Peter, Paul, and Mary Were Pentecostals
Summary: In 1965, while a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, I saw the famous folk-singing trio Peter, Paul, and Mary perform. They were outstanding! In the Bible we read of a far more consequential "Peter, Paul, and Mary" — three people who changed world history and were among the earliest Pentecostals. They should serve as role models for us today.
The apostle Peter was hand-picked and personally trained by Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul learned the Gospel by a direct heavenly revelation from Jesus Himself (Galatians 1:11-12). And there were certainly very few, if any, who knew Jesus Christ as well as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did.
I find it very revealing that the bible shows a common fact about each of these three heroes of the New Testament — they were all Pentecostals, baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and full of the power of Pentecost. Peter, Paul, and Mary were Pentecostals, as were the other leaders and disciples through whom Jesus began His Church on earth.
None of them showed any embarrassment about speaking in tongues, nor about any other facet of Pentecost and the associated gifts of the Holy Spirit. In fact, to the contrary, they were well aware that it is Jesus Himself who is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33-34). And it was Jesus Himself who first promised that believers in Him would speak in new tongues (Mark 16:16-17).
What is the point of these comments? Simply this, that the early Church was thoroughly Pentecostal, in the manner of Acts 2:1-4. Its leaders and other notable believers were all Pentecostals. And this was not just God’s temporary plan for the first century. No, but rather, Pentecostal churches are God’s standard, God’s norm for His Church, not an exception. Holy Spirit-filled church services are to be our regular experience, not just a historical footnote from the first century. And the weight of Scripture clearly demonstrates that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today, not just for the beginnings of Christianity.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these Pentecostal Christian heroes — Peter, Paul, and Mary — and thereby reinforce in our own hearts the importance of Pentecost in God’s plan for His Church for the ages. First, a couple of key Scriptures.
- Acts 1:5, 8 “...in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit....  you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
1) PETER — The apostle Peter was among these 120 Spirit-filled believers (Acts 1:14-15). And in Acts 2:14ff Peter began to give the crowd an inspired explanation of those happenings on the Day of Pentecost.
- • Acts 2:16ff — Peter declared that this Pentecostal outpouring was the fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s prophecy about God pouring out His Spirit, with results to include prophecy, dreams, and visions.
• 2:36-39 — Peter exhorted the listeners to repent and believe in Jesus, to be baptized in water, and to receive the same Pentecostal experience of the Holy Spirit that the 120 had received.
• Many responded to Peter’s invitation to repentance, and the church grew by 3,000 baptized believers in that very first day of Pentecost (vs. 41). And the church began to experience wonders and miraculous signs as a result of the promised power of Pentecost (vs. 43).
2) PAUL — The apostle Paul, who was converted to Christianity at a later date than Peter, very quickly became a biblical, Acts 2 Pentecostal.
Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul [later known as Paul], the Lord — Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here — has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
- •• Paul was a Pentecostal Christian, not just born again, but also “filled with the Holy Spirit”.
•• As did the Acts 2 Pentecostal believers, Paul as a Spirit-filled believer spoke in tongues.
- • And he was certainly not ashamed of doing so, but to the contrary declared, “I thank God that I speak in tongues.”
3) MARY — Jesus’ mother Mary, like the apostles Peter and Paul, was a Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking Christian.
Acts 1:14-15 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.  In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty).
Acts 2:1, 4 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place....  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- •• Mary, the mother of Jesus, was among “the 120” (vs. 1:15) who were assembled for the first New Testament Day of Pentecost (vs. 2:1). Mary was among the “all” (vs. 2:4) who were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and began to speak in other tongues.
- • Jesus’ mother was an Acts 2 Pentecostal!
- •• So we have clear Scriptural evidence that Peter, Paul, and Mary — along with many others mentioned in the New Testament from Acts 2 on — were biblical Pentecostals.
John 1:33-34 ...‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
- •• It is Jesus Himself who baptizes His followers with the Holy Spirit. This is further confirmed in Matthew 3:11ff, Mark 1:8ff, and Luke 3:16.
•• And take careful note that Jesus intended that same Pentecostal blessing — the baptism with the Holy Spirit — to accompany the Great Commission throughout the Church Age (see next).
Mark 16:15-18 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues...”
- •• The mighty Pentecostal infilling of the Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues, is linked to the Great Commission!
- • It was one of the signs that Jesus said would follow as His people preached the Gospel in “all the world”.
• It was the Savior Himself who made Pentecost a part of the Great Commission.
• As Jesus, the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, began His Church in the power of Pentecost, so He will bless it throughout the Church Age until the very end.
- •• Peter, Paul, and Mary — and countless others from Acts 2 Pentecost until now — have received Christ’s Pentecostal outpouring. If you have not experienced this great blessing from the Lord Jesus, believe His word and expect Him to fulfill in your life His promise that “these signs will accompany those who believe ... they will speak in new tongues” (Mark 16:17).
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©2008, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.