May 14, 2014 + On the Delayed Coming of the Holy Spirit


by St. John Chrysostom

But why did the Holy Ghost come to them, not while Christ was present, nor even immediately after his departure, but, whereas Christ ascended on the fortieth day, the Spirit descended "when the day of Pentecost," that is, the fiftieth, "was fully come?" (Acts ii. 1.) And how was it, if the Spirit had not yet come, that He said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost?" (John xx. 22.) In order to render them capable and meet for the reception of Him. For if Daniel fainted at the sight of an Angel (Dan. viii. 17), much more would these when about to receive so great a grace. Either this then is to be said, or else that Christ spoke of what was to come, as if come already; as when He said, "Tread ye upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the devil." (Luke x. 19.) But why had the Holy Ghost not yet come? It was fit that they should first be brought to have a longing desire for that event, and so receive the grace. For this reason Christ Himself departed, and then the Spirit descended. For had He Himself been there, they would not have expected the Spirit so earnestly as they did. On this account neither did He come immediately after Christ's Ascension, but after eight or nine days. It is the same with us also; for our desires towards God are then most raised, when we stand in need. Accordingly, John chose that time to send his disciples to Christ when they were likely to feel their need of Jesus, during his own imprisonment. Besides, it was fit that our nature should be seen in heaven, and that the reconciliation should be perfected, and then the Spirit should come, and the joy should be unalloyed. For, if the Spirit being already come, Christ had then departed, and the Spirit remained; the consolation would not have been so great as it was. For in fact they clung to Him, and could not bear to part with Him; wherefore also to comfort them He said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." (John xvi. 7.) On this account He also waits during those intermediate days, that they might first despond for awhile, and be made, as I said, to feel their need of Him. And then reap a full and unalloyed delight. But if the Spirit were inferior to the Son, the consolation would not have been adequate; and how could He have said, "It is expedient for you?" For this reason the greater matters of teaching were reserved for the Spirit, that the disciples might not imagine Him inferior.

Consider also how necessary He made it for them to abide in Jerusalem, by promising that the Spirit should be granted them. For lest they should again flee away after His Ascension, by this expectation, as by a bond, He keeps them to that spot. But having said, "Wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of Me," He then adds, "For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (v. 4, 5.) For now indeed He gives them to see the difference there was betwixt Him and John, plainly, and not as heretofore in obscure hints; for in fact He had spoken very obscurely, when He said, "Notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he:" but now He says plainly, "John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." (Matt. xi. 11.) And he no longer uses the testimony, but merely adverts to the 7 person of John, reminding the disciples of what he had said, and shows them that they are now become greater than John; seeing they too are to baptize with the Spirit. Again, He did not say, I baptize you with the Holy Ghost, but, "Ye shall be baptized:" teaching us humility. For this was plain enough from the testimony of John, that it was Christ Himself Who should baptize: "He it is that shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Luke iii. 16.); wherefore also He made mention of John.

The Gospels, then, are a history of what Christ did and said; but the Acts, of what that "other Comforter" said and did. Not but that the Spirit did many things in the Gospels also; even as Christ here in the Acts still works in men as He did in the Gospels: only then the Spirit wrought through the Temple, now through the Apostles: then, He came into the Virgin's womb, and fashioned the Temple; now, into Apostolic souls: then in the likeness of a dove; now, in the likeness of fire. And wherefore? Showing there the gentleness of the Lord, but here His taking vengeance also, He now puts them in mind of the judgment likewise. For, when need was to forgive, need was there of much gentleness; but now we have obtained the gift, it is henceforth a time for judgment and examination.

St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf111.pdf, accessed
April 30th, 2014.

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Midfeast of Pentecost

Troparion, Tone 8

In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness, as You did cry to all: If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!

Kontakion, Tone 4

Christ God, the Creator and Master of all, cried to all in the midst of the Feast of the law: Come and draw the water of immortality! We fall before You and faithfully cry: Grant us Your bounties, for You are the Fountain of our life!