International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 24, 2015
Purpose: To serve God in mind and Spirit
Bible Lesson Background: Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 14:1-25
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 14:(15)What should I do? I’ll pray in the Spirit, but I’ll pray with my mind too; I’ll sing a psalm in the Spirit, but I’ll sing the psalm with my mind too.
Acts 2:1-7 (CEB)
(1) When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. (2) Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. (3) They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. (4) They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. (5) There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. (6) When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. (7) They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them?
Acts 2: 12 (CEB)
(12) They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?”
1 Corinthians 14:13-19 (CEB)
(13) Therefore, those who speak in a tongue should pray to be able to interpret. (14) If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind isn’t productive. (15) What should I do? I’ll pray in the Spirit, but I’ll pray with my mind too; I’ll sing a psalm in the Spirit, but I’ll sing the psalm with my mind too. (16) After all, if you praise God in the Spirit, how will the people who aren’t trained in that language say “Amen!” to your thanksgiving, when they don’t know what you are saying? (17) You may offer a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving, but the other person is not being built up. (18) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. (19) But in the church I’d rather speak five words in my right mind than speak thousands of words in a tongue so that I can teach others.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week’s lesson is about Pentecost. In the Jewish tradition this is called “Shavuot.” It is also referred to in the Old Testament as “Feast of Weeks” and “Festival of Firstfruits.”
According to the description of the holiday in the Mishna (Bikurim 3), the village people of Palestine would first assemble in the largest town of their district, bringing with them the first ripe fruits of their fields. They would them proceed on foot to the Temple in Jerusalem, where they leave their offering and be welcomed by song by the Levites. The association of Shavuot and the giving of the law was a latter tradition that came about because the agricultural aspect of Jewish life had diminished. It was in the 3rd century A.D. that the association of Shavuot with the Torah or giving of the law were linked. Shavuot is closely associated with Passover. It falls seven weeks after the first day of Passover. Hence, the Greeks called it Pentecost meaning “the holiday of fifty days.”
With this information it is easy to see why Jerusalem was full of people from all over the world. Many devout Jews would travel to Jerusalem for the Passover and remain for the Shavuot or Feast of Weeks. Shavuot or Atzeret as it is called in the Talmud, means “assembly” and is considered the concluding day of Passover.
This is the atmosphere in Jerusalem as the early followers of the Christ assembled together. While it seemed like wind and fire, it was not, but there was no other way to describe what was going on. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness to the entire world, there would never be another day like this. The question asked by those in Jerusalem at that time is still apropos, “What does this mean?” Galileans being understood by every tribe and tongue. To me it seems to be more a miracle of understanding, than speaking in other languages.
In the church at Corinth, the speaking in tongues had become a problem, because it was being used in a way which elevated an individual instead of ministering to the entire body of believers. It had become a bragging right for some. Paul addresses the problem as delicately as he could. His answer was if it did not benefit everybody what good was it. Paul says, “(18) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. (19) But in the church I’d rather speak five words in my right mind than speak thousands of words in a tongue so that I can teach others.” That should settle it for us.
As Charles Wesley wrote on the anniversary of his conversion to Christ, “O’ For a Thousand Tongues to Sing My Great Redeemer's Praise.”