Pentecost, the Jews, and Salvation

God’s Big Story: View Series
Continued from Part 5

At his ascension, Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).  The whole world — literally “all the peoples,” according to Matthew 28:19 — will hear the gospel because of these apostles.  They will receive power from God to make it happen.

On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were gathered together, and suddenly the Holy Spirit fell on them.  They were filled with the Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.  This would be a great time, you would think, for God to start this world-wide revolution and reach all the Gentile nations with the gospel.  After all, the language barrier is now gone.

After this happens, Peter preaches a short, yet amazing, sermon to thousands of people in Acts 2.  He preaches the gospel — that Christ was delivered and was crucified according to God’s plan and that whoever believes in him will receive the Spirit.  He calls  everyone who’s listening to repentance.  That day, verse 41 says, 3,000 souls received the word and were saved and baptized.

And here’s the crazy part: every single one of those 3,000 people was Jewish.  Not one Gentile was saved.

How do we know this?  Acts 2:5 says, “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.”  Peter was in Jerusalem preaching to Jews.  When he began preaching, “the multitude” approached him because they heard Peter in their own language (or “dialect”).  These were Jewish pilgrims from various parts of the world (vv. 9-11).  The pilgrims had come back to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, which is historically related to a Jewish harvest festival.

Furthermore, when Peter began his sermon, he lifted up his voice and said, “Men of Judea!” (v. 14).  Again, in verse 22, he called their attention and said, “Men of Israel.”  He quotes the prophet Joel (vv. 17-21).  He quotes King David twice (vv. 25-28, 34).  There is no doubt he is speaking to Jews.

Then in verse 36, his grand conclusion, he pronounces the dismal, yet glorious indictment on Israel: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”  It is dismal because they murdered one of their own — the only One who could save them.  It is glorious because if they turn to him — even after crucifying him — they will be saved and set free from sin.

The gospel hasn’t gone to all peoples yet.  Though the whole Bible up to this point has made it clear that this is God’s plan, the plan keeps getting delayed.  In God’s perfect time, however, this spiritual revolution of the Gentiles will come.

4 replies on “Pentecost, the Jews, and Salvation”

Did Christians just observe Pentecost? I’m asking because I’m guessing that would mean that the Jewish harvest festival you refer to here must be Shavuot, which was this past Friday-Saturday. I had never heard before that Pentecost was related to Shavuot. What does the “five” (pente) in Pentecost refer to? Shavuot falls 50 days after the second day of Passover – you count 7 weeks and then it is on the next day (shavuot is just the plural of the Hebrew word for “week”).

“And here’s the crazy part: every single one of those 3,000 people was Jewish. Not one Gentile was saved.”

But why is that crazy? Jesus was Jewish, lived his entire life among Jews – all the people he and his disciples knew, were Jews. The things that Jesus did – the rituals he performed, the holidays he observed, his religious education – are things that all the Jews did then and still do in many cases. Many of the things he said, are things that other Jews had said during the century prior to the time he lived, most notably Rabbi Hillel.
Jesus may have produced the religion Christianity but Judaism is the religion that produced Jesus.


You are right about the Jewish festival Shavout. Pentecost refers to the 50 days after Jesus’ ascension.

It’s crazy because the whole Bible has been building up to the fact that Gentiles will come into God’s kingdom. One would rationally think that when a bunch of Jewish guys have the ability to speak in other languages, that this world-wide revolution would finally begin and that Gentiles would be preached to. But God had another plan…and it happens 8 chapters later in Acts 10.

Judaism didn’t “produce” Jesus, but Jesus did fulfill every law in Judaism perfectly and therefore is worthy to be the last Prophet, Priest, and King, and proves himself to be God in the flesh.


“It’s crazy because the whole Bible has been building up to the fact that Gentiles will come into God’s kingdom. “

Can you elaborate on this?

“Judaism didn’t “produce” Jesus, […]”

Doesn’t Christianity say that Jesus was fully human, as well as God? I’m just saying, given that, that the human part of him was absolutely a product of his Jewish environment and history. He certainly wasn’t a product of Roman thinking!? :)


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