9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” 13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
Verses 9-11 show the composition of the crowd from different geographical areas. Verse 9 begins the list of diverse languages from geographical regions spoken during the phenomenon of tongues by people who had not learned them. Luke lists 15 geographical areas where people originated now dwelling in Jerusalem.
The Parthians, Media, Elamites, and Mesopotamians were east of the Euphrates, where they spoke Aramaic. These lands were where the early dispersion of the Jews took place. Many of these Jews did not return to the Promised Land.
Verse 9 begins the second list of languages, countries, and regions represented in Jerusalem for Pentecost.
Parthians were Iranians south of the Caspian Sea.
The Medes were associated with the Persians and part of the Parthian Empire. They were south of the Caspian Sea.
Elam is now southwestern Iran today. They were located directly north of the Persian Gulf. This area was also part of the Parthian Empire.
those dwelling in Mesopotamia,
Mesopotamia is modern Iraq. The word “Mesopotamia” means between two rivers. The geographical area is between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Middle East.
Judea is in southern Israel today.
Cappadocia is central Turkey today.
Pontus is northern Turkey in our day.
and Asia [Minor],
Asia would be the eastern coast of the Aegean Sea of Turkey today.
Phrygia was in an ancient district in west-central Anatolia in Turkey today.
Pamphylia was the southern Mediterranean coast today. It was located between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus (in modern-day Antalya Province, Turkey).
Some people were from the African continent, where Egypt, Libya, and Cyrene were. Most Jews lived in Alexandria on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where the Septuagint originated.
and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene,
The districts of Libya and Cyrene were west of Egypt in Africa on the Mediterranean Sea.
visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Both Jews and Jewish proselytes came from Rome. Proselytes were Gentile by birth but Jewish by choice.
Crete was and is a Mediterranean island off the southern coast of Greece.
Arabia was to the east of Palestine.
we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
The amazement over the list of nations came from the fact that the Galileans were speaking of the “wonderful works of God.” In other words, they were amazed at what God was doing with the apostles.
So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
The amazement of the Jews and proselytes to Judaism prepared them for Peter’s message later in the chapter, which he would shortly preach. These people were not Gentiles except for the Jewish proselytes. The basic idea of speaking in the languages of the Diaspora was to bring Israel to God (1 Co 14:21-22). The “sign” of speaking in foreign languages to the Jews got their attention: God was about to change from the economy of Israel to that of the church.
Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
Some in the crowd were skeptical of what they saw. This group rejected the idea that this phenomenon was from God.
The church is in the culture of skepticism today.
The people of Acts 2 were multinational, multiracial, and multilingual. God has empowered the church for its mission. The Holy Spirit is the Agent of our power.
There will always be those who are skeptical toward the supernatural. We live in an age of skepticism in which people claim that there is no objective truth. All of this rises from a subjective view of life: Truth is found only in the self (solipsism).