Acts 2.5-13

Read the full passage here.

This can be a passage that raises more questions than it answers and a passage that can, sadly, cause believers to strongly disagree.

We see that there are many from many places in Jerusalem for the festival (v.5) and that they hear either the rushing wind of v.2 or the combined preaching of the 120 (v.4). As to whether the preaching was in many languages or one, single heavenly language, some careful reading tells us clearly:

“When this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was in confusion, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Completely baffled, they said, 

“Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!” 

All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, 

“What does this mean?”  

But others jeered at the speakers, saying, 

“They are drunk on new wine!”.”

(Acts 2.6-13, NET, emphasis added)

Since the church has been the church one amazing characteristic it has is the ability to bring together those of different ethnicities, cultures, and languages (Revelation 7.9-10). We see a glimpse of it here with the many from many places in Jerusalem (vv.9-11) yet since the time of the Tower of Babel communication between speakers of different languages has been a problem (Genesis 11.1-9). Here at the point in time the New Covenant church community was born, here at Pentecost, the confusion of Babel was put into reverse. I recently read this about the reversal of Babel:

“The miracle of tongues, where everyone heard the Gospel in his own language (vv. 5–11), provided evidence God was breaking down the cultural and ethnic division imposed at Babel, revealing that the true Israel is defined not by tongue or culture but by common faith in the Messiah.

Linguistic and cultural differences remain, but the power of the Spirit enables us to break through them for the sake of the Gospel. The reversal of Babel has begun, as the elect from every nation gather before the Lord’s throne to worship Him (Rev. 7:9–12)”. 

For you and for me, we need not let linguistic and cultural differences stand between ourselves and those we can share the Good News with. As we see in Acts 2.5-13, God has the ability and the desire for believers of different tongues to communicate and will provide all that is needed for that to happen. In our own lives, maybe that will be the miraculous ability to speak a new language, maybe it will be the opportunity to learn a new language. Either way, God will provide all you need to communicate with others if you sincerely want to (2.1, 4-5, 11b). 

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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