Summary: Luke's use of language in his first two sentences of Acts chapter 2 sets up an incredible contrast. Verse one captures the togetherness of the pre-Pentecost community; verse two shows the Holy Spirit bursting the community into the world. As I contemplate the church over the centuries, I wonder if we always stand between verse 1 and 2; full of love and community, but waiting for the awesome movement of the Spirit to push us outside of ourselves. Moving churches out of their walls is a Herculean task, but God is up to it!
Image one: The pre-Pentecost community (Verse 1 captures all of chapter 1)
ομου + επι το αυτο ("together" and "all together") Luke uses a
rather redundant phrase. Both halves mean "together"; in English he basically
wrote "They were together with each other in the same place." Luke wants to
drive the point across that they were united. It is important to note that a united church is not a church in mission; a united church is a church waiting for mission.
I used to see the church of Acts 1 as "First Lutheran Church of Jerusalem." Great doctrine. Great fellowship. Perfect Committee Structure. No outreach. Overtime I have softened on this, as I begin to see how unity is a precursor to ministry.
εν τω συμπληρουσθαι
(συμπληροω; fulfill) To the point: By employing this particular construction,
Luke makes it clear that they did not simply come together on Pentecost, but
they had been together for a while. A few other points here about the verb fulfill:
* The verb fulfill occurs three times in just a few verses. The days of Pentecost were being fulfilled; the house was filled; now the people are filled.
* The verb is in the present suggesting it is
ongoing action; especially when paired with an imperfect as the main verb.
The notion suggested here is that they have been together (rather obediently!) since Jesus told them to wait.
* Purely grammar note: Chapter two begins with an articular infinitive using the construction, εν τω + infinitive which means "During the ..." In this case, the verb is "fulfill."
Summary, Luke does not simply imply "The group was assembled for the
celebration" but rather, "As the day of Pentecost approached, they were
continually together in the same place."
The Spirit comes [vs 2 (and the rest of Acts)]
ηχος ("sound"; literally
echo!) The Spirit comes as an echo...that has reverberated across the
φερημενης (φερω; "carry") The wind that comes is a carrying wind;
a wind that will carry the disciples outside of their walls.
("violent") When this word occurs in the OT, it describes the wind blowing back
the waters during Exodus. Maybe that is one metaphor for the Spirit's
activities during the 21st century: Making a way through the troubled waters for the church.
Interestingly, this word is used in classical Greek to describe the "power" or
"strength" of Hercules. This may also be a way to think about the Spirit --
overcoming the Herculean task of getting Christians to leave the door.
Sometimes this might take shaking things up a bit!
To put this together,
the Spirit carries with it...a hint of upheaval...that echoes across the
A few other points:
ευλαβης ("devout"; 2:5) The men in Jerusalem are considered "devout".
Interestingly, Simeon was labeled as devout as well -- a rather rare
term in the NT (only used four times). As Jesus was revealed (as a
baby) to a devout man, the church was revealed (as a baby!) to a devout
ιδια διαλεκτω ("Our own language" literally "the idiom dialect"; 2:6) Luther hits the nail on the head: Muttersprache.
ακουω ("hear"; 2:6,8
and 11) This verb means listening.
Perhaps the more important activity of the Holy Spirit is working on the
ears of the listener!