The Day All Heaven Broke Loose

Jesus is dead. Not only is Jesus dead, someone has stolen his body. The disciples had no idea who had stolen the body. Everything happened so fast. Jesus crucified, dead, and buried on Friday and here it is only two days later, Sunday the first day of the week and now Jesus’ body has gone missing! Oh sure Mary said she saw Jesus, but she also said she saw a couple of angels and the caretaker, whom she said was really Jesus—women!

The disciples are in a jam. They don’t know what to do, so they hide out, afraid of the Jews, they’re together most of the time, perhaps at Peter’s house. Of course had the Jews wanted to capture them it would have been an easy matter due to the fact the disciples were all together. Oh well, misery loves company and all of that rot.

On the other hand, for Jesus’ purpose it made it easy to meet with them. In any case the disciples were together, some, no doubt, still mulling over what Mary said she saw that very day.

Then all heaven broke loose:

. . . it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side the disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord (John 20:19-21; NASB).

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”[1]

The conundrum that occurs to me at this point is “when was the church birthed?” Most would say at Pentecost. But is that correct? Most all of Christendom would agree with that premise. And certainly this is not an essential or faith-changing topic—no.   But it is an important and interesting exegetical incident and besides correct interpretation is paramount to correctly understanding the Bible.

A. W. Tozer wrote,

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion . . . [and] no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.[2]

Shoddy interpretation gives way to low thoughts of God and spins off shoddy religion. Error begets error. Hence we are left with Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the New Age and a myriad of other religious bastards.

So off we go at scratch and we will learn what we may. Perhaps what we have believed all along is correct; perhaps not.

The Other Side of the Tomb

Jesus first validated who He was by appearing to the disciples and giving them the greeting of shalom; peace. Jesus showed them his wounds and all heaven broke loose. Scripture says “the disciples rejoiced.” Duhya think? Can’t you just imagine the impulsive, sometimes brash Peter? I would not want to be standing between Peter and Jesus—look out!

Jesus had a commission of the highest moment to complete. He was ordaining his followers. He was equipping them for ministry.  The Jews had dropped the ball. They thought the law was efficacious, not just reflective for their sins. Christ’s ministry charge was for a new covenant empowered by the Holy Spirit. This was unlike anything the world had ever experienced before.

Jesus’ charge was thus, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” The word “sent” in the Greek is apostéllō, meaning “to send forth on a mission.” “In the NT, apostéllō occurs as a technical term denoting divine authorization.”[3] Scripture tells us Jesus is the “chief corner stone (Mt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Lk. 20.17) so one could say Jesus was sent as the chief apostle to us.

But the word “send” is a different word. It is the word pémpō. The meaning is close to apostéllō, but means “to dispatch, to send. Jesus put off the glory of the Godhead (but remained fully and totally God) to descend to earth and take on the form of a man. Not only take on man’s form, but be humiliated, beaten, and killed thereby taking on man’s sin too.

Let’s move on to the crux this study. According to scripture Jesus then, “. . . breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” The word in the original language for “breathed” is emphusao. This is significant I think because according to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon,

This word [is] used only once by the LXX[4] translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so to the new creation was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation.[5]

The Bible teaches that when a man puts his trust in Messiah he becomes a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) and he is truly “born again.” Then he is indwelt by the Spirit and sealed by the Spirit. This is God reconciling us to Himself through the finished work of Christ and ministry of the Holy Spirit to the elect.

So my premise is the apostles were “indwelt” that day with the Spirit. That was the birthing of the Church. So what happened at Pentecost? Let’s look at what Acts 2 says:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance (vv 1-4).

First we see the twelve apostles were all sitting together in someone’s house (vv1, 2). In verse 4 we learn “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . .”, they weren’t indwelt, they were filled. I believe when Jesus Christ “breathed” on them and told them to receive the Spirit forty days earlier that was the initial indwelling or baptism of the Spirit for the apostles. After all Jesus had been walking with them for three years or so, but that time was finished. Now the Comforter would guide them. On Pentecost the disciples were filled (not baptized) with the Spirit for the first time.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing phenomenon, something we must ask for and should be asking for daily, even hourly. In this case God decided to use it as a time to begin to build the Church. Those 3,000 that came to Jesus Christ on the day of Pentecost were the “church structure” itself being built on the foundation.

We understand from the Holy Scriptures that Jesus is the chief cornerstone and Jesus is the foundation (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20). So there is no conflict here as the cornerstone is the crux of the foundation.  Then too the apostles are the foundation (Eph. 2:20).

Wait a minute Edwards, what about the “violent rushing wind” and the “tongues of fire.” Again there is no contradiction here. They are significant, but this is largely analogical language, a metaphor. The disciples were trying to describe the indescribable.

“The sound like the blowing of the wind . . . from heaven points to the power of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of His coming.”[6] Note that scripture says the tongues of fire rested on the believers which would be the apostles. They did not rest on the crowd that gathered. The tongues of fire portray the presence of God. Recall that God often revealed Himself in fire.

Conclusion

This scripture (John 20: 18-22) first grabbed me several years ago. I even bounced the idea of the 22nd verse actually being the permanent giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles by Christ off of a couple of professors at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Both said they thought it was plausible.

I believe it is more than possible otherwise why is verse 22 even included? Acts 2 is often run through the exegetical and hermeneutical meat grinder especially by our charismatic brothers. The word “baptized” is not even used until verse 38 and its meaning is clear— repent and trust in Christ and then you need to be baptized.

The argument, I believe, is sound. Indeed the verses in John illuminate the Acts 2 verses disallow much of the error that is associated there. As Tozer said, Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.


[1] John 20:19-22, New American Standard Bible.

[2] A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

[3] Spiros Zodiates, ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament

[4] LXX is the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the New Testament.

[5] Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Libronix Digital Library System.

[6] Stanley Toussaint, “Acts,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, eds. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck.

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