This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

The Gift of the Spirit

Saying good-bye is difficult, especially if we are leaving dear friends or family. We often temper the heart-wrenching moment by offering words of comfort and promises of return.

When Jesus prepared His disciples for His own departure, He also comforted them with a promise of His Spirit (see John 14:16). But it was not until later on the day of Pentecost that His promise was realized. With Jesus resurrected and ascended back into heaven, the disciples gathered together for prayer. Suddenly a rushing wind filled the house, tongues of fire rested on their heads, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began speaking in other languages.

Some bystanders thought they were drunk, but observe Peter’s explanation. This was an outpouring of God’s Spirit, intricately connected to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These events were also a direct fulfillment of the prophet Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (v. 17; Joel 2:28). What God had promised, both long ago through the prophet and more recently through Jesus, was now fulfilled before their very eyes. They were witnesses to these very things.

Notice, too, the significance of the prophecy quoted by Peter. In these “last days” (i.e., the days of the Messiah Jesus), God’s Spirit would be poured out on all, not just a select few as was common in the Old Testament. It was for both young and old: sons and daughters, old men and young. It was for slave and free; and it was for men and women alike. Perhaps most important, God’s Spirit was for the salvation of “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord” (v. 21; Joel 2:32), and it empowered the disciples to preach as witnesses to Christ.

Apply the Word

God’s gift of the Spirit is for all members of Christ’s church. Each of us is gifted by the Spirit to serve one another and witness to Christ’s grace (see 1 Cor. 12:4–6). Ask God for wisdom to see the Spirit’s gifts of service and witness given to you. Commit to finding ways to use those gifts in the church and world.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

Browse Devotions by Date