Pastor, evangelist, and prolific author John R. W. Stott once said: “As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.” That truth is the heart of today’s passage.
As the disciples were gathered in prayer on the Jewish Festival of Pentecost, something remarkable happened. The sound of violent wind filled the house and the promised Spirit of God filled and empowered each of the disciples. Our passage today describes the effects of the Spirit’s coming.
First, the coming of the Spirit resulted in powerful witness to the saving work of God. In a reversal of the Tower of Babel, the Spirit brought people of all languages together in order to hear the message of Christ. Empowered by the Spirit, Peter proclaimed the first Christian sermon, offering witness to the work of God in Christ and the Spirit.
In fact, the outpouring of the Spirit and the resurrection of Christ were fulfillments of God’s earlier promises. Both were central to God’s saving work for all humanity. The resurrection was the ultimate demonstration of Christ’s identity as Lord and Messiah, and the Spirit was now available for all who would respond to that message with faith. What a powerful and far-reaching testimony on the lips of the Spirit-filled Peter: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off” (v. 39, emphasis added).
Second, the coming of the Spirit produced unifying fellowship. The message of Christ’s resurrection bore fruit in people’s lives as thousands responded to God’s call in Christ. That newly formed, Spirit-led community joined together for teaching, prayer, table fellowship, worship, and caring for one another’s needs. In short, the Spirit produced a true community of love and worship.