John 20.22-23 cont.
22 And saying this He breathed on them and says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit”.
23 If you should forgive anyone their sins, they stand forgiven; if you withhold (forgiveness) it stands withheld.
Traditionally we hold the view that the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which was about seven weeks after the feast of Passover.
However, in verse 22 Jesus breathed on the disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit”.
This was the first day of the week, and it is the second appearance of the resurrected Lord Jesus.
How are we to relate Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon them with the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? Are they two separate incidents? It has been suggested that verse 22 is John’s version of the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. However, this does not tie in well with other facts as we have them in the other three gospels and in Acts.
In Matthew and Luke there is no mention of the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, although both state that John prophesied that after Him:
7 “One more powerful than me is coming after me, of whom I am not fit to bend down and loosen the strap of His sandals.
8 I baptized you in water, but He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit” – Mark 1.7-8 (Matthew 3.11). Luke also records this 3.16.
Luke records that after His resurrection Jesus told His disciples:
And, see, I send upon you the promise of My Father, but you wait (sit) in the city until you are (should be) clothed with power from on high – Luke 24.49.
It is in Acts 2 that Luke who records the momentous events of the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit.
It was an occasion confirmed by miraculous signs: the flames of fire resting on the gathered assembly, and their speaking in tongues – the languages of the people gathered in Jerusalem.
From this it would seem that Jesus breathing on the disciples and conferring upon them the Holy Spirit was a different occasion to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
The basic fact remains that the relationship between these two events is that it is the same Jesus who gave the same Holy Spirit, and it is the same Jesus who continues to pour out the same Holy Spirit upon us.