Book: The True Meaning of Acts 2:1

Following His commands for the wave sheaf offering, God gave detailed instructions for counting the fifty days to Pentecost—beginning with and including the Wave Sheaf Day. Here are God’s instructions for counting to the Feast of Pentecost: “And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath [the Sabbath ends at sunset and the first day of the week begins at this point; the entire first day is included in the count], from the day [beginning with the day] that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete [meaning seven complete weeks, each week ending in a Sabbath]. Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days…. And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day [the fiftieth day], that it [the fiftieth day] may be a holy convocation unto you…” (Lev. 23: 15-16, 21).

In counting the seven Sabbaths to Pentecost, there must be seven complete weeks. Each of these seven weeks must end with a weekly Sabbath. The seventh Sabbath is the forty-ninth day in the count, and the fiftieth day is “the morrow after the seventh Sabbath.” The Scriptures clearly say that the fifty-day count must end with and include “the morrow after the seventh Sabbath.” Since the forty-ninth day in the count is a weekly Sabbath, the fiftieth day can only be the first day of the week. “The morrow after” any Sabbath is always the first day of the week. Accordingly, “the morrow after the seventh Sabbath” will always be the first day of the week. That selfsame fiftieth day is to be declared a holy convocation.

As we have seen, the first “morrow after the Sabbath” begins after sundown, ending that Sabbath, and is the first day in the count. Likewise, “the morrow after the seventh Sabbath” begins as sunset ends the seventh Sabbath and is the fiftieth day in the count. The whole fiftieth day is the holy day. There is no command from God anywhere in the Scriptures to count beyond the fiftieth day to the fifty-first day and to observe the fifty-first day as a holy day. God’s instructions in Leviticus 23 clearly proclaim the fiftieth day as the holy day.

In spite of God’s clear commands in the book of Leviticus, there are some who believe that Pentecost should be observed on the fifty-first day, after the fifty-day count has been completed. Let us examine the claims of those who believe in observing Pentecost on the fifty-first day.

Pentecost on the Fifty-First Day—A Monday?

One attempt to justify a fifty-first day observance, or a Monday Pentecost, is made by drawing a comparison between the commands for counting to Pentecost and the commands for counting the days of uncleanness for a bodily issue. The commands in Leviticus 15 for a person who had a running issue of any kind show that the person was declared ceremonially unclean as long as the issue was running or draining. When a running issue stopped, the person was required to count seven days (verses 13, 28). At the end of the seventh day at sunset, he or she was commanded to bathe and would then be ceremonially clean. On the morning of the eighth day, the cleansed person was commanded to offer an offering (verses 14, 29). The reason for offering this offering on the morning of the eighth day was that after sunset no individual offerings could be offered until the morning. The only offering that was allowed after sunset was the daily evening burnt offering, which was offered “between the two evenings”—between sunset and dark—and burned throughout the night. No other routine functions were performed at the Temple after sunset.

Leviticus 15 shows that the offering for cleansing from a bodily issue did not take place until the morning after the sevenday count had been completed. However, when counting to Pentecost, we are not commanded by God to follow the instructions for the offering for ceremonial cleansing. Nowhere do the Scriptures instruct us to complete the count of fifty days to the end of the fiftieth day at sunset, and then wait until the next day, the fifty-first day, to proclaim a holy convocation. Leviticus 23:21 clearly commands us to count to the fiftieth day and “proclaim the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation.” This command can only be referring to the fiftieth day. An intervening day simply cannot be found between God’s command in verse 16, which clearly defines the fiftieth day as “the morrow after the seventh Sabbath,” and His command in verse 21, which proclaims “the selfsame day” as the day of the holy convocation. There is absolutely no command in Leviticus 23 that supports the observance of the holy day of Pentecost on the fifty-first day.

To use the commands for uncleanness in Leviticus 15 in an attempt to alter or nullify God’s clear commands in Leviticus 23 is totally dishonest. The offering which was commanded to be offered on the eighth day, after counting seven days for one’s cleansing, in no way supports a Pentecost observance on the fiftyfirst day. Counting for uncleanness and making an offering on the eighth day is not even remotely related to counting to Pentecost. They are two separate commands pertaining to entirely different things. The only similarity in the two commands is this: As the eighth day is the morrow after the seven days in the count for ceremonial cleansing, so the fiftieth day is the morrow after the seven weeks in the count to Pentecost. This is the only true comparison that can be made. But this comparison, in fact, proves nothing. The proof that the fiftieth day is the correct day to observe Pentecost is contained in God’s specific commands in Leviticus 23, which clearly disprove the allegation that the fiftyfirst day is the holy day. Leviticus 23 clearly instructs us to “proclaim on the selfsame day [the fiftieth day, which is always the morrow after the seventh Sabbath], that it may be a holy convocation.”

Nowhere in the entirety of the Bible does God instruct us to hold the Feast of Pentecost on the fifty-first day. If we were commanded to observe Pentecost on the fifty-first day, then the Scriptures would have to instruct us to proclaim the holy day on the morrow after the morrow after the seventh Sabbath. One may search Leviticus 23:10-21, and all of Scripture, but no such language can be found.

Let us not allow ourselves to be deceived by a false comparison of unrelated Scriptures. The Word of God is the Truth. If we are honest in comparing the Scriptures, we will find that they always agree.