THE MEANING OF PENTECOST TODAY
Our study of the meaning of Pentecost in Scripture and
history shows that the meaning of the feast is largely determined
by the five major events that occurred during the fifty days of
waiting by the disciples in the Upper Room, namely, (1) the
resurrection of Christ, (2) His ascension, (3) the inauguration
of Christ's heavenly ministry, (4) the bestowal of spiritual
gifts, and (5) the birthday of the Christian church......
The Resurrection of Christ. The first Christian Pentecost
began on the day Christ arose as "the first fruits of those who
have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 15: 20)......(I have shown in other
studies that Jesus was placed in the tomb at the beginning of the
15th day of Nisan, after the 14th day had ended. As He was
therefore in the tomb or the grave, for three days and three
nights, He was resurrected AFTER the weekly Sabbath was over,
in the first hours of the FIRST day of the week. This was when
the Sadducees cut the Wave Sheaf, after the weekly Sabbath,
within the first hour or so of the first day of the week. The
Wave Sheaf was then prepared for to be offered and waved before
the Lord in the Temple on the morning of the First day of the
week, what we call Sunday. Jesus was the fulfilment of the
cutting and the waving of the Wave Sheaf, both done on the first
day of the week. One at the beginning of the first day, what we
would term as Saturday evening, and the latter on the morning of
the first day. See my studies "The Truth about Luke 23: 54' -
"How the NT uses the word 'Evening' " - "When was Jesus placed in
the Tomb" - Keith Hunt).
The Pentecostal experience brought home to the disciples the
reality of Christ's resurrection......On the day of Pentecost,
Peter boldly proclaimed: "This Jesus God raised up, and of which
we are witnesses" (Acts 2: 32). Pentecost was the proclamation
and celebration of Christ's resurrection From that day on the
resurrection became the center of the apostolic preaching,
because it revealed the fundamental basis of the Christian faith
(Acts 3: 14; 4: 10; 8: 35; 13: 33; 17: 3,31; 23: 6)....Pentecost
affords us an opportunity to reflect on the significance and
import of Christ's resurrection for our lives today......
Jesus' resurrection was a bodily resurrection, yet His body
had new and surprising powers transcending physical limitations.
He appeared and disappeared to His disciples in a room with
locked doors (Luke 24: 31, 36; John 20: 19, 26). Our Lord's body
had been transformed into the kind of "spiritual body" Paul
described by saying, "It is sown a physical body, it is raised a
spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15: 44).
There is power in Christ's resurrection. That is why Paul
wished to "know him and the power of his resurrection" (Phil.3:
10)......In the present, we experience the power of Christ's
resurrection by leading a new life by the power of God who raised
Christ from the dead (Col. 2: 12; Rom. 6: 4)......In the future,
we will experience the power of Christ's resurrection when we all
will rise because He has risen: "He who raised Christ Jesus from
the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through His
Spirit which dwells in us" (Rom. 8: 11).
Pentecost affords us an opportunity not only to commemorate
the resurrection of Christ, but also to seek the power of the
risen Christ to walk in newness of life while awaiting for the
final transformation of our mortal bodies to a glorified state
(Rom.8: 22- 23; Phil. 3: 10, 20).
The Ascension of Christ. Pentecost celebrates not only
Christ's resurrection but also His ascension to heaven......The
ascension described in Acts (1: 3-11) represents Christ's last
departure, which put an end to His temporal apparitions and
discourses. The ascension was a formal leave-taking. In a
dramatic way, it indicated that the transitional period was over
and now Christ was entering a new phase of His redemptive
The sacred texts point to two aspects of Christ's ascension:
on the one hand, His celestial glorification, which occurred on
the day of His resurrection; on the other hand, His final
departure, which took place after a period of apparitions and
discourses. Pentecost affords an opportunity to commemorate both
of these events.
The manner of the ascension is described in a few simple
words: "As they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud
took Him out of their sight" (Acts 1: 11).......
The ascension is a prelude to Christ's descent at the end of
time. "While they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two
men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why
do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up
from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go
into heaven" (Acts 1: 11). This angelic discourse establishes a
clear connection between the ascent of Christ to heaven and His
return to earth at the end of time.
Pentecost affords us an opportunity to reflect not only on
Christ's departure from this earth, but also upon His return to
this earth. It reminds us that the present stay of Christ in
heaven is a transitory stage in His redemptive plan. He will
reside in heaven "until the time of establishing all that God
spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old" (Acts 3:
The ascension teaches us that Christ will come as He
departed (Acts 1: 11), descending from heaven upon the clouds (1
Thes. 4: 14-16 ; Rev. 1: 7) while the redeemed ascend to meet
Him in the clouds (1 Thes. 4: 17). While we are waiting that
glorious day, we must "seek the things that are above, where
Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Col. 3: 2), so that
"when Christ who is our life appears, then....(we) also will
appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3: 4).
Commemorating the ascension during the Pentecost season can
give "a lift" to our spiritual life by inspiring us to look up to
heaven, where Christ "always lives to make intercession" for us
(Heb.7: 25). We may call this our spiritual ascension.....
The Inauguration of Christ's Heavenly Ministry. The
ascension constitutes the transition from Christ's redemptive
work on earth to His intercessory work in heaven. Thus, Pentecost
affords us the opportunity to celebrate also the inauguration of
Christ's heavenly ministry.....By being invited to sit at the
right hand of God (Acts 2: 34; Eph. 1: 20; Col. 3: 1; Heb. 1:
3,13), Christ was installed to the heavenly ministry. The
outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is seen as the
evidence of the official enthronement of Christ to the heavenly
ministry (Acts 2: 33)......
Christ's intercession in the heavenly sanctuary is perhaps
the most ignored chapter of His redemptive ministry. Systematic
theology books devote hundreds of pages to the study of Christ's
atoning sacrifice, but few, if any, to the study of Christ's
intercessory ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. The impression
is that Christ is on a leave of absence between His ascension and
return, presumably recovering from His exhausting earthly
mission. It is not surprising that many Christians have no idea
about what Jesus is doing in heaven.
Pentecost affords us an opportunity to remember that Jesus
is not on vacation; rather, that He has been ministering on our
behalf since His ascension as "Priest" (Heb. 7: 15; 8: 4), "High
Priest" (Heb. 2: 17; 3: 1), "Mediator" (1 Tim. 2: 5; Heb. 8: 6),
and "Intercessor" (Rom. 8: 34; Heb. 7: 25). We have seen that
through His intercessory ministry, Christ sustains the Church
(Rev. 1: 13,20), mediates repentance and forgiveness to believers
(Acts 5: 31; 1 John 2: 1-2; 1:9), makes our prayers acceptable to
God (John 16: 23-24; Rev. 8: 3), provides us with the invisible
and yet real assistance of His angels (Heb. 1: 14; Rev. 5: 6; 1:
16, 20), and bestows on us the essential gift of the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2: 33).....
The Bestowal of Spiritual Gifts. Pentecost celebrates....the
bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit on the Church. The two are
interrelated because it is Christ's ministry in the heavenly
sanctuary that makes the ministry of the Holy Spirit possible on
Before His ascension, Christ promised to send to His
disciples the Holy Spirit: "You shall receive power when the Holy
Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1: 8). Christ's promise was
fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when His disciples "were filled
with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2: 4) and "great grace was upon them
all" (Acts 4: 33).....
Some spiritual gifts, such as those of apostles, prophets,
teachers, evangelists, and pastors, relate to the ministerial
functions of the Church (Eph. 4: 11; 1 Cor. 12: 28). Other
gifts, such as service, teaching, liberality, works of mercy,
(Rom. 12: 7-8), words of wisdom, faith, the gifts of healing, and
working of miracles (1 Cor. 12: 8-11), concern the ministry of
the church at large. The practice of charity is itself a gift of
the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 14: 1). The success of the Christian
life, as well as the functioning of the Church, depends entirely
on the presence of the gifts of the Spirit.
The bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit at Pentecost is
likened to the "former rain" that ripened the Spring wheat
harvest that in a spiritual sense was gathered in at the
beginning of Christianity. Near the close of earth's history,
another bestowal of spiritual gifts is promised to equip the
Church for the final harvest of the earth. This final
outpouring of the Holy Spirit is likened to the falling of the
later rain that in Palestine ripened the fall fruit harvest.
The celebration of Pentecost today affords us the
opportunity not only to commemorate the outpouring of the early
rain on the day of Pentecost, but also to pray for the
unprecedented outpouring of the latter rain of spiritual power to
make us fit to be laborers together with God in the final harvest
of the earth.....
We often lament the Laodicean lukewarmness that seems to
prevail the church. The solution to the problem is to be found,
not in the introduction of new styles of worships or special
seminars on church growth, but in the Upper-Room-type of
preparation for the reception of the Holy Spirit. When "with one
accord" (Acts 1: 14) we come together to seek the outpouring of
the Holy Spirit to cleanse out lives and to energize us for
service, then we will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to finish
the mission of the Church.
The Birthday of the Christian Church. Pentecost affords us
the opportunity to commemorate also the birthday of the Christian
We noted....that Christ instituted the Church when He called
the twelve disciples and trained them to become His witnesses.
But He constituted the Church on the day of Pentecost when He
qualified them for their calling by the power of the Holy
Pentecost commemorates also the birthday of the mission of
the Church....After the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy
Spirit, they boldly went out to witness for their risen Savior.
Throughout the book of Acts we are reminded that Christians
became witnesses as a result of the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit. "We are all witnesses" (Acts 2: 32). "We are witnesses to
all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in
Jerusalem" (Acts 10: 39; cf. 3: 15; 5: 32; 10: 41; 13: 31).....
The Feast of Pentecost reminds us every year that the
Christian church was founded by Christ, not to perpetuate itself
as a self-serving organization but to extend the divine provision
of salvation to men and women everywhere.....
Pentecost invites us yearly to come together with one accord
to seek the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, so we can become
fit to labor with God in the final harvest of the earth.
The Observance of Pentecost Today
...........I will submit a few suggestions on how we can make the
season of Pentecost an occasion to express our thankfulness to
God and seek for a fresh provision of the enabling power of the
A Season to be Thankful. Pentecost is a season to be
thankful for material and spiritual blessings....We can be
thankful Christ rose as the first-fruits of redeemed
humanity (1 Cor. 15: 20). His resurrection is the guarantee of
our resurrection. We can be thankful Christ ascended to heaven to
begin a special intercessory ministry in our behalf......We can
be thankful for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.....
How can we express our thankfulness to God during the season
of Pentecost? No hard and fast rule can be laid down, because
spiritual realities are expressed in different ways by different
people. ....The new Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal has a good
section of hymns for the Pentecost season. Hymns such as 562,
"Come, Sing a Song of Harvest," reminds of Pentecost as the
harvest season when we bring in gratitude our first fruits to
Come, sing a song of harvest,
Of thanks for daily food!
To offer God the first fruits
Its old as gratitude.
Long, long ago, the reapers,
Before they kept the feast.
Put first-fruits in a basket
And took it to the priest.
Shall we, sometimes forgetful
Of where creation starts,
With science in our pocket
Lose wonder from our heart?
May God, the great Creator,
To whom all life belongs,
Accept these gifts we offer,
Our service and our songs.
And lest the world go hungry
While we ourselves are fed,
Make each of us more ready
To share our daily bread.
..........Floral Decorations. Pentecost is connected with the
Spring harvest season when nature blooms, trees and flowers
blossom. In Temple times, pilgrims from all over Palestine
brought their first fruits to the altar....From this ceremony
developed the custom of decorating homes and synagogues with
small bundles of wheat, plants, and flowers for Pentecost.....In
keeping with the Biblical traditions of the celebration of Spring
harvest at the Feast of Pentecost and the Fall harvest at the
Feast of Tabernacles.....On both occasions, our churches could be
decorated with some of the produce of the season....can serve as
forceful incentive to thank God for His bountiful blessings......
First Fruits Thanksgiving Offering. A practical way to
express our gratitude to God for His material and spiritual
blessings is by bringing a special offering.....we can find
in the feast the theological incentive to express our gratitude
to God for His material and spiritual blessings through a special
"Pentecost Renewal Week. The disciples spent the ten days
before Pentecost engaged in spiritual exercises to prepare their
hearts for the reception of the Holy Spirit. Adventist churches
conduct in the Spring a "Spiritual Emphasis Week.".......
With minor changes in the scheduling, it could be made to
coincide with Pentecost.....By so doing both events would
coincide.....By spending at least the week before Pentecost
seeking for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this
week could be called "Pentecost Renewal Week.".....
Pentecost Sermons........The seven Sabbaths from Passover to
Pentecost offer to the pastor a unique opportunity to ignore
temporarily the promotion of significant aspects of the church
life, and to focus instead on the redemptive accomplishments of
Christ's first Advent. The series of seven sermons can start with
the suffering and sacrifice of Christ and continue with Christ's
resurrection, ascension, inauguration of His heavenly ministry,
the bestowal of spiritual gifts, and the birth of the Christian
Some topics such as the heavenly ministry of Jesus or the
bestowal of spiritual gifts, are so rich in meaning and
experience that they could well be presented as a series of
Pentecost sermons.....seven Sabbaths of Pentecost could be
devoted to reflecting upon various aspects of the gifts of the
Holy Spirit. Some of the questions that could be considered are:
How do we receive the gifts of the Spirit? How do we know which
spiritual gifts we have received? How do we cultivate or use our
Some of the topics could be: the secret of Pentecostal
revival, the need today for Pentecostal zeal, the characteristics
of a Pentecostal church, conditions for the outpouring of the
Another subject that would be most appropriate for a series
of sermons during Pentecost is Christ's ministry in the heavenly
sanctuary. Many Christians do not have the faintest idea about
what Jesus is doing in heaven......"consider Jesus, the apostle
and high priest of our confession" (Heb. 3: 1). Consider
(katanoeo) mean "to look at with reflection," "to
Equally important to consider during Pentecost are the
benefits we derive from Christ's intercessory work. These are
great truths that not only appeal to the intellect but also have
a direct impact upon our daily Christian living. It is reassuring
to know that Christ's work in heaven gives us constant access to
God (Eph.2: 18), mediates repentance and forgiveness to believers
(Acts 5: 31; 1 John 2: 1-2; 1: 9), makes our prayers acceptable
to God (John 16: 23-24; Rev. 8: 3), provides us with the
invisible yet real assistance of His angels (Heb. 1: 14; Rev. 5:
6; 1: 16, 20), and bestows upon us the essential gift of the Holy
Spirit (Acts 2: 33).
Taking time every year during the Pentecost season to deepen
the understanding of vital aspects of Christ's redemptive mission
can enhance our appreciation of what our Savior has done and is
doing for us. Most Christians receive much of their religious
education at church during the worship service. The purpose of
the annual feasts, such as Pentecost, is to provide an
opportunity during the course of the year to lead Christians
into further understanding and experience of the great truths of
the plan of salvation.....
Those extracts from Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi's book first
published in 1995, were compiled in May 2000. Any of Dr.
Bacchiocchi's books can be obtained directly from him
at: Biblical Perspectives, 4990 Appian Way, Berrien Springs,
All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr. Hunt trusts
nothing will be changed (except for spelling and punctuation
errors) without his consent.