“The Gift of the Holy Spirit”

Don Tarbet

In two previous articles, we wrote about “The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit” and “The Indwelling Spirit”, both now available on the website biblicalarticlesandmore/dontarbet to anyone desiring to read them, even now to see what is believed to be a proper under-standing of the nature of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In those articles, we wrote about the various views as to the meaning of the indwelling Spirit, and then the “fellowship of the Spirit”, as a figurative expression of the fellowship we have with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, as we do the Father’s will.

We mentioned two (2) passages which we believe have been misapplied, as to the “how” the Spirit “dwells in Christians.” One passage is in Acts 5:29 where Peter makes reference to the “….Holy Ghost whom God hath given to them that obey him.” This is usually quoted to show that God gives the Holy Spirit to ALL who obey Him, in any age, as the “indwelling measure” of the Spirit. A brief look at the context will show otherwise.

Decades ago I read an article by a young preacher who concluded that the promise of Acts 2:38 had to do with the Abrahamic promise being fulfilled in Acts 2. I ignored his writing as that which came from a young “word representing the Spirit” view. Then, about three years ago I read an article in another brother’s bulletin in which the author set forth the idea that the “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 was the same gift that the Jews had “seen” and “heard” on that day, for that was the only gift they knew anything about, and why would Peter have been talking of one gift, and switch to another before he ended his thought? I saw no fallacy in his reasoning, but laid the material aside, though the “seed” sown in my mind finally took root at this time of my life. At this point we shall make an analysis of this passage to see what gift Peter actually had in mind.

In the book of Acts, reference is found abundantly regarding the baptism or gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1, Jesus referred to the promise of the Father, to the apostles being “baptized with the Holy Ghost” very shortly. On Pentecost day, “they” (the twelve apostles) were “filled with the Holy Ghost” and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4). In his sermon, Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-30, and said “this is that” in fulfillment in which Joel used the expression twice about the “pouring out” of God’s Spirit in the “last days”. In the sermon, Peter spoke of Jesus having received the promise of the Holy Ghost (KJV), He (Christ) shed forth that which they now saw (the tongues coming upon the apostles), as they were being “filled with the Holy Ghost”, and what they heard, “the speaking in tongues (languages)” which they had not previously known or spoken. Then, Peter went on to announce the conditions of their being “saved” (v. 21), as being “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” (v. 38).

Many who preach today maintain that Peter told the Jews to do 2 things to receive 2 blessings: Remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. A careful analysis of this text will indicate otherwise. The command to repent and be baptized was given to those of “the house of Israel,.” The assembly was made up of Jews from every nation under heaven (v. 5) and now Peter calls his audience “the house of Israel” (v. 34). The “ye” of verse 36 refers to the Jews who had Jesus crucified. The “they” of verse 37 is used twice to refer to those Jews, of the house of Israel, who had a question for Peter. Peter’s answer was to them (the Jews of the house of Israel). Luke records that Peter spoke to “them”, and then Peter said to “them”, that they needed to “repent and be baptized”, “every one of you”. Who were the “you”? The obvious fact is that the “you” referred to the Jews. In verse 17 Peter quotes from Joel 2 when Jesus said God would pour out His Spirit upon “all flesh.’ Human flesh in the first century was made up of Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). So far the Spirit has fallen upon “Jewish flesh” (representative heads of the Jews for the partial fulfillment of God’s promise.) Peter obviously was revealing to the Jews that others, the Gentiles (those that are afar off” (Gentiles, Eph. 2:11-13) would also receive this gift. The command to repent and be baptized was to these Jews who were witnesses of the events of that day. Then, there is reference to “the promise” of the Holy Spirit. Remember, commands are given to be obeyed, and promises are given to be received. These Jews were to obey, but were reminded of God’s promise that was right then being partially fulfilled.

Acts 2:38 referred to a partial fulfillment of the promise, when Peter said “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The ones who were told to obey were the individuals (every one of you), meaning the Israelites. The command was for “every one” there that day, on an individual basis. However, Peter went on to tell them that they (the house of Israel) would at some point receive the Holy Spirit, but it would also include the Gentiles, sometime in the future.

The 12 Jewish apostles had received the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit, and they would be empowered to “pass on” the Spirit to Jews later on. Peter, being filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 4:8), spoke to a Jewish audience, prayed, and “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (v. 31). Some of the apostles were imprisoned for preaching (as they were told to do, Acts 5:20. They were obedient to God in so doing, rather than obeying the Jewish command not to speak in the name of Jesus), and Peter’s response was, that they should “obey” GOD, rather than the Jewish command not to preach. He later added that the “Holy Ghost” witnessed the events, as the One that God gave “to them that obey Him”, as the apostles were now obeying God. It is far-fetched to apply Acts 5:32 to today’s world, when it was all in the context of the Holy Spirit filled apostles in Peter’s life in obeying God (not with reference to their obeying the gospel to become Christians, but to their obeying God to speak and preach as God had commanded).

Later, in Jerusalem, reference is made to Stephen, a disciple who was full of faith and of the Holy Ghost (this obviously was a parenthetical statement, describing Stephen, who actually did not have the fullness of the Holy Ghost at this point, but describing the man who was about to receive it), for verse 6 tells us that the apostles had not yet prayed and “laid their hands on them”, though they were already believers, and had already been baptized). Then, the apostles laid their hands on these disciples—Stephen, Philip and the others. Stephen did great miracles (Acts 6:8), and preached a great sermon before he was stoned to death. Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ, and many were baptized, including one Simon. The Samaritans had been baptized, but had not received the Holy Ghost. The apostles sent two of their own number, Peter and John, that they might do what Philip, (who had the Holy Spirit in miraculous form) did not have the power to pass the Spirit on to new converts. The apostles came, and “laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost”. Then it was stated that it was “the Holy Ghost was given through laying on of the apostles’ hands”. Simon, a baptized believer, wanted to buy the ability to lay his hands on others, but Peter told him that he had no part in such matters. All this is a reminder as to why we today cannot receive that gift of the Spirit, because none of the apostles are alive on the earth to bestow it upon anyone.

Later, Saul of Tarsus had a visit from the Lord, and then from Ananias who informed Saul that he (Saul, later called Paul) was to receive his sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. He arose and was baptized to wash away his sins (9:18; 22:16). The exact moment of his being filled with the Spirit is not stated.

Still later, as Paul was added to the list of the apostles, came to Ephesus and found certain disciples, who had been baptized, but had not received the Holy Spirit. The Ephesians did not even know there was a Holy Spirit. This made Paul question their baptism, and upon inquiring, learned that they had only been baptized by John’s baptism. Paul pointed out that John taught his converts to accept Christ when He came, so Paul followed up by laying his hands upon them (v. 6). Then the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues, and prophesied. Laying hands upon certain converts was an extension of the gift of the Spirit originally given to the apostles, which now included Paul.

At this point, we would do well to examine the text of the original language of the New Testament, the GREEK language. You can confirm this information by going to BIBLEHUBACTS2:38GREEK on your computer website. In the original Greek language of the New Testament, there were no punctuation marks. Translators had to determine by the spacing between words, and the meaning of the words, to determine the best place and type of punctuation marks, so as to best translate the words into English. Coming to Acts 2: 38, it was decided (as in most translations) to just put a comma, as there was a pause. However, the next word (Gr. Kia) was a primary article, with a change in the personal pronoun, from “each one” to “all of you,” meaning, “And, even, also, namely”, (STRONG 2532).

The pronoun “you” is a personal pronoun, second personal plural. All of this indicates a switch from “each one of you” (second personal singular term) to “all of you” future tense (“you of the house of Israel shall receive the gift.”) . The NLT renders it “….sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I am not a fan of the NIV, but it does have it nearer the original thought than most translations, reading “….sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Each one who wanted remission was required to do two things: Repent and be Baptized. ALL of them (collective and representative heads of the house of Israel, in this context) would receive the one gift of the Holy Ghost, the promise. Remember, commands were given to be obeyed, while promises are made to be received. Here, Peter gavel a command to do something, followed by a promise to “receive” something.

The fulfilling of this promise is seen in the rest of the book of Acts, as well as the receiving of the promise of the Gentiles (those “afar off”, Acts 2:39) to the Gentile house of Cornelius (representative head of the Gentile world, in this matter), as Luke records, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Now, it cannot be argued that this was the “indwelling” of the Spirit upon baptism, for they received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized.

We are not suggesting that there is no way we receive the Spirit in some manner, for there are references to such, as in 1 Cor. 3:16, and 2 Cor. 6:16, as both the Spirit and God are in a faithful believer. We have shown before that there is a “fellowship of the Spirit”, or the mutual fellowship we have with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, as we we do the Father’s will, and walk in the light. Both God and Christ are with us at the same time, as is the Spirit—in the way God intended it be.

We will sum up this study with a few pertinent references to the Lord making His abode in believers, with the passage in Romans 8 using terms that are interchangable, from the idea of “walking after the Spirit” to God’s “spirit that dwelleth in you.”

John 14:23. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

1 John 3:24. “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”

1 John 4: 12 “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 23 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”

1 John 4:15. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

Romans 8:4. “That the righteousness of the love might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal minded is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

May God be with us as we continue to learn and to do the will of God, that we might always enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit.

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