Bible study: Jesus empowers believers to serve Him

Acts 2:5–16, 36–38


In last week’s lesson, we focused on the commission that the risen Jesus gave to His followers. In this lesson, we learn that Jesus not only commissions believers, but He empowers and equips believers for the task of serving in the Kingdom of Jesus.

Noticed (5–13)

The day of Pentecost was a harvest celebration. Jews also celebrated Pentecost as the day God gave the law to Moses. Also at Pentecost, on the day Jews celebrated an annual harvest festival, God provided a great harvest of 3,000 souls (v. 41). Many of the disciples were multilingual — fluent in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. Greek was the most common language in the first century because of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Yet the events of Pentecost were more significant than human languages.

Luke describes Pentecost with three events. First, sound filled the house (v. 2). Second, tongues that appeared to be flames of fire appeared on each apostle (v. 3). Third, the apostles all began to speak in different tongues (v. 4). Visitors from numerous people groups heard and understood the disciples’ Pentecost message in their native languages. Was this a miracle of speech, hearing or both? Some of the hearers were interested in the message, but some hearers sneered because they thought the disciples were drunk.

In either case, the apostles had gained notice. In some ways, Pentecost was the reversal of Babel (Gen. 11). Acts highlights the native languages the people heard from the disciples, and it gives a partial list of the nations the visitors for the Feast of Pentecost came from. Acts, however, does not mention any visitors from Asia Minor, which is the focus of Paul’s missionary journeys. For Baptists, Paul’s work was closer to international missions due to the number of people groups he intentionally engaged. Pentecost more closely mirrors home missions, as we should reach out to people living in our nation who have come from other nations.

Engaged (14–16)

Peter stood up, demanded attention and preached God’s Word to Jews living in Palestine as well as Jews who had traveled to enable them to attend the Pentecost festival. Peter proclaimed that what people experienced was the fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s message of God’s Spirit being poured out on all people or all kinds of people.

In the early days of the Pentecostal movement in the early 20th century, Pentecostal denominations believed that their missionaries would be able to share the gospel without attending language school because the Spirit would allow them to speak in human languages they had never learned.

Invited (36–38)

Peter proclaimed a message concerning the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and connected the resurrection and ascension with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Peter invited his hearers to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Messiah. The Holy Spirit used Peter’s sermon to pierce the hearts of his listeners. Peter urged them to repent and be baptized and thereby receive forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit for themselves.


This lesson was written by Mark Rathel, professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Fla., and originally published by The Baptist Paper. This study is based on the Explore the Bible curriculum from Lifeway Christian Resources.