The next use of “gathering” language in Acts is found in Acts 2:1 –
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 ESV)
In Acts 2:1, once again we find the Greek phrase “á¼Ï€á½¶ Ï„á½¸ Î±á½Ï„á½¸” (epi to auto) which is translated “in one place” by the ESV.
In this case, the gathering language simply sets the stage for the what is about to happen to the church. The “all” in Acts 2:1 refers back to the 120 in Acts 1:15. As we see, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit indwelled each one of the 120 as they were gathered together in the same place.
We’re not told what they were doing while they were gathered together. In fact, as soon as the Holy Spirit indwells each one of the them, the meeting seems to end, and they begin proclaiming the good news in different tongues to everyone who would listen. This assumes that they left the “one place” where they were gathered together, probably going out into the streets around them.
(While it is slightly off the subject, it seems that the “tongues” being spoken were human languages. The people who heard them speak recognized their own languages being spoken.)
From the broader context, we also learn that this church gathering occurred early in the morning. Peter says that it is only the “third hour” (i.e., around 9:00 am) when he begins his speech (Acts 2:15).
While Twelftree argued (convincingly to me) that the birth of the church is found in the ministry of Jesus (see “The Birth of the Church Demonstrates its Purpose” and “Proclaim, Teach, Serve“), the coming of the Holy Spirit in this passage is also a key event in the ongoing life of the church. Jesus Christ now continues his work through the person of the Holy Spirit as he indwells (and thus remains with) his followers.
We can also see from this short passage that “gathering” is not the goal of the church. Yes, believers have been gathered out of the world, and yes, we should gather together in order to build one another up toward maturity. However, we must recognize that our calling exists outside of our meeting.
When the Holy Spirit indwelled the 120, they immediately began proclaiming the good news to those who did not know it. I think the Holy Spirit continues to work in both directions today: both drawing us to gather together, and sending us out to those who have not heard the good news.