How was Pentecost fulfilled?


At Pentecost Christians commemorate that God gave them the Holy Spirit. It has to be understood that this is due to the works of the Lord Jesus in the weeks preceding that Pentecost. But Pentecost was already commanded as Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. How are these linked and what is the difference according to the Bible?

The word Pentecost stems from the Greek word Pentikostis (Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor 16:8) and is translated as ‘fiftieth’ (day). In the Bible the fiftieth represents a moment of completion. This points to something which happened previously. In this case to the period of seven weeks since Pésach (Passover). In the Bible it is commanded to count the days since Pésach (Lv 23:15). So, Pentecost stands not on its own, but concludes the period of Pésach (the time of commemoration of the deliverance of the people of God).

Biblical Feast of Weeks
This Feast, which God commanded to Israel in the Sinai desert, is all about the offering of the first part of the harvest. The Festival always occurs on the 6th of the third Biblical month. This was the first new meal offering since the first fruits offering (Hebrew: bikoeriem) which was brought on the second day of Pésach.

Is the Feast of Weeks then a harvest feast as many claim? None of the Biblical feasts are ‘harvest feasts’, since such feasts are paganistic [1]. God is Creator, but the Bible clearly states that His creation is (spiritually) being corrupted (Rm 8:22). Thus, there is no sensible ground to have ‘harvest feasts’.

Bringing meal offerings on the Feast of Weeks was in the first place done to obey to the Covenant conditions of God. But it shows that believers took their responsibility and cultivated the Land that God gave them. They expressed with it their gratitude for the blessing of God over the crops they planted and nourished. By consecrating a part of the yield of their harvest to God also the rest of their harvest was consecrated unto God. The meal offering thus is comparable with the prayer of thanks that many believers nowadays pray before they have their meal. This latter prayer is an individual prayer, but the meal offering on the Feast of Weeks brought in the Temple was the collective prayer of thanks by the people of God.

But the Feast of Weeks is about more than that. It also closes officially the commemoration period of Pésach. Therefore, they brought, next to the meal offering, also offerings of animals. Seven whole sheep of one year, a young bull and two rams as burnt offering. Next to that also a he goat as sin offering and two sheep of one year as sacrifice of appeasement.

Pentecost since the New Covenant (NC)
After the NC became fact the Holy Spirit was poured out on the twelve apostles who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks. By receiving the Spirit of God, the consequence of the death on the cross of the Lord Jesus would work out internally in them. In that way they would share fully in the ‘accomplished work’ [2]. Not only that. Believers would also share in the spiritual gifts that God wants to give to His people [3]. In that way they would be abound in all sufficiency.

Jewish Sjavoe’ot
In Judaism the rabbis have determined that the acceptance of the Covenant at mount Horeb in the Sinai dessert is what this Feast is about, but especially the gift of the Covenant conditions (the Torah of Moses). Also, the command to bring a part of the yield of the first great harvest at the beginning of the year is interpreted as it being a harvest feast [4].

Has the Lord Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Weeks?
The Lord Jesus was, after Him being raised out of His death, recalled to heaven just ten days before the Feast of Weeks. This is not a coincidence, since in this way His ascension to heaven didn’t hinder the believers in keeping the Feast of Weeks. But if His ascension was way before that Feast how then did He fulfill it?

If there was a fulfillment, then this seems only to have happened indirectly. That is exactly the case. As it is factually also for Pésach. The Lord Jesus underwent the fulfillment of Pésach willingly. His obedience was its fulfillment. His ultimate obedience as Human was in giving His Life as a certain ransom to deliver from the power of satan.

However, in Biblical sense this is not a ‘work’ [5] (Rm 3:21). His works in that sense ended the moment that He was arrested and thereby robbed of freedom of movement. He also kept silent during most of His captivity. The most important ‘work’ that still can be attested to Him was His willing cooperation in His condemnation and the continuation of what He had done from the moment He began His work as Bible teacher: making loud and clear that He was sent by God to fulfill Pésach.

The fulfillment of Pésach by the Lord Jesus is the same as the fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) by the Holy Spirit. Both were sole acts of God, the Father. The fulfillment came when He sent the Holy Spirit [6]. Within Christianity a dividing dispute exists whether the Lord Jesus Himself also sent That Spirit of God [7]. But it is evident that the Lord Jesus always remains under the obedience of God. It not by accident that He is named ‘Son of God’. He is unable to order God, the Father, to do anything and thus also cannot command the Spirit of God. But the obedience of the Lord Jesus ‘forced’ God in a sense to do what He had promised previously. So, the Lord Jesus has indirectly made the Holy Spirit to be poured out.

The fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks also had another important reason. There seemed to be no connection between the works of the Lord Jesus on earth and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit of God was poured out so that the work of proclamation of His word continues.

What is the fulfillment?
Like the fulfillment of Pésach, the fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks reaffirms that the Biblical feasts still are to be observed, despite that the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of Israel temporarily suspend the collective (offering) aspect of it on earth [8]. It also means that Pésach still has the first place. Directly followed by the Feast of Weeks.

But the fulfillment of the NC also adds new elements. Pentecost in the NC represents the possibility that from that historic day forward it became possible for His people to better observe the will of God. Free from the corrupting power of satan. Regardless that most members of the people of God nowadays are not Jewish. The NC also grants the possibility to grow to perfection in living according to the Covenant of God.

As long as God upholds Passover and its Pentecost there is reason to commemorate the deliverance from suppression through slavery and to honor and serve God out of this deliverance on these feast days [9].

What is wrong about the traditional celebrations?
Jews understand the Feast of Weeks as a harvest feast, but Biblical feasts are never ‘harvest feast’. Also, there is no parallel with the acceptance of the Covenant at Horeb and the gift of the Torah. Suggesting this parallel is unsuited and incorrect.

Unsuited, since Pésach stands ‘separate’ from the Covenant of God of Horeb. God didn’t deliver His people as a condition to a latter Covenant, but on condition of a previous Covenant. Namely the one made with the patriarchs (Gn 15:14, 18). Since the Feast of Weeks was part of the latter Covenant Pésach also became connected to that Covenant. In this way something that came later is put ‘above’ that which came previous. But that which is older and thus was given previously as a rule is ‘above’ that which came later [10]. This is a commonly accepted rule for Bible explanation. In this case it was overruled by God. The rabbinic interpretation however doesn’t acknowledge this act of God, but makes the Feast of Weeks a separate commemoration disconnected from Pésach. Despite that God explicitly connected the two by commanding to count the intermediate days (the seven weeks (Hebr sjavoe’ot – weeks).

It is also historically incorrect to connect the acceptance of the Covenant at Horeb with Pentecost, because according to the Bible that acceptance happened more than sixty days after Pésach (Ex 19:1) instead of fifty days. The first time the Feast of Weeks was commemorated was after the acceptance of the Sinai Covenant. The command for it was only just given by God to Moses on mount Horeb (Ex 23:16).

Christians understand Pentecost only as commemoration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Whom they, in there Trinitarian centricity, can only understand as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. This is also unsuited and incorrect. Unsuited, because it puts all emphasis on other things then God, the Father, Who has fulfilled both Pésach and Sjavoe’ot and commanded their connected commemoration of the exodus. Wrong, because the Holy Spirit cannot be commanded [11] by the Lord Jesus, but only by God, the Father.

What is the connection with the Messiah?
When the Messiah finally comes He will not make an end to Passover and Pentecost, since that is not what is written in the Bible. Making an end to these would also be strange, because the Messianic Kingdom will not bring the complete restoration of the world. Sin will remain and a part of mankind will not be interested in the redemption offered to them by God. Also, satan shall be released at the end of the Messianic reign (Rev 20:7). So, the Messiah will not concur him. That will be done God, the Father.

The question is whether the coming of the Messiah will give a further fulfillment of Passover and Pentecost? This is not mentioned in the Bible, but what is certain is that He will ensure that these feasts will be held in a way never seen on earth. So, in the sense of an obedient observance by the people of God there will be a fulfillment. But the Messiah will also restore Israel by which the people of God will be made whole. Through that the Biblical feasts will get their collective aspect back, namely the reinstatement of the Temple service in Jerusalem.

The Biblical feasts Pésach (Passover) and Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) are both not fulfilled by the Lord Jesus nor by the Holy Spirit. This cannot be so, since Both underwent these fulfillments. They just contributed to it by obedience. These feasts are only fulfilled by God, the Father.

The fulfillment of Pentecost is dependent on the fulfillment of Passover, since Pentecost is the completion of the Passover time. God fulfilled Passover by delivering His people of the power of their ultimate enemy: satan. God fulfilled Pentecost by giving His people that deliverance inwardly.

[1] Pagans rejoiced in the fruitfulness of nature and the life-giving power food gives to man. At harvest feasts the earth and the physical world are worshipped. In Biblical feasts only God is worshipped.
[2] His deliverance of the power of satan (in most English Bible translations: ‘the strength of sin’ or ‘law of sin’).
[3] The people of God were given access to the High priestly service of the Lord Jesus in the Temple in heaven.
[4] Despite the fact the harvest feasts go against the will of God.
[5] ‘Works’ are classified in Biblical sense only as acts done according to the Covenant conditions. These conditions forbid sacrificing humans. Even when this is done with a good intention. Thus, His death on the cross cannot have been a sacrifice to God, despite the fact that He underwent it as a Human and that He did it for man. It has to be understood as a religious death penalty.
[6] Only God, the Father, is able to send His Holy Spirit. But since That Spirit is meant to let the believer partake in the works of the Lord Jesus, the believer experiences the Coming of That Spirit as Replacement of the Lord Jesus Who is no longer on earth.
[7] This issue is important for dogmas about the Trinity. However, when it is suggested that the Holy Spirit is a Person that can make decisions for Himself, like God, the Father, and the Lord Jesus, then the question should be asked whether the Holy Spirit wanted to decent to earth. This question is however seldom addressed.
[8] As long as Israel remains dispersed the people of God remain incomplete and thus not yet up to collective, completely fulfilled observance of the Covenant of God. So, the complete fulfillment of all Biblical feasts is still to be expected in the future.
[9] It is evident that this however comes to an end once the new Creation is put in place.
[10] Only if God explicitly states that something has changed or is no longer valid.
[11] Also, in view of the Trinity, commanding the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus is rather problematic. In the Bible a hierarchical relationship between the Three seems evident, in which God, the Father, of course always is supreme.