Pentecost as Connectedness and Distributive Justice, Part 3

Pentecost as Connectedness and Distributive Justice, Part 3 May 16, 2024



Again, one of the fruits of the Spirit (to borrow Paul’s language) in the synoptics is the restoration of social justice. The Spirit being poured out on Jesus and also Jesus followers would manifest itself in deep concern for what others were experiencing because of the shape of their society. Consider how this is expressed in Luke’s gospel:

Welcome Readers! Please subscribe to Social Jesus Here.

(Read this series from the beginning at Part 1 and Part 2.)

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18)

The Spirit bears the fruit of concern for the poor, the imprisoned, the marginalized and vulnerable, and the oppressed. Defining the manifestation of the Spirit this way has deep roots in the Hebrew prophetic justice tradition as well. Consider Isaiah, on which the passage in Luke above is based:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1)

Notice how, in this next passage from Isaiah, the fruit of the Spirit being on God’s servant is restoring justice to the nations:

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1)

The Spirit brings the end of violence, injustice, and oppression, and brings distributive justice where everyone has enough to thrive: 

“Till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.” (Isaiah 32:15)

And this brings us full circle back around to Acts’ Pentecost being in harmony with this Jewish prophetic justice tradition. The first manifestation of the Spirit in Acts is the overcoming of language barriers and reconnecting all as members of the same human family. It emphasizes our connectedness, our oneness, and began the process putting our world to right. In the book of Acts, in the immediate wake of Pentecost, Peter invites those witnessing the outpouring of the Spirit on the apostles to also receive the Holy Spirit and once they had received it, to notice how the Spirit demonstrates its presence:

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” . . . Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (Acts 2:38-45, emphasis added.)

This was in direct response to Jesus’ call to those who had more than they needed to sell their possessions and give to those whose needs were not being met (see Luke 12). Two chapters later we see this distributive justice grow until poverty was eliminated among their Jesus community:

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:32-34)

The Spirit didn’t make them more religious, per se. It instead expressed itself in economic justice among those it was poured out on, a distributive justice where everyone took responsibility for making sure their neighbor was taken care of. 

What areas of distributive injustice could use the Spirit in our society today? Where in the church or our larger world do we need the spirit’s justice work now? The list for sure is long. 

This Pentecost, let’s remember the Spirit’s call to be about making our world a safe, compassionate, just home for everyone.


Are you receiving all of RHM’s free resources each week?

Begin each day being inspired toward love, compassion, justice and action. Free.

Sign-Up Link in the comments below:


About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives