Your Bible question was:
> What does it mean when it says that Paul would be filled with the Holy
The expression, "filled with the Holy Spirit" is used contextually in the NT
to describe both miraculous and non-miraculous circumstances. For a
miraculous application, see Acts 2:4. When the apostles were baptized with
the Holy Spirit it is said that "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
This expression is can also be used to describe one who never worked a
miracle. Of John the Baptist it was said that he would be "filled with the
Holy Spirit" from his mother's womb (Lk. 1:15, 41). Yet, John 10:41 affirms
that John did not work any miracles. (Please note Luke 1:67 where John's
father Zacharias was "filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied" -- a
So, from this brief comparison we can conclude that to be "filled with the
Holy Spirit", whether miraculously or non-miraculously, describes one who is
under the influence or control of the Holy Spirit. When applied in a
non-miraculous context, one's willing submission to the influence and
control of the Holy Spirit is thus described. (For instance, Christians are
commanded to be "filled with the Spirit," Eph. 5:18. Surely this means to
live under the directives and influence of the Spirit in one's life (Gal.
5:16-26). That is, Christians are to live by the word of truth which the
Holy Spirit revealed through the apostles of Christ (Jno. 16:8-13). In a
thought parallel to Ephesians 5:18, Colossians 3:16 teaches us to let the
word of Christ dwell in us richly. So, as we bear the fruit of the Spirit
we are under His influence and control.
Now, concerning Acts 9:17 and Saul of Tarsus. We cannot ascertain with
certainty, merely from the phrase which is used ("filled with the Holy
Spirit"), which application is under view here (whether miraculous or
non-miraculous). But, by considering the purpose and intent of the Giver
(the Spirit) we can reach a conclusion. Given the context of Saul's
conversion and appointment by Christ as an apostle (cf. Acts 9:6, 15-16;
22:13-15), we can conclude that Acts 9:17 refers to Paul's miraculous
reception of the Holy Spirit (as had been previously received by the other
apostles, Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4). When Paul was baptized into Christ he was
given the powers granted the apostles by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor.
Of course, upon Paul's conversion he lived the remainder of his life in
submission to the gospel which the Spirit was revealing through him and the
other apostles. Hence, it can rightly be said that Paul was "filled with
the Spirit" just like present-day Christians should be - under His control
by obeying the gospel He revealed (Eph. 5:18).
I hope this is of some help to you as you continue to study God's word.
Joe R Price
Mt. Baker church of Christ