Acts 2:5-13

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7 And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

devout (v.5) — careful, scrupulous worshipers

every nation under heaven (v.5) — every civilized nation where Jews were living

confounded (v.6) = to pour together, to confuse and perplex

his own language (v.6) — known dialects and local varieties of them. The disciples spoke in at least 16 different languages and dialects

amazed (v.7) = distraught

marveled (v.7) = kept wondering — a continued effect after the first burst of amazement

Gallilaeans (v.7) — a comparatively uncivilized district with a provincial dialect. The inference is that these were uneducated men who could not be expected to be bilingual.

The Jews in Jerusalem for the feast were probably from all 12 tribes. Peter addressed both “men of Judea” and “men of Israel.” James wrote his epistle 10 to 12 years later to “the 12 tribes” so all were known.

No Gentiles are mentioned as being present.

Parthians (v.9) — from a mountainous region south of the Caspian Sea —a major foe of Rome —  in all these cases, it is referring to Jews and proselytes from the region who spoke the language.

Medes (v.9) — mountainous region next to Parthia, now northern Iran

Elamites (v.9) — Persia north of the Persian Gulf along the Tigris. Semitic in origin

Mesopotamia (v.9) = “that which is between the rivers” — between the Tigris and the Euphrates, north of Elam

Judea (v.9) — the region around Jerusalem — The people in Judea spoke a different dialect than those from Galilee

Cappadocia (v.9) — in Asia Minor (today’s Turkey) northwest of Palestine — under Roman rule

Pontus (v.9) — in Asia Minor north of Cappadocia — probably under Roman rule

Asia (v.9) — Pro-Consular Asia — the Roman province called Asia (as always in the New Testament) formed in 133 BC — the chief city was Ephesus — also included Pergamos and Smyrna

Phrygia (v.10) — in Asia Minor east of Pro-Consular Asia

Pamphylia (v.10) — on the south coast of Asia Minor — an 80-mile long narrow strip of coastline

Egypt (v.10) — a large number of Jews lived in Alexandria

Libya around Cyrene (v.10) — west of Egypt, particularly the fertile region around the city of Cyrene (in which the population was one-quarter Jewish)

sojourners from Rome (v.10) — people of Rome staying temporarily in Jerusalem

proselyte = newcomer — a convert to Judaism — they had to be circumcised, baptized and accept the Jewish religion

Cretans (v.11) — from an island in the Mediterranean 60 miles south of Greece — under Roman rule — many Jewish settlers

Arabians (v.11) — from between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf

perplexed (v.12) = utterly at a loss

new wine (v.13) = sweet wine — intoxicating

It wasn’t that the hearers (v.8) just “heard” their own language while the disciples spoke their own language. The disciples spoke other tongues (Acts 2:4).

There is no reason to believe that the disciples continued to have this gift wherever they went. Tongues are only mentioned three other places in the book of Acts.

On the day of Pentecost the gift was for a sign to the multitude; in Acts 10:46 it was evidence to Peter and the apostles that the Gentiles had received the same gift [the Holy Spirit] (see Acts 11:15) and in Acts 19:6 it was evidence that the Jewish disciples of John had also received the Holy Spirit …

We read not a word about this gift in connection with the other places visited by the apostles, not a word is said about speaking in tongues in the ministry of Philip in Samaria, nor during the great journeys of the apostle Paul, with the exception of the case mentioned above. It is therefore clear that the speaking in tongues was neither a universal nor a permanent gift, and that it appeared only in these three cases for a sign. — Gaebelein, page 42.


There is a distinct relation between what happened at Babel in the days before Abram’s call and what took place here at Pentecost more than two thousand years later.

There, at Babel, God judged man’s rebellion with the confusion of tongues; here He bestowed the gift of tongues. There His purpose was the scattering of the race (Genesis 11:7-8); here, its regathering beginning, of course, with Israel. (See Luke 24:47; John 11:51-52; Romans 15:8-10).

Since Israel rejected the glorified Christ, this gift has been withdrawn (1 Corinthians 13:8) and the Jews, like the rebels at Babel, have been scattered to the ends of the earth, which the Millennial Kingdom and blessings are held in abeyance until a future day. — Stam, pages 78-79.

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