Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the
Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”
The first time the New Testament was translated it was translated into Syriac, an Aramaic dialect common to the region of modern Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. Those Syriac speaking Christians were so moved at reading the New Testament that they named it “The Breath of God.” The words were so powerful and alive they felt God breathing on them!
In today’s scripture Jesus prepares His disciples for their mission of proclaiming His words and writing the New Testament. He promises that the Holy Spirit will teach them everything they will need to know for their mission. And the Spirit will remind them of what Jesus said.
In later passages we will explore the Spirit’s far-reaching ministry in the life of every believer, but today’s scripture is about the Spirit’s ministry in these specially appointed men. Jesus’ disciples had not followed Him with notepads or recorders, so the Holy Spirit will remind and teach them what Jesus said. They will speak and write words that will be the life-giving breath of God.
Let’s fast-forward to some verses in the Upper Room Discourse that will add light to the Holy Spirit’s unique ministry through Jesus’ disciples. Jesus talks in John 15:26-27 about the work that the Spirit will do in and through these men:
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You are also to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”
Then, in John 16:12-14, Jesus says more about the ministry of the Holy Spirit to His disciples:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
We put these three passages together and we see that the Holy Spirit will empower this ragtag group of men to bear faithful witness to what Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit will transform these men from disciples (“learners”), to apostles (“sent on a mission”).
After Jesus’ resurrection He appeared to these disciples and “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). From that moment forward it was this powerful, transforming breath that empowered them to speak and act in Jesus’ name. When Syriac speaking people heard the disciples’ message, they felt it as the very Breath of God on them. And as we read and reflect on the words of the New Testament today, it is alive and powerful. It comes to us as the Breath of God giving us life!
- What we call the Word of God, the Syriac Christians called the Breath of God. How might the New Testament feel like the Breath of God to me?
- What does the Holy Spirit empower me to do today?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)