Already but not yet

Last Sunday I was sitting in Bible study before church and I had a great “ah hah” moment.  The study we are doing right now is on Luke-Acts and the Holy Spirit.  I am thoroughly enjoying it since God’s Holy Spirit is probably the most neglected member of the trinity.  So there we are, talking about Pentecost and the circumstances of the event.  We’re looking at verses 9-11 where the list of folks present is recorded.  We are told by one of the folks who witnesses this event that “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 

Now am not prepared to open the can of works about tongues and whether it was a miracle of speaking or of hearing or both, so I’d like to put that aside for a minute.  I’d like to go back to chapter 1 now where Luke records the words of Jesus as, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (v. 4b-5).  This sets the stage for what happens at Pentacost of course but let’s keep going.  In verse six, Jesus is asked if he is going to restore the kingdom of Israel at this time.  His response?  “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (vv. 7-8)  And then he is taken up into heaven.  So what’s the “ends of the earth”?  When Acts was written it was Rome, right?  Right. 

So let’s go back now to chapter two and look at that list of people groups that were present for Pentacost.  Hidden amongst the list of folks who were present is this nice little phrase: “visitors from Rome.” 

So the synapses in my brain are begininng to connect and I realize that in one sense God has fulfilled Acts 1.7-8 from the get go!  How amazing!  How cool is God!  These folks who were present for Pentecost took this experience back to their homeland and the movement of the Holy Spirit is already in play before the disciples and the first Christians have a chance to set foot out of Jerusalem let alone Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth!  Amazing.  Simply amazing.  Already but not yet.

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