From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

So far as canonical Scripture is concerned, it is only in the NT that we meet with this name, and that in three places- Acts 2:1;  Acts 20:15,  1 Corinthians 16:8. We also find it in  Tobit 2:1 : ‘in the feast of Pentecost, which is the holy feast of the seven weeks’; and in  2 Maccabees 12:31 f.: ‘the feast of weeks being close at hand. But after the feast called Pentecost …’ In the last two instances the explanatory language reminds us that the term was comparatively new and came into use among the Greek-speaking Jews. Among Christian writers, Tertullian (c._ a.d. 200) apparently is the first to use it as the name of a Christian festival (de Idol. 14). He simply took it over from the Greek as already used in the LXX_ and NT.

1. The name ‘Pentecost’ (ἡ πεντηκοστή).-It is hardly necessary to add sc. ἑορτή or ἡμέρα, as the word had already hardened into a proper name. It was so used by St. Paul in  1 Corinthians 16:8 (ἕως τῆς πεντηκοστῆς). It is therefore an unnecessary refinement to translate it in the NT, with R. F. Weymouth, ‘the Harvest Festival’ (The NT in Modern Speech3, London, 1909, ad loc.), or, still more cumbrously, with The 20th Century NT2, London, 1904, ‘the Festival at the close of the Harvest.’ Pentecost was the feast of the fiftieth day. It is a colourless name, and, unlike ‘Passover or Unleavened Bread’ and ‘Tabernacles or Booths,’ it reveals nothing as to the nature of the festival itself. This is the case also with the Hebrew name, ‘feast of weeks (ḥag shâbu‛ôth),’ generally given to this festival ( Exodus 34:22,  Deuteronomy 16:10). It is true, the feast is also termed ‘the feast of harvest’ ( Exodus 23:16), and, further,  Exodus 34:22 adds ‘of the firstfruits of wheat harvest’; whilst, again,  Numbers 28:26 calls it ‘the day of firstfruits.’ At a very much later date the Jews gave to this festival the name of ḥag ha‛aẓereth or ‛aẓarta’ (Aram.), a term which in earlier times was applied to the concluding festivities of Passover and Tabernacles ( Leviticus 23:36,  Numbers 29:35, etc.; in EVV_ ‘a solemn assembly’). Apparently it applied to Pentecost as the feast which marked the conclusion of the harvest. The Gr. ἀσαρθά (a transliteration) betrayed Josephus into the error of supposing that this term itself meant Pentecost (Ant. III. x. 6). But the far more common name was the Feast of Weeks, and later still, the Feast of Pentecost. Under the latter name it still denotes both the Jewish and the Christian festival.

2. Origin.-The name ‘Pentecost’ takes its origin from the very ancient custom of carefully counting the days from the second day of the Feast of Maẓẓôth according to the specific injunction of  Leviticus 23:15 f., where the fifty days also are expressly mentioned. Although there has been much dispute as to the exact meaning of ‘the morrow after the sabbath,’ it is generally agreed to treat the 16th Nisan as the day when the wave-sheaf of early barley was offered and as the day when they began to ‘count the omer.’ So Jos. Ant. III. x. 5: ‘on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month.’ The term ‘omer’ = (a) sheaf, and (b) a measure of about 51/10 pints (dry), though the identity of the term in the two senses is uncertain. This, in turn, has given rise to the question whether ‘counting the omer’ refers to the sheaf or the measure. In the time of the Second Temple, it would seem that the meal rather than the corn-sheaf was the offering. Josephus (Ant. III. x. 5) is explicit on this point. Yet Leviticus 23 seems equally clear in intending a sheaf.

Be that as it may, in the Dispersion of Israel both the sheaf and the measure have long since ceased to have any significance; but the counting of the omer goes on still from Passover to Pentecost to the very eve of the feast (‘This is the forty-ninth day, making seven weeks of the Omer),’ and secures the regular observance of the feast. Every evening at prayers in the synagogue the counting duly takes place, with the addition of the formula: ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments, and hast given us command concerning the counting of the Omer.’ The brief ceremony closes with Psalms 67 and a prayer that ‘the temple may be speedily rebuilt in our days,’ and, with still the backward look, ‘there we will serve Thee with awe, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years.’

Thus is retained a relic of a long-past day. When the Jews were a people settled in their own land, an agricultural people, it was a comparatively simple matter to keep the festival as the procession of the seasons went on year by year. The Feast of Maẓẓôth marked the opening of harvest with the early barley crop; the Feast of Weeks marked its close with the ingathering of the wheat; the Feast of Booths crowned the cycle with the gathering of the vintage and the ‘fruits of the land’ ( Leviticus 23:39) in general. The climatic conditions of Palestine made those seasons timely and appropriate. The counting of the omer was a quaint expedient for enabling the farmers to appear at the central sanctuary at the appointed time for the Feast of Weeks. The primitive proclamation of new moon, which the authorities announced by messengers, who went through the land as soon as the faint sickle was seen in the sky, could not be relied upon in this instance. Those who dwelt in the borders of the little land would be belated. But all could count from ‘the morrow after the sabbath’ from the second day of Maẓẓôth, when the ceremony of waving the omer (of barley) took place. And all could arrange to appear on the appointed day at the end of seven weeks. But all this has long since become antiquated. The counting of the omer is entirely useless. Still the feast is celebrated in the synagogue for one day or two, but all that links it to the festival of the Pentateuch is the counting of the omer (though no omer has been ‘waved’), and such dim recollections of a harvest festival in Palestine as can be secured by dressing the synagogue with flowers.

Because the tokens of the actual observance of this feast are few and far between, some have argued a late origin for it. But the argumentum e silentio is always risky. What is settled and customary may go on for generations without remark. The Law at any rate was very explicit: ‘Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy 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’ ( Deuteronomy 16:16). As an intermediary festival, however, and one lasting originally only for one day, there was an inevitable tendency to make the Feast of Weeks less conspicuous than the other two. Passover marked the beginning of harvest; Tabernacles celebrated the very crown and consummation of the year, when all the fruits of the earth had at length been gathered in; but Pentecost was a brief pause of joy and thankfulness for the close of harvest proper and the gathered store of ‘bread that strengtheneth man’s heart.’

This is seen especially in the dearth of commemorative matter associated with Pentecost. In connexion with Passover, e.g., in the course of time there gathered a considerable number of historical associations, not only with the Exodus, but with all sorts of other great happenings in Jewish history, with or without foundation. Afterwards, however, and at a late date, Pentecost was supplied with one notable historical association, and it became the festival at which the giving of the Law on Sinai was commemorated. The special lessons of the synagogue for Pentecost are all designed to glorify the Law. Once the connexion was made, Talmudic authorities had, by the use of ingenious methods of calculation, no difficulty in proving that this indeed was the very time when this august event took place (Exodus 19, 20). à This association persists after Pentecost becomes a Christian festival, and provokes the contrast which Keble makes the basis of his hymn for Whitsunday in the Christian Year (London, 1904, p. 120). But see also long before this Jerome (Ep. lxxviii., ‘ad Fabiolam’ [PL xxii.]).

In the few instances wherein we have historical reference to the Feast of Pentecost there is one noticeable thing: stress is laid on its being a time when crowds were gathered together at Jerusalem. Apparently in the 1st cent. a.d. the festival was well kept as a ḥag in accord with the ancient legislation. Josephus refers to it more than once (Bj_ Ii iii. 1, VI. v. 3; Ant., III. x. 6, XIII. viii. 4, XIV. xiii. 4). In those days of growing distress and oncoming doom, indeed, he says that the adversaries of the Jews deliberately chose such times when crowds were gathered at Jerusalem to work them some mischief. ‘The enemy waited for the coming of the multitude out of the country to Pentecost, a feast of ours so called: and when the day was come, many ten thousands of the people were gathered together,’ etc. (Ant. XIV. xiii. 4).

3. The reference in Acts 2.-Time notes are few and far between in Acts, so that all the more precious is this clear note of the day when so momentous and auspicious an event took place. At any rate, there is complete agreement with the repeated testimony of Josephus as to the crowds of people who were at Jerusalem for the festival. With naïve hyperbole the author records the fact that there were at Jerusalem ‘devout men from every nation under heaven’ ( Acts 2:5). Not that all these were necessarily visitors who had come up expressly for the feast. It reflects for one thing the cosmopolitan character of the resident population of the city. Not a few devout Jews who were of the Diaspora found their way at last to Jerusalem to spend the remainder of their days in the vicinity of the Temple with all its privileges, and at length be buried in the land of their fathers. Perhaps also some were not without wistful hopes that the Messiah would appear. At all events, κατοικοῦντες ( Acts 2:5) suggests a more permanent residence than a mere sojourn. It is equally clear, however ( Acts 2:9, οἱ κατοικοῦντες τὴν Μεσοποταμίαν, and  Acts 2:10, οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωναῖοι) that there was also a crowd of genuine visitors who had come to keep the festival.

The author even ventures upon an enumeration of the several provinces and regions whence they had come ( Acts 2:9-11). It does not seem clear that he had any principle to go on in this enumeration, save that roughly he begins in what must have been to him the Far East (‘Parthians and Medes’) and ends with the West (‘sojourners from Rome’), and then adds, a little inconsequently, ‘Cretans and Arabians.’ It seems a little odd that ‘Judaea ’ should be named between ‘Mesopotamia’ and ‘Cappadocia,’ and gives rise to a question as to whether there has not been some misplacement or error in the name itself. If ‘Jews and proselytes’ ( Acts 2:10) is ‘a summarizing touch’ and the two types are mentioned as being ‘found in all the regions just enumerated’ (J. V. Bartlet, The Century Bible, ‘Acts,’ Edinburgh, 1901, ad loc.), it would be superfluous to mention that there were Jews in ‘Judaea.’ J. A. Bengel (Gnomon Novi Test., ad loc.) says that (for Judaea ) ‘Armeniam legit Augustinus: eaque inter Mesopotamiam Cappadociamque jacet,’ and rather inconclusively adds: ‘sed vetustam sane Armeniorum linguam sub alia quadam gente hic nominata innui existimare licet.’ It does not appear what authority Augustine had for this, but it witnesses to early uncertainty.

It does not follow that St. Luke is to be understood as giving a careful specification of the regions represented, and it is of little moment whether we consider the list as ‘an enumeration, not of languages but of provinces’ (Speaker’s Commentary, ‘St. John and the Acts,’ London, 1880, p. 363), or with Bartlet (loc. cit.) say with equal assurance, ‘the list is one of languages rather than geographical areas.’ For a comparison with Talmudic parallels see E. von Dobschütz, ‘Zu der Völkerliste  Acts 2:9-11,’ in ZWT_ x. [1902] 407-410.

Much has been said at one time and another as to the particular day of the week on which the Feast of Pentecost sensu eminenti fell. Did it really so happen that that day was ‘the first day of the week’? This depends on what day the 16th Nisan fell that year: and it is mixed up with the obscurity attending the day of our Lord’s death (see art._ Passover). It is after all a matter of inconsiderable importance. But we have the strong tradition that Jesus rose again on the first day of the week: and more than that, we have the undeniable fact that Sunday became the Christian weekly holy day on that very ground. That of itself makes Pentecost to fall on Sunday seven weeks later. We know as a matter of fact that the Christian Church in the course of time established this commemoration on the Lord’s Day as most fitting, whatever the actual day may have been, and we need not ask for more. In older Judaism Pentecost fell, like Passover, on all the days of the week as the case might be. A later usage has so far modified this as to avoid the observance of Pentecost on the third, fifth, or seventh days.

4. Nature of the event.-Much more important is the question as to what was the nature of the event which makes this day for ever memorable to the Christian. We must carefully discriminate between the wonder-element of the story, the strange and symbolic accompaniments, and the extraordinary change which most certainly marked the behaviour of the apostles as well as that of the first believers in general. It is, indeed, not impossible that so memorable an event should have been signalized actually by such phenomena as ‘a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind’ and ‘tongues parting asunder, like as of fire,’ and that all should have begun ‘to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance’ ( Acts 2:2-4). At the same time, it is impossible not to see a close parallel to the circumstances which had heralded the giving of the Law from Sinai, which, as we have seen, was commemorated at Pentecost. In the course of time Jewish midrash and legend had considerably heightened these conditions ( Exodus 19:16 ff.; cf.  Hebrews 12:18 ff.) and had added such particulars as that at Sinai all nations had heard God’s voice in their own language and that voice could be heard as well by those farthest away as by those nearest the mount (see Midrash on  Psalms 68:11, and Philo, de Decalogo). The resemblance is close and could not well have been accidental. But whatever may be said as to the manner of the narrative, however much the writer may have drawn upon legendary matter in the setting of his story, the main thing is to remember that the underlying and undeniable experience is that which is of supreme importance. As C. von Weizsäcker says (Apostolic Age, Eng. tr._ i.2 [London, 1897] 50f.), the gift of prophecy ‘finds expression, though in a peculiar form, in the narrative of the Pentecost miracle, which he has placed in the forefront of his history. The import of this event is revealed in the speech of Peter ( Acts 2:14 ff.). It was the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy of the universal outpouring of the Spirit of God.… Now this is certainly the historical part of the narrative. The members of the Church felt the presence of the new spirit so strongly, … that they were confident of the fulfilment of Joes’s words in their own time.’ (On this and the whole subject of the glossolalia see art._ Tongues, Gift of.)

5. Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit.-Altogether too narrow and parochial a view has often been taken as to the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. A literalism which proceeds on the assumption that we have exhaustive information as to these events, and that all things actually occurred as they are described, has found itself again and again in sore straits when it has come to explaining precisely what happened. Thus, on the strength of an editorial note in the Fourth Gospel ( John 7:39)-οὔπω γὰρ ἦν πνεῦμα-coupled with some of our Lord’s utterances reported in the same Gospel (e.g.  John 16:7), it has yielded but a grudging acknowledgment of the Spirit’s presence and power in the world prior to this event. But we should gladly see in every gracious movement of thought and every outflowering of beauty, virtue, and goodness whenscever and wherescever displayed, whether before the Incarnation or subsequent thereto, the working and manifestation of the same Spirit of love and light and power. That is quite compatible with giving full weight to Pentecost as ushering in a special manifestation of God’s Spirit and an era which was to be peculiarly characterized by the activities and energies of that Spirit in revealing and deepening what is Christ’s (ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται κτλ.,  John 16:14).

Among the Fathers, when they proceeded to explain the coming of the Holy Spirit as a new thing and in special connexion with Pentecost, there was a strong disposition to lay stress on the miraculous gifts and give them the chief place, an exegesis which later found too wide a vogue. ‘Visibilia illa dona, quae initio nascentis ecclesiae excellenter viguerunt’-so runs even Beza’s note. Moreover, they too often limited the Spirit’s dower to the apostles and their successors, a line of interpretation which at once went in flat opposition to the plain sense of Scripture and helped the development of a sacerdotal and sacramental view of ‘Orders.’ We meet with similar limitations still: ‘The Holy Ghost came upon the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost’ (T. B. Strong, A Manual of Theology2, London, 1903, p. 325). But the whole assembly of believers, if anything is clear, shared in the enduement of power which Pentecost witnessed, as they waited ‘all together in one place.’ (For ample quotations in support, see J. C. Hare, Mission of the Comforter4, London, 1877, Note H.)

Too much, indeed, may be made of such expressions as ‘coming,’ or ‘descent,’ of the Holy Spirit, as characterizing this day. It helps the perilous parcelling out of time and distinction of ‘dispensations’-the dispensations of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-which has found favour with many. This has little to commend it, is artificial, and can only be taken as generally signifying the progressive development of religion among men. Nor was Pentecost ‘the birthday of the Christian Church,’ as it is often called. ‘Birthday’ is an awkward term to use in such a connexion, and can be accepted only as a rough mode of indicating the beginning of the Christian community. But there was a church of a sort already existing (see Acts 1). The movement, in truth, did not lend itself easily to dates, and refused to be subjected to the precision and exactitude which mark the inauguration of merely human societies and institutions. This holy gift was bestowed on a church already in existence. ‘Pentecost was a day of power, a day on which the Spirit of God manifested himself through the disciples as a power for the conversion of others’ (A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, Edinburgh, 1897, p. 50).

6. Significance of Pentecost to the primitive Church.-The after course of events makes it clear that Pentecost was a turning-point of great significance in the career of the little community. The chief sign was power to give clear and bold testimony to the truth about Jesus Christ-a rich gift of prophetic grace. ‘As they waited and prayed, and pondered the sayings of the Master, and searched the OT Scriptures, the Truth flashed upon them-the Truth that was the Spirit’s teaching therein, blending with the words and memory of the Master. Suddenly the darkness of their souls was illumined by the inshining of this light from heaven, their hearts were filled with joy, and in the new exultant confidence that came to them, they were “clothed with power from on high” ’ (W. L. Walker, The Spirit and the Incarnation, Edinburgh, 1899, p. 67). Looking back from his then standpoint, the historian could not adequately account for the actually existing and widespread Church, save through some Divine enthusiasm kindled in men’s hearts by God indwelling and working in them with power and love. What could symbolize that ‘Breath of God’ more fittingly than the wind? What could more appropriately suggest the penetrative purifying power and grace than tongues ‘like as of fire’ (ὡσεὶ πυρός)? The miracle of Pentecost was that the little community should be transformed by the enduement of energy, illumination, and power, which is simply spoken of in the words: ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.’ That was a work of grace which was repeatedly experienced in the Apostolic Church ( Acts 4:31), and has been witnessed since again and again. It is the mysterious outburst of a Power which never wholly leaves the world, however lifeless it may at times appear. As A. B. Bruce remarks, the Christian ‘believes in the Holy Ghost, and in His incessant struggle for the birth of a better world. He sees in the great crises of history His action as a mighty wind; in quiet times he traces His blessed presence and influence as a still, noiseless, yet vital air, the breath of human souls’ (Apologetics, Edinburgh, 1892, p. 69).

7. Pentecost as a Christian festival.-There is no sign whatever in the NT that the Church observed this season as a festival, or, as in the case of Passover, superimposed Christian associations on an ancient Hebrew feast. Epiphanius (4th cent.) interprets  Acts 20:16 as showing that St. Paul observed the feast, and either deliberately or loosely read into the text the verb ποιήσῃ (Ἔσπευδεν, ὅπως ποιήσῃ τὴν Πεντηκοστὴν εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ, quoted in J. Bingham, Antiquities, XX. vi. 6). (Truly it is a substantially different thing to hasten to Jerusalem to keep Pentecost from hurrying to be at Jerusalem at Pentecost.) St. Paul had little enough to do with keeping festivals. Pentecost here appears as a mere note of time. Bengel’s note ad loc. is to the point: ‘in festo, magni conventus: magna lucrifaciendi occasio.’

The 2nd cent. passes (a period fraught with all sorts of problems for the Church historians), and in Tertullian we find Pentecost definitely referred to as a Christian feast, familiar and established (de Idol. 14): ‘Non Dominicum diem, non Pentecosten, etiam si nossent, nobiscum communicassent; timerent enim ne Christiani viderentur.’ A few sentences later he speaks again of Pentecost not as one day but as a period-‘excerpe singulas solennitates nationum, et in ordinem exsere Pentecosten implere non poterunt’ (cf. also de Corona, 3). And from the time when the scheme of distinctive Christian festivals came to be developed it would appear that the whole fifty days elapsing between Easter and Pentecost were called by the latter name (Lat. Quinquagesima) and were regarded as a time of joy and happy commemoration (see R. Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, IV. xiii. 7-‘which fifty days were called Pentecost, though most commonly the last day of them which is Whitsunday be so called’).

So anciently among the Jews the ‘days of the Omer,’ as the period between Passover and Weeks was called, being a time of harvest operations, was a time of joy. It is food for thought, indeed, that the principal feasts of the Christian Church should be moulded on a system so parallel with that of the Jews. How strange, if indeed we have here a primitive reference to nature and the great yearly crises of springtime and harvest, in such climatic conditions as those of Palestine, that these should gather new associations sacred for the Jew, and again in turn gather very different associations rendering them sacred in Christian eyes!

Ultimately Pentecost was limited to the fiftieth day from Easter Day, though, still later, festivities tended to prolong themselves over the week following; hence ‘Whitsuntide,’ suggesting an extended festivity rather than one day. As connected especially with that effusion of the Holy Spirit which marked the beginnings of the Church’s history, the festival was pre-eminently from the first a favourite time for baptisms (Tertullian, de Bapt. 19).

As in Passover, the Christian Church for the most part took over the name of the festival from the Jews. It was Pentecost for both. But just as Easter replaced Pascha in English and kindred languages, so Whitsunday replaced Pentecost in England through Norse influence. Before the Norman Conquest the season was always known in England as ‘Pentecoste.’ The meaning of Whitsunday has been the subject of much controversy, but has been generally explained by a reference to the white garments of the newly-baptized. W. W. Skeat gives it decidedly as White Sunday, with this explanation (see An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, Oxford, 1910, s.v.).

Literature.-Besides the works quoted in the course of the article there may be mentioned G. T. Purves, art._ ‘Pentecost’ in Hdb_; I Benzinger, art._ ‘Pentecost’ in EBi_; art._ ‘Festivals and Fasts [Christian], [Hebrew], [Jewish],’ in Ere_; O Zöckler, art._ ‘Pfingsten’ in Pre_3; J. L Magnus, art._ ‘Pentecost’ in Je_; A Edersheim, The Temple: its Ministry and Services as they were at the Time of Jesus Christ, London, n.d.; E. von Dobschütz, Ostern und Pfingsten, Leipzig, 1903; M. Friedländer, The Jewish Religion, London, 1891.

J. S. Clemens.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [2]

The day of Pentecost was so first called after our Lord's ascension. Before that period the church called it "the feast of weeks," ( Exodus 34:22) and it was one of those three great feasts in which all the males were require to appear before the Lord. The word Pentecost means the fiftieth, being fifty days from the Passover. The feast itself was appointed perhaps with a double view; first, to commemorate the giving of the law on mount Sinai, which was on the fiftieth day after the children of Israel had left Egypt; and, secondly, and for which it was enjoined as a feast, to testify that Israel's Lord was the rightful owner of all Israel's property, and they as tenants holding those possessions during the pleasure of their almighty landlord, and thus they were called upon cheerfully to pay their high rent in offering to him the first fruits of all their increase.

This festival in the ancient church was very highly celebrated, as we may plainly perceive from the multitude that came from all parts, to trade on those occasions, on the day of Pentecost, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. ( Acts 2:1-47) How far religious duties occupied the minds of the children of Israel, in those dark ages, is not very easy to determine.

The modern Jews of the present hour, holding by tradition the festival as chiefly referring to the giving of the law on mount Sinai, of which they are very tenacious, and not knowing that it is the ministration of condemnation, they celebrate this festival for two days with great attention. They adorn both the synagogue and their own houses with flowers, and make it altogether a time of festivity. In the religious parts of their services on those occasions, it is said that they read in the Scriptures of Moses what relates to the feast of weeks, and conclude their ceremonies in mutual good wishes for the prosperity of each other and their nation.

What a vast superiority hath the true believer in Jesus in celebrating our Pentecost! This blessed festival in the church of Christ is wholly spiritual. Contemplating the first open descent of God the Holy Ghost as the first fruits of the Lord Jesus's gifts to his people in his return to glory, when he had finished redemption-work upon earth, we are taught to hail the coming of the Holy Ghost as the most blessed of all evidences, concerning the truth as it is in Jesus. And when the soul of a real believer in Christ is truly regenerated, and enabled by divine teaching to enter into a real heartfelt enjoyment of what is contained in the doctrine of the descent of God the Holy Ghost upon the church, then this only festival becomes to every individual believer a renewed Pentecost indeed.

As the proper apprehension of this subject is truly interesting, I shall beg permission from the reader to dwell yet somewhat more particularly upon it.

If we attend to what the word of God hath graciously revealed in, reference to the sacred purposes of Jehovah in redemption, we may discover that as all the three divine persons of the Godhead have been and are engaged in the accomplishment of the work, so the Scriptures point out the special office of each. In the Old Testament we find God the Father proclaiming to the church the coming of his dear Son. In the New Testament we have that promise realized, and God the Son accomplishing the whole purposes, of salvation. And after his ascension and return to glory we have the visible manifestation of God the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, to carry on and render effectual the great purposes of redemption in the hearts of the people by his almighty grace and power. So that there is a beautiful order in the design and execution of the work itself, as well as grace and mercy in the dispensation.

The day of Pentecost therefore opens with the manifestation of the Holy Ghost in his sevenfold gifts and graces. Hitherto the kingdom of grace had been supplied with the occasional effusions of the Spirit on the church, as the sacred purposes of JEHOVAH'S will required. "The Holy Ghost, it is said, was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." ( John 7:39) But now that the Son of God hath finished the whole of his ministry upon earth, and is returned to glory, the Holy Ghost comes down in a fulness of blessings, and to him is committed the whole efficiency of the work, as the Almighty Minister in the church, to render the whole effectual; and to this agree the words of the prophets:  Isaiah 44:3-5;  Joel 2:28, etc.  Acts 2:14-34.

I beg to add one observation more on this view of our Christian Pentecost, namely, what a confirmation it gives to all the interesting doctrines of our most holy faith. The promise of God the Father in the Old Testament, and the promise of God the Son in the New Testament, both taught the church to be on the look-out for the coming of the Holy Ghost. And as the glorious period drew nigh when this Almighty Spirit would come and dwell in the hearts of his redeemed, the promises concerning him became more clear and pointed. The Lord Jesus, in his farewell sermon, when instituting his holy Supper as the standing memorial of his death, most particularly described his person, character, and offices. (See  John 14:1-31;  John 15:1-27 and  John 16:1-33) And again, in the very moment of his departure, he reminded his disciples of the near approach of this blessed guest. "Behold (said Jesus) I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." ( Luke 24:49) And still farther he added at the same parting interview, "John (said Jesus) truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." ( Acts 1:5) And agreeably to this promise, the Holy Ghost actually came down ten days after, on the day of Pentecost when those events took place which are recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. ( Acts 2:1-47)

Now from hence the following just and evident conclusion is unavoidable, and must follow: If Christ had not been God, how could he have had power and authority to have sent the Holy Ghost? If Christ had not completed salvation, and finished the work the Father gave him to do, how would his promise have been fulfilled in the gift of the Spirit? If Christ had not ascended, how would the Holy Ghost have descended in exact conformity to what he had said? Can any thing upon earth be more palpable and plain in confirmation of all the great truths of our holy faith, that when the Holy Ghost came down, Jesus was gone up, and God the Father confirmed the perfect approbation he had several times from heaven by a voice given of his dear Son, that he was well pleased in him, by sending down, according to Christ's promise, the Holy Ghost? The Lord Jesus had told his disciples before his departure, that it was expedient for them he should go away. "For (said Jesus) if I go not away, the Comforter will not come; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." ( John 16:7) He did depart, and the Holy Ghost came. What an evidence to all the other glorious testimonies of his mission! And I must contend for it, as for one of the plainest matters of fact the world was ever called to judge upon, that in the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, we have as palpable a seal to the truth of the gospel as we have to any one of the most common events in the circumstances of human life; yea, the subject will warrant my going farther, and to say, that in the heart of every individual sinner whom "the Lord hath made willing in the day of his power," that soul is a living evidence of the descent of the Holy Ghost. And surely it is by these evidences now, in the present awful day of infidelity, and a Christ-despising generation, the Lord is bringing forth proofs to the doctrine of his dear Son. The Lord speaks in every one of them in terms similar to the words by the prophet: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen." ( Isaiah 43:10)

I have greatly swollen this article beyond my first intention, yet I cannot take leave of it without adding a short observation, just to remark how needful it must be in every follower of the ever-blessed Jesus to examine in his own heart for the evidence of his Pentecost mercy, whether that holy Spirit hath witnessed in his spirit to "the truth as it is in Jesus?"Blessed is the man that can testify to the Spirit's work in his own heart in all the offices, characters, and gifts of God the Holy Ghost. When we know him as Jesus described him, the Spirit of truth to guide into all truth; the Witness to our spirits that we are the children of God; the Glorifier of Jesus; the Comforter of the soul; the Spirit of grace, of supplication, and prayer; the Helper of our infirmities; the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge in the revelation of Christ Jesus in a word, the great and sovereign minister in the church and heart of all his people, from the first quickenings of grace, until grace be consummated in eternal glory. Oh, for the blessed earnest of the Holy Ghost thus to testify to his own impressions on the soul, whereby believers are "sealed unto the day of redemption!" ( Ephesians 4:30)

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

("fiftieth".) (See Feasts .)  Exodus 23:16;  Exodus 34:22;  Numbers 28:26-31;  Deuteronomy 16:9-14;  Leviticus 23:15-22. The first sheaf offered at the Passover and the two leavened loaves at Pentecost marked the beginning and ending of the grain harvest, and sanctified the interval between as the whole harvest or Pentecostal season. The lesson to Israel was, "Jehovah maketh peace in thy borders, He filleth thee with the finest of the wheat" ( Psalms 147:14). Pentecost commemorated the giving of the law on Sinai ( Exodus 12:2;  Exodus 12:19), the 50th day after the Exodus, 50th from "the morrow after the sabbath" (I.E. The First Day Of Holy Convocation, 15Th Nisan) ; the day after was more fit for cutting the sheaf, the 16th day. It was also the birthday of the Christian church ( Acts 2:1;  Acts 20:16;  1 Corinthians 16:8) through the Holy Spirit, who writes Christ's new law on the heart. It was the last Jewish feast Paul observed, and the first which, as Whitsunday, Christians kept.

"The feast of weeks" (A Week Of Weeks Between Passover And Pentecost) , "the day of firstfruits." The sixth day of Sivan, lasting only one day; but the Jews in foreign countries have added a second day. Each of the two loaves was the tenth of an ephah (about three quarts and a half) of finest wheat flour. Waved Before Jehovah with a peace offering of the two lambs of the first year, and given to the priests. Seven lambs of the first year were sacrificed, one bullock and two rams as a burnt offering with meat and drink offering, and a kid sin offering. Each brought a free will offering. The Levite, stranger, fatherless, and widow were invited. As the Passover was a family gathering, Pentecost was a social feast. The people were reminded of their Egyptian bondage and of their duty to obey the law. The concourse at Pentecost was very great (Acts 2; Josephus Ant. 14:13, section 14, 17:10, section 2; B. J. 2:3, section 1). In  Exodus 23:16;  Exodus 23:19, "the first (i.e. chief) of the firstfruits" are the two wave loaves of Pentecost ( Leviticus 23:17).

The omer offering at Passover was the prelude to the greater harvest offering at Pentecost, before which no other firstfruits could be offered. The interval between Pentecost and tabernacles was the time for offering firstfruits. The Jews called Pentecost "the concluding assembly of the Passover" ( 'Atsereth ). If the last supper was on the legal day, the 14th Nisan, and the Sabbath of Jesus' lying in the grave was the day of the omer, the Pentecost of Acts 2, 50 days after, must have been on the Jewish Saturday Sabbath. Others make the 13th that of the supper; 14th the crucifixion, the Passover day; 15th the day of Jesus' sleep, the Saturday Sabbath, the holy convocation; our Sunday, first day, the omer day; 50th day from that would be Pentecost, on our Lord's day. The tongues symbolized Christianity proclaimed by preaching; the antithesis to Babel's confusion of tongues and gathering of peoples under one ambitious will. Jerusalem, the mount of the Lord, is the center of God's spiritual kingdom of peace and righteousness; Babel, the center of Satan's kingdom and of human rebellion, ignores God the true bond of union, and so is the city of confusion, in the low dead level of Shinar. As Babel's sin disunited, so by the Spirit of God given on Pentecost believers are one, "keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" ( Ephesians 4:1-16).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Pen'tecost. Pentecost, that is, the fiftieth day, (from a Greek word, meaning fiftieth), or Harvest Feast , or Feast of Weeks , may be regarded as a supplement to the Passover . It lasted for but one day. From the sixteenth of Nisan, seven weeks were reckoned inclusively, and the next or fiftieth day was the Day of Pentecost , which fell on the sixth of Sivan, (about the end of May).  Exodus 23:16;  Exodus 34:22;  Leviticus 23:15;  Leviticus 23:22; Numbers 28. See The Jewish Calendar At The End Of This Volume.

The Pentecost was the Jewish harvest-home, and the people were especially exhorted to rejoice before Jehovah with their families their servants, the Levite within their gates, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, in the place chosen by God, for his name, as they brought a free-will offering, of their hand to Jehovah their God.  Deuteronomy 16:10-11.

The great feature of the celebration was the presentation of the two loaves made from the first-fruits of the wheat harvest. With the loaves, two lambs were offered as a Peace Offering, and all were waved before Jehovah , and given to the priests; the leaves being leavened, could not be offered on the altar.

The other sacrifices were, a Burnt Offering of a young bullock, two rams, and seven lambs, with a meat and drink offering, and a kid for a Sin Offering.  Leviticus 23:18-19. Till the Pentecostal , leaves were offered, the produce of the harvest might not be eaten, nor could any other firstfruits be offered. The whole ceremony was the completion, of that dedication of the harvest, to God as its giver, and to whom both the land, and the people were holy, which was begun by the offering of the wave-sheaf at the Passover . The interval is still regarded as a religious season.

The Pentecost is the only one of the three great feasts, which is not mentioned as the memorial of events, in the history of the Jews; but such a significance has been found in the fact, that the law was given from Sinai, on the fiftieth day after the deliverance from Egypt. Compare Exodus 12 and Exodus 19. In the Exodus, the people were offered to God as living first fruits; at Sinai, their consecration to him as a nation was completed. The typical significance of the Pentecost is made clear, from the events of the day recorded, in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 2. Just as the appearance of God on Sinai was the birthday of the Jewish nation, so was the Pentecost , the birthday of the Christian Church.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

The fiftieth, a feast celebrated the fiftieth day after the sixteenth of Nisan, which was the second day of the feast of the Passover,  Leviticus 25:15-16 . The Hebrews call it the "feast of weeks,"  Exodus 34:22 , because it was kept seen weeks after the Passover. They then offered the first fruits of their wheat harvest, which at that time was completed,  Deuteronomy 16:9-10 . These first fruits consisted in two loaves of leavened bread, of five pints of meal each,  Leviticus 23:17 . Besides this offering, there were special sacrifices prescribed for this festival,  Numbers 28:26-31 .

The feast of Pentecost was instituted, first, to oblige the Israelites to repair to the temple of the Lord, and there acknowledge his dominion over their country and their labors, by offering to him the first fruits of all their harvests. Secondly, to commemorate, and to render thanks to God for the law given from Mount Sinai, on the fiftieth day after their coming out of Egypt. It was on the day of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit as first poured out upon the apostles and the Christian church,  Acts 2:1-3 . On this occasion, as on the Passover seven weeks before, Judaism was at the same time honored and gloriously superseded by Christianity. The paschal lamb gave place to "Christ our Passover;" and the Jewish feast in memory of the giving of the law, to the gift of the Holy Spirit for "every nation under heaven,"  Acts 2:5 . This gift was for the whole period of the gospel dispensation; and the mighty effects then produced foreshow the yet greater works the Spirit will perform in answer to prayer.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

Πεντεκοστη , a solemn festival of the Jews; so called, because it was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the sixteenth of Nisan, which was the second day of the passover. The Hebrews call it the feast of weeks, because it was kept seven weeks after the passover. They then offered the first fruits of the wheat harvest, which was then completed; beside which, they presented at the temple seven lambs of that year, one calf, and two rams for a burnt-offering; two lambs for a peace-offering; and a goat for a sin-offering,  Leviticus 23:15-16;  Exodus 34:22;  Deuteronomy 16:9-10 . The feast of pentecost was instituted among the Israelites, first to oblige them to repair to the temple of the Lord, there to acknowledge his absolute dominion over the whole country, by offering him the first fruits of the harvest; and, secondly, to commemorate and give thanks to God for the law which he had given them from Sinai, on the fiftieth day after their coming out of Egypt. The modern Jews celebrate the pentecost for two days. They deck the synagogues, where the law is read, and their own houses, with garlands of flowers. They hear an oration in praise of the law, and read from the Pentateuch and prophets lessons which have a relation to this festival, and accommodate their prayers to the same occasion. It was on the feast of pentecost that the Holy Ghost descended in the miraculous manner related, Acts 2.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [7]

1: Πεντηκοστή (Strong'S #4005 — Noun Feminine — pentekostos — pen-tay-kos-tay' )

an adjective denoting "fifieth," is used as a noun, with "day" understood, i.e., the "fifieth" day after the Passover, counting from the second day of the Feast,  Acts 2:1;  20:16;  1—Corinthians 16:8 . For the Divine instructions of Israel see  Exodus 23:16;  34:22;  Leviticus 23:15-21;  Numbers 28:26-31;  Deuteronomy 16:9-11 .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

This name which signifies 'fiftieth' is found only in the N.T.: it corresponds to the Feast Of Weeks From the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits fifty days were counted, and on the day after the seven sabbaths the feast was kept. A new meat offering of two loaves baken with leaven was offered; also seven lambs, one bullock, and two rams for a burnt offering, with their meat and drink offerings "even an offering made by fire of sweet savour unto the Lord." Also one kid of the goats for a sin offering; and two lambs for a peace offering. It was proclaimed a holy convocation, in which no servile work was to be done.  Leviticus 23:15-21 . The Israelites came with their free-will offerings unto Jehovah, according as He had blessed them. See Offerings

The feast is typical of the presentation of the saints in the power and sanctification of the Holy Spirit. It was to be a day of universal rejoicing before the Lord,  Deuteronomy 16:9-12 , and was the commencement of the ingathering of the harvest. It is not mentioned in Ezekiel's future feasts, because it has been fulfilled in the present interval in God's dealings with Israel. Cf.  John 7:37-39 . See FEASTS.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Pentecost.  Acts 2:1. From a Greek word signifying fiftieth. The name in the New Testament for the second great festival of the Jews, called by them "the feast of weeks," or "the day of first-fruits." It was celebrated on the fiftieth day—hence the name—after the passover, reckoning from the second day of the passover—the 16th of Nisan— Leviticus 23:11;  Leviticus 23:15, to the morrow after the end of the seventh week.  Leviticus 23:15-16;  Deuteronomy 16:9. It was originally a simple thanksgiving for the harvest, which in Palestine fell in the weeks between the passover and the pentecost. The festival was kept only for one day, and the principal rite consisted in the offering of two loaves made of the finest flour of the last crop's wheat. In some branches of the Christian Church pentecost is celebrated seven weeks after Easter, in commemoration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, as the birthday of the Christian Church. See  Acts 2:1-14

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [10]

The word ‘pentecost’ means ‘fifty’, and comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It refers to the Israelite harvest festival that was held fifty days after Passover. In the Old Testament this festival is called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks. In the New Testament it is called the Feast of Pentecost ( Leviticus 23:5-6;  Leviticus 23:15-16;  Acts 2:1;  Acts 20:16;  1 Corinthians 16:8; for details see Feasts ).

Pentecost is significant in the New Testament story because on that day the church was born. Christ the Passover lamb had been sacrificed; then, fifty days later, God poured out his Spirit on that small group of disciples who were the firstfruits of his new people, the church of Jesus Christ ( Acts 2:1-4; cf.  1 Corinthians 5:7). (Concerning the extraordinary happenings that day see Baptism With The Spirit; Tongues )

King James Dictionary [11]

PEN'TECOST,n. Gr. fiftieth.

1. A solemn festival of the Jews, so called because celebrated on the fiftieth day after the sixteenth of Nisan, which was the second day of the passover. It was called the feast of weeks, because it was celebrated seven weeks after the passover. It was instituted to oblige the people to repair to the temple of the Lord,there to acknowledge his absolute dominion over the country, and offer him the first fruits of their harvest; also that they might call to mind and give thanks to God for the law which he had given them at Sinai on the fiftieth day from their departure from Egypt. 2. Whitsuntide, a solemn feast of the church, held in commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.  Acts 2

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Acts 2:1 20:16 1 Corinthians 16:8 Exodus 23:16  Exodus 34:22  Numbers 28:26 Leviticus 23:15-19 Numbers 28:27-29 Deuteronomy 16:9-11

The day of Pentecost is noted in the Christian Church as the day on which the Spirit descended upon the apostles, and on which, under Peter's preaching, so many thousands were converted in Jerusalem ( Acts 2 ).

Webster's Dictionary [13]

(1): ( n.) A solemn festival of the Jews; - so called because celebrated on the fiftieth day (seven weeks) after the second day of the Passover (which fell on the sixteenth of the Jewish month Nisan); - hence called, also, the Feast of Weeks. At this festival an offering of the first fruits of the harvest was made. By the Jews it was generally regarded as commemorative of the gift of the law on the fiftieth day after the departure from Egypt.

(2): ( n.) A festival of the Roman Catholic and other churches in commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles; which occurred on the day of Pentecost; - called also Whitsunday.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [14]

A solemn festival of the Jews, so called, because it was celebrated fifty days after the feast of the passover,  Leviticus 23:15 . It corresponds with the Christians' Whitsuntide, for which it is sometimes used.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [15]

See [[Feasts And Festivals Of Israel]]

Holman Bible Dictionary [16]


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [17]

pen´tḗ - kost .

1. In the Old Testament:

As the name indicates ( πεντηκοστή , pentēkostḗ ), this second of the great Jewish national festivals was observed on the 50th day, or 7 weeks, from the Paschal Feast, and therefore in the Old Testament it was called "the feast of weeks." It is but once mentioned in the historical books of the Old Testament (  2 Chronicles 8:12 ,  2 Chronicles 8:13 ), from which reference it is plain, however, that the people of Israel, in Solomon's day, were perfectly familiar with it: "offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles." The requirements of the three great festivals were then well understood at this time, and their authority was founded in the Mosaic Law and unquestioned. The festival and its ritual were minutely described in this Law. Every male in Israel was on that day required to appear before the Lord at the sanctuary ( Exodus 34:22 ,  Exodus 34:23 ). It was the first of the two agrarian festivals of Israel and signified the completion of the barley-harvest ( Leviticus 23:15 ,  Leviticus 23:16;  Deuteronomy 16:9 ,  Deuteronomy 16:10 ), which had begun at the time of the waving of the first ripe sheaf of the first-fruits ( Leviticus 23:11 ). Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, therefore fell on the 50th day after this occurrence. The wheat was then also nearly everywhere harvested ( Exodus 23:16;  Exodus 34:22;  Numbers 28:26 ), and the general character of the festival was that of a harvest-home celebration. The day was observed as a Sabbath day, all labor was suspended, and the people appeared before Yahweh to express their gratitude ( Leviticus 23:21;  Numbers 28:26 ). The central feature of the day was the presentation of two loaves of leavened, salted bread unto the Lord ( Leviticus 23:17 ,  Leviticus 23:20;  Exodus 34:22;  Numbers 28:26;  Deuteronomy 16:10 ). The size of each loaf was fixed by law. It must contain the tenth of an ephah, about three quarts and a half, of the finest wheat flour of the new harvest ( Leviticus 23:17 ). Later Jewish writers are very minute in their description of the preparation of these two loaves (Josephus, Ant. , III, x, 6). According to the Mishna ( Menāḥōth , xi. 4), the length of the loaf was 7 handbreadths, its width 4, its depth 7 fingers.  Leviticus 23:18 describes the additional sacrifices required on this occasion. It was a festival of good cheer, a day of joy. Free-will offerings were to be made to the Lord (  Deuteronomy 16:10 ), and it was to be marked by a liberal spirit toward the Levite, the stranger, and orphans and widows ( Deuteronomy 16:11 ,  Deuteronomy 16:14 ). Perhaps the command against gleaning harvest-fields has a bearing on this custom ( Leviticus 23:22 ).

The Old Testament does not give it the historical significance which later Jewish writers have ascribed to it. The Israelites were admonished to remember their bondage on that day and to reconsecrate themselves to the Lord ( Deuteronomy 16:12 ), but it does not yet commemorate the giving of the Law at Sinai or the birth of the national existence, in the Old Testament conception (Ex 19). Philo, Josephus, and the earlier Talmud are all ignorant of this new meaning which was given to the day in later Jewish history. It originated with the great Jewish rabbi Maimonides and has been copied by Christian writers. And thus a view of the Jewish Pentecost has been originated, which is wholly foreign to the scope of the ancient institution.

2. In the New Testament:

The old Jewish festival obtained a new significance, for the Christian church, by the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit ( John 16:7 ,  John 16:13 ). The incidents of that memorable day, in the history of Christianity, are told in a marvelously vivid and dramatic way in the Acts of the Apostles. The old rendering of sumplēroústhai ( Acts 2:1 ) by "was fully come" was taken by Lightfoot ( Hor . Heb .) to signify that the Christian Pentecost did not coincide with the Jewish, just as Christ's last meal with His disciples was considered not to have coincided with the Jewish Passover, on Nisan 14. The bearing of the one on the other is obvious; they stand and fall together. the Revised Version (British and American) translates the obnoxious word simply "was now come." Meyer, in his commentary on the Acts, treats this question at length. The tradition of the ancient church placed the first Christian Pentecost on a Sunday. According to John, the Passover that year occurred on Friday, Nisan 14 ( John 18:28 ). But according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Passover that year occurred on Thursday, Nisan 14, and hence, Pentecost fell on Saturday. The Karaites explained the shabbāth of  Leviticus 23:15 as pointing to the Sabbath of the paschal week and therefore always celebrated Pentecost on Sunday. But it is very uncertain whether the custom existed in Christ's day, and moreover it would be impossible to prove that the disciples followed this custom, if it could be proved to have existed. Meyer follows the Johannic reckoning and openly states that the other evangelists made a mistake in their reckoning. No off-hand decision is possible, and it is but candid to admit that here we are confronted with one of the knottiest problems in the harmonizing of the Gospels. See Chronology Of The New Testament .

The occurrences of the first pentecostal day after the resurrection of Christ set it apart as a Christian festival and invested it, together with the commemoration of the resurrection, with a new meaning. We will not enter here upon a discussion of the significance of the events of the pentecostal day described in  Acts 2 . That is discussed in the article under Tongues (which see). The Lutherans, in their endeavor to prove the inherent power of the Word, claim that "the effects then exhibited were due to the divine power inherent in the words of Christ; and that they had resisted that power up to the day of Pentecost and then yielded to its influence." This is well described as "an incredible hypothesis" (Hodge, Systematic Theology , III, 484). The Holy Spirit descended in answer to the explicit promise of the glorified Lord, and the disciples had been prayerfully waiting for its fulfillment (  Acts 1:4 ,  Acts 1:14 ). The Spirit came upon them as "a power from on high." God the Holy Spirit proved on Pentecost His personal existence, and the intellects, the hearts, the lives of the apostles were on that day miraculously changed. By that day they were fitted for the arduous work that lay before them. There is some difference of opinion as to what is the significance of Pentecost for the church as an institution. The almost universal opinion among theologians and exegetes is this: that Pentecost marks the rounding of the Christian church as an institution . This day is said to mark the dividing line between the ministry of the Lord and the ministry of the Spirit. The later Dutch theologians have advanced the idea that the origin of the church, as an institution, is to be found in the establishment of the apostolate, in the selection of the Twelve. Dr. A. Kuyper holds that the church as an institution was founded when the Master selected the Twelve, and that these men were "qualified for their calling by the power of the Holy Spirit." He distinguishes between the institution and the constitution of the church. Dr. H. Bavinck says: "Christ gathers a church about Himself, rules it directly so long as He is on the earth, and appoints twelve apostles who later on will be His witnesses. The institution of the apostolate is an especially strong proof of the institutionary character which Christ gave to His church on the earth" ( Geref . Dogm ., IV, 64).

Whatever we may think of this matter, the fact remains that Pentecost completely changed the apostles, and that the enduement with the Holy Spirit enabled them to become witnesses of the resurrection of Christ as the fundamental fact in historic Christianity, and to extend the church according to Christ's commandment. Jerome has an especially elegant passage in which Pentecost is compared with the beginning of the Jewish national life on Mt. Sinai ( Ad Tabiol , section 7): "There is Sinai, here Sion; there the trembling mountain, here the trembling house; there the flaming mountain, here the flaming tongues; there the noisy thunderings, here the sounds of many tongues; there the clangor of the ramshorn, here the notes of the gospel-trumpet." This vivid passage shows the close analogy between the Jewish and Christian Pentecost.

3. Later Christian Observance:

In the post-apostolic Christian church Pentecost belonged to the so-called "Semestre Domini," as distinct from the "Semestre Ecclesiae" the church festivals properly so called. As yet there was no trace of Christmas, which began to appear about 360 AD. Easter, the beginning of the pentecostal period, closed the "Quadragesima," or "Lent," the entire period of which had been marked by self-denial and humiliation. On the contrary, the entire pentecostal period, the so-called "Quinquagesima," was marked by joyfulness, daily communion, absence of fasts, standing in prayer, etc. Ascension Day, the 40th day of the period, ushered in the climax of this joyfulness, which burst forth in its fullest volume on Pentecost. It was highly esteemed by the Fathers. Chrysostom calls it "the metropolis of the festivals" ( De Pentec ., Hom. ii); Gregory of Nazianzen calls it "the day of the Spirit" ( De Pentec ., Orat. 44). All the Fathers sound its praises. For they fully understood, with the church of the ages, that on that day the dispensation of the Spirit was begun, a dispensation of greater privileges and of a broader horizon and of greater power than had hitherto been vouchsafed to the church of the living God. The festival "Octaves," which, in accordance with the Jewish custom, devoted a whole week to the celebration of the festival, from the 8th century, gave place to a two days' festival, a custom still preserved by the Roman church and such Protestant bodies as follow the ecclesiastical year. The habit of dressing in white and of seeking baptism on Pentecost gave it the name "Whitsunday," by which it is popularly known all over the world.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [18]

If the feast of Pentecost stood without an organic connection with any other rites, we should have no certain warrant in the Old Testament for regarding it as more than the divinely appointed solemn thanksgiving for the yearly supply of the most useful sort of food. Every reference to its meaning seems to bear immediately upon the completion of the grain harvest. It might have been a Gentile festival, having no proper reference to the election of the chosen race. It might have taken a place in the religion of any people who merely felt that it is God who gives rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and who fills our hearts with food and gladness ( Acts 14:17). But it was, as we have seen, essentially linked to the Passover that festival which, above all others, expressed the fact of a race chosen and separated from other nations. It was not an insulated day. It stood as the culminating point of the Pentecostal season. If the offering of the omer was a supplication for the divine blessing on the harvest which was just commencing, and the offering of the two loaves was a thanksgiving for its completion, each rite was brought into a higher significance in consequence of the omer forming an integral part of the Passover. It was thus set forth that He who had delivered his people from Egypt, who had raised them from the condition of slaves to that of free men in immediate covenant with himself, was the same that was sustaining them with bread from year to year. The inspired teacher declared to God's chosen one, "He maketh peace in thy borders, he filleth thee with the finest of the wheat" ( Psalms 147:14). If we thus regard the day of Pentecost as the solemn termination of the consecrated period, intended, as the seasons came round, to teach this lesson to the people, we may see the fitness of the name by which the Jews have mostly called it, עֲצֶרֶת Copyright Statementthese Files Are Public Domain. Bibliography Informationmcclintock, John. Strong, James. Entry For 'Pentecost'. Cyclopedia Of Biblical, Theological And Ecclesiastical Literature. Https://Www.Studylight.Org/Encyclopedias/Eng/Tce/P/Pentecost.Html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [19]

Pen´tecost, the name (signifying fiftieth) given in the New Testament to the Feast of Weeks, or of Ingathering, which was celebrated on the fiftieth day from the festival of unleavened bread, or the Passover; or seven weeks from the 16th day of Nisan. It was a festival of thanks for the harvest, and commenced immediately after the Passover [FESTIVALS]. It was one of the three great yearly festivals, in which all the males were required to appear before God at the place of his sanctuary. Josephus states that in his time great numbers of Jews resorted from every quarter to Jerusalem to keep this festival. This testimony affords interesting corroboration of;;; , in which the same fact appears. The commencement of the Christian church on the day of Pentecost, preceded as it was by our Lord's ascension, attached a peculiar interest to this season, and eventually led to its being set apart for the commemoration of these great events. It was not, however, established as one of the great festivals until the fourth century. The combination of two events (the Ascension and the descent of the Holy Ghost) in one festival has a parallel in the original Jewish feast, which is held to have included the feast of first-fruits, and of the delivering of the law (;; ). Indeed, this festival in some respects bears a close analogy to the Jewish one; and is evidently little more than a modification of it. The converts of that day, on which the Holy Ghost descended, were the first fruits of the Spirit. This festival became one of the three baptismal seasons, and it derives its name of Whitsunday, or white-Sunday, from so many being clad in white on this the day of their baptism.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [20]

E . fiftieth), a great feast of the Jews, so called as held on the fiftieth day after the second of the Passover. It is called also the Feast of Harvest, or Weeks of First-Fruits, the Passover feast being connected with the commencement and this with the conclusion of harvest. It is regarded by the Jews as commemorative of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and will never cease to be associated in the Christian memory with the great awakening from which dates the first birth of the Christian consciousness in the Christian Church, the moment when the disciples of Christ first realised in common that their Master was not dead but alive, and nearer to them than He had been when present in the flesh.