Open Modal
Open Modal
Faith & Wisdom

Pentecost: Meaning, Story, and Importance

Reading Time:



Share Article:

Pentecost marks the turning point for Christianity as a religion with widespread importance and a significant following. 

But do you know where it originated and why?

Originally a Jewish tradition to celebrate the first fruits of the wheat harvest, Pentecost developed to become a Christian holiday that commemorates the day that the Holy Spirit came to the apostles and inspired a collective speaking of tongues.

What happened on this day according to the scripture, and how have Pentecost traditions developed into today’s holiday customs?

Read on for a full breakdown of the Pentecost holiday and its importance for the Christian faith.

What is Pentecost?

Pentecost, from the Greek word ‘Pentēkostē’ meaning ‘fiftieth day,’ is a Christian holiday celebrated on the 50th day after Easter Sunday. 

Like Ash Wednesday, Pentecost is a holiday that many Christian denominations share, including Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, and Lutheran. 

It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles during the celebration of the Feast of Weeks in Jerusalem, as described in Acts 2:1-31. And while this is a popular Christian holiday, its history is actually rooted in Jewish tradition. 

The Feast of Weeks (or, in Hebrew, ‘Shavuot’) is an ancient Jewish harvest celebration that takes place seven weeks and a day after Passover (50 days total). It marks the beginning of the wheat harvest season in the Land of Israel as well as the revelation of the Oral Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai, according to Orthodox Jews.

It was during one Feast of Weeks celebration in Jerusalem that the apostles of Jesus Christ, who were all gathered together in a house for Pentecost celebrations, were met with a mighty wind and ‘tongues of fire.’ 

The Holy Spirit filled the apostles and inspired them to begin speaking in frenzied tongues. The resulting scene drew large crowds of nearby pilgrims, to which Peter began preaching about repentance and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The coming of the Holy Spirit was prophesied in the Old Testament, in John 14:26.

This inspired the crowd of people to begin following the gospel of Christ, and that day the church grew to 3,000 people. The significant leap in followers of Jesus over the course of this event is the main reason Pentecost is celebrated today.

No items found.

Pentecost in the Bible

No items found.

To further understand this tradition, let’s turn to the Bible and learn from God’s word. Here is the story of Pentecost, as told in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-31:

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

Considered by many to be a gift of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues is the ability to understand and speak a language that you aren’t familiar with. 

Religious scholars and historians, however, debate this interpretation. Instead, they suggest that speaking in tongues could have been merely the impression that spectators had as a result of the many languages spoken in that upper room where the feast was taking place. 

Peter relays the words of the prophet Joel to the crowd in Acts 2:17:

“‘It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh.’”

This prophecy was fulfilled in the moments prior with the coming of the Holy Ghost, which convinced the crowd of Jews and Gentiles to join the Christian church and begin heeding the word of God. And while the speaking of tongues was incredible, the true miracle that day was the growth of God’s church.

Why is Pentecost important?

No items found.

The events during the feast of Pentecost brought about a greater legitimacy to the Christian faith and ministry due to the visible fulfillment of one of God’s promises

As a result of the day that the Holy Spirit came, the church grew by 3,000 people. 

Additionally, it inspired a new Protestant Christian denomination known as Pentecostalism, which centers around direct communion with God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. 

Pentecost came after the event of Christ’s death and ascension. Despite having left, Jesus had promised in his earlier gospels that he’d send the Holy Spirit to provide comfort, which did indeed occur. This offered confirmation of the Lord’s word to the unconverted. 

Today, Pentecostal celebrations take place all over the world in different ways, depending on the location and denomination. The special day is sometimes referred to as White Sunday or Whitsunday, and it is often designated as a public holiday known as Pentecost Sunday.

Associated customs and traditions

The broad number of different Pentecost traditions include the following:

  • All-night vigil (Eastern Orthodox)
  • Divine liturgy (Eastern Orthodox)
  • Scattering of rose petals (Italy)
  • Whit walks (England)
  • Feast 
  • Devotional (Protestant)
  • Prayer
  • Apostles fast (Coptic Orthodox)

These are just some of the many ways that Christians celebrate Pentecost worldwide.

Day of Pentecost

Pentecost is a day of critical importance in the liturgical church year.

Originally designated as a Jewish feast day that marked the beginning of the harvest season, Pentecost gradually became a day for Christians to commemorate the church’s explosive growth thanks to the coming of the Holy Spirit, as described in the book of Acts in the New Testament. 

Today, the global Christian community marks the occasion with prayer, sacraments, and feasts, with the gospel of Jesus Christ in our minds and hearts. 

To always stay connected to God’s word and the power of the Holy Trinity, download the app in the iOS App Store or on Google Play.

No items found.

No items found.
Bring Godly Wisdom into Your Week
Sign up for a free PRAY account and you’ll begin receiving our Weekly Wisdom Devotionals, sent to your inbox every Tuesday.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Download for daily Bible verses

Receive the Daily Devotional, Share prayers with others, and more on the app.
Download now on


No items found.

No items found.

No items found.

Join millions who pray daily with

4.7 Stars
Average rating on iOS
67.4K Ratings
67.4K Ratings
Across all platforms

Download now on

Try PRAY Premium FREE when you download the app.