3.3 Acts -- Pentecost, cont.
b. This indwelling of the Spirit was accompanied by speaking in ecstatic languages. And these were real languages, from more than a dozen nations up to a thousand miles from Jerusalem. Diaspora Jews who had returned to Jerusalem (permanently, or as pilgrims) heard the disciples praising God in their own tongues. This phenomenon was God's answer to Gen 11, the tower of Babel, when God confused the languages of men and scattered them over the earth (Gen 11:1-8). At Pentecost, God did not re-unify the many languages, but he did "baptize" them. From then on, the redemptive plan of God and His presence were internationalized, as symbolized by the various tongues.
None of this was apparent at the time, either to the amazed hearers, nor to the confused disciples themselves. Peter stood up to make the first public sermon of the Christian era. The basis of his message was Joel's prophecy of the end-time outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the fulfilment of this prophecy, but the Jews had put him to death. God had raised Jesus up to His right hand, and he has sent forth the Holy Spirit to those who believed in him.
There are three verses in this sermon that have a tangential reference to non-Jews:
"'In the last days', God says, "'I will pour out my Spirit on all people....And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Acts 2:17, Acts 2:21).
"The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).
Joel's prophecy was discussed extensively in the Old Testament study. Our conclusion was that neither Joel, Peter, nor Peter's hearers understood these words to be a "come one, come all" invitation to the Gentiles. They would have interpreted the verses to read: "I will pour out my Spirit on all Jewish people, not just the priests and prophets....And all Jews who call on the name of the Lord will be saved....The promise is for you and your children, and even those Jews in distant lands."
Looking backwards, yes, we can see that at Pentecost God was hanging out a Welcome sign to the world. But it would still be a while before Peter and the other disciples got the message.