Pentecost: The Greek word pen·te·ko·steʹ (meaning “50th [Day]”) is used in the Christian Greek Scriptures to denote what is called “the Festival of Harvest” (Ex 23:16) and the “Festival of Weeks” (Ex 34:22) in the Hebrew Scriptures. This festival took place at the end of a seven-week harvest period that included first the barley harvest and then the wheat harvest. The Festival of Pentecost was celebrated on the 50th day counted from Nisan 16, the day when a sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest was offered. (Le 23:15, 16) On the Hebrew calendar, Pentecost falls on Sivan 6. (See App. B15.) Instructions for this festival are found at Le 23:15-21; Nu 28:26-31; and De 16:9-12. The Festival of Pentecost drew great multitudes of Jews and proselytes from distant lands to Jerusalem. The festival was intended to promote hospitality and kindness to people, regardless of their position or background—whether they were free, slaves, poor, fatherless, widows, Levites, or foreign residents. (De 16:10, 11) This made Pentecost 33 C.E. in Jerusalem an ideal occasion for the birth of the Christian congregation with its mission to bear witness to all people “about the magnificent things of God.” (Ac 1:8; 2:11) The Jews traditionally hold that Pentecost corresponded to the time of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai when Israel was set apart as God’s chosen nation. It was early in the third month (Sivan) that the Israelites gathered at Mount Sinai and received the Law. (Ex 19:1) Just as Moses as mediator was used to introduce Israel to the Law covenant, so Jesus Christ as Mediator of spiritual Israel now brought that new nation into the new covenant.
languages: Or “tongues.” In the Bible, the Greek word glosʹsa can refer to the “tongue” as an organ of speech. (Mr 7:33; Lu 1:64; 16:24) But it can also be used figuratively to refer to a language or to a people speaking a certain language. (Re 5:9; 7:9; 13:7; ftns.) This Greek word is found at Ac 2:3, describing “tongues as if of fire” that became visible. So the outpouring of holy spirit was made evident by these “tongues” resting on each one of the disciples and by their speaking in different tongues, or languages.
his own native language: Lit., “our own language in which we were born.” The Greek word here rendered “language” is di·aʹle·ktos. (See study note on Ac 2:4.) Many who heard the disciples may have spoken an international tongue, perhaps Greek. Being “devout Jews,” they may also have been able to understand the Hebrew services at the temple in Jerusalem. (Ac 2:5) But hearing the good news in the language they had known from childhood caught their attention.
province of Asia: See Glossary, “Asia.”
proselytes: See study note on Mt 23:15.
sweet wine: Or “new wine.” The Greek word gleuʹkos, which occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures, refers to sweet new wine that is in the process of fermentation.
the third hour of the day: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.—Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.
in the last days: In this quote from Joel’s prophecy, Peter under inspiration uses the phrase “in the last days” rather than the expression “after that,” which is used in the original Hebrew and in the Septuagint. (Joe 2:28 [3:1, LXX]) Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled when holy spirit was poured out at Pentecost. Therefore, Peter’s use of the term “the last days” indicates that this special time period had begun and that it would precede “the great and illustrious day of Jehovah.” This “day of Jehovah” would apparently bring “the last days” to their conclusion. (Ac 2:20) Peter was speaking to natural Jews and Jewish proselytes, so his inspired words must have had an initial fulfillment involving them. His statement apparently indicated that the Jews were living in “the last days” of the system of things that had its center of worship in Jerusalem. Earlier, Jesus himself foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. (Lu 19:41-44; 21:5, 6) That destruction took place in 70 C.E.
my spirit: The Greek word pneuʹma here refers to God’s holy spirit, or active force. At Joe 2:28, quoted here, the corresponding Hebrew word ruʹach is used. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words convey the basic idea of that which is invisible to human sight and gives evidence of force in motion.—See Glossary, “Spirit.”
every sort of flesh: Or “all sorts (kinds) of people.” Lit., “all flesh.” The Greek word sarx (often rendered “flesh”) is here used of living humans, so “all flesh” would generally refer to all mankind. (See study note on Joh 17:2.) But in this context, the Greek phrase “all flesh” has a more restricted use. God did not pour out his spirit on all humans on earth or even on all humans in Israel, so it does not refer to all humans without exception. Rather, the phrase here refers to all sorts of humans without distinction. God poured out holy spirit on ‘sons and daughters, young men and old men, male slaves and female slaves,’ that is, all sorts of people. (Ac 2:17, 18) A similar use of the Greek word for “all” (pas) is found at 1Ti 2:3, 4, according to which it is God’s will that “all sorts of people should be saved.”—See study note on Joh 12:32.
prophesy: The Greek term pro·phe·teuʹo literally means “to speak out.” In the Scriptures, it is used of making known messages from a divine source. While it often includes the thought of foretelling the future, the basic meaning of the word is not that of prediction. The Greek word can also refer to identifying a matter by divine revelation. (See study notes on Mt 26:68; Mr 14:65; Lu 22:64.) In this context, holy spirit impelled some to prophesy. By declaring “the magnificent things” that Jehovah had done and would still do, they would serve as spokesmen for the Most High. (Ac 2:11) The Hebrew word for “to prophesy” carries a similar idea. For example, at Ex 7:1, Aaron is referred to as Moses’ “prophet” in the sense that he became Moses’ spokesman, or mouthpiece, rather than in the sense of foretelling future events.
old men: Or “older men; elders.” Here the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros likely refers to men of advanced physical age in contrast with the “young men” mentioned earlier in the verse. In other contexts, the same term is used to refer to men holding a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation.—Ac 4:5; 11:30; 14:23; 15:2; 20:17; see study note on Mt 16:21.
wonders: Or “portents.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word teʹras is consistently used in combination with se·meiʹon (“sign”), both terms being used in the plural form. (Mt 24:24; Joh 4:48; Ac 7:36; 14:3; 15:12; 2Co 12:12) Basically, teʹras refers to anything that causes awe or wonderment. When the term clearly refers to something portending what will happen in the future, the alternate rendering “portent” is used in a study note.
the Nazarene: See study note on Mr 10:47.
wonders: Or “portents.” The miracles that God caused Jesus to perform served as credentials that he was sent by God. These miraculous cures and resurrections also showed, or portended, what Jesus would do on a greater scale in the future.—See study note on Ac 2:19.
the pangs of death: Although the Bible clearly states that there is no consciousness or feeling of pain in death (Ps 146:4; Ec 9:5, 10), here “death” is said to cause “pangs” or “pain.” This wording was likely used because death is presented as a bitter and distressing experience. (1Sa 15:32, ftn.; Ps 55:4; Ec 7:26) That is so not only in the pain usually preceding it (Ps 73:4, 5) but also in the loss of all activity and freedom that its paralyzing grip brings (Ps 6:5; 88:10). It is apparently in this sense that Jesus’ resurrection released him from “the pangs of death,” freeing him from its distressing and restraining grip. While the Greek word (o·dinʹ), here translated “pangs,” is elsewhere used to mean the pains of childbirth (1Th 5:3), it may also refer to pain, calamity, or distress in a general sense (Mt 24:8). The expression “pangs of death” is found in the Septuagint at 2Sa 22:6 and Ps 18:4 (17:5, LXX), where the Hebrew Masoretic text reads “ropes of the Grave” and “ropes of death.” Interestingly, in ancient Hebrew manuscripts, which were written without vowels, the term for “rope” (cheʹvel) has the same consonantal spelling as the Hebrew term for “pang.” This may explain the rendering found in the Septuagint. In either case, the expressions “pangs of death” and “ropes of death” convey the same overall idea, namely, the bitter and distressing experience of death.
I: Lit., “my flesh.” Peter introduces this quote from Ps 16 by saying: “David says about him,” that is, about the Messiah, Jesus. (Ac 2:25) In this verse (Ac 2:26) and at Ps 16:9, the Greek and Hebrew texts use the term “flesh,” which may denote a person’s body or the person himself. Even though Jesus knew that he would be put to death as the ransom sacrifice, he resided in hope. Jesus knew that his Father would resurrect him, that his sacrifice would successfully serve as a ransom for mankind, and that his flesh, or body, would not see corruption, or decay.—Ac 2:27, 31.
me: Or “my soul.” In this quote from Ps 16:10, the Greek word psy·kheʹ is used to render the Hebrew word neʹphesh, both traditionally rendered “soul.” The psalmist used “soul” to refer to himself. On the day of Pentecost when declaring Christ’s resurrection to the Jews, Peter applied this psalm of David to Jesus.—Ac 2:24, 25; see Glossary, “Soul,” and App. A2.
the Grave: Or “Hades.” The Greek term haiʹdes, perhaps meaning “the unseen place,” occurs ten times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (See Mt 11:23; 16:18; Lu 10:15; 16:23; Ac 2:27, 31; Re 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14) This verse quotes Ps 16:10, which uses the corresponding Hebrew term “Sheol,” also rendered “the Grave.” The Septuagint generally uses the Greek “Hades” as the equivalent of the Hebrew “Sheol.” In the Scriptures, both terms refer to the common grave of mankind; other original-language terms denote an individual grave. Some translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J7, 8, 11, 12, 14-18, 22 in App. C4) use the term “Sheol” here.—See App. A2.
in your presence: Lit., “with (before) your face.” In this quote from Ps 16:11, the Greek text renders the Hebrew text literally. The Hebrew expression “with one’s face” is an idiom meaning “in someone’s presence.”
God: Available Greek manuscripts here use the word The·osʹ, “God.” It is worth noting that some translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J7, 8, 10 in App. C4) here use the Tetragrammaton.
one of his offspring: David received the promise that one of his descendants would become the Messianic “offspring” promised at Ge 3:15. (2Sa 7:12, 13; Ps 89:3, 4; 132:11) This promise was fulfilled in Jesus in that both his mother and his adoptive father descended from King David. The Greek phrase rendered “offspring” reflects a Hebrew idiom that literally reads “fruitage of his loins.” In the human body, the loins contain the reproductive organs. (Ge 35:11, ftn.; 1Ki 8:19, ftn.) A person’s offspring is also referred to as “the fruit of the womb [or, “body”],” and there are other similar expressions in which “fruit” refers to the product of human reproduction.—Ge 30:2, ftn.; De 7:13, ftn.; Ps 127:3; La 2:20, ftn.; Lu 1:42.
nor did his flesh see corruption: Or “nor did his body experience decay.” Jehovah did not allow the physical body of Jesus to decay into dust as did the bodies of Moses and David, men who foreshadowed Christ. (De 34:5, 6; Ac 2:27; 13:35, 36) In order for Jesus to be “the last Adam” (1Co 15:45) and to be “a corresponding ransom” for all mankind (1Ti 2:5, 6; Mt 20:28), his fleshly body had to be a real human body. It had to be perfect, for it was to be presented to Jehovah God as the purchase price to buy back what Adam had lost. (Heb 9:14; 1Pe 1:18, 19) No imperfect descendant of Adam could provide the needed ransom price. (Ps 49:7-9) For this reason, Jesus was not conceived in the normal manner. Instead, as he said to his Father, apparently when presenting himself for baptism: “You [Jehovah] prepared a body for me,” that is, Jesus’ perfect human body that would be given in sacrifice. (Heb 10:5) When the disciples went to Jesus’ tomb, they discovered that Jesus’ body had disappeared, but they found the linen cloths with which his body had been wrapped. Jehovah apparently disposed of the fleshly body of his beloved Son before it began to decay.—Lu 24:3-6; Joh 20:2-9.
Jehovah: The divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text at Ps 110:1, quoted here. However, as explained in App. A5, most Bible translations do not use God’s name in what is commonly called the New Testament, not even in quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures. It is worth noting, though, that some 17th-century editions of the King James Version have the rendering “the LORD” in capital and small capitals here and at three other places where Ps 110:1 is quoted in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (Mt 22:44; Mr 12:36; Lu 20:42) Later editions continued this practice. Since “the LORD” is used in the Hebrew Scriptures of that translation to indicate where the original Hebrew text uses the divine name, writing “the LORD” in the Christian Greek Scriptures would indicate that the translators thought that it is Jehovah who is being referred to. It is also noteworthy that the New King James Version, first published in 1979, extends this use of “the LORD” to all occurrences of that word when it refers to the divine name in quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures.—See App. C.
Repent: The Greek word me·ta·no·eʹo used here could literally be rendered “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. Previously, John the Baptist had been “preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins.” (See study note on Mr 1:4.) This baptism involved repentance for straying far from obedience to the precepts of the Law of Moses, and this repentance prepared God’s people for what was to come. (Mr 1:2-4) But Peter here pointed out that in harmony with Jesus’ command found at Mt 28:19, God’s people would need to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of . . . sins. Since the Jews had rejected Jesus as the Messiah, repenting and exercising faith in him was a new and vital factor in seeking and receiving God’s forgiveness. They could give public evidence of such faith by being immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ. In that way, they would symbolize their personal dedication to God through Christ.—See study notes on Mt 3:8, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”
Jehovah: Available Greek manuscripts use the term “Lord” (Greek, Kyʹri·os) here. However, as explained in App. C, there are a number of reasons to believe that the divine name was originally used in this verse and later replaced by the title Lord. Therefore, the name Jehovah is used in the main text. As shown by Ac 2:33-38, the promise Peter mentions in this verse refers to what is stated at Joe 2:28-32 about the outpouring of holy spirit. The phrase to all those whom Jehovah our God may call to himself therefore seems to echo the words found at the end of Joe 2:32. The Hebrew text of Joe 2:32 uses the divine name three times, specifically stating that Jehovah is the one who does the calling.—See App. C3 introduction; Ac 2:39.
people: Or “souls.” The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” here refers to a living person.—See Glossary, “Soul.”
to associating together: Or “to sharing with one another.” The basic meaning of the Greek word koi·no·niʹa is “sharing; fellowship.” Paul used this word several times in his letters. (1Co 1:9; 10:16; 2Co 6:14; 13:14) The context of this passage shows that this fellowship involves close friendship rather than just casual acquaintance.
the taking of meals: Lit., “the breaking of the bread.”—See study note on Ac 20:7.
everyone: Or “every soul.” The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” here refers to a living person.—See Glossary, “Soul.”
wonders: Or “portents.”—See study note on Ac 2:19.
in different homes: Or “from house to house.” Here the preposition ka·taʹ, as used in the Greek phrase katʼ oiʹkon (lit., “according to house”), can be understood in a distributive sense. Apparently, during this time of need, the disciples met and shared meals at different homes of fellow believers who lived in or around Jerusalem.—See study notes on Ac 5:42; 20:20.
Jehovah: Available Greek manuscripts use the term “the Lord” (Greek, ho . . . Kyʹri·os) here. However, as explained in App. C, there are several reasons to believe that the divine name was originally used in this verse and later replaced by the title Lord. Therefore, the name Jehovah is used in the main text.—See App. C3 introduction; Ac 2:47.