There are several ways that Jesus and Luke describe the experience that has now been called Pentecost, where the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The New Testament and Luke in particular describes this and similar experiences as the Holy Spirit received, or the were filled, were baptized in, were clothed with, were endued (he came on them) with the Holy Spirit. Whatever expression us used, it is clear that the operative idea in each expression is that the Holy Spirit has connected dramatically with the disciples of Jesus or those who have puit their faith in him, and the sense is that something quite powerfully has occurred between God and those who are open to a fresh way of knowing his presence and power in their lives.

John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from the time of and before his birth (Luke 1:15). Several of the principle characters in the birth narratives of Luke were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41, 67). After his baptism Jesus is said to be full of the Holy Spirit, by Luke, and this provides the backdrop to the power of his ministry (Luke 4:1). And Jesus is again described as being full of the Holy Spirit and joy, as the disciples discover the power of God. What is more Luke’s observation of Jesus being full of the Spirit and joy has a parallel in Acts where the church is also as full of the Spirit and joy, joins the ministry and power of the disciples after the resurrection and ascension to the ministry of Jesus before these events, as a continuation of the work of the kingdom of God in the same authority and power that Jesus exercised (Luke 10:21; Acts 13:52). On the Day of Pentecost, the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke in tongues as the Spirit enabled them to do so (Acts 2:4). Being filled with the Spirit produced powerful results that conspicuously involved prophetic witness about God. There is a second Pentecost in Acts 4, where others in the church are filled with the Holy Spirit, presumably mainly the new converts, and signs and powerful demonstration of God’s presence among them follow (Acts 4:31). Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit When Ananias visited with him after his conversion on the Damascus Road, and set out to preach (Acts 9:17). Additionally, those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit, from time to time experience new in-fillings of the Spirit in the course of ministry and service to God where great acts of powerful demonstration of the presence of God occur (Acts 4:8; 13:9, 52). Luke is the one who mainly uses the term filled. To be filled with the Holy Spirit clearly results in a manifestation of the power and presence of God, seen in the signs and phenomena that follow.

After his resurrection, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). By this Jesus meant for his disciples to be endowed with the power and presence of God at the level of their personal relationship with God, so they could effectively carry on the ministry that he had left to them. Luke uses the same idea of receiving the Holy Spirit in Acts. Jesus reiterates to his disciples that they will in fact receive the Holy Spirit, and that the result will be empowerment for witness and testimony about him to the world (Acts 1:8). Indeed witnessing and evangelism seem to be the primary reason for a baptism in the Holy Spirit. Peter passes Jesus promise on to those who hear the first Pentecost sermon, following the demonstrable reception of the Holy Spirit with the signs accompanying the event, particularly the speaking in tongues (Acts 2:33, 38). Peter obviously means more than receiving the Spirit as a personal witness and concomitant of their salvation, because the context is the demonstrable power his hearers have witnessed. Peter is promising them eschatalogical power following their repentance and baptism. The apostles follow up on the evangelism of the Samaritans, so that they might receive the Holy Spirit, subsequent to their conversion (Acts 8:15-17). To be saved doesn’t automatically mean to be empowered in the way that Pentecost presents the reception of the Holy Spirit, but it does follow salvation. By showing a subsequent reception of the Spirit, with the laying on of the apostles’ hands, Luke means for us to understand that they received empowerment for witness. Peter later remarks that Cornelius and his household should be baptized, since they had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:47). Again power for witness is implied. When Paul met believers in Ephesus, he seems concerned that they there was a possibility they had not received the Holy Spirit, since believing, and therefore lacked evangelistic power (Acts 19:2). In Paul’s encounter with them they turned out to be disciples of John the Baptist, and had not heard of the Holy Spirit. They had either not heard John speak of the Messiah coming to baptize believers with the Spirit, or they had not heard that the Spirit had been poured out in an eschatalogical confirmation of the Messiah’s appearing. Paul also remarks that the reception of the Holy Spirit makes our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit, although in this case Paul probably is speaking of the Spirit’s indwelling in a general sense, concomitant with salvation (1 Cor. 6:19; cf. Rom. 8:9). Luke’s theology is the theology of the Holy Spirit, and he clearly demonstrates an element of subsequence when receiving the Holy Spirit, that follows salvation. Those who are filled with the Spirit are already saved, and the reception of the Spirit empowers then for witness and evangelism. To receive the Holy Spirit clearly means to be the recipient of a powerful experience of God’s power and presence, resulting in action with respect to obeying God’s will and the commands of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament speak of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. This terminology clearly has its origin in the preaching of John the Baptist, who drew an analogy between his baptism of people in water and the future baptism in the Holy Spirit by the coming Messiah (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). Jesus affirms John’s analogy and promise of Spirit baptism, when he said to his disciples that as John had baptized in water, they would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 11:16). By this Jesus meant Pentecost, and the reception or in-filling of the Spirit on that day recorded in Acts 2. To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is synonymous with being filled or receiving the Holy Spirit. The language of Spirit baptism is limited to the early chapters of Acts and the gospels. The metaphor of baptism implies that just as we are baptized in water, as a sign of transformation, so we can be baptized in the Holy Spirit, with the result of experiencing the transformational power of God. Clearly the implication is that a baptism in the Spirit is a total immersion of the entire personality into the presence and power of God, resulting in radical and transformation change.

In other places, the New Testament speaks of the Holy Spirit coming on people. Luke tells us that the conception of the Son of God in the womb of Mary was the result of the Holy Spirit coming on her (Luke 1:35). Simeon in the temple had the Spirit on him, when he met the parents of Jesus, at his dedication (Luke 2:25). Jesus himself is said to have had the Holy Spirit come upon him at his baptism (Luke 3:22; 4:18; John 1:33). Jesus mixed the ideas of receiving the Holy Spirit and having him come on the disciples in Acts 1:8. Luke remarks that after their conversion the Samaritans had not yet had the spirit come on them (Acts 8:16). Clearly he meant that they had not experienced a Pentecost, even though they had believed and been baptized. They were saved but had not received the empowering of God, represented by the Holy Spirit coming on them. In the house of Cornelius, the reception of the holy Spirit by his household while Peter preached is described as the Spirit coming on them (Acts 10:44-45; 11:15). The result was a demonstration of the power and presence of God, evidenced by their speaking in tongues (Acts 10:46). After Paul asked the Ephesian believers if they had received the Holy Spirit, and had baptized them, he laid hands on them and the Spirit came on them (Acts 19:6). The language describing the Spirit coming on a person is clearly anointing language. In an explanation of the commencement of his public ministry, to his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus, after the Holy Spirit had come upon him at the Jordan, and he was declared by Luke to be full of the Holy Spirit, said that he had been anointed by God to preach the good news, and set people free from sin, as well as to heal (Luke 4:16-19; cf. Luke 3:21-22; 4:1). The context in Luke’s gospel is Jesus’ baptism and reception of the Holy Spirit, which resulted in Jesus coming out of the water full of the Holy Spirit, with power for ministry (Luke 4:1). The Spirit had come upon him and as a result he was powerfully equipped to serve God in the ministry to which he had been called. It is in this sense that the reception of the Holy Spirit conforms Jesus as the Messiah/Christ, meaning Anointed One. Anointing with oil set a person aside for a role or office in the work of God, usually as priest or king. The anointing of Jesus with the Spirit at the Jordan was the divine confirmation of his identity as the Son of God, further verified by the voice of God (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; 22:19; 2 Pet. 1:17). The implication is that once anointed, those on whom the Spirit comes are equipped with power to fulfill the will of God, and for effective service and powerful obedience.

The bottom line is this. No matter how Luke describes Pentecost, and subsequent experiences of the Holy Spirit, using any of these terms, it turns out that the result is that there is a extraordinary, powerful and overwhelming manifestation and impartation of the power and presence of God, producing primarily a witness to the resurrection of Christ, but also of signs and wonders. In Acts the first and most prominent of the signs is speaking in tongues as the Spirit moves or enables (Acts 2:4). Following the original Pentecost, the reception of the Spirit is overtly seen as miraculous and at least two more times it is speaking in tongues that is the first evidence of the Spirit’s in-filling, anointing, reception or baptism (cf. Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6). In the case of the Samaritans, something miraculous is implied as the immediate result of the reception of the Spirit, miraculous enough to elicit from Simon to offer of money for the ability to impart the Holy Spirit and produce that kind of result (Acts 9:19)!

On the Day of Pentecost it was the tongues that elicited the questions, about what it was that had happened, not the wind or fire (cf. Acts 2:6, 11b-12)! It was the tongues that was the sign they had received the Holy Spirit. When Peter stood up, he gave the explanation that this is what Joel had promised in his prophecy, that in the last days the Spirit would be poured out universally on all people and that the result would be that they would prophesy or speak under his influence (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:15-21)!


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