Why Was The Holy Spirit Given To The Disciples (And Mankind)?
The Holy Spirit – the third entity of the holy trinity – was generated by God and given by Jesus to the disciples and all mankind as described in the Gospel of John. This was a dramatic and powerful gift to mankind. Why was this necessary?
One reason is revealed in the Gospel of John: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Jesus was a supernatural being. His mission was to introduce the kingdom of God to the world. He became a “fisher of men” and gathered together a remarkable cadre of disciples to carry forward his work after he was gone. Jesus and the Father both understood the difficulty of the mission embraced by his followers.
The Holy Spirit was imbrued with a range of special attributes that could be given to those who joined with God and became spiritual beings themselves. The leaders of the early Christian church would need every bit of help they could get. Blazing a trail for a new religion (especially one fighting uphill against a deeply entrenched Jewish faith) was a tough duty.
The best reason I've ever come across for the gifts of the Spirit is this: “The gifts of the Spirit are simply God empowering faithful Christians to do what He has called us to do.” (Christianity.com)
Corinth Was A ‘Happening' City In The Roman Empire
Corinth, by all accounts, was an important, cosmopolitan city in the Roman Empire. According to WorldHistory.org, Corinth was a Greek, Hellenistic and Roman city located on the isthmus which connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese. Surrounded by fertile plains and blessed with natural springs, ancient Corinth was a centre of trade, had a naval fleet and participated in various Greek wars.
In the Roman period, Corinth was a major colony and for over a millennium, it was rarely out of the limelight. The city was famously visited by the Apostle Paul c. 51 CE. Today, the ancient city lies in ruins but there still stands an impressive temple dedicated to Apollo.
Julius Caesar founded his colony at the site in 44 BCE.
During Paul's visit, Corinth was a vital center of commerce, due to its location at bisecting trade routes. While most residents were devout Jews, there were still some lingering elements of paganism at Corinth.
Typically, in a city with this kind of religious makeup, establishing a church around Christ would be a slog. It might also be downright dangerous if Rome sensed rebellion. There were plenty of divisions in and outside of the body of believers to impede its growth.
The “Spiritual” Men And Women of Corinth Needed Counseling
In the Gospel of John, the initial gift of the Holy Spirit is revealed. It seems the original band of brothers gathered with Jesus had a fairly good idea of the strengths they would receive in the spirit. Out in the far reaches of the known world, maybe not so much.
Although Corinth was a darling of the Roman world, it was one of those places far out in the known world; about 800 miles from Jerusalem.
The members of the Corinth church, at that time, had a rudimentary understanding of many of the church's precepts; their understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit was no exception. The members would argue among themselves about the gifts of the Spirit.
If someone was deemed to have a higher spiritual gift, that would bring out some jealousy in other believers. Others who had gifts from the spirit that seemed minor might suffer the ridicule of others. If you had multiple, magnificent spiritual gifts, well, lookout.
Paul was aware of the hurt and, sometimes, anger associated with these quabbles. The church members in Corinth were damaging the progress of the church and each other. It was time for Paul to step up and share his wisdom – that came straight from the Savior – with the Corinthians.
The Basic Lesson Of The Holy Spirit
Keeping in mind the connected structure of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the beliefs and direction from all three will be interconnected and consistent.
The Spirit comes from the Father and is of the Father. The Spirit provides gifts and strengths to believers as directed by God. This distribution of gifts is intended to further the goals and desires of the Father, not the believer. Each gift given by the Spirit to each individual is designed to allow all individuals to contribute to God's mission on Earth as God sees fit.
This is not about individuals. It is about the body of Christ all working together in God's will to serve Him.
As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he was clear and candid about the role of the Holy Spirit:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 / New Revised Standard Version
The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit
In 1 Corinthians, 12: 8-11, Paul outlines some of the gifts provided to us by the Spirit:
- “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom,
- and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
- to another faith by the same spirit,
- to other gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
- to another the working of miracles
- to another prophecy,
- to another the discernment of spirits,
- to another various kinds of tongues,
- to another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” These gifts help believers understand God's will better and provide the body of Christ to effectively reach out and spread the Word.
Author's Note: Please understand I'm just another sinner saved by grace who is doing my best to follow Jesus and overcome the challenges in our wonderful world to fulfill any missions given to me by God. He has blessed me with with the ability to research and write and the gift of discernment. I pray these writings and images add enjoyment, depth, and understanding to your missions as you progress in the Christian faith.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)