Bible Reading: John 20:19-23

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive  the Holy Spirit” [John 20:22]

A few moments before Jesus said this He had commissioned the disciples to go, live and minister, in the same way that the Father had sent Him. How on earth could they fulfil such a commission? The simple answer is that it would impossible, except the same Holy Spirit who ministered through Jesus were also in them, and so He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Greek word ‘emphusao’ is used just once in the New Testament where it is translated as ‘breathed’ in John 20:22. The same word is used in the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament in Genesis 2:7 which reads,  “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” The word ‘emphusao’ means ‘breathe’ or ‘blow with force’ and denotes immediacy in the sense of ‘receiving right now’. The Old Covenant began with the breath of God, and now the new creation begins with the breath of God. Just as man was without life until God breathed into him, so the disciples were without true spiritual life until God in Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into them.

Earlier in John’s Gospel Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would be given, but not until Jesus was glorified [John 7:39]. Jesus was now glorified, in His resurrection body, and breathes the Holy Spirit into them. They became spiritually alive. This also foreshadowed the Spirit’s empowering at Pentecost.

The key to power in the Christian life is the presence of the Holy Spirit. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” [Acts 1:8]. The word “power” is the Greek word ‘dunamis’ from which we also get our English words, dynamo, dynamic and dynamite. It is His power working through us that will do the things that Jesus did if we will believe!

I am often asked if there is a receiving of the Holy Spirit at conversion, and then a later filling with the Holy Spirit, when we are baptised with the Spirit, often referred to as the second blessing. The fact that the disciples received the Holy Spirit [John 20:22], and were then filled with the Holy Spirit a short time later, on the Day of Pentecost is cited in support of this theory. I do believe that God wants to fill us with the Holy Spirit on the day that we are converted, and that receiving the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit should be the normal Christian experience.


Why is it important that we are filled with the Holy Spirit?

Why do you think it is that for many Christians there is a time lapse between receiving the Holy Spirit at conversion and being filled with the Holy Spirit?

In order to serve God in the same way that Jesus did we need the power of the Holy Spirit – Have you received the power of the Holy Spirit? What difference does He make in your life?