Acts 2 is one of those highly significant chapters of the Bible. It is a pivotal point, or as the late James D. Bales called it in one of his books, “The Hub of the Bible.” The reason is because so many Old Testament prophecies looked forward to their fulfillment in the events of Acts 2 (e.g., Isaiah 2, Joel 2, Daniel 2), and because many New Testament texts look back to the beginning of the gospel in that chapter (e.g., Ephesians 2). In fact, Peter refers to the events of Pentecost as “the beginning” (Acts 11:15).
The prophet Isaiah said,
Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. 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 2:2-3 NAU)
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus spoke of the establishment of the kingdom during the lifetime of some of those who heard him (Mark 1:14-15; 9:1).
Our aerial photo shows the enclosed Islamic sanctuary area that is commonly called the Haram es-Sherif. Benjamin Mazar says that this area is about 40 acres. He points out that Josephus and the Mishna give smaller dimensions, and says that they apparently refer to “the Soreg or sacred enclosure” (The Mountain of the Lord, 119-120). Other writers say the area is 36 acres in size. Certainly large enough for the crowds who came to Jerusalem for festivals such as the Passover and Pentecost.
Solomon’s temple stood on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). Centuries later Herod the Great built the large platform and enclosure walls. Stones from that wall can still be seen in many places around this vast enclosure. The picture shows the southern wall and the eastern wall (the long one). The Kidron Valley and a portion of the slope of the Mount of Olives is visible in the bottom of the photo.
Click on the photo for an image suitable for use in teaching.
The New Testament (Greek) makes a distinction between the entire temple precinct, courts and all (Greek, hieron), and the sanctuary where only the priests were allowed (Greek, naos). John 2:14-15 uses hieron. John 2:19-21 uses naos.
Hieron is the term used in Acts 2:46. The new converts met in the temple precinct. They most likely assembled in one of the large porticoes built around the inside of the enclosure wall (cf. Acts 3:11; 5:12).
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 NAU)
It also was within this precinct that the large crowd of devout Jews “from every nation under heaven” assembled on Pentecost. Here, Peter preached the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for the first time.