Pentecost, Solomon's Portico, and the Eastern Gate

The apostles and first disciples of Yeshua received the Holy Spirit somewhere in Jerusalem. A careful look at clues in the Bible reveals the exact location and its significance.

The eastern gate of Jerusalem's old city. The prophet Zechariah predicted that the Messiah will arrive on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). His entrance into the Temple will be through the eastern gate. (Image © First Fruits of Zion)

The apostles and early disciples of Yeshua had gathered for the festival of Shavu’ot (Pentecost) when the sound of a rushing wind “filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). We know that “they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1), but what was that one place, and where is the house in which they were sitting? The Bible provides important clues to help us piece the story together by telling us that the believers congregated in the Temple every day: “They were all with one accord in Solomon's portico” (Act 5:12).

On Pentecost morning, some 120 disciples of the Nazarene congregated on the Temple Mount together under the cedar roof of Solomon’s colonnade to welcome the morning of the holy day with prayer. The colonnaded courtyard consisted of a portico of monolithic, white, marble pillars covered over with cedar beams. The portico ran along the eastern wall of the Temple mount, opposite the Mount of Olives. When the Hasmoneans and Herod the Great expanded the Temple Mount, the Kidron valley prevented expansion to the east, so the colonnade that faced the Mount of Olives marked the line of the original Temple Mount from the time of King Solomon. Perhaps for that reason, the people called the portico on that side “Solomon’s colonnade” or “Solomon’s Portico.”

The apostolic community anticipated the returning Messiah would enter the Temple from the east and they wanted to be the first to greet Him. The great eastern gate and main entrance of the Temple opened into that colonnade. Today’s eastern gate, popularly known as “the Golden Gate,” may preserve the location of the Second Temple’s eastern gate.

The prophet Zechariah predicted that the Messiah will arrive on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). His entrance into the Temple will be through the eastern gate. Ezekiel saw a vision in which the divine presence of God returned to the Temple through that same gate (Ezekiel 43:1-4). When Muslims walled up the two portals of the eastern gate in the ninth century, Christians took note of the prophecy in Ezekiel 44:1-2: “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.”

After the outpouring in Acts 2, the Jerusalem disciples used Solomon’s Colonnade as their regular place of assembly.

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