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tism. In like manner, the fire in the present instance was intended, as well as the mighty wind, to announce the presence of the Deity about to produce a miraculous effect. What the miracle was we are informed in the next verse.

4. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, "languages, Spirit gave them utterance.

as the

By their being filled with the Holy Spirit no more can be meant than that they abounded with miraculous powers, which manifested themselves in various ways, as if the persons from whom they came had been filled with them. One proof of this appeared immediately, in their speaking various foreign languages, which they had never learnt; a thing in itself impossible, except to those who are aided by divine power. This power over foreign languages was given to them instantaneously; and they were incited to exercise it immediately, in relating the miracles and unfolding the doctrine of Jesus. They are said to speak with other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance; by which we are to understand that they spoke that foreign language which the power of God enabled them to speak. It is probable that no one individual spoke all languages, although they might have different powers in this respect.

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

As these Jews are called devout men, it is probable that they were brought here by their devotional spirit, and were not constant but occasional residents at Jerusalem, come up to this city to celebrate some of the public festivals, and intending afterwards to return to the countries whence they came. The words "out Vol. 3.]


of every nation under heaven," are not to be taken in their full extent, as if there were Jews from every nation of the earth, but as signifying that there were some of this people from most parts of the known world.

6. Now when this was noised abroad, literally, "when this sound was,” referring to the sound mentioned in verse the second, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The sound, which first appeared to come from heaven, and afterwards from the room in which the apostles were assembled, was so remarkable as to attract the attention of the whole neighbourhood, and to bring together a great crowd of people, consisting partly of inhabitants of Judæa, and partly of foreigners, the latter of whom were astonished to find their own language spoken by some one of the company. The occasion of their speaking foreign languages was the presence of these strangers.

Because it is here said, every man heard them speak in his own language, it has been supposed by some that the apostles spoke only one language, but that every one heard them in his own, and that the miracle therefore was wrought not on the speakers but the hearers. This supposition, however, is inconsistent with the language of the historian, who says, that the speakers were filled with the Holy Spirit, and is contradicted by a circumstance mentioned below, that some of the company mocked, which could only arise from their not understanding what they heard. It is plainly inconsistent likewise with what Paul says to the Corinthians, whom he blames for the too free use of this gift, on the ground of their being unintelligible to their hearers.

7. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?

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

The persons speaking foreign languages upon the present occasion with so much correctness and propriety as to be intelligible to those to whom they were vernacular, they observed, were Galileans, in an ordinary station of life, who could have no opportunity of acquiring the knowledge which they appeared to possess; the more especially, as the same person spoke several languages, some of which had no affinity to each other. This excited their amazement, as well it might.

9. Parthians, i. e. "We Parthians," and Medes, and Elamites, or, "Persians," and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia,

10. Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia, 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.

In this list of countries, in which foreign languages were spoken, it is observable that Judæa is mentioned,

although the apostles were Jews, which some account for by supposing that the dialect spoken in Galilee was so different from that spoken in Judæa as to be esteemed a distinct language; others, by supposing that we ought to read Mesopotamian Judæa, the Jews in that country being so numerous as to be called by Josephus a nation, and to induce Luke to call it another Judæa. The strangers of Rome are said to include both Jews and proselytes; and it is well known that there were many Jews at Rome, and that they made many proselytes.

The wonderful works of God, about which the apostles are said to discourse, were probably the divine mission, the miracles, and particularly the resurrection and ascension, of Jesus.

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.


These were persons who did not understand their language, and supposed that the strange sounds which they heard were the effect of intoxication. who understood them also, and who might suppose the power with which they appeared to be endued to be miraculous, could not understand for what purpose it was bestowed; not knowing that it was designed to qualify the apostles for preaching the gospel in foreign countries.


The miracle of which we have here an account is one of the most remarkable that occur in the whole

history of revelation; and it affords an illustrious proof of the power of God, and a satisfactory confirmation of the truth of the Christian religion. To understand a foreign language, so far as to enter with ease into the sentiments of a speaker or writer, is well known to be extremely difficult, and to require the patient exertion of several years: but to acquire so complete a knowledge as to speak it fluently, requires long labour and much patient exertion. But here we find that knowledge acquired in an instant, without any previous study or application, and not the knowledge of one language only, but of several.

Yet, great and astonishing as this effect is, it is not too great for the power of God to accomplish. He who made man's mouth, and gave him the faculty of speech, he who taught the first man to speak without any human instructor, can, no doubt, if he so please, inspire him at once with the knowledge of all languages, without learning any. No one can say that this is more than God can perform, where there is an evident propriety and necessity for it, as there was in the present instance.

Had the disciples of Jesus been impostors, as some would insinuate, had they now been carrying on a system of fraud, which their master had begun, we should have found them, at first at least, copying his example, and imitating some of the miracles which they had seen him perform, because such miracles would have been most easily believed, and might have passed without examination. But here is a miracle which bears no resemblance to any thing that has been performed before, of which no parallel can be found in the history of the country, and which, therefore, could never have occurred to Jews. Had it been an imposture, nothing would have been more easy of detection; for here are persons present from every country under heaven, who would quickly discern the falsehood of pretensions which were not well supported.

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