Scripture provides more verses about Gentecost than about any other account of apostolic gospel preaching (Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18; 15:7-9; 14; at least 70 verses total). The Spirit played a remarkable role in bringing about the preaching of the gospel on that occasion, as revealed by two key passages in Acts 10.
First, the Spirit spoke directly to Peter prior to his preaching at Gentecost:
Act 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
This statement brings out three aspects of the Spirit’s work on this occasion. Not only did He send the three men who came to summon Peter to go back to Caesarea with them (Acts 10:5-8; 17-18), but He also directly spoke to Peter to inform him of that fact. Moreover, He commanded Peter to get up, go down to meet them, and go with them without questioning what was taking place (Acts 10:20).
The Holy Spirit thus was responsible for bringing about the evangelistic encounter at Gentecost in a unique way because Scripture does not record any other occasion that emphasizes in such fashion the Spirit’s work of directing an apostle to evangelize a specific group of people on a specific occasion.
Second, after Peter had come to Caesarea and met Cornelius, he preached the gospel to him and the others that were there with him (Acts 10:33; 15:7). While he was preaching, the Spirit fell on all who were hearing his message (Acts 10:44).
Doing this, the Spirit effectively ended Peter’s message, signaling thereby that these Gentiles had then heard precisely all that the Spirit wanted them to hear on that occasion. Scripture does not record any other instance of apostolic gospel preaching in which God determined supernaturally in such a way when the evangelist’s message would end.
Two subsequent references to this supernatural event underscore the importance of this work of the Spirit at Gentecost:
Act 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Act 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
In fact, these two passages were the basis for my coining the term Gentecost because they explicitly link what happened at this evangelistic encounter with what happened at Pentecost.
The teaching of these two passages about the Spirit’s unique work in connection with Gentecost (Acts 10:19-20; 44) and the subsequent references to that work (Acts 11:15-18; 15:8-9) provide us with explicit statements that point to the unique importance of what happened at Gentecost. This information strongly suggests that a thorough examination of Peter’s gospel message at Gentecost is essential for us to have a proper understanding of what we are to do in preaching the gospel in our day.