The Feast of Pentecost

 

Before the events of the first Pentecost, there were followers of Jesus but no movement that could be meaningfully be called "the church." Thus, from an historical perspective, Pentecost is the day on which the Christian church was formed.

The story of Pentecost is told in the Acts of the Apostles. Ten days after the Ascension of Jesus, the twelve apostles, Jesus' mother, family, and many of his other disciples gathered together in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish festival of Shavout. What happened next is recounted in Acts 2:1-6:

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 Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The Apostle Peter explained to the other followers that this event was the beginning of a continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that would be available to all believers from that point on, Jews and Gentiles alike. He further declared that the disciples were now empowered to proclaim the gospel of the newly risen Christ. Accordingly, everyone went out into the streets and began spreading the words of Jesus to the people gathered to celebrate Shavout.  Peter preached his first sermon, where he told the people that Jesus had been raised and poured out the Spirit in fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. When asked by those present what they ought to do, he urged them to turn their lives around and be baptised in the name of Jesus, so that they could be forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is said that over 3,000 people became Christians that day.