only come to God's chosen people turned back to God the Father.


New Temple and Old Temple Periods

First Temple period (1200-586 BC)

Second Temple period (586 BC-AD 70)

During the First Temple period (1200-586 BC), the First Temple was built in 1000 BC by King Solomon after King David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. The Temple was destroyed in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, when he conquered Jerusalem. There are scant remains of the temple on the south hill of the City of David. Evidence of the conquering and destruction of the city can be found in the Burnt House and the House of the Bullae.

The beginning of the Second Temple period (586 BC-AD 70) is marked by the return of Jews to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon in 538 BC. They were allowed to return under an edict issued by Cyrus King of Persia. By 515 BC the reinstated Jewish residents had completed building the Second Temple.

The time of the Second Temple is divided into different periods: the Persian period (586-332 BC); the Hellenistic period (332-63 BC); and the Roman period (63 BC-AD 324). In 37 BC, King Herod enlarged the Temple Mount and rebuilt the temple with the consent of the public. During the Roman period, in AD 70, the Second Temple was destroyed, along with Jerusalem, by Titus’ army. It was also during this period that Jesus was in Jerusalem. He was crucified about 40 years before the destruction of the city.



“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on 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 on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ - The LORD promises to pour out His Spirit on the inhabitants of Judah in the end times. All the Israelites in Jerusalem who invoke the name of the LORD with a heart full of faith will be delivered from His judgment.

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God - God attested to the identity of Jesus. These "men of Isreal" would have understood this to be the second coming of the Torah, or the Law.

and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” - Matthew 3:17

with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, - A reminder that all Christ is and does is because of the power and authority granted to him by the Father.

as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. - Isaiah 53 would be an example of this foreknowledge.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. - God rules all of creation, even life and death.

For David says concerning him, - Psalm 16:8-11

“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ - King David is explaining he has put his full trust and faith in God and attest that God will never fail to be faithful to him. This is a lesson we all can take into our personal lives.

“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. - David lived and died a human life, and his body is still in the earth.

Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, - The throne being in heaven, occupied by the King of Kings, Lord of Lord, Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus was the son of Mary, whos Aunt was Elizabeth, a “descendant of Aaron.”

he - King David

foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. - "Hades" is a Greek New Testament word used to indicate the realm of conscious departed spirits but never refers to the grave. This concept resonates from the Old Testament as "Sheol," a Hebrew word that is generally equivalent to Hades. The word "corruption," while not technically incorrect, is a less than helpful translation. A more literal translation would be "wholesale destruction."

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. - Acts 1 shows this.

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, - There are over eight references to this but perhaps the most profound is found in Revelations three.

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Revelations 3:21

and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. - Jesus sends our advocate, the holy spirit, to us at Pentecost. He does so because the Father has authorized His to do so.

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, - King David, even being the apple of God's eye, lays in the ground, just as a commoner.

“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ - Again, Peter uses Old Testament passages to teach about Christ. For the third time, Peter reminds his audience, the Jews, that Chris has been part of their hope all along.

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” - Peter wants to say that despite the fact that the religious people of the time crucified Jesus as a criminal, God holds him up as both the Lord and Savior of mankind.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, - Here, we learn that Peter, in his first official sermon, "cut them to the heart" meaning he spoke in a way that caused them to engage in self-reflection and the realization that they were depraved souls.

and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” - Peter, officially assuming a leadership position, begins giving a call to action.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” - This echos the great commission, the last thing Christ tells the disciples in Matthew. Note that Christ also confirms that God the Father calls those to Christ only who he, the Father, chooses.

And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, - What exactly did Peter say? what was his message? - Repent and believe.

“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. - The Gospel message is powerful. Peter left out his feelings and opinions and simply preached the truth.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. - Those who accepted Christ that day.

And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. - The word Awe is a poor translation. The Greek word here is "phobos" and carries with it the meaning of terror and panicked flight. The English word Phobia comes from this word. The souls we hear about in this section are witnessing the power of God, many for the first time, and it is terrifying to come face to face with the strength and might of the creator of the universe.

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. - This is the unity we long for in the church today. Everyone was on the same page; there was no doctrine or denominational driving seminary schools to separate and divide.

And day by day, attending the temple- Notice these believers in "The Way," Jesus Christ, are meeting in the Temple. Who meets in temples? Jewish people. These first believers in Christ still identified as Jewish.

together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, - In the 1st century church, believers did life together. The idea of showing up at church on Sunday and not then not interacting with those you worship with until the next week was unheard of. The super-store church online church model was never the plan.

praising God and having favor with all the people. - Before Christians decided to divide themselves from the Jews, and eventually even themselves, all followers lived together.

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. - People do not convert or add people to the Kingdom; that is the Lord's job and the Lord's alone.

Bible Study Questions - Week 2

  • What did you learn or rediscover about God the Father in this Chapter?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about Jesus Christ in this Chapter?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about the Holy Spirit in this Chapter?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about the church in this Chapter? Does it Differ from what you understood?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about what a pastor should do in this Chapter? Does it Differ from what you understood?

  • What can you do to live out what you learned from this chapter better in your personal life?

  • What verses of the Old Testament did you cross-reference to understand this chapter?

  • What is the biggest thing you learned or rediscovered in this chapter?

  • So what? How will the answer to the question above change how you live life on a day-to-day basis?

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