Sermons on Acts | Spirit Filled | Acts 2:1-21

The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Spirit Filled (Acts 2:1-21)

When I was a little kid, I had trouble pronouncing anything—every word I said began with an “h.” I once asked my Uncle Larry for a “hocolate hip hookie,” and Larry laughed about that until the day he died.

Unsurprisingly, I started speech therapy as soon as I began kindergarten. On my first day of speech therapy, my teacher asked me where Dad worked. I told her my dad worked for “Hoke.” Mrs. Razor, the speech teacher, couldn’t understand me, and she began repeating all the local companies which began with an “h.” My frustration grew as she repeated companies, and I jumped up and said, “Hoca Hola.” Becky Razor then knew that my dad worked for Coke.

Honestly, it’s funny now that I’m an adult, and my family still teases me. However, as a kid, it was extremely difficult—it’s frustrating to be misunderstood.

You, too, may have experienced misunderstanding. Maybe you sent out an email that had an embarrassing misspelling. Maybe you and your spouse got into a heated argument simply because you misunderstood each other. Maybe you started speaking to someone only to learn that he or she did not speak English.

At Babel, misunderstanding became a way of life. When Noah and his sons came off the ark, God told them to fill the earth. However, Noah’s descendants thought they knew better than God and began erecting the Tower of Babel to keep from being scattered over all the earth. As God saw what man was doing, he said, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other” (Gen 11:7). Man has spoken countless languages since the day God confused man’s language.

But today is the Day of Pentecost, and Pentecost is the reversal of Babel. At Babel, God confused man’s language; at Pentecost, God enabled his apostles to speak in other languages so his word could be shared without confusion. As we see God reverse Babel, we see an important truth: “God wants all people to hear his word.

Scripture (Acts 2:1-12)

verses 1-4:

The Day of Pentecost, during the Festival of Weeks, celebrated the first of the wheat harvest (Ex 34:22; Num 28:26; Deut 16:9-10); it was one of the three festivals when all males aged 12 and above traveled to Jerusalem to appear before the LORD.

The apostles were in one place. The Spirit came in a mighty fashion, a fashion which would cause a crowd to assemble and hear Peter’s proclamation. As the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke in new tongues as he gave them utterance—God made sure all people could hear the message of his Son.

verses 5-12:

At Babel, everyone was in one place and God dispersed them through a confusion of language. Here, people from all over the world have come to Jerusalem and God gathered them together through language.

People were amazed when they heard the truth proclaimed in their language and wondered what everything meant.

In these 12 verses, God demonstrated the truth that “God wants all people to hear his word.” How did the Lord demonstrate that “God wants all people to hear his word?

The Spirit’s coming was so that people could know God’s truth.

Notice what Jesus had told the apostles about the coming of the Spirit:

  • “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt 10:19–20).
  • John 16:8-11.
  • “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (Jn 16:13).

The Spirit began that work on the Day of Pentecost. The apostles spoke about “the wonders of God” (Acts 2:11) as the Spirit gave them the ability (Acts 2:4).

The Spirit’s coming was timed so that people could know God’s truth. Think about it:

Jesus had ascended to the Father a little over a week prior to the Day of Pentecost.

The disciples only had a few days between the ascension of Christ and getting to work at Pentecost. God didn’t wait around very long.

Furthermore, Jesus had to ascend to the Father before the Spirit could come upon the apostles: “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn 16:7). Thus, Jesus’s ascension opened the way for the Spirit to come.

People were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost when the Spirit came.

Luke provided a list of nationalities from all over the world who had gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost. All Jewish males 12 and over were required to assemble in Jerusalem for Pentecost; therefore, a great many folks were in the city. As these people heard and obeyed the truth, they carried the truth back home. There is, for example, no record of an apostle establishing a congregation in Rome, but Paul wrote an epistle to the church there—it’s very likely that the “visitors from Rome” Luke mentioned carried the gospel back to that city.

The Spirit’s coming enabled the apostles to speak in other languages so that people could know God’s truth.

The crowd at Pentecost asked, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” (Acts 2:7-8). Through the Holy Spirit, God removed the language barrier which started at Babel so that his apostles could proclaim his truth without hinderance.


As you examine the Day of Pentecost, you readily see that “God wants all people to hear his word.” How can you live up to the promise of Pentecost and work to see that all people hear God’s word?

Because God wants all people to hear his Word, you need to obey his Word.

Why were the apostles all gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost? That was what Jesus had commanded: Acts 1:4-5. Only because the apostles obeyed the word of the Lord did they receive the miraculous measure of the Spirit and proclaim God’s word to all people.

If you want to help all people hear the word of God, you need to obey the word of God. Obedience to God’s word is so very important:

  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21).
  • The apostles to the Sanhedrin: “We must obey God” (Acts 5:29).

Why is your obedience to God so important for God’s desire for all people to hear his word?

  • God will bless what you do (Js 1:25). People will see God’s blessings and wish to learn why you’re so blessed, and God will bless your efforts to share his truth.
  • Your example will draw people to Christ (cf. 1 Pet 3:1).

Take a serious look at your life. How obedient are you to the Word of God? Is God able to bless what you do? Do people see how God blesses you and wish to have the same blessings? Is your example drawing people to the cross and the word of God?

Because God wants all people to hear his Word, you need to do what the Spirit enables you.

The apostles “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The apostles didn’t just do what they wanted; they did what the Spirit enabled them to do. Because they did so, the crowd at Pentecost heard the word of God.

If you want to help people hear the word of God, you need to do what the Spirit enables you to do. I trust you understand that he isn’t going to enable you to do anything miraculous like he did the apostles, but God still gives every Christian gifts.

  • “We have . . . gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Rom 12:6).
  • “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people” (Eph 4:8).

God has given gifts to his people, but those gifts are different from person to person. Romans 12:6-8. The apostles used their miraculous gifts from God so that people could hear God’s word; you need to use your non-miraculous gifts from God so that people can hear God’s word.

What is your gift? You need to spend some serious time exploring the gifts God has given you. You really need to know what your gifts are.

How are you using your gift? You need to use your gift in the kingdom. What ways are you using the gifts God has given?

God has offered to every person the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Do you need to come and claim the gift of the Spirit this morning?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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