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The Model for the Messianic Community
The Giving of Ruach HaKodesh
Now we come to a most important — and most frequently (I believe) misunderstood — event. It was the Feast of Shavu`ot, fifty days after Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead. His core group of talmidim had gone up to the Temple for worship. Let’s pick up the narrative as it appears in the Complete Jewish Bible:
The festival of Shavu’ot [50 Days, or Pentecost in Greek] arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole House where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. (Acts 2:1-4)
Please carefully notice that they were not in some “upper room.” Bible teachers who are not familiar with first-century Judaism do not understand that the term “the House” was a very familiar shortened form of “the House of Prayer” — the Temple (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). Modern archaeology has recently uncovered a section of the Temple previously unknown. Leading up from one of the main streets adjacent to the temple is a very wide flight of steps with a large platform at the top. They were apparently seated either on the steps or on the platform. (See Figures 1, 2, and 3.)
Figure 1. Recently-excavated portion of Temple Mount showing a
very wide flight of steps with a large platform at the top. This may very well have been the site of the coming
of Ruach HaKodesh and Kefa’s “Pentecost Sermon.”
Figure 2. Photograph of the Jerusalem Model at the Holy Land
Hotel, showing the location of the same or similar
structure. This is an area below Solomon’s Porch. The
doors at the top of the steps would have opened onto a
tunnel that led up to the Temple.
Figure 3. Photograph of the Jerusalem Model at the Holy Land
Hotel, showing the location of similar structures within
the Temple courtyard and in the outer courtyard.
(Solomon’s Porch is the row of pillars in the
background.) The events of Acts chapter 2 could have
taken place at any of these locations.
This particular type of structure would have created a teaching/learning environment very similar to that found in most university lecture halls. It was common practice for the rabbis of that time to take their talmidim to the Temple and teach them there, and it is certain that Rabbi Yeshua practiced this custom. It may well have been to this exact location that the Talmidim had come on this first Feast Day following the loss of their Rabbi.
Now there were staying in Yerushalayim religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Totally amazed, they asked, “How is this possible? Aren’t all these people who are speaking from the Galil? How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Y’hudah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?” (Acts 2:5-11)
At this point we need to carefully notice a few things:
First of all, these “religious Jews … from every nation” were all either natural-born Jews or proselytes like Ruth (see above) [no Goyim]. Kefa addressed them all as “you men of Yisra'el” (Acts 2:22).
Second, they were Jews from all over the known world.
Third, they were either in the Temple or in the street immediately adjacent to the area where the Talmidim were. Notice that they where they could hear either the “sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind” (Acts 2:2) or the sound of the Talmidim speaking. And they heard the Talmidim speaking not gibberish or some “angelic” or “heavenly” language, but numerous human languages from all over the world — languages which were far too diverse for the Talmidim to have possibly learned all of them previously.
Notice also [fourth point, for those who are actually counting] that Kefa [Peter] simply stood to address these “religious Jews … from every nation.” He did not leave an “upper room” and go down a flight of steps to the street outside where the crowd had somehow mysteriously gathered to listen through the walls.
Amazed and confused, they all went on asking each other, “What can this mean?” But others made fun of them and said, “They’ve just had too much wine!” Then Kefa stood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: “You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me! These people aren’t drunk, as you suppose — it’s only nine in the morning. No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo’el: ‘ADONAI says: “In the Last Days, I will pour out from my Spirit upon everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my slaves, both men and women, will I pour out from my Spirit in those days; and they will prophesy. I will perform miracles in the sky above and signs on the earth below blood, fire and thick smoke. The sun will become dark and the moon blood before the great and fearful Day of ADONAI comes. And then, whoever calls on the name of ADONAI will be saved.”’” (Acts 2:12-21)
After explaining Yo’el’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) and providing further Scriptural proofs that Yeshua, who died and was miraculously resurrected from the dead, is the long-awaited Messiah, Kefa concluded:
“Therefore, let the whole house of Isra’el know beyond doubt that God has made him both LORD [ADONAI] and Messiah — this Yeshua, whom you [crucified]!” On hearing this, they were stung in their hearts; and they said to Kefa and the other emissaries, “Brothers, what should we do?” Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as ADONAI our God may call!” He pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people. They continued faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries, in fellowship, in breaking bread and in the prayers. (Acts 2:36-42)
Here we need to carefully note some additional points that have caused confusion among Gentile Believers in Messiah for the past 1,600 years.
Fifth point: Kefa’s message was addressed not to Gentiles, but to “all the house of Isra’el.”
Sixth, the three thousand souls who believed that day were added to the Talmidim, not added to anything called “the church,” and …
Seventh, “They continued faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries, in fellowship, in breaking bread, and in the prayers.”
There is absolutely no evidence anywhere in either the biblical record or in any secular historical record to support the idea that on that day in history either the original Talmidim (estimated to be about 120 in number) or the three thousand who had just became Talmidim that day suddenly stopped being Jews and were transformed into something called either “the church” or “Christians.” Though it has been taught for the past seventeen centuries, that concept is totally unbiblical. They simply became Jews who believed and trusted in Yeshua as the Messiah, and who had been filled with Ruach HaKodesh, nothing more.
However, there had now become an eighth distinct, identifiable group within the Judaism of the Late Second Temple Period. Yeshua’s Talmidim had now become “Messianics” alongside the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes (separatists who probably didn’t show up at Synagogue very often anyway), Zealots, Sicarii, Proselytes, and God-Fearers.
Sidetrack: If the Hebrew word (remember that the original believers in Messiah spoke Hebrew, or possibly, but unlikely, Aramaic, as their native language) that we have rendered here as Messianics were to be translated from the original Hebrew into Greek, it would be rendered as Xristianoß (Christianos, look familiar?) According to Acts 11:26 this word was first used as a “technical (and probably derogatory) term” for the Talmidim at Antioch. But look how that verse is rendered in the Complete Jewish Bible: “Also it was in Antioch that the talmidim for the first time were called ‘Messianic.’” The word “Christian” is the result of transliterating the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term Messianic, rather than actually translating from either the Greek or from the original Hebrew source word! If the Apostolic letters had never been translated into Greek — if the Apostolic Scriptures had been translated directly from their original Hebrew into English — all believers in Messiah Yeshua would have been known today as “Messianics” and the word “Christian” would simply not exist.
Eighth, note also that “They continued faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries, in fellowship, in breaking bread, and in the prayers.” Where did they “continue faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries and fellowship?” In the synagogue and in the Temple and in private homes! Where did they “continue faithfully … in breaking bread?” In the Challah bread of the Kiddush ceremony on Shabbat in the synagogue and in private homes, celebrating Havdalah and the Feast Days! [Be patient; a thorough explanation of Havdalah is coming very soon!] Where did they “continue faithfully … in the prayers?” (“The prayers” is very often used as shorthand for the liturgical prayers that constitute the major portion of every synagogue service.) In the synagogue, in the Temple, and in private homes, celebrating Shabbat, Havdalah, and the Feast Days!
45. Jerusalem. [RETURN]
46. Galilee. [RETURN]
47. Judah. [RETURN]
48. The traditional site of the so-called “upper room” did not even exist at the time of this event. It is, in fact, a Crusader structure, and was either built or restored not earlier than the time of the Crusades (no earlier than 1096-1099 at the earliest). I have personally witnessed a number of “charismatic” Christians who were visiting the tourist trap promoted as the “Upper Room” fall into a state of “religious ecstasy” and begin babbling incoherent gibberish because they believed they were actually in a place of some deep spiritual significance. How sad. [RETURN]
49. Joel. [RETURN]
50. The “Church” has taught for centuries that “whoever calls on the name of ‘Jesus’ will be saved.” However, what God actually said through the prophet Yo’el was “whoever calls on the name of ADONAI (hwhy, YHWH, the LORD) will be saved” (Joel 2:32). This is not a contradiction if we can just remember that Yeshua is hwhy from all eternity past. This means that the One Who walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve, the One Who appeared to Avraham and Sarah to announce the birth of Yitzchak, the One Who made the everlasting Covenants with Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya`akov, the One Who appeared to Moshe in the burning bush, and the One Who wrote the Torah in stone with His finger was Yeshua in His pre-incarnate form. And the “The Holy One of Israel” Whom “non-Messianic” Jews worship and to Whom they direct their daily prayers is Yeshua! [RETURN]
51. Yeshua already had been ADONAI (hwhy, YHWH, the LORD) from all eternity past. It was the resurrection that confirmed (made) Him as the Messiah. [RETURN]
52. Apostles, Shliachim. [RETURN]
53. Nothing more, that is, humanly speaking. As I understand the Scriptures, they literally became an entirely new species of being that God calls ”Saint” (2 Cor. 5:17). But that is a subject for another study. [RETURN]
54. Transliteration is phonetically writing a word in the alphabet of a different language; in this case writing a Greek equivalent of a Hebrew word using the English alphabet. [RETURN]
55. The Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, which the LORD commanded all who believe Him to keep separated as the appointed day of worship. [RETURN]