Pentecost & Persecution

The Holy Spirit empowered the disciples on Pentecost, but they required persecution to move them out of Jerusalem. God uses varied catalysts to send His people out on mission.



  • Written by Doctor Luke to Theophilus, the Book of Acts is a second volume of his gospel.
  • It accounts for the acts done by the Holy Spirit through the disciples.
  • After Jesus ascends into heaven, Luke follows the story with the disciples as the key characters.


The Setup

  • The waiting disciples were unsure of making decisions without Jesus’ guidance (Acts 1:15-26).
  • Pentecost was a holiday before the Spirit’s descent; they celebrated God giving the Law to Moses.
  • Many people from different cultures were in Jerusalem on that day to celebrate.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

  • With all the disciples gathered together, the Spirit descended upon them in an observable way.
  • On this celebratory day remembering Exodus, God sent them a cloud and a fire (Acts 2:2-3).
  • Each disciple received the gift to speak a different language, enabling them to spread the gospel with all those gathered (Acts 2:4-13).
  • The successful descent at Pentecost contrasts with the attempted ascent at Babel. 

The Aftermath

  • Peter preached a sermon about Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecies (Acts 2:14-36).
  • As Peter called them to respond, they baptized three thousand people that day (Acts 2:37-41).
  • The early church grew daily and prioritized an intentional openness to caring for one another (Acts 2:42-27).


  • Jesus taught that having God inside us is a greater advantage than having God beside us (John 16:7).
  • While Acts is commonly connected to the work of the disciples, the book shows that the power necessary was the Holy Spirit.
  • The role of the Holy Spirit is essential in the life of the Christian, yet we often neglect Him to our detriment.
  • The Spirit indwells all true believers (Rom. 8:10).
  • The Holy Spirit will never contradict the Holy Bible.
  • The Bible tells us what to do; the Spirit guides us when and how to do it.



  • Calling – Stephen’s job was to care for the needs of the overlooked widows (Acts 6:1).
  • Qualifications – Stephen was noted as a man “of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3). 
  • Accusation – Due to Stephen’s effective ministry, some opponents concocted lies about him blaspheming (Acts 6:11).
  • Defense – Stephen preached a powerful sermon that pointed to Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, and they killed him for it (Acts 7:1-60).


  • Identity – Saul was a respected Pharisee who oversaw Stephen’s stoning (Acts 7:58; 8:1).
  • Process – Saul ravaged the church by hunting Christians down as they gathered in homes (Acts 8:3).
  • Mentor – Saul’s mentor was level-headed Gamaliel, who encouraged the Pharisees to see if the disciples of Jesus would go away after Jesus died (Acts 5:33-42).


  • Fulfillment – Persecution caused Acts 1:8 to be fulfilled.
    • Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
    • Acts 8:4 – So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the word. 
  • Purity – Persecution kept the Church pure since you had to be convinced to follow Jesus.