In Acts 1 Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for the gift that the Father had promised, the gift of being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5, NIV). The experience would give the disciples power to be witnesses, so that they might make the name of Jesus known “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV). This “world mission” aligns with Jesus’ instructions to His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19, NIV).
The disciples of Jesus obeyed His word and waited in Jerusalem for the empowering of the Spirit. Acts 1:14 tells us who was part of this group. As we look through the list we find that women are specifically mentioned, and they were not disappointed! Acts 2:4 says that all of those who had gathered in prayer were “filled with the Holy Spirit” (NIV). The women who were present received the same gift as the men, including the apostles who were present. God made no distinction between the women and the men. Is it not reasonable to assume that both men and women received the Spirit for the same purpose? After all, the stated purpose for the coming of the Spirit (Acts 1:8) is a general statement; it has no restrictions or qualifying statements attached to it.
These texts are a great starting point for discussing the place of women in the ministry of the church. God gave women the same gift that He gave to men, equally empowering both genders. All are equipped to make Jesus known to the world. This is done not only by living a holy life, but also by preaching and teaching. Those who lived closer to the time of Jesus understood the intent of His teaching and acted accordingly. As we celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit may we be encouraged both to declare and demonstrate that the mission, the might, and the ministry of God are open to all believers. God has poured out His Spirit on his sons and daughters (Acts 2:17)! This is the message of Pentecost.