Wind in Acts 2

This paper will focus on the phenomenon of wind as well as its purpose of being in conjunction with the first baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit delineated in Act 2:1-13. The second verse of Acts chapter 2 starts with, “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a mighty wind….” Luke’s comment that it “came from heaven” reflects his intention to describe not a natural but a supernatural event.[1] Note the word (καθώς) like. As Williams points out it was not the wind, but something for which the wind served as symbol, perhaps the divine presence of God. There are numerous scriptures that support this occurrence both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for Spirit (חור) can mean two other specific things: wind and breath. When Ezekiel prophesied to the wind and called it to blow on the dead bodies in the valley of his vision, it was the breath of God that breathed into them and filled them with new life (Ezek. 37:9-14).[2] Again, as Pinnock points out in Job 33:4, the Spirit of God creates new life with the symbol of breath, “the Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”[3] Moreover, Job adds in 34:14-15, “If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together and all morals return to dust.” Interestingly Ephrem the Syrian (4th cent. A.D.) says that this Acts 2 “house” was filled with fragrance; this may be a reminiscence of Isaiah 6:4.[4]

In the New Testament, the first thing that Christ does when he is resurrected is to breathe the Spirit on the disciples and send them forth into mission (John 20:21-22; Acts 1:8). Perhaps even Jesus alludes to this to this coming of the Spirit when he speaks with Nicodemus. “The wind blows where it pleases and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes or where it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).[5]

Scholars debate the location of this phrase in verse 2: “τον οικον ού ήσαν.” G. C. Morgan claims that undoubtedly the disciples were at the temple [6] while R. C. H. Lenski argues that it is doubtful whether one can conclude a location at all.[7] Lenski points out that it could not be one of the halls in the Temple nor could it be a house in the modern sense. If they were in the Temple why would only the disciples hear the sound? One would think that Luke would include the temple police or perhaps the Sanhedrin as he does in most of his other narratives if they were to hear the sound and if he truly is giving an accurate account.[8] Nonetheless they are not included. On the other hand a typical 1st century house probably could not fit 120 people inside. Lenski concludes that although there is a lack of details one would expect Luke to write ιερόν instead of οικον if the disciples were in the Temple.[9]

The coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 is marked by both audible (wind) and visible (fire) signs. The sound signifies that the Holy Spirit is with the disciples and the tongue-like flames of fire act as a manifestation of God’s glory, adding splendor to the occasion.[10] Some scholars have questioned whether these signs of sound and the appearance of the fire were objective and outside forces. In Acts 10, Cornelius’ experience of the Holy Spirit is not accompanied by such phenomenon, and yet his experience is similar to the experience in Acts 2. As a result, these scholars would argue that there was nothing seen or heard on this occasion and that what Luke has presented as audible and visible was purely an inner experience.[11] However, the author uses sensory language as a way of making the phenomenon both verifiable and empirical. The text indicates a directional movement of the wind, “from heaven and filled the place” (Acts 2:2) and indicates that “they saw” at least part of the phenomenon their eyes. This, therefore, indicates that the phenomenon was not from the disciples’ subconscious, as some would suggest but rather from an outside force. Later, Peter would use this verifiable evidence against those who might seek a rationalist and discreditable explanation of what was happening.[12]

Just as the anointing of the Spirit was accompanied by a physical manifestation in the form of a descending dove on Christ so also the physical manifestation of wind and fire mark the apostles’ baptism of the Spirit.[13] The similarities between these to two events are seen as preparation for missiological purposes. The anointing of Christ begins his public ministry while the baptism of the disciples prepares them for their mission to the Gentiles. Stronstand makes this even clearer: “Just as the anointing of Jesus (Luke 3:22; 4:18) is a paradigm for the subsequent Spirit-baptism of the disciples (Acts 1:5; 2:4), so the gift of the Spirit to the disciples is a paradigm for God’s people throughout the “last days” as a charismatic community of the Spirit and prophethood of all believers (Acts 2:16-21).”[14]

The later accounts of filling with the Spirit in Acts indicate that this was the only time of the sound of a wind-like force and tongues of fire. These signs are introductory and for this occasion only, perhaps as an inauguration for the continuance of the physical sign of speaking in tongues throughout the rest of Acts. At this point then Peter recognizes that speaking in tongues is evidence of Spirit-empowerment (also in Acts 10) and that it will serve as a sign for empowerment.















Arrington, French L. & R. Stronstand. The Full Life Bible Commentary to the New

Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.


Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts, Revised. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988.


Lenski, R.C.H. The Acts of the Apostles. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing,


Marshall, Howard I. Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary. 3rd ed.

TNTC. Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity/Eerdmans, 1989.


Morgan, G. Campbell. The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,



Pinnock, Clark. Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit. Downers Grove, IL:

Intervarsity Press, 1996.


Stronstand, Roger. The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody, MA:

Hendrickson, 1984.


Williams, David J. Acts. NIBC. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990.



[1] David J. Williams, Acts, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), 40.

[2] F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 50.

[3] Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1996), 52.

[4] Bruce, The Book of Acts, 50.

[5] Bruce, The Book of Acts, 50.

[6] G. Campbell Morgan, The Acts of the Apostles, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1988), 30.

[7] R.C.H. Lenski, The Acts of the Apostles, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing, 1961), 58.

[8] Lenski, The Acts of the Apostles, 58.

[9] Lenski, The Acts of the Apostles, 58.

[10] French L. Arrington & R. Stronstand, The Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 542.

[11] Williams, Acts, 40.

[12] Howard I. Marshall, Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary. 3rd ed., (Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity/Eerdmans, 1989), 67.

[13] Arrington & Stronstand, Bible Commentary to the New Testament, 542.

[14] Roger Stronstand, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984), 8-9.