“How is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born”Acts 2:8
The first act of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was to enable the disciples to speak “the wonderful works of God” (v 11) in various languages as He determined. They spoke in the birth languages of the dispersed Jews who had returned for Pentecost (v 8). Jews from around the Roman Empire and other places had come for this occasion but they had different birth languages according to their place of birth. The message preached by the disciples most certainly centred on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and the coming Kingdom of God. We see this in Luke’s record of Peter’s first sermon in the remainder of the chapter. The disciples had just spent forty days with the risen Christ hearing Him speak concerning the coming Kingdom of God (1:3).
The fact that they heard the disciples speak in their own birth language (sixteen different languages are mentioned in verses 9-11) got the attention of people and caused them to listen to the message. Jesus often said or did things to provoke consideration of who He is so we should not be surprised that the first ministry of the Holy Spirit at the foundation of the church and through His church would do the same (v 12).
For centuries the church has sent missionaries to other countries, cultures and language groups to share the Gospel of Christ but we live in a changed world in which people from different countries, cultures and language groups are coming to us. Perhaps we should make an effort to learn their birth languages so that we can share “the wonderful works of God” with them in their birth language.
We notice that while many were provoked to discover the truth and significance of what was happening (v 12), there were those who dismissed the event as people out of their mind (v 13). Paul informs us that being filled with the Spirit may appear to unbelievers as though they are drunk with alcoholic wine (Ephesians 5:18). Both experience a freedom from inhibitions but one is given over to the Holy Spirit and the other given over to the spirit of antichrist and Satan. The central message of all Christian preaching must be Christ crucified and risen (vv 30-32), and His coming kingdom, and that preferably in the birth language of the hearers.