The reactions of the people in Acts 2:12, 13 is described using three verbs: "amazed", "perplexed", followed by "mocking". There are at least two possible explanations for this:
- At least some of the listeners did not hear the disciples' words in their own language and simply perceived them as babbling in nonsense. This possibility raises all sorts of interpretive and narrative conflicts ("each one heard in his own language", V6) and troubles that it is probably untrue.
- The listening crowd heard something too good to be true and dismissed it as rubbish. There is significant precedent for this reaction such as:
- Gen 6 - I am sure that many many times during Noah's 120 years preparing for the flood that he was roundly mocked as mad by many observes.
- Gen 18:11, 12 - And Abraham and Sarah were already old and well along in years; Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. So she laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
- Gen 19:14 - So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
- Mark 3:20, 21 - Then Jesus went home,d and once again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples could not even eat. When His family heard about this, they went out to take custody of Him, saying, “He is out of His mind.”
- John 10:19, 20 - Again there was division among the Jews because of Jesus’ message. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and insane. Why would you listen to Him?”
- Acts 12:14, 15 - When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that she forgot to open the gate, but ran inside and announced, “Peter is standing at the gate!” “You are out of your mind,” they told her. But when she kept insisting it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
... and so forth! I am sure there are more examples that could be added to this short list.
Note the consistent pattern that supremely good news creates the same reaction as in Acts 2, namely, amazement, perplexity, mocking, usually in that order!
Therefore, I suggest that what happened at Pentecost in Acts 2 was so astonishing that it provoked amazement, perplexity, mocking, with the always-at-hand explanation of the disciples being drunk.