Home > Uncategorized > Acts 2: Foreign language proficiency and the early church

Acts 2: Foreign language proficiency and the early church

Things certainly began with a bang for the early church at Pentecost. People from 15 surrounding countries gathered, no doubt wondering what was up with these crazy, redneck Galileans (somehow, I imagine Peter sounding and looking a lot like Larry the Cable Guy). The Holy Spirit came down and imparted on the disciples the ability to speak in many foreign languages.

Some will say they “spoke in tongues”; to me it means simply this: they spoke in their native language of Aramaic (similar to Hebrew) while everyone in all the other nations heard them in their own language. It would be like me speaking in English to Japanese-born Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Ichiro hearing me in Japanese. I don’t speak Japanese, hence the “speaking in tongues” miracle.

In verses seven and eight, those in attendance marvelled at how these Galileans could possibly be able to communicate in various languages. Granted, Matthew as a tax collector was probably an educated man, but men like Peter as fishermen were far from being learned rabbis. Some suggested they were drunk.

So, Peter began to preach and further confound the modern reader by quoting Old Testament passages like Joel 2 and Psalm 16, saying that Pentecost was the fulfilling of Scripture. How could a man like that be able to study and interpret ancient writings?

Peter preached the Gospel and talked about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and even said that Jesus is greater than King David himself. “Israel,” he explained, “this same Jesus that you and the Romans crucified is indeed the Lord and the Messiah.”

And now we get to verse 37, which is the subject of much debate between the “Luke 6 is when the Church began” and “Acts 2 is when the church began” camps. We read that about 3,000 were saved and baptised that day, and that they were added to the church. Some would argue that you can’t add to what hasn’t already been existence, while others say the Luke 6 advocates are making a big issue out of nothing. Personally, I think the church indeed began in Luke 6 when Jesus began assembling His disciples. However, I know of some very wonderful, godly men and women who are Acts 2 advocates. It’s up for debate, but there are certainly far more pressing issues out there.

Finally, verses 42-47 give us a great picture of the early church and how much it reflected what I like to call “True Christianity”: they prayed together, ate together, communed together, sold what they didn’t need and contributed to each other’s needs, and continued in doctrines.

Richard Zowie operates several blogs. Post a comment below or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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