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Pentecost and Acts 2 – Part 1

December 3, 2007

I have been reading a particular blog and I thought I would flesh out some thoughts coming from the discussion, so here goes.

What took place at Pentecost in Acts 2? Did a new worship rule book come to town that day? Did one set of worship practices get replaced by another? It depends on who you ask I suppose and maybe I have always just misunderstood. Some seem to say that this is exactly what took place. One set of approved practices was replaced by a new set but is that true?

I’m not sure where to go with this, do I show you what took place from scripture or do I show you how the above principle couldn’t be what took place?

Well after further reflection I have decided to begin by showing that the above idea, one set of worship practices was replaced by another, couldn’t have been what took place. My next entry will show what really happened and how it fits the recorded history we see. I hope you will stay with me for both because they are a little long.

I think a good place to start is simply to say that the worship practices of the early church are and were consistent with the Jewish worship practices that took place before Acts 2. Awfully strange to replace one set of practices with the exact same practices? How could you even tell they were replaced? What I mean is that prior to Acts 2 Jewish synagogues worship is exactly the same as the Christian worship practices of the early church.

Could someone explain the replacement idea again?

If everything changed with their regular worship why did nothing change? Chanting with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs? You got it, they did it that way before Acts 2. Singing without instruments? It is true, for many years it was the standard way of worshiping for Jews outside of the temple.

So it changed but didn’t change, interesting. But that isn’t the only thing I find confusing. If you go a step further you will find even stranger behavior by those in the early church. In Acts 20:16 we have Paul hurrying to get back to Jerusalem for what? Pentecost. You mean the same Jewish feast celebration instituted by God and recorded in Leviticus 23? That Old Testament feast that was totally rejected in Acts 2 because the list of approved practices had changed? You got it.

You have probably heard the response to such observations. Often times any of Paul’s actions that go against this new system idea are attributed to Paul doing something for the sake of the Jews. What is interesting is the fact that Paul is ministering to Gentiles so a great way to show them that this new system has been put into place would have been to ignore the feast weeks, not make extra effort to attend. If anything he should have made it a point to stop in Ephesus unless that is not really what took place in Acts 2.

Obviously Paul’s actions when he arrives in Jerusalem are even more troubling if you hold that the approved list was changed out at the Acts 2 Pentecost. When Paul visits James in Acts 21 James tells him many Jews have accepted that Christ is the Messiah. Now that is good and great and wonderful but then James has to go on and say that the Jews are also zealous for the law. So what does James do? A wonderful opportunity to explain this new system, these new worship regulations and so he steps up and tells everyone that Temple worship is bad, instruments are no good anymore, everything has changed, no I guess that isn’t what James does. He actually asks that Paul clear the air by following what is prescribed in the Old Testament. Oops.

Now I have been told by people with a straight face that James blew it here as well as Paul. Okay, that is one way of looking at it but I’m not sure that is true. Paul and James were inspired by the Spirit enough to pen scripture but two thousands years later you know what was and wasn’t appropriate? No thought to adjusting your understanding maybe?

What about the Paul was becoming all things to all people so that some might be saved argument? If you hold to the rules were changed in Acts 2 theology wouldn’t he be sending the wrong message? I mean he did what he did not for the sake of Jews who hadn’t accepted Christ, he did what he did for those who believed Jesus was the Messiah.

It seems like a great opportunity to explain the new rules of worship, the does and don’ts. Paul could have said we have this new pattern of worship that looks like our old pattern of worship except for what happens at the Temple except for the fact that you and I still go to the Temple and keep that worship pattern too.

I can see how that might not have been a good time to explain that new pattern. Probably a lot easier to wait several hundred years until a lot of water had went under the bridge and people became disconnected from the similarities of the patterns, maybe in a placed called America.

In the end we agree that something happened in Acts 2 but what was it? What was new? That would be installment two.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2007 8:49 pm

    The Holy Spirit. Wow. When You have the Holy Spirit and you have the Holy Spirit living with in you are changed. It is complete change in life. You no longer follow your will but the will of God. You no longer follwer your life but you are willing to give. You are willing to share. You are willing sacrifice. The church today has limited the Holy Spirit. We have put it in a box. We have said these are the gifts it can do. The Holy Spirit does this and that. Limiting it’s power. When we do that the church won’t function the way God wants it to function.

    So, we are disconnected. Instead of sharing we don’t give our posessioins to others. We don’t function the way God wants. We don’t think the Holy Spirit has the power to do what it can do that it did in the first century. In Acts 2. On the day of pentecost. We speak of patterns but we must let the Holy Spirit get involved in our lives and give us the gifts it wants. We must get true revival once again. 🙂 We must become connected. Functioning in a way that God desires following the way of the Holy Spirit. Producing the fruit in our lives and letting guide us (Gal 5:22-ff).
    Darin, Excellent series brother.
    I have really enjoyed it alot.
    You are a great writter and you make me think.
    I like that about your blog.
    Keep it up!
    Keep it up!
    Oh, I said that already.
    Keep doing a great job brother.
    I pray that God will bless you as you serve Him.

  2. December 3, 2007 8:51 pm

    Another question I have is there really a pattern?

  3. December 4, 2007 5:43 pm

    Thanks Preacherman. It is a good discussion on your blog. I thought Bobby V. put it well.

    You got it brother.

  4. December 5, 2007 1:20 pm

    Yes, yes he did.

  5. David Cheung permalink
    April 15, 2009 1:52 pm

    I have been researching the validity of Pentecost and whether it truly happened. After some digging in Google Books, the testimonial evidence of the Pentecost did not show up until 2nd Century AD. Also, The holiday was not institutionalized until 4th Century AD (Constantine’s institution of Christianity). This begs the question whether the Pentecost was fabricated in order to differentiate the religious practice of Gentile Christians and the Jewish Orthodox.

    Pentecost in Jewish tradition and Greek tradition is a feast of the first harvest. These festivities no doubt serve wine. This brings another questions: Were they *really* not drunk and not babbling?

    Sources:
    Religions of the ancient world
    By Sarah Iles Johnston, p. 280

    A history of the First Christians,
    by J. M. Wedderburn, p. 25

  6. April 15, 2009 4:09 pm

    David,

    Thanks for the comments. I think your thoughts go to my current conversation about dispensationalism. Pentecost isn’t differentiated because it WAS the Jewish festival. The early Christians didn’t see themselves as we do today or more accuratly how they came to be seen after the fall of the Temple.

    The Jews were very careful about wine (not saying it wasn’t abused) and they had many safe guards in place to try to keep things in moderation.

    So thanks for the comments. You may want to check out my thoughts on dispensationalism to better understand what I am trying to say. I think your comments go to that discussion and my issue with it.

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