Category Archives: Holy Spirit

How Does satan Influence Us?

Look around. See the evil. There can be no doubt that real, palpable evil exists in this world. There are child molesters, murderers, torturers, liars, cheaters, thieves, abusers of the innocent and helpless and so many more disgusting and abhorrent people and actions in this world. How did evil come to be in the world? The Bible clearly teaches that the devil is responsible for the evil that is in the world (Gen. 3). But how does the devil operate in this world today to bring about evil? How does satan work?

First, satan does not bring about evil through miraculous means. Maybe you’ve seen a movie which portrays satan taking over the mind and body of a person, causing them to do some terrible thing. While evil spirits have possessed people in the past (e.g. Matt. 8:16, 28-34), this does not occur today. The reason for this is that the age of the miraculous has ceased (Zech. 12:1,2; I Cor. 13:8-13; Eph. 4:7-16). God does not now work miraculously in the world (i.e., invoking a superior law of God in a way superseding the laws of nature for to teach some spiritual truth). But if God does not work in this world today through the means of the miraculous, then neither does satan for, if he did, that would leave Christians without a viable defense. However, the Bible teaches that God has made a way of escape from every temptation (I Cor. 10:13; II Tim. 3:16; James 4:7; Eph. 6:10-17).

Second, satan does not act immediately. By “immediately” I mean he does not act directly, without mediation or agency. To be even more precise, satan does not act directly upon the human heart. Again, this question can be settled by understanding how God operates on us as Christians and on the unbelieving world. God does not act directly upon the heart of the alien sinner or of the child of God. If He did, then individuals would cease to be free moral agents but would become puppets instead. The false doctrine of Calvinism teaches that God operates directly on the human heart and some chosen few are irresistibly saved, but the Bible nowhere teaches this. In fact, many passages like the Great Commission teach just the opposite (Matt. 28:18-20; cf., Gal. 5:4).

In fact, clear examples can be shown where God worked on the heart of the alien sinner through the agency of His word. In Acts 8, God did not work directly upon the heart of the Ethiopian Eunuch but rather through the agency of His revealed word. Philip began in Isaiah 53, and, using others scriptures, preached unto him Jesus (Acts 8:35). This was even during the time when miracles were available to first century Christians. It was only through the agency of God’s written and spoken word that he learned what he needed to do to be saved (Acts 8:35-39).

Even in the case of Cornelius and his household, even when God allowed him to miraculously speak in tongues before he was forgiven of his sins, he first had to send for Peter to have him tell him words whereby he would be saved (Acts 10:6; 11:14). In Acts 2, those present for the Pentecost feast likewise were “pricked in their heart” when they heard the words of scripture Peter quoted and correctly applied (Acts 2:37). If God does not act directly upon your heart, then neither does (or can) satan.

The truth is, even I can move you to do things through the agency of words. If I tell you I would like you to come over because I have freshly baked, chewy, chocolate chip cookies, if you have any desire for freshly baked, chewy, chocolate chip cookies, you might be tempted to come over. If I, with an angry tone in my voice, called you a stupid idiot and told you I despised you, I think I would be able to incite an emotional, if not a physical, response from you. On the other hand, if a man whispers in a woman’s ear, among other sweet enticements, that she was a desirable, gorgeous creature with unsurpassed beauty, he might well move her heart amorously. These actions would all be precipitated through ideas conveyed through words.

Ideas conveyed through the medium of words have great power. Just as a man can influence another man through words, God influences us through the agency of His revealed Word. And, by the way, we also influence God through our words in prayer (Phil. 4:6).

Therefore, satan works through words and the ideas these words convey, to move us to act upon our own lusts. James said, “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15). Notice that it is our own lusts that entice us. When satan tempted Eve, he did so through the medium of words (Gen. 3:1 – “and he said unto the woman…”) because she saw that the tree was good for food and a tree to be desired (Gen. 3:6).

Observe how this works in the following examples. Luke states that satan entered into Judas’ heart (Luke 22:3). How did he enter Judas’ heart? Directly and immediately? No. Judas was already a thief at heart (John 12:6). When he saw the precious ointment being used to anoint Jesus instead of being used to line his own pockets, he balked (John 12:1-5). But notice, when he finally realized his own transgression, Judas said “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matt. 27:1-5), indicating his own culpability. In the same way, Peter asked why satan had filled the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:3). But in verse 4 he asks why they, themselves, had conceived this thing in their own hearts.

How exactly satan initially prompts people, the Bible does not explicitly say. He used Peter’s fears to tempt Christ not to go to Jerusalem (Matt. 16:23). In His response, Jesus said Peter did not savor the things of God but the things of man. We also know that God works in this world through His divine providence (i.e., using natural laws to bring about His purposes) to aid us, otherwise there would be no efficacy in prayer (Matt. 7:7). The working of satan in this world could never be anything more than what God is doing.  The Bible says that angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will be the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). There is spiritual activity going on at a level we do not normally or naturally comprehend (Rev. 12; II Kings 6:16,17; etc.). As Christians, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12).  But one thing is clear: neither the Holy Spirit nor satan work directly upon the human heart.


(More on this issue later)
Eric L. Padgett

The Season for Fruit

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

When God created the world, He created it to bear fruit. The fruit tree was to bear fruit (Gen. 1:11) as were the animals God created to inhabit this world (Gen. 1:22). All this fruit was created by God so that man could benefit from them (Gen. 1:29). God also commanded man to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). After the Flood, the command to be fruitful was reissued to Noah and his descendants (Gen. 8:17).

A law that God established for the physical creation was that everything that produced fruit would reproduce only after its kind (Gen. 1:11). This law is seen in action everyday and is so well established that every tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:44). Orange trees produce oranges, apple trees produce only apples, pear trees produce only pear trees, etc. This is also seen in the animal kingdom. Squirrels produce only squirrels, dogs only dogs, cats only cats and monkeys only monkeys. This one fact, by the way, forever defeats the hypothesis of evolution!

These principles, these laws, that are seen so readily in the material world, are also seen in the spiritual world. Just as God created the material world to bear fruit, Christians are created to bear fruit unto God (Rom. 7:4). The Lord has chosen us that we should go forth and bear fruit (John 15:16). In fact, Jesus said if you do not bear fruit, God will take you away (John 15:2). As we go forth and bear much fruit, God is glorified and we show ourselves to be the disciples of Christ (John 15:8).

A good tree will not bring forth corrupt fruit and an evil tree will not bear good fruit (Luke 6:43). Remember, a tree will reproduce after its kind. Thus, a good tree, because it is the product of good seed, will not bear evil fruit. If the seed is bad, then the tree is bad. When the seed is the good seed of the word of God, the result cannot be bad when it is mixed with a good and honest heart (Luke 8:11). Good fruit is brought forth in the individual when that person hears the word of God, and with patience, and a good and honest heart, keeps that word (Luke 8:15).

What are some of the fruits Christians may bear? Some fruit may be financial support and, consequently, fellowship in reaching the lost. Paul described a “certain contribution” made by the brethren in Macedonian and Achaia to the poor saints at Jerusalem as “fruit” (Rom. 15:28; cf. Phil 4:16,17). Other fruit may be holiness and everlasting life (Rom. 6:22; cf. Prov. 11:30). Still other fruit would be qualities such as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23). Offering the “sacrifice of praise to God continually” is a fruit that we may bear (Heb. 13:15).

And the list could go on but the point is God promises us that if our delight is in the law of the Lord, if we meditate in it day and night, we shall be like a tree that is firmly planted by the river of waters, where we will receive a continuous source of spiritual nutrients (Psalm 1:1-3). We will then produce fruit because the things we think about will be those spiritual things revealed in the word of God. We abide in Him and He in us through the word (John 15:2-4). Christ abides in us as His word abides in us (John 15:4,7). Faithful Christians will produce only the fruit that the word of God demands (John 15:4,5). We will bear fruit after the nature of the seed. It’s the law!

Eric L. Padgett

The Holy Spirit and the Day Of Pentecost

A passage that is usually offered in support of the view that the Holy Spirit literally and personally dwells in the body of the Christian in a non-miraculous fashion is Acts 2:38: “Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The expression “and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” is said to constitute scriptural proof of the non-miraculous, personal and literal indwelling position. It is said that this passage proves that the Holy Spirit is given to those who are baptized for the remission of sins at the time of their baptism. But let us look at the context of this passage further.

Imagine, first of all, being a Jew in first century Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection. You would have as a knowledge base the Old Testament scriptures. The first thing you know of the Spirit of God is His work in creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13). You would also know of His inspiring the prophets (e.g., Num. 11:25,26,29, et. al) and men who wrote the Old Testament, such as David (II Sam. 23:2). You would know of His empowering men such as Sampson, whom the Spirit of the Lord began to move at times (Jud. 13:25). In short, you would know of the miraculous power conferred by the Spirit of God upon His people. Please investigate further the knowledge that first century Jews would have had of the Spirit’s work in their history through the Old Testament Scriptures. Also, they would have understood that the Spirit had not spoken by the prophets for 400 years!

Furthermore, being a Jew in first century Jerusalem you would no doubt have heard of the work of Jesus and His apostles. (This would have stood in stark contrast to the prophetic silence of four centuries.) You would know that, at the very least, He was reported to be a “doer of wonderful works.” You would have heard that it was reported that He had raised individuals from the dead. You may have even been among the great multitudes of people who were flocking to Him to be healed of some dreaded disease because His fame went abroad into all the land (Matt. 9:26; Luke 4:54; 5:15). Maybe you had even heard that He taught that His apostles would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak words they had not studied (Matt. 10:20). Perhaps you heard Him say that He cast out devils by the Spirit of God (Matt. 12:28). Possibly, if you had kept up on the news swirling about Jerusalem after Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, you would have heard it said that Jesus had miraculously risen from the dead by the power of the Spirit and appeared to His apostles and told them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and be endued with power not many days hence (Acts 1:4-8).

Moreover, if you were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost you would have heard of the commotion caused by the apostles of the Lord when they were astonishingly heard to be speaking in languages they had never studied (Acts 2:1-8).

Then, these apostles begin speaking and quoting the Old Testament prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:28-31).

After this Peter states unequivocally, “This is that.” “This” referred to their being able to speak in languages they had never studied and “that” was Joel’s prophecy that the Spirit would be “poured out.” The Spirit’s being “poured out” was initially fulfilled in the gift of speaking in unlearned foreign languages by the apostles. This was also the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the apostles would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and be endued with supernatural power (Acts 1:4-8). To be baptized in the Holy Spirit was to be endued with power from on high, according to Jesus!

Now, when Peter tells these Jews who were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost to “Repent and be baptized everyone of you for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (2:38), what do you suppose they would have immediately understood? Do you think they would have thought, “Ah! Peter is promising us the non-miraculous personal and literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit!”? Why, they had never even heard of such a thing! It was not in their experience.

What would they have thought, really? They would have thought that they would receive the same kind of power the apostles had received because they would have remembered Joel’s prophecy just quoted by Peter that their sons and daughters and young and old men would prophesy, dream dreams and see visions. Which, by the way, is what subsequently happened in New Testament history.

Rather than supporting a non-miraculous, personal and literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit’s person, a doctrine nowhere taught unequivocally in scripture, this passage teaches that the reception of the Holy Spirit was an outpouring of miraculous power by the Spirit upon the apostles. They needed this to be reminded of the words of Christ and to bring to their knowledge all truth He had not yet taught them (John 14:26; 16:13). They then were able to impart the Holy Spirit, i.e., pass these miraculous gifts to others, by and only by the imposition of hands (Acts 8:8) in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.

Acts 2:38 is a fulfillment of what Jesus said in Mark 16:15-18:”And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Acts 2:38 parallels Mark 16:15-18. In Mark 16:17 Jesus says that “these signs shall follow them that believe.” But He does not tell us how that would occur. The way some interpret Acts 2:38 they would have to reason that miraculous signs were given immediately at baptism. But we know that it was through the apostles laying their hands on an individual that this occurred (Acts 8:18).

Also, please notice this passage says nothing about the Holy Spirit inhabiting the physical body of the Christian. It says nothing about God’s Spirit literally or personally being in the body of the Christian. The passage says nothing about the Holy Spirit doing anything non-miraculously. So to offer this passage as proof that the Holy Spirit literally and personally inhabits the body of the Christian in a non-miraculous way is completely without warrant.

See also this entry.

Eric L. Padgett

The Fog Is Getting Thicker

On January 13, in the online publication Biblical Notes, Weylan Deaver published an article entitled, “The Fog is Lifting.” A better title for the article would be “The Fog Is Getting Thicker.” A long time ago, Biblical Notes was a sound paper, but now it is dedicated to defending the erroneous position of Mac Deaver, a once faithful gospel preacher but now a peddler of his false doctrine on the Holy Spirit.

There is so much error in the article, based on assumptions that are clearly false, that it would take much more space than I have here to deal with it all. There are also better men who are better qualified to deal with this error than I, and I am sure they will. But I feel compelled to make a few observations regarding it in the mean time.

First, on the one hand, brother Deaver tries to argue that the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is just a different way of saying that we are saved. He writes, “when we found different words used about the Holy Spirit’s connection to saved people, we completely missed the point…” He tries to argue that the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is an equivalent term for salvation just as there are different terms used to describe the church. He writes:

“We knew it was called the church, but also referred to as a kingdom. Nobody insisted that the church and kingdom must be separate entities. We knew that the church was called the body of Christ, but also his bride, and even God’s house. And no one claimed that the body must be something other than the bride, or that the body cannot be the church, or that God’s house cannot be his kingdom, etc. We all understood these various terms were descriptive of the same institution. The church was the kingdom and also the body and also the bride and also the house of God. They were all the same thing, despite different terminology. However, when we found different words used about the Holy Spirit’s connection to saved people, we completely missed the point…Our coherent approach to passages on the church became a muddled effort on passages about the Spirit.”

He clearly means to imply that since the church was described by different terms, then salvation can also be described by different terms. And surely it can be and is! “Remission of sins” is one expression for salvation just as being “in Christ” is another. Both of them refer to the same thing under different figures. But then he tries to say that the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” which he says is equivalent to “receiving the Spirit,” and other similar expressions, is an expression equal to expressions denoting salvation, including the references to water baptism.

But later in the same article he says “Peter calls on hearers to repent and be baptized so they can receive ‘the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” If they are the same thing, then how can one come before the other? He writes of Cornelius in Acts 10, “In his case, the Spirit baptism preceded the water baptism…” How can that be if “they were all the same thing, despite different terminology” as he claims? If he is not equating “baptism of the Holy Spirit” with water baptism, then what was the point of his comparison with terms denoting the church?

But the truth is the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only promised to the apostles (Acts 1:1-4). He would guide the apostles into all truth and bring to their remembrance the things the Lord had taught them (John 14:26; 16:13). Receiving the miraculous power from the Spirit (Acts 1:8), the apostles could then pass those powers to others through laying their hands on them (Acts 8:18). The Deavers cannot do this, were never promised the Spirit, were not in Jerusalem when the Spirit was given and never had an apostle to lay their hands on them to receive the gift of the Spirit.

A second point. He makes much of the supplied words “unto Him” in John 3:34. He says we in the church have been teaching that God gives the Spirit by measure when the Text says that God does not give the Spirit by measure. He writes, “There is no ‘baptismal measure.’ There is no ‘laying on of hands measure.’ There is no ‘ordinary measure.’ There are no measures.”

First, his view goes against the views of the commentators. Gill wrote, “Still meaning Christ,..For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him, as he did to the prophets of the Old Testament, and to the apostles of the New; and to the ordinary ministers of the word, who have gifts differing one from another; to one is given one gift of the Spirit; and to another, another gift, as the Spirit pleaseth; and to everyone is given grace, or gifts of grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Ephesians 4:7.”

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary states, “Here, again, the sharpest conceivable line of distinction is drawn between Christ and all human-inspired teachers: ‘They have the Spirit in a limited degree; but God giveth not [to Him] the Spirit by measure.'”

Matthew Henry wrote, “John knew that Jesus came from heaven as the Son of God, while he was a sinful, mortal man, who could only speak about the more plain subjects of religion. The words of Jesus were the words of God; he had the Spirit, not by measure, as the prophets, but in all fulness.”

Brother Coffman wrote, “Christian disciples receive merely “an earnest” of the Holy Spirit, and not even the apostles possessed the Spirit in the total sense that Jesus did.”

Barnes: “The prophets were inspired on particular occasions to deliver special messages. The Messiah was continually filled with the Spirit of God.”

Robertson’s Word Pictures: “That is God has put no limit to the Spirit’s relation to the Son. God has given the Holy Spirit in his fulness to Christ and to no one else in that sense.”

Furthermore, the context makes it clear that John is speaking of Christ. John said that Christ came down from heaven and is above all (John 3:31). What Christ saw and heard is what He testified (John 3:32). Verse 34 speaks of Him who God hath sent, which is Jesus. And the reason that He speaks the word of God is because God does not give the Spirit by measure to Him. It makes no sense, contextually or otherwise, to say that this applies to all. We do not speak with the same authority the Son does. Finally, verse 35 says that God has given all things into His hand. This He has not done to any other human being.

It is sad to see the Deavers descend into this kind of error. I had great respect for brother Roy Deaver, and once had respect for Mac Deaver. But his torturous defense of his error is embarrassing. I pray that the fog will one day soon lift from his eyes.

Eric L. Padgett

Through a Glass Darkly

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (I Cor. 13:12)

teen-mirror-110127-02Some passages of scripture are more often misinterpreted than others. I Cor. 13:12 must surely fall into this category. Many interpret this passage to mean that we cannot understand all the abstruseness of this life, that all is an unknowable mystery to us in this present state and that it will only become clear to us in some future aeon after we have crossed through the veil. For instance, John Gill states in his commentary that the word “now” is referring to “in this life” and the word “then” refers to “in the other world or state.” But such an interpretation does an injustice to the Text.

The passage in question occurs in the context of the duration and utility of miraculous gifts. Paul began the chapter with the observation that miraculous gifts, without the guiding principle of charity, are nothing and profits nothing (vv. 1-3). In the previous chapter the apostle illustrated how that there were various gifts given by the Spirit, but that there is but one Spirit of God (12:1-31). In the succeeding chapter the apostle described the divine etiquette of the miraculous gifts in the first century church (14:1-40). This passage, then, is sandwiched between two descriptions of the miraculous.

The more immediate context concerns not only the miraculous but specifically contrasts the abiding nature of faith, hope and love with the temporary nature of the miraculous gifts (13:8-13). Tongues, prophecy and knowledge will cease (V. 8) but faith, hope and charity will continue (V. 13). The miracles were a constant source of conflict and jealousies; what was needed was love. Paul described tongues, prophecy, and knowledge as mere parts of the whole (“perfect’). The word “perfect” is the Greek “telos” and means “completeness.” The “complete” or “perfect” is contrasted with the “parts.” The parts are identified as tongues, prophecy and knowledge, all miraculous gifts given to reveal and confirm the word of God (Mark 16:20; John 13:16; 14:26; 20:30,31; Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:1-4). When the word of God was completely revealed and that word confirmed, then there was no longer any need for the miraculous.

Paul then gives two examples illustrating the provisional nature of the miraculous. The first is of a child turning into a man. As a child, he spoke, understood and thought as a child, but when he became a man, he put away those childish things. Because he was demonstrating the point previously made, he associated miracles with childish things, proper in their own time and order, but to be put away when maturity–in this case, completed revelation–was reached.

The second illustration given is our text. It is but another illustration of the point already made, i.e., miraculous gifts were temporary. Seeing through a glass darkly, then, is the equivalent to using childish things. Seeing face to face is equivalent to being mature. This maturity was identified previously with completed revelation. Therefore, seeing face to face is equivalent to completed revelation.

What this text is saying, then, is this: We see now (during the early part of the first century, during the age of the miraculous) through a glass darkly (because we do not yet have all that God wants revealed) but then (when revelation shall be completed) we shall see face to face (because we have the completed revelation, all things that pertain to life and godliness – II Pet. 1:3). Now (during the early part of the first century, during the age of the miraculous) we know in part (because we do not yet have all that God wants revealed) but then (when revelation shall be completed) shall I know (because we have all things that pertain to life and godliness – II Pet. 1:3) even as also I am known (i.e., I can know myself as God sees me and wants me to be).

James also portrays looking into the word of God as looking into a mirror. “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:23-25). God’s word is a mirror that reflects both what God wants us to be and what we are. Now that we have all things that pertain to life and godliness (II Pet. 1:3), we no longer need miracles, which belonged to an age of immaturity, to an age in which we had incomplete knowledge. That is no longer is our state!

The time in which we see face to face and in which we know as we are known is now! It is not in some future state beyond this earthly realm, but in the Christian dispensation! We have God’s revealed will which lightens our life (I John 1:7). We now have God’s complete word-revelation to man and “hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (I John 2:3).

Eric L. Padgett

Was the Household of Cornelius Baptized in the Holy Spirit?

While it is not a matter that has immediate soteriological implications, the question of whether or not the household of Cornelius received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is important. What we understand about it affects other doctrines which we may believe, if we are logically consistent. Just as the doctrine of the literal, personal indwelling may not alone affect one’s salvation, often it is the gateway which leads to other errors about the Holy Spirit which do affect one’s salvation. Thus it is with Cornelius and Holy Spirit baptism. This author holds to the view that Cornelius and his household were not baptized in the Holy Spirit and the following sets forth the reasons why this view is held.

First, and most importantly, the promise of Holy Spirit baptism was given to the apostles alone. In John 14:26 Jesus promised “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26 ). Again, in the same setting, Jesus promised “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13). This promise was given when Jesus was alone with the Twelve (Matt. 26:20).

Luke records that when Jesus had been raised from the dead he appeared to the apostles, i.e., Twelve, and showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs (Acts 1:2,3). It was then that He again promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit to them. “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5). Notice that He said the apostles had heard this from Him, referring back to the promise contained in John 14:26 and 16:13. These were promises of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and these promises were given only to the apostles. Furthermore, when we follow the pronouns in the first and second chapter of Acts, we find that they refer back to the apostles of verse two. Only they had the Spirit empower them through this baptism (Acts 2:1-4, 14).

Notice also that the promise was to be fulfilled “not many days hence” in Jerusalem, not a decade later at the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. If it was not fulfilled on the day of Pentecost then Peter was mistaken when he said “this is that” (Acts 2:17). According to some, he should have said “this is only partly that” which was spoken by the prophet Joel. Again, if it was not fulfilled in Jerusalem, then Jesus was mistaken.

What seems so inconsistent to this author is that many writers will make the point made above but will come back when dealing with Cornelius and say that he and his household also received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If the Lord’s promise was only to the apostles, then why should we try to expand that promise to others? The baptism of the Holy Spirit was promised only to the apostles, never to anyone else. We should not be more generous than the Lord.

But because the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit, this meant that others would also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, i.e., miraculous endowments, in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32). Peter said that the apostles’ receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of that prophecy (Acts 2:17). But the prophecy mentions “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” and servants and handmaidens would “prophesy” (Acts 2:17,18). When did this occur? Only when the apostles had laid their hands upon others did this occur (Acts 8:18). They received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) when the apostles conferred upon them this ability and not until then. But the baptism of the apostles in the Holy Spirit (i.e., being endued with power from on high – Acts 1:8) was necessary for this to happen.

Second, the household of Cornelius did not receive the same abilities that the baptism of the Holy Spirit provided the apostles. The apostles were endowed with the power to remember everything that Jesus had taught them and were guided into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13). They also had the power to impart spiritual gifts to others through laying their hands on them (Acts 8:18). They were also given the power to act as ambassadors, beseeching the world to be reconciled to God (II Cor. 5:19,20). They had the power to bind on earth those things already bound in heaven (Matt. 16:18,19). The apostles had the power to come with the rod of correction (II Cor. 13:1-3, 10; cf. Acts 13:9-11). There were miraculous signs associated with being apostles given by the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Cornelius and his household never received (II Cor. 12:12). Furthermore, the household of Cornelius did not receive cloven tongues like as of fire that sat upon each of them, nor was there the sound of a rushing mighty wind, as had happened at Pentecost with the apostles (Acts 2:1-4). Even if you could prove that what the household of Cornelius received was a baptism in the sense of being immersed, they still did not receive that which the apostles received.

Even those who argue that Cornelius and his household received the baptism of the Holy Spirit will admit that what they received did not make them the same as apostles.

Some have argued that just as Christians had different gifts, Cornelius and his household had different gifts than the apostles through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But the analogy fails when we realize that the apostles all had the same power. One apostle did not have more inspiration than another. One did not have less authority than another. Holy Spirit baptism did not produce different effects on different people any more than water baptism produces different effects on different people.

Third, what Cornelius and his household received was never referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was specifically referred to as the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:45; 11:17). This is what was promised in Acts 2:38 and was not the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What drew Peter’s thoughts back to Pentecost was the fact that there was no laying on of hands of the apostles here to empower, as had been the case since the day of Pentecost onward. Those who received the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Acts 2:38 received it from the apostles laying their hands upon them and in no other way (Acts 8:18). The events at Cornelius’ home were the exception to that, proving that the Gentiles were also subjects of redemption through Christ. But the uniqueness of the event is no proof that it was Holy Spirit baptism any more than the fact that they received these gifts before they were Christians proved they were saved before baptism. The purpose was to show that God had granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life (Acts 11:18). The Holy Spirit did not refer to it as Holy Spirit baptism so why should we?

Also, why would anyone think that the Gentiles had to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit to prove that they, too, were the subjects of God’s grace through Christ? Since only the apostles were promised and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and not the Jews in general, why would we think the Gentiles needed to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? God did not pick Gentile apostles to take the gospel to the Gentiles, he chose a Jew, Paul (Gal. 2:8). Wouldn’t receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, i.e., miraculous gifts (Acts 2:38), be just as much a sign that the Gentiles were also accepted? If not, why not?

Furthermore, Cornelius was probably a wealthy Gentile. His household may have been considerable, including family and servants. Why would the Lord baptize all these, i. e., his household, in the Holy Spirit but be selective with his own Jewish disciples?

Finally, Peter says it was “a like gift” (Acts 11:17). The word “like” here is the word “isen” meaning “equal,” according to Vine. The Analytical Greek Lexicon defines it as “equal, like.” Bauer, Ardnt and Gingrinch also say that the word means “equal.” Thayer says the word means “equal,” though he does translate it “same” in Acts 11:17. How much of this translation is influenced by his theological bias we’ll never know. But being “like” something and two or more things being “the same” are two different concepts entirely. There is another word in the Greek New Testament that could have been used if Luke, who was an educated man, wanted to indicate that these two demonstrations of power were the “same.”

The Greek word “autos” is often translated “same.” For instance, Jesus Christ is the same (autos) yesterday, today, and for ever (Heb. 13:8). The very John that was in the wilderness of Judea preaching was the same (autos) John spoken of by Isaiah and who also had a coat made of camel’s hair (Matt. 3:1-4). What country did the shepherds abide in? The same (autos) country of Judea where Joseph and Mary were (Luke 2:4-8). Paul wrote “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord” (I Cor. 12:4,5). Is there a difference between the “same” (autos) Lord and an “equal” (isos) Lord? If you can see the difference here then you can see the difference between the “like gift” and the “same gift.”

To call what Cornelius and his household received the same as Holy Spirit baptism is to call it something that Peter never called it, that Luke never called it, and that the Holy Spirit Himself never called it. What Cornelius received was equal to what happened on Pentecost in that there was 1) no laying on of the apostle’s hands, which had happened in every case where miraculous power was imparted to an individual since Pentecost onward (except for the apostles, including Paul), and 2) they spoke with tongues, but it was not the same thing. It was not Holy Spirit baptism. If it was, then they would have had what the apostles had and could have done what the apostles could do, just as Paul could do what the other apostles could do and had what the other apostles had. He was not behind the “chiefest” apostles in anything (II Cor. 11:5; 12:11).

Let us call Bible things by Bible names and simply call it what Luke, Peter and the Holy Spirit called it: the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45; 11:17).

Eric L. Padgett

Some Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

Can you imagine being in the first century on the day of Pentecost?  You probably have either seen or heard of Jesus of Nazareth, a man who performed great miracles–healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, even raising the dead.  You have either seen or know of His followers, the apostles, who have performed similar fantastic feats.  Then, on the day of Pentecost, these same apostles begin speaking in languages they had not learned and everyone there is able to be spoken to in their own native tongue.  These apostles stand up and preach that what everyone there is seeing is in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that the Spirit would be poured out (a metaphorical expression signifying the obvious influence of the Holy Spirit on others), resulting in prophecy, etc.  In what sense, then would you take it, when Peter says that you, too, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?  Would you or any other person think, given these circumstances, that Peter meant a non-miraculous, literal, personal indwelling?  I cannot see it.
The Spirit came in the first century to reveal the word and then confirm it (John 14:26; 16:13; Mark 16:15-18; John 20:30,31; Heb. 2:1-4).  That word, being inspired by the Spirit (II Tim. 3:6,17; II Pet. 1:19-21), is sufficient to guide us in all things pertaining to life and godliness (II Pet. 1:2-4).  We do not now need the Holy Spirit to guide us, except as He does it through His perfect Revelation (Eph. 6:17; Rom. 12:1,2; James 1:22-25).
Except for the apostles receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5-8), the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of hands of an apostle in the first century (Acts 8:16-18).  This is the context that must govern how we understand the Holy Spirit passages. 
Given the proclivity of spiritual gifts in the Corinthian church, where “every one” had a psalm and “every one” had a doctrine, a tongue, a revelation, and an interpretation (I Cor. 14:26), can you imagine that a brother in Corinth would think first of all about a non-miraculous, personal, literal indwelling when Paul said “your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which ye have of God” I Cor. 6:19)?  Would they not think of the power the Holy Spirit had given them?  I think so. My own, personal view is that the Holy Spirit has never literally or personally indwelt anyone.  The expression that the Holy Spirit is “in” the Christian is to be taken in the same sense that we are said to be in Christ (e.g., Rom. 8:9).
In Acts 5, the context is clearly miraculous.  Ananias and Saphira were miraculously struck down by God for their lie and great fear came upon as many as heard these things because of it (Acts 5:1-11).   “By the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people” (Acts 5:12) insomuch that the “people magnified them” (5:13) and “they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them” (Acts 5:15).    Hearing of these miraculous events, multitudes “out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem” brought “sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:16).  The apostles, being thrown into prison for working these things and preaching in the name of Jesus, were miraculously set free.  It is in answer to these persecutors the apostles say that we ought to obey God rather than men and “and we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).  I find it difficult to fathom that, as a proof that the Holy Spirit was a witness to Jesus being the resurrected Christ (Acts 5:30,31), the apostles would offer up a non-miraculous, personal, literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit when they could so easily point to all the miraculous activity the Holy Spirit had engaged in right before their eyes.  Would this non-miraculous, literal indwelling be more proof than all the profound miracles He had performed for them?  I cannot see it.  That is why I think Acts 5:32 points to the miraculous.
I could go on, but my view is simply that the Holy Spirit was given to reveal the Truth and confirm it.  That word is still true today and just as powerful now as then.  The Holy Spirit has never indwelt any human being literally, for then they would become God in the flesh, God incarnate, just as Christ was.  The character of all three persons of the Godhead indwell me as long as I follow their teaching, revealed by the Holy Spirit Himself to God’s ambassadors to men.
The references to the Holy Spirit being in a person are figures of speech, just as when Jesus said “drink the cup.”  We do not drink the literal cup, we drink it’s contents.  When the apostles were told that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) Jesus clarified what that meant when He said the apostles would “receive power” after that the Holy Ghost came upon them (Acts 1:8).  The Holy Spirit never literally indwelt anyone but He did give people power.
Today, the Holy Spirit does not give these gifts or powers (I Cor. 13:8-13), but we still have His word which is powerful (Rom. 1:16,17).  When we apply these teachings to our lives we are transformed because we now can know ourselves just as God knows us by looking into that mirror of God’s word (I Cor. 13:12). 
Eric L. Padgett