John 20 and Pentecost?

We receive the Holy Spirit at baptism and we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. What are the differences and meanings of the TWO times that the apostles received gifts of the Holy Spirit after already have been baptized, in John 20 behind locked doors and at Pentecost?

There may have been a third instance, recorded in Mt. 10:1, “Then having summoned the twelve disciples, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every kind of disease and infirmity.”

Do you believe that it was a special anointing of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave them to exercise these extraordinary gifts?

Although the Apostles had the Holy Spirit “breathed” on them by Jesus on Easter, it is clear that the effect was not the same as when they were “baptized” by Him (under the appearance of tongues of flame) on Pentecost.

In John 20:22-23, they receive the Holy Spirit (as by aspiration, breathing) for the power to forgive (or retain) the sins of men. But they would not exercise this power (as far as we know) outside the small group of 120 (or so) disciples until they were further empowered by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

In Acts 1:5, Jesus tells them they “shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (that is, immersed) for the purpose of “receiv[ing] power [to] be [His] witnesses.” (Acts 1:8) On the day of Pentecost, they were indeed “filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:4)

I suppose you could analogize John 20:22-23 to “baptism” and Acts 2:4 to “confirmation”, but I wouldn’t try to take that analogy too far.

I have read in the Carmelite Doctors’ writings that God gradually accomodates the soul to receive His touches, beginning with the less interior, and bringing them all the way to the most advanced gifts of His Spirit, as their capacity to receive these gifts increases.

My feeling is that the apostles were accomodated in the same manner, with lesser infillings of the Holy Spirit, all the way to the fullness they received at Pentecost. I don’t believe God’s ways have changed, so this seems rather logical to me.

The apostles on Easter Sunday night received the anointing of the Holy Spirit for their sacrifical priesthood, their ordination completes what was begun at the Last Supper, appropriately since that meal is completed in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. The anointing on the larger gathering of disciples incuding Mary and some of the women on Pentecost is the completion of baptism by water and the Holy Spirit which Christ prescribed early on. He promised to send the Spirit upon them for this reason. Paul makes this clear when he comes upon a group of followers who were baptized but never confirmed, and immediately lays hands on them and calls down the Holy Spirit upon them. He reminds them they were baptized with the baptism of John but now require the completion of baptism in the Spirit.

this is clear because of the nature of each anointing, that on Easter specifically authorizes them to forgive sin and to rule the Church, and commissions them to evangelize, and before he ascends he promises to send the Holy Spirit in a unique way, which he does at Pentecost on all believers, specifically arming them with the gifts. Not everyone requires the priestly ordination of Easter which was given to the apostles alone, but all believers require the anointing of the gifts which are needed to strengthen the individual Christian and to build up the Church. The subsequent actions of the apostles described in Acts, as they make sure each group of believers is baptized both in water and the Holy Spirit, supplying a deficiency when it is encountered, shows this need.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit