The Significance of Pentecost -- By: Merrill F. Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 122:486 (Apr 1965)
Article: The Significance of Pentecost
Author: Merrill F. Unger


The Significance of Pentecost

Merrill F. Unger

The modern revival of speaking in tongues has focused attention upon the importance of the second chapter of Acts. No part of God’s Word has received more prominence in the present-day excitement over the gifts of the Spirit nor has been so grossly misunderstood. In fact, a correct understanding of this pivotal passage is basic to any serious study of the tongues question. Error and inaccuracy here are bound to be reflected in faulty doctrine and unsound interpretations elsewhere in dealing with relevant Scripture passages.

The paramount issue, therefore, to all who honor the Word and place it above alleged experience is, “What is the significance of Acts 2? What precisely does Pentecost mean? What bearing does it have on today’s modern tongues movement? Does Pentecost teach a crisis experience of power subsequent to salvation? Does speaking in tongues have anything to do with enjoying such an experience?” Careful scrutiny of God’s Word is necessary to answer these and similar questions highlighted in our day.

Pentecost and the Church

Pentecost signifies the coming of the Holy Spirit from heaven to take up His residence upon the earth in the newly formed church. Although omnipresent as God, and present among men in all ages, so definitely was the new age to be characterized by the Spirit’s intimate presence, that our Lord in the Upper Room Discourse (John chapters 13–16) just before His death, declared that the Father would send the Spirit from heaven and that He would arrive upon the earth

to take up His residence in the new people of God on the earth.

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide (menei, keep on remaining) with you for ever (eis ton aiōna, throughout the age)” (John 14:16, italics added). “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; It is expedient (fit, proper) for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come (has arrived), he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7–8, italics added). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come (elthē, has arrived) he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13, italics added).

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