When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
– Acts 2:1
The events that took place in Acts Chapter 2, where God poured out His spirit and empowered His small band of followers is the pivotal event in New Testament Christianity. Where did this amazing event take place? Most Christians assume that it took place in the upper room where the disciples had been staying. However, a closer look at the Text and some research into the historical setting of the Feast of Pentecost provides strong proof that the events of Pentecost actually took place in an entirely different location. Let’s see what the evidence shows.
- Luke 24:53 says that the disciples stayed continually at the Temple praising God. The Feast of Pentecost, or Shavuot in Hebrew, was just starting in Jerusalem as the book of Acts begins. It was one of the three great pilgrim feasts that every Jewish male was required to attend (see Deuteronomy 16:16). Where would these Jewish believers, who were continually in the Temple Courts anyway, have been on the first day of the feast of Pentecost? They would have been at the Temple!
- Acts 2:6-12 states that huge crowds of people from every nation gathered to hear Peter speak. Where would there have been room for great crowds of people, who were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost, during the time of day that the Temple services would have been held? It would have had to have been somewhere in the Temple area, the only place where there would have been that much space!
- In Acts 2:15, Peter told the crowd gathered that it was 9:00 in the morning. This would have been the exact time for the morning Pentecost service in the Temple. Certainly the disciples and the crowd would have wanted to be present for the Pentecost services.
- In Acts 2:2, it says that the sound of a violent wind filled the whole house where they were sitting. The Temple is frequently called, “The House” in the Old Testament (see e.g. 2 Samuel 7:5). Even in Acts 7:47, the Temple is called, “The House”. The House where they were sitting was the Temple!
- Peter spoke of the Tomb of David as being there (Acts 2:29). David was buried in the “City of David” (I Kings 2:10), which is the part of Jerusalem that is the closest to the Temple Mount.
- In Acts 2:41, it says that three thousand people were baptized in response to the apostles preaching. One of the only places in Jerusalem with that much water to baptize three thousand people would have been at the southern entrance to the Temple, where there were located numerous “mikvoth”. These were ritual baths used by the worshipers to ceremonially cleanse themselves before entering the grounds of the Temple. These pools, which already symbolized the removal of the uncleanness of sin, and their proximity to where the crowds would have been gathered, gives further evidence to Pentecost happening in or around the southern stair entrance to the Temple grounds.
All this evidence overwhelmingly points to the events of Acts 2 taking place on or near the southern stair entrance to the Temple. Hundreds of thousands of God fearing Jews from all over the known world (Acst2:5) were gathered to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Shavuot (Leviticus 23:15-22). At this ancient Jewish feast, God came in the form of tongues of fire and settled on the new believers. God moved out of his old “House”, the Temple, and moved into a new “House”, the hearts of the believers. All of this took place in the framework of Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled at this miraculous event and it all happened at the place God had his people build a place for Him to dwell!