Acts 2:5-13 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Pentecost drew people from all over the known world to Jerusalem—“God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.” It was like a festival with eating, drinking, and fun, which is why Peter will later assure the crowd that the disciples are not drunk. And into this mix comes a small crowd of Galileans speaking languages that these travellers know. It isn’t gibberish; people recognize their own dialects and hear the wonders of God declared. They hear the story of Jesus’ life, death for their sin, and resurrection spoken in a way they can easily understand!

British pastor and theologian John Stott wrote this in his commentary, The Message of Acts (you’ll need to know that glossolalia means to speak in tongues): 


“Discussion about the nature of ‘glossolalia’ must not distract our attention from Luke’s understanding of its significance on the Day of Pentecost. It symbolized a new unity in the Spirit transcending racial, national, and linguistic barriers.”


What was the significance of God’s people speaking in recognizable languages to the travellers coming into Jerusalem? This was God’s declaration that the gospel was for everyone. Every one. The kingdom was not just for Israel but for all nations. The first recorded miracle since Jesus’ ascension into heaven made it abundantly clear that everyone could receive the gift of salvation and eternal life. Everyone could become a follower of the The Way, Jesus Christ.