In the Bible, the word “Gentiles” is used in the Old Testament to refer to all non-Jews. In the New Testament, it is the Greek word ethnos, and means “the nations,” that is, all non-Jewish peoples. In this Administration of the Sacred Secret, which began on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2, all Christians are either former Jews or former Gentiles. To fully appreciate what the Day of Pentecost meant to the Gentiles, we must first look at the significance of Pentecost to the nation of Israel, the chosen people of God.
Pentecost, or The Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, was one of the three main festivals for which all males were required to bring a sacrifice before the Lord. It became a celebration to commemorate the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai after Israel had left the captivity of Egypt. It was also a celebration in which the people were to bring the first fruits of the harvest as a wave offering to God in thanksgiving for His bounty.
The Old Testament pointed toward the future, and in particular to the eventual arrival of God’s Messiah. The significance of the Passover was not clear to most Israelites when Jesus Christ was offered as The Passover Lamb, once and for all to redeem mankind from sin and death. Similarly, what happened on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, was not fully understood until the Church Epistles were penned, many years after that Day.
(1) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
(2) Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
(3) They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
(4) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
(5) Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
In these verses, and the rest of Chapter 2, we see that Jews received holy spirit, but there is no mention of any Gentiles being present. So, of what significance was that to Gentiles? At that time, none, because it would be around ten years later before the first Gentiles would receive holy spirit and speak in tongues (See Acts 10). But even after Peter and others witnessed the outpouring of holy spirit on the Gentiles, they still did not understand the greatness of God’s plan until many years later. It was not until the Apostle Paul was given the revelation to write the letter to the Ephesians that the fullness of what the Gentiles had received was made known.
(1) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
(2) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(3) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
(4) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
(5) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
(6) to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
WOW!!! Now that is something different. When I got saved, I went from being a dog, a nobody, to being a son of God! That is something to stand up and cheer about. Prior to this I wasn’t a part of what God was doing and didn’t share in the benefits of all of His blessings.
Ephesians 2:11 and 12
(11) Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—
(12) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
That doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of what life as a Gentile was like, but let us keep reading.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Hallelujah!!! But that is not the half of it. God had another surprise, not only for the Gentiles but also for the Prince of Darkness as well. That surprise was a completely new group of people, not Jews and not Gentiles, but “one new man” (Eph. 2:15), a body of believers now designated by Scripture as “the Church,” who we now know as “Christians.” Each member of this unique group is permanently filled with holy spirit and thus equipped to be like Jesus Christ and do what he did.
This mystery [sacred secret] is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
How monumental is this to me, a Gentile? It means I am no longer an outcast, but a member of the household of God and a joint heir with Christ of all that God has in store for us! I have also received the same holy spirit that was poured out on the Day of Pentecost over two thousand years ago. I have been imbued with power from on high and am now free to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16). What a difference a Day [of Pentecost] can make: from lost to found, from powerless to filled with power, from nobody to being a son of the living God.
What does the Day of Pentecost mean to me, a Gentile? In a word, life. I went from being spiritually dead and destined for permanent physical death to having life, both now and in the age to come. I now have proof within that I am someone special and that I am a part of God’s family. Nothing can ever convince me differently because I have holy spirit within and I can speak in tongues. Instead of bringing the first fruits of my thankfulness only once a year, I can give thanks well and speak the wonderful works of God every time I open my mouth and speak in tongues. Praise God!!!