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Pentecostal Effusion of the Holy Spirit

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(as recorded in Acts 2). 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 4th 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 (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:14-21; Numbers 28:26). 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. Jerome (Ad Fabium, § 7) elegantly contrasts this with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai: "Utraque facta est quinquagesimo die a Paschate; illo, in Sina; haec, in Sion. Ibi terrae motu contremuit mons; hic, domus apostolorum. Ibi, inter flaruinas igniumn et micantia.fulgura, turbo ventorum, et fragor tonitruorum personuit; hic, cum ignearum visione linguarum sonitus pariter de ccelo, tanquam spiritus vehementis adversit. Ibi, clangor, buccinae, legis verba perstrepuit; hie, tuba evangelica apostolorum ore inltonlllit." This festival became one of the three great festivals (Tertullian, De Baptist. c. 19: Jerome, in Zach. 14:8); and it derives its name of Whitsunday, not from baptism, but from a corruption of the name Pentecost, through the German Pfingsten.

In the early Christian Church the entire period between Easter and Pentecost was named from the latter (Tertullian, De Idol. c. 14; De Bapti. c. 19; Can. Ap. c. 37; Can. Ant. c. 30; Cyril. Hieros. Ad Const.). The feast was observed as the festival of the Holy Spirit (Greg. Naz. De Pent. Hom. c. 44) at a very early date, allusion being made to it by Tertullian, as shown above, and by Orien (Contra Cels e. [ed. Cantab. 1677], viii, p. 392). All public games were interdicted by Theodosius the Younger during the Pentecostal as during the Paschal solemnity (Cod. Theod. 15:5, "De Spectac."). During these weeks the Acts of the Apostles were read, as being most suitable for the period during which the risen Lord appeared to pis disciples in the body "by many infallible proofs." Fasting was intermitted (Const. Ap. v. 33), and the pravers of the Church were offered, not in a kneeling position, but erect (Concil. Nic. can. 20), as symbolizing the jubilant attitude of the Church during her Lord's passage from the grave to the glory. The entire octave was celebrated in early days, and followed by a week of fasting (Const. Ap. v. 33). The feast was restricted to three days by papal decree, A.D. 745.

Doubts have been cast on the common interpretation of Acts 2:1, according to which the Holy Ghost was given to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. Lightfoot contends that the passage ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς Πεντηκοστῆς means, when the day of Pentecost had passed, and considers that this rendering is countenanced by the words of the Vulgate, "cum complerentur dies Pentecostes." He supposes that Pentecost fell that year on the Sabbath, and that it was on the ensuing Lord's day that ησαν ἃπαντες ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό (Exercit. in Act., ii. 1). Hitzig, on the other hand (Ostern un Pfingsten, Heidelberg, 1837), would render the words, "As the day of Pentecost was approaching its fulfillment." Neander has replied to the latter, and has maintained the common interpretation (Planting of the Christian Church 1:5, Bohn's ed.).

The question on what day of the week this Pentecost fell must of course be determined by the mode in which the doubt is solved regarding the day on which the Last Supper was eaten. (See PASSOVER). If it were the last Paschal supper, on the 14th of Nisan, and the Sabbath during which our Lord lay in the grave was the day of the omer, Pentecost must have followed on the Sabbath. But if the supper were eaten on the 13th, and he was crucified on the 14th, the Sunday of the Resurrection must have been the day of the omer, and Pentecost must have occurred on the first day of the week.

For monographs on this subject, see Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 72, 120. (See BAPTISM OF FIRE).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Pentecostal Effusion of the Holy Spirit'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/p/pentecostal-effusion-of-the-holy-spirit.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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