From Zechariah to Agabus: The Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts (2)

Adrian Graffy

The second of two articles on Luke-Acts explores how the Holy Spirit inspires the mission of the Church beyond Judaism and to the ends of the earth. What challenges does Acts present for the Church today? Adrian Graffy is parish priest of Gidea Park, and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

In the first verses of the Acts of the Apostles we learn that the mission is to be pursued ‘in Jerusalem, in Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (1.8). In the first part of this article we examined the presence of the Holy Spirit in Luke’s Gospel and in the early chapters of Acts, as the Spirit filled individuals like Stephen and transformed communities. As Acts proceeds, the Holy Spirit guides missionary outreach beyond Jerusalem and beyond Judaism. In Samaria the successful preaching of Philip is followed by a visit of Peter and John (8.14), whose prayer facilitates the descent of the Holy Spirit (8.15-17). Though these Samaritans had been ‘baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus’ they had not yet received the Spirit. More specifically it is the ‘laying on of hands’ which brings about the gift of the Spirit (8.17). There is a clear contrast here with what happened in chapter 6 when the apostles laid hands on those ready to serve who had already received the Spirit. The Spirit is involved in baptism and also in commissioning for service.

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