Parakletos: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

June 18, 2016

By Kassa Nigus

Parakletos comes from the Greek word translated “Comforter” or “Counselor” (as found in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7). This Counselor, or Paraclete, is another name for the Holy Spirit, the third Person of Holy Spirit who among other things provides guidance, consolation, strength, and support to people. The feast of Parakletos also known as by the name Pentcost as the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and the other believers on the Day of Pentecost.

In the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, Pentecost is one of the nine major movable feasts of the Lord. It is a church feast that commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the three hour of the day, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. This year (2016) the Feast of Pentcost falls on June 19 which is also the annual feast of St Michael – the festivity of the deliverance of Bahhiran from the wicked rich man through the help of the St Michael.

Originally, Pentecost was a Jewish historical holy day which is known as Harvest Festival before the era of the apostles. Harvest Festival (Be’ale Sewit): One of the major feasts during the Jewish year; it celebrates thanks giving for harvested crops. Israel commemorated it, fifty days – seven weeks to the day – after the sickle was first put to the grain there was a harvest festival. Fifty days after the grain harvest, processions of pilgrims bore baskets of their first fruits to the temple as a thank offering for the harvest.

After the accomplishment of His redemptive work, God made the harvest festival to relate to festival of the Holy Spirit. Seven weeks to the day after Jesus died and rose from the dead, He breaths the wind and fire of His Spirit upon His Church. This is the fulfillment of the Harvest festival: Fifty days after the sickle had been put to the grain, comparable to fifty days after JESUS was hung on a cross, crucified and buried, fifty days after the promised Seed that had been buried in the ground sprouted to life. After the fulfillment of His salivation; Jesus had made a covenant with His disciples to establish a new covenant, to establish a new Church.

Before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come after Him: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  (John 14:16–18)

During His Ascension, Jesus has promised the Apostles saying, “I will send unto you another Paraclete, Who shall come from the Father. Wait ye and remain in Jerusalem until ye receive the promise of the Father.”

Accordingly, when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place when the promise was fulfilled as Peter and the early Church were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (languages) as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1–4)

According to the New Testament commentators of the Ethiopian Church, the Apostles had spoken perfectly in seventy two languages, whereas the other devout men who were dwelling at Jerusalem, uttered in not less than fifteen languages; some uttered fifty, the other twenty or twenty five or even some had spoken sixty. (Metsahifte Haddisat Selestu 1989, pp.22)  

After the Apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit, they were enabled or empowered divinely to preach the Gospel of Salvation "in Christ" fearlessly. As a result, three thousand souls were added to the Church that day, through sacred Baptism (Acts 1:5, 9:4; 2:41). Thus, the official inauguration of the Church took place on that day, and is considered the day of the birth of the Church.

This feast is followed with the "Apostle’s Fast" which begins on the Monday after; or immediately following Pentecost Sunday.  It has a fixed end date on the fifth of the Ethiopian month of Hamle [July 12]. The fifth of Hamle is the commemoration of the Martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.


• Holy Bible- King James Version

• The Three Books of New Testament Commentary: Acts, Epistles, Revelation (Metsahifte Haddisat Selestu in Ge’ez and Amharic), 1989, pp.22.

• Synaxarium: The book of the saints of the Ethiopian Church.