Day of Pentecost Bible Story Study Guide

The Holy Spirit filled the disciples on the Day of Pentecost

Day of Pentecost illustration

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According to Christian tradition, the Day of Pentecost commemorates the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 12 disciples after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. Many Christians mark this date as the beginning of the Christian Church as we know it. 

Historically, Pentecost (Shavout) is a Jewish feast celebrating the giving of the Torah and the summer wheat harvest. It was celebrated 50 days after Passover and was marked by pilgrims coming to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the event.

The Day of Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter in Western branches of Christianity. Church services on this day are marked by red robes and banners signifying the fiery winds of the Holy Spirit. Red flowers may adorn alters and other areas. In Eastern branches of Christianity, the Day of Pentecost is one of the Great Feasts.

A Day of Pentecost Like No Other

In the New Testament book of Acts, we read about an unusual event on the Day of Pentecost. About 40 days after the resurrection of Jesus, the 12 apostles and other early followers were gathered together in a house in Jerusalem to celebrate the traditional Jewish Pentecost. Also present were Jesus' mother, Mary, and other female followers. Suddenly, a terrific wind came from heaven and filled the place:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4, NIV)

Immediately, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, causing them to speak in tongues. The crowds of visitors were astonished because every pilgrim heard the apostles speaking to him or her in their own foreign language. Some people in the crowd thought the apostles were drunk.

Seizing the moment, the Apostle Peter stood and addressed the crowd gathered that day. He explained that the people were not drunk, but empowered by the Holy Spirit. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy in the Old Testament book of Joel that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all people. It marked a turning point in the early church. With the Holy Spirit's empowerment, Peter preached boldly to them about Jesus Christ and God's plan of salvation.

The crowd was so moved when Peter told them of their part in the crucifixion of Jesus that they asked the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37, NIV). The right response, Peter told them, was to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. He promised that they, too, would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Taking the gospel message to heart, Acts 2:41 records that about 3,000 people were baptized and added to the fledgling Christian church on that Day of Pentecost.

Points of Interest From the Day of Pentecost Account

  • The apostles had chosen Mathias to replace Judas Iscariot, who had hanged himself. That brought their number back to 12.
  • Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus had promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to give them strength and wisdom to spread the gospel throughout the world (Acts 1:8). Thus, the events of that day were seen as the fulfillment of this crucial prophecy. 
  • The apostles' ability to address foreign visitors in their own languages was a miracle from God. After they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the Bible says the 12 disciples performed many other miracles and wondrous signs.
  • Right from the start of the church, as demonstrated on this Day of Pentecost in the book of Acts, God offered salvation to all nations. Christians steadfastly believe that whoever calls on the name of Jesus, repents, and believes in him will be saved.
  • A belief in the real presence of the Holy Spirit as described in this account of the Day of Pentecost is integral to the Christian faith. Today, 2,000 years later, believers are still filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and call upon the Spirit whenever they are in need strength or guidance.

    Question for Reflection

    When it comes to Jesus Christ, each of us must answer the same question as these early seekers: "What shall we do?" Jesus cannot be ignored. Have you decided yet what you are going to do? To gain eternal life in heaven, there is only one right response: Repent of your sins, be baptized in the name of Jesus, and turn to him for salvation.