preaching study: acts 2:1-13, pt 1

In “preaching study” posts, I’m really interested in fostering a “community” approach to study and prep for the message, so please interact as much as you like. All Scripture quotes are from the TNIV unless otherwise noted. Thanks!

I’m in the middle of a 3-part series in this week’s contemporary service on the Gifts of Christ for living out the gospel and the kingdom and Easter and being a body of apprentices to Jesus. Luke is our guide, with help from John primarily.

The 3 parts/gifts are: Word, Spirit, Community. This week we continue with the Gift of the Spirit. The main text is Acts 2:1-13. I’ll look also at the end of Luke’s Gospel, Acts 1, and the rest of Acts 2–Peter’s sermon and following.

Literary Context

  1. Setting – The day is Pentecost and the location is Jerusalem. It’s a time when lots of folks would be in town (2:5, 9-11) and the disciples are gathered together, as instructed (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-8).
  2. Outline – vv1-4 narrates the action of God in the gift of the Holy Spirit. vv5-12 narrates the response of those in the city. v13 poses an interpretation of the events and one answer to the question asked in v12, “What does this mean?” Peter offers a different interpretation in vv14-36
  3. 2:1-4 – I find it interesting how hard it is to nail down a description of this event: “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind” and “what seemed to be tongues of fire.” What does that say about the nature of the event itself that it struggles for description? What can be said of certainty is in v4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
  4. 2:5-12 – At least two things are important to notice here. The first is the great variety of persons gathered in Jerusalem at the time of the giving of the Spirit. The second is the disconnect between what the people see–Galileans, and what they hear–proclamation about God in their own language.
  5. 2:12 – This is the key question: “What does this mean?” Of the possible answers, two are offered here…
  6. 2:13 – This is the first option, “Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.'”
  7. 2:14, 16-21, 33, 36 – Peter stands up and offers the second option, highlighted in the selected verses here. Peter turns to Scripture, the prophet Joel, and explains Jesus, who he is and God’s purpose for him.

Cultural Cues

  1. In verse 1, we read that it is Pentecost. The Church is accustomed to the Christian significance of Pentecost, but it was a Jewish festival. We need a refresher on the original, Jewish significance of Pentecost to understand the setting here.

Canonical Connections

  1. One thinks initially of the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9, in which humanity is scattered and divided because language is divinely confused. In Acts 2:1-13, something like the reverse takes place as persons who are scattered and who speak different languages are given a common experience because language is divinely unified–not in the language spoken, but in the proclamation received.


Published by Guy M Williams

Christian | Husband, Father | Pastor | 8th-Gen Texan | Texas A&M ‘96 | Asbury Seminary ‘01 | Enjoy family, reading, running, golf, college football

One thought on “preaching study: acts 2:1-13, pt 1

  1. My approach this Sunday will be to start with some questions:
    Wouldn’t it be great to spend three years with Jesus?
    Wouldn’t it be great to see the miracles up close and personal?
    Wouldn’t it be great to walk the holy land and see all the sights?

    The first generation – the Apostles – did all that. But it wasn’t enough. They still needed the Holy Spirit.

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