One of three major Jewish feasts, also derived from the Greek word meaning “fifty.” Pentecost occurs in the month of Sivan (May/June), 50 days after Passover, and celebrates the end of the grain harvest. The Pentecost that followed Jesus’ death and resurrection was the occasion on which the Holy Spirit was given to believers in Jerusalem.
Believers were together celebrating Pentecost when suddenly unusual sights and sounds signaled an event that would have far-reaching implications. They heard the sound of “a violent rushing wind” (Acts 2:2 HCSB). They saw tongues of fire resting on believers, and each believer was able to communicate in languages they had never before spoken. They were able to speak with Jewish pilgrims of many languages from all over the Mediterranean world.
These phenomena got the attention of the Jewish faithful gathered in Jerusalem. Many thought the disciples were intoxicated. But Simon Peter got up and pointed out that it was too early in the day for people to be drunk. Peter then took this unusual opportunity to proclaim that this event was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out His Spirit on all people. Peter linked the gift of the Spirit with the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.
Peter’s message found its way into the hearts of more than 3,000 who responded by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.