The Significance of Pentecost


Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of the Church, and in many ways this makes sense. Yet, the Church is mentioned twice before the day of Pentecost is mentioned in the second chapter of Acts. Let’s define a few terms and then take a closer look at the subject.


From: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

*   2. Often Church, the company of all Christians regarded as a spiritual body.

From: Strong’s Concordance

*   1577. ekklesia, ek-klay-see'-ah; from a comp. of G1537 and a der. of G2564; a calling out, i.e. (concr.) a popular meeting, espec. a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both):--assembly, church.


So, strictly speaking, the Church began or was born when Jesus called His first disciples and began meeting with them on a regular basis. However, it can be argued that the Church was called for a purpose and that purpose wasn’t fully started until the day of Pentecost.


A search of “Church or Churches” in the Bible shows an occurrence in 109 verses. But, only two of those verses are in the Gospels, Matthew 16:18 and Matthew 18:17.

*   (Mat 16:18 NIV)  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

*   (Mat 18:17 NIV)  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

In the first of these two verses Jesus is talking about a future event. In the second verse Jesus is teaching His disciples, and during that teaching He describes how earthly matters should be settled among believers. The period from the calling of the first disciple to the day of Pentecost could be considered the time of conception and gestation. The day of Pentecost then would be the day the Church was born, the day the Church became fully functional, the day it was empowered by the Spirit of God as was promised. On Pentecost the Church came into the world and experienced dramatic growth with a freshness and zeal not previously experienced.


Let me digress. Pentecost was not some New Testament invention. It was one of the Holy Days observed by Israel since the time of Moses. In the Old Testament it is referred to as the Feast of Weeks since it occurred seven weeks and a day from the Sabbath that occurred during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

*   (Lev 23:15-16 NIV)  "'From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. {16} Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.

Pentecost simply means fifty days and is the same as the Feast of Weeks. This day was also known as the Feast of Harvest and the Feast of First Fruits.

*   (Exo 23:16 NIV)  "Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. "Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.

*   (Num 28:26 NIV)  "'On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the LORD an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.


Back to the New Testament. Remember how Jesus observed Passover and died as the Passover lamb for our sins. Now on another significant Holy Day, Pentecost, He sends the promised Comforter, the Holy Spirit: Appropriately enough during the time that signifies harvesting and first-fruits. Let the Harvesting begin. The real purpose of the Church is, harvesting! Let’s read about it.


(Acts 2 NIV)  When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. {2} Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. {4} All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. {5} Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. {6} When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. {7} Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? {8} Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? {9} Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, {10} Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome {11} (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" {12} Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" {13} Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." {14} Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. {15} These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! {16} No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: {17} "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. {18} Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. {19} I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. {20} The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. {21} And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' {22} "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. {23} This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. {24} But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. {25} David said about him: "'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. {26} Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, {27} because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. {28} You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.' {29} "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. {30} But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. {31} Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. {32} God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. {33} Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. {34} For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand {35} until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' {36} "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." {37} When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" {38} Peter replied, "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. {39} The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." {40} With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." {41} Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. {42} They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. {43} Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. {44} All the believers were together and had everything in common. {45} Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. {46} Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, {47} praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


This passage begins with the Apostles all together in one place on the day of Pentecost waiting to receive power from on high.

*   (Luke 24:49 NIV)  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

Once they received that power they were changed men that went out to change men. The power they received on that day is the same power available to us if we will wait on the Lord and expect wonderful miraculous changes to come over us. It may be too late for first-fruits but it is not too late to harvest more fruit.


So what day is the day of Pentecost? Remember how most Jews get the day of Passover wrong even during the New Testament times? Well most, but not all, Jews get the day of Pentecost wrong also. Let me illustrate with a few slides. (Click here)


This year I would like the Church to come together in one accord in one place and spend time waiting on the Lord in prayer and meditation as the believers did on the first Pentecost after the death and resurrection of our Lord. That day this year is Sunday, June 12. That is to say the fiftieth day from the first Sabbath following Passover or the Lord’s Supper. It will be a somber time and also a time of rejoicing. It will be a time of blessing and a time to prepare to bless others. It will be a time to realize what God wants for each of us and a time to receive the power to accomplish His will for us, both as individuals and as His Church.