Wait, Pentecost is Jewish?!

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Things you should probably know about this weekend’s holiday.

Let’s get straight to it: what does the word Pentecost mean? In the Christian world we got so used to it, thanks to the Pentecostal Church, that we probably think it means “something about the Holy Spirit”. Right? Well, not quite.

Pentecost comes from the Greek word for “fiftieth”, referring to the fiftieth day after Passover. On that day, the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot in Hebrew, a holiday established already in the times of Moses. More specifically, it commemorates the giving of the commandments on Mount Sanai.

How then did it become linked to followers of Jesus? Great question! But also, easy answer.

Considering that Jesus’ disciples were Jewish, it’s not surprising that they observed Biblical holidays. As one of the three biggest Feasts of the Lord, Shavuot called for believers to gather in Jerusalem. In the Book of Acts we read: “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they [disciples] were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).

On that memorable day, God poured out His Holy Spirit on all those gathered together in Jerusalem, and the history of mankind was forever changed. Tongues of fire, rushing wind, speaking in many languages! Now that’s what you call a FEAST!

Pentecost, the fiftieth day since Passover, as well as fiftieth day since Jesus’ death and resurrection, remains significant for Jews and Christians alike. We are grateful for God’s commandments and we are grateful for His Spirit.

Apostle Peter quoted words of the Jewish prophet Joel who literally foretold this happening: “It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17).

How beautiful is that. So now, let us celebrate! Happy Shavuot!

Estera Wieja
Estera Wieja is a journalist, book author and public speaker, focused on the topics of Israel, Jewish history, and Judeo-Christian culture. Born and raised in Poland, Estera is a regular contributor to "Our Inspirations" magazine in Poland. She holds a Bachelor degree in Communications and Media from Azusa Pacific University (California, USA), and a Master degree in Journalism from University of Warsaw, Poland. Estera has lived in Jerusalem, Israel for several years before joining the staff at FIRM in 2018.