One People of God Under One Lord (Pt.1)
Passage: Acts 8:4–8:17, Acts 2:1–2:13
BIG PICTURE: The giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts highlights the oneness of the people of God. These particular stages along the way (Acts 2, 8, 10-11, and 19) accentuate that unity, as Jew, Samaritan, Gentile and transitional John-the-Baptist-followers caught out of sequence, are brought into the one people of God through faith in the one Lord Jesus and are given the same eschatological gift, the promised Holy Spirit.
Thus, we observe that tongues in Acts occur only in groups, are not said to recur, are public, and serve various purposes of attestation; while tongues in 1 Corinthians fall to the individual, may be used in private, must be translated if in public, and serve no purpose of attestation.
Listed below are four passages where Luke either explicitly mentions tongues in connection with the Spirit, or at least (as in chapter 8) hints at them. Note that at least one apostle is present in every episode.
- The initial experience of the Spirit at Pentecost, where the Spirit was poured out on Jews (Acts 2:4)
- When the Spirit comes upon Samaritans (Acts 8:18)
- The episode with Cornelius and his household, who are all Gentiles (Acts 10:44)
- The disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus, who are living in a kind of salvation-historical warp (Acts 19).
In each case Luke is introducing a new group, until as the gospel expands throughout the empire there are no new groups left. And in each case – three of them explicitly, and once implied - the manifestation of the Spirit’s presence in tongues is part of a corporate experience. Never in Acts is this the experience of an individual convert, even though Luke has many opportunities for reducing the scale from the group to the individual (such as Lydia and the Philippian Jailer, + 20 more)
- The event: the coming the Holy Spirit (2:1-13)
- The explanation: the Holy Spirit’s coming shows Jesus is Lord-Messiah (2:14-36)
- We are now living in the New Age of the Holy Spirit, when God has poured out his Spirit upon “all” people.
- This New Age of the Spirit has been ushered in through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Messiah.
- God raised Jesus, who is the Messiah, from the dead in accordance with Scriptures, and was seen by witnesses.
- Jesus’ Messiahship was confirmed by God in exalting Jesus to his right hand and bestowing upon him the Name above every name: he is the Lord.
- Philip’s gospel proclamation in the city of Samaria is used by God to save many Samaritans in fulfillment of God’s promises to restore his people, seen here in the inclusion of Samaria (the Northern Kingdom) under the reign of the Davidic King, Jesus (5-8)
- The confirming work of Peter and John in giving the Spirit (14-17)
- Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles are one people. Both have the Spirit. The Law Covenant of Moses is obsolete, fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- John Stott: “The norm of Christian experience, then, is a cluster of four things: repentance, faith in Jesus, water baptism and the gift of the Spirit. Though the perceived order may vary a little, the four belong together and are universal in Christian initiation. The laying-on of apostolic hands, however, together with tongue-speaking and prophesying, were special to Ephesus, as to Samaria, in order to demonstrate visibly and publicly that particular groups were incorporated into Christ by the Spirit; the New Testament does not universalize them. There are no Samaritans or disciples of John the Baptist left in the world today.”