There are three different ways the Holy Spirit is given to people:
- At the point of conversion.
- Prior to Jesus’ resurrection, he said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
- The Day of Pentecost and further fillings later in Acts.
This article examines when Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.
This has a different meaning and comes as a revelation of what the Body of Christ is…
1. What Jesus said and did after his resurrection
After Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to his followers over a period of forty days.
I would say that anything Jesus did and said in that time would be immensely important.
Jesus did these things, but not necessarily in this exact order:
- He spoke to Mary Magdalene near the grave; (John 20:14 plus another Mary is mentioned in Matthew 28:8).
- Jesus appeared in a different form to two of his disciples while they were walking in the country; (Mark 16:12 also see Luke 24:13-35 on the road to Emmaus).
- In the evening Jesus appeared to the disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ (John 20:19).
- Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith; (Mark 16:14).
- Jesus said: ‘It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ (Luke 24:39).
- He showed them the nail wounds on his feet and hands.
- Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ (John 20:21).
- “He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. ” (John 20:22).
- Jesus said: ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. (Luke 24:41-43)
- He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ (Luke 24:44).
- Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45).
- He told them, ‘This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ (Luke 24:46-49).
- Jesus told them to go to a mountain in Galilee and he said to them ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:17).
- He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name, they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on people who are ill, and they will get well.’ (Mark 16:15-18).
- He lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. (Luke 24:50-51).
2. Receive the Holy Spirit
Just before Jesus left his disciples on the mountaintop and ascended up into the clouds, he said, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
And then Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8)
Jesus was talking about the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come upon them in power.
Before Jesus had said this to his disciples, but still after his resurrection, he did this, “He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ “ (John 20:22).
This could not have been when the disciples became Christians because the Holy Spirit would come into each convert on different days as each disciple was born again and became a true believer.
So we will look at this verse:
He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ “John 20:22 NIV
How does this breathing of the Holy Spirit differ from the disciple’s filling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost?
When Jesus breathed the Spirit onto them, this was Jesus giving the breath of life to His Body – the church.
This is comparable to what happened to Adam after he had been formed from the dust of the earth.
the Lord God… breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”Genesis 2:7 NIV
3. Baptised by the Spirit into the Body of Christ.
So Jesus was giving the breath of life to His newly formed Body – the church.
Jesus breathed on them as one body and they became a living church.
This breath of the Holy Spirit is spoken of in Corinthians:
For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”1 Corinthians 12:13 NIV
This verse appears to not be talking about the baptism of the Spirit to give power, but the Spirit baptising us into the church so that we become the living Body of Christ on the earth.
The church of Jesus should now be living with God’s breath within, otherwise the Body, the church, will just be a corpse!
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body so it is with Christ.1 Corinthians 12:12-14 & 18 ESV
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
If the foot should say…
But as it is God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose.
If all were a single member, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
4. Comparison of God breathing into Adam with the birth of the church.
The creation of Adam is such a wonderful picture of the creation of the church: Jesus “breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ ” 2
then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”Genesis 2:7 ESV
Both are the creation of a new body – Adam the start of the human race and the followers of Jesus who became the church, the ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) ‘the assembly’.
Some learned people may say that there was an ‘ekklēsia’ (the assembly) within the Old Testament so this is not the creation of the church, the ‘ekklesia’.
Yes, Moses had ‘the assembly’ and Israel was a body of people, but the Church has a special place in God’s plans as the Bride of Christ.
God’s Church is not a certain denomination, it is invisible and consists of every believer from all denominations and includes some who aren’t in any churches!
Members of God’s invisible Church are the true saints washed by the blood of Jesus who are set apart for God’s special purposes.
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV
When Adam was created and then Eve, God set out His plan for them.
It is interesting that we can apply these main things to the church as well:
The Church is to be fruitful.
The Lord did not want Adam and Eve to remain as they were:
And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…’ “Genesis 1:28 ESV
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, they were on a mountain top and they worshipped him.
Then Jesus said to them:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
God’s plan is for His Church to be blessed, to be fruitful, to multiply and to fill the Earth!
The role of world authorities.
God’s nature is to rule in complete righteousness and He wanted Adam and Eve, and all their offspring to rule fairly and not in a cruel way:
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…’Genesis 1:26 ESV
God created man to have dominion over the animals and creatures but also to govern the people so there could be law and order.
The Lord wants governments to rule fairly and He likes the people to respect their leaders.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.Romans 13:1 ESV
For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
If those leaders are bad and cruel, He will give them time to repent, but if they do not turn then they will be removed. (See ‘Adolf Hitler’s warning from God not to start a war’).
The Church is to rule.
But our focus is not on world leaders, it is that the Lord wants His Church to rule.
I will emphasise that it is the Lord’s Church that He wants to rule, we are not talking about the church leader ruling.
Remember what Jesus said:
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.Matthew 20:25-28 ESV
It shall not be so among you.
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The Church is made up of many parts, each having areas of responsibility, it is not an authoritarian system.
The worldwide church must rule and stand against the evil spiritual realm:
And I tell you you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.Matthew 16:18-19 ESV
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Here Jesus is not giving authority to an individual, ‘Peter’.
‘This rock’ was the revelation that Peter had of Jesus: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ 3 which had been revealed to him by ‘my Father who is in heaven’.
It was this revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God that is the Rock on which Jesus builds his Church.
Satan cannot overpower this revelation for when the most dreadful sinner understands this he is snatched from the jaws of hell.
The powers of darkness will not prevail, overcome, or overpower Jesus’ Church.
The Church has the power to bind and to lose in the spiritual realm.
The Church has a Helper.
Adam was not left on his own to accomplish the task that God had given:
It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”Genesis 2:18 ESV
It is the same for the Church, for each believer, that the Lord does not leave us alone to fulfil His will and purposes. Jesus said:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.John 14:16-17 ESV
You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
The Holy Spirit is available for all those who believe and He is our Helper, the One who opens up the Scriptures to us.