Ecstatic bursts of speech were a hallmark of ancient pagan religions. In Jewish culture, they had become proverbial ((Matthew 6:7)). However, such outbursts had no place in the first century temple. The Jewish religion was too dignified for such marks of religious mania. For the Judeans in the temple that day, the sudden tumult of voices speaking words they did not know raised suspicions.
Were these people, like the famed Oracle at Delphi, carried away in a drug-induced religious trance? Would they turn dangerous? At least at Delphi there was always a priest standing by to translate the Oracle’s mysterious babbling into vaguely useful information about whether you should buy a new field or send your soldiers into battle. Who would explain these strange happenings?
The big Galilean who finally addressed the crowd ((Acts 2:14)) in their local tongue did not have the look of a priest. In fact, he was about as unlike a priest as it was possible to be. Clearly an uneducated laborer, the man was coarse and unkempt. Yet, like John the Baptist before him, Peter made an impression on the crowd. Those who had been mocking only moments later, quieted to hear his explanation.