When did Jesus send the Holy Spirit?
We find various ministries of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit was involved in creation.
Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness
was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the
face of the waters.
The Spirit would fill people to accomplish a task.
Exodus 31:3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom,
and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of
The Spirit would come upon someone to accomplish a great task.
Judges 6:34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew
a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
The Spirit can impart special abilities.
1 Samuel 10:6 And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and
thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
The people at the time of Jesus had a view of the work of the Spirit of God that was mostly task and ability oriented. Jesus introduced a new concept.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a
man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God.
Jesus expressed surprise that Nicodemus did not understand this.
John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of
Israel, and knowest not these things?
One might ask how Nicodemus could have known this.
Ezekiel 37:14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and
I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD
have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
Job 33:4 The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the
Almighty hath given me life.
It is this idea of the Spirit giving new life that is expanded upon in the New Testament.
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth
nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they
Romans 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin;
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap
corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap
What Jesus gave his disciples was the new and eternal life he could impart after his resurrection.
John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith
unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
The “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the more familiar task oriented work that was recorded in the Old Testament.
Acts 2:14-17 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his
voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at
Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For
these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour
of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out
of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall
This distinction between “new life” and “task” Spirit work can be seen in the early church.
Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that
Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and
John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they
might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of
them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then
laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Here we have those who believe and are baptized yet have not yet had the Holy Spirit “fall upon” them.
The Holy Spirit is received for eternal life at the time a person believes.
1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us,
because he hath given us of his Spirit.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for
you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning
chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and
belief of the truth:
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word
of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye
believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
The problem occurs when we consider the “pouring out of the Holy Spirit” to be coincident with being born again to new and eternal life by the Holy Spirit when we believe. If we see these as distinct functions, the "problem" of John 20 disappears.