The book, “The Acts of the Apostles,” was written by the author of the Gospel According to Luke around 85 to 90 CE. Today’s reading is an account of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples on Pentecost. (Another account is given in John 20.22 when the resurrected Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the evening of Easter.)
Pentecost was a well-established Jewish Feast ordained by Lev. 23 to celebrate the spring barley harvest 50 days after Passover. It was also known as the Feast of Weeks and Jewish tradition held that the gift of the Law was given on this day. It was one of the three feasts in Judaism that called for Jews to come to Jerusalem. For this reason, Jews and proselytes (full converts to Judaism) gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast.
The “violent wind” (v.2) is likely a reference to the “wind from God” that swept over the waters in the First Creation Story (Gen. 1:2) and recognizes that breath is the sign of life, as when YHWH breathed life into the earthling in the Second Creation Story (Gen. 2:7).
In describing the disciples speaking other languages, the author signifies a reversal of the confusion caused by the multiplicity of languages “resulting” from the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11.
1 Cor. 12:3b-13
Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was Hellenistic and emphasized reason, secular wisdom and a hierarchical structure in society.
In today’s reading, Paul emphasizes diversity in unity, and uses the metaphor of the body as unifying the members and their different gifts of the Spirit (vv. 12-13). This discussion is a basis for his exhortation in the verses that follow (vv. 14-20) that even an individualistic attitude by any member would not make it any less a part of the whole body.
Numbers is the fourth book of the Torah (Hebrew meaning “teaching” or “Law”), known in Greek as the Pentateuch (“Five Books”). It describes the time of the Israelites in the Wilderness before entering the Promised Land. If the time in the Wilderness is historical (no archeological evidence has ever been found to support it), this would have been around 1250 BCE.
Most of the book of Numbers was written by the “Priestly Source” during the Babylonian Exile (587-539 BCE) and the 100 years after the Exile.
Today’s reading describes imparting the spirit of “prophesy” (ability to speak for God) on 70 elders. This sharing of the spirit causes concern among some of Moses’ followers, and Moses reassures them that the spirit of YHWH may be shared. The story reflects the Hebrew Bible’s ambivalence about prophesy generally.