Pentecost is Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jesus taught, “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14),. Pentecost pictures that only a few will find the way in this age–but implies that others will later.

Striaght Path in Tobago
A “straight and narrow way” in Tobago


After Christ’s death, the original apostles met and observed Pentecost (Acts 2) and the Holy Spirit was given to them. That is considered by almost all Christian-professing groups to be the beginning of the Christian Church.

This year, Pentecost will be Sunday, June 8, 2008.

What many have not considered is that if the disciples of Jesus did not think that they should still be observing this so-called Jewish holiday, then they would not have been present together for the Holy Spirit to come.

This is a very significant point. Notice what the Bible teaches:

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).

Notice that the emphasis is on the fact that the Day of Pentecost had fully come. The Bible is making it clear that the events that follow were directly related to the fact that the Day of Pentecost had fully come. And, it happened to the disciples because they were all observing it together.

The Apostle Paul continued to keep Pentecost some time after the Pentecost mentioned in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Notice what he wrote, about 56 A.D.:

For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8).

This shows that Paul knew when Pentecost was, that he felt that the Corinthians must know when Pentecost was, and that the Ephesians would have known when Pentecost was. Thus, it apparently was being observed by Paul and the Gentiles in Ephesus and Corinth.

The New Testament does discuss some concepts associated with firstfruits, which we in the Living Church of God believe help explain the meaning of this Holy Day.

Paul wrote the following:

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit (Rom 8:23).

Recall that it was the Holy Spirit that was first given on the Day of Pentecost. And that was a type of the firstfruits of the Spirit.

Who are the firstfruits?

These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:4-5).

“Firstfruits” mean that only a few will make it in this age–but they also imply that there will be a greater harvest–a time where all who never had an opportunity for salvation will later have an opportunity (for biblical references, please read Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

The Day of Pentecost was kept, even by heretical “Christians” in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

The ancient Catholic writer Irenaeus knew that Pentecost in the Book of Acts was about firstfruits, as he wrote (circa 180):

This Spirit did David ask for the human race, saying, “And stablish me with Thine all-governing Spirit;” who also, as Luke says, descended at the day of Pentecost upon the disciples after the Lord’s ascension, having power to admit all nations to the entrance of life, and to the opening of the new covenant; from whence also, with one accord in all languages, they uttered praise to God, the Spirit bringing distant tribes to unity, and offering to the Father the first-fruits of all nations (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book III, Chapter 17, Verse 2. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

He also realized that it was to be kept on a Sunday:

This [custom], of not bending the knee upon Sunday…took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenæus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Pascha, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; (Irenaeus. Fragments of Irenaeus, 7).

The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Pentecost:

Pentecost…The term, adopted from the Greek-speaking Jews (Tob. 2:1; II Mac. 12:32; Josephus, “Ant.”, III, x, 6; etc.) alludes to the fact that the feast, known in the Old Testament as “the feast of harvest of the firstfruits” (Exodus 23:16), “the feast of weeks” (Exodus 24:22; Deuteronomy 16:10: II Paralipomenon 8:13), the “day of firstfruits” (Numbers 28:26), and called by later Jews ‘asereth or ‘asartha (solemn assembly, and probably “closing festival”, Pentecost being the closing festival of the harvest and of the Paschal season) (Souvay C.L. Transcribed by Mark E. Maier. Pentecost (Jewish Feast) The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Pentecost (Whitsunday) A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the “feast of weeks” or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptised during the vigil; Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth”…

Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century…That Whitsunday belongs to the Apostolic times is stated in the seventh of the (interpolated) fragments attributed to St. Irenæus. In Tertullian (De bapt., xix) the festival appears as already well established (Holweck F.G. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Pentecost (Whitsunday). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Tertullian in the late second century/early third century wrote:

Pentecost is a most joyous space for conferring baptisms; wherein, too, the resurrection of the Lord was repeatedly proved among the disciples, and the hope of the advent of the Lord indirectly pointed to, in that, at that time, when He had been received back into the heavens, the angels told the apostles that “He would so come, as He had withal ascended into the heavens;” at Pentecost, of course. But, moreover, when Jeremiah says, “And I will gather them together from the extremities of the land in the feast-day,” he signifies the day of the Passover and of Pentecost, which is properly a “feast-day” (Tertullian. On Baptism, Chapter 19. Translated by the S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

In the early third century, the Catholic theologian Origen listed the following as being celebrated:

If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example the Lord’s day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost…(Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VIII, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Although it was not called Whitsunday then (and should not be now), it is documented that Christians in the first, second, and third centuries celebrated the Feast of Pentecost.

To some degree, the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant churches all celebrate Passover (though most refer to it as Easter and consider it a resurrection holiday) and Pentecost, which were originally Holy Days that the children of Israel observed (and which were still observed by the early true Christian church). But they do seem to feel that it is a continuation of the Holy Days in Leviticus 23, they seem to act like it has nothing to do with them (other than the date).

Although he does not tie the following statement into a discussion of Pentecost, notice what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who is now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:

Man can become God, not by making himself God, but by allowing himself to be made ‘Son’.

Since Jesus is the first of the firstfruits, and the Day of Pentecost shows that we are also to become firstfruits, the observance of the biblical Pentecost helps picture that God the Father is calling true Christians to truly be His sons. We are to be in the family of God (this is documented in more detail in the article What is the Meaning of Life? and Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?).

Pentecost pictures that some few are being called now, but also supports the plan of God that teaches that all ultimately will be offered an opportunity for salvation.

My son Michael long ago developed a Pentecost Quiz to help teach about this Holy Day, that some may wish to check out.

To learn even more about Pentecost and God’s Plan through His Holy Days, please consider reading the following:

Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits.
Pentecost Quiz This is a Pentecost quiz based upon the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Is there eternal torment?
Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.

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