The testimony of much of Scripture, bears witness to the conviction that Jesus came to break down dividing walls and uncover the reality of the oneness of all humanity.

Below is a selection of biblical texts, with some comment, that bear out the theme of the universality of God’s presence and action  that was so dramatically embodied at Pentecost.

Pentecost Texts

Pentecost did not bring into the world a new substance that had previously been missing. It did not create in the lives of Jesus’ disciples something they had previously lacked. The Spirit was clearly at work in their lives long before Pentecost. Each of the disciples was moved by the Spirit to respond positively to Jesus’ call and follow him. Peter was moved by the Spirit to declare that Jesus was the Messiah. Thomas was moved by the Spirit to address Jesus as, “My Lord and my God.” These things are impossible without the work of the Spirit.

Pentecost unleashed a reality that had already been present and active in the lives of the disciples. 

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled (πληρόω) the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled (πίμπλημι*) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:1-5)

[* in Acts 3:10, describing the crowd’s reaction to the healing of a man who was lame, Luke uses the same word as in Acts 2:4]: “they were filled (πίμπλημι) with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

To be “filled with wonder and amazement” is to have unleashed within one’s life a reality that is already present. Wonder and amazement do not invade us from the outside; they well up from within. We need only to open to wonder and amazement and allow them to seize us.

At Pentecost, the followers of Jesus, surrendered themselves to the Spirit and allowed themselves to be seized by the power of God. Thus they were enabled to live the Jesus-life in the world after he was no longer physically present on earth. Through these Spirit-filled followers of Jesus, the Spirit was poured out on “all flesh” and continues to be poured out today through those who allow God’s indwelling Spirit to work freely in their lives.   

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Peter believed this Spirit of Pentecost had already been at work in the prophets long before the day we remember as Pentecost:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, 11inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated, when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory.
(I Peter 1:10-11)

For Peter, as for Luke and Paul, the Spirit of Pentecost was “the Spirit of Christ,” or “the Spirit of Jesus”.

When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
(Acts 16:7)

I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will result in my deliverance.
(Phils 1:19)

The Spirit of Pentecost, and the Spirit that was at work down through the ages is the same Spirit; it is the Spirit that was embodied fully in Jesus.

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The fundamental point of Pentecost is that this “Spirit of Jesus Christ” is universally accessible:

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ (Acts 2:5-11)

this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 “In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out 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 dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:16-18)

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The Spirit of Jesus is poured out “upon all flesh” in order to reveal and empower us to live the reality that there is no division in the human family, all “are one in Christ Jesus”:

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Gals 3:28)

Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one. (Roms 3:29,30a)

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Even “the unrighteous” have received the revelation of God:

For what can be known about God is plain to them (“unrighteous”), because God has shown it to them. (Roms 1:19)

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Therefore, sharing a common ancestry, indwelt by the same Spirit, and recipients of a common revelation, we are one human family.

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,

“For we too are his offspring.” 29Since we are God’s offspring. (Acts 17:26-29a)

Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? (Mal 2:10)

for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (I Cors 8:6)

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Jesus’ goal is that we might come to know and to embody the reality that all human beings are united in one family.

Jesus – I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (Jn 10:16)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.  17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephes 2:13-18)

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephs 4:4-6)

everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself. (2 Corinthians 2:17-19)

The Christian community is intended to be an icon of oneness and an instrument of spreading this oneness. Paul calls this “the ministry of reconciliation.” The church exists to demonstrate that human diverse human beings with differing understandings and across cultural barriers can live together in love and unity because the Spirit of love has been unleashed in our lives. We need only to open and live responsively to this Spirit.

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