In my previous post, I explained the Jewish background to the “Day of Pentecost” mentioned in Acts 2:1 (see my post “What is Pentecost?“). However, from a Christian perspective, I’m more interested in that particular Pentecost that occurred 50 days after Jesus Christ was crucified and approximately 10 days after he ascended into heaven.
What can learn about this day from the scriptural account?
First, we know that some of Jesus’ followers were gathered together in the same place. (Acts 2:1) Where were they gathered? Luke does not directly specify where the disciples were gathered in this particular passage. However, it is likely that Luke intended his readers to understand the disciples were still meeting in the same place they had been meeting. Where had they been gathering? Luke says that 120 of Jesus’ disciples had been meeting together in an upper room during the time between his ascension into heaven and the day of Pentecost. (See Acts 1:12-14.)
Which upper room? Since Luke assumes his readers know which upper room he’s talking about (without explanation), the most likely location is the same upper room where Jesus ate with his disciples just before he was crucified. (See Luke 22:7-12.) Since the disciples continued to have access to this upper room of a home after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, it is possible that the home belonged to one of Jesus’ disciples, but this is not specified. (Some speculate this was Mark’s home.)
Since Acts 2:1 says they were “all” together in one place, Luke is pointing back to the 120 disciples that he had mentioned earlier. (See Acts 1:15.) Who were these 120 followers of Jesus? We know the 11 apostles were among them. (Acts 1:13) We also know that Jesus’ mother, brothers, and sisters were among them. (Acts 1:14) There were at least 2 (but probably more) people who had followed Jesus since he was baptized by John the Baptist. (Acts 1:21) That still leaves others who had followed Jesus (at least after his resurrection).
What were they doing when they were gathered together? Again, in Acts 2, Luke does not specifically tell us what they were doing at that moment (when the Holy Spirit was sent). However, he did tell us previously that they had been praying together. (Acts 1:14) We also know that they had been eating together when Jesus was with them. (Acts 1:6)
So, what happened? When these 120 people were gathered together in the upper room – perhaps eating and praying together – God sent the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus had told them was going to happen. (Acts 1:4-5) (Also, see my post “The Ascension of Jesus Christ.”)
We know that the Holy Spirit had been at work previously. We see him working through different people throughout the Old Testament. We see Jesus’ close connection with the Spirit in the Gospels. Now, though, something different was happening.
According to what Jesus had told his disciples (i.e., “wait for the promise of the Father”) and what Peter said later (i.e., “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit”), the Spirit was working in a new manner, that is, in a way that he had not worked previously but in a way that had been promised or prophesied.
This was the setting of that specific day of Pentecost that came along 50 days after Jesus was crucified and 10 days after he ascended into heaven.