Happy birthday, universal church!

Pentecost / Josef Ignaz Mildorfer, 1750s

This past Sunday was Pentecost. It coincides with an ancient Hebrew festival, but the events of Acts 2 on a particular Pentecost right after Jesus rose from the dead marks the birthday of the church. Alas, the church is divided into various Orthodox, Coptic, Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal denominations, but we all have but one birthday.

“They,” probably the same 120 believers mentioned in Acts 1:15, gathered together in one place, and most certainly not for the first time. This group probably amounts to the first messianic synagogue. On Pentecost, Jesus baptized them with the Holy Spirit as he had promised.… Read the rest

Pentecost

In the Old Testament, Pentecost was the offering of first fruits, a memorial of the establishment of the Mosaic  Covenant. Along with Passover and Tabernacles, it was one of three times during which the Law required Jewish men to present themselves at the Sanctuary.

By New Testament times, hardly anyone was able to get to Jerusalem for all three festivals. The largest number of foreigners came for Pentecost (Greek, by the way, for “fiftieth,” because it started fifty days from Passover).

The year of our Lord’s death and resurrection, Pentecost began ten days after the Ascension. The disciples had been waiting in Jerusalem for the promised empowerment of the Holy Spirit.Read the rest