The True Meaning of Acts 2:1
- (Used by permission)
Understanding the true meaning of Acts 2:1 is absolutely crucial in order to observe the Feast of Pentecost on the day that is commanded by God in the Scriptures. This presentation leads the reader step by step through an in-depth analysis of the New Testament Greek, showing the true Scriptural method of counting the fifty days to the Feast of Pentecost.
Beginning the Count to Pentecost
In the second chapter of the book of Acts we read, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they [the disciples of Jesus] were all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1). This New Testament record of the keeping of the Feast of Pentecost reveals that there was no confusion or division among early Christians concerning the correct day for its observance. Yet among Christians today, there are a number of conflicting opinions as to when the day of Pentecost should be observed. This division has resulted from a faulty understanding of the Scriptural instructions for counting to the time that God has appointed.
The instructions for observing the Feast of Pentecost are recorded in the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus 23, we are commanded to count fifty days and to observe the fiftieth day as an annual feast day (verses 16, 21). It is for this reason that this feast is called "Pentecost." The English word “Pentecost” is transliterated from the Greek word penthkosth penteekostee ,which means "the fiftieth," or "fiftieth." "The day of Pentecost" literally means "the fiftieth day." Other Scriptural names for this annual feast day are the "feast of weeks" and the feast of "the firstfruits" (Ex. 34:22; 23:16, Deut. 16:10). In order to observe this annual holy day of God at the appointed time, it is vital to understand God’s instructions for counting to the fiftieth day.
The Count Begins on “the Morrow After the Sabbath”
God's command in Leviticus 23 shows that the count toward Pentecost must begin with "the morrow after the Sabbath" (verses 11, 15). The Hebrew term mi mohorat, translated into the English as "the morrow after," means "beginning with and including" the day after the Sabbath. The phrase "the morrow after the Sabbath” specifically excludes this Sabbath day in the counting or numbering of the fifty days. The count to Pentecost does not begin with and does not include this weekly Sabbath. The first day of the count is "the morrow after the Sabbath," which can only be the first day of the week. Other Scriptures reveal that it is always the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (See Understanding God's Command for the Wave Sheaf by Dwight Blevins.)
The command of God, as recorded and preserved in the Hebrew text, specifically instructs us to begin the count on the first day of the week. The meaning of the Hebrew expression mi mohorat ha shabbat-- translated "the morrow after the Sabbath"--is clear and unmistakable. The use of this expression in the Hebrew text makes it plain that the weekly Sabbath does not begin the count. The count begins with "the morrow after the Sabbath"--the first day of the week.
Because the count begins with the first day of the week, all the weeks in the count are whole and complete weeks. In other words, each week in the count begins on the first day of the week and ends on the seventh day of the week, or the Sabbath day. None of the seven weeks in the count is a period of seven days that includes part of one weekly cycle and part of another. For example, the period of time from a Wednesday through the next Tuesday is seven days, or one week, but this period of seven days is composed of parts of two different weekly cycles. God's command in Leviticus 23 excludes this type of week from the count to Pentecost. Furthermore, the Hebrew text plainly shows that no partial or incomplete days are included in the count. Each week in the count is composed of seven complete days. Each day in the count is a full twenty-four hour day, from sunset to sunset. The count to Pentecost begins when the Sabbath ends at sunset and the first day of the week begins.
The first day in the count, "the morrow after the Sabbath," is the day that the wave sheaf was offered to God (Lev. 23:10-11). The wave sheaf, the first of the firstfruits, was offered each year at the beginning of the spring barley harvest. Here are the commands that God gave to Moses concerning the wave sheaf:
"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, 'When you be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
" 'And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.... And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears [of the new barley harvest], until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering unto your God [the first day of the week--the Wave Sheaf Day]...' " (Lev. 23:10-11, 14).
During the days when the temple of God in Jerusalem was still in operation, a chief priest performed the ritual ceremony of cutting the sheaf that would be offered as the first of the firstfruits. As the weekly Sabbath was ending at sunset, and the first day of the week was beginning, the priest would cut a special single sheaf of green-eared barley from the field where the barley for the ritual wave sheaf was grown. This field was located across the Kidron Valley east of the temple. The heads of this sheaf were to have enough grain in their ears to amount to an omer, or 5.1 pints. After cutting the sheaf, the priest would carry it back to the temple and lay it alongside the altar of burnt offerings until the next morning.
In the morning on the first day of the week, this special sheaf, the first of the firstfruits, was waved by the high priest to be accepted by God immediately after the morning burnt offering. This ceremony was normally completed at approximately the third hour of the day, or 9 o'clock in the morning. After the initial wave sheaf was offered by the high priest, or one of the chief priests, many more sheaves were brought to other officiating priests to be waved. All Israelites whose barley crops had ripened in time would bring a sheaf of their firstfruits to be offered on the Wave Sheaf Day (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple--Its Ministry and Services, pp. 256-259.
As historical records show, the wave sheaf ceremonies began to be performed as the weekly Sabbath was ending at sunset and the first day of the week was beginning. The ceremonies were not completed, however, until much later on the daylight portion of the first day of the week. The extensive ceremonies which took place on the Wave Sheaf Day help us understand why God allotted the entire day for the offering of the first of the firstfruits--not only the ritual wave sheaf but all the other firstfruit sheaves which the Israelites brought to the priests. The whole day is "the morrow after the Sabbath" and must be included as the first day in the count to Pentecost.
The Wave Sheaf Fulfilled on the First Day of the Week
The acceptance of the ritual wave sheaf, the first of the firstfruits, foreshadowed the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the first of the firstfruits--the very first resurrected from the dead to eternal life. The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus' acceptance as the first of the firstfruits: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits [that is, the first, or the first of the firstfruits] of them that slept [are dead in the graves]. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" (I Cor. 15:20-23). Jesus Christ is also called the "firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18) and "the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29).
As the sheaf of barley for the first of the firstfruits was cut by a chief priest and was lifted from the earth, Jesus Christ was also raised from the dead by the power of God the Father. After dying by crucifixion, Jesus Christ was put into the grave just before sunset, at the end of the Passover day, which was on a Wednesday, in the middle of the week. He was raised from the dead exactly three days and three nights later, as the weekly Sabbath was ending at sunset, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (See A Harmony of the Gospels--The Life of Jesus Christ, pp. 231-241, by Frederick R. Coulter). Jesus Christ fulfilled the ritual of the cutting of the wave sheaf offering when He was raised from the dead as the weekly Sabbath was ending and the first day of the week was beginning.
Jesus Christ also fulfilled the acceptance of the wave sheaf offering. As the ritual wave sheaf was offered in the morning on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so He ascended into heaven and was accepted by God the Father in the morning on the Wave Sheaf Day--the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He was accepted as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind and the first to be raised from the dead to eternal life--the first of the firstfruits.
The apostle John verifies that Jesus Christ fulfilled the wave sheaf offering on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In the Gospel of John we find this testimony: "The first day of the week, Mary Magdalene comes...to the sepulchre.... But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping.... Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned herself, and said to Him 'Rabboni'; which is to say, 'Master.' Jesus said to her, 'Touch Me not! For I am not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say unto them, I ascend to My Father, and your Father; and to My God and your God' " (John 20:1, 11, 16-17). These events occurred early in the morning on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After Mary Magdalene left, Jesus ascended to the Father and was accepted as the first of the firstfruits, thus fulfilling the ritual of the wave sheaf offering.
Luke records that later on the same day, the first day of the week, Jesus appeared to two of the disciples as they were walking to the village of Emmaus. When they came to an inn, Jesus went in with the disciples and ate with them. Then Jesus supernaturally disappeared out of their sight. After that, still the first day of the week, He reappeared to eleven of the disciples (Luke 24:13-36). The Gospel of John confirms that it was the same day, the first day of the week, that Jesus Christ returned and supernaturally walked through the walls of the room where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews. When He appeared to the disciples, He showed them His hands and His side (John 20:19-21).
As the first of the firstfruits, Jesus Christ completely fulfilled the ritual wave sheaf offering in every detail. This fulfillment began as the Sabbath was ending and the first day of the week was beginning at sunset, and was completed on the morning of the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The complete fulfillment of the wave sheaf offering required the greater part of a day. God Himself had set the timing of these events. Looking forward to this fulfillment, He had appointed the entire first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread--"the morrow after the Sabbath"--for the cutting and offering of the wave sheaf.
The Wave Sheaf Day marked the beginning of the firstfruits harvest. It was the day specifically chosen by God to begin the count to Pentecost--the Feast of the Firstfruits. As God has commanded, the Wave Sheaf Day must always be included in counting the fifty days. Beginning with the reaping of the firstfruits on the Wave Sheaf Day, the spring barley harvest continued for forty-nine additional days. That is why the count to the Feast of Pentecost requires seven complete weeks plus one day, making a total of fifty days. Let us examine God's commands for counting the full fifty days to Pentecost.
Counting the Fifty Days to Pentecost
Following His commands for the wave sheaf offering, God gave detailed instructions for counting the fifty days to Pentecost--beginning with and including the Wave Sheaf Day. Here are God's instructions for counting to the Feast of Pentecost: "And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath [the Sabbath ends at sunset, and the first day of the week begins at this point; the entire first day is included in the count], from the day [beginning with the day] that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete [meaning seven complete weeks, each week ending in a Sabbath]. Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days.... And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day [the fiftieth day], that it [the fiftieth day] may be a holy convocation unto you..." (Lev. 23:15-16, 21).
In counting the seven Sabbaths to Pentecost, there must be seven complete weeks. Each of these seven weeks must end with a weekly Sabbath. The seventh Sabbath is the forty-ninth day in the count, and the fiftieth day is "the morrow after the seventh Sabbath." The Scriptures clearly say that the fifty-day count must end with and include "the morrow after the seventh Sabbath." Since the forty-ninth day in the count is a weekly Sabbath, the fiftieth day can only be the first day of the week. "The morrow after" any Sabbath is always the first day of the week. Accordingly, "the morrow after the seventh Sabbath" will always be the first day of the week. That selfsame fiftieth day is to be declared a holy convocation.
As we have seen, the first "morrow after the Sabbath” begins after sundown ending that Sabbath, and is the first day in the count. Likewise, "the morrow after the seventh Sabbath" begins after sunset of the seventh Sabbath, and is the fiftieth day in the count. The whole fiftieth day is the holy day. There is no command from God anywhere in the Scriptures to count beyond the fiftieth day to the fifty-first day and to observe the fifty-first day as a holy day. God's instructions in Leviticus 23 clearly proclaim the fiftieth day as the holy day.
In spite of God’s clear commands in the book of Leviticus, there are some who believe that Pentecost should be observed on the fifty-first day, after the fifty-day count has been completed. Let us examine the claims of those who believe in observing Pentecost on the fifty-first day.
Pentecost on the Fifty-First Day--A Monday?
One attempt to justify a fifty-first day observance, or a Monday Pentecost, is made by drawing a comparison between the commands for counting to Pentecost and the commands for counting the days of uncleanness for a bodily issue. The commands in Leviticus 15 for a person who had a running issue of any kind show that the person was declared ceremonially unclean as long as the issue was running or draining. When a running issue stopped, the person was required to count seven days (verses 13, 28). At the end of the seventh day at sunset, he or she was commanded to bathe and would then be ceremonially clean. On the morning of the eighth day, the cleansed person was commanded to offer an offering (verses 14, 29). The reason for offering this offering on the morning of the eighth day was that after sunset no individual offerings could be offered until the morning. The only offering that was allowed after sunset was the daily evening burnt offering, which was offered "between the two evenings"--between sunset and dark--and burned throughout the night. No other routine functions were performed at the temple after sunset.
Leviticus 15 shows that the offering for cleansing from a bodily issue did not take place until the morning after the seven-day count had been completed. However, when counting to Pentecost, we are not commanded by God to follow the instructions for the offering for ceremonial cleansing. Nowhere do the Scriptures instruct us to complete the count of fifty days to the end of the fiftieth day at sunset, and then wait until the next day, the fifty-first day, to proclaim a holy convocation. Leviticus 23:21 clearly commands us to count to the fiftieth day and "proclaim the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation." This command can only be referring to the fiftieth day. An intervening day simply cannot be found between God's command in verse 16, which clearly defines the fiftieth day as "the morrow after the seventh Sabbath," and His command in verse 21, which proclaims "the selfsame day" as the day of the holy convocation. There is absolutely no command in Leviticus 23 that supports the observance of the holy day of Pentecost on the fifty-first day.
To use the commands for uncleanness in Leviticus 15 in an attempt to alter or nullify God's clear commands in Leviticus 23 is totally dishonest. The offering that was commanded to be offered on the eighth day, after counting seven days for one's cleansing, in no way supports a Pentecost observance on the fifty-first day. Counting for uncleanness and making an offering on the eighth day is not even remotely related to counting to Pentecost. They are two separate commands pertaining to entirely different things. The only similarity in the two commands is this: As the eighth day is the morrow after the seven days in the count for ceremonial cleansing, so the fiftieth day is the morrow after the seven weeks in the count to Pentecost. This is the only true comparison that can be made. But this comparison, in fact, proves nothing. The proof that the fiftieth day is the correct day to observe Pentecost is contained in God's specific commands in Leviticus 23, which clearly disprove the assertion that the fifty-first day is the holy day. Leviticus 23 clearly instructs us to "proclaim on the selfsame day [the fiftieth day, which is always the morrow after the seventh Sabbath], that it may be a holy convocation." Nowhere in the entirety of the Bible does God instruct us to hold the Feast of Pentecost on the fifty-first day. If we were commanded to observe Pentecost on the fifty-first day, then the Scriptures would have to instruct us to proclaim the holy day on the morrow after the morrow after the seventh Sabbath. One may search Leviticus 23:10-21, and all of Scripture, but no such language can be found.
Let us not allow ourselves to be deceived by a false comparison of unrelated Scriptures. The Word of God is the Truth. If we are honest in comparing the Scriptures, we will find that they always agree.
Misinterpreting Acts 2:1 To Justify Observance of the Fifty-First Day
Despite God’s plain commands in Leviticus 23, some have attempted to use Acts 2:1 to support their observance of the fifty-first day as the Feast of Pentecost. In the King James Version this verse reads as follows: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come....” Some observers of the fifty-first day claim that the words "fully come" show that the fiftieth day had come to a close or had ended, and that the disciples observed the Feast of Pentecost on the fifty-first day. Realizing that the King James Version does not really support their interpretation of Acts 2:1, they use a completely erroneous translation of this verse as their definitive authority for observing the fifty-first day. In their effort to prove that Acts 2:1 means that the fiftieth day had ended before the observance of Pentecost, they use an incorrect translation of this verse by an archbishop of the sixteenth century. Here is their "authority" for observing the fifty-first day as a Monday Pentecost:
"Pentecost should not be observed until the fifty day count has been completed. Archbishop Cranmer, no doubt, was aware of this; in his English translation of 1539 he translated Acts 2:1 as follows: ' When the fifty days had come to an end, they were all with one accord together in one place' " (Raymond Cole and Bryce Clark, Passover and Pentecost--What are the Facts? p. 35, Church of God, the Eternal).
These advocates of a Monday Pentecost place great confidence in this obscure translation by Archbishop Cranmer. But the fact that Cranmer was an archbishop does not necessarily mean that his translation is authoritative. Neither is it possible for these advocates of a fifty-first day observance of Pentecost to have no doubts at all about what thoughts Archbishop Cranmer had three hundred years ago when he made this translation. Only by examining the Greek text for ourselves can we determine the true meaning of Acts 2:1. The exact words in the Greek text, as inspired by God and preserved for us, will clearly prove the fallacy in Archbishop Cranmer's translation. While Archbishop Cranmer may have used the same Greek text that was used for the translation of the King James Version, we will see that the archbishop's translation is completely erroneous. We will find that the King James Version and other translations provide a correct or nearly correct translation of Acts 2:1. In the final analysis, it will be undeniably clear that this verse does not support a Pentecost observance on the fifty-first day, a Monday.
The true meaning of Acts 2:1 is clearly revealed in the Greek text. It may take some diligent study to understand this Scripture, but the truth is there because God has preserved it. If we carefully examine this verse in the Greek text, seeking the truth with an open mind and "proving all things," we can come to understand the true meaning of Acts 2:1. Remember, truth agrees with Truth. Error does not agree with Truth. God inspired the apostle Paul to charge Timothy, "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth " (II Tim. 2:15).
Ministers and teachers who try to interpret the text of the New Testament without understanding the fundamental elements of Greek grammar are bound to make serious mistakes. Without a basic knowledge of the factors which govern the various forms of Greek words--and particularly the verbs, participles and infinitives--it is impossible to accurately interpret the Greek text. This essential grammatical knowledge is not available in reference works that list and define basic root words as does Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. While such listings may provide general definitions, they do not give the specific meaning of the various grammatical forms which are derived from these root words. As we will see, this is precisely the reason why some ministers have misinterpreted Acts 2:1.
Because they do not understand how to apply the rules of New Testament Greek grammar, some ministers have relied solely on the broad definition of a root word, ignoring the specific meaning of the form that is used in the Greek text. They have then attached their own interpretation to the general definition. Rather than understanding and teaching the truth of God’s Word, these ministers are promoting an erroneous interpretation which is a "striving over words" without knowledge. Such teachings actually end up "subverting the hearers" because errors are presented as authoritative truth. But ERROR IS STILL ERROR, no matter how authoritatively it is presented or how convincing it may sound. Sadly, the misinterpretation of Acts 2:1 is a serious and far-reaching error, affecting hundreds of brethren who have been led to believe that Pentecost should be observed on the fifty-first day, a Monday. Let us look into the words that are recorded in the Greek text, and we will find that there is no basis whatsoever for this interpretation.
Understanding Acts 2:1 in the Greek Text
By the will of God, the New Testament was written and preserved in Greek. The writers of the New Testament wrote their books and epistles in Koine Greek, which was the common language of their time. The New Testament in any other language is a translation of the Greek text. Most translations are fairly reliable in their interpretation of the Greek text, but some translations contain serious errors. These errors can do much damage when they are accepted as truth and are used to establish doctrine. When there are doctrinal differences and controversies involving any passage in the New Testament, a thorough examination and careful analysis of the Greek text is required in order to determine the true meaning of the words that God originally inspired.
Among the various Greek texts of the New Testament in existence today, the best and most accurate is the text which was first published by Erasmus in 1516. This text, the first printed Byzantine text, was republished by Erasmus in 1519 and 1522. Before its final editing by Stephens in 1550, it was used by William Tyndale for his translation of the New Testament. Later this text became known as the textus receptus, or the received text. The received text was the official Greek text which the translators of the King James Version of 1611 used for their translation of the New Testament. In his book The King James Version Defended, Edward F. Hills, ThD., verifies that this Greek text was used by the translators of the King James Version and is the most accurate Greek text of the New Testament. This same Greek text was used by George Ricker Berry in his book The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. The author has also used this Greek text for his analysis in this presentation.
The analysis of the Greek text that is presented in this study paper will enable the reader to come to a correct understanding of Acts 2:1. In order to thoroughly examine each phrase in this verse, both the English and the Greek texts are presented in interlinear form. Even the reader who has no knowledge of Greek will be able to see the similarities and differences in the letters, or spelling, of the Greek words. The author realizes that most of those who will read this study paper have little or no knowledge of New Testament Greek. Although this study is technical, the author has attempted to make it easy to understand. Every Greek word has been defined as clearly as possible. When the reader has completed this study, he or she will be able to see clearly that the Greek text absolutely does not support the observance of the fifty-first day as a Monday Pentecost. As we will see, the words in the Greek text are most specific concerning the exact time of the Pentecost observance recorded in Acts 2:1.
Let us begin our study by comparing the beginning words in the King James translation of Acts 2:1 with the original words of Luke as preserved in the Greek text.
King James Version
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come..." (Acts 2:1).
The Greek Text With the English Directly Below
Kai en tw sumplhrousqai thn hmeran thV penthkosthV ...
And during the accomplishing of the day of Pentecost
The English translation directly below the Greek text is the translation given in Berry's Greek-English interlinear. While it is a correct English translation, it is not a complete translation because Berry left untranslated the definite article thV tees, meaning "the," which immediately precedes the last word of the phrase, penthkosthV penteekostees, meaning "of Pentecost." A complete translation of the Greek text would include the definite article thV tees translated into the English definite article "the," and would read, "And during the accomplishing of the day, the fiftieth [day]...."
Although Berry's translation is incomplete, it correctly reflects the actual meaning of the Greek words, which show that what Luke was relating was in the process of taking place at a contemporaneous time. The Greek phrase that is used at the beginning of Acts 2:1 cannot be defined as showing action that was completed at a past time. This Greek phrase literally expresses an ongoing "accomplishing" of the day of Pentecost. Thus Berry has accurately translated it "during the accomplishing of the day of Pentecost."
The word that Berry has translated "accomplishing" is the Greek infinitive sumplhrousqai sumpleerousthai. This infinitive is derived from the root word sumplhrow sumpleeroo, a verb which has the following meaning: "to fill completely, to fill quite full, and of time to fulfill [or to accomplish]" (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). This definition of the root verb sumpleeroo can give us a general understanding, but it cannot give us the specific meaning of the infinitive sumpleerousthai, which is the term used in Acts 2:1. It is a fact of Greek grammar that no root verb, or base verb, such as sumplhrow sumpleeroo, can by itself define the specific meaning of its various forms in the Greek text. The structure of New Testament Greek demands that the exact meaning of the Greek verbs and verbal forms be determined by their specific voice, person, gender, case, tense and mood. Consequently, the specific meaning of any Greek verb or verbal form cannot be determined simply by reading the definition of its root verb, or base verb in a concordance or a Greek-English lexicon.
The complexity of New Testament Greek makes it impossible to determine the specific meaning of the Greek text without a basic knowledge of the rules of the language. In order to determine the specific meaning of any text, a complex process of analysis is required to determine the specific meaning of its verb forms. The knowledge that is available in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Greek lexicons, is not sufficient to fully understand the specific meanings of the Greek verbal forms. The different verb forms used in the New Testament number over 1,200. The exact and specific meaning of each of these verb forms is determined by its gender, person, voice, case, tense and mood, as revealed by the structure and spelling of each verbal form.
Those who have no knowledge of the six factors which govern the specific meaning of every Greek verb form should not attempt to interpret the verbal infinitive that is used in Acts 2:1. Their lack of knowledge can lead to faulty and inaccurate interpretations of the Greek text. These mistaken interpretations can do great damage when they are presented as Scriptural facts, as in the papers. The Plain Truth about Pentecost and Passover and Pentecost, What Are The Facts? These papers may appear to be authoritative, but because the writers did not understand the complexities of New Testament Greek, their interpretation of Acts 2:1 is completely erroneous.
In seeking to understand the true meaning of Acts 2:1, we must be careful to observe the rules of Greek grammar which these writers have overlooked. We must apply the definition of the base verb sumplhrow sumpleeroo, meaning "to fulfill," that is revealed by the specific verbal form which is found in the Greek text. When we follow the rules of Greek grammar and analyze this verbal form, we find that it is in the present tense and the passive voice. Here is an exact literal translation of the Greek text:
The Greek Text With the English Directly Below--A Literal Translation
Kai en tw sumplhrousqai thn hmeran thV penthkosthV...
And in the fulfilling of the day the fiftieth [day]...
Let us examine the entire verbal phrase, which is highlighted by bold type. The verbal phrase en tw sumplhrousqai en too sumpleerousthai means “during the accomplishing of ” or "in (during) the fulfilling of." This phrase is a very specific type of verbal form known as an articular infinitive. It is called an articular infinitive because the infinitive form of the verb is used with the definite article "the." In this phrase, the infinitive with its definite article tw too is preceded by the preposition en en, as shown on the following page:
||too (pronounced tow )
|during, or in
|during, or in
The use of en en and tw too with the infinitive sumpleerousthai clarifies the basic meaning "to fulfill" and shows that the fulfilling was in the process of being accomplished. When the Greek text uses en tw with a verbal infinitive in the present tense, as it is in Acts 2:1, it always and only reflects contemporaneous action that is taking place at that time. The entire phrase actually means, “While the fiftieth day was being fulfilled....” This phrase clearly shows that the events which are described in Acts 2:1 were actually taking place while the fiftieth day was in the process of being fulfilled. The events could not have been taking place after the fiftieth day had ended, or was already fulfilled, because the Greek articular infinitive is in the present tense. A present tense infinitive is never used to express action that has already been completed. It is contrary to the rules of New Testament Greek to interpret this present tense infinitive as expressing past or completed action. Past action is never expressed by an infinitive which uses the preposition en and the definite article tw. Completed action is expressed by the use of a different verbal form and a different construction of the Greek text, as we will see in the next chapter.
About the Greek Infinitive
In order to understand the difference between the past tense and present tense infinitives which are used in the Greek text, it is necessary to learn some basic facts about Greek infinitives. This information can be found in comprehensive Greek grammars which are available in many libraries. For this study, the author has chosen to use A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Dana and Mantey. The study will focus on the use of the Greek infinitive with a preposition and a definite article to express the relationship of the action to time, as we find in Acts 2:1.
In beginning this study, it is important to understand the basic function of an infinitive. In the Greek language, just as in English, the infinitive does not function as a verb but as a noun. Because it is a verb that is used as a noun, it is called a verbal noun. As Dana and Mantey explain, "The infinitive is strictly a verbal noun, and not a mood. Its significance in Greek can never be appreciated until this fact is recognized. No idiom is more decidedly peculiar to the language than this substantive character of the infinitive" ( A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, pp. 208-209).
In English, the word "to" is always used with the infinitive form of the verb, as in "to be," "to come," and "to speak." The Greek infinitive is similar to the English infinitive unless it is preceded by the definite article "the." Remember that when the definite article "the" is used, the infinitive is known as an articular infinitive. In New Testament Greek, when the articular infinitive is combined with a preposition, it limits the infinitive to a specific time period. Dana and Mantey state the following:
"Nothing distinguishes the noun force of the infinitive more than its use with the [definite] article.... This item is one of the proofs of the general good quality of New Testament Greek.... The presence of the article with the infinitive has no fixed effect upon its varieties in use. That is, a particular use of the writer, in accordance with his desire to make the expression specific [with the use of the definite article "the"] or general [not using the definite article "the"]. As to the New Testament, an apparent exception to the above statement is the infinitive with a preposition, which is always articular [that is, when an infinitive is preceded by a preposition it always requires a definite article, which, with the preposition, designates the specific time of the action]" (Ibid., p. 211).
In Acts 2:1, as we have seen, the Greek infinitive is sumplhrousqai sumpleerousthai. It is in the present tense and the passive voice, which means that the action "was being accomplished" or "was being fulfilled." Since the present tense infinitive sumpleerousthai is preceded by the preposition en en and the definite article tw too, it has a specific and exact meaning in relationship to time. Dana and Mantey leave no room to misinterpret the meaning of this present tense articular infinitive: “In the locative construction [in the dative case] with en tw [as in Acts 2:1] the infinitive denotes contemporaneous time “ (Ibid., p. 216).
The word “contemporaneous,” as defined in Webster’s Dictionary, means "happening or belonging within the same time period." The present tense articular infinitive that is used in Acts 2:1 is clearly expressing action that was in progress at the same, or contemporaneous, time. The writers of the New Testament commonly used the present tense articular infinitive to describe action that was taking place at a contemporaneous time. When Luke wrote his Gospel, he used the locative construction of en tw en too with the present tense infinitive a total of 32 times. In the book of Acts, he used it 7 times. In every use of the present tense articular infinitive, Luke was describing events or actions that were in the process of happening at a contemporaneous time.
When the Greek text uses the preposition en en and the definite article tw too with a present tense infinitive, there can be no doubt that the express purpose is to show contemporaneous time and ongoing action. The words en tw en too are never used to describe past or completed action. The articular infinitive which expresses past or completed action requires a different preposition and a different definite article and is written in a different case. A past tense articular infinitive phrase is easily identifiable because it differs in construction and spelling from a present tense articular infinitive. Dana and Mantey explain the construction of the past tense articular infinitive phrase:
"The infinitive with meta [meta, a preposition meaning "after"] to [to, the definite article "the"] is used to express subsequent time [time which follows a completed action]" (Ibid., p. 216).
The preposition meta meta and the definite article to to are always used with the past tense articular infinitive to express action that was completed in the past. These two Greek words are never used with a present tense articular infinitive, which requires the strict use of en en and tw too. In addition to a different preposition and a different definite article, a different case is used with a past tense articular infinitive phrase as compared to a present tense articular infinitive. The structure of the New Testament Greek requires that the past tense articular infinitive be written in the genitive case, while the present tense articular infinitive is written in the dative, or locative, case. Because each Greek case has its own spelling, the past tense articular infinitive will contain letters which are not found in the present tense articular infinitive. These differences in spelling and construction make it possible for a reader of the Greek text to easily distinguish a past tense articular infinitive from a present tense articular infinitive.
As Luke used the present tense articular infinitive to show action in progress during contemporaneous time, he also used the past tense articular infinitive with meta to meta to to express completed action and subsequent time. In his Gospel, he used the past tense articular infinitive 24 times. In the book of Acts, he also used it 24 times, but he did not use meta to meta to with a past tense articular infinitive to describe the events in Acts 2:1. If Luke had intended to convey completed action and subsequent time in Acts 2:1, he would have used meta to meta to with a past tense infinitive. The fact that he used en tw en too with a present tense articular infinitive clearly shows that the action was being fulfilled at a contemporaneous time. By using a present tense articular infinitive, Luke was revealing that the events in Acts 2 were happening on the fiftieth day, or the actual day of Pentecost--"while the fiftieth day [Pentecost] was being fulfilled."
Luke's Use of the Past Tense Infinitive in Acts 1:3
We have examined Luke's use of a present tense articular infinitive in Acts 2:1 to express ongoing action at a contemporaneous time. Now let us examine Luke's use of a past tense articular infinitive. In the first chapter of the book of Acts, Luke used a past tense articular infinitive to describe a past event and subsequent time. This past tense articular infinitive is found in Acts 1:3. The KJV translation reads: "To whom [to the apostles] also He showed himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days...."
The phrase "after His passion” in Acts 1:3 is translated from a Greek articular infinitive phrase which expresses action that was completed at a previous time in the past. Here are the actual words in the Greek text:
meta to paqein auton meta to pathein auton
after the passion His (a literal translation of the Greek but awkward in English)
Below is a detailed analysis of this past tense articular infinitive phrase:
meta meta--the preposition "after,” used with a past tense articular infinitive to show completed action and subsequent time.
to to--the definite article "the,” used immediately after the preposition
meta meta. In this verse to to, meaning "the," was left untranslated in both Berry's and the KJV, because a literal translation is awkward in English. Leaving the definite article untranslated does not affect the meaning that is expressed by this past tense articular infinitive.
paqein pathein--a past tense infinitive derived from the base verb
pascw paschoo, translated "passion" in the KJV and "had suffered" by Berry.
auton [auton]--meaning "His," as in the KJV; translated "He" by Berry.
Notice that Luke used the past tense articular infinitive phrase meta to paqein meta to pathein to describe an event which had already occurred and which was completed before a subsequent action. Luke used this past tense articular infinitive phrase at the beginning of the book of Acts to relate the past event of Jesus' passion, which was completed before Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles.
This verse in the first chapter of Acts clearly demonstrates Luke's ability to use the past tense articular infinitive. Yet in the following chapter, Acts 2, Luke did not use the past tense articular infinitive to describe the day of Pentecost--"the fiftieth day." If Luke had intended to convey that "the fiftieth day" had already come to an end, he would certainly have expressed this completed action by using a past tense articular infinitive with meta to meta to as he did in Acts 1:3. Instead, Luke chose to use a present tense articular infinitive with en tw en too in Acts 2:1 because he specifically intended to express action that was taking place at that very time. There is no question that Luke's purpose was to convey to the reader that "the fiftieth day," the day of Pentecost, was in the process of being fulfilled.
As we have learned, the construction of the present tense articular infinitive phrase is very different from the construction of the past tense articular infinitive phrase. If we compare the present tense articular infinitive phrase that Luke did use in Acts 2:1 with the past tense articular infinitive phrase which he did not use in Acts 2:1, the difference between the two phrases can easily be seen. The two infinitive phrases as they are written in Greek are shown below with their accompanying translations. The first phrase shows how Acts 2:1 would have been written if Luke had intended to express past action and subsequent time. This past tense articular infinitive phrase CANNOT BE FOUND in Acts 2:1 in the Greek text.
- The Past Tense Articular Infinitive Phrase Which DOES NOT APPEAR in Acts 2:1
|And||after having completed||the||day,||the||fiftieth [day]|
|And||after the fulfillment of||the||day||the||fiftieth [day]|
|And||after had5 been6 fulfilled7||the1||day,2||the3||fiftieth [day]4|
|And||after had5 been6completed7||the1||day,2||the3||fiftieth [day]4|
The four possible translations of this past tense articular infinitive
phrase that are underlined above show how Acts 2:1 would have to be
translated if Luke had used a past tense articular infinitive to
express completed action and subsequent time. Each translation
reflects the correct meaning of this past tense phrase. However,
since this past tense articular infinitive phrase is NOT USED in the Greek text, NONE OF THE ABOVE TRANSLATIONS IS A CORRECT
INTERPRETATION OF ACTS 2:1. No interpretation of Acts 2:1 is
correct unless it accurately conveys the true meaning of the actual
words that are used in the Greek text.
The words that do appear in the Greek text are the exact words that we see in the present tense articular infinitive phrase below. Note the words en tw en too, which are used to express ongoing action at a contemporaneous time, as the accompanying translations clearly show.
- The Present Tense Articular Infinitive Phrase Which DOES APPEAR in Acts 2:1
|Kai||en tw sumplhrousqai||thn||hmeran||thV||penthkosthV ...
|And||in (during) the accomplishing of||the||day||the||fiftieth [day]|
|And||in (during) the fulfilling of||the||day,||the||fiftieth [day]|
|And||while was5being6 fulfilled7||the1||day,2||the3||fiftieth [day]4|
All three above translations of the Greek text are correct. Each of
these translations expresses action that was taking place at a
contemporaneous time, as it was actually happening and was being
fulfilled. All three translations show that this action was ongoing
and had not yet been completed. While all these translations express
the true meaning of the Greek text, the third translation is the most
accurate because the words "was being fulfilled" reflect the precise
meaning of the present tense and the passive voice of the articular
This present tense articular infinitive phrase gives us a much more accurate understanding of Acts 2:1 than can possibly be derived from using only the definition of the base verb sumplhrow sumpleeroo. While the base verb can supply a general definition, it cannot give the specific meaning of Acts 2:1. Only the articular infinitive can convey the exact meaning of the Greek text, and it is this meaning which must be correctly reflected in any translation. Those who attempt to interpret Acts 2:1 by using only a concordance definition of the base verb sumplhrow sumpleeroo are revealing their complete lack of knowledge of the rules of New Testament Greek. Their failure to understand and apply these rules has resulted in great error in their interpretation of Acts 2:1 and has misled many to accept a grievous doctrinal fallacy. When we examine Acts 2:1 in the Greek text, we find that the structure of the New Testament Greek is so precise and exact that it is impossible to mistake the meaning of the present tense articular infinitive that is used in this verse.
Let's take another look at the present tense articular infinitive phrase that Luke used in Acts 2:1. The exact phrase as it appears in the Greek text can be seen in the first line of Greek words below. We know that the words en tw en too in this phrase are expressing action that is taking place and has not yet been completed. The second line of Greek words contains the past tense articular infinitive, which is NOT USED in Acts 2:1. The words meta to meta to, which express action completed in the past, are not found in this verse.
- A Word For Word Comparison of the Present Tense and the Past Tense Articular Infinitive Phrases
The Actual Present Tense Articular Infinitive Phrase Used in Acts 2:1
1) Kai en2 tw3 sumplhrousqaii4 thn hmeran thV penthkosthV ...
The Past Tense Articular Infinitive Phrase NOT USED in Acts 2:1
2) Kai meta2 to3 Sumplhrouqhnaii4 thn hmeran thV penthkosthV ...
As the reader compares the above phrases, it is obvious that the second and third words in line 1 do not match the second and third words in line 2. Notice also that the fourth word in line 1 does not have the same ending as the fourth word in line 2. The rules of New Testament Greek grammar demand the different spellings that are found in the endings of these two words. In New Testament Greek, the difference in the spelling of the present tense articular infinitive sumplhrousqaii and the past tense articular infinitive sumplhrouqhnaii is a strict grammatical requirement. It is an absolute rule of Greek grammar that the ending sqaii is used only to designate the present tense of this articular infinitive, and that the ending qhnaii is used only to designate this articular infinitive in the past tense. The rules of New Testament Greek absolutely do not allow any other construction of the phrases and spelling of these articular infinitives!
The differences in these two articular infinitive phrases are impossible to overlook. Even those who have no knowledge of Greek can see that the two phrases are not identical. To further emphasize these differences, the words that do not match in lines 1 and 2 are listed in opposite columns below. In the left column are the present tense words that ARE found in the Greek text. In the right column are the past tense words that are NOT found in Acts 2:1.
A Comparative Analysis
|Present Tense||vs.||Past Tense|
The above comparison enables the reader to clearly see the major
differences in the two articular infinitive phrases. One phrase is
designed to express ongoing action at a contemporaneous time, and the
other is designed to express action completed in the past. These
differences reflect the exactness and preciseness of the Greek articular
infinitive in relationship to time and circumstances.
The fact that Luke used both present and past tense articular infinitives in the book of Acts demonstrates that he fully understood the difference in the structure and the purpose of both types of phrases. Luke's use of the present tense articular infinitive phrase in Acts 2:1 shows that his purpose was to express ongoing action at a contemporaneous time. The words that Luke chose to use in this verse do not express and therefore should not be construed or interpreted to mean completed action that had already taken place in the past. To claim that this present tense articular infinitive phrase means action completed at a past time is clearly an erroneous interpretation which violates the Greek text.
Understanding the Complete Meaning of Acts 2:1
Our examination of the Greek text has showed that Acts 2:1 begins with the present tense articular infinitive phrase en tw sumplhrousqai en too sumpleerousthai. We have compared the words in this present tense phrase with the words that are required for the same articular infinitive in the past tense, and we have seen the distinct differences in both the structure and the purpose of the two phrases. We have learned that the present tense articular infinitive is used only to express action that is taking place at a contemporaneous time--action which has not yet been completed or fulfilled. Since the articular infinitive that is used in the Greek text is in the present tense and the passive voice, the most accurate translation of this phrase in Acts 2:1 is "was being fulfilled."
Now that we understand the true meaning of this articular infinitive phrase, we are ready to examine the next phrase in Acts 2:1. Here is that phrase as translated in the King James Version and as it appears in the Greek text:"The KJV Translation "the day of Pentecost""
The Greek Text With the English Translation by Berry
thn hmeran thV penthkosthV [teen eemeran tees penteekostees]
the day of Pentecost
Notice that both Berry and the KJV translators left the second definite article thV untranslated. These English translators of the Greek text have overlooked a key element that is necessary for a complete understanding of Acts 2:1. What is that vital missing element? To answer this question, we must examine the complete literal translation of this Greek phrase, which includes the definite article thV translated into English:
The Greek Text With the Literal English Translation
thn hmeran thV penthkosthV [teen eemeran tees penteekostees]
the day, the fiftieth [day]
This literal translation accurately reflects the use of the two definite articles which are found in the Greek text. The first definite article is used with "day" and the second definite article is used with "fiftieth [day]." Why are two definite articles used in the Greek text?
In New Testament Greek, the use of two definite articles performs a very important function. The purpose of using the double definite article is to add emphasis to a noun. The noun that is being emphasized in this case is "day." That "the day" is referring to one specific day is emphasized through the use of a second definite article--"the fiftieth [day]."
When the double definite article is used in the Greek text, the meaning is most emphatic. The words " the day, the fiftieth [day]" are not referring to "day" in a general sense but in a most emphatic and specific sense. The two definite articles which are found in the Greek text show that the noun "day" applies only to that particular day--"the day; namely; the fiftieth [day]." It cannot mean the fifty-first day or any other day! The Greek text is specifically designating “THE DAY” as “THE FIFTIETH,” to the exclusion of any other day. The fiftieth day, and ONLY the "fiftieth day," fits the emphatic phrasing that is used in the Greek text.
A complete analysis of Acts 2:1 in the Greek text proves that the fiftieth day had NOT been completed when the disciples of Jesus gathered to observe the Feast of Pentecost. The Greek text tells us most emphatically that the events in Acts 2 were taking place DURING the fiftieth day. The precise phrasing and construction that Luke used in relating these momentous events show that he was referring exclusively to the "fulfilling of the fiftieth day" as the true day of Pentecost. Luke's exact words as preserved in the Greek text make it perfectly clear that these events did not happen on the fifty-first day. There is not one word in the Greek text to support the observance of the fifty-first day as a holy day. The only day of Pentecost that is truly holy is the fiftieth day, which God ordained in the Old Testament and the disciples of Jesus faithfully observed in the New.
Understanding the full significance of the Greek articular infinitive and the double definite articles in Luke's inspired account removes all doubt concerning the true meaning of Acts 2:1. In the light of the Greek text, we can conclude with absolute certainty that the true and correct literal translation of Acts 2:1 is as follows:
The Articular Infinitive and the Double Article Together in the Greek Text
The literal translation in the English word order is as follows:
"And while the day—namely, the fiftieth day--was being fulfilled..." or,
"And while the day—namely, the day of Pentecost--was being fulfilled..."
The present tense articular infinitive phrase not only reveals that the fiftieth day was in the process of being fulfilled, but also introduces the events which are described in the following verses. As the lead-in statement, or overview statement for the entire narration, it shows that while “the fiftieth day” was being fulfilled, all the events from Verse 1 through Verse 41 were unfolding, each event coming to pass as part of the fulfilling of that particular day of Pentecost! When the first and forty-first verses in the chapter are put together, it becomes absolutely clear that Verse 1 shows the beginning of the fulfilling and Verse 41 shows the conclusion of the fulfilling of the fiftieth day, the day of Pentecost. Notice Berry’s translation of the Greek text: “And during the accomplishing of [the day of Pentecost] THE FIFTIETH DAY….those therefore who gladly had welcomed his word [Peter’s inspired message of repentance] were baptized; and were added THAT DAY souls about three thousand (Acts 2:1, 41).
The Events in Acts 2 Which Were All Fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost
The fulfilling of the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 was most profound because it celebrated the beginning of the New Testament church with the giving of the Holy Spirit. As the disciples of Jesus were assembled together, there were ten major events which took place while “the fiftieth” day--namely the day of Pentecost--was being fulfilled.” These ten events are listed below.
1) The sound of a mighty rushing wind filled the house where they were gathered (verse 2).
2) There appeared to them divided tongues as of fire, which sat upon each of them (verse 3).
3) They were all filled with the Holy Spirit (verse 4).
4) They all began to speak in other tongues, meaning other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance (verse 4).
5) When the multitudes of devout Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost heard of this, they rushed to see what was going on. They were amazed and confounded because each of them heard the apostles speaking in the language in which he was born (verses 5-11).
6) The multitudes asked, “What could this be?” Yet others mocked (verses 12-13).
7) In the third hour of the day, or 9 o’clock in the morning, Peter stood up and preached his powerful sermon (verses 14-36).
8) Many of the multitude, after hearing Peter’s sermon, asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do (verse 37).
9) Peter commanded them, “Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (verse 38).
10) Those who gladly received the message were baptized, and “THE SAME DAY [the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day] there were unto them about added three thousand souls” (verse 41, KJV).
When Luke began his account by stating, "And while the day—namely, the fiftieth day [Pentecost]--was being fulfilled," he wanted us to know that the events which followed his opening statement were all part of the fulfilling of that day. Luke is emphatically telling us that these events were ALL FULFILLED ON THE FIFTIETH DAY--"THE SAME DAY!" There is absolutely no indication in Luke's narration that any of these events were fulfilled on the fifty-first day! On the contrary, the Greek text exposes the utter falseness of the claim that this observance of the Feast of Pentecost took place on the fifty-first day.
Two Additional Verses Which Use Forms of the Verb Sumpleeroo
We have analyzed the form of sumpleeroo that is used in Acts 2:1, and we have learned that it is a present tense articular infinitive which always and only expresses action that is in progress at the time--contemporaneous and ongoing action that has not yet been completed. Besides Acts 2:1, there are two other verses in the New Testament where Luke used verbs derived from the base verb sumpleeroo. These are the only other occurrences in the New Testament of this base verb with its various endings. The two additional verses are cited by some advocates of a Monday Pentecost in an attempt to support their misinterpretation of Acts 2:1. They claim that all three uses of the base verb sumpleeroo are expressing action that had already been fulfilled. However, their contention that Acts 2:1 shows that the fiftieth day was already completed and past is totally erroneous, as our examination of the Greek text has proved.
Now we will examine the other two verses in the New Testament which use forms of sumpleeroo, and we will see that both of these usages express action that was taking place at the time. These verses are found in the Gospel of Luke. The first verse is Luke 8:23, and the second verse is Luke 9:51. Let us examine them in the order in which they are found in the Greek text.
The KJV translates this verse as follows: "But as they sailed, He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy" (Luke 8:23).,
The words "they were filled" in the KJV are translated from a single Greek word that is a form of the base verb sumplhrow sumpleeroo. This word is the Greek verb suneplhrounto sunepleerounto. This form of sumpleeroo is not an articular infinitive, as is the form used in Acts 2:1. Although it is a different form, the meaning of this Greek verb is determined by the same factors that govern every Greek verb form. When we analyze the verb suneplhrounto sunepleerounto, we find that it is the verb form for the third person plural--they; it is in the present imperfect tense, expressing incomplete and ongoing action--being filled; it is in the passive voice, showing that the action was happening to them--they were being; it is in the indicative mood, stating an actual fact--they were being filled.
The fact that the verb sunepleerounto is in the present imperfect tense shows that the filling was taking place at that very time. The present imperfect tense is never used to express action that has already been completed! If Luke had intended to express action that was already completed, he would have used the past tense form of the verb. Instead of sunepleerounto, which expresses ongoing action, we would find the verb form suneplhqwsan sunepleethoosan, which would be translated "they had been filled." But Luke did not use this past tense verb because the boat had NOT been completely filled. Obviously, if the boat had been "completely filled" with water, it would have sunk before the disciples awakened Jesus. Luke's use of the present imperfect tense makes it clear that the boat was BEING filled with water when the disciples awoke Jesus. He got up and rebuked the wind, and stopped the waves from filling the boat completely, and it did not sink (verse 24).
The following translation of Luke 8:23 expresses the true meaning of the verb sunepleerounto, the form of sumpleeroo that is used in the Greek text: "And while they were sailing away, He fell asleep; and a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were being filled with water, and they were in danger." This translation accurately conveys the meaning of the present imperfect tense of the verb, which always expresses action that is not yet complete. To claim that the present imperfect tense of the Greek verb suneplhrounto sunepleerounto is expressing fully completed action is contrary to the rules of Greek grammar. The present imperfect tense is NEVER used to show action that has already been completed. When the advocates of a Monday Pentecost choose to interpret Luke 8:23 in this erroneous manner, they are violating the meaning of the Greek text and revealing their complete ignorance of the rules of New Testament Greek. When this violation of Scripture is presented as authoritative proof, it becomes evident that the advocates of a Monday Pentecost are not rightly dividing the Word of God. Rather, they are misrepresenting this Scripture and blinding the eyes of their followers to the true meaning of Luke 8:23 that is so plainly revealed in the Greek text.
These same supporters of a Monday Pentecost have also misinterpreted the meaning of the form of sumpleeroo that is used in Luke 9:51. In the KJV this verse reads as follows: "And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." The form of sumpleeroo that is used in this verse has been translated "when...was come." While this KJV translation is basically correct, it does not reflect the full meaning of the specific verbal form that is found in the Greek text. An examination of the Greek text reveals that the form of sumpleeroo that is used in Luke 9:51 is the same form that is found in Acts 2:1. It is the present tense articular infinitive en tw sumplhrousqai en too sumpleerousthai, which we have thoroughly analyzed in Chapter Five. While in Acts 2:1 the KJV translates this phrase "was fully come," in Luke 9:51 it is translated "when...was come." As we have learned, this present tense articular infinitive phrase shows action that is taking place during a contemporaneous time and is not yet complete.
Let's examine this articular infinitive phrase in Luke 9:51 as it is translated in the Greek-English interlinear by Berry:
|Egeneto de||en tw||sumplhrousqai||taV||hmeraV|
|And it came to pass||when||were being fulfilled||the||days"|
|of the||receiving||Him up,|
Although Berry's interlinear English translation is somewhat awkward, it does convey the true meaning of the Greek text. Notice that Berry translates en tw sumplhrousqai en too sumpleerousthai as “when were being fulfilled.” This translation correctly reflects the present tense articular infinitive that is found in the Greek text. An exact literal translation would read as follows:
|Egeneto de||en tw||sumplhrousqai||taV||hmeraV|
|Then it came to pass||when the||were being fulfilled||the||days|
|of the||receiving up||His...|
Both of these translations convey the actual meaning of the present tense articular infinitive en tw sumplhrousqai en too sumpleerousthai as "when were being fulfilled." A less awkward English translation of this phrase in its context would read as follows: "Then it came to pass when the days were being fulfilled for His receiving up, that He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem."
As in Acts 2:1, this introductory phrase sets the stage for the events that were being fulfilled during those days. In the following verses, Luke continues his narration by relating some of the events which took place while those days were being fulfilled. Luke's record of these events clearly shows that the time had not yet been fulfilled for His "receiving up"--His ascension to the Father. In fact, the next fifteen chapters in Luke's Gospel relate many major events that took place in Jesus' ministry before He was "received up." The numerous events that are described after Luke 9:51, as well as the present tense articular infinitive that is used in Luke 9:51, clearly show that the time had not yet been fulfilled. Those days were not fulfilled until after Jesus was crucified and was resurrected. To claim that Luke 9:51 means that the days were already fulfilled is contrary not only to the rules of Greek grammar but also to the entire record of events in the remaining chapters of the Gospel of Luke.
When we understand the Greek text, it is undeniably clear that the advocates of a Monday Pentecost have seriously erred in their interpretation of Luke 9:51, just as they have erred in their interpretation of Luke 8:23. Neither of these verses which use forms of sumpleeroo is expressing completed or past action. On the contrary, both verses show ongoing action that was in the process of being completed. Thus both verses support the true interpretation of Acts 2:1--that the day of Pentecost "was being fulfilled." That day is specifically named in Acts 2:1 as “the FIFTIETH day”--not the fifty-first day. There can be no doubt whatsoever concerning the true meaning of these New Testament Scriptures. May those who observe a Monday Pentecost have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to accept this undeniable truth that God has so clearly preserved in His Word.© Fred R. Coulter Christian Biblical Church of God P.O. Box 1442 Hollister, California 95024-1442 USA