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Naves Topical Bible Dictionary

PENTECOST Summary and Overview

Bible Dictionaries at a GlanceBible Dictionaries at a Glance

PENTECOST in Easton's Bible Dictionary

i.e., "fiftieth", found only in the New Testament (Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8). The festival so named is first spoken of in Ex. 23:16 as "the feast of harvest," and again in Ex. 34:22 as "the day of the firstfruits" (Num. 28:26). From the sixteenth of the month of Nisan (the second day of the Passover), seven complete weeks, i.e., forty-nine days, were to be reckoned, and this feast was held on the fiftieth day. The manner in which it was to be kept is described in Lev. 23:15-19; Num. 28:27-29. Besides the sacrifices prescribed for the occasion, every one was to bring to the Lord his "tribute of a free-will offering" (Deut. 16:9-11). The purpose of this feast was to commemorate the completion of the grain harvest. Its distinguishing feature was the offering of "two leavened loaves" made from the new corn of the completed harvest, which, with two lambs, were waved before the Lord as a thank offering. The day of Pentecost is noted in the Christian Church as the day on which the Spirit descended upon the apostles, and on which, under Peter's preaching, so many thousands were converted in Jerusalem (Acts 2).

PENTECOST in Smith's Bible Dictionary

that is, the fiftieth day (from a Greek word meaning fiftieth), or Harvest Feast, or Feast of Weeks, may be regarded as a supplement to the Passover. It lasted for but one day. From the sixteenth of Nisan seven weeks were reckoned inclusively, and the next or fiftieth day was the day of Pentecost, which fell on the sixth of Sivan (about the end of May). #Ex 23:16; 34:22; Le 23:15,22; Nu 28| See Jewish calendar at the end of this volume. The Pentecost was the Jewish harvest-home, and the people were especially exhorted to rejoice before Jehovah with their families their servants, the Levite within their gates, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow in the place chosen by God for his name, as they brought a free-will offering of their hand to Jehovah their God. #De 16:10,11| The great feature of the celebration was the presentation of the two loaves made from the first-fruits of the wheat harvest. With the loaves two lambs were offered as a peace offering and all were waved before Jehovah and given to the priests; the leaves being leavened, could not be offered on the altar. The other sacrifices were, a burnt offering of a young bullock, two, rams and seven lambs with a meat and drink offering, and a kid for a sin offering. #Le 23:18,19| Till the pentecostal leaves were offered, the produce of the harvest might not be eaten, nor could any other firstfruits be offered. The whole ceremony was the completion of that dedication of the harvest to God as its giver, and to whom both the land and the people were holy, which was begun by the offering of the wave-sheaf at the Passover. The interval is still regarded as a religious season. The Pentecost is the only one of the three great feasts which is not mentioned as the memorial of events in the history of the Jews; but such a significance has been found in the fact that the law was given from Sinai on the fiftieth day after the deliverance from Egypt. Comp. Exod 12 and 19. In the exodus the people were offered to God as living first fruits; at Sinai their consecration to him as a nation was completed. The typical significance of the Pentecost is made clear from the events of the day recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 2. Just as the appearance of God on Sinai was the birthday of the Jewish nation, so was the Pentecost the birthday of the Christian Church.

PENTECOST in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

PEN'TECOST (from a Greek word signifying fiftieth) is the name by which the N.T. denotes the second great festival of the Jews, called by them "the feast of weeks" or "the day of first-fruits." It was celebrated on the fiftieth day (hence the name) after the Passover, reckoning from the second day of the Passover (the 16th of Nisan), Lev 23:11, 2 Sam 20:15, to the morrow after the end of the seventh week. Lev 23:15-16; Deut 16:9. It was originally a simple thanksgiving for the harvest, which in Palestine fell in the weeks between the Passover and the Pentecost. The festival was kept only for one day, and the principal rite consisted in the offering of two loaves made of the finest flour of the last crop's wheat. Later on, however, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish nation, the feast assumed an historical character. It was made out from Ex 19 that the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai took place on the fiftieth day after the deliverance from Egypt, and in course of time, and among Jews living in other climes with another harvest-season, this became the principal signification of the festival. In the Christian Church, Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks after Easter, in commemoration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, as the birthday of the Christian Church. Acts 2:1-14.

PENTECOST in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

("fiftieth".) (See FEASTS.) Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26-31; Deuteronomy 16:9-14; Leviticus 23:15-22. The first sheaf offered at the Passover and the two leavened loaves at Pentecost marked the beginning and ending of the grain harvest, and sanctified the interval between as the whole harvest or Pentecostal season. The lesson to Israel was, "Jehovah maketh peace in thy borders, He filleth thee with the finest of the wheat" (Psalm 147:14). Pentecost commemorated the giving of the law on Sinai (Exodus 12:2; Exodus 12:19), the 50th day after the Exodus, 50th from "the morrow after the sabbath" (i.e. the first day of holy convocation, 15th Nisan); the day after was more fit for cutting the sheaf, the 16th day. It was also the birthday of the Christian church (Acts 2:1; Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8) through the Holy Spirit, who writes Christ's new law on the heart. It was the last Jewish feast Paul observed, and the first which, as Whitsunday, Christians kept. "The feast of weeks" (a week of weeks between Passover and Pentecost), "the day of firstfruits." The sixth day of Sivan, lasting only one day; but the Jews in foreign countries have added a second day. Each of the two loaves was the tenth of an ephah (about three quarts and a half) of finest wheat flour. Waved Before Jehovah with a peace offering of the two lambs of the first year, and given to the priests. Seven lambs of the first year were sacrificed, one bullock and two rams as a burnt offering with meat and drink offering, and a kid sin offering. Each brought a free will offering. The Levite, stranger, fatherless, and widow were invited. As the Passover was a family gathering, Pentecost was a social feast. The people were reminded of their Egyptian bondage and of their duty to obey the law. The concourse at Pentecost was very great (Acts 2; Josephus Ant. 14:13, section 14, 17:10, section 2; B. J. 2:3, section 1). In Exodus 23:16; Exodus 23:19, "the first (i.e. chief) of the firstfruits" are the two wave loaves of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:17). The omer offering at Passover was the prelude to the greater harvest offering at Pentecost, before which no other firstfruits could be offered. The interval between Pentecost and tabernacles was the time for offering firstfruits. The Jews called Pentecost "the concluding assembly of the Passover" ('atsereth). If the last supper was on the legal day, the 14th Nisan, and the Sabbath of Jesus' lying in the grave was the day of the omer, the Pentecost of Acts 2, 50 days after, must have been on the Jewish Saturday Sabbath. Others make the 13th that of the supper; 14th the crucifixion, the Passover day; 15th the day of Jesus' sleep, the Saturday Sabbath, the holy convocation; our Sunday, first day, the omer day; 50th day from that would be Pentecost, on our Lord's day. The tongues symbolized Christianity proclaimed by preaching; the antithesis to Babel's confusion of tongues and gathering of peoples under one ambitious will. Jerusalem, the mount of the Lord, is the center of God's spiritual kingdom of peace and righteousness; Babel, the center of Satan's kingdom and of human rebellion, ignores God the true bond of union, and so is the city of confusion, in the low dead level of Shinar. As Babel's sin disunited, so by the Spirit of God given on Pentecost believers are one, "keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-16).