Book: The True Meaning of Acts 2:1

Our examination of the Greek text has showed that Acts 2:1 begins with the present tense articular infinitive phrase en tw sumplhrousqai en too sumpleerousthai]. We have compared the words in this present tense phrase with the words that would be required for the same articular infinitive to be used in a past tense phrase, and we have seen the distinct differences in both the structure and the purpose of the two phrases. We have learned that the present tense articular infinitive is used only to express action that is taking place at a contemporaneous time—action which has not yet been completed or fulfilled. Since the articular infinitive used in this particular text is in the present tense and the passive voice, the most accurate translation of this phrase is “was being fulfilled.”

Now that we understand the true meaning of this articular infinitive phrase, we are ready to examine the next phrase in Acts 2:1. Here is that phrase as translated in the King James Version and as it appears in the Greek text:

KJV Translation

“the day of Pentecost”

Greek Text with Translation from
Berry’s Greek English Interlinear

thn hmeran thV penthkosthV
 teen eemeran tees penteekostees
the day — of Pentecost

Notice that both Berry and the KJV translators left the second definite article thV untranslated. In doing so, however, these translators have overlooked a key element necessary for a complete understanding of Acts 2:1. What is that vital missing element? To answer this question, we must examine the complete, literal translation of this phrase, which includes the definite article thV translated into the English:

The Greek Text with the Literal English Translation

thn hmeran thV penthkosthV [teen eemeran tees penteekostees]

teen eemeran tees penteekostees the day, the fiftieth [day]

This literal translation accurately reflects the two definite articles found in the text. The first definite article is used with day and the second definite article is used with fiftieth.

But why are two definite articles used in the text?

In New Testament Greek, the use of two definite articles performs a very important function—it adds emphasis to a noun. The noun that is being emphasized in this case is “day.” The fact that “the day” is referring to one specific day is emphasized through the use of a second definite article— “the fiftieth [day]”—showing that they are the same day.

When the double definite article is used in Greek, the meaning is most emphatic. The words “the day, the fiftieth [day]” are not referring to “day” in a general sense, but in a most emphatic and specific sense. The two definite articles show that the noun “day” applies only to a particular day—“the day, namely the fiftieth [day].” It cannot mean the fifty-first day or any other day! The text is specifically designating “the day, namely the fiftieth day,” to the exclusion of any other day. The fiftieth day, and only the fiftieth day, can fit the emphatic phrasing that is used in the Greek text.

A complete analysis of Acts 2:1 in the Greek text proves that the fiftieth day had NOT been completed when the disciples of Jesus gathered to observe the Feast of Pentecost. The text tells us most emphatically that the events in Acts 2 were taking place during the fiftieth day. The precise phrasing and construction Luke used in relating these momentous events show that he was referring exclusively to the “fulfilling of the fiftieth day” as the true day of Pentecost. Luke’s exact words as preserved in the Greek text make it perfectly clear that these events did not happen on the fifty-first day. There is not one word in the text to support the observance of the fifty-first day as a holy day. The only day of Pentecost that is truly holy is the fiftieth day, which God ordained in the Old Testament and the disciples of Jesus faithfully observed.

Understanding the full significance of the Greek articular infinitive and the double definite articles in Luke’s inspired account removes all doubt concerning the true meaning of Acts 2:1. In light of the facts concerning the Greek text, we can conclude with absolute certainty that the true and correct literal translation of Acts 2:1 is as follows:

The Articular Infinitive and the Double Article
Together in the Greek Text












being8 fulfilled9




fiftieth5 day6


The literal translation in the English word order is as follows:

“And while the day, namely the fiftieth day, was being fulfilled...” or,

“And while the day, namely the day of Pentecost, was being fulfilled...”

The present tense articular infinitive phrase not only reveals that the fiftieth day was in the process of being fulfilled, it also introduces the events described in the following verses. As the lead-in or overview statement for the entire narration, the phrase shows that “while the day, namely the fiftieth day was being fulfilled,” all the events from verse 1 through verse 41 were unfolding, with each event coming to pass as part of the fulfilling of that particular day of Pentecost. When the first and forty-first verses of the chapter are put together, it becomes absolutely clear that verse 1 shows the beginning of the fulfilling of the day while verse 41 shows the conclusion of the fulfilling of the day—the fiftieth day, the day of Pentecost. “And while the day, namely the fiftieth day [the day of Pentecost], was being fulfilled.... Therefore, those who had gladly received his word [Peter’s inspired message of repentance] were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added” (Acts 2:1, 41).

The Events in Acts 2 Which Were All
Fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost

The fulfilling of the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 was most profound because it celebrated the beginning of the New Testament Church with the giving of the Holy Spirit. As the disciples of Jesus were assembled together, there were ten major events which took place “while the day, namely the day of Pentecost, was being fulfilled.” These ten events are listed below.

  • 1) The sound of a mighty rushing wind filled the house where they were gathered (verse 2).
  • 2) There appeared to them divided tongues as of fire, which sat upon each of them (verse 3).
  • 3) They were all filled with the Holy Spirit (verse 4).
  • 4) They all began to speak in other tongues, meaning other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance (verse 4).
  • 5) When the multitude of devout Jews that had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost heard of this, they rushed to see what was going on. They were amazed and confounded because each of them heard the apostles speaking in their own native language (verses 5-11).
  • 6) The multitude asked, “What could this be?” Yet others mocked (verses 12-13).
  • 7) In the third hour of the day, or 9 in the morning, Peter stood up and preached his powerful sermon (verses 14-36).
  • 8) After hearing Peter’s sermon, many asked what they should do (verse 37).
  • 9) Peter commanded them, “Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (verse 38).
  • 10) Those who gladly received the message were baptized, and “that same day [the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day] were added three thousand souls” (verse 41).

When Luke began his account by stating, “And while the day, namely the fiftieth day [Pentecost], was being fulfilled,” he wanted us to know that the events following his opening statement were all part of the fulfillment of that day. Luke is emphatically telling us that these events were all fulfilled on the fiftieth day—“that same day.” There is absolutely no indication in Luke’s narrative that any of these events were fulfilled on the fifty-first day. On the contrary, the Greek text exposes the utter falseness of the claim that this observance of the Feast of Pentecost took place on the fifty-first day.

Two Additional Verses That Use Forms of the Verb Sumpleeroo

We have analyzed the form of sumpleeroo that is used in Acts 2:1 and we have learned that it is a present tense articular infinitive which always and only expresses action that is in progress at the time—contemporaneous and ongoing action that has not yet been completed. Besides Acts 2:1, there are two other verses in the New Testament where Luke used verbs derived from the base verb sumpleeroo. These are the only other occurrences in the New Testament of this base verb with its various endings. The two additional verses are cited by some advocates of a Monday Pentecost in an attempt to support their misinterpretation of Acts 2:1. They claim that all three uses of the base verb sumpleeroo are expressing action that had already been fulfilled. However, their contention that Acts 2:1 shows that the fiftieth day was already completed and past is totally erroneous, as our examination of the Greek text has proven.

Now we will examine the other two verses in the New Testament which use forms of sumpleeroo, and we will see that both of these usages express action that was taking place at the time. These verses are found in the Gospel of Luke. The first verse is Luke 8:23, and the second verse is Luke 9:51. Let us examine them in the order in which they are found in the Greek text.

Luke 8:23

The KJV translates this verse as follows: “But as they sailed, He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy” (Luke 8:23).

The words “they were filled” in the KJV are translated from a single Greek word that is a form of the base verb sumpleeroo. This word is the Greek verb suneplhrounto [sunepleerounto]. This form of sumpleeroo is not an articular infinitive, as is the form used in Acts 2:1. Although it is a different form, the meaning of this verb is determined by the same factors that govern every Greek verb form. When we analyze the verb sunepleerounto, we find that it is the verb form for the third person plural—they; it is in the present imperfect tense, expressing incomplete and ongoing action—being filled; it is in the passive voice, showing that the action was happening to them—they were being; it is in the indicative mood, stating an actual fact—they were being filled.

The fact that the verb sunepleerounto is in the present imperfect tense shows that the “filling” was taking place at that very time. The present imperfect tense is never used to express action that has already been completed! If Luke had intended to express action that was already completed, he would have used the past tense form of the verb. Instead of sunepleerounto, which expresses ongoing action, we would find the verb form suneplhqwsan [sunepleethoosan], which would be translated “they had been filled.” But Luke did not use this past tense verb because the boat had not been completely filled. Obviously, if the boat had been completely filled with water, it would have sunk before the disciples awakened Jesus. Luke’s use of the present imperfect tense makes it clear that the boat was being filled with water when the disciples awoke Jesus. He got up and rebuked the wind, which stopped the waves from filling the boat completely, so that it did not sink (verse 24).

The following translation of Luke 8:23 expresses the true meaning of the verb sunepleerounto, the form of sumpleeroo that is used in this text: “And while they were sailing away, He fell asleep; and a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were being filled with water, and they were in danger.” This translation accurately conveys the meaning of the present imperfect tense of the verb, which always expresses action that is not yet complete. To claim that the present imperfect tense of the verb sunepleerounto expresses fully completed action is contrary to the rules of Greek grammar. The present imperfect tense is never used to show action that has already been completed. When advocates of a Monday Pentecost choose to interpret Luke 8:23 in this erroneous manner, they are violating the meaning of the text and revealing their complete ignorance of the rules of New Testament Greek. When this violation of Scripture is presented as authoritative proof, it becomes evident that such advocates of a Monday Pentecost are not rightly dividing the Word of God. Rather, they are misrepresenting this Scripture and blinding the eyes of their followers to the true meaning of Luke 8:23, which is so plainly revealed in the Greek text.

Luke 9:51

These same supporters of a Monday Pentecost have also misinterpreted the meaning of the form of sumpleeroo that is used in Luke 9:51. In the KJV this verse reads as follows: “And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” The form of sumpleeroo that is used in this verse has been translated “when... was come.” While this KJV translation is basically correct, it does not reflect the full meaning of the specific verbal form that is found in the text. An examination of the Greek reveals that the form of sumpleeroo used in Luke 9:51 is the same form that is found in Acts 2:1. It is the present tense articular infinitive en tw sumplhrousqai [en too sumpleerousthai], which we have thoroughly analyzed in Chapter Five. While in Acts 2:1 the KJV translates this phrase “was fully come,” in Luke 9:51 it is translated “when … was come.” As we have learned, this present tense articular infinitive phrase shows action that is taking place during a contemporaneous time and is not yet complete.

Let’s examine this articular infinitive phrase in Luke 9:51 as it is translated in the Greek-English interlinear by Berry:

Egeneto de en tw sumplhrousqai taV hmeraV
And it came to pass when were being fulfilled the  days"

thV analhyewV autou,
of the receiving Him up,


Although Berry’s interlinear English translation is somewhat awkward, it does convey the true meaning of the Greek text. Notice that Berry translates en tw sumplhrousqai [en too sumpleerousthai] as “when were being fulfilled.” This translation correctly reflects the present tense articular infinitive which is found in the Greek text. An exact literal translation would read as follows:

Egeneto de en tw sumplhrousqai taV hmeraV
Then it came to pass when the were being fulfilled the days

thV analhyewV autou...
of the receiving up  His...


Both of these translations convey the actual meaning of the present tense articular infinitive en too sumpleerousthai as “when were being fulfilled.” A less awkward English translation of this phrase in its context would read: “Then it came to pass when the days were being fulfilled for His receiving up, that He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem.”

As in Acts 2:1, this introductory phrase sets the stage for the events being fulfilled during those days. In the following verses, Luke continues his narrative by relating some of the events that took place while those days were being fulfilled. Luke’s record of these events clearly shows that the time had not yet been fulfilled for His “receiving up”—His ascension to the Father. In fact, the next fifteen chapters in Luke’s Gospel relate numerous events that took place in Jesus’ ministry before He was “received up.” The events described after Luke 9:51—as well as the use of the present tense articular infinitive in Luke 9:51— clearly show that the time had not yet been fulfilled. Those days were not fulfilled until after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. To claim that Luke 9:51 means that the days were already fulfilled is contrary not only to the rules of Greek grammar but contradict the record of events in the remaining chapters of the Gospel of Luke.

When we understand the Greek text, it is undeniably clear that advocates of a Monday Pentecost have seriously erred in their interpretation of Luke 9:51, just as they have erred in their interpretation of Luke 8:23. Neither of these verses, which use forms of sumpleeroo, is expressing completed or past action! On the contrary, both verses show ongoing action that was in the process of being completed. Thus, both verses support the true interpretation of Acts 2:1—that the day of Pentecost “was being fulfilled.” That day is specifically named in Acts 2:1 as “the fiftieth day”—not the fifty-first day. There can be no doubt whatsoever concerning the true meaning of these New Testament Scriptures. May those who observe a Monday Pentecost have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to accept this undeniable truth that God has so clearly preserved in His Word.