Acts 2: Initial Reading Notes And Questions

Last night I read through Acts 2 a couple times and wrote down my initial thoughts and questions.  It took me just over two hours!  There’s just so much going on in this chapter, and it’s 47 verses long.  If you have any thoughts or insight that you’d like to add, I would be very interested to hear.

2:1

  • Where did the term “Pentecost” come from?  What does it mean?

2:2

  • If they were in a house, how did they know the noise came from heaven?
  • It seems like it wasn’t a wind, just a sound similar to it.

2:3

  • Why the object of tongues?  Is there a tie-in to the voice or revelation of God?
  • Why was the appearance of the tongues like fire?  Being in similar fashion to how God has revealed himself in the OT?  Burning bush, flame to guide the Israelites, etc.
  • “rested on each one of them” – Was this referring to the disciples, or everybody present?

2:4

  • “they were all filled” – Everyone present or all of the disciples?
  • Spirit was in control of the speaking in other tongues.
  • At this point, though extremely early, tongues is the only work of the Spirit mentioned.

2:5

  • The way he states that there were Jews living in Jerusalem makes it sound like it’s not obvious that Jews would be living there.
  • “devout men from every nation under heaven” – Literally?  And were there devout Jews living in every nation?  This seems odd.
  • Why were there people from every nation present at that time?  What drew them all to this location?
  • If the above point is not the case, were the boundaries of heaven limited?

2:6

  • “the crowd came together”
    • The crowd in the house, or all throughout Jerusalem?
    • Was the noise of the spirit loud enough for the whole city to hear?
  • “each one of them was hearing them speak in their own language” – What does this say about the purpose of tongues?  Is it meant to be known languages, or some spiritual unknown language (or both?).

2:7

  • Have good reason to be amazed that Galilean people were speaking other languages.

2:8

  • This is an interesting question.  Isn’t the answer simple:  They hear because they are speaking their language?  Or is there more to this?  Are they hearing the same man speak, but to their own ears, they hear it differently, in their own home language?  So in a sense the “miracle” is happening in the ear and not the mouth?  Or, are many people speaking, one per language in a sense?

2:9-11

  • 16 nations are named, with potentially more with use of words like “districts” and “residents” of areas.  But this doesn’t cover the rest of the world since above in 2:5
  • Wish there was more info on what was said with these “mighty deeds”.
  • Purpose of tongues here to testify about God

2:12

  • I also would be extremely amazed at this
  • “they all” – All of the people named in the list of nations?  Interesting terminology given that some in 2:13 mock instead.
  • “what does this mean?”  Due to what is said in 2:13, it seems that these are the people looking to see the truth in the situation, unwilling to just blow it off with some excuse.

2:13

  • Who were these “others”?
  • These people were unwilling to see the truth here.  Were these people included in those who were hearing words in their own language?  If so, what made them come to the conclusion that they were drunk?  It would make more sense if to them it sounded like gibberish and they heard nothing that made sense.

2:14

  • “with the eleven” – assuming Peter is the twelfth, and that Matthias is counted in here.
  • This is the second time Peter has taken the leadership and has spoken out to the people there.  No other disciple has said anything yet.  Peter, the natural leader of the group?
  • Peter addresses “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem”, yet there were people from all nations under heaven.  Why did he only address a specific set of people here?

2:15

  • First addresses the criticism of drunkenness and uses time of day as the main proof, as if nobody could ever possibly be drunk by then?  Seems like a rather weak argument, unless there is something culturally here that is missed.

2:16

  • Now on to scriptural evidence for what is happening now utilizing the prophet Joel

2:17-21

  • First part of the quote says “in the last days”.  Have these last two thousand years been in the last days?  Is that what this current time is considered by God?
  • Interestingly, the quote from Joel doesn’t seem to hit specifically on what we are seeing happening here except the pouring out of the spirit, and potentially prophecy (with the speaking of the “mighty deeds of God”).
  • In 17-18, is this mostly speaking to the change that is currently being brought about by the new gift of the Spirit?
  • The end of verse 18 says “and they shall prophecy” which doesn’t seem to be part of the actual quote.  Why was this added?
  • 19-20 seem a little more intense, and none of that has happened currently, if it is supposed to be taken literally at all.
  • 20 – Interesting that the hinging word is “calls”.

2:22

  • Paul shifts intended audience just to the Israelites now even though there are people from “every nation under heaven” still there.  Is the following information not intended or important to anyone else who is there?
  • Proof (“attested”) Jesus was from God – miracles, wonders, and signs.
  • Luke specifically takes the focus off of Jesus doing the miracles, and makes clear that God is the one who did them through Jesus.
  • “in your midst, just as you yourselves know” – Some there were firsthand witnesses of these things.

2:23

  • Not sure whether it’s in 22 or 23 (NASB and ESV have it different), but Jesus is referred to as a man – pointing out his human side.
  • “delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” – This had nothing to do with chance.  This even was completely in the hands of God.
  • Why is “foreknowledge” necessary if there is already a “predetermined plan”?  Why did Peter include both of these terms?
  • Peter is clear that even though the death of Jesus was part of God’s predetermined plan, the fault lies on the Israelites for handing him over.
  • “by the hands of godless men” – Accurate with the gospels, the Romans nailed him to the cross.
  • Highlights that death happened, and the death was dealt by being nailed to the cross – aligns with the gospels.

2:24

  • God did the work of raising Jesus.
  • Any significance in the word “again” in NASB?  ESV does not use it.
  • “putting an end to the agony of death” – Did Jesus experience agony from his death until the point that he was raised?  Does this say anything about everyone who has died at this point?  Are they experiencing agony until they are raised?
  • I’m not sure what “since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” really means.

2:25-28

  • Quoting David – Find where this comes from.
  • Is the quote to prove that he had to be raised?  “you will not abandon my soul to hades, nor allow your holy one to undergo decay.”

2:29

  • Argument that what David was saying applied to someone else, and not himself.

2:30-31

  • Referring to David as a prophet.
  • Quotes an oath from God in OT to David – find reference.
  • Proving his prophet abilities – he foresaw the resurrection of Jesus.
  • Confirms my question above about the purpose of David’s quote.

2:32

  • Reverts focus back to Jesus specifically now, connecting him with the OT quotes given.
  • Jesus was resurrected, and there were direct witnesses.  “we were” – referring to the disciples at least?

2:33

  • How do they know that Jesus is “exalted to the right hand of God”?
  • Makes it sound like Jesus received the promise of the Holy Spirit and pours it out on us.  Why doesn’t it come directly from the Father?
  • Peter is giving recognition that what is happening is by the Spirit which is from God.

2:34-35

  • Use of “For” – making a point from what was just said previously.
  • Did people think that David ascended into heaven?  Did this point need to be clarified due to an existing wrong understanding?
  • Quote from OT – find reference
  • Is this the source of Peter saying “exalted to the right hand of God” in verse 33?

2:36

  • Why the focus only on the “house of Israel”?  Why not broader given how many people are present from different areas?
  • The importance of the two separate titles “Lord” and “Christ.”
  • Again, putting a sense of blame on the Israelites for crucifying Jesus.

2:37

  • Who is “they”, since Peter has referenced different groups.
  • Unique phrase “pierced to the heart”.  Any significance to it’s uniqueness?
  • The people knew they couldn’t just do nothing, immediately seeking guidance from Peter.  Was this question born out of belief in all that was said?

2:38

  • Peter is assuming the question is out of belief.
  • This could be why “believe” is not a part of his instruction.
  • Keys:  On our end:  repentance, baptism.  On God’s end:  forgiveness, Holy Spirit.
  • “baptized…for the forgiveness of your sins” – What does this say about baptism?
  • Seems a bit formulaic – Do these things, receive the Spirit.  But perhaps it’s like that?  Modern understanding doesn’t seem to work this way.

2:39

  • Why is he clarifying who the promise is for?  Is he addressing Gentiles at this point?
  • “as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” – Seems to show signs of selection, being in the hands of God.

2:40

  • Peter said many other things that are not quoted here.
  • Shifted to exhorting and encouraging people to be saved.
  • Any significance of the phrase “perverse generation”?

2:41

  • “those who had received his word were baptized.” – Those who believed it.
  • ~3000 people believed that day.  Did that many people actually hear Peter speak, or was there a lot more going on that is not mentioned?  Were people coming continually and hearing the other things that Peter was saying that are not mentioned here?

2:42

  • “They” must refer to all of the new believers?
  • They were constantly wanting to be taught more and more.
  • “breaking of bread” – doesn’t refer to the wine.  Any particular reason?

2:43

  • The apostles were still doing a lot of healings and such?
  • How were they able to continually feel awe?  Awe can pass quickly.

2:44

  • 3000+ people together, how did that work?
  • “had all things in common” – This seems impossible, at least with today’s standards.  But it sounds amazing.

2:45

  • What was the cause for selling their property and possessions?  Surely they needed a place to live?  Were they only selling non-essential possessions?
  • “sharing with them all, as anyone might have need” – This is a pretty foreign concept these days.  Everyone has their own stuff.  I have my own lawn mower, and so do all of my neighbors.  Why do we not share one or two between us all?  It is difficult to even fathom living like this.

2:46

  • Still spending time in the temple.
  • “continuing with one mind” – Here is the “one mind” idea again.  Is there more to it, or does it simply mean they had the same goals and thought along the same lines?
  • Spending time in each other’s houses together, being thankful, sharing meals.
  • Another focus on “breaking bread”.  This seemed to be a frequent practice to do together.

2:47

  • Interesting that “praising God” comes a ways down the line in the list of all the things that were going on.
  • “having favor with all the people” – A time of real peace for believers.  Why the sudden favor, considering the hostility to the point of killing Jesus, the one whom they are praising now?
  • Focus on the work of the Lord.  He is the one doing the adding of believers.
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