Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 4 2013 - Acts 2:1-47 – The beginning of a new movement

The coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 marks the dawning of a new age. Having completed all that the Father had sent him to do, the crucified and risen Saviour is now seated at the Father’s right hand. From the Father he has been given the Spirit to pour out upon the world.

The passage begins with the description of the Spirit poured out upon the little group of disciples. But the Spirit is certainly not for them alone. There were people in Jerusalem who had come from all over the Greco-Roman world to attend the feast of Pentecost. Most were probably Jews from the Diaspora but many were God-fearing Gentiles who would have had limited access to the Temple and would have been very aware that they were still, as it were, kept at arm’s length from the God of Israel. But Jesus’ death had broken down that barrier – the curtain in the Temple had been torn from top to bottom. God himself has burst through to touch the lives of these people. In a miraculous reversal of Babel, they all hear the word of God in their own mother tongue. Scattered nations are now being gathered together and reunited by word and Spirit.

And this is Peter’s explanation of what is happening. The prophets had spoken about this day when God would pour out his Spirit on people of every kind – male and female, young and old. This is what is now happening. The Spirit is not just for this little group of disciples but is for everyone who will call on the name of the Lord – Jesus the crucified one whom God raised from the dead. This new and last age of the Spirit will continue until every knee bows to Jesus (2:34-35).

Peter’s sermon identifies some of the hallmarks of this new age that Jesus has inaugurated: It is the age of the Spirit – there are no barriers to where, when and in whom God may work; It is the age of fulfilment – Jesus fulfils the promises of the Old Testament and they are now being realised in the world; It is an age of empowered witness to Jesus; It is an age in which people of all sorts are being drawn to Jesus – an age of kingdom expansion; Baptism plays a significant part in community formation as (with repentance) signifying union with Christ and entrance into the fellowship of his people – an end to the old and the beginning of the new; The reality of the new age is seen in transformed community.

This transformed community is exemplified in 2:44-47. “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching.” They were eager to learn more of the Lord Jesus from those who had been with him and had known him. These primary witnesses have left us their testimony in the pages of the New Testament, and particularly in the Gospel accounts, that we might learn of Jesus and grow in faith and in conformity to him (see, for instance, John 20:30-31).

“They devoted themselves ... to the fellowship and the breaking of bread.” They loved to meet together because they were convinced that they shared together in the life of the kingdom – the life of the risen Christ. They treated one another as brothers and sisters. They shared meals together and, in the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, remembered that the life they enjoyed in Christ flowed to them from his broken body and shed blood.

“They devoted themselves ... to prayer.” They were convinced that Jesus was Lord and Christ. He had ascended to the right hand of God and could intercede for them. So they gladly poured out their praise and requests to the Father in Jesus' name. And this happy band saw remarkable answers to their prayer as many miracles were performed by the apostles, they enjoyed favour with all the people and the Lord continued to add to their number as more came to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Lord Jesus, we confess that our Christian lives are often spoilt by division and selfishness which rob us of joy and destroy our witness to your risen power. Fill us afresh with your Spirit that we may learn of you, live shared lives centred in you and daily pour out our praise and petitions to you. May our shared life of celebration bring many to join us in confessing that you are Lord and Saviour.

Peter Misselbrook