C. THE BREATH
John 20:22 says, “He breathed into them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.” Here the Spirit of life is likened to breath, which is for life. In John 20:22 the Spirit as the breath was breathed as life into the disciples for their life. By breathing the Spirit into the disciples, the Lord Jesus imparted Himself into them as life and everything.
The Holy Spirit is actually nothing less than the resurrected Lord Jesus Himself, because this Spirit is His breath. The Greek word for Spirit in this verse is pneuma, a word that is used for breath, spirit, and wind. Therefore, this verse can rightly be translated, “Receive the holy breath.” On the day of His resurrection Christ breathed Himself into His disciples as the holy breath.
In the Gospel of John we have God, life, and the Spirit. Chapters one through seventeen show us God living among men; chapters eighteen and nineteen, life passing through death; and chapters twenty and twenty-one, the Spirit, the pneuma, moving in resurrection. This moving of the Spirit in resurrection has not ceased. Concerning this, there is no end to the Gospel of John. This Gospel does not give us a record of Christ’s public ascension as we have in Mark and Luke. According to the Gospel of John, the resurrected Christ breathed Himself into His disciples as the holy breath, as the Spirit, and now dwells in them. Therefore, this breath, this pneuma, this Spirit, is still moving in resurrection.
The divine breath in John 20:22 is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate consummation of the processed Triune God reaching His redeemed people. The New Testament reveals that the Triune God became incarnated, lived as a man on earth, ministered, entered into death, conquering and subduing it, and came forth from death in resurrection. In resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh,” and 1 Corinthians 15:45b says, “The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” Therefore, the incarnated One was the Triune God to be a man as the last Adam, and this last Adam in resurrection has become the life-giving Spirit. Therefore, on the day of His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, breathed upon them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” We all need to see the vision of the Triune God becoming the last Adam and the last Adam becoming the life-giving Spirit as the consummation of the processed Triune God reaching us. This is the Spirit symbolized by the breath breathed into the disciples on the day of Christ’s resurrection.
D. THE WIND (PNEUMA)
In John 3:8 the wind is a symbol of the Spirit: “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Greek word for wind, pneuma, is the same word for Spirit. Whether it means the wind or the Spirit depends upon the context. The context here says that it blows, and the sound of it can be heard. This indicates that it is the wind. The wind brings air for us to breathe. The Spirit as the wind brings air for our spiritual breathing.
E. A RUSHING VIOLENT WIND
In Acts 2:2 we have the symbol of a rushing violent wind. This verse says, “Suddenly there came a noise out of heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” In the Lord’s resurrection the Spirit of resurrection life is likened to breath, breathed into the disciples for their spiritual being and living essentially. In the Lord’s ascension the Spirit of ascension power, poured out upon the disciples, is symbolized by the rushing violent wind for the disciples’ ministry and move economically. The essential Spirit of resurrection life is for the believers to live Christ; the economical Spirit of ascension power is for them to carry out His commission.
We need to see clearly the difference between the breathing in John 20 and the blowing in Acts 2. The breathing in John 20 is for the imparting of the life-giving Spirit into the disciples essentially for their spiritual being and living. But the blowing in Acts 2 is for the pouring out of the economical Spirit of power upon the believers, who have already received the essential Spirit into them. The pouring out of the Spirit of power is not for the believers’ spiritual being or living; rather, the outpouring of the Spirit of power is for the believers’ ministry and move. Therefore, the essential aspect of the Spirit, symbolized by the breath, is for living, and the economical aspect of the Spirit, symbolized by the rushing violent wind, is for ministry. We praise the Lord for the breathing of the Spirit in John 20 and for the blowing of the Spirit in Acts 2. The breathing is for life, and the blowing is for move. Furthermore, the breathing gives us inner strength, and the blowing gives us outer authority. Through the breathing and the blowing we are fully equipped.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 079-098), Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)