Acts 2:1, With one accord in one place. The location of this event was likely in the Solomon’s portico area of the temple mount, and not in the traditional site of the upper room located on Mount Zion in the City of David, which is southeast and outside of the temple mount area. (See notes at Acts 5:12.) Here, the disciples were gathered in one accord. This is likely the spot where the Acts 2 Pentecost gathering occurred. The reasons for this supposition are these: First, this area was large enough to accommodate thousands of people (unlike the traditional upper room location on Mount Zion in the City of David). Second, people from many nations would have been passing through the city gates located in this area en route to the temple and would have heard Peter preaching. Third, mikveh pools were located just to the south of the Temple Mount (and are still visible today) where those who repented and believed could have been easily and quickly baptized.
In one place. Where did the early believers hold their meetings? In “church” buildings? Not necessarily.
- Acts 2:1 In one accord in one place. The upper room or on the southern steps of the temple?
- Acts 3:1 At the temple at the hour of prayer at the Beautiful Gate.
- Acts 3:11 Peter preaches in the temple area at Solomon’s Porch.
- Acts 4:5, Peter preaches to the Sanhedrin.
- Acts 4:31, The place or room where they were assembled was shaken.
- Acts 5:11, The church was not a building, but the body of redeemed believers—the saints, set-apart ones.
- Acts 5:12, The church met at Solomon’s Porch in the temple area—all in one accord.
- Acts 5:42, Met daily in the temple and every house where they taught and preached Yeshua the Messiah.
- Acts 8:3, The church met in houses (Greek oikos meaning “an inhabited house, home, any dwelling place, building of any kind.”
- Acts 9:20, Paul preached Yeshua in the synagogues of Damascus.
- Acts 10:22, 44, Meeting in Cornelius’ house, and the Spirit falls.
- Acts 12:12, Gathered together praying in Mary’s house.
- Acts 13:5, Peached the gospel in the synagogues.
- Acts 13:13ff, Went into the synagogue on the Sabbath for the purpose of preaching the gospel, and on the next Sabbath as well (v. 44).
- Acts 14:1, Preaching again in the synagogue.
- Acts 15:21, Go to the synagogue each Sabbath to learn Torah.
- Acts 16:13, Meeting by a river side, customary prayer was made on the Sabbath.
- Acts 16:40, Lydia’s house a gathering place of the brethren.
- Acts 17:3, Paul, as was his custom, reasoned with the Jews on the Sabbath in their synagogue.
- Acts 17:5, A congregation in Jason’s house.
- Acts 18:4, More reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue every Sabbath.
- Acts 18:7, The house of Justice was a gathering place for the believers.
- Acts 18:19, More preaching to the Jews in the synagogue.
- Acts 18:24ff, Apollos preaching in the synagogue where Priscilla and Aquilla met him.
- Acts 19:8, Paul continues to preach in the synagogues.
- Acts 19:9–10, The disciples of Paul met daily in a school for two years.
- Acts 20:8, Sabbath evening, meeting in an upper room.
- Acts 28:23, In Rome, Paul preaches the gospel from his place of lodging.
- Acts 28:31, From his own rented house, Paul preached the kingdom of Elohim and the gospel for two years.
Shavuot at Mount Sinai and Pentecost in Acts 2
Although some 1500 years separate the first Pentecost at the foot of Mount Sinai and the one recorded in Acts 2, they are wonderfully linked to each both prophetically and spiritually. Few people understand this. In fact, one large branch of Christianity takes its name from Pentecost, yet it is safe to say that most Christians who claim the moniker of “Pentecostal” know little about the deeper implications of this term.
The first Pentecost is the foundation for and points to the latter one. Each was a watershed event for the people of YHVH that helped set their course of destiny for generations to come. We can learn much by studying these two events and understanding the spiritual implications for us as end time believers even though these events occurred thousands of years ago.
At the first Shavuot, the commandments of Elohim were written on two tablets of stone (Exod 24:12); on the Day of Pentecost, the same Torah was written on the heart of men by the Spirit of Elohim on Shavuot (or Pentecost, Acts 2:1–4; Heb 8:10). In 2 Corinthians 3:3 we read,
“Forasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Messiah ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Ruach of the living Elohim; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:3)
Interestingly, as YHVH inscribed the Torah on two stones at Sinai, likewise the human heart is also comprised of two “tablets,” or compartments, which physicians refer to as the “left heart” and the “right heart.”
Long before the day of Pentecost, many biblical writers prophesied that YHVH would give his people new hearts and write his Torah on their hearts (e.g. Jer 31:33; Pss 37:31; 40:8; Isa 51:7; Ezek 11:19–20; 36:22–27; 2 Cor 3:3; Heb 8:10). Though YHVH gave our forefathers his law at Sinai and even the gospel message (Heb 4:2), it did not profit them, since they didn’t have faith (verses 6–7). They were unable to keep it because of the hardness or stone-like nature of their hearts (Ezek 11:19). It wasn’t until the promised Comforter or Spirit of Elohim (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7,13) came en masse on Pentecost and softened or circumcised the human heart that man was able to serve and obey YHVH’s laws—not out of legalistic obligation or a dead letter-of-the-law obedience, but out of a heart of love, faith and trust. All obedience to the commands of YHVH should be out of a heart attitude of love and devotion to YHVH (John 14:15,21).
The two Shavuot events are linked prophetically in other ways as well. Because of the hardness of the Israelites’ hearts and their refusal to trust and obey the Torah that YHVH gave them on the first Shavuout, three thousand Israelites were slain at the golden calf incident (Exod 32:1–8,26–28). They sinned against YHVH when they violated the second commandment and made an idol and worshipped it. The death penalty is the result of violating the laws of Elohim (Ezek 18:4). However, on the day of Pentecost the curse was reversed: three thousand were saved or born again (Acts 2:38–41). This teaches us that when YHVH’s Torah-commands are written on our hearts and we obey him, spiritual life comes.
Another way in which the two Shavuots may be contrasted is that the letter of the Torah was given at Sinai, while in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament) the Spirit of the Torah was brought to its full revelation (Matt 5–7; Rom 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor 3:6).
We also see that Shavuot at Mount Sinai and on Pentecost in Acts 2 both were accompanied by heavenly sounds. The Torah-law was given on Mount Sinai amidst thunderings, lightening and fire. Similar divine manifestations occurred on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem (Exod 19:16,18; 20:18 cp. Acts 2:2–3).
We learn of another connection between the Shavuot and Pentecost from the Jewish midrash (or interpretation of Scripture), which teaches that when YHVH was declaring the ten commandments, visible sound waves actually left his mouth like liquid or audible fire. Exodus 20:18 says that the people saw the thunderings (plural, not singular thunder). Allegorically, the Jewish sages teach that this means that as YHVH’s voice left his mouth it split into the 70 known languages extant on earth at that time and traveled around the entire camp and then to each Israelite. Israel had a “Pentecostal” experience in the wilderness! Shavuot at Sinai was a rehearsal (or miqra) of the Shavuot or Pentecost yet to come in the Book of Acts. The phrase “voice of the words” in Hebrews 12:19 in describing what the Israelites heard at Sinai may very well be a confirmation of this Jewish tradition. The word words in Hebrews 12:19 is the Greek word rhema,which many believe to mean “an individual word to an individual personfrom the Spirit of YHVH.” So in Sinai, perhaps each Israelite heard YHVH’s word in 70 languages, while on Pentecost each person heard the gospel preached in his own language (Acts 2:6–11).
Yeshua commanded his disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until Pentecost where they would be “immersed with the Ruach HaKodesh” (Acts 1:5). He further told them that they would “receive power (literally explosive, dynamic or dynamite-like power) after that the Ruach HaKodesh is come upon you …” (verse 8, first part). And what was the purpose for that dynamic immersion or in-filling of the Ruach HaKodesh? “…[A]nd you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (verse 8, last part). Were they, under the empowerment of the Ruach, to preach a Torah-less (or even an anti-Torah) message? Assuredly not! They were commanded to preach the gospel message of the Written Torah (as given to the Israelites at Sinai) and then to combine it with the salvation message of Yeshua (who was the Living Torah or Word of Elohim incarnate/in flesh form, John 1:1,14). Yeshua’s disciples were to follow his example and to proclaim that message to a lost, dying and hurting world starting with the Jews and then to go to the world as Yeshua commanded with the miraculous signs and wonders following them as evidences that the Spirit of Elohim was with them (Acts 1:8; Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–18). As one author so aptly, states this, “The complete saturation of believers with the Set-Apart Spirit bestowed many supernatural gifts and enablements for declaring the good news with power and effectiveness (Acts 1:8). This is reasonable, for if the work of YHVH could be accomplished through human abilities, the ‘enduement (or clothing upon) with power from on high’ would be rendered unnecessary and meaningless.” (http://www.vcfbham.org/chap6.html)
This author continues, “It is a mistake to isolate one manifestation as evidencing this in-filling. Pentecost represents a many-faceted demonstration of His presence, as we shall see. Some of the spiritual abilities with which the church was endowed are these: word of wisdom, word of knowledge faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and speaking with tongues, both heavenly language and foreign languages of men (1 Cor 12; 13:1). You will discover that gifts to the ministry are included in this equipping (Eph 4:8, 11)” (ibid.).
Simply stated, he says, this Set-Apart Spirit baptism was for the equipping of those who would be used of YHVH with whatever they needed, on any occasion and under any circumstances, to be an adequate witness and to do the works of Elohim (John 14:12).
Today, more than ever, we must have these spiritual talents working in us so that the gospel of the kingdom may be published into all the world for a witness before the end comes (Matt 24:14). The fact that Scripture also refers to Pentecost as the Feast of Harvest of the First Fruits gives us some spiritual insight concerning the harvest of souls that Elohim desires to be reaped from the earth. The Bible teaches that Yeshua was the Son of Man who came to sow good seed—the Word of YHVH (Luke 8:5–11). We, therefore, as members of the body of Messiah are the reapers sent forth for harvesting (John 4:38; Matt 9:38). Through Spirit-filled witnessing, the harvest of earth will be reaped. It is for this reason that Yeshua made the declaration, “You shall receive power after that the Set-Apart Spirit is come upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me … unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The people of YHVH can never be effective and productive in this harvest without an abundant anointing or baptism of the Set-Apart Spirit. Pentecost symbolizes anointing for the harvest. A yearly observance of this biblical memorial day by redeemed believers serves to remind us of our total dependence upon the Spirit of Elohim to guide, empower and anoint us to help reap the spiritual harvest of earth. The apostle Peter referred to it as a “time of refreshing” helping to prepare the restoration of all things so that Yeshua can come back (ibid.).
Acts 2:2, Sound from heaven. Traditionally, the church has likened this event to the Spirit coming down as a dove, even though a dove is not mentioned in this passage. This idea is not totally without merit, since it hearkens back to the Genesis creation account when the Spirit of Elohim hovered over the waters of earth presumably, and as is referred to in rabbinic literature (Genesis Rabbah 2:15), like a dove (Gen 1:2).
Acts 2:4, They were all filled. There is one baptism of the Spirit, but there can be subsequent fillings (Acts 4:31).
Acts 2:5, Men from every nation. According to Josephus, during the feasts, due to the influx of pilgrims, the population of Jerusalem would swell to a million (Golden Jerusalem, by Menashe Har-El, p. 73).
Acts 2:15, Third hour. This 9 AM in the morning, which would have been at the time of the morning sacrifice. This would explain why there were so many people present from so many nations at this hour of the morning (The Temple–Its Ministry and Service, p. 108, by Alfred Edersheim).
Acts 2:23, Be baptized. The term baptism in Hebrew is tevilah meaning “immersion,” which occurs at a mikveh meaning “a gathering of waters.” For those coming from a Christian background baptism is something that occurs at the beginning of a believer’s spiritual walk and involves baptism (immersion) in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom 6:3–6; 1 Cor 15:29; Gal 3:27; Eph 4:5; Col 2:12; 1 Pet 3:21). Yet Paul the apostle talks of baptisms (plural) in Heb 6:2. What are these other baptisms? Evidently, in biblical thought immersion for the remission of sins is but one of many such ritual immersions.
Indeed, in the Testimony of Yeshua we not only read about baptism for the remission of sins, but the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist (Acts 1:5; 10:37; 13:24; 19:4), baptism (immersion) of the Set-Apart Spirit (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 8:16; 11:16), and baptism with fire (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16). Here we see the four types of immersions spoken of in the Testimony of Yeshua.
The concept of ritual immersion for a variety of reasons stems from commands in the Torah relating to ceremonial washings signifying spiritual and physical cleansing (Lev 14:1–4, 7, 9; Exod 19:10; Lev 8:6; 15:5, 8, 10–13, 16–18, 21; 16:4).
Moreover, the prophet Ezekiel speaks of YHVH sprinkling his people to cleanse them from their impurities, which is a picture of the new spiritual life of which immersion is e a type (Ezek 36:25).
Acts 2:42, 46, They continued. This passage along with 1 Tim 4:13 is a list of activities the early saints did when they gathered together. This included continuing steadfastly in the apostles’s doctrine, which includes “reading [the “Old Testament” Scriptures], exhortation, [studying or teaching] doctrine” (1 Tim 4:13), fellowshipping, eating meals together, praying and praise [and worshipping] Elohim. Expounding on this further, we read in 1 Cor 14:26, “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” Spiritual gifts should be exercised when the saints come together as well (1 Cor 14:12). How many modern church gatherings habitually incorporate these elements into their weekly meetings?
The following is a list of activities the first century saints did when they came together on the Shabbat and at other times:
- Teaching the word of Elohim, teaching doctrine (including the Torah), presenting the gospel (Acts 2:40–42; 1 Cor 14:26; 1 Tim 4:13)
- Baptizing new converts (Acts 2:41)
- Fellowshipping (Acts 2:42)
- Sharing meals together (Acts 2:42
- Praying for the sick (Jas 5:14)
- Singing psalms (Gr. psallo meaning “to play on a stringed instrument a praise song to Elohim, Jas 5:13) or to give a psalm (Gr. psalmos meaning “a striking, twanging, of a striking the chords of a musical instrument, of a pious song, a psalm, 1 Cor 14:26), for singing in general (1 Cor 14:15)
- Confessing one’s sins one to another (Jas 5:16)
- Praying for one another (Jas 5:16) or prayer in general (1 C or 14:14–15)
- Turning those who are wandering from the truth back to Elohim (Jas 5:19)
- Reading the Scriptures (1 Tim 4:13)
- Exhorting (Gr. paraklesis meaning “calling near, summons, importation, supplication, entreaty, admonition, encouragement,consolation, comfort, solace,” 1 Tim 4:13)
- Exercising the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12) including speaking in tongues and prophesying (1 Cor 14:12, 26, 29, 39)
- Giving spiritual revelations (1 Cor 14:26)
Acts 3:2, 10, Beautiful Gate. This gate in the wall of Jerusalem was also known as Nicanor’s Gate (named after a generous Alexandrian). Fifteen semi-circle steps led up to this gate. Upon these steps, the Levites stood with musical instruments (kinnor and nevel harps and metziltaim or cymbals) and recited the fifteen psalms (the Songs of Accent) from 120 to 134. The Levites would also read seven psalms, one on each day of the week (Pss 24, 48, 82, 94, 81, 93 and, on the Sabbath, Ps 92) to memorialize the days of creation. This gate was also known as the Corinthian Gate since it was made of Corinthian brass the beauty of which gave it the name Beautiful Gate (Golden Jerusalem, by Menashe Hare-El, p. 75).
Acts 4:6, John…of the family of the high priest. John was born into the Levitical priesthood or cohemim.
Acts 4:13, Uneducated and untrained. There are only several examples of formally educated individuals in the Bible whom YHVH chose to be his servants. Most were common individuals from non-descript backgrounds that he raised up for his purposes. He more often than not uses the foolish things of the world (in the eyes of men) to confound the wise.
Acts 4:29–30, Grant to your servants. The disciples didn’t pray for deliverance from their enemies; rather, they prayed for boldness to preach the gospel with signs and miracles following. There is a major difference between the two prayers. YHVH answered this prayer. What can we learn from this example? When we are faced with a life-threatening situation, may we, by YHVH’s grace and empowerment, be willing to lay our lives down by coming out with a strong gospel message with which to confront our adversaries.
Acts 4:32, Had all things in common. This was not communism, which is very different.
Acts 5:1–11, The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. Why did YHVH kill them? They committed the unpardonable sin in that they willfully and in a premeditated plot lied to the YHVH. There is no sacrifice or forgiveness for willful sin. YHVH was showing us that even in the age of the New Covenant, his grace doesn’t cover willful sin. Let us all fear YHVH Elohim and tremble before him all the time!
Some scholars suggest that YHVH killed them because they violated the Torah laws regarding the handling of devoted things, for which there was a death penalty (Lev 27:28–29). Perhaps so. Whatever the case, it’s interesting to note that YHVH struck Ananias and Sapphira dead after the cross in, what many Christians call, the dispensation of grace era when, in their minds, sin doesn’t carry the same severe penalty us under “old covenant,” law of Moses era. What we learn from this is that YHVH still views sin as sin, and the wages of sin is still death (Rom 6:23). This has never changed before or after the cross of Yeshua. Just because one isn’t struck dead immediately upon having sinned doesn’t mean one hasn’t incurred the death penalty. That death penalty is only waived when one repents of their sin and asks for YHVH’s forgiveness through faith in Yeshua whose death paid the death penalty price for our sins.
Likely, such divine judgments still occur in our day more frequently than we realize. It may not involve the death of the individual, but rather sickness, demonic attacks, financial setbacks and other adversities that occur to us. The problem is that because of human pride and spiritual deafness and blindness, most people fail to recognize the cause of their problems. We attribute them instead to random circumstances and time and chance instead of to YHVH’s hand of judgment against us because of our sin, which we fail to recognize and repent of.
Paul addresses this issue in 1 Cor 11:27–32 with regard to those who eat of the communion elements in a careless or indifferent manner.
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Acts 5:12, Solomon’s porch/portico/colonnade. (See also John 10:23 and Acts 3:11.)This was a large covered area supported by marble columns which supported a wooden roof structure and was located on the east side of the temple mount area along the eastern wall that overlooked the Kidron Valley and faced the Mount of Olives just above the Garden of Gethsemane. This portico was built so that pilgrims and Levites visiting the temple would have a place to gather that was protected from the weather. Meetings and gatherings occurred here, and this was a gathering place of the early disciples as noted in Acts 3:11. There Yeshua taught and debated with the Jews (John 10:22–29). Here, the disciples were gathered in one accord (Acts 5:12). This is likely the spot where the Acts 2 Pentecost gathering occurred. (See additional comments at Acts 2:1.)
This portico (colonnade or cloister) that was located on the eastern wall and that existed in the time of Yeshua and the disciples was originally constructed by King Solomon according to Flavius Josephus.
These cloisters belonged to the outer court, and were situated in a deep valley, and had walls that reached four hundred cubits [in length], and were built of square and very white stones, the length of each of which stones was twenty cubits, and their height six cubits. This was the work of King Solomon, who first of all built the entire temple. (Josephus Flavius Ant. xx.9.7)
While the Babylonians destroyed the temple in their conquest of Jerusalem in about 586 B.C., if we are to believe Josephus, they apparently left Solomon’s Portico intact.
In the description of Solomon’s Temple and the complex including not only the temple itself, but its adjacent houses, upper chambers or rooms and inner chambers we read the following:
Then David gave to his son Solomon the plan of the porch of the temple, its buildings, its storehouses, its upper rooms, its inner rooms and the room for the mercy seat; and the plan of all that he had in mind, for the courts of the house of the LORD, and for all the surrounding rooms, for the storehouses of the house of God and for the storehouses of the dedicated things… (1 Chron 28
We don’t know where these upper rooms were located in the temple complex, but if they were located in what later became known as Solomon’s Porch, which was still in existence in the first century, then this may give us a clue where the upper room that is mentioned in the Book of Acts was located, and where the gathering of the saints on the day of Pentecost occurred. In addition to Solomon’s Porch on the east side of the Temple Mount area, additional porticos were constructed subsequently by King Herod (in 16 B.C.) on all the other sides of the Temple Mount along the outside walls (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 681; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol 4, p. 772). The portico on the south side was larger and taller than the others and was called the Royal Portico (ibid.; Jospephus’ Ant. xv.11.5). (For a further discussion on this, see notes at Acts 2:1.)
Acts 5:34, Gamaliel/Gamliel. Also known as Gamaliel the Elder or Gamaliel I, he was a leading authority in the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and its president in the early part of the first century. He was son of Simeon ben Hillel, and grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder, and died twenty years before the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (70 CE). The Mishnah regards him as one of the greatest teachers in the history of Judaism.
Acts 6:13–14, False witnesses…change the customs which Moses delivered to us. Mainstream Christianity has perpetuated this same lie of the false witnesses against Stephen in teaching that Paul taught that the law of Moses is no longer binding upon believers today. This false accusation cost both Stephen and Paul their lives.