The pentecost event: Meditation for the pentecost day
Pentecost is the Greek word for fifty. The Jews in dispersion used it for the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which is held fifty days or seven weeks after Passover at the month of Sivan (Exod. 34:22; Deut. 16:10). It was one of the three Pilgrimage Feasts, when the Jews in dispersion and proselytes had to come to Jerusalem. The Feast was originally of first fruits (Num. 28:26) and was the completion of the waved sheaf of the Passover (Lev. 23:15-21; Num. 28:26-31; Deut. 16:9-12). It also commemorated the giving of Torah on Mount Sinai.
The Pentecost day assumed church significance, when on such day the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and empowered them, and now generally marked as the inauguration/commissioning of the church (which was already in existence). Some even argue for the birth of the Church on the day, as the event is comparable to the birth of our Lord in Luke. They argue that if the ministry of Jesus in the Book of Luke was the outflow of His birth, then the works of the church/acts of the apostles in the Book of Acts is the outflow of the Pentecost Event, and should also be marked as the Church’s birth.
The Pentecost Day came to be known also, within the church circle, as Whitsunday (contraction of White Sunday), reflecting many people wearing white on that day as a result of baptism. Whitsunday (Christian Pentecost Day) is the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and His works, particularly in equipping the church for her mission, which shows/results in adding to her fold those who are being saved, symbolised in the white dresses of those who are baptised.
The Pentecost Event fulfilled the Old Testament anticipation of the Spirit and Christ’s promise to send the Spirit. It was also the reversing of the curse of Babel, as the Spirit of God brought the dispersed diverse peoples together again as one family and language. The Spirit forged the Church as a new humanity reunited as a down payment and sign of God’s eschatological purposes to bring all peoples to unity before God.
The Person and works of the Holy Spirit are much misconceived and abused today. Many things without Biblical warrant are said and taught about the Holy Spirit and many people embrace and swallow them hook, line and sinker. The Bible is very clear on whom the Holy Spirit is, and what He does. The Holy Spirit is the third Person in the Trinity. He is, therefore, fully God (Acts 5:3-4) with all the divine attributes, not a mere force or power as some presume or project. He can speak (Acts 13:2); be grieved (Eph. 4:30); has a will (1 Cor. 12:11). He plays cardinal roles in a Christian’s life. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9) and should be dependent on Him for Christian life.
What the Holy Spirit does for the Christian, as can be identified from the Bible, include: Access to God – Eph. 2:18; Inspiration for prayer – Eph. 6:18; Jude 20; Anointing for Service – Luke 4:18; Intercession and helping to intercede -Rom. 8:26; Assurance – Rom. 8:15-16, Gal. 4:6; Bible Interpretation – 1 Cor. 2:1, 14; Eph. 1:17; Leading/Guidance – John 16:13, Rom. 8:14; Baptism – John 1:23-34, 1 Cor. 12:13-14; Liberation – Rom. 8:2; New birth – John 3:3-6; Character moulding – Gal. 5:22-23; Calling and Commissioning – Acts 13:24, 20:28; Fruit bearing – Gal. 5:22-23; Cleansing – 1 Thess. 3:13, 1 Pet. 1:2; Empowerment – Luke 24:49, 1 Thess. 1:5; Conviction of sin – John 16:9,14; Regeneration – Titus 3:5; Sanctification – Rom. 15:16; Filling – Acts 2:4; 4:29-31, 5:18-20; Sealing – Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30; Spiritual gifts – 1 Cor. 12:8-11; Strengthening – Eph. 3:16; Acts 1:8, 2:4; 1 Cor. 2:4, Rom. 8:26; Teaching – John 14:26; Victory over flesh – Rom. 8:2-4, Gal. 4:6; Indwelling – Rom. 8:9-14, Gal. 4:6; Helps worship – Phil. 3:3
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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