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Pentecost

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Was observing Pentecost important to the apostle Paul?

“For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16 Acts 20:16For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hurried, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
American King James Version×
).

“But I [Paul] will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost” (1 Corinthians 16:8 1 Corinthians 16:8But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
American King James Version×
).

The Scriptures record that, on at least these two occasions, Paul carefully arranged his schedule according to where he wanted to be on the Festival of Pentecost. The only logical reason for Paul to “tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost” would be to observe this feast day with the gentile Christians there. As with Paul's instruction to gentile Christians in Corinth to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, here we again find an obvious indication that early Christians, Jew and gentile alike, observed God's annual festivals.
What biblical events are associated with the Feast of Pentecost?

“The LORD our God made a covenant with us [ancient Israel] in Horeb … The LORD talked with you [ancient Israel] face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire” (Deuteronomy 5:2 Deuteronomy 5:2The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
American King James Version×
, 4).

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit …” (Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

On Pentecost, according to a respected Jewish tradition, God established Israel as His holy people—through His covenant with them—after He spoke the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai. A special relationship between Him and the Israelites was sealed at that time. They then became known as the “congregation of the LORD” (Numbers 27:17 Numbers 27:17Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
American King James Version×
).

Equally important, Pentecost is also the anniversary of the beginning of Christianity under the New Covenant. It was on Pentecost that God first made His Spirit available to all who would repent—thus beginning the Church, which He commissioned Christ to build (Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version×
). Pentecost is especially significant to Christians because on that day God established the New Testament Church.

Pentecost represents God using His Church—those who are converted, revitalized and transformed by His Spirit—to do His work in this current age of Satan's spiritual dominance over humankind.
After Jesus' resurrection, what did He tell His disciples?

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
American King James Version×
).

The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled when, on the Feast of Pentecost, Christ's disciples received the Holy Spirit and began their work of proclaiming His gospel to the world (Acts 2:1 Acts 2:1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
American King James Version×
, 4-18). Their lives began to miraculously change. This spiritual transformation, made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the third major step in God's master plan of salvation.

God's gift of His Spirit began the fulfillment of the prophecies in Jeremiah 31:31-33 Jeremiah 31:31-33 31 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was an husband to them, said the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, said the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
American King James Version×
and Ezekiel 36:26-27 Ezekiel 36:26-27 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.
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. He promised to make a new covenant with the community of faithful believers. Through the Holy Spirit He promised to write His laws on their hearts and minds and no longer only on tablets of stone, as in the time of Moses. It was on the Feast of Pentecost of Acts 2 that the Church of God—the faithful believers in Christ imbued with God's Spirit—was founded and began preaching Christ's gospel to the world.

Anciently the Festival of Pentecost only anticipated a converted body of believers, but now it annually acknowledges and celebrates the importance of the Church and its work in God's plan.
Does the Bible refer to the Feast of Pentecost by other names?

“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest …” (Exodus 34:22 Exodus 34:22And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
American King James Version×
).

“On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the LORD an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work” (Numbers 28:26 Numbers 28:26Also in the day of the first fruits, when you bring a new meat offering to the LORD, after your weeks be out, you shall have an holy convocation; you shall do no servile work:
American King James Version×
, NIV).

The Greek word pentekoste, which means “50th,” became the New Testament name for the Old Testament “Feast of Weeks” because it occurs 50 days (seven weeks plus one day) after the first weekly Sabbath that falls during the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:10-16 Leviticus 23:10-16 10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet smell: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. 14 And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 15 And you shall count to you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to the LORD.
American King James Version×
).

Pentecost was also known as “the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors” (Exodus 23:16 Exodus 23:16And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.
American King James Version×
). This name foreshadowed the establishment of the New Testament Church. Christians are those “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit” and those who are “redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Romans 8:23 Romans 8:23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
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; Revelation 14:4 Revelation 14:4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
American King James Version×
). James writes, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
American King James Version×
).

The festivals that follow Pentecost point to God's plan for bringing the rest of humanity to repentance. The aspects of God's plan represented by the three spring festivals—Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost—have already occurred. But the prophetic implications of the last four festivals, observed in the autumn of each year, are yet to be fulfilled. Those look forward to prophetic events yet to occur.

Let's see how the later festivals represent aspects of God's great plan to offer salvation to many more people.

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