Daily Archives: November 26, 2010

Where did Peter preach on Pentecost?

A questions comes from a young friend who has traveled to Israel with me, and who is preparing a sermon related to Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2). He asks,

Where do you think that Peter spoke from on Pentecost? I ask because I plan on using pictures and visuals in PowerPoint and I want to make sure I’m showing pictures of the right places. From my research, it seems most likely that Peter would have either spoken from the southern steps leading up to the Temple Mount (the double gate) or from the actual Temple Mount. I plan to show just how large the area was, and why there would have been so many people at the Temple that day and at that time (9:00 am).

I have gathered a few comments that express some of my thoughts on this matter.

Some scholars begin with the “one place” where the disciples were gathered (Acts 2:1). It is said to be a “house” (Greek, oikos, Acts 2:2). Kistemaker indicates the place was a house and not in the precincts of the temple. He says we can not be certain, but assumes it was a place near the temple.

Where were the believers? Luke tersely writes that they were “in one place.” If we think of the upper room (1:13), we question whether this room could accommodate a group of 120. Luke, however, indicates that they were sitting in a house (v. 2) and not in the precincts of the temple.3 We admit that we are unable to achieve certainty, but we presume that the meeting place was near the temple, where the apostles stayed continually praising God (compare Luke 24:53). — New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Acts of the Aposltes, 76.

Longnecker discusses references where the term house is used of the temple. He says,

… in the temple precincts they would have had the best opportunity of addressing a large crowd.

His conclusion is,

Therefore it is likely that Luke meant us to picture that same upper room as the setting for the miracle of the Spirit’s coming and the place from where the disciples first went out to proclaim the gospel.

The view that the preaching of Acts 2 took places in the house (upper room) does not provide suitable explanation for the larger group suggested in the text. About three thousand persons accepted the gospel and were baptized on that day (Acts 2:41). There were obviously many who did not obey.

Acts 2 begins in a house, but closes in the temple (Acts 2:46). Marshall expresses my thoughts.

We must assume that at some point the disciples moved outside from the upper room and came in contact with the crowds assembled in Jerusalem for the feast; dwelling need not necessarily imply permanent residence, although many Jews did return to Jerusalem from the Dispersion to end their days there. (Acts: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)

We should note that the term for temple in Acts 2 is hieros. This is the term used of the “temple courts” (NET) or the “temple complex” (CSB).

Second Temple model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Second Temple model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The temple precinct or complex is large. I was in Jerusalem one year at the close of the Moslem Ramadan when it was reported that more than 100,000 persons were present in the area. This would have provided adequate space for the activities of Acts 2.

The LORD prophesied through Isaiah about the events of the Pentecost of Acts 2.

And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3 NAU)

It is true that the term Zion was sometimes applied to the entire city of Jerusalem, but it frequently seems to have a more specific reference to the temple area.

The disciples continued to go up to the temple at the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1). Their number soon grew to five thousand men and they met in Solomon’s Portico, thought to be on the east side of the temple platform (Acts 4:4; 5:12).

Where did Peter preach? I can’t be absolutely certain, but I opt for the temple complex. A copy of the photo suitable for presentations is available by clicking on the image.