> 1 Acts 2:38 mentions a promise of receiving the gift of the Holy
What would you say to a person who said the gift of the Holy Spirit was
simply the Holy Spirit itself but not anything miraculous involved, or that
it referred to salvation that every obedient believer receives.<
As to what I would say to one who believes the gift of the Holy Spirit was
simply the Holy Spirit himself but without miraculous involvement, I would
1. If you mean to say that as a result of conversion one has fellowship
with the Spirit of God, I agree (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Jno. 3:24).
2. The matter is not whether we have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, but
_how_ he dwells with the Christian. (See my study material on this at:
3. What does the Holy Spirit do as this non-miraculous gift which He does
not already accomplish by means of the word of the truth of the gospel which
He revealed, confirmed and inspired? (cf. Jno. 16:8-11).
I understand "gift of the Holy Spirit" in Acts 2:38 to mean 'the gift which
the Spirit gives' and is parallel to Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore, and
turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come
seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord."
Compare Acts 2:38 and 3:19: You have the same preacher, the same kind of
audience, the same need of the audience, the same message preached, the same
solution to sin announced, and the same blessings to be obtained. 2:38
commands to "repent and be baptized;" 3:19 commands to "repent and be
converted." 2:38 says the result is "remission of sins and the gift of the
Holy Spirit;" 3:19 says the result is that your "sins may be blotted out, so
there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." The
gift of the Spirit is the refreshment of salvation and all that implies
(every spiritual blessing in Christ, including fellowship with the Spirit of
God, Eph. 1:3; 1 Jno. 3:24).
The Spirit of God, via revelation, made a promise of salvation which is
accomplished in the gospel of Christ. Galatians 3:14 uses the phrases "the
blessing of Abraham" and "the promise of the Holy Spirit" interchangeably.
The blessing of salvation is described as the promise of Holy Spirit -- not
personal, actual indwelling nor miraculous intervention.
>> 2 How can Acts 8:14-17 refer to the Holy Spirit in a miraculous since
when there is no record of anything miraculous done by the Samaritans after
reception of the Spirit.<<
Acts 8:14-17 refers to both a non-miraculous and a miraculous reception of
the Holy Spirit. Verse 16 says the Samaritans had been baptized "in the
name of the Lord Jesus". Therefore, they had indeed received both "the
remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). But,
although they had "received the word of God" (8:14) and its attendant
blessings, they had not received any miraculous manifestations of the Holy
Spirit -- "as yet He had fallen upon none of them" (8:16). "They had only
been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (8:16; cf. Acts 2:38).
Please note that it was necessary for the apostles Peter and John to go to
Samaria to impart the Holy Spirit in whatever sense He was not yet present
in the lives of the Samaritan Christians. They had been baptized, therefore
we conclude they were saved and had received the "gift of the Holy Spirit"
as per Acts 2:38. But, they had not received any miraculous gifts of the
Spirit (8:16). That required the presence of apostles to obtain, so Peter
and John were sent to them (8:14, 17).
Although it is not stated, the necessary conclusion of the text is that
fellowship with the Holy Spirit is "received" by everyone upon obeying Acts
2:38, but it required apostolic laying on of hands to impart the miraculous
gifts of the Spirit. See Acts 19:5-6 for another example of people being
baptized -- saved -- then receiving miraculous gifts through the apostle
laying hands upon them and granting them miraculous gifts of the Spirit.
We must constantly remember that "gift of the Holy Spirit" can be applied to
both a miraculous as well as a non-miraculous occurrence, depending upon the
context of its usage.
>> 3 Since the apostles had already received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost,
what was the meaning of the filling with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:31? Was
this limited to the apostles? If so, how do we establish that?<<
There is a miraculous manifestation of divine approval of the Christians and
their faith in Acts 4:31. All of them are being submissive to the rule of
the Spirit in their lives by obeying the gospel He was revealing. The
apostles are emboldened by this specific incident of the Spirit's miraculous
presence to boldly preach the word of God. There is no conflict between
4:31 and Acts 2:1-4. At the same time we should be careful not to read more
into the passage than is there. Nothing is said of all the saints obtaining
miraculous powers in Acts 4:31. We should leave it at that.
>> 4 How do you answer those who use John 7:37-39 to affirm that the baptism
of the Holy Spirit is for everyone. Also, what would you say to a person who
said that John stated that more than the Apostles would receive the Baptism
of the Holy Spirit because more than the Apostle were present when John made
his statement? What would you say to those who say that John promised the
baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. Thus they reason that all there at the
time either would receive at least one. Then they criticize us for adopting
a position that says that there were some who will receive neither.<<
First, I would say that John 7:37-39 does not say "baptism of the Holy
Spirit". It says that the Holy Spirit would be given to believers. We will
have to go to other passages to determine _how_ that occurs.
Holy Spirit baptism was a promise Jesus made to His apostles, not a
commandment (or promise) to all believers - Jno. 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:13; Lk.
24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8. If all believers receive the baptism of the Holy
Spirit, according to these passages, we would have perfect memory of the
life of Christ and of His word. We wouldn't need to study the Bible. We
would all be prophets!
John's prediction was about the work of Jesus: "He will baptize you with
the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt. 3:11). The "fire" of Matt. 3:11 is the
fire of condemnation due to sin (cf. vs. 10, 12) - it does not have anything
to do with Holy Spirit baptism. I do not want that baptism!! As for the
prediction of Holy Spirit baptism, Jesus made application of the phrase in
Acts 1:4-5 when he applied it to His apostles to whom He was speaking
(1:2-3). It occurred on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4, 33.
Their criticism is thus invalid. Jesus punished the Jewish nation with
condemnation for rejecting Messiah (cf. Matt. 23:38-24:35), and He baptized
His apostles with the Holy Spirit to empower them to be His witnesses to the
world. Everyone can benefit from the Holy Spirit baptism of the apostles,
for it resulted in revealing to the world God's power to save, the gospel.
I hope this is of some help to you as you continue to study God's word.
Sincerely in Christ,
Joe R Price
Mt. Baker church of Christ