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NLT and Acts 2:1

I am back in warm south Florida where I belong. I think my laptop is thawing out in our 80 degree weather. I have been reading through the NLT and am already encountering good renderings and troubling translations. I want to like the NLT, but I am bothered by some of the interpretative renderings that I find in various places. Acts 2:1 is one of those instances.

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. (Acts 2:1; NLT)

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1; ESV)

All of the major translations render this verse as the ESV does. The NLT brings in the interpretation that it was all the believers who were gathered in Acts 2. Therefore all of the believers experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit. However, this does not seem likely because of the surrounding context.

The verse previous to Acts 2:1 is Acts 1:26, which reads:

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (ESV)

The “they” in Acts 2:1 refers back to Matthias and the eleven apostles with whom he was numbered. The apostles are the last subject. Erase the chapter break and the paragraph simply reads:

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.

But even if one is disagreeable to this argument, further proof is found in Acts 2:14 where Peter stands with the eleven apostles, not the 120, and preaches the meaning of the Holy Spirit falling upon them. Also, Acts 2:37 again states that Peter and the rest of the apostles were addressing the crowd, not the 120. If the Holy Spirit fell on the 120, then we should expect to read about them in the rest of this chapter, and the rest of the book of Acts. But we do not. Rather, we read about the twelve apostles.

The NLT needs to go with the word “they” and not “all the believers.” Using the word “believers” inserts too much interpretation into the reading. The word “they” allows the student to decide who the “they” refers to.