A Question I Was Asked:

'Were the Disciples Given the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, or Before?'

My Reply:

The answer is before. They received the Holy Spirit directly from the risen Christ on the first Easter Sunday. See John 20:22. Now I am aware that Acts 1:4-6 might give a different impression, and the first Christian Pentecost was indeed a truly momentous occasion, but it was momentous because many were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit on that day. But the disciples were a small group who would be the leaders of the new Christian Church and they needed to be ready and prepared for that first Christian Pentecost, so God - through the risen Jesus Christ - directly granted them the Holy Spirit ahead of time.

Incidentally, the 'divine breathing' of the Holy Spirit into the first disciples in John 20:22 may be quickly compared to the 'divine breathing' of the 'breath of life' into the first humans in Genesis 2:7, underlining that true believers are even now part of a New Creation. The Holy Spirit apparently needs to join to the human soul in order to begin the process of mankind's reconciliation to God. Whereas Genesis 2:7 could - on its own - conceivably only refer to physical life, when put alongside Genesis 1:26-27 ('Let us make man in our image'), it seems clear that the human spirit (or, 'soul'), also entered the human family at that time.

Robin A. Brace, 2007.