Bible Study – The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

Key Verse

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
— (Acts 1:8)

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1 & 2


The first chapter of the Book of Acts begins with an introduction by Luke, the book’s author. Verses 3-8 provide Jesus’ final earthly commandment to His followers — a requirement to tarry in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Jesus’ ascension is documented in verses 9-11. Then, verses 12-14 indicate that the disciples followed Jesus’ instructions by returning to the Upper Room in Jerusalem immediately following His ascension. The chapter ends with an account of Matthias being chosen to replace Judas Iscariot as the twelfth disciple. Two important designations in this chapter are “apostle” and “disciple.” The term “apostle,” used in verse 2, comes from the Greek word apostolos, and means “a delegate, ambassador, commissioner, messenger, or one who is sent.” This term typically is reserved for Jesus’ twelve closest followers, eleven of whom are listed by name in vs.13. The term “disciple,” in vs. 15, comes from the Greek word “mathetes”, which translates into English as “learner” or “student.” Luke used this term in vs. 15 to describe all those who were gathered in the Upper Room. Verse 8 is a key verse in the Book of Acts, as it describes both the power given to the Church (through the Holy Spirit), and its mission (to witness first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, and then in all the earth). The verse also provides a summary outline of the contents of the book: the outreach in Jerusalem (chapters 1-7), the outreach in Judea and Samaria (chapters 8-12), and the outreach into the Gentile world (chapters 13-28).
The second chapter of Acts can be divided into three sections: the empowerment of the disciples who had tarried in the Upper Room after Jesus’ ascension (verses 1-13); Peter’s sermon to the onlookers in Jerusalem (verses 14-36); and the effects of Peter’s sermon and the beginnings of the Early Church (verses 37-47). Pentecost, the Greek word for “fifty,” was the Jewish holiday traditionally celebrated fifty days after Passover; it was also called the “Feast of Weeks” and the “Feast of Harvests.” The phrase translated “with one accord” (vs. 1) is from the Greek word “homothymadon” and indicates unanimous like-mindedness. For ten days, the 120 brethren had obeyed Christ’s final instruction, spending their time in prayer, supplication, and patient waiting in harmonious expectancy. Then the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place. The coming of the Spirit was accompanied by two manifestations: the sound of “a rushing mighty wind” (vs. 2) and the appearance of “cloven tongues like as of fi re” (vs. 3). John the Baptist had foretold One who would baptize “with the Holy Ghost, and with fi re” (Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16), these two physical evidences were a graphic portrayal of the coming of the Spirit. The evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost was that those who had been filled began to speak in “other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (vs. 4). The Greek word translated “tongue” is “dialektos”, which means “language” or “dialect.” We know that these “other tongues” were known languages because Jewish individuals from faraway countries who were in Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost understood what was being spoken. They were amazed to hear their languages spoken by men who had never learned them. The fact that the speakers were Galileans (vs. 7) made this evidence even more remarkable to the hearers, for the Galileans typically were looked down on as being unlearned and culturally inferior, and their speech was very heavily accented. Although the baptism of the Holy Spirit was typified in the Old Testament and promised by Old Testament prophets, it was not until the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Ghost was poured out upon believers. Peter, the disciple who had been so fearful that he denied his Lord before Jesus’ death, was divinely chosen to be the person who spoke to the gathered crowd. His confidence came from the Holy Spirit, and his message explained what had just taken place to individuals from multiple locations. In his sermon, Peter drew attention to “that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (vs.16), referring to Joel 2:28-29.



Some years ago, I started a new job at a cabinet-making factory. During the fifteen years I held that job, the management of the company continuously focused on improving the business processes to try to keep the factory profitable. One word I heard repeatedly in staff meetings was “effective.” Effectiveness was the measure of whether or not we, as employees of the firm, were able to accomplish our purpose and produce the intended outcome. Management did their best to make sure every worker was motivated, equipped, and encouraged to achieve maximum results. Effectiveness mattered! Have you ever wished your efforts for God were more effective? Have you ever felt the need for more boldness or strength or ability to work successfully for God? The Lord has promised the gift of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire to give us the power we need. In today’s text, we read of the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus’ followers who, after Christ’s ascension, had gathered in the Upper Room in obedience to His instruction for them to “wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). After the baptism of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon their waiting hearts, Peter addressed the crowd that had gathered when news of what happened was “noised abroad.” The effectiveness of Peter’s message is evidenced by the fact that at the close of his sermon, “the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (vs. 41). That effect was not because of Peter’s oratorical skills, but because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:43 tells us that subsequently, “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” The Holy Spirit truly had filled those early believers with power from on high, and their witness had an impact on those around them! Jesus still wants His followers to be effective as they work to fulfill the Great Commission. Strength, ability, and natural talent will only take us so far. We need God’s power in our lives to most effectively accomplish what He has called us to do. That is why the baptism of the Holy Ghost has been made available to us, as it was to the disciples of old. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of might, of power and strength, of vigour, courage, and holy boldness — not confidence in ourselves, but in God. The Spirit gives us grace to face dangers or trials without wavering, and to speak with clarity, liberty, and convincing power. May God put a desire in each of our hearts for the power of the Holy Spirit, that we might accomplish the work of God on earth most effectively. The promise that the Spirit would come to “all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” includes us! As we offer our lives to God with a sincere desire to be our best for Him, He will hear and answer.



Question 1
Just before His ascension, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus’ final words to His followers are recorded in Acts 1:4-8. What were they instructed to do, and what was promised to them before fulfilling the Great Commission?
Question 2
What do Jesus’ instructions to the disciples tell us about the value or importance of having the power of the Holy Ghost upon our lives? What are some things we can do while we wait for the promise to be fulfilled?
Question 3
The disciples obeyed Jesus’ instructions to tarry in Jerusalem, and Acts 2:1 tells us that when the Day of Pentecost came, they were “all with one accord in once place.” What does this statement tell us about the disciples’ spiritual condition when the Holy Ghost descended?
Question 4
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended upon those who had tarried in prayer. According to Acts 2:4, what was the external evidence that the Spirit had descended?
Question 5
Following the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, Peter stood and preached with courage and boldness to the crowd that had gathered. According to Acts 2:37, what was the response to his message? What does this reveal about the effect the Holy Spirit has on the unsaved?



The disciples needed the infilling of the Holy Spirit to be effective witnesses for Christ throughout the world. We have the same need today, and the same provision is available. God has provided the baptism of the Holy Ghost to empower believers and make them effective witnesses as He did for the apostles centuries ago.