About10 days after our Lord Jesus ascended to Heaven, the Feast of Weeks arrived, on the fiftieth day from the Passover (Leviticus 23:16), and the 12 Apostles together with other believers, obeyed the indication of Lord Jesus to remain in Jerusalem and await the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them in this manner, for the first time in history (Acts 1:4-5).
Traditionally it has been assumed that only 120 people were present that day (Acts 1:15), and that they were on a second level building, most probably the cenacle where our Lord celebrated his last Passover (Acts 1:13). All this is most probable; however, the Bible does not specify exactly how many disciples were on that day at that place, or whether they were still on an ‘upper place’.
We know by Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians that Lord Jesus appeared to ‘more than 500 people at once’ (1Corinthians 15:6), which indicated that He had several more disciples, which most probably did not include the 120 already mentioned plus others to whom He already had appeared to, even though this cannot be affirmed for certain.
Most of these people were probably from Galilee, so we cannot easily suppose that every single disciple of the Lord was in Jerusalem at that moment, but only the12 Apostles, and the immediate family of the Lord and the Jerusalem disciples.
We do not know if those not present in Jerusalem that day also received the Holy Spirit that day, wherever they were, or if they later received by the imposition of hands from the Apostles (Acts 8:15-17), but certainly they did receive the Spirit at some point since the promise was for every believer (Acts 2:39).
While the present were there, at about 9am (Acts 2:15), a strong wind came from Heaven, and the Holy Spirit, dividing Himself, settled in the form of a flame of fire, over every one of them (Acts 2:3), and they all were filled with the Holy Spirit of God, in fulfilment to the promise of Jesus and prophet Joel (John 14:16-17; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17).
Here we see God’s power, able to be in several times at the same moment. We know the Father is one, the Son is one, and we know that the Holy Spirit is also one (John 14:16); and here we see how one person of the divine Trinity can also be at several times into each individual, because the Scripture say they all were ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:4). We know that that was not just energy or some faculty of the Spirit that entered them, because the Scripture is clear that it was the Spirit Himself who entered them, and not one of his faculties.
But on this day, also the Holy Spirit gave them the power to be understood in different languages, reverting the curse of Babel, when God divided the nations by confusing their languages, and the exclusivism of Israel as a chosen nation.
This day, by speaking in different current languages, a phenomenon that must not be confused with the ‘Gift of Tongues’, since this was a unique occurrence and was not a gift, God invited all humanity, of all races, sexes, ages, classes and nationalities, to come to repentance and to accept our Lord Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Thus, they were understood by people from all nations, who marvelled that these simple Galileans could speak in multiple languages to be understood by all.
For this reason we must strongly reject the evil practice of some ‘Christians’ who pretend to worship God, from anywhere on the planet and from every nation, in a fixed ‘liturgical language’, may that be Latin, Slavonic or any other not understood by the worshippers, as if God was incapable to understand every human in their own language, or willing to receive worship that way. From that day, we can speak to God directly, and worship Him in spirit and in truth, from our own understanding and form of speech.
That day of Pentecost, the Church was born as such, totally equipped to carry on the message of conversion that our Lord Jesus commended us, until his return.