Pentecost was an important Jewish festival which marked the harvest. Often Jews would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate in the capital city.

Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the Passover.

The disciples of Jesus had seen him after his resurrection and witnessed his ascension (return) to Heaven.

Those same disciples are staying in Jerusalem when a miraculous event occurs:

The disciples experienced a violent wind and tongues of fire came from heaven and rested on each of the disciples.Acts 2:1-8

Suddenly the disciples were able to speak in different languages (tongues) to all the people who had come to Jerusalem for the festival.

The festival of Pentecost is still important to Christians today because it represents the beginning of the Christian Church. It reminds them how Jesus’ promise that God would send the Holy Spirit was fulfilled.

Today Christians believe the Holy Spirit continues to help them to live their lives and to tell others about Christianity.

Saint Paul’s teaching on the Church

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul (an early Church leader) writes to the Church in Corinth in Greece and explains what the Church should be like (1 Corinthians 12).

The Church in Corinth was divided over spiritual gifts given to the Church by God. Paul reminds the Church that all the gifts are given by the same God and should be used to help the Church, rather than to divide it.

Paul says the gifts include wisdom, knowledge, healing, miraculous powers and prophecy. Such gifts should be used positively and for the common good.

Paul uses the image of the human body to point the way to how the Church should work together for the good of all its members. For example, Paul says that it is no good if the body was only an eye because it would no longer be able to hear. Alternatively, if the whole body was an ear it would be no good either because it wouldn’t be able to smell.

Paul regards the Church as the body of Jesus, who is the head. Therefore, all people in the Church have an important role to play. Different members of the Church may have different roles, but all are vital to make it function.

Paul goes so far as to say that when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. This shows how caring for each other within the Church is vital as members’ lives are so interconnected - just as each person in the Church is connected to Jesus, who is the head.