The Ancient Faith
THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON PENTECOST
Much confusion exists today about the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Jews on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. Some say that the gift of the Holy Spirit was the Holy Spirit, Himself, and He literally indwells every Jew who was saved on that day. They explain that He enters into the heart of all people at the point of their conversion, and that He dwells in a “natural” and “personal” way. They say that you don’t see or feel anything, but that you know He is inside of you by faith. Others tell us that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of salvation.
One thing certain is that the Holy Spirit was promised and given to the Jews on the day of Pentecost. In this study, I want to consider what this meant, and how that promise affected those Christians in the first century.
FIRST, WE WILL LOOK AT THE ACTIVITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ACTS TWO.
THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPED THE APOSTLES UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH.
In Acts 1:6, Luke showed the lack of understanding the apostles had even after being with Jesus for three years. “Therefore, when they had come together, they [the apostles] asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
This shows that the apostles did not have a clear understanding of God’s plan for His kingdom. Jesus was with them after the resurrection, and they asked Him if he would restore the kingdom to Israel. They were thinking of an earthly and worldly kingdom. They were not asking when Jesus would establish his eternal or spiritual kingdom, but when he would reestablish Israel’s earthly kingdom and deliver the Israelites from the dominion of the Romans.
A short time later, when the day of Pentecost arrived (Acts 2:1-4), the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told them: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13). When the apostles received the Holy Spirit on that day, then they understood God’s plan for his kingdom.
NOW, DURING THIS GREAT JEWISH FESTIVAL OF PENTECOST, JEWS CAME TO JERUSALEM FROM ALL THE NATIONS OF THE KNOWN WORLD.
Acts 2:9-11⎯ “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and those who inhabit Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Africa beyond Cyrene, and Romans here resident Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs alike, we hear them speak the wonders of God in our tongues.”
Some of these Jews traveled several hundred miles to reach Jerusalem. They did not arrive on American, United or an Israeli airline. This trip took them days and maybe even weeks to arrive at Jerusalem. The distance between Oklahoma City and Dallas is approximately 200 miles (It would take several days to walk that distance.). These Jews that had become Christians in Jerusalem would be returning home after Pentecost, so they would need to have access to the new revelation of God⎯the New Testament Scriptures.
Now, we know that they had responsibilities and work to continue to accomplish in their homeland, so they could not remain in Jerusalem after the festival. Therefore, an important question to consider is: “How did they take the gospel to their countries?” They did not have the written New Testament at that time; in fact, there were no written New Testament letters! (They understood much less than the apostles who had been with Jesus for three years.) Did they return home and teach from the Old Testament? How did they preach the good news of salvation? If they preached the gospel, how did they prove or confirm that it was God’s message? The simple answer is that the apostles laid their hands on them and imparted to them the gift of the Holy Spirit after they were baptized. The Holy Spirit then spoke and performed signs through them confirming that their words were from the Almighty. How do we come to this conclusion? Notice the following:
IN THE CASE OF THE SAMARITANS, THEY WERE BAPTIZED, AND THEN THEY RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT BY THE LAYING ON OF THE APOSTLES’ HANDS (ACTS 8:12FF).
Philip the evangelist preached the gospel to the Samaritans, and they obeyed the gospel, so what happened to them? “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!” (Acts 8:14-20).
Notice that Peter and John – two apostles – traveled about 42 miles to Samaria. Why did they travel to Samaria? They visited the baptized Christians at Samaria to “prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15b). The apostles went to Samaria to impart to the new Christians the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Were the Samaritans baptized in water? Acts 8:12− “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”
Had the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit after their baptism? Act 8:15-16 “who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. (16) For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
When did the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit? Acts 8:17 “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Note that this text does not say that they received spiritual gifts or power, but the Holy Spirit. It is true that when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were able to speak in other languages and accomplish other supernatural acts.
NEXT, CONSIDER THE CORINTHIANS
Now, in the case of the Corinthians, we know that they received supernatural spiritual gifts. Paul told the Corinthians, “so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co 1:7)
Paul also said to them: 1Co 12:7-10 ⎯ “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: (8) for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, (9) to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, (10) to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”
How did they receive these gifts? The Bible does not tell us in this text. But we know through the conversion of the Samaritans how they received them. Through the example of the conversion of the Samaritans, we understand how the Corinthians received the ability to speak in other languages, prophesy without studying, and perform various miracles. Acts 8:17⎯ “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
We understand in the case of the Corinthians and the Samaritans that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, so they could carry the words of the New Testament to various places in the known world. When did they receive this gift? When they obeyed the gospel of Christ (baptized into Christ), and Paul laid his hands on them.
Now when did the Jews receive the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost? According to Acts 2:38, they were promised the gift of the Holy Spirit after they repented and were baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Looking at Acts 8, after the baptism of the Samaritans, they did not immediately receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When did it happen? After the apostles traveled to Samaria and laid their hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit. I believe that this exact same method was used by the apostles with the Corinthians and the Jews on the day of Pentecost.
NOW, WE WILL LOOK AGAIN AT THE CASE OF THE JEWS ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.
We know that the Jews in Acts two saw the miracles of the Holy Spirit-guided apostles. Over 3,000 Jews witnessed the apostles when they spoke God’s word in other languages in which they had not learned.
Acts 2:5-8 – “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. (6) And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. (7) Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? (8) And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?”
Acts 2:12⎯ “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’” The word “this” refers to the fact that they were performing miracles.
In Acts 2:15, Peter began to speak through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He told the Jews that what they were seeing was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2: 28-32). Notice Peter quotation from Joel:
Acts 2:16-18⎯ “But this (Note v.12) is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (17) ‘and it shall come to pass in the last days, says god, that i will pour out of my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. (18) and on my menservants and on my maidservants i will pour out my spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.
Then Peter told the Jews about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection (Acts 2:22-32). Then, in verse 33 he said, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
What were they seeing and hearing? Was it not the Holy Spirit poured out on the apostles? They were seeing and hearing the apostles miraculously speak in languages they had never learned. These Jews were amazed and surprised when they saw these miracles. And Peter clearly told them that Jesus received and sent the promise of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and this is what they were hearing and seeing.
Then in verse 38, Peter told the Jews that they were going to receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” If you had been there that day, what would you have expected to receive? These Jews saw the Holy Spirit working in the apostles, and now he told them that they would receive the Holy Spirit. What did they expect to receive? Some brethren would say to them: “Well, you are going to receive the Holy Spirit, but in reality, you won’t know it. Just have faith that He is inside of you.”
Peter had already told them that the promise of the Holy Spirit was the miraculous signs they were seeing and hearing. Then he told them that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. There should be two significant points seen clearly here:
- One, the Jews were no different from the Samaritans or the Corinthians; they needed spiritual gifts provided by the Holy Spirit to take the gospel to their countries.
- Two, the Jews on the day of Pentecost waited to receive what they had been “seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33). What was it? The gift of the Holy Spirit who would impart to them spiritual and miraculous gifts.
NOW, I WANT TO COMPARE SOME TEXTS THAT SHOW US WHAT THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS.
JESUS GAVE THE GREAT COMMISSION BEFORE ASCENDING TO HEAVEN TO SIT AT THE RIGHT HAND OF HIS FATHER.
Mark 16:15-20⎯ “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
(16) He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
(17) And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; (18) they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (19) So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. (20) And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.’“
Note that salvation is given to those who believe and are baptized. Before the New Testament was completed in written form the miraculous signs were evidence that the disciples’ words were from God. The believers were guided by the gift of the Holy Spirit, so they could preach the gospel of Christ. They performed miraculous signs which proved that their message was from God.
I THINK ACTS 2:38,39 IS PARALLEL TO MARK 16: 16-18. NOTICE THE FOLLOWING:
Acts 2:38, 39− “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Again, note that the lost could receive forgiveness of sins if they were willing to repent and be baptized. They, too, received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He spoke through them, preaching the gospel without the written New Testament.
COMPARE ACTS 2:38 AND MARK 16:16-20
Mark 16:16 Believe + Baptism = Salvation
Acts 2:38 Repent + Baptism = Salvation
Mark 16:17. 18− “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; (18) they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Acts 2:38 They who repent and are baptized “will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Compare: Acts 2:16, 17- Prophecy of Joel and its fulfillment Acts 2:38, 39
“I will pour out my Spirit” (V.17) means “You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (V.38).
“Upon all flesh” (V.17) means “As many as the Lord our God will call” (V.39).
“Your sons and your daughters” (V.17) means “For the promise is to you and to your children” (39).
- Mark16:16− Believe + Baptism = Salvation
- Acts 2:21 “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord” = Saved
- Acts 2: 38− Repent + baptism = Forgiveness (Saved)
INCLUDED WITH SALVATION:
- Mark 16:17- “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues”
- Acts 2:17 “‘and it shall come to pass in the last days, says god, that i will pour out of my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.’”
- Acts 2:38− “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
WHO WERE THE ONES WHO RECEIVED THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WERE ABLE TO PERFORM SIGNS?
- Mark 16:17 “Those who believe”
- Acts 2:17 “all flesh”
- Acts 2:39 “for as many as the Lord our God will call”
ACTS 8 SHOWS THAT RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO PERFORM MIRACLES.
Notice the following:
Acts 8:12− The Samaritans believed and were baptized.
Acts 8:14-16− The Samaritans were baptized, but they did not receive the Holy Spirit immediately.
Acts 8:17− The apostles laid hands on them, and “They received the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 8:18− “Receiving from the Holy Spirit” was something visible, because “Simon saw” that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, the Holy Spirit was imparted.
Acts 8:19− Simon wanted to buy the power. He said, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Now consider the phrase “The gift of the Holy Spirit“
In Acts 10, the Gentiles received “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:45) and they spoke in other languages.
THE PHRASE “THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT” IS FOUND TWICE IN THE BIBLE
- Acts 10:44-46− “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. (45) And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. (46) For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. . ..”
- Acts 2: 38— “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit“
ACTS 10:45 SAYS: “THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HAD BEEN POURED OUT ON THE GENTILES ALSO.”
- What does this phrase mean?
- It means that God had accepted the Gentiles into His kingdom.
- How did the people know that God had accepted them? Because they spoke in unlearned languages (Acts 10:46).
ACTS 2:38 “. . . YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
- What does it mean in Acts 2:38?
- It means that the Jews on the day of Pentecost would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the apostle’s hands and be able to preach by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 8, the Bible says, “they receive the Holy Spirit,” and then what happened? The Holy Spirit imparted to them spiritual gifts.
Acts 19:2 shows, without a doubt, that receiving the Holy Spirit was something visible that one would know. Paul asked some disciples: “. . . Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
- Now, if receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit was only by faith and the gift was invisible, why did Paul ask these disciples if they received the Holy Spirit when they became Christians?
- Once, I was trying to get my car tag, and I was standing waiting for my turn. After a while I noticed that the attendants were helping people who came in after me. So, I asked a man why this was happening. He asked me, “Have you got a number yet? I said, “I haven’t heard about any number.” He showed me the number dispenser, so I immediately got a number. I was missing something very important. It was a slip of paper with a number on it, and it was perceptible, visible, and necessary.
- When Paul asked the disciples if they have received the Holy Spirit since they had become Christians, they replied that they had not “heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Paul was talking about the Holy Spirit who provided spiritual gifts to guide them in preaching the gospel.
- The disciples had received the wrong baptism, so Paul baptized them again, and laid hands on them and “the Holy Spirit came on them” (v.6).
- What did they do? “They spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
ONE THING WE SHOULD RECOGNIZE IS THAT THE FATHER, JESUS, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT DWELL IN CHRISTIANS.
Notice the following verses that show that Jesus dwells in us:
- John 6:56
- Romans 8:10
Notice also that the Father dwells in us:
- 2 Corinthians 6:16, 18
- 1 John 4: 14-16
Finally, notice the Holy Spirit dwells in us:
- 1 Corinthians 6:19
- Romans 8: 9
Today, when the Bible says that God, the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit dwell in us, it means that we are guided and influenced by their Divine revelation.
- We allow God’s words and teachings to direct our lives.
- What is the result? We produced the fruits of the Holy Spirit that give honor and glory to our God.
When the church was first established, she did not have the written New Testament revelation. Therefore, it was very important for members of the Lord’s church to have the gift of the Holy Spirit to be able to proclaim the gospel by direct revelations.
The church could not have progressed without the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- With this gift, the disciples preached the new revelation without having the written New Testament.
- With the gift of the Holy Spirit, God also confirmed that the disciple’s message was from Him by showing signs and miracles.
Today, the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian in the same way that God and Jesus dwell in the Christian.
He does not dwell in us by the laying on of the apostle’s hands. He dwells in us because we are walking in the light and in this way we have a relationship with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.