God’s Spirit has interacted with humankind in different ways through the ages. During Old Testament times the Spirit would come and go. The Spirit descended upon King Saul and then left him (1 Samuel 16:14). King David feared that the Lord would take the Holy Spirit from him (Psalm 51:11). The Spirit descended upon the prophets. They would deliver God’s intended message to the people and then the Spirit would leave them. It wasn’t until Jesu’s Baptism that the Spirit descended and stayed. The Spirit also descended and stayed on the disciples and now on Cornelius and his family.
Many believe that we receive the Holy Spirit at our baptism. The Spirit and our baptism are signs of our unity. We are people who have one Lord, one faith and one baptism. The Holy Spirit is also God’s presence and power in our lives. The disciples, Cornelius and his family, and their fellow Christians did not receive the Holy Spirit just so they could speak in tongues and praise God. God’s Spirit empowers us for ministry. We have the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit who stilled the storms, healed the people, chased out the demons, and raised Jesus from the dead. Commissioned to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth, the Holy Spirit empowers us to share God’s love and grace in words and actions and accomplish our task.
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.