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When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1

Is there any way to tell from the text who they were? Was it The New Twelve (as evidenced by Acts 2:14) or a larger number, possibly 120 (as evidenced by Acts 1:13-15)?

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  • This is interesting to me because I know different denominations have different beliefs and I'm looking for an objective answer. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE May 9 '12 at 8:55
  • @JonEricson: thx for the bounty! Very noble. Why did you do it? – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE May 11 '12 at 19:00
  • Perhaps 2:15 implies only men were filled with The Holy Spirit? (I hope not!) – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE May 11 '12 at 19:08
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    Basically, I have more reputation than I need to access all the privileges, so I'm hoping to help others build up their site reputation. I've been looking at highly rated unanswered questions and seeing if I can't fix them up or get them answered. – Jon Ericson May 11 '12 at 19:20
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If you follow the pronoun 'they' backwards, you finally discover who was being referred to in:

1.15 ¶ And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

So 'they' the 120 were all together. But did 'they' get the Spirit?

Peter quotes Joel to say that the prophecy was fulfilled that day:

17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

In order for Joel to be fulfilled, daughters, servants and handmaids had to be included in the number. This suggests that all 120 got the Spirit.

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All one has to do is look at the context of Acts 1-6 and he can see clearly that the 120 did not receive the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit."

In Acts 1:2 the word Apostles is used and the "them" in Acts 1:3 refers to the apostles. So, also, is the pronoun "you" found in Acts 1:4. It is said to the apostles, Acts 1:5, "for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence." This promise is made to the apostles — it is a promise and not a command, Acts 1:4.

Acts 1:3 says, "to whom he showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God." There were fifty days from the Feast of the Unleavened Bread to the Day of Pentecost, ( Leviticus 23:15-16). If he spent forty (40) days, Acts 1:3, with the disciples, this would mean that there were ten (10) days after he ascended to heaven, Acts 1:9-11, until the day of Pentecost; for the text says he ascended on the fortieth day, Acts 1:3. It was during this time, the ten days, that the apostles returned to Jerusalem and selected one in the place of Judas, Acts 1:12-23.

At this meeting one is selected in the place of Judas, Acts 1:26, there were 120 people present at that meeting, and witnessed the selection of one in the place of Judas. But after this is done there is still time left, during the ten days, till the day of Pentecost. This is the reason for the first verse of Acts 2 being worded as it is.

"And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place," Acts 2:1. "And when the day of Pentecost was now come," shows there was a period of time before the day of Pentecost. Now, we have another meeting and this meeting is for the purpose of the "Holy Spirit being given."

In this meeting we have the words, "they," Acts 2:1,2,4, and "them,"" Acts 2:3,4, used. When a pronoun is used we must take a look at the preceding noun. The preceding noun is found in Acts 1:26 and it is "apostles." So, the "they," and the "them," has reference to the apostles which is named in Acts 1:26 and the pronouns follow in Acts 2:1-4 with the words, "they," and "them."

In addition to this information one is compelled to note that a statement is made in Acts 2:1-4, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." The ones that were filled with the Holy Spirit were the ones who "spoke in other tongues." I cannot but notice that in Acts 2:14 Peter "standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and "spake" forth unto them." The ones that "spake" were the ones who were filled with "Holy Spirit," v. 4 and the ones that "spake" were the "eleven," (Peter would make twelve): So it was the twelve that "spake" in tongues and it was the twelve that "spake" after the Holy Spirit was given; so we conclude that it was the twelve that received the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit."

It is interesting to note that what was taught was called "the apostles teaching." The teaching came from the "apostles," because they were the ones who received the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:26 and were the ones who were speaking, Acts 2:4 and the ones who were speaking was Peter with the eleven, Acts 2:14. Because of the word being delivered through the apostles, what they taught is called, "the apostles doctrine," Acts 2:42.

The apostles are referred to as the "Galileans," Acts 2:7. So, the Galileans spoke to the men of "Judea," Acts 2:14 and the apostles spoke to the men "Israel," Acts 2:22,36. One will observe that it is the apostles who take the lead at the beginning of the Gospel of Christ being preached. It is "Peter standing up with the eleven," (Acts 2:14). When the people on the day of Pentecost heard the words of the men speaking, this is what they said, "Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Please observe that the text says they said this to the apostles! If there were "120 people" who received it, where is the statement that expresses their receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The apostles continued to take the lead form the church's beginning. They performed miracles, Acts 3. It is stated that "by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch," (Acts 5:12). Those that were being persecuted were the "apostles," (Acts 5:40). When there was a need to select certain ones to take care of the widows who were being neglected, it is the "twelve" who called the multitude together (Acts 6:2). So, all of the emphasis is placed on the "twelve" until you have a man designated as Stephen beginning to preach the Gospel in Acts 6:8.

Now, we are back to the "apostles' doctrine," noted in Acts 2:42. The 120 people are not included because they did not receive the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," given in Acts 2:1-4. Now, there may be those who claim the 120 receive the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," but this my friends cannot be proved from the New Testament! Only the apostles were baptized with the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4 and that is what the New Testament affirms.

Copyright © 2003,2016 La Vista Church of Christ. Copied in it's entirety from "120 Received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4?" by Carl A. Allen, which is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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I don't subscribe to the idea that the "they" in verse 15 of Acts Chapter 1 is to imply that that is referring to the "hundred and twenty" that is to be interconnected with Acts 2:1.

Acts 1:15 says:

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

First, who were the Disciples? There weren't one-hundred and twenty of them. In the context of this entire spectacle, when one reverts back to John 20, Jesus Christ appears to the disciples ("...where the disciples were assembled...") which must have been rather stunningly-thrilling, as well as shocking to some degree; Christ went on to show them (the disciples) "his hands and his side" (verse 20) and this made the disciples "glad, when they saw the Lord."

In two verses later, look what transpires in John 20:22:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

It's conspicuous enough to discern what happened here, without need of some broader detail, but we can clearly read here that Jesus Christ breathed on "them": who? The Disciples.

With this in-mind, when Peter stands up in Acts 1:15 and mentions that there were about one-hundred and twenty (in parenthesis, mind you; this is like an add-on to inform how many people were around [not all of them were 'discples', particularly when you read what transpired in John 20 as noted: Peter also says in the very next verse {16} "men and brethren": one infers from this that he's referring to "men" as the one-hundred and twenty that had gathered, and "brethren" would be his fellow "disciples": the same ones that Jesus "breathed on" in John 20, etc.]), this isn't speaking of the "they" in Acts 2:1, but rather, it's a reference to disciples that were there (11 of them, apparently, since Judas was dead at that point, which is also noted in Acts 1:16-18).

Further, when one reads Acts 1:21 and following, the context is referencing to disciples here, so once you come down to Acts 2, the "they" and "all" there implies that these are the disciples.

In the very next verse (2), we read the following:

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

To argue or infer that the disciples, plus another one-hundred and twenty were "sitting in this house" is (to me) implausible, considering the homes weren't that large to contain such a crowd, so it's unlikely that one-hundred twenty and some-odd men or so would have been able to gather together in "the house" there. [Also note that it says that they were all "sitting" in the house: to subscribe to the idea that one-hundred twenty or so men were all sitting in this one house is illogical, from my understanding.]

With that said, these disciples already had the Holy Spirit, because John 20 tells us that Jesus Christ breathed on them and they "received" the Holy Spirit. The pivotal difference is that, at Pentecost, in verse 4 it says

...they were filled with the Holy Ghost...

...and the narrative goes on from there.

In conclusion: Verse 1 of Acts 2 is referring to the disciples. They were the those that were "filled" with the Holy Spirit (verse 4), but they already had "received" the Holy Spirit, because Jesus Christ breathed on them (they "received" it). So, the differences are quite conspicuous in context of what had already taken place, and what was being implied, etc.

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