The Establishment of the church of JESUS CHRIST Upon This Earth.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting 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 RSV

Pentecost was one of the three principal feasts of the Jews (2 Chronicles 8:12,13), the others being Passover and Tabernacles.

This feast was known by several names: “Firstfruits,” “Harvest Festival,” “Feast of Weeks” (Leviticus 23:15f), and “Pentecost,” as here.

The last two of these names derived from the time it was held, which was fifty days after the first ordinary sabbath after the beginning of Passover, “Pentecost” meaning “fiftieth.”

Also, since fifty days were exactly seven weeks, counting the first and last Sundays inclusively, this led to the name “Feast of Weeks.”

The historical church devised another name which came about thus: The habit of dressing in white and seeking baptism on Pentecost gave it the name `Whitsunday,’ by which it is popularly known all over the world.

The Passover week, from which Pentecost was reckoned, usually had two sabbaths:

  • The first full day of the feast, called a “high” sabbath (John 19:31)
  • The ordinary sabbath, the seventh day of the ordinary week.
  • The first of these came on various days of the week, like any day occurring on a fixed day of the month; the second was always a Saturday.

The year our Lord suffered (A.D. 30), the high sabbath fell on Friday, both our Lord and the robbers being crucified on Thursday the preceding day; and, to prevent the bodies remaining upon the cross on that high sabbath, the Pharisees requested Pilate to break their legs.

Thus there were back-to-back sabbaths during the Passover at which Jesus died, as attested by the Greek text of Matthew 28:1.

In later Jerusalem, Pentecost was celebrated as the anniversary of the giving of the Law at Sinai (based upon a deduction from Exodus 19:1)

The occasions do have the great factors in common, of the Law having been promulgated at Sinai, and the proclamation of the gospel having begun at Pentecost in Jerusalem.

The typical nature of the first event is further seen in the death of three thousand souls through disobedience the day the Law came, and in the contrast of three thousand souls having been saved through obedience at Pentecost.

At the Pentecost of Sinai in the Old Testament, and the Pentecost of Jerusalem in the New Testament, were the TWO grand manifestations of God, the legal and the evangelical.

  • The one from the mountain.
  • The other from heaven.
  • The terrible one.
  • The merciful one.

The very weightiest reasons appear for God’s choice of this day for the beginning of the church:

As Jesus was crucified at a great Jewish festival, it was appropriate that he should have been glorified at another.

  • Pentecost was the next after the Passover.
  • It was the anniversary of the giving of the Law.
  • The firstfruits were offered on Pentecost, and it was proper that the firstfruits of the gospel should come unto God on that occasion.
  • Millions of people were in Jerusalem for that occasion.
  • Most importantly of all, perhaps, by its falling upon the first day of the week, it coincided in that particular with the resurrection of Christ, and was thus of major importance in certifying Sunday as the day of the Christian assemblies.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”

And Peter said to them,

“REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:37‭-‬38 RSV

We have in this short verse the summary of Christian doctrine as regards man and God.

Repentance and faith on the part of man; forgiveness of sins, or justification, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, or sanctification, on the part of God!

Baptism is left out of the things regarding man’s part in the accomplishment of his salvation.

All of this is expressed in the sacrament of baptism, it cannot be denied that such an exegesis denies what is so categorically affirmed here by inspiration, namely, that a man must repent and be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins and the gift of the Spirit.

This writer is glad to note a change among modern commentators toward a more scriptural view of the ordinance of baptism, as evidenced by the following:

  • The idea of an unbaptized Christian is simply not entertained in the New Testament.
  • In the early church it was the universal practice of the church that the new convert was baptized immediately.

The rite was first practiced in obedience to a command of the Risen Lord … dates back to the day of Pentecost … was administered “into Christ,” or “in the name of Christ,” signifying that the baptized person passed into his possession.

The mode was IMMERSION, and baptism normally coincided with the reception of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is the occasion when the Spirit brings to new life him that believes in the Son of Man.

We must ungrudgingly recognize that the New Testament does not permit us to divide between the new life of Christ and the new life of the Spirit in baptism.

We should bear steadily in view that the difficulties and the misunderstandings that have surrounded this doctrine, through the change of the context in which the churches have set baptism, DO NOT ARISE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.

They should not be permitted to affect our interpretation of its evidence.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18 RSV

It's Your Turn. Write Something. Say Something.