Missional Pneumatology: Pentecost

Pentecost Is a Prophecy-Fufilling Event

The experience of the Spirit on Pentecost is a fulfillment of the prophecy of John the Baptist concerning the one—Jesus—who would baptize in the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11, Mark 1:6, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33). This promise is also stated by Jesus Christ in Acts 1:5. In addition to this, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost reveals a missional thrust. Acts 1:4-5 is not an injunction to justify contemporary, post-conversion “waiting” experiences for a personal Pentecost. Rather, Pentecost in Luke’s perspective is “first of all a climactic salvation-historical event” (D.A. Carson, Showing the Spirit). Peter’s explanation of the pouring out of the Spirit on all people groups attests to this position (Acts 2 and Joel 2). As J.I. Packer mentions in Keeping In Step With the Spirit, the point is that Pentecost is a salvation-historical event that fulfills what the prophets said (identifying Jesus as the Messiah). Luke’s emphasis in Acts 2 is on the fulfillment of prophecy, not on paradigms for personal experience.

The Purpose of Tongues

If this is the case, then Acts 2 raises some questions for charismatics and non-charismatics. Many charismatics use this passage to affirm that all who are filled with the Holy Spirit should, as a normative practice, speak in tongues. The non-charismatics attempt to make the evangelistic use of tongues (of Acts 2) the normative and exclusive purpose of tongues. A study of 1 Corinthians 12-14 shows that not all speak in tongues and that the tongues of Acts and 1 Corinthians are different. Luke is not concerned to establish a proper order among baptism, faith, and baptism in the Holy Spirit. Rather, Luke is introducing the missional ministry of the Holy Spirit as the gospel is beginning to spread. To Be Continued.