No Gentiles at Acts Chapter 2B. Kelson
One of the great foundations of the modern Christianity is that Acts chapter 2 is the birthday of the church. This remains the great foundation of Christian faith and practice right across the denominational spectrum. So broadly held and concreted is this foundation that it is rarely questioned.
The word church appears in the opening chapters of this book and without examination everyone injects themselves into the scene. Church is often used to mean a local assembly (Acts 2:47. 5:11) rather than a divinely established company. Israel is just as much a church of God as the Body of Christ.
Pentecost was fulfilled on that day so many years ago and there, supposed by tradition, Israelites and Gentiles were baptized into the body of Christ.
This lesson we shall examine the Word of God to determine whether this ancient foundation is scripturally sound. But first some background concerning the disciples.
Some teach the disciples were either confused regarding the Feast of Pentecost or at least unaware of the incredible new beginning God was about to unfold before them. Apparently they were a sad and unfulfilled group who were finally made aware of Gods purpose when the Holy Spirit gave them the enlightenment. Is this true?
The book of Acts was written by Luke and his gospel happily overlaps events of that time for our clearer understanding of these things. Here are some verses from the last chapter where our Lord had revealed himself to the two on the road to Emmaus and later the other disciples, and in both cases confirming some things to them;
Luk 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Luk 24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
Luk 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself
Luk 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me
The resurrected Saviour spoke to the two downhearted disciples on the road and encouraged them that suffering must be endured before glory. The suffering was all foretold in the OT and the glory that was to surely follow was foretold in the OT as well. This should begin to prepare us for the fact that the glory was all OT based and includes the Feast of Pentecost and the other Feasts which follow it.
Then the Saviour did something marvellous for them, He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures;
Luk 24:45 And He opened their mind to understand the Scriptures.
The disciples had their intellect opened to comprehend the very Scriptures our Lord had been using to describe the glory that was to come. It is near to ridiculous to suggest that the disciples had no idea what Pentecost was all about when Christ opened their minds.
We note at the end of Luke a statement is made concerning the emotional state of the disciples and with opened minds and explanations from the Lord we are not surprised to read:
Luk 24:51 And it happened as He blessed them, He withdrew from them and was carried up into Heaven.
Luk 24:52 And worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
Luk 24:53 And they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Let all Christians note, the disciples were not dejected and confused, nor uncertain in any way of what was about to happen but were filled with great joy, in the Temple, praising and blessing God.
The opening chapter of Acts adds further evidence that the disciples were not ignorant of the Lords purposes or confused or dejected or downhearted;
Act 1:1 Truly, O Theophilus, I made the first report as to all things that Jesus began both to do and teach
Act 1:2 until the day He was taken up, having given directions to the apostles whom He chose, through the Holy Spirit;
Act 1:3 to whom He also presented Himself living after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them through forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Pentecost was the 50th day from the wave offering in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For forty of those days the Lord, after he had opened their understanding, spoke to them of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Some Christians think that the term the Kingdom of God really means the church. However we note that after all this speaking by the Lord, and His command to tarry in Jerusalem until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, the disciples had one question and one question only. And this question is asked in the light of Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which was about to befall them;
Act 1:6 Then, indeed, these coming together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, do You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
Tradition links this baptism of the Holy Spirit with the church but the educated and illuminated disciples linked it with the restored Kingdom to Israel. Which is true?
Tradition says the disciples had no idea of what was going on at Pentecost. Tradition does not believe our Lord Christ really opened their minds. Tradition says our Lord Christ was one of the worst teachers the world has ever seen. Tradition says the disciples must be listed as the dumbest followers of Christ ever.
We must stand with the Word of God. The disciples were correct in their question and later, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit Peter says this;
Act 3:17 And now, brothers, I know that you did it through ignorance, as also your rulers did.
Act 3:18 But those things which God before had shown by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He fulfilled in this manner.
Act 3:19 Therefore repent and convert so that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Act 3:20 And He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was proclaimed to you, Act 3:21 whom Heaven truly needs to receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began.
We do not restore something by bringing in something entirely new or different. Peter refers to the times of refreshing or revival for Israel and the times of restoration which the prophets spoke about and friends the prophets spoke about the restoration of Israel not the church. So the question in Acts 1:6 is still in the mind of Peter in Acts 3:17-21 after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is one of the Feats given to Israel and it therefore foreshadowed something for that nation. The Lord gave Israel commands concerning the Feasts and this one is very relevant to this examination;
Deu 16:16 Three times in a year shall all your males appear before Jehovah your God in the place which He shall choose: in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles. And they shall not appear before Jehovah empty,
In the times of the NT, Jerusalem was swollen with pilgrims from the known world and Luke mentions these in the second chapter;
Act 2:5 And dwelling at Jerusalem there were Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven.
Act 2:7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying to one another, Behold, are not these who speak all Galileans?
Act 2:8 And how do we each hear in our own dialect in which we were born?
Act 2:9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Act 2:10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya around Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Act 2:11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them speaking the great things of God in our own languages.
Twice in this passage we are told that the crowd consisted of Jews (and proselytes) from twelve nations and regions who had gathered to the Feast. They are also described as being devout since at great expense they had obeyed the command of God to appear before Him.
Please note a proselyte was not considered a Gentile by the Israelites, having been baptized, circumcised, presented an offering and according to their terms born again.
To further confirm that the crowds were Israelites and Israelites only we list here the terms of address Peter used;
Act 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke out to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem,
Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words:
Act 2:29 “Men, brothers,
Act 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know
And also in chapter three;
Act 3:12 So when Peter saw this, he replied to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this?
Act 3:25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers,
No gentile is a man of Israel or a physical brother to Peter or any part of the house of Israel or a son of the prophets or a son of any covenant God made with Israels Fathers. If the Gentile is a proselyte then he is no longer a Gentile.
Thus far we have presented to sound Scriptural reasons why there were no Gentiles in those crowds on the Feast of Pentecost. But there is further irrefutable evidence.
In Acts chapter 10 this very same Apostle Peter had journeyed to Joppa. He was hungry and had fallen into a trance. In this trance a sheet was let down from heaven three times in which were all kinds of animals. A voice called to him to rise, kill and eat;
Act 10:10 And he became very hungry and desired to eat. But while they made ready, an ecstasy fell on him.
Act 10:11 And he saw the heaven opened and a certain vessel like a sheet coming down to him, being bound at the four corners and let down to the earth;
Act 10:12 in which were all the four-footed animals of the earth, and the wild beasts, and the reptiles, and the birds of the heaven.
Act 10:13 And a voice came to him, saying, Rise, Peter! Kill and eat!
We note the Apostle refused the voice from heaven on the grounds of faithful observance of the Law. Peter was a Law abiding Israelite;
Act 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.
Please note the words common or unclean. What Laws would have crossed Peters mind at the vision which made him respond with the words common or unclean? The vision of animals undoubtedly referred to the laws given to Israel regarding their diet;
Lev 20:25 And you shall make a difference between clean animals and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean. And you shall not defile your souls by beast, or by fowl, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
Lev 20:26 And you shall be holy to Me. For I, Jehovah, am holy, and have severed you from the nations, so that you should be Mine.
Israel’s diet was to remind them that God had severed them from the Gentiles and Peter was about to receive an invite from a Gentile. Let the reader be assured that without this vision and voice from Heaven, Peter would have spurned the invitation with a not so Lord. Nothing less than the Lords own voice would change this mans mind;
Act 10:15 And the voice spoke to him again the second time, What God has made clean, you do not call common.
What was it that God had made clean (John 1:29) and Peter was not to call common? The following statement by Peter to Cornelius clearly links the vision with Gentiles who up till this time were considered by Peter to be common and unclean;
Act 10:28 And he said to them, You know that it is an unlawful thing for a man, a Jew to keep company with or to come near to one of another nation. But God has shown me not to call any man common or unclean.
Up until Acts 10 Peter believed it was an unlawful thing for an Israelite to keep company with a Gentile so there were no Gentiles at Pentecost else the Lord was many years late teaching Peter. Peter goes on to say but God has shown me. When did God show Peter? Not at Pentecost but in the vision at Acts 10.
Peter received a threefold vision immediately prior to three men arriving with an invitation from Gentile and when the invitation was delivered Peter received yet another confirmation, this time from the Holy Spirit;
Act 11:11 And behold, immediately three men stood at the house in which I was, sent from Caesarea to me.
Act 11:12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, not discriminating.
The Lord told Peter that he was not to call Gentiles common or unclean since He had cleansed them. The Holy Spirit confirmed the words of the Lord by also telling Peter not to discriminate. So Peter went to Corneliuss house and then asked an incredible question;
Act 10:29 Therefore I came without complaint, being sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me.
Christian Bible student, this question of Peters must make you think. Why ask Cornelius what he wanted if Peter had preached to Gentiles in Acts 2?
I am praying you have already asked the obvious question. Why would Peter need a threefold vision to go to a Gentile if they had already been baptized into the church at Acts 2?
And as if these things are not enough then we shall make a few final points from Acts 11.
Act 11:1 And the apostles and brothers who were in Judea heard that the nations had also received the Word of God.
When did the apostles and brethren hear that the Gentiles had ALSO received the Word of God? These events are many years after Acts 2. Were these apostles and brethren also confused?
Included among the brethren were the members of the circumcision group who contended with Peter;
Act 11:2 And when Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,
Act 11:3 saying, You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them.
Why would this group contend with Peter if Gentiles had been baptized into the church at Acts 2? Note, Peter was of the circumcision and all believers to this time were of the circumcision so this use of the word must refer to the Pharisaic or Judaizers within the Israeli community.
Peter then fully recounts the event and concludes with these words;
Act 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Act 11:17 If God gave to them the same gift as to us, they having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to prevent God?
If ever we wanted the final proof that there were no Gentiles at Pentecost this is it. Peter declares that Cornelius received the Holy Spirit just like the Israelites did at the beginning, which is Pentecost.
It was God who gave the Cornelius the gift so perhaps Peter would have tried to prevent God without the vision. Again, how would Peter speak like this if gentiles had already been so blessed at Acts 2?
The apostles and brethren also came to a realization:
Act 11:18 When they heard these things, they were silent and glorified God, saying, Then God has also granted repentance to life to the nations.
In Acts 10 &11 five groups or individuals confirm to us that there were no Gentiles at Acts 2.
1. The Lord Himself, who had to give Peter a vision about the Gentiles.
2. The Holy Spirit who told Peter not to discriminate against them.
3. Peter himself, who would have refused to go had he not been given such clear commands.
4. The Circumcision group.
5. The other Apostles and brethren who finally acknowledged that God had been in this.
In the mouths of two or three witnesses will a thing be established but yet, despite these plain
statements from the Word, the traditions of men continue to hold sway. The church started at Pentecost where Israelites and gentiles were baptized together is as far from the truth as can be imagined.
Let the honest Bible student acknowledge that the disciples were not confused and ignorant men; they knew exactly what Pentecost was about, it concerned Israel and its coming Kingdom on the earth.
Let the honest Bible student acknowledge that the ridiculous tradition claiming Israelite and Gentile were baptized into the church at Acts 2 is totally without Scriptural basis.