The Day of Pentecost refers to an event described in the New Testament (Acts 2) which signaled the beginning of the Church. It involved the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit as wind and fire alighting on the disciples of Jesus and empowering them for the missionary task to share the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred during the Jewish festival known as the Feast of Weeks (Lev 23:15; Deut 16:9) which celebrated the end of the harvest. The Greek name for this festival was Pentecost (fifty) because it occurred fifty days after the important Jewish feast of Passover.
The coming of the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus during one of his resurrection appearances. He instructed his disciples to wait.
Acts 1:4 “Do not leave
, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” …….8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The symbols of wind and fire are important images of God’s presence found throughout the Bible. The Holy Spirit is God’s Wind or Breath giving life into the Church like in the Genesis account of Adam’s creation. The tongues of fire symbolize two things: the holy presence of God that now resides in every true believer and the miraculous communication of the Gospel into every culture and every language group.
Attending the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem were Jewish visitors from dozens of regions and language groups around the known world. These visitors saw and heard the apostles speak the praises of God in foreign languages which the apostles never learned. They were under the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit , enabling them to communicate the message of Christ supernaturally. Such a sign serve to authenticate the apostolic message regarding the resurrection of Jesus.
So the Day of Pentecost signifies the birth of the church when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit in a powerful way and emboldened as witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus to people groups from the known world.