The Final Harvest Begins

In the Book of Acts, the description of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost stresses the theme of fulfillment. On that day, what was foreshadowed in the ancient annual feast began to receive its substance. The bestowal of the Spirit was an epochal event that marked the start of the Age of the Spirit, and, in part, the Gift of the Spirit fulfilled what the Levitical feast symbolized.

The receipt of the Spirit by the disciples who were assembled in Jerusalem was the seminal event that inaugurated the Church and set the stage for the spread of the new faith. With the arrival of the Spirit, the great harvest of the “last days” had commenced.

Wheat ripened - Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash
[Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash]

Unfortunately, the full force of Luke’s language is often obscured in English translations of the original Greek text of the passage.

  • (Acts 2:1-4) - “And when the DAY OF PENTECOST WAS BEING FILLED FULL, they were all assembled with one intent when there came suddenly out of heaven a sound, like of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues like as of fire parting asunder, and it sat on each of them; And they were all filled with Holy Spirit and began to be speaking with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Prior to his ascent, Jesus commanded the disciples to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they received the “Promise of the Father.” The Spirit’s empowerment was and is vital for transforming his followers into effective witnesses for the Kingdom of God - (Luke 24:44-49, Acts 1:7-9).

The proclamation of the Gospel began in Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish nation, but it did not end there. At the conclusion of the Book of Acts, Paul is busy preaching in Rome, the center of the World Empire. Moreover, he was proclaiming the Good News to both Jews and Gentiles. What occurred on the Day of Pentecost was the beginning of the Church’s mission, not its end.

Originally, Pentecost was an agricultural feast celebrating the completion of the barley harvest. It occurred fifty days after Passover and was also known as the “Feast of Weeks.”

In Scripture, the celebration is called the “Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labors.” The highlight of the Feast was the offering of the first sheaf, the “first fruits” of the grain harvest, and every able male was required to appear at the Temple during the Feast - (Exodus 34:22-23, Leviticus 23:11-16, Deuteronomy 16:9-10).

The outpouring of the Spirit on this particular feast day was NOT COINCIDENTAL. The theological significance is indicated by the Greek term sumpléroō found in the Greek text of Chapter 2 where it is rendered as “BEING FILLED UP” in the citation of Acts 2:1-4. Its sense is something that is “filled up completely” - to fill a container to the very brim.

In the passage, a present-tense infinitive is used to signify action in progress. In other words, the Feast was in the process of being fulfilled fully as the Spirit filled the 120 disciples. What the Feast of Pentecost symbolized was coming to fruition, the “first fruits” of the final harvest - (Compare Romans 8:23, Luke 24:49).

Under the Law, all able-bodied males were required to attend the Feast. Likewise, all 120 disciples were assembled in the Temple. The “all” repeated in verse 4 emphasizes the point - “ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit, and ALL began to speak in tongues.” The entire company was gathered in prayer in the Temple.


Similarly, the passage stresses that they all “BEGAN (archomai) to speak in tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” The verb rendered “began” echoes Christ’s command to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they received the Spirit:

  • (Luke 24:47) – “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, BEGINNING from Jerusalem.”
  • (Acts 1:8) – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth.”

By the first century, the Feast of Pentecost was associated with the giving of the Torah at Sinai. But that was a later Jewish tradition. It originally celebrated the first fruits of the grain harvest, and that is the image behind its usage in the second chapter of Acts.

Jesus commanded his disciples to preach “repentance, and that the remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, BEGINNING (archomai) from Jerusalem.” Likewise, when the Spirit filled all the disciples in Jerusalem, they “BEGAN (archomai) to speak in tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

Thus, the disciples gathered in Jerusalem became the “first fruits” of the final harvest. The period known as the “Last Days” had begun in earnest, and the proclamation of the Gospel must continue from that day until the arrival of Jesus at the end of the age, the “Day of the Lord.”

  • The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the Day of the Lord comesthat great and notable day. And it will be, that whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – (Acts 2:20).
  • Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God will call unto him – (Acts 2:38).

On that day in Jerusalem, the great end-time harvest of the Earth began with the salvation of “about three thousand” souls that were added to the Assembly. “Beginning from Jerusalem,” the proclamation of “repentance and remission of sins” was now moving across the face of the planet.




Absent Church?

Pentecost and the Last Days