Q. Why on the Day of Pentecost would the Holy Spirit come upon those in the Upper Room in the form of a “mighty rushing wind” and “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:2-3)?
A. Throughout Scripture, the Holy Spirit is often associated with wind or fire. In fact, one Old Testament Hebrew word and one New Testament Greek word for “spirit” can both also mean “wind” or “breath.” In creation, the Spirit of God moves over the waters like a wind (Genesis 1:2). In Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones, God resurrects them by having the winds breathe on them, filling them with His Spirit (Ezekiel 37:1-14). In the Gospel of John, Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to the wind (John 3:8), and the Apostles receive the Spirit when Jesus breathes on them (John 20:22).
As for fire, Moses encountered God in the burning bush (Exodus 3:4). God’s Spirit traveled with the Israelites through the wilderness as a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21-22). And Hebrews says that “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).