The Teachings of Pentecost
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1983
Edited and expanded by David Sielaff, May 2005
Pentecost is one of the most important festivals of the biblical year. Other than Passover, which shows the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Pentecost happens to be an important biblical festival, simply because it is the birthday of the ekklesia, or shall we say, the time when God’s Holy Spirit came into the lives of the first disciples. To have God’s Holy Spirit means that you become a Christian, for without the Spirit of God no one can be a Christian. But on that Pentecost day some 1,900 years ago Christianity had its beginning.
The festival of Pentecost in the Old Testament is called in Exodus 23:16 the Feast of Harvest. It is a day of firstfruits, the firstfruits of agricultural labor. You might say that this day of Pentecost symbolizes God’s firstfruits harvest, or the celebration of His labors with us. This is because on this day some 1900 years ago, His divine ekklesia began. It began without organization. It began with teaching, with doctrine, and with the understanding of God’s word as far as the resurrection was concerned, an understanding that repentance and remission of sin, along with forgiveness and the acceptance of Jesus Christ, united together through God’s Holy Spirit to convert some 3,000 people who assembled and heard the apostles speak at Jerusalem.
Some time after that social organization began, but first came teaching and doctrine. That is what we must have in our minds at the present time. God began Christianity with the outpouring of His Holy Spirit. He calls it the Festival of Harvest, the firstfruits of God’s labors in the lives of mankind.
The word “firstfruits” in the Old Testament is the same word that we find translated throughout the Old Testament as “beginnings.” Indeed “firstfruits” shows beginnings. What happened back at Pentecost? It was a new beginning, a beginning that started the Christian ekklesia. Many of us right now some 1900 years later are also going through a new beginning. It is a new beginning in Christ, where God’s Holy Spirit is again moving in people’s lives, for we are now beginning to see people not submitting so much to the dictates and the commandments of men, but looking more toward the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. This is so that we may all understand what are the true words of the Eternal God in the Bible, and have the ability with the power of God backing us up to perform these words. I think that we are in a time of new beginnings. The day of Pentecost typifies that very thing.
In the Bible in Luke 24:47 Jesus Himself, not long after His resurrection, told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until a particular time when they would “be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). But in verse 47 He speaks about “repentance and the remission of sins.” He says that those two subjects “should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
Notice the word “beginning” and the geographical area from whence this would begin. It would be Jerusalem. Something was to start there. It was to be a firstfruits of something to start from Jerusalem. What was it? It was to be the preaching of repentance and the remission of sins (Luke 24:47).
When we turn to Acts chapter 2 we find that Pentecost was indeed a new beginning. The apostle Peter after he taught the people the message of Christ, that He was resurrected from the dead, that there was an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, that prophecy was being fulfilled on that very day, then the people after witnessing many of the miracles, said to Peter:
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’”
Remembering the command that Christ gave some days before concerning repentance and remission of sins, and that there would be a new beginning in Jerusalem with those two teachings (and of course Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead was the central part of both teachings), Peter answers:
“Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’”
We find the apostle Peter fulfilled the command that Christ gave him some days before. As a result it says that 3,000 people were converted that very Pentecost day (Acts 2:41).
This day was also known as the “Day of Weeks” as well. We find that everywhere it is mentioned in the Bible there is a sense of beginning associated with it, as a day of firstfruits symbolic of beginnings.
Since there are certain weeks to Pentecost from Passover, since there are a certain number of days from Passover (or the Days of Unleavened Bread) to Pentecost, sometimes there are different names associated with each counting system. For example the word Pentecost itself means “50th,” or “50th day.” It also means the time after the 7 weeks of barley and wheat harvest are over. Pentecost symbolizes the completion of the firstfruits harvest.
Because there were 7 weeks involved in the period of harvest, and at the same time Pentecost is only a 1-day celebration period, we find in the New Testament the term “Day of Weeks” being used which may very well point to Pentecost. I think in most cases in the Bible, and in the 3 occurrences in the New Testament, it does indeed refer to the day of Pentecost.
The phrase “Day of Weeks” is sometimes translated in the New Testament as the “Day of the Sabbath” or the Sabbath Day (when the word Sabbath is really in the plural “Sabbaths,” which can easily be translated or understood as “weeks”). This is without doubt the case as far as the New Testament Greek is concerned. In Hebrew when the word Sabbath is used, it means Sabbath. There is a different word for “week” in the Old Testament. It is shabuwa, which is similar to shabbat, but distinct from it.
In the New Testament it is different. This is shown by Philo Judaeus, a man who lived at the time of Christ in the Greek-founded city of Alexandria, Egypt. He was a man very fluent in Greek, 1 a Jew who knew all about Jewish matters, and what was going on in Palestine and the Temple and with the priesthood. He said that in the Greek the word sabbath in the plural is sabbaths, though in that form it is better understood by the word “weeks.”
So we find there is a period of 7 weeks of harvest of the barley and the wheat. At the end of those weeks, would be a day, Pentecost, in which would be celebrated the completion of the firstfruits harvest. Even that signified beginnings, as we will see in just a moment. 2
In Acts 16:1 we read about the apostle Paul going to the cities of Derbe and Lystra. These two cities are in central Asia Minor in the region called Galatia in those days. There Paul and his companions met the young man Timothy who was converted and circumcised, Paul then took Timothy and they began to go throughout the rest of Asia Minor in a northwesterly direction toward the uttermost extremities of Asia Minor preaching the Gospel.
It says in verse 6 that they carried on westward and came to the area of Phrygia. They wanted to go into the Roman province of Asia (not the continent) down toward Ephesus, but the Holy Spirit forbade them to go in that direction. So they continued northwestward. They got up to the northwestern province of Asia Minor known as Mysia (verse 7). Then “they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:7). In other words they were being directed to a particular spot in Asia Minor.
They finally came to the most northwesterly city in the whole area of Asia Minor known as Troas. This was on the seacoast and a jumping off place to Europe.
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’ And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi ...”
Once they arrived at Neapolis they were in Europe. This was the first time that Paul on any journey had been in Europe. From Neapolis they journeyed “to Philippi which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia” (Acts 16:12). Philippi was a Roman colony with a particular political esteem that the Roman government allowed at that time. Notice that they stayed several days in that city before they began to preach.
“And we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath ...”
That is what it says in the King James Version but the Greek actually says this: “On the day of the sabbaths,” in the plural. But going along with contemporary Jewish usage of the word, sabbath or sabbaths in the 1st century it could be rendered quite easily week or weeks. Because sabbaths is in the plural. with the word “day” the entire phrase means “on the day of the weeks.” We know this was springtime. There is a festival in the Bible that is called “the day of weeks” that happens to be Pentecost. (See also Acts 13:14.)
Is it possible that they waited in Europe, in Philippi, until “the day of the weeks” which is Pentecost and then they began to preach? Since Pentecost designates a day of beginnings (and certainly Pentecost day in Jerusalem was a beginning), could we find here that this is a beginning of the preaching of the Gospel to Europe? That is exactly the case because it says
“And on the sabbath [“the day of the weeks” in Greek] we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke unto the women which resorted thither.”
This was the first preaching (in an official way) of the Gospel by the apostle Paul to Europe. This was certainly a beginning. When he wrote back to the Philippian ekklesia some years later, he recalled the incident of preaching the Gospel to those at Philippi. Paul himself recognized that event as a new beginning.
“Now you Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but you only.”
Once in Philippi, Paul began to preach on “the day of weeks,” the women came out to the river side, and the ekklesia was established. He stayed there for a little while, and then he began to go to other Macedonian cities. He went to Thessalonica, and then he went to Berea. From there he traveled down to Athens and finally into Corinth which is in southern Greece.
He is recalling that first event to the Philippians. He says it was “the beginning of the Gospel.” That is exactly what it was, a beginning of the Gospel to Europe that took place on the day of weeks which is Pentecost, a day of beginnings when God’s Holy Spirit began in Jerusalem with the ekklesia, and when it looks like the Holy Spirit began the ekklesia in Europe.
We are all the offspring, all of us here in the United States and throughout the western world — or for anyone that goes by the apostle Paul’s teaching — we are the offspring of that Philippian ekklesia, so to speak, because we all show our genealogy going back to that event at Philippi. Before that we can trace it back to Jerusalem. The apostle Paul referred to this same event in the Book of Second Corinthians:
“Furthermore, when I came to Troas [northwestern Asia Minor, Acts 16:9–12] to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from there into Macedonia.”
2 Corinthians 2:12–13
He went over the Aegean Sea or the Dardanelles straits and he found himself in Macedonia, in Europe and there he began at Philippi on “the day of weeks” to preach the Gospel. He calls it a beginning, an opened door so he could walk through with the Gospel with Jesus Christ backing him up.
From that beginning all this has come back down to you and to me, and all Europeans by birth. If not by birth, we are certainly Europeans by culture. Whatever the case we are all disciples of Paul who was a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Christ Himself seemed to place some significance to this day because the same words “the day of the weeks,” undoubtedly referring to Pentecost (although some dispute it, it works out chronologically), is found in Luke chapter 4:
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”
Here again the phrase in the Greek is “on the day of the weeks.” If that were Pentecost it is a most amazing thing taking place. Let us say it is Pentecost, and He:
“... stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias [Isaiah]. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’”
“This day,” means a particular day in a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. Something began on that day, the preaching of the Gospel in power and authority, the healing of the sick and the broken hearted, the giving of sight to the blind, and things like that. That is what happened on that day. He says, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” This passage comes from Isaiah 61:1–2. 3 It is most remarkable since this was occurring in a synagogue.
If we were to go to the old synagogue lectionaries (the liturgy read in the synagogues in Jerusalem, in Galilee, and throughout the Jewish world in the 1st century), we would find that this passage was read regularly on the second year of a triennial cycle reading of the Law and the Prophets. 4
If it was not Pentecost when Jesus fulfilled this passage, there is hardly any doubt that this Isaiah passage was read on a Pentecost day in the second year of the triennial cycle readings in the synagogues when Jesus said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” At that time was when He began to preach the Gospel in power. If this indeed were a Pentecost day, then Christ Himself (two years before the Pentecost when the disciples received God’s Holy Spirit) inaugurated a beginning of His Gospel with power and authority. 5
Again, Pentecost is not only the Feast of Firstfruits, which means beginning, but important beginnings occurred on this day that relate to the start of strategic time periods or epochs of time.
Pentecost is also significant from the point of view of what happened on this day in Acts chapter 2 when the ekklesia really began. We are all familiar what happened on that day, but to rehearse it just a bit, turn to Acts chapter 2:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and began to speak with other tongues [other languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”
That is important. Representatives of Jews living in all nations from around the world gathered together in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. Many of those Jews could not speak the language Peter was speaking, whether Hebrew or Aramaic. What happened? It says:
“Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, ‘Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?’”
Verses 9–11 go on to specify the nations they came from; and different languages were spoken in each area. All clearly heard the message of Jesus Christ being preached by Peter and the other apostles.
Many people, including Bible commentators, have seen in this miracle a kind of symbolic movement back from the events of Babel mentioned in Genesis chapter 11. What happened back in the time of Noah when man began to repopulate the face of the earth? It says they built a tower to “reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). They made it with mortar, stone, and bricks. They made it water tight because they were afraid of another flood even though God said there would not be another flood. They wanted to build a tower unto heaven up high. I suppose they thought two people could get to the top of it to be saved. This shows a lack of faith.
But God saw what they were doing by building this tower. God disturbed and confounded them by changing their languages and causing them to go out into all parts of the world. From that time forward there have been many, many languages on this earth.
So what do we find in Acts chapter 2 with the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit? It was an earnest of something, a beginning of something. It was a demonstration through God’s Holy Spirit that what God did at Babel (scattering people around the world, and making various nations with various languages) was to begin to be reversed. It was done by God’s Holy Spirit, through the preaching of Peter and the apostles.
God was going to bring them back step-by-step into one community, not by one tower but by a spiritual Temple, the ekklesia under Christ, under which all nations would finally come to believe in the Christ, and be in happiness and joy, speaking one language and knowing the truth of the almighty God.
What happened on that Pentecost day back some 1,900 years ago was the earnest, the down payment of what will happen in the future when God gathers in all the nations of the world and brings them back to the true Jerusalem, the ekklesia, to the tower that God has built, not man. He will then allow them to speak one language in harmony and unity, but this time under God. God will bring back all people into a unified whole.
That was a new beginning back then. Even today we have yet to see the fruition of it. We have just seen the beginning. Step by step God will bring everything to fruition so that the whole world and the entire universe are in harmony with God around His Temple, and not a tower built by man.
Pentecost is also very much like the period of time called Jubilee. Jubilee is not a festival but it is a time period every 50th year in which men would come back to their original possessions, a time that all debts would be cancelled, a time when everyone would finally have liberty and peace and joy and harmony.
Since God is reversing Babel (where He scattered the people and changed their languages) with the commencement of the divine ekklesia of God when He gave His Holy Spirit to men through the apostle Peter’s preaching, we are going step by step until the Second Coming of Christ. Then there will be a great ingathering, a return. In the time beyond that there will be an even greater ingathering and return. 6 Then finally, God will bring back all of us into His divine family, into a unity in which we are all speaking the same language, have the same type of government, the same type of family environment, the same type of love motivating each one of us to everyone else.
That was what Pentecost signaled as a beginning. It was very much like Jubilee because Jubilee was to come along every 50th year. Back in Leviticus 25 we read of Jubilee. It is most interesting to read what would happen every 50th year.
“And you shall number seven sabbaths of years unto you, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto you forty and nine years. Then shall you cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”
Immediately someone would say this is the Day of Atonement, this is not Pentecost. You would be correct. Really the complete fulfillment comes with the symbolism of Atonement. Atonement is the 10th day of Tishri. The 1st day of Tishri is the Day of Trumpets. That is when Jesus Christ symbolically comes back to earth. He puts down rebellion and then on the 10th Day of Tishri is the time symbolizing Satan being put away. Once he is put away, 7 the world is free and at liberty. Then it will be time to give the possessions back to the people for whom it was designed in the first place, God’s people. This cannot really take place until after Christ comes back and until Satan is put away. That is why it is on the 10th of Tishri.
However, the earnest of these events is a different matter, it is the down payment. None of us are inheriting the true spiritual Kingdom of God yet. We are in it only in the earnest stage at the present time, which began at Pentecost. There is a Pentecost experience 8 for each one of us here and now to taste the powers of the world to come, when these things will be actually put into formulation.
What is this year of Jubilee all about, and how can the day of Pentecost be an earnest of it? Let us go on.
“And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and you shall return every man unto his possession, and you shall return every man unto his family.”
Then in that 50th year, look at verse 13: “In the year of this jubilee you shall return every man unto his possession.” (Leviticus 25:13). Read the entire context to get all the information there. Jubilee is a time of new beginning for debtors and for everyone.
Jubilee, the 50th year, symbolically means to usher in the fullness of God’s Kingdom on this earth, thereby making preparation for the great Millennium. That is what Jubilee really means, but it shows a time when liberty will be proclaimed throughout the whole land, a time when everybody will return to his own possession, and a time of happiness and joy.
Actually, that will occur after Christ’s Second Coming. But you and I right now are in a period in which we taste a little bit of “the powers of the world to come” as the apostle Paul said in Hebrews 6:4–5. We do that now through the Spirit. We are receiving an earnest of the inheritance already at this moment.
Pentecost is very similar to Jubilee, because Jubilee is the 50th of a period of years showing a return to the original possessions people were to have, and also a return to liberty. Every year, the 50th day starting from the Days of Unleavened Bread would be a Pentecost day. Pentecost symbolizes the firstfruits, the beginning, the earnest of these things, the beginning of the spiritual things of God. It is the 50th day, not the 50th year. The 50th year is much broader. It gives the actual. The 50th day is more restrained. It shows the simple, it shows the earnest.
What do we find at Pentecost in chapter 2 of Acts? Do we find that the people there began to get a foretaste, a little bit, of what will occur when the great Jubilee comes in the near future after Christ’s Second Coming? Indeed so.
That is what Pentecost is all about. This is the earnest, the firstfruits, the beginning of things. So, we find this is what happened in Acts chapter 2.
Immediately after 3,000 people were converted on that first Christian Pentecost day, the people then found themselves in Jerusalem and what were they to do? It is most interesting thinking about it from the point of view of Jubilees where everybody returns to his own possessions, and possessions then become part of the Christian community. That is, everyone begins to go back to the inheritance that God wanted them to have in the first place. What happened? As soon as the 3,000 were converted it says:
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men [in their new group], as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.
It seemed to be like people returning to their own possessions and a community of goods. What will happen in God’s Kingdom? When the fullness of these things come, the possessions we will have not only will be on this earth but they reach out and embrace the entirety of this universe. We will have these things in common with the eternal God. That does not mean that we should have community of goods right now. They did so, however, back on that Pentecost day and the days that came afterward in which they sold their goods. 9
What they started to do there was an earnest, a beginning, a firstfruit of what will happen in the future when we inherit the entirety of the universe once Jesus Christ comes back, puts down Satan the devil, takes away the powers that he has, and gives us the possessions that we desire and need and want. This is what Christianity is about.
So Pentecost is similar to Jubilees. Whereas Jubilees is longer, dealing with years, and shows the actual, Pentecost is much shorter dealing with days. It shows the earnest as the firstfruits, the beginnings.
Each new beginning also represents an end to something else. The first Pentecost marked the end of Egyptian slavery while it made Israel into a separate nation. The gentile woman, Ruth, ended her contact with her people of Moab and became associated with God and the people of Israel. Christ’s preaching ended a way of looking at the Law and inaugurated Jesus’ preaching of the Kingdom of God. The Old Covenant ended at Pentecost when the apostles for received the fullness of the Holy Spirit that rushed into them with an audible sound. One phase of Paul’s ministry ended and another began at Pentecost. For each of us Pentecost recalls an end to our old life without Christ and teaches us that we now have the Spirit of God.
This day is also significant from the point of view concerning the Book of Ruth. The Book of Ruth was read every Pentecost day, every year in the synagogues throughout Palestine and wherever there were Jews in Temple times. They started to read the Book of Ruth from the time of Ezra the Priest some 450 years before the birth of Christ. They began to read it every Pentecost Day. It is most significant when you think about it.
Let us look at the content of the Book of Ruth. We find this book right after the Book of Judges. Ruth was a Moabitess. She was not a Jew. She was not an Israelite. She was from the family of Lot. They lived east of the River Jordan. They were close to Israel in race, but they were not Israelites. They were gentiles.
Two people, a man and wife, left Bethlehem of Judea and in time of famine went over to Moab. They went there to live and their two sons each married a Moabite woman. The husband of Naomi (the mother) died, and the two sons died. Naomi had two daughters-in-law. She asked them, do you want to stay in Moab to be with your own people, or do you want to go back with me over across the River Jordan, back to Judea. That was where Naomi was going. One daughter said she did not want to go, but Ruth said that she wanted to go wherever her mother-in-law would go. She says this in a beautiful refrain in chapter 1:
“And Ruth said, ‘Intreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for wherever you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’”
This was almost as if this was a type of conversion that was occurring with Ruth. Naomi and Ruth left and went over the River Jordan, up the road to Jerusalem, and branched off to Bethlehem where Naomi came from. At what time of the year was this that they finally arrived to the Bethlehem region? It says at the end of chapter 1. It was at “the beginning of barley harvest” (Ruth 1:22).
All of the events that follow in the Book of Ruth, about her gleaning in the fields, about her meeting Boaz (her future husband), all these events took place within the barley and wheat harvest around Bethlehem of Judea from whence would come King David and our Lord. In fact our Lord and King David were to be born of a union between Boaz and Ruth a Moabitess, a gentile converted to the truth of God.
We know that these things happened throughout the barley and wheat harvest because that is what we are told in chapter 2:
“So she kept fast [close] by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law [Naomi].”
You know what festival completed the grain harvest of barley and wheat? It was Pentecost.
Then you continue to read how she finally came to Boaz, and he fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. She had been gleaning in the fields. Once he fell in love with her he began to leave more and more for her. Ruth would go and glean, and take home more and more, so she and Naomi would have something to eat. To glean meant just getting the stalks that the harvesters left. The reapers were not allowed to reap every little thing. They were to reap it but they were to leave the corners which were left for the poor people (Leviticus 19:9–10; Deuteronomy 24:19–22).
Boaz, once he began to care for her, allowed Ruth to have more and more of the barley and the wheat when they were gleaning. As time went on, he fell so much in love with her that he wanted her as his wife. It so happens that there was another man that had the law on his side to marry her first. They had to clear that problem first, but when that happened it says:
“And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses [of the union]. The Lord make the woman [Ruth] that is come into your house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do you worthily in Ephratah [next to Bethlehem], and be famous in Bethlehem.”
In effect then, the union of Boaz and Ruth finally saw Obed being born, who in turn gave birth to Jesse, who in turn gave birth to his 8th born son who was David. David then became king of Judah. Out of David’s loins came a perpetual king, the Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings, who will rule all nations with a rod of iron.
Moab gave birth to Ruth, a gentile woman, but she converted and became an Israelite, and became part through history of the royal family, and a progenitor of the divine kingly line that was to see Christ come who will save all people, Jew, Israelite and gentile, from their sins.
This book of Ruth, largely takes place within the period of one Passover and Pentecost. Indeed the marriage took place on or very near Pentecost. What was the significance that the scribes saw in this book when they assigned it to be read on the Day of Pentecost? Well the time period is certainly within the Pentecost period, and it ends with Pentecost. But further, it is also the harvesting of the firstfruit grain.
Who was it that harvested the gleanings? It was Ruth. Boaz’s men reaped the bulk of the harvest, but who was it that came along and picked up the leftover sprig of wheat or barley, and got the corners so that every scrap of the firstfruit was harvested? It was Ruth, a gentile woman converted to the truth, who finally became the queen mother (so to speak) of the divine line that would produce the Christ who was to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You might say that within her loins were David and Christ. What was she doing? She was harvesting every single leftover stalk of the firstfruits by gleaning because she was poor.
When Jesus Christ was on this earth He did not have a place on which to lay his head (Luke 9:58). He was poor for all practical purposes. Maybe He was not completely indigent, but on the other hand He did not have great riches. He died on a cross for all of us. Not one single soul will He lose. He said on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in John chapter 6:
“‘All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.’ ...
‘No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me.’”
John 6:37–40, 44–45
These powerful statements of Jesus were strengthened later when he taught publicly in the Temple:
“And I give unto them eternal life [life eonian]; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. [Why? Because ... ] My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.”
Note these significant points about Pentecost:
Pentecost signifies the time of the spring harvest, the
agricultural firstfruits of the year.
We find that events in Ruth take place at the time of Pentecost
and have a beautiful symbolism relating to that festival.
Ezra established the tradition of reading the Book of Ruth at the
time of Pentecost.
Christ Jesus began His ministry of power undoubtedly on this day
We find in Acts chapter 2 that the ekklesia began with the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Babel was beginning to be reversed at that
time. This Pentecost foreshadowed a time of unity.
We find that the apostle Paul went to Europe and began to preach
on Pentecost Day, establishing the mother ekklesia of all of us in the
The firstfruits harvest represents us today who still live in this world of sin, of trouble, of difficulty, of strife, of disunity, and things like that. We all need to have the unity of the Spirit. God can give that to us piecemeal here and there, but we cannot have it altogether until Christ Jesus comes again and restores it in all of its power. We know that.
Until that time we are going to have some disunity, there is no question. But we who have the Firstfruits of the Spirit should endeavor to be in the unity of that Spirit. It does not necessarily mean man-made organization, but it does mean we must have a unity of the Spirit so we can grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Here was Ruth, a gentile woman, but still at the same time becoming an Israelite, being the direct motherly ancestor of David and then of Christ Himself, going about gleaning and getting every little stalk of the firstfruits harvest.
I think the symbolism is absolutely beautiful and wonderful. All of those that God has designated to be in His Firstfruits Harvest, Christ Himself will reap. If He has to send the royal family itself into the field to glean every last stalk like Ruth did, He will do it. It is a beautiful symbol to show us that whatever God the Father has given to Christ, “no one is able to pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:28 [and 29]). That is what He said, and that is what He means. It is a beautiful symbol.
What we have on the Day of Pentecost is something that is especially Christian to each of us. Passover is most important because that is our Lord crucified, and the Days of Unleavened Bread represent the days in which He was resurrected. Beyond that we have the Firstfruits Harvest which describes ourselves.
We are the beginnings of that Firstfruits Harvest. I hope that all of us can see the responsibility that we have, and also the privileges that go along with it, and be about our Father’s business in doing the work that He wants done. The work really is for us to grow in love, to grow in grace, to grow in knowledge until we come to the fullness of the teachings of Christ, so that we can put Him fully in our lives and help others around us in a personal way.
Pentecost is the festival of beginnings. Since it is of beginnings and most of us for the first time in years have had the Bible opened up as we never have before, I think it is time we rededicated our lives because this is a day of beginnings for each of us. Why not say that we are now in a beginning time, that we need God’s Spirit to be outpoured on us, that we can get rid of Babel, that we can come into a unity of the Spirit.
I know there will be all types of organizations of men, but the unity of the Spirit based on love, that is what we must do. If we have that, we do not have to be tied up altogether in this or that or anything else within an organization, but we can grow together in unity through love, through mercy, and through goodness.
I believe that God is giving us, now, an opportunity for really growing. Something is starting. We are at the Firstfruits, at the threshold of a new beginning. Perhaps this is the day in which all of us in our lives can see something, looking forward in the future when Christ will bring it into fruition. Right now perhaps this can be a new beginning to each one of us.
Let us look on this Pentecost Day as a day for each of us collectively and individually to put our own house in order, doctrinally, in a proper way, insofar as the study of the Bible is concerned, of growing in grace and in knowledge, loving everybody that we possibly can, and do our best to serve God.
We need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We all do. We fail so much. But I think that if we link our arms together through faith in Jesus Christ we can accomplish what Jesus Christ started over 1,900 years ago. What He is starting now with us is a new day, a new beginning.
Let us be about the new Pentecost and put our houses in order, individually and collectively. I think that God will bless us for it. May God’s blessings be with every one of you.
Ernest L. Martin, 1983
Edited by David Sielaff, May 2005
In the Old Testament festivals, there occurred an offering that took place just after Passover and before Pentecost. The offering presented at that time was called “the first of the firstfruits.”
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.”
Exodus 23:19 (identical in 34:26)
“And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's: you shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in your house.”
The priest waved a “first of the firstfruits” offering of grain before the Lord on the day after the Sabbath in the week of unleavened bread. Of course that day was always a Sunday:
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 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.”
This offering took place after Passover, “on the morrow [meaning the following day] after the Sabbath,” which meant the first sabbath after Passover. This took effect only after Israel entered the Promised Land. This was because after entering the land God that gave them, Israel changed from a nomadic society to an agricultural society. This entire instruction comprises Leviticus 23:9–14. 10
In the verses following, Leviticus 9:15–22, the instructions regarding the feast of weeks (later called Pentecost) are given. The counting of 50 days begins on the same day that the sheaf was waved before the Lord, on the same day after the sabbath of Passover week. The counting of days included that Sunday. Note that the wave-sheaf offering in Leviticus 23:10 and the offerings for the feast of weeks are both called “firstfruits,” even though they are separated by time.
This same situation is fulfilled by Christ and the ekklesia. Just as Christ is the Passover, 11 so too Christ fulfills the role of “the first of the firstfruits” by virtue of His being the first to rise from the dead:
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits [singular in Greek, “firstfruit”] of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits [singular]; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. ...”
1 Corinthians 15:20–23
The day of Christ’s resurrection was the very day of the offering of the “first of the firstfruits.” That was also the very day, the 1st day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19), the first day after the Sabbath after Passover. Christ’s status as the firstfruit to rise from the dead is reflective of the sheaf offering presented after Passover. We, the ekklesia, the body of Christ, come later, representing the “ harvest of Pentecost. 12
We are not secondary fruit, we too are firstfruits, as Christ is the firstfruit. Why are we firstfruits? It is by virtue of our being in Christ. We are the body of Christ and Christ is the firstfruit in His followers:
“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits [singular] of his creatures.”
“Not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits [singular] of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
“For if the firstfruits [singular] be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.”
Christ is the beginning of the ekklesia, the firstborn from the dead.
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church [Greek, ekklesia]: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
The Jewish historian Josephus tells about a significant miraculous sign that occurred just before the siege of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in 66 C.E. The sign announced God’s abandonment of the Temple by God. This also seems to have indicated a major change, a new beginning, regarding the physical Temple. God’s glory was being removed from the Temple. 13 It was no longer necessary because the ekklesia at that moment comprised the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).
“Moreover, at the feast which is called Pentecost the priests [all 24 of them] on entering the inner court of the Temple by night as their custom was in the discharge of their ministrations, reported that they were conscious, first of a commotion and a din [a great noise], and after that of a voice as of a host [an army], ‘We are departing hence [from here].’”
Josephus, Jewish Wars 6:299–300 14
In Acts 20:16 it says that the apostle Paul desired to be in Jerusalem on Pentecost day. If he was in fact there on Pentecost, then the events comprising Acts 21:27–22:29 (all of which occurred on one day), may have occurred on that very day. Recall that Jews from Asia saw Paul & objected to his presence there. A crowd of foreign Jews being present in Jerusalem most likely occurred around festival periods. The closest holiday was Pentecost. It is possible then (but it cannot be determined) that the day that Paul was arrested was Pentecost.
What an appropriate time to initiate a major new direction in Paul’s ministry. It was a new beginning for Paul and for the ekklesia of Christ, leading directly to his imprisonment during which he received the revelation of the Mystery of God.
As Dr. Martin notes in the above article, Babel’s sin caused disunity when God judged mankind. The opposite process of uniting mankind began and was lived in the example of the newborn ekklesia at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. God continues that process of uniting mankind through you and me. This theme of unity is strongly promoted by the apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 4:
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Paul is beseeching and entreating the Ephesian ekklesia — and us today — to “keep” what we all already possess (see Ephesians 4:1). Paul calls it the “the unity of the Spirit.” It is something that we should be “endeavoring” to keep. This word means to work and struggle hard.
This “unity of the Spirit” is another of God’s gifts to us. Paul’s encouragement is for us to keep what we already possess. Paul says “There is one ... one ... one ...,” etc. This is not a wish or a whim on Paul’s part. The unity, the oneness, is existent in the body (the ekklesia), the Spirit, the hope, the Lord, the faith, the baptism, and in God the Father. This is not just nice poetic phrasing, but a present and true reality.
We do not realize this unity of oneness with our present fellow believers in God and Christ because we are scattered throughout the earth for the following purpose:
“ the perfecting of the saints,  for the work of the ministry,  for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and [unity] of the knowledge [epignosis, full realization] of the Son of God, unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine [teaching], by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted [united] by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
God’s work has a purpose that is being fulfilled through you, in spite of the opposition of your fleshly nature. That unity will be accomplished. Pentecost is a picture of an important step in that process. It too has been fulfilled in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:23).
David Sielaff, May 2005
1 All of Philo’s writings were in very fluent Greek. He used the Greek Old Testament, the LXX or Septuagint exclusively for his biblical citations. See the comprehensive website on Philo of Alexandria at http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/philo.html. DWS
2 It seems that King David was looking to initiate a new beginning when he killed potential rivals to the throne of Israel by putting to death the remaining heirs of the deposed and dead King Saul. This happened very near Pentecost.
“And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.”
2 Samuel 21:9 DWS
3 If Jesus was reading Isaiah at the proper time (and after all “there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias” [Luke 4:17], presumably by the synagogue attendant), then this would have been in 28 C.E. Note how the verse from Isaiah is used by Christ in Luke. Keeping in mind that Jesus had the authority to change the text to emphasize whaterver He chose, note the similarities and differences:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”
This likely took place in a sabbatical year. See Dr. Martin’s The Star That Astonished the World, “Appendix 4: Part 1 – The Sabbatical Years and Chronology” at http://www.askelm.com/star/star020.htm#_ednref6. See Aileen Guilding’s, The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship: a Study of the Relation of St. John's Gospel to the Ancient Jewish Lectionary System (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960) for information about the Jewish lectionary system in general. DWS
4 Of course we do not know all of the calendar indications of Jewish matters in Christ’s day. ELM
5 Unanimous Jewish tradition during the intertestamental period came to understand Pentecost as the anniversary of the giving of the law to Israel at Sinai. See Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, chapters 10 and 13, and Jubilees 1:1 and 6:17, Babylonian Talmud Pesahim 68b; Midrash, Tanhuma 26c. This may well be the case, but it is not explicitly stated in Scripture. DWS
6 This will be the time of the Great White Throne judgment. DWS
7 Note that at the present time Satan is the deity to most people in the world. The apostle Paul says Satan is the “god of this world [aion or age]” (2 Corinthians 4:4). DWS
8 Dr. Martin is not speaking about ecstatic physical or emotional experiences of modern so-called tongues speaking and other non-biblical manifestations. To distinguish the true events at Pentecost from the false mystical “charismatic” religion of modern Pentecostalism, see Dr. Martin’s article “The Corinthian Experience” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d031101.htm. DWS
9 Of course, they could not sell anything immediately on that day because it was a festival sabbath. ELM
10 As a nation God considered Israel to be His firstfruits among all the nations:
“Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him [Israel] shall offend; evil shall come upon them, says the Lord.”
Jeremiah 2:3 DWS
11 1 Corinthians 5:7. See the “Newsletter for April 2005” at http://www.askelm.com/newsletter/l200504.htm, and Dr. Martin’s article, “The Passover Contradiction” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d050401.htm. DWS
12 Paul continues to use the agricultural figure of sowing and seeds when discussing the resurrection from 1 Corinthians 15:12 through to the end of the chapter. The same period of time is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:2–8 where reference is made (verse 2) to the Paschal firstfruits extending to Pentecost (verse 8). DWS
13 See portions from Dr. Ernest Martin’s book, Restoring the Original Bible, “Chapter 15: The Book of Acts and New Testament History – Part 2” at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res021.htm, “Chapter 16: The Jewish/Roman War and Canonization” at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res022.htm and the article “Signs of the Times in the First Century” at http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p040701.htm. DWS
14 Aileen Guilding, The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship, p. 53, noted that on Pentecost in 66 C.E. when this event occurred, the portion read from the Law was Genesis 12:1ff, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country,” The Prophets section was Joshua 24:3–18 which dealt with Israel being led out of trouble starting with Abraham. The theme in Temple and synagogue was: GET OUT! These words were being read in the Temple and in synagogues around the known world at the very time that this sign occurred. ELM
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