Missional Pneumatology: Showing the Spirit

Tongues Prove the Spirit to the Jews

In Acts 10, the Spirit falls on Gentiles while Peter is speaking. This experience with the Holy Spirit is attested to by tongues and followed by water baptism. Again, note the lack of a particular sequence. It is no more normative than Acts 2 or Acts 8. The Jewish believers with Peter are shocked that the Holy Spirit is poured out even on the Gentiles (Acts 10:45). They probably thought that Gentiles should become Jewish proselytes first. They knew the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles when they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God (Acts 10:46). Therefore, there was nothing to prevent the Gentiles from being baptized as Christians. Acts 10:47 quotes the Jewish believers, “They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Peter uses this incident (Acts 11:15-17) to answer the challenge of the Jerusalem church concerning the necessity for a believer in Jesus to first be a Jewish proselyte.

God Can Make All Things Clean

The reference to Acts 2 is obvious. The same Holy Spirit who had been poured out on Jews had also been poured out on Gentiles. God can make all things clean. The conclusion, embraced by Peter and by the Jerusalem church, was that these Gentiles were fellow believers. Repentance unto life had been granted even to those who had not come under the Mosaic covenant (D.A. Carson, Showing the Spirit). The tongues of Acts 10-11 do not serve to communicate God’s glory to nonbelievers. They do, however, serve as authentication to Jewish believers that Gentiles are members of the messianic community apart from the institution of the law of Moses. To be continued.