Acts 2: Community thought the Holy Spirit
By Sarah Snyder
One of my favorite passages in scripture is Acts 2. Here the Spirit descends and the church is established. The Spirit makes his grand entrance by the sound of a mighty rushing wind, filling the apostles with himself and causing tongues of fire to appear above them.
At the sound of this wind, a crowd gathers outside. This crowd was from “every nation under heaven.” Upon gathering they heard the apostles speaking in their own languages, languages that they knew the apostles would not have readily known. In this astonishing moment, the crowd questions the sobriety of the apostles. At this, Peter stands up and preaches. Moved by his message, 3,000 people believed that Jesus was the Messiah and were added to the church.
These 3,000 people would become a community and would meet together on a regular basis as God’s people saved by Jesus This brief narrative opens the door to understanding diversity in the church of God the Spirit’s work. It was not what Peter said that allowed for community within diversity, but the work of the Spirit in the lives of the people.
Verse 5 opens the conversation of diversity by stating that the crowd was from “every nation under heaven.” The crowd was made up of devout men, Jews, who had gathered for celebration of the Feast of Weeks. While this crowd was made up of Jews, each person brought with themselves a piece of their own culture. They held that commonality of their Jewish religion, but each had their major differences as well. One of these major differences Luke points out: language. This is the first major testimony of the Spirit outside of Christ in the New Testament: the gospel is preached in their language by men who did not speak it. Here are people experiencing a mighty work of the Spirit and the Spirit makes it personal by reaching them in their own language. This should remind of the Tower of Babel. Sin scattered people but the Spirit brings them together.
Further, to add emphasis to this miraculous event, Luke lists the areas of the world that this crowd was from: 15 nations! Each nation represents different ethnicities, cultures, and experiences, yet they each shared their Jewish faith. Luke is intentional here. It would have been sufficed to say “every nation under heaven.” Luke takes the extra step of listing the nations, not only to add emphasis to the miracle of language, but to also showcase the differences between each person.
The evidence for this comes at the end of the chapter. Once Peter has given his sermon, 3,000 people respond to his message. In verse 38, Peter calls for repentance in the name of Jesus and that doing so will mean that each person will receive the gift of the Spirit. This means that at the moment of salvation, we will all have the Holy Spirit with us. In verse 42 Luke writes that these people were now dedicated to fellowship. In verse 44, he says that they “were together and had everything in common.” And finally in verse 46 he says that these believers “devoted themselves to meeting together.” These verses show that the Spirit has brought together these people of different nations and cultures to be united as one community. The Spirit created a diverse community when he moved in the lives of this crowd. After they received the Spirit, they were able to become community regardless of their nationality.
This passage teaches us that if we struggle with relating to people of different nationalities, the Holy Spirit is here helping us do so. We can be the community of Christ regardless of our nation of origin through the power of the Holy Spirit!