Acts 2: They Begin to Get It

This is such an incredible chapter!

I don’t say that because I have been programmed to by my religious tradition that has exalted this chapter since the beginning of the Restoration Movement almost 200 years ago.  They often championed this chapter as a blueprint for receiving Christ in a particular way.  That is certainly in here, but that kind of reductionism misses the point.

Acts 2 is a sunburst of spiritual power.  The original Great Awakening.  It is the start of something new, though it was spoken of  long ago (Acts 2:16-21).  So many things we have been seeing are coming together here, and so many things will launch out from here.  The Celts would have called this one of those “thin places” where heaven touches earth in an explosion of energy, awareness, ability, and change.  Now that is a reason to exalt a chapter!

Amongst other points, this chapter is so wonderful because the apostles finally begin to get this kingdom Jesus has been talking about.

  • They begin to see that “Death” is the real enemy that has to be vanquished not Rome, and that the battle was waged on a cross and in a tomb not in Judea (2:24, 27, 31-32)
  • They were able to grasp that Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise to David to have a descendent on the throne, but that this was a different sort of throne (2:30-31)
  • They boldly claimed that “Jesus is Lord” (2:36) instead of saying “Caesar is Lord,” a common cry by the AD 60s when Acts was written if not in the AD 30s when the actual events took place.  Somehow it was possible for Jesus to be Lord even while Caesar was on a throne.
  • They were understanding that the greatest tyranny comes at the hands of Sin, and the greatest freedom is from this enemy (2:38, 40, 47)
  • They were switching from a worldview that said Israel is our most important allegiance to seeing the fledgling collection of Jesus-followers as the Great Community (2:42-47)

Notice, they didn’t really get it in Acts 1.  Now they begin to in Acts 2.  What changed?  What happened?  The only thing that changed was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God.  God is changing them from the inside out.

Let your Spirit come!  Fall upon us now!

What spoke to you anew in this very familiar chapter?  

Categories: Acts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Acts 2: They Begin to Get It

  1. Eddy Efaw

    First off I love your list above of new understandings that the apostles have now of what Kingdom is really all about! I wonder what those would look like for a modern day Christian?

    Death is the enemy to be vanquished not my rival political party.

    Jesus was the fulfillment of David’s throne not just a move to a more “spiritual” testament as opposed to the “physical” Old Testament.

    “Jesus is Lord” not materialism. Can Jesus be Lord while Madison Ave. has a stronghold on America?

    I wonder.

    Something also stood out to me via the Message. In his translation,Eugene Peterson says, “God untied the death ropes and raised him up” and “God raised him to the heights at the right hand of God.” I had never thought that God’s resurrection was so powerful that it ended up placing Jesus on the throne at the right hand of God! This connection of resurrection and enthronement is new to me.

    For that matter, the importance of the enthronement of Jesus is new to me too. (via Dr. Richard Oster)

    • Wonderful thoughts, Eddy! I love the list of modern kingdom ideas. It would be a wonderful exercise for us today to add to that.

      The kingdom comes when we are ready to die for Jesus, not just our country.

      The kingdom comes when we realize our greatest threats are in our hearts, not Somalia, Iran or South Memphis.

      Before the KNT came along, I was going to use “The Message” as my reading text this year. I so love the way Peterson says things.

  2. Chris Dahlberg

    Jason, I was impacted by what you stated very well: the apostles did not get until the Holy Spirit intervened. They had been with Jesus, up close, but the bigger picture thinking had eluded them.

    So, what do we miss?

    • Chris Dahlberg

      “get it”

    • That I think is the wonderfully confrontational idea here. It has come up twice so far on this blog. As humble as we are about our moral failings, we think we have figured out a lot of things intellectually and doctrinally. Yet, it took a move of God by way of the HS for the apostles to get it. I think we can be more confident than despairing about our ability to know, but a bit of “epistemological humility” is certainly in order.

      What are we missing? That is the right question.

      Thanks, Chris!

  3. Pat

    I’ve always heard of Acts being the “acts of the apostles,” but this chapter really makes me realize that the book is about the “acts of the Holy Spirit.” It is the Spirit’s power that is seen in the events of this day, in the actions of these 120 Christ followers, in the changed lives of the new believers. Wow!

  4. Melanie

    I don’t think I’ve paid attention until now to the contrast between the apostles before chapter 2 and the apostles in chapter 2. It’s clear that they hadn’t been understanding the idea of the Kingdom. But in chapter 1 they seem to be sitting around, sort of muddled and confused. They’re waiting per Jesus’ instructions, but they don’t know what they are waiting for. They are praying–great idea (as Jason commented after chapter 1). But the transformation that happens when the Holy Spirit comes amazes both them and I’m guessing everyone who sees and hears them. Suddenly, they seem to have the focus and clarity that have been missing. I like what Chis says–wonder what we are missing. But what struck me in reading this time was the power of the Holy Spirit to turn things around, to make sense of everything, to give boldness to these men who had been sort of on the fringes, and to open the floodgates for the Kingdom to come in thousands of people.

    • I wonder if in our attempt to not fall head-long into Pentecostalism, another religious movement of the 19th Century like the one most of us come from, we have so avoided talking about the Holy Spirit and including the Spirit in our theology that we fail to really get an important layer to Acts. Miracles aside, there is great power through the Spirit and when we realize it maybe new realities become real. I for one am ready to learn these lessons.

  5. Eddy Efaw

    Amen to all of these comments! I want to be part of bringing this Biblical teaching on the Holy Spirit into our churches of Christ today! May we have our very own “Acts 2” here in Memphis, TN!

  6. V1- 13 is too hard for me too understand, complex and mind tickling. So many different explanation to this verse (refer

    V14- Peter stood up with eleven. Earlier, Matthias is already selected as no12 apostle, so why eleven still being highlighted? Is it this chapter is earlier than Acts 1?

    V19-v21- Prophesy of doomsday.

    V22- Jesus is being accredited by God, to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
    What a shock verse to me; it quite different from what I hear from Christian. The word “accredited by”, “to you by miracles”, “which God did”, “through him” make Jesus less powerful and make him just a servant of God.

    V23- The word “by God’s set purpose”, It quite difficult for me to link v23 and v24, as (1) god put him to death and (2) impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

    V35-v36- 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.

    I have a different interpretation for this verse, the word “until” is talk about “future”, when the enemy of God/Father become a footstool. Jesus will become a lord (King of Earth) and Christ (prophet). Again this talking about doomsday (the second coming), but from your post, you talking about AD 30.

    V40 – Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. So actually there already have a corrupt generation in those time.

    V47 – praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. So in those day, earlier Christianity (after Jesus’s death), they are praising God instead of Jesus?

    A complex chapter to understand.

    • Sorry, Hifzan, I got behind in responding.

      Christians understand the beginning of Acts 2 as the Holy Spirit coming down upon the apostles. We of course see the HS is a part of God and an actual personality or being. The easiest way to explain it might be to say the pure and completely spiritual presence of God. The HS came with certain physical manifestations (sound of wind, flames of fire on their heads, miraculous abilities given to the apostles) but you don’t see the HS. As far as Christians go, v.1-13 are pretty straightforward.

      I think all v.14 is saying is that Peter stood up with the 11 other apostles. Together they would make a group of 12.

      You are hitting an important point in v.22 that some Christians do not really describe well, maybe me included. Jesus is usually described as a “servant” to God. Or maybe the best way to say it is that Jesus comes as a “servant” to the people God is saving through him. While the Father and Son are one, there is also a way in which the Son is submissive to the Father, as should happen in a good family situation. Remember, that Jesus did need to be “accredited by God” because the Jews at his time accepted God but not Jesus. The unfolding point in Acts is that this Jesus that they had killed was not just FROM God but WAS God too. In some ways the position you are in as you read this, able to accept Jesus as a prophet but nothing more, is a whole lot like where the original Jewish audience to these events would have been.

      On v.23-24: How about this as a way to put these two verses together? God allowed them to kill Jesus because this was God’s plan/”set purpose” but God also planned to and did raise him front he dead.

      v.36 — I am afraid the past tense “has made” does not allow you to defer this verse to the future. Jesus WAS made Lord and Christ in AD 30. But even if you do defer it to the future, you still have an issue. At Doomsday Jesus becomes the King of this earth and anointed deliver of God’s people. That doesn’t sound like the kind of person you want to reject or relegate to co-prophet status with Muhammad.

      What you have skirted in this chapter is the inescapable claim that Jesus came back from the dead. If that is true, Jesus is more than just a prophet.

      • v1-13: What I mean is, explanation from is too many different comment, make me wonder which one is correct way to read it.

        In some ways the position you are in as you read this, able to accept Jesus as a prophet but nothing more, is a whole lot like where the original Jewish audience to these events would have been.
        Don’t worry, I also want to read and understand how Christian understand. Because you believe that this is “word of God”, then He should have a good foundation in writing /evidence to make people believe, if not how He can be a God. Remember- attribute of God is Knowledgeable, and Jealous.

        Knowledgeable – He know all what you do and what will happen in future.
        Jealous – He dont like others worship others god.

        If God is true, He should have a solid Knowledge and defend His religion in right manner. In this term, another name of God is Jealous, He will not tolerate with others religion/god. He may not judge here, but in after life. So before we meet Him, it better for us to criticize each other while we alive (in right manner).

        In think your religion believe the same concept, so this attribute can be read in both religion.

  7. What changed? What happened? The only thing that changed was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God

    Reading back the chapter, holy spirit in these chapter talking about “consciousness”, “awareness”, “recognition” and “power of god” and more to “god wills” rather than “there was another god”.

    • Certainly, the HS is not another god. He is the third part of the trinity, the final part of God that will dwell with humanity, guiding us and making us holy until the day this world is finally recreated. It may not come out to you in this chapter, but as we read I think you will see more and more that Christians look at and see as more than just a “conscience” or some form of impersonal “power.”

  8. Pingback: Change…Sacred…Management or how I discovered I may be a Pentecostal « A Robin Hood's Musing

  9. Eddy

    “And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.” (‭Acts‬ ‭2‬:‭43-45‬ MSG) this passage still gets me every time. Can we still do this today in large groups of believers??? How amazing it would be to live within such a Community.

  10. “People in general liked what they saw.”

    What a wonderful thing to said about the Church of Pentecost!

    Boldness, culturally open, undivided and equal, Jesus-centered, communal, harmonious, worshipful – all great, winsome characteristics!

  11. “God destroyed the cords of death and raised him up, because it was impossible for death’s power to hold him prisoner.” (2:24)

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