Mosaic of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity Monastery

The Descent of the Holy Spirit and the Birth of the Church

by Archbishop Averky (Taushev)

An excerpt from The Acts of the Apos­tles (Com­men­tary on the Holy Scrip­tures of the New Tes­ta­ment, Vol. 2), pp. 17 — 24

The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on Pentecost and the Confusion of the People (2:1–13).

The great event of the descent of the Holy Spir­it on the apos­tles is called by some the “birth­day of the Church of Christ.” At the same time, this event was also a con­clu­sion of the entire work of God’s econ­o­my of sal­va­tion. Accord­ing to St Theo­phan the Recluse, “what God the Father willed to be and what the Son of God accom­plished in Him­self, that the Holy Spir­it came today to give to the faith­ful.” Illu­mined by the Holy Spir­it, the apos­tles fear­less­ly began to preach Christ cru­ci­fied and risen. The Church of Christ began to grow and spread at first among the Jews of Pales­tine, then even­tu­al­ly among the Gen­tiles in the whole world, and even “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

This occurred “when the Day of Pen­te­cost had ful­ly come,” the high point of the Jew­ish feast of Pen­te­cost. The Law of Moses decreed to cel­e­brate solemn­ly the fifti­eth day after the day fol­low­ing the Sab­bath of the Passover, count­ing sev­en full weeks from that day (Lev 23:15). The Jew­ish Passover in the year of Christ’s death occurred on Fri­day evening. The first day of Passover was thus the Sab­bath, and the morn­ing after the Sab­bath was the Sun­day of Christ’s res­ur­rec­tion. From that day, sev­en weeks must be count­ed. Thus, in that year, the cel­e­bra­tion of the Jew­ish Pen­te­cost occurred on a Sun­day (and there­fore Chris­t­ian Pen­te­cost always falls on a Sun­day). The Pen­te­cost of the Jews was estab­lished to bless the har­vest or the first fruits, because the first har­vest of seeds plant­ed imme­di­ate­ly after Passover brought fruit rough­ly at this time. This feast also was com­bined with the remem­brance of the giv­ing of the Law on Mt Sinai. This was one of the three major “pil­grim” feasts of the Jew­ish cal­en­dar (Passover, Pen­te­cost, Booths), on which all Jew­ish men were oblig­at­ed to trav­el as pil­grims to Jerusalem for the celebration.

The con­cur­rence of the descent of the Holy Spir­it with Jew­ish Pen­te­cost, of course, is no coin­ci­dence. In fact, it is sym­bol­ic. By this time, the apos­tles had matured and blos­somed spir­i­tu­al­ly, and so this was the time when the full­ness of the gifts of the Spir­it descend­ed on them, and thus they them­selves became the first fruits of Christ’s work of redemp­tion. In addi­tion to the apos­tles, the first fruits of this work were the three thou­sand peo­ple who were bap­tized on that day. Just as the Chris­t­ian Pascha replaced the Jew­ish Passover, so too did the Chris­t­ian Pen­te­cost replace the Jew­ish Pen­te­cost. As Blessed Theo­phy­lact of Ochrid not­ed in his commentary,

It was appro­pri­ate for the grace of the Spir­it to be giv­en on the same day as the giv­ing of the ancient Law, because as the Sav­iour willed to com­mit Him­self to His pas­sion in no oth­er time than the time of the killing of the lamb, in order to tie the truth with the pre­fig­u­ra­tion. Thus also the com­ing of the Spir­it could not have been giv­en at any oth­er time than the day when the Law was giv­en, in order to show that the Holy Spir­it is the same Law­giv­er of both the Old and the New Covenants…. In the same way that on Pen­te­cost sheaves of the new fruits were gath­ered by many peo­ple from many dif­fer­ent places to Jerusalem, so on this day it was appro­pri­ate that the first fruits of all nations liv­ing under heav­en should gath­er into a sin­gle sheaf of piety, brought to God through the apos­tolic preaching.

“They were all with one accord in one place.” The account in Acts makes it obvi­ous that not only the Twelve were present, but also all the faith­ful, per­haps even more than those 120 men­tioned in the first chap­ter. In verse 14, the Twelve are clear­ly dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed from the oth­er par­tic­i­pants of this great event. This gath­er­ing, we can assume, occurred in the same Upper Room where the dis­ci­ples prob­a­bly met every day after the Mys­ti­cal Sup­per. “And sud­den­ly there came a sound from heav­en, as of a rush­ing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sit­ting.” They were await­ing the com­ing of the Holy Spir­it, but of course they did not know when exact­ly this promise would be ful­filled. Nei­ther did they know the man­ner of this com­ing, and so St Luke calls the descent “sud­den,” unex­pect­ed for them, espe­cial­ly because this was the hour of morn­ing prayer, and most like­ly they were just get­ting ready to go to the tem­ple to pray. The sound “as of a rush­ing wind” obvi­ous­ly was not an actu­al phys­i­cal wind, but only the sound of it. This sound came down from above, fill­ing the whole house, and it was so strong that it attract­ed the atten­tion of many peo­ple who had gath­ered for the feast in Jerusalem.

“Then there appeared to them divid­ed tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.” The tongues only appeared to be fire, but they were not fire, just as the sound appeared to be wind, but it was not wind. The noise was the audi­ble sign of the descent of the Holy Spir­it, and the tongues were the vis­i­ble sign. The sound of wind was a sym­bol of the mighty pow­er that the Holy Spir­it gave to the apos­tles and to all the faith­ful, while the tongues of fire were a sym­bol that all had received the gift of fiery speech that could burn away all impu­ri­ty and false­hood, every­thing con­trary to the truth, like fire.

Imme­di­ate­ly after these exter­nal signs came the inner rev­e­la­tion: “and they were all filled with the Holy Spir­it and began to speak with oth­er tongues, as the Spir­it gave them utter­ance.” Even before this moment, the apos­tles were giv­en some spir­i­tu­al gifts, but now they were filled with the Holy Spir­it, for the full­ness of gra­cious spir­i­tu­al gifts now had descend­ed upon them. They were trans­fig­ured, puri­fied, sanc­ti­fied, and enlight­ened by the action of the Spir­it of God. It was as if they became com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, new peo­ple, with the Holy Spir­it as their con­stant inspi­ra­tion and guide. The exter­nal man­i­fes­ta­tion of this grace-filled trans­fig­u­ra­tion was the speak­ing in tongues, some­thing that Christ Him­self fore­told (Mark 16:17). As soon as this divine fire lit their souls, they began to praise and thank God in the nat­ur­al exu­ber­ance of their holy ecsta­sy, glo­ri­fy­ing the majesty of God.

This grat­i­tude to God was expressed aloud in var­i­ous tongues, which attract­ed even more atten­tion from the mass­es of peo­ple who had come to Jerusalem for the feast from var­i­ous coun­tries, both near and far. St Luke pur­pose­ly lists all the coun­tries to show how many dif­fer­ent tongues were spo­ken by the dis­ci­ples of Christ after the descent of the Spir­it. Here were inhab­i­tants of east­ern and west­ern Asia, Africa, and Europe, and they all heard their native tongues. This was also sym­bol­ic. We see the fore­shad­ow­ing of the Church of Christ, into which all nations and races would enter, so that with one mind and heart all would praise God.

The gift of tongues is under­stand­able: it was nec­es­sary to spread the faith all over the earth. At the same time, one can­not help but remem­ber how this same gift was once used by God as a pun­ish­ment for human pride. There was once a time when “the whole earth had one lan­guage and one speech” (Gen 11:1). But man, in his pride, under­took a mad ven­ture that God pun­ished by send­ing down mul­ti­ple tongues, which forced the work­ers to leave the work and go to dif­fer­ent places. Now the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of tongues has become a means by which diverse nations are unit­ed into a one sin­gle Church of Christ. This is beau­ti­ful­ly expressed in the kon­takion of Pen­te­cost: “When the Most High came down and con­fused the tongues, He divid­ed the nations, but when He dis­trib­uted the tongues of fire, He called all to uni­ty. And with one accord we glo­ri­fy the All-Holy Spirit.”

“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heav­en.” Here St Luke speaks both of the Jews who pre­vi­ous­ly lived in oth­er coun­tries and then moved to Jerusalem for reli­gious rea­sons and the pil­grims who assem­bled for the feast, and thus were in the city for a short time. About the time of Christ’s earth­ly life, the Jew­ish dias­po­ra was exten­sive. Some of the Jews aban­doned Pales­tine unwill­ing­ly, as mil­i­tary cap­tives, but some went into dias­po­ra vol­un­tar­i­ly, often for rea­sons of trade and business.

“And when this sound occurred, the mul­ti­tude came togeth­er, and were con­fused, because every­one heard them speak in his own lan­guage.” Appar­ent­ly the sound of wind rush­ing into the house where the dis­ci­ples were assem­bled could be heard at a con­sid­er­able dis­tance, and it was so clear that the lis­ten­ers could pin­point the exact house. The strange­ness of such a phe­nom­e­non attract­ed a huge crowd to the house—it is pos­si­ble these peo­ple were on their way to the tem­ple to pray. Prob­a­bly, a wide court­yard was in front of the house. The peo­ple were amazed at the inex­plic­a­ble phe­nom­e­non: the apostles—who by their cloth­ing showed their Galilean prove­nance (i.e., their lack of education)—were speak­ing in var­i­ous tongues, so that every per­son in the crowd could hear his own tongue or dialect. Galilee was known as a coun­try of the unlearned folk, not par­tic­u­lar­ly known for their edu­ca­tion, and so the gath­ered peo­ple were amazed that Galileans could speak so many dif­fer­ent lan­guages and dialects. We can assume that the apos­tles, glo­ri­fy­ing God in dif­fer­ent lan­guages, had come out onto the flat roof of the house, and the peo­ple lis­tened to them from the court­yard of the house, sur­round­ing the house and fill­ing the square completely.

“So they were all amazed and per­plexed, say­ing to one anoth­er, ‘What­ev­er could this mean?’ Oth­ers mock­ing said, ‘They are full of new wine.’” Evi­dent­ly, not every­one react­ed in the same way to this event. Pious peo­ple saw it as some­thing mirac­u­lous and tried to find out what it could mean. But friv­o­lous and unbe­liev­ing peo­ple, per­haps belong­ing to the sects opposed to Christ the Sav­iour, the Phar­isees and the Sad­ducees, began to inter­pret this event with the crud­est of explanations—by the effect of wine, essen­tial­ly insult­ing the Spir­it of God. In the same way, unbe­lief, anger, and friv­o­lous­ness always try to give the most exalt­ed phe­nom­e­na of the spir­i­tu­al life the crud­est of expla­na­tions, being unable to under­stand that which is spir­i­tu­al (see 1 Cor 2:14–15).

The Apostle Peter’s Speech and Its Effect on the Listeners (2:14–41).

The amaze­ment of some, and the crude mock­ery of oth­ers, inspired the apos­tles to explain the mir­a­cle to the peo­ple. The gift of tongues was giv­en to all the dis­ci­ples of Christ who were in the house, but now only the Twelve came forth, and in their name the Apos­tle Peter address­es the peo­ple with the first apos­tolic procla­ma­tion. He “raised his voice”—his speech was full of bold­ness, it was tri­umphant, vivid, and instruc­tive. St Peter spoke to the peo­ple as though they rep­re­sent­ed all of Jerusalem. Gen­tly and meek­ly he removed any sus­pi­cion of drunk­en­ness, “for these are not drunk, as you sup­pose, since it is only the third hour of the day.” This was the time of the morn­ing prayer (around 9 a.m.), before which no Jew­ish per­son would even eat, espe­cial­ly on such a great feast as Pentecost.

In his expla­na­tion, Peter ref­er­enced the prophe­cy of Joel (3:1–3), spo­ken over eight hun­dred years before. In this prophe­cy, the Lord, through the mouth of the prophet, gave a promise to His peo­ple that the gifts of the Spir­it would be poured down on all believ­ing peo­ple, and togeth­er with the promise of sal­va­tion for the right­eous, He warned of judg­ment for the unright­eous. The first words of the prophecy—“After this”—Peter replaced with the new intro­duc­to­ry words, “and it shall come to pass in the last days,” a prophet­ic expres­sion that refers to the end of the time of the Old Covenant and the begin­ning of the New. This replac­ing of the inde­ter­mi­nate “after this” made it clear that Peter con­sid­ered it impos­si­ble that Joel’s prophe­cy could have referred to any event in the times of the Old Tes­ta­ment, but instead believed it to have been ful­filled now, in the New Tes­ta­ment time.

“I will pour out of My Spir­it on all flesh,” instead of the orig­i­nal words of the prophet, “I will pour out My Spir­it,” com­mu­ni­cat­ed the same mean­ing, but the apos­tle indi­cat­ed that these gifts of the Holy Spir­it are shared out among each one of the faith­ful indi­vid­u­al­ly. This “pour­ing out” is an image of the abun­dance of these gifts of the Holy Spir­it, like rain or water pour­ing out of a ves­sel. The pour­ing out “on all flesh” indi­cates that all mankind will receive these gifts. This, of course, refers to all those who enters into the new­ly ini­ti­at­ed king­dom of the Mes­si­ah (see Isa 40:5, 66:24), for only the mem­bers of the Christ’s king­dom will receive this grace of the Holy Spir­it. Before the com­ing of Christ, the greater part of mankind, the Gen­tiles, were deprived com­plete­ly of the gifts of the Holy Spir­it, while grace was giv­en to some of the Jews who were cho­sen for a spe­cial min­istry. In Chris­tian­i­ty, every one of the faith­ful receives these gifts of grace through the sacra­ments. The ful­fill­ment of this prophe­cy began on the day of Pentecost.

As exam­ples, the prophe­cy indi­cates cer­tain man­i­fes­ta­tions of these gifts of the Holy Spir­it that already were known in the Old Tes­ta­ment: prophe­cies, visions, dreams, and oth­er means of divine rev­e­la­tion. “Your sons and your daugh­ters … your young men … your old men”—this indi­cates that the Holy Spir­it will pour His gifts on all, with no dis­tinc­tion of age or gen­der. The phrase “and on My menser­vants and on My maid­ser­vants I will pour out My Spir­it in those days” is inter­est­ing, because in the Old Tes­ta­ment, we know of no instances of slaves receiv­ing the gifts of the Holy Spir­it or of slaves becom­ing prophets. In the New Tes­ta­ment, how­ev­er, the bonds of slav­ery will be destroyed and the Holy Spir­it will pour out His gifts on all, regard­less of their social sta­tus, for in the king­dom of Christ, all are equal before the Lord, for all are His servants.

This fore­telling of the abun­dant pour­ing out of the Holy Spir­it is con­nect­ed to a prophe­cy con­cern­ing the judg­ment of the impi­ous world, and the sal­va­tion of the true wor­ship­pers of the true God. The signs of this com­ing Last Judg­ment of God over mankind are “blood and fire and vapor of smoke.” These are the sym­bols of blood­shed, riot­ing, wars, and des­o­la­tion. Togeth­er with these signs will come heav­en­ly signs, includ­ing eclipses of the sun and the moon. These ter­rors, in the lit­er­ary style of the Scrip­tures, indi­cate the calami­ties in the world of man that will be the har­bin­gers of God’s judg­ment over the world. All this will occur “before the com­ing of the great and awe­some day of the Lord.” In the Old Tes­ta­ment, this day was under­stood to be the “day of the Mes­si­ah,” that is, the begin­ning of his glo­ri­ous reign, but in the New Tes­ta­ment, this is seen to be the day of the Messiah’s judg­ment over the world, the day of the Final Judgment.

How­ev­er, “who­ev­er calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” from this judg­ment. Of course, this per­son is not the one who calls on the Lord only after His sec­ond com­ing, or only with his lips. As St John Chrysos­tom explains, “It is not enough to call on Him, for Christ Him­self said that not every­one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the king­dom of heav­en, but only the one who says it with inward earnest affec­tion, with a life more than com­mon­ly good, with the con­fi­dence which is meet.”

Of course, here the Scrip­tures mean the right­eous men from among those who tru­ly believe in the Lord.

How is this prophe­cy of Joel relat­ed to the events of Pentecost?

When the apos­tle explained to his lis­ten­ers that the mirac­u­lous event that they wit­nessed is the ful­fill­ment of the prophe­cy of Joel, this expla­na­tion imme­di­ate­ly gave rise to the thought that the time of the Mes­si­ah had already come. But where is He? Who is He? And so, in his sub­se­quent speech, Peter began to preach the good news con­cern­ing Christ. He told his lis­ten­ers that the Mes­si­ah already had appeared as “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attest­ed by God to you by mir­a­cles, won­ders, and signs.”

Every­one knew of Christ’s mir­a­cles, and Peter remind­ed his lis­ten­ers of them as true proofs of His mes­sian­ic dig­ni­ty. For the Jews of that time, how­ev­er, the Cross that He car­ried was a great temp­ta­tion and stum­bling block. To remove this temp­ta­tion, Peter added that the betray­al and death of Christ occurred “by the deter­mined pur­pose and fore­knowl­edge of God.” Remov­ing their doubts that God could be cru­ci­fied and die, and to be bet­ter under­stood by his lis­ten­ers from among the Jews, the holy apos­tle spoke of Christ as a Man, the Son of David. There­fore, he said, “God raised [Him] up,” even though Christ, as the Son of God, rose from the dead by His own pow­er and author­i­ty (see John 10:18).

Speak­ing of the res­ur­rec­tion of the Lord, St Peter offers con­vinc­ing proof from the Psalms of David (Ps 15:8–11). The Psalmist described a right­eous man who had close com­mu­nion with God and who expressed joy that this com­mu­nion would not end with death, that his soul would not remain in hell, that even his body would not become cor­rupt, but that he would con­tin­ue to enjoy full­ness of life in God and joy in com­mu­nion with Him. The apos­tle direct­ly indi­cat­ed that David could not be speak­ing of him­self, since David “is both dead and buried.” There­fore, David must have been speak­ing of the Mes­si­ah. David said this, “being a prophet,” know­ing the future as God revealed it to him, and “know­ing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, accord­ing to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne.” This we indeed find in the Sec­ond Book of King­doms 7:12–16, in which God promised David that his house would not fall and the throne of his king­dom would be eter­nal. This promise, of course, could be accom­plished only by the Mes­si­ah, who was to appear from the seed of David. David him­self under­stood the promise to be such, and he glo­ri­fied God in vers­es 18–29. Psalm 131 speaks of the same promise of God to David—that the Mes­si­ah will be his descen­dant, and this promise is even called an oath: “The Lord hath made a faith­ful oath unto David, and He shall not shrink from it” (Ps 131:11) in the sense that what is proph­e­sied shall not ever change.

“He, fore­see­ing this, spoke con­cern­ing the res­ur­rec­tion of the Christ,” con­tin­ued Peter. What David said in Psalm 15:10 was accom­plished not in him­self, but in his descen­dant accord­ing to the flesh who is Jesus Christ. For Christ, hav­ing died in the flesh, descend­ed into hell with his soul, but did not remain there. Hav­ing preached to the spir­its in hell con­cern­ing His redemp­tion of all mankind, He once again gave life to his flesh, which did not “see cor­rup­tion” (see also 1 Pet 3:18–19). Peter attests to the real­i­ty of the res­ur­rec­tion of “this Jesus” by appeal­ing to the wit­ness of all of the faith­ful: “of which we are all witnesses.”

Then, St Peter wit­nessed also to the ascen­sion of Christ, which result­ed in the pour­ing out of the grace of the Holy Spir­it on the faith­ful. As St Peter con­firmed the truth of the res­ur­rec­tion on the basis of the prophe­cies of David, so he also con­firmed the truth of the ascen­sion on the basis of a Psalm (109:1). Obvi­ous­ly, David did not him­self ascend into heav­en, but he said that God placed his Lord on His right hand. It is clear that David speaks not of him­self, but of anoth­er person—the Mes­si­ah, Who is Jesus from Nazareth, Who ascend­ed into the heav­ens. The Lord Jesus Christ dur­ing His earth­ly life applied this same prophe­cy to Him­self (see Matt 22:42–45), and St Peter applied it specif­i­cal­ly to the ascen­sion of the Lord and His ses­sion at the right hand of the Father.

“There­fore let all the house of Israel know assured­ly that God has made this Jesus, whom you cru­ci­fied, both Lord and Christ.” Jesus, cru­ci­fied by them, is the same Mes­si­ah of whom the prophets spoke. “Whom you cru­ci­fied”: this is a bold and pow­er­ful state­ment, through which the apos­tle want­ed to pierce the hearts of his lis­ten­ers as with a sharp knife. God raised and glo­ri­fied this Jesus, but you cru­ci­fied Him! “He does well to end with this,” said St John Chrysos­tom, “there­by agi­tat­ing their minds.”

The speech of the Holy Apos­tle Peter tru­ly had a pow­er­ful effect on the lis­ten­ers. “They were cut to the heart,” com­ing to a state of true com­punc­tion, see­ing how griev­ous­ly they had sinned before God and His Mes­si­ah. The divine­ly inspired words of St Peter, con­firmed by the mir­a­cle they had wit­nessed with their own eyes, firm­ly con­vinced them of the Mes­sian­ic dig­ni­ty of Jesus of Nazareth, and they turned to Peter and the rest of the Twelve with a ques­tion full of respect, love, and trust: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” That is, how shall we wipe away our trans­gres­sion? How shall we receive for­give­ness for our sins and enter into com­mu­nion with the Mes­si­ah that we rejected?

Peter, on behalf of all the apos­tles, points to the path of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with God that lies not in the exter­nal rites of Old Tes­ta­ment piety, but in repen­tance and bap­tism. “Repent, and let every one of you be bap­tized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remis­sion of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spir­it.” Here the apos­tle demands from the Jews the same con­di­tion for entry into the king­dom of the Mes­si­ah that St John the Bap­tist and Christ Him­self required (see Matt 3:2, 4:17). The first and most essen­tial con­di­tion for entry is repen­tance, that is, the firm res­o­lu­tion to change one’s life at its very root. In par­tic­u­lar, for the Jews, that meant a rejec­tion of Judaism and con­ver­sion to Christianity.

The sec­ond con­di­tion is bap­tism in the name of Jesus Christ. These words do not con­tra­dict the com­mand of the Lord Him­self to bap­tize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spir­it.” They indi­cate only the most impor­tant aspect of the faith and con­fes­sion of those who are baptized—that is, they must believe in Christ as the Mes­si­ah and with this faith approach the bap­tismal font. In return for the ful­fill­ment of these two con­di­tions, the apos­tle promised them two rewards: for­give­ness of sins and the gifts of the Holy Spir­it. The sal­va­tion of man is accom­plished by this twofold path: by the lay­ing aside of the old man with his sin­ful deeds and by the putting on of the new man, which is the “new cre­ation” of mankind by the pow­er of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

“For the promise is to you and to your chil­dren, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” This promise of God, giv­en through the prophet Joel, about the pour­ing out of the Holy Spir­it belongs first of all to the Jews as to the cho­sen nation of God, and then to all the nations of the earth, that is, the Gen­tiles, whom the Lord also calls into His king­dom. The idea of this sec­ond call­ing is still not explic­it in Peter’s words, how­ev­er, for he calls the Gen­tiles as those “afar off,” in order not to tempt the Jews, because they believed only them­selves to be wor­thy of the king­dom of the Messiah.

“And with many oth­er words …” St Luke, the writer of the Acts, does not record for us every­thing that Peter said to his lis­ten­ers, but rather only gives the essence of all that he said in a sin­gle phrase: “be saved from this per­verse gen­er­a­tion.” That is, strive to avoid that con­dem­na­tion that awaits the recal­ci­trant Jews who stub­born­ly refused to believe in Christ the Mes­si­ah. The promised judg­ment over this per­verse gen­er­a­tion occurred quite soon after­ward, in a.d. 70, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. The Jews who con­vert­ed to Chris­tian­i­ty avoid­ed the hor­rors of this ter­ri­ble divine pun­ish­ment of the per­verse gen­er­a­tion. They, remem­ber­ing Christ’s teach­ing (Matt 24:15–16), fled Jerusalem with time to spare.

Of course, St Peter’s words also apply to all gen­er­a­tions of all eras, because the faith­ful always must strive to be saved from this world that lies in sin through faith in Christ and a life of virtue. Thus, they will avoid the pun­ish­ment of God that awaits the sin­ful world at the Last Judgment.

The effect of these events—the pour­ing out of the Holy Spir­it on the apos­tles and the speech of St Peter—was mag­nif­i­cent. The orig­i­nal small com­mu­ni­ty of Chris­tians was increased by “about three thou­sand souls” who accept­ed baptism.