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Where did the Spirit fall?

Submitted: 8/4/2008
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Question: In the Book of Acts, where did the baptism of the Holy Spirit first take place? Was it at the upper room or at the synagogue?

Answer: We believe that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place on the Temple Mount and not in the upper room or synagogue. Here are six reason why we hold to this view:

1. A crowd of thousands could not gather together in the narrow streets of Jerusalem. Clearly the apostles and some other disciples were staying in an upper room. This is stated in Acts, Chapter 1. But the Bible tells us that a crowd of thousands gathered together because they heard the apostles speaking in tongues. It was not possible for this to happen in the old city of Jerusalem. There simply wasn’t enough room for that many people to get close enough to hear what was going on in an upper room.

2. It would be normal at 9:00 A.M. on Pentecost morning for all devout Jews (which is what the apostles were) to be at the Temple where all Israel was celebrating the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). In addition, Luke, who wrote the description of Pentecost in the book of Acts, ended his Gospel by saying, “And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God (Luke 24:52-53). So Luke indicates that after Jesus had ascended, the apostles spent much of their time praising God together in the Temple area.

3. The outpouring of the Spirit was foreshadowed by the dedication of Solomon’s Temple by the glory of God that came to dwell within. We have seen that there were one hundred twenty priests who blew their trumpets at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. These priests foreshadowed the hundred and twenty disciples of Jesus who became New Testament priests on the Day of Pentecost. Also, the Temple of Solomon was a foreshadowing of the Spirit-filled body of Jesus Christ which became the living Temple of God on the Day of Pentecost (see 1 Corinthians 3:16). It only makes sense that the Spirit would fall on Pentecost at the Temple Mount where it came to dwell in Solomon’s Temple.

4. Acts 2:2 says the Spirit “filled the whole house where they were sitting.” It is often assumed from these words that they were in a house, but we should remember that the Temple was often called the “house of God” (see 1 Kings 8:10-13). Today the Jews call the Temple Mount Har Habayit, which literally means “mount of the house.” The word “house” is the most common word used with reference to the temple in Jerusalem. So it shouldn’t surprise us that Luke would write that the Spirit “filled the whole house,” meaning the entire Temple complex.

5. Acts 2:2 says the Spirit filled the whole house “where they were sitting.” Some think that because it says they were sitting, they were probably sitting around in the upper room. But actually, they were probably in a place similar to Jesus on the occasion where the Bible says, “They found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers...” (Luke 2:46). Also, at His arrest Jesus said, “I sat daily with you, teaching the temple...” (Matthew 26:55). It was normal to be sitting in the Temple complex as someone taught or perhaps led worship.

6. There were many immersion pools that could have been used for the 3,000 baptisms. Since the picture in Acts 2 is of a large group of people quickly gathering around the apostles when they heard them speaking in tongues and acting drunk, Peter then standing up to preach to them, and then thousands getting baptized, it seems logical that all this could have happened very easily on the Temple Mount, but would have had many problems to overcome at the upper room.