Pentecost and Role of Holy Spirit Pre/Post

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            The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts is one of the most significant events in history.  It was more than just the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy[1] and it did so much more than just provide the disciples with what Jesus had promised would come after His ascension to heaven.[2] Through an understanding of the triune nature of God establishes that all parts are equal, infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. This conclusion means God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have existed everywhere since the beginning of time itself. What have changed, over the course of the metanarrative, are their roles and functions in the redemptive plan.

            The primary goal of this project is first to answer exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost, and to clarify whether this event marked the beginning of the Church Age. This will be accomplished by contrasting Old Testament Pentecost practices versus what took place in the New Testament Pentecost account. In addition, a clear biblical exegesis of the Acts account will be conducted demonstrating the new role of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, this research paper will systematically look at the Holy Spirit’s role throughout the canon of scripture, by contrasting what role the Holy Spirit played in the Old and New Testaments, compared to what role the Holy Spirit plays in a modern-day context and application. Lastly, this paper will look at the Apostle Paul, and examine how the Holy Spirit impacted his life, from his conversion experience, to his supernatural encounters, and lastly the divine inspiration the Holy Spirit imparted on him, which are found in his letters. From Paul, much can be learned about the Holy Spirit, so understanding how the Holy Spirit impacted his life-story is pertinent in showing how the coming of the Spirit not only inaugurated the Church Age, but also established what role the Holy Spirit plays today.

Origin of the Holy Spirit

Creation Account

            The earliest mention of the Holy Spirit occurs in the creation account: “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”[3]  Scholars have debated the translation of this passage, but Philo, the first century philosopher from Alexandria and Victor Hamilton provide the clearest picture demonstrating how, “God caused a wind rûaḥ to blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. [Here,]‘Breath of God’ or ‘Breath of Life seems most natural for rûaḥ.”[4] This same wording is used to describe and symbolize the Spirit of God in the coming of the Holy Spirit, during Pentecost, in the Acts account.

Roles of the Holy Spirit

            Anytime the role of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in scripture, there are four primary purposes: regeneration, indwelling, the control and conviction over sin, and the empowerment for service. F. F. Bruce highlights:

 The Old Testament prophets foretold a coming age, which would be marked in a special way by the activity of the Spirit of God. Two strands of this expectation are especially important. In one, the activity of the Spirit is associated with a coming figure – variously depicted as the ideal ruler of David’s line and the humble and self-sacrificing Servant of the Lord, who would be anointed with the Spirit in order to discharge a ministry of mercy and judgment for Israel and the nations. In the second, the promise is given that in the days to come, the same Spirit will be poured out on ‘all flesh,’ so that the gift of prophetic utterance will no longer be confined to a chosen few, but will be widespread.[5] [6]

Regeneration

            The Holy Spirit’s role in regeneration can also be interpreted as rebirth and the classic example is found in the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus: “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[7]  Bruce explains, “Even if earlier He had impressed on Nicodemus the necessity of the new birth ‘of water and the Spirit,’ this new birth, with the eternal life to which it was the gateway, could not be experienced until the Son of Man had been ‘lifted up’[8] Luke, makes it clear that John the Baptist’s prediction was ultimately fulfilled at Pentecost. Leon Morris further explains, “Being born “of water” may point to natural birth, which must then be followed by being born ‘of the Spirit,’ that is spiritual regeneration. Or better, we may take ‘water’ and ‘Spirit’ closely together to give a meaning like ‘spiritual seed.’”[9]

Indwelling

           The indwelling of the Spirit in the Old Testament was vastly different than the New Testament encounters. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, judges, and kings would receive the infilling of the Spirit for specific tasks and once the task was completed, the Spirit would depart. Joshua,[10] David,[11] and Saul[12] were all anointed by God and received the Spirit and the indwelling was a representation of God’s favor and if God’s favor left, the Spirit would also leave.[13] Bruce explains, “Jesus alone had received the Spirit of the new age. John the Baptist indeed had been filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb,[14] but that was the Spirit of prophecy. When John baptized Jesus in water, God simultaneously baptized Him with the Spirit: It was then ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with Power.’”[15][16]  God filled Jesus with the Spirit at His baptism, which demonstrates up to that point, the Holy Spirit was not yet in Him. Interestingly, after this encounter, the first narrated episode of Jesus’ public ministry takes place in His hometown of Nazareth. This sets the precedent that the Holy Spirit plays a major role in the equipping and empowering of ministry. It is also here that Jesus unrolls the scroll of Isaiah and proclaims, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[17]

Control Over and Conviction of Sin

            The Holy Spirit’s third function is vital in both resisting the temptation to sin and also the conviction of sin, once it has been committed. God is holy and righteous and man is prideful and deceitful, so the Holy Spirit’s role in keeping followers of Christ righteous through their faith in Christ is paramount. Genesis 6:3 establishes that God’s holiness stands in direct opposition to sin and given enough sinfulness, His Spirit can leave. Hamilton illustrates, “The withdrawn Spirit of 6:3 calls to mind the hovering Spirit of 1:2. Where it hovers there is order, and chaos is restrained. Where it is withdrawn, chaos flourishes unchecked.”[18] This role of the Holy Spirit will be crucial during the end-times when the man of lawlessness is revealed and a growing apostasy exists.[19] After Pentecost in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit would be available to Jew and Gentile alike to convict, regenerate, indwell, and empower anyone who would accept Christ as their Savior.

Empowerment for a Specific Task

           Steven Studebaker argues, “Only in the Holy Spirit does the triune nature of God find fullness of fellowship as the Spirit plays a liminal, constitutional, and consummative role within the Trinity.”[20] The significant difference between the role the Holy Spirit played in the Old Testament versus after Pentecost was after the Spirit was poured out on those gathered in Jerusalem, now when a believer was filled with the Spirit, he or she received the permanent indwelling of the Spirit and became a new creation.[21] In the Old Testament, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was only temporary and was used to accomplish a specific task, like leading the Israelites. However, the indwelling after Pentecost represented a time where the Holy Spirit would take up permanent residence inside the believer’s heart, fulfilling the prophecy.[22] J. A. Thompson illustrates how, “Yahweh Himself proposes to bring about the necessary change in the people’s inner nature, which will make them capable of obedience. He will set his law (tôrâ) within them and write it on their hearts, that is, on their minds and wills.”[23]

Outpouring of Holy Spirit

            Bruce provides one of the clearest pictures of what happened on Pentecost: “In the upper room, the Spirit brought to the disciples minds all the teachings of Jesus, showing them truth and what was to come. The Spirit then enabled them to bear witness and proclaim the gospel with conviction, while also performing signs and wonders in the name of Jesus.”[24] In addition, as John Wesley points out, there were 120 in attendance, which is significant because it points back to the original dedication of the Temple, built by King Solomon.[25] In the Temple, there were 120 priests performing the required rituals of purification, leading the people, and praising God. As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifice. This parallels the Acts 2 account as they too were waiting for God’s presence to come and once again fire would come down, representing the divine presence of God, going back to the Moses and the burning bush.[26] Wesley further illustrates:

 At the Pentecost of Sinai, in the Old Testament, and the Pentecost of Jerusalem, in the New Testament, where the two grand manifestations of God, the legal and the evangelical; the one from the mountain, and the other from heaven; the terrible, and the merciful one. They were all with one accord in one place – So here was a conjunction of company, minds, and place; the whole hundred and twenty being present.[27]

Acts Account of Pentecost

           Arguably, the most significant event in church history and the beginning of the Church Age, Pentecost plays a huge part in Christianity. It would forever change the face of Christianity as Johannes van Oort explains how, “The authors of the New Testament speak of the all-encompassing work of the Spirit in both the world and mankind, as well as the inhabitation of the Spirit within Christian believers, the gifts of the Spirit and baptism, the specific guidance of the Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit.”[28] However, despite the detailed Acts account and all the other references and occurrences in the canon of scripture, there is still much debate as to what really happened on that day and what is applicable to the church today. What cannot be contested is the Spirit’s main purpose was to equip and supernaturally empower them to proclaim the gospel.

            Oort poses the question, “Should [the outpouring of the Spirit] and other special charismata be regarded as a peculiar privilege of the apostolic and primitive church?” Oort then shows, “In past centuries, the gift of special charismata was often considered to be appropriate only for the very first time of diffusion of the gospel, that several church fathers did not accept this view, [and] ages later, during the Protestant Reformation, such a view was also not the common opinion.”  Oort is correct in asserting, “There is no denying the universal emergence of charismatic movements brought with it a new consciousness of the biblical charismata and their significance to the contemporary Church.” However, Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit set in motion the Church Age and empowered the body of Christ of fulfill the work Jesus had started.

Old Testament Pentecost

            Pentecost is the Greek word for fiftieth and is associated with the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. This religious holiday began in the Old Testament and was originally a festival that expressed thanks to God for the blessing of their harvest.[29] The celebration has deep Jewish roots and is also associated with the Torah and the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. There are a great number of parallels between the Word of God being given to the Israelites at Shavuot and the outpouring of the Spirit during the Pentecost account in Acts 2. It was only after Moses had come down from the mountain and the Jews had accepted the Law that they truly became servants of God. Similarly, it was only after the disciples and new converts had received the outpouring of the Spirit that they truly became witnesses of Jesus Christ. In both cases, it has been said, “The Jews celebrated a joyous harvest on Shavuot, and the church celebrated a harvest of newborn souls on Pentecost.”[30] When God would speak through Moses to the Israelites, it is interesting to note he had to wear a veil so as to not blind them with glory of the Lord.[31] This glory would fade over time in the Old Covenant, but in the New Covenant, as Paul Barnett shows:

Paul continues to contrast the old covenant with the new, based on his Midrash of Exodus 34:29-35. He turns now to the people of the old covenant, with whom he will compare the people of the new covenant… The “hope,” which is of the “glory that remains” makes Paul “very bold.” This “boldness,” or, more probably, “openness,” is opposed to the “veiled”ness that was interposed between “Moses”—symbolizing the old covenant—and the people of Israel, which prevented them from seeing the “end” of the “glory, which had been abolished.” “But” —in contrast with Paul’s and others’ “opened”ness and consonant with Israel’s “veiled”ness over their hardened minds—the same veil remains unlifted at “the reading of the old covenant”; only in Christ is the veil abolished.[32]

          Daniel Block also illustrates in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones something very similar to the creation account. Once again, rûaḥ is used to represent the winds or divine breath that blows in every corner of the earth, giving life to all creatures.  Block further explains:

Here Yahweh, the sovereign of the universe, is summoning the winds from around the world to direct their life-giving energy to these corpses lying in the valley. In John 20:22, the risen Christ breathed on his disciples, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” By breathing on the disciples he constituted them the new people of God. The early church fathers were less ambiguous in their interpretation of this text. In fact, references to Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones appear frequently in their discussions of the resurrection.[33]

New Testament Pentecost

          On the morning of Pentecost, which occurred fifty days after Passover, Thomas Lea and David Black explain, “[this event] celebrated the wheat harvest, but was also the traditional day on which Moses received the law at Mount Sinai.”[34] In Luke’s account, the place where the disciples were gathered was suddenly filled mighty rushing wind from heaven. During the descent of the Spirit, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”[35] Bruce illustrates how, “The Spirit pours the love of God into the hearts of believers[36] and brings them into conformity with the Character of Christ.”[37] Douglas Moo further explains, “Paul’s choice of the verb ‘pour out,’ means it is certain that we should paraphrase ‘the love of God for us’ rather than ‘our love for God.’”[38] This love of God for us had sent the Spirit and immediately, there is evidence of unity, as people from many different nations could understand each other, despite any language barriers. Those who were not filled with the Spirit mocked what was happening, accusing them of being drunk on wine. It is here that Peter addresses those gathered and proclaims, “This is what was said through the prophet Joel and today marks the fulfillment of God’s promise.”[39] Joel’s prophecy spoke of a time when the Lord would act in righteousness and mercy and Bruce demonstrates, “The “last days” began with Christ’s appearance on earth and will be consummated by his reappearance; they are the days during which the age to come overlaps the present age. Hence the assurance with which Peter could quote the prophet’s words and declare: “This is it.”[40] Paul Wegner shows:

One of the most important theological concepts in the Old Testament is the New Covenant.[41] This passage demonstrates three specific outcomes: (1) “I will write My law within them,” which was promised in John 14:16-17 and is fulfilled in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit was poured out into the believers’ hearts; (2) Believers can go directly to God without the need of a human priest because Christ had fulfilled that role; and (3) Christ’s atoning work on the cross provided the forgiveness of sin. The events of Pentecost were the final promise, thus ushering in the Church Age and New Covenant.[42]

Holy Spirit Precedent

           Ralph Martin speaks on the highly debated topic of Pentecost and what potential applications they play in today’s believers by explaining this supernatural and divine encounter of the baptism in the Spirit describes an experience of the Spirit, accompanied by a deeper personal encounter with Christ. He then shows how this encounter is, “Characterized by a glimpse of His Lordship, a personal and liberating experience of the Father’s, and a new awareness that we are truly not orphans but that the Holy Spirit is truly present and ready to encourage, convict, guide, and help us understand the things of God.”[43] These roles of the Holy Spirit fall directly in line with doctrine, but have caused schisms in many Christian religions. What Paul said should unify the church but has, in many ways, come to divide her. Robert Wright further demonstrates, “The history of the Holy Spirit in the early Church can best be understood as a development from experience to doctrine.”[44] The sign of the age to come was the presence of the Spirit, which would bring about a call to repentance rooted in the hope of divine forgiveness. Peter echoes this as Bruce explains, “Peter told them that there was hope even now. Let them repent of their sin and turn to God; let them submit to baptism in the name of Jesus, confessed as Messiah. Then not only would they receive forgiveness of sins, but they would receive also the gift of the Holy Spirit—the gift which had been bestowed on the apostles themselves only a few hours before.”[45]

Holy Spirit Implications

              Bruce postulates whether it was only the disciples who heard the rushing wind, or if it was audible to others? He contends, “There is no way of knowing. What is certain is that the wind was held to symbolize the Spirit of God. When Ezekiel, by divine command, prophesied to the wind and called it to blow on the dead bodies in the valley of his vision, it was the breath of God that breathed into them and filled them with new life.”[46] [47] In any event, Pentecost was a complete reversal of what had happened with the tower of Babel. N. Stonehouse illustrates:

Peter interprets the days of the Spirit as constituting “the last days” (Acts 2:17), and this eschatological evaluation of Pentecost gives perspective to the ensuing history. Pentecost itself is not repeated… In what follows there is nothing comparable to the “tongues as of fire” or the “sound as of a mighty wind being borne along”. And evidently the speaking with tongues described in Acts 2 is not repeated.[48]

        Pentecost represented the beginning of a new age where the Holy Spirit made salvation available to the Gentiles, not by conforming to Jewish Law, but through faith and repentance in Jesus Christ. Stonehouse adds, “When the Jews heard them speak with tongues and magnify God, they were assured that the Gentiles had received this gift.”[49] This ushered in a new age.

Open to Jew and Gentile Alike

            Up until Pentecost, there was animosity and misunderstanding between the Jews and Gentiles, but the Spirit’s indwelling unified all believers to Christ and to one another. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”[50] George Richards explains:

           What happened on Pentecost in one sense is not repeatable. The Spirit came into the followers of Jesus as a new fellowship of men came to birth… It is the church, the body of Christ; and there is one body and one Spirit. As Jesus was born but once, so the Spirit came, and the church was born, once only. Yet Paul tells us to “be filled with the Spirit.” It is an admonition that we are to heed; otherwise it would have no meaning.[51]

            D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo illustrate Luke’s purpose in writing the Acts account of the infilling of the Holy Spirit was to show how, “God’s salvation was revealed in, and made available through, His Son, Jesus Christ. That message of salvation was entrusted by Christ Himself to His apostles, and through the empowering and directing of the Holy Spirit, they have now brought that message, and the salvation it mediates to the ends of the earth.”[52] The Great Commission and the Great Commandment were enacted to make salvation available to all.

Longevity of the Holy Spirit’s Presence

            Once a believer comes to faith in Jesus Christ, the Spirit takes up permanent residence in the believer’s heart, which seals them as a child of God.[53] As Moo affirms, “Paul believes that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of God. Indeed, this is just what Paul affirms in the last part of the verse, where he denies that the person who does not have the ‘Spirit of Christ’ can make any claim to being a Christian at all. In other words, for Paul, possession of the Spirit goes hand-in-hand with being a Christian.”[54] Paul also refers to the believer’s body as being the temple of the Holy Spirit. Here, Gordon Fee demonstrates, “The body is the present habitation of God’s Spirit, meaning by implication that one belongs to the God whose Spirit dwells within.”[55]

New Role of the Holy Spirit

          Robert Pyne clarifies, “In John 16:8-11, Jesus described one aspect of the Spirit’s evangelistic work. As part of the Upper Room Discourse, in which the Lord comforted the disciples and gave them instructions before His death, He told them they should be encouraged, for it was to their benefit that He was leaving.”[56] The reason this was true is that His departure would result in the coming of the Holy Spirit,[57] who would comfort them, teach them, and help them in their evangelistic mission through His ministry of reproof.[58] Bruce also adds, “The Spirit is the sanctifying agency in the lives of the believers as He wages perpetual warfare against the flesh. [The Spirit] is more powerful than the flesh and can put the flesh progressively out of action in those lives, which are yielded to His control.”[59] Charles Stanley best explains the Holy Spirit’s new role: “Since Pentecost, every believer has received the Holy Spirit. If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, then the Spirit is the sap equipping us for the Christian life. Furthermore, He no longer comes and goes but rather remains permanently. He seals us in Christ—proof of the promise that we are forever in God’s presence.”[60]

Role of Holy Spirit in Apostle Paul’s Life

            One of the best representations of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit is found in the transformation of Saul, known as the persecutor, who would instead be remembered as Paul, the preacher of Christ and martyr for Christianity. For Paul, the primary function of the Spirit was the reproduction of the Christ-likeness in his people, so there would be unity in the body of Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, Bruce demonstrates: “It is by faith that the people of Christ are united to Him, and in being united to Him they realize their own unity one with another.”[61] [62]

Conversion Account

            Paul claimed his gospel came to him through a divine revelation from Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and he believed his gospel came to him supernaturally and not through or by any human means.[63] However, Paul does give credit to the Christians before him, as is evidenced in his letter to the Corinthians. Carson and Moo show, “What Paul seems to be asserting is that elements of his gospel teaching, such as the truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection were handed down to him by other people.”[64] Lea and Black add, “Any analysis of Paul’s thoughts, which ignores his gospel came to him as a revelation from Jesus Christ cannot do justice to his theology.”[65] Lea and Black add, “the content of Paul’s gospel, received by direct revelation, affirms that Jesus was the Son of God and that He died to redeem sinners for the curse of the law.”[66] For Paul, being in the Spirit was the opposite of being in the flesh. From this belief, Bruce asserts, “There is no difference between the indwelling of the Spirit and the indwelling of the risen Christ, so far as the believer’s experience is concerned.”[67] This does not mean Paul equated the Spirit with the risen Lord, but he did see a dynamic uniformity between them.

Supernatural Encounters

            Paul had two specific mystical and supernatural encounters, which had divine and lasting effects on him and his ministry. Paul’s first encounter with the exalted Christ occurred on the road to Damascus. Bruce explains, this encounter allowed Paul to proclaim a direct and personal acquaintance with the exalted Christ despite not knowing Him during His earthly ministry.[68] Lea and Black explain, “Paul’s entire belief system was Christocentric, [meaning,] he did not emphasize theology for its own sake, but to stress the urgency of a vital, living encounter with Christ.”[69] [70] This divine encounter allowed Paul to receive a supernatural revelation of Christ and the redemptive work of the cross. Carson and Moo also contend this experience would turn, “Paul into more than a follower of Jesus, rather it would turn him into a preacher of Jesus.”[71]

            Paul’s second mystical experience occurred around 42/43 A.D., which was fourteen years following his first. In his letter to the Corinthians, he tells them, “To keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, I was given a splinter in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, and to keep me from being too elated.”[72] This thorn in Paul’s side has been said to be many things, but it ultimately led him to truly understand and embody how the Lord’s grace was completely sufficient and how His power was made perfect in humanity’s weakness. Bruce adds, “the sequel to Paul’s mystical experience was a distressing, indeed humiliating, physical ailment which he feared at first might be a handicap to his effective ministry, but which in fact, by giving his self-esteem a knock-out blow and keeping him constantly dependent on the divine enabling, proved to be a help, not a handicap.”[73]

Inspired Letters

            The letters of Paul provide some of the best illustrations of Paul’s theology following Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he says, “He who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.”[74] Gordon Fee demonstrates how, “The illicit union is now contrasted to the believer’s union with Christ: “But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” In light of vv. 19-20, Paul probably is referring to the work of the Spirit, whereby through the “one Spirit” the believer’s “spirit” has been joined indissolubly with Christ. The believer is united to the Lord and thereby has become one S/spirit with him.”[75]  Later in this letter, Paul stresses the unity of God, by explaining while there are a variety of gifts, they are of the same Spirit.[76] Diversity and unity in the body of Christ were and still are essential to maintaining a healthy church, as Fee expounds further: “The one God who is Himself characterized by diversity within unity has decreed the same for his church… Everything, absolutely everything—gifts, persons, church—owes its origin to the one God who works all things in all of his people.” In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”[77] Throughout the Old and New Testament, the Spirit stands in direct opposition to the flesh. Bruce emphasizes, “The Spirit is the antithesis of flesh and God, by implication, is Spirit; not only so, but the Spirit of God energizes men and imparts on them physical power, mental skill, or spiritual insight that they would not otherwise have.”[78] In his letter to the Galatians, Paul says, “If you are under the Spirit, you are not under the law.”[79] Paul wanted everyone to experience the freedom in Christ by casting off the yoke of bondage that came from the law. The law’s primary purpose was preparing the people for the arrival of Christ. Ronald Fung demonstrates, “That the guidance of the Spirit can be experienced as a reality in the life of the believer is a sign that Jeremiah’s prophetic word about the New Covenant has been fulfilled. Additionally, [the believer] must let himself/herself be led by the Spirit—that is, actively choose to stand on the side of the Spirit over against the flesh.”[80] The overreaching theme of Paul’s letters was putting to death the things of the body combined with the flesh and Spirit antithesis. David Wenham has identified a close parallel in the story of Jesus’ agony and betrayal in Gethsemane with Paul’s flesh-Spirit opposition.[81] In Matthew and Mark’s gospel,[82] Jesus makes known the Spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. This theme comes from a similar passage in the Old Testament, “The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not Spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together.”[83]  John Oswalt shows how this verse continues the contrast between Egypt and God by asserting that flesh is hardly equal to Spirit. He says, “We human beings have continued difficulty acting upon it, because we tend to value tangible things more than intangible ones. So the Scriptures remind us in various ways that flesh can neither help us nor harm us in the face of God.”[84] The Spirit was essential in Paul’s theology and was much more than the fulfillment of prophecy. Fee shows, “That God Himself would breathe on us and we would live, that He would write His law in our hearts, and especially that He would give His Spirit into us, so that we are indwelt by Him.”[85]

Modern-day Roles of the Holy Spirit and Application

            The Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit has been at work since the beginning[86] and for people today, some of the main roles the Holy Spirit plays are convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.[87] When people come to faith in Jesus Christ and experience salvation,[88] the Holy Spirit then acts as a comforter and helper, which Jesus promised would come before His ascension to the right hand of God.[89] As the Holy Spirit indwells within the believer, He comforts them, allowing a sense of encouragement, even during times of great need. The closer a believer grows to the Lord, the more the Holy Spirit will take an active role in their life, thus supernaturally guiding them to what is pure and true.[90] As the Holy Spirit is allowed to take root in the believer’s life, they are compelled to worship and glorify the Lord because the work of the Spirit is Christocentric, meaning all praise, honor, and glory are directed towards Christ. As believers grow in their faith, the Holy Spirit also provides special gifts to aid in fulfilling the Great Commission, in meeting the needs of others, and in glorifying God.[91] Paul writes the following to the church in Corinth: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”[92] Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh in his letter to the Galatians, because it is impossible to bear fruit and reflect the desires of God without the fruits of the Spirit being active in the believer’s life. The Holy Spirit places the believer under the protection of God, which Paul writes to the Ephesians: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”[93]

            Julie Ma demonstrates, “God initiated mission and intends to achieve it by work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, mission—which God commands His church to accomplish—belongs to God, not to human agency. Prior to ascending to heaven, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his disciples, and asked them to wait in Jerusalem. This Holy Spirit is given to enable them to be witnesses of Jesus from Jerusalem to the end of the world.”[94] The Holy Spirit enables and empowers believers to fulfill the Great Commission, by aligning the disciple’s motives with the Father’s. As Ma highlights “This implies that the church has to partner with the Holy Spirit to fulfill this mission. Missionaries need to consciously work together with Spirit and be directed and guided by the Spirit.”[95] Roy Zuck additionally shows how, “The Holy Spirit, as the παράκλητος “Helper”,[96] is available to help believers ascertain the correct meaning of the Bible’s statements, commands, and questions.”[97] Lastly, as Leon Morris illustrates: “The Spirit is called ‘the Spirit of truth,’ for His work here is to guide the followers of Jesus into all truth.”[98]

Conclusion

             The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts marked the beginning of the Church Age and the most significant part of Pentecost was how the Holy Spirit indwelled inside Jew and Gentile alike. This fulfillment of prophecy equipped and empowered the disciples and converts for the work of the church and it bestowed divine inspiration to the writers of the Bible. The Holy Spirit plays just as active a role today, in the believer’s life, as it did on Pentecost. One of the greatest gifts the Spirit imparts to those He indwells is the revealing of truth. Satan attempts to destroy, counterfeit, or pervert everything God stands for, and the Holy Spirit pierces through the concealment of lies and cuts to the heart of the matter, revealing truth and life.

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Bruce, F. F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Bruce, F. F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Carson, D. A. and Douglas Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.

Fairchild, Mary. http://christianity.about.com/od/biblefeastsandholidays/p/pentecostfeast.htm  (accessed June 28, 2016).

Fee, Gordon D. God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 1994.

Fee, Gordon D. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Fung, Ronald Y. K. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Galatians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Hamilton, Victor P. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Lea, Thomas D. and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.

Ma, Julie. “The Holy Spirit in Mission.” Dialog, 54: (2015) 171–179. doi: 10.1111/dial.12172 (accessed June 3, 2016).

Martin, Ralph. “A New Pentecost?: Catholic Theology and “Baptism in the Spirit”.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 14, no. 3 (2011): 17-43. https://muse.jhu.edu/  (accessed June 12, 2016).

Moo, Douglas J. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Morris, Leon. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

van Oort, Johannes. “The holy spirit and the early church: the experience of the spirit.” HTS Teologiese Studies 68.1 (2012). Academic OneFile. (accessed June 13, 2016).

Oswalt, John N. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Pyne, Robert A. “The role of the Holy Spirit in conversion.” Bibliotheca Sacra 150, no. 598 (April 1993): 203-218. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed June 4, 2016).

Richards, George Warren. “Spirit-filled.” Interpretation 4, no. 1 (January 1950): 36-39. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed June 3, 2016).

Stonehouse, N. “Repentance, Baptism And The Gift Of The Holy Spirit,” – Westminster Theological Journal 13, no. 1 (Nov 50), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 5-6.

Studebaker, Steven M. From Pentecost to the Triune God: A Pentecostal Trinitarian Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012.

Thompson, J. A. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Jeremiah. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Wenham, David. Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

Wegner, Paul D. Using the Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2009.

Wesley, John. Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament. London: Wesleyan-Methodist Book-Room, n.d. WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Chapter 2”.

Wright, J. Robert. “Holy Spirit in Holy Church: From Experience to Doctrine.” Anglican Theological Review 83, no. 3 (Summer, 2001): 443-54, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/215264412?accountid=12085 (accessed June 13, 2016).

Zuck, Roy B. “The role of the Holy Spirit in hermeneutics.” Bibliotheca Sacra 141, no. 562 (April 1984): 120-130. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed June 4, 2016).


[1] Ezekiel 11:16-20; 36:24-27 & Joel 2:28

[2] John 14:16

[3] Genesis 1:2 (ESV)

[4] Victor P. Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 112.

[5] Joel 2:28

[6] F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), 207.

[7] John 3:3 (ESV)

[8] John 3:5

[9] Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel According to John, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 191.

[10] Numbers 27:18

[11] I Samuel 16:12-13

[12] I Samuel 10:10

[13] I Samuel 16:14

[14] Luke 1:15; Isaiah 61:1

[15] Acts 10:38

[16] F. F. Bruce, (Frederick Fyvie). “Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles.” Interpretation 27, no. 2 (April 1973): 167. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed June 3, 2016).

[17] Luke 4:18-19 (ESV)

[18] Victor P. Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 267.

[19] II Thessalonians 2:3-8

[20] Steven M. Studebaker, From Pentecost to the Triune God: A Pentecostal Trinitarian Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), 274.

[21] II Corinthians 5:17

[22] Jeremiah 31:33

[23] J.A. Thompson, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Jeremiah, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 581.

[24] Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 208.

[25] II Chronicles 6:1-7:10

[26] Exodus 3:2-5

[27] John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament, (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Book-Room, n.d.), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Chapter 2”.

[28] Johannes van Oort,  “The holy spirit and the early church: the experience of the spirit.” HTS Teologiese Studies 68.1 (2012). Academic OneFile. (accessed June 13, 2016).

[29] Exodus 34:22, Leviticus 23:15-22, Deuteronomy 16:16, II Chronicles 8:13

[31] Exodus 34:29-35, II Corinthians 3:12-18, & I Corinthians 3:7-8

[32] Paul Barnett, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 188.

[33] Daniel I. Block, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 25-48, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 389.

[34] Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group. 2003), 292.

[35] Acts 2:4 (ESV)

[36] Romans 5:5

[37] Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 141.

[38] Douglas J. Moo, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 304.

[39] Acts 2:17

[40] F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Book of Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 60.

[41] Jeremiah 31:31-34

[42] Paul D. Wegner, Using the Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2009), 82.

[43] Ralph Martin, “A New Pentecost?: Catholic Theology and “Baptism in the Spirit”.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 14, no. 3 (2011): 17-43. https://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed June 12, 2016).

[44] Robert J. Wright, J. “Holy Spirit in Holy Church: From Experience to Doctrine.” Anglican Theological Review 83, no. 3 (Summer, 2001): 443, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/215264412?accountid=12085. (accessed June 13, 2016).

[45] Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Book of Acts, 69.

[46] Ezekiel 37:9-14

[47] Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Book of Acts, 50.

[48] N. Stonehouse, “Repentance, Baptism And The Gift Of The Holy Spirit,” – Westminster Theological Journal 13, no. 1 (Nov 50), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 5-6.

[49] Stonehouse, “Repentance, Baptism And The Gift Of The Holy Spirit,” 8.

[50] I Corinthians 12:13 (ESV)

[51] George Warren Richards, “Spirit-filled.” Interpretation 4, no. 1 (January 1950): 37. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed June 3, 2016).

[52] D. A. Carson, and Douglas Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2005), 306.

[53] Romans 8:9 & I Corinthians 6:19-20; 12:13

[54] Douglas J. Moo, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 490.

[55] Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The First Epistle to the Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 263.

[56] Robert A. Pyne, “The role of the Holy Spirit in conversion.” Bibliotheca Sacra 150, no. 598 (April 1993): 202. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed June 4, 2016).

[57] John 14:16-17; & John 16:7

[58] Pyne, “The role of the Holy Spirit in conversion.” 202.

[59] Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 210.

[60] Ephesians 1:13-14

[61] Ephesians 4:13

[62] F.F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 350.

[63] Galatians 1:12-16

[64] D. A. Carson, and Douglas Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2005), 371.

[65] Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group. 2003), 335.

[66] Lea and Black, The New Testament, 336.

[67] Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), 209.

[68] F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 113.

[69] Colossians 3:1-5

[70] Lea and Black, The New Testament, 354.

[71] Carson and Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 359.

[72] II Corinthians 12:7-10

[73] Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 135.

[74] I Corinthians (ESV)

[75] Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The First Epistle to the Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 260.

Ibid., 283.

[76] I Corinthians 12:4 (ESV)

[77] Romans 8:5-6 (ESV)

[78] Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 206-207.

[79] Galatians 5:18

[80] Ronald Y. K. Fung, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Galatians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 248-251.

[81] David Wenham, Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 275.

[82] Matthew 26:41 & Mark 14:38

[83] Isaiah 31:3 (ESV)

[84] John N. Oswalt, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 572.

[85] Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 1994), 6.

[86] Genesis 1:2

[87] John 16:8

[88] Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:19-20

[89] John 14:16-17

[90] John 16:13

[91] Matthew 28:16-20

[92] 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (ESV)

[93] Ephesians 1:13 (ESV)

[94] Julie Ma, “The Holy Spirit in Mission.” Dialog, 54: (2015) 171. doi: 10.1111/dial.12172 (accessed June 3, 2016).

[95] Ma, “The Holy Spirit in Mission.” 171.

[96] John 14:16; 15:26

[97] Roy B. Zuck, “The role of the Holy Spirit in hermeneutics.” Bibliotheca Sacra 141, no. 562 (April 1984): 120-130. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed June 4, 2016).

[98] Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel According to John, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 620.

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