Fifty days after the resurrection of the Master, God poured the Holy Spirit onto his disciples. Many believe that this was the day the church was born.

It is commemorated seriously in the liturgical churches and with somewhat less rigor in most evangelical and independent churches. Every church calls it by the same name taken from Acts 2:1. No matter which English translation of the New Testament you read, it will almost certainly identify this day as “Pentecost.”

If you search these same Bibles for the word “Pentecost,” you’ll find that it appears first in Acts 2, with no explanation. That’s confusing. What was Pentecost? Where did it come from? Why was it special? Luke nonchalantly drops this word, apparently expecting us to know what he’s talking about.

Maybe Pentecost is special because, well, it’s Pentecost. Maybe it’s significant because of what happened in Acts 2. That’s an easy assumption to make, and most Christians celebrate Pentecost solely because of what happened on this “first” Pentecost mentioned in their English Bibles. In so doing they miss a valuable chance to see just how important this day already was to the followers of Yeshua—Jesus—before they ever gathered in Jerusalem to await God’s direction.