Pentecost A


222: June 4, 2017

66: June 8, 2014

  1. 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

  2. Acts 2:1-21

  3. John 7:37-39

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “We’ve Got a Fire” from their album Leave Some Things Behind

Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Pour Out Your Spirit.” from his album Stepping In


  1. Acts 2:1-21 
  2. John 7:37-39 

Click read more for show notes!

Exegetical Notes

Acts 2:1-21 Pentecost  

initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • Pentecost (from Leviticus 23:15-22 & Deuteronomy 16:9-12)

    • 50 days (or 7 weeks)  after Passover
    • Feast of Weeks, Shavuot

      • All were included in the celebration: Deut. 16:11 “you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites who live in your cities, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows”

    • Giving of law at Mount Sinai

    • End of the Spring Harvest

    • All were included in the celebration: Deut. 16:11 “you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites who live in your cities, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows”

    • Double Celebration:

      • End of the Spring Harvest (we aren’t in Illinois anymore)- connections to Peter’s Sermon (Joel 2:24a "the threshing floors shall be full of grain” and Jesus 10:2 ”The harvest is great, but the laborers are few

      • God gives the Hebrews the Torah - not explicit in the Hebrew Bible, but traditionally celebrated.

        • Gift of the Torah - which unites a people as a holy nation and priestly kingdom

        • Gift of the Spirit - which unites all people

        • Both are inclusive celebrations to be blessings to all people

  • Who are "they"? 

    • In the House (v.1):
      • The Eleven (Acts 1:13/ 2:14)?
      • The Women (Acts 1:14)?
      • Matthias (Acts 1:26)?
      • The early followers of Jesus ~about 120 (Acts 1:15)
    • “They” are not in the temple, “they” are still in the house (v.2)

    • Large crowd in the street (v.5)

      • Not pilgrims, but immigrants “living in Jerusalem”

    • Intentionally ambiguous? The Spir it cannot be ignored or contained

  • Baptism of the Spirit- see Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5

  • Arrival of the Spirit

    • Sound of a violent wind - this is what draws the people to the house (v.6) - Not the fire, but the sound
    • Tongues of fire - the gift of speaking different languages

    • Fire and violent wind - purifying, but can be painful

    • Sound of the Spirit brings people together from many different groups and factions to be one people

      • Not so they can speak to one another, but so that can hear one another (v. 8)

      • Who is speaking different languages? “They” are

      • What are“they” talking about? God’s deeds of power

    • Rush of wind, tongues of fire, community gathered

    • Freedom of the Spirit

    • Not limited by language

    • Perhaps the semi-collapse of Enlightenment orthodoxy, with its elevation of reason and science as the only paths to true knowledge of the world, has opened the door to a recovery of a kind of pre-/post-Enlightenment religiosity in which once again people are open to, and therefore experience, "signs and wonders." - David Gushee

    • Not limited by different languages or even needing to be explained - “What does this mean?” They cannot explain it and still today we try and answer this question

  • Reversal of Babel (Gen. 11)?

    • The lectionary seems to think so (Genesis is always pairs with Acts 2 on Pentecost)

      • Genesis - One language = building a tower to the heavens to “make a name for ourselves”

      • Acts - “One language” = sharing God’s great deeds of power

    • Not about making the people great- about making God great

    • Community for its own sake is not always a good thing- but a Spirit-filled community working for God is world changing

    • Not necessarily:

      • The reversal of Babel would have been uniting all people under one language- not what happens here

      • About Evangelism- not about undoing Babel

    • Couldn’t it be both?

      • The reversal of the self-centeredness of Babel and the focus on declaring the Good News of God’s great deeds of power in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to all the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8)

  • Spirit of Liberation

    • Liberation from Chaos - Genesis 1-2

    • Liberation from Babylon - Isaiah 11:2

    • Liberation from Rome - Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5

    • What do we need to be liberated from?

      • The church?

      • Consumerism?

      • Self-importance? Self-delusion? Self-disregard?

  • Peter’s Sermon (Joel 2:28-29)

    • Spirit of inclusivity

      • Inclusive: men and women, all flesh, young and old, slave and free, heaven and earth - All receive God’s Spirit

        • Reminiscent of Deut. 16:11

      • Signs and Wonders - theme throughout the first half of Acts - performed by Jesus, the Spirit, Stephen, (Moses), Philip, Paul and Barnabas

      • The word of the Spirit is something which has happened, did happen (on Pentecost) and continues

    • All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved

      • what does salvation mean?

      • What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?

    • If all can call on the name of the Lord, then do we still need priests?

    • Response: They are drunk

      • Going the wrong way and dismissing the warnings: Planes Trains and Automobiles clip

      • Do we really want the gift of the Spirit? It will be violent. It may burn us. It may push us to places where we do not wish to go. Perhaps it is easier to dismiss

      • They are intoxicated with the Spirit which will lead them to do foolish things - like follow a crucified Lord

Preaching Thoughts

  • Is the current church as flexible as the ancient church to adapt to where the spirit is calling or do we insist on the Spirit working within our institutional and/or traditional methods?

    • Do we truly allow the spirit to guide us or is the Spirit in the backseat?

    • Are we willing to be led by the spirit without knowing the destination?

      • Local churches struggling week to week
      • Denominations struggling year to year

      • Pastors struggling with calls

      • C an we be led out of the temple and into the wilderness?

  • What do we need to be liberated from?

    • The church?
    • Consumerism?

    • Self-importance? Self-delusion? Self-disregard?

  • “Without Pentecost, we’d just be people who tell Jesus’ story. With Pentecost, we’re people who live into Jesus’ story” (Danielle Shroyer, The Hardest Question blog)

  • It is easy to slip into an us and them mentality- the Spirit breaks through those barriers. Who are the “they” in your community who the Spirit is pushing you (and your church) toward?

  • What noise is your church making? It is drawing people together or keeping them apart?

  • How are you proclaiming God’s great deeds of power? Are you working to make a name for yourself/church/.family/country or a name for God?

  • What does it mean to be saved? (also something not often talked about)

John 7:37-39

Initial Thoughts

  • John 7 according to The Twible, by Jana Riess: “JC’s brothers urge him to attend a festival to show of his miracles and get all famous, but that’s not his style. He’s on the QT.”

Bible Study

  • Context is EVERYTHING: The Last Day of the Festival

    • Festival of Booths (cf. 1 Kings 8:2)

    • “The Festival of Tabernacles (or Booths) originally celebrated the completion of the harvest, but eventually also came to commemorate God’s protection of Israel in the wilderness.  In New Testament times, the festival had grown to an eight-day celebration centered at the Temple… During a second procession, the priests processed from the Temple to the pool of Siloam to draw water, returning through the Water Gate to pour the water on the altar as a libation…” (Gail O’Day, New Interpreter’s Bible, v. IX, p. 542)

    • “Originally a harvest festival, it came to be associated with the eschatological hope for a time when God's life-giving presence would flow out in rivers from the temple, like water from the rock in the wilderness.” Meda A. A. Stamper - Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year A, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).

    • Jesus’ second festival/Passover in Jerusalem

      • Passover/Cleansing the temple in John 2:13-22

      • Passover/Festival of Booths John 6-7

      • Final Passover - John 14-18

  • Living Water

    • recurring theme in John

      • Baptism by John (1:32-34)

      • Water into Wine (2:1-11)

      • Nicodemus (3:5)

      • Living Water at the Well (4:7-26)

      • Water from Jesus (19:34)

    • Jesus re-imagining the ancient festival, pointing to the source of living water as himself, and those that believe - not the Temple.

      • Jesus is the water from the rock

      • Similar to Jesus declaring himself Manna from heaven (John 6:48-51) Just as those who “eat of the bread of life” will “never be hungry” - those who drink from “living water” will never be thirsty (John 4)

    • Similar play on words as John 3 with Nicodemus

      • the connection between Spirit (Pneuma), Water and womb/heart/seat of emotion and being (Koilia)

      • The greek word, “koilia” translated as “womb” in 3:4 is translated heart here

  • Scripture?

  • Source of Living Water

    • Greek says, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water”

    • Punctuation makes it unclear who the water is flowing out of.  Is it flowing out of Jesus, or out of the one who believes?

      • “The early church was divided. Origen, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine punctuated the verses so that the believer was the source of living water; Justin and Hippolytus… identified Jesus as the source.” (Gail O’Day, New Interpreter’s Bible, v. ix, p. 623)

      • NRSV points to the source as the believer.

      • NIV says the water will flow within the believer.

      • CEB points to the source as Jesus.

    • While the translation and even the Greek are unclear- perhaps there is good new in the ambiguity- perhaps living water flows from both Jesus AND the believer

      • “I am in my Father, you in me and I in you” 14:20

      • “As you Father are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us” 17:21

      • Both of these passages not only speak of the unity between God, Jesus and believers but also the promised gift of the Spirit (14:16-17; 16:7)

  • Gift of the Spirit

    • Explicit understanding of relationship between Jesus and the Spirit -- Gift of the spirit only comes after life, death, resurrection, and ascension

      • “The Fourth Evangelist is not denying the Spirit of God present in the OT.  Indeed, the Spirit of God descended on Jesus at his baptism (1:34). The Fourth Evangelist is saying that the Spirit as it is known in the life of the church did not yet exist, because the Spirit of God is redefined in the light of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension” (Gail O’Day, New Interpreter’s Bible, v. ix, p. 624)

Preaching Thoughts

  • Pentecost is about the gift of the Spirit - take a new approach that is more Jesus focused and holistic: For those who are thirsty- Jesus is the font of living water. For a thirsty world - believers are the living water. What good news/living water of Jesus is flowing through you?

  • Living waters flowing from the rock/temple/jesus/church is an image of life giving abundance- how do we embody that abundance and “life-giving” focus?

  • Translational issues aside, it seems that by placing this text on Pentecost, the lectionary is doing some interpretation.  The believers now have the same living water that once was associated only with Jesus.  

    • Belief in Jesus is clearly an important part of the good news according to John.  Belief precedes receiving the Spirit.  All who are thirsty are invited to come, all who believe, drink.  Drinking the living water is equated with belief in Jesus.  

  • In the next passage, Jesus’ credibility is questioned by the leaders because he came from Galilee.  They don’t think anything good could come from that place.  Nicodemus reappears, and is beginning to wonder, but he is shouted down.  What prevents belief?  What keeps us going thirsty? Prejudice, stubbornness, fear, can all keep us from drinking the living water.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 

  • An important supplement to Pentecost story. Answer the question: “So what?”

    • As in: The disciples received the Holy Spirit. So what?

  • The gift of the Holy Spirit is not a one-time deal that happened to a bunch of people a long time ago.

    • The Church is not “interest accrued” from the original investment of the Spirit.

    • The gift of the Spirit keeps happening.

    • We are a people of Pentecost as much as we are a people of Easter

  • Context of “Spiritual Gifts” is an answer to a specific problem - the correct order of worship, and the “hierarchy” of leadership.

  • Spiritual Gifts are just that - gift - not achievements. Faith is primary gift, all else flows from there.

  • Diversity of gifts is more important than a ranking of gifts.

  • Diversity and unity seem to be competing values, but the unity of Christ is only achieved through diversity. This is true of Spiritual gifts, but it clearly has implications beyond these attributes.


Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).