Note: Psalms 68 has been suggested by another person - but is its translation in Ephesians valid?

NASB, Acts 2:33: Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and A.) having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.


  1. What Prophecies / Promises support Peter's argument that the Messiah A.) was Promised the Gift of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Is Peter suggesting these Promises indicate that the Messiah, himself, would pour out the Holy Spirit?

Questionable Presuppositions:

  1. The Greek Syntax: Is Peter actually saying the Messiah was Promised the Holy Spirit? To be Exalted? To Give the Holy Spirit?
  2. Eph. 4:8: Paul's Translation of Psalms 68:18 has been questioned - but I think I worked out a reasonable answer - which supports the "Messiah Giving Gifts", (in general).

However, even if Psalms 68 implies the Messiah would "give gifts", the Question remains: Is there anything that indicates the Messiah was promised the Gift of the Holy Spirit?

Note: Hoping for "Messianic Prophecy" type passages, not New Testament.

Closely Related:

  • "Do prophecies...?" sounds a lot like searching for a text to me.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:55
  • That's why I didn't close the question. There is definitely a valid argument both ways here. If I was certain, this would be on hold already. Thanks for clarifying.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


Isaiah 11 explicitly states that the Anointed son of David (here, the "branch") shall, among other things be given the divine "breath"/"spirit":

Isa 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. Isa 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Another passage that explicitly says the same is later in Isaiah. This one is quoted in the NT by Jesus and applied to himself in Luke 4:1 and it makes reference to "liberty to the captives" and to "announcing the year of the LORD's favor:

Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isa 61:2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; Isa 61:3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. ... Isa 61:6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. ... Isa 61:9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed. ... Isa 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

I also think there is reason to associate Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones at least loosely with both Joel and Acts 2.

I have in the past considered this issue and I think there is more to be researched on this because I think that "the Promise" and "the Blessing" may have been a commonplace term because of its use in the NT (ie: Galatians) but haven't yet found evidence of that outside of the NT. When I do I'll get back this post.

But I think these two prophecies establish that the Anointed would be filled by the divine breath/spirit.

  • - woundedego - A.) I am not sure if you and @stevetaylor are up for it, but it would be awesome if you all merged the Isaiah and Ezekiel answers; B.) I think you are right, they probably belong together; Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 15:22
  • @elikakohen I seriously considered making my answer a comment on his post because together they are a better answer than apart but I didn't want to get into the issues that might be involved in the merge.
    – user10231
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:54
  • 1
    - Wounded, A.) I agree the Passages in Isaiah 11:1, and then 66:1-11 are pretty clear about the Messiah receiving the Holy Spirit - and then giving gifts to others; B.) Though, I am not sure it accounts for the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Peter was talking about in Acts 2, (like speaking in tongues). C.) But, I am marking this answer as accepted - because of the reference of the Messiah being given the Holy Spirit, and then giving gifts in turn .. thank you! Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:46

Exegeting the passage

τῇ δεξιᾷ οὖν τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑψωθεὶς τήν τε ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Ἁγίου λαβὼν παρὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐξέχεεν τοῦτο ὃ ὑμεῖς καὶ βλέπετε καὶ ἀκούετε

So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. (Acts 2:33 NET)

Beginning with an exegesis of the passage, I would begin by dividing the text differently from how you have it above. I wouldn't connect the 'promise' of your section B) with Psalm 16, I would connect it with the surrounding phrase "the promise of the spirit holy having received from the Father". Assuming the author of Luke & Acts are the same, there's a clear parallel:

And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49 NET)

The author is demonstrating a fulfilment of Jesus' earlier words, so that is a step we need to account for, before we start drawing from Prophetic literature on the topic. In Acts 2:40, "With many other words he testified and exhorted them...", the author makes it clear that his recording is a selection of Peter's words and not their entirety.

Luke 24:49 was spoken by Jesus post-resurrection to the disciples, and so the re-use of the language here would likely not be as significant to Peter's audience as it is to the author's. What the recipients of Acts can know is that this is not just "Peter's claim", but rather it's Jesus' claim which was taught to Peter previously. Whilst the words are very significant to Peter's audience if they pertain to Old Testament Prophecy (below), it is likely that they are even more significant to the recipients of Acts.

1. Do Prophecies indicate the Messiah would give gifts?

As you suggest, the only tenable passage which suggests this is as follows:

"You ascend on high, you have taken many captives. You receive tribute from men, including even sinful rebels. Indeed the LORD God lives there!" (Psalm 68:18)

As we have it in the OT, this doesn't seem to naturally talk about the Messiah giving gifts... and yet Ephesians 4:8 does use it in such a sense. I'd say it's debatable how we can legitimately use this passage, but there's lots more available in an earlier question:

How can Ephesians 4:8 be a quote/translation of Psalms 68:18?

2. Do Prophecies indicate that God would have the Messiah give - the Holy Spirit, specifically?

We need to examine prophetic passages which link to the 'pouring forth' which Peter is talking about in Acts 2:33, and verify whether or not these have clear Messianic inferences. There are three 'pouring out' prophetic passages which I see clear linkage with here:

"For I will pour water on the parched ground and cause streams to flow on the dry land. I will pour my spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your children." (Isaiah 44:3 NET)

"After all of this I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elderly will have revelatory dreams; your young men will see prophetic visions." (Joel 2:23 NET)

"I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10 NET)

Isaiah and Joel don't obviously link the 'pouring of the Spirit' to the Messiah, but Zechariah certainly does. It's arguable as to whether Isaiah 44:3 is using the 'offspring/seed/zerah' in parallel to Galatians 3:16's reading of the Messiah as Abraham's 'seed', since 43:5 and 48:19 use it in clear plurality rather than as a singular title.

There is a related passage in Ezekiel which seems to have a stronger case for it, though:

"I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations." (Ezekiel 36:27-28 NET)

The first and most obvious reference of this prophecy is the restoration from Exile, which was to happen at the end of Ezekiel's generation, so we need the wider context of the passage if we're going to confirm whether or not there are Messianic expectations linked to it:

“‘My servant David will be king over them; there will be one shepherd for all of them. They will follow my regulations and carefully observe my statutes. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your fathers lived; they will live in it—they and their children and their grandchildren forever. David my servant will be prince over them forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be a perpetual covenant with them. I will establish them, increase their numbers, and place my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then, when my sanctuary is among them forever, the nations will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel.’” (Ezekiel 37:24-28 NET)

These passages are bridged by the first half of Ezekiel 37, the 'Valley of Dry Bones' prophecy, which is all about breath coming into dead men to make them alive. Thus I would argue that it is natural to read these passages together as part of the larger Ezekiel 33-39 section, in which case we can use a consistent hermeneutic across the passages. Note the theme of 'they/you will obey my commandments' in Ezekiel 36:28 cf. 37:24, suggesting that this Messianic event of obedience is the same as the 'new spirit', 'my spirit' which had been prophesied earlier.

Ezekiel 39 later reaffirms the promise of the 'pouring of the Holy Spirit', but explicitly in a 'returning from Exile' context, so is arguable as to whether that supports or undermines such an interpretation.

Considering Isaiah, Joel, Zechariah and Ezekiel, yes there is a clear link between the coming Messiah and the 'pouring of the Holy Spirit'. That said, the passages don't suggest that the Messiah himself would give the Holy Spirit, but rather that God would pour it upon the Messiah and others (Zechariah 12:10 as above).

  • Thanks @elikakohen! I've had the look at 44:3's 'zerah', and don't think it's a conclusive messianic reference - though it's definitely a possible one, and one worth exploring in another question, as it is definitely a messianic title in other passages. Isaiah 43:5 and 48:19 talk about Israel's zerah in very clear plurality, and so I would be hesitant to take a straight reading of it as a messianic title in 44:3 which is sandwiched between them. Still a great spot though - sorry I didn't notice it myself!
    – Steve can help
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 9:17
  • Thanks @elikakohen - Yes, distinctions between the writer and Peter do affect this conclusion. The author makes it clear that Peter said lots more than he recorded in the passage (Acts 2:40), so I suspect these particular words have been highlighted to reinforce Luke 24:49 for the book's audience. That said, I think Jesus' words are not talking about a 'new' promise either, but are pointing backwards to the prophecies that we are looking at here. Peter's audience don't need to know that Jesus reinforced these promises, but Luke's audience should know this, and that's why the words are here.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 7:06
  • @elikakohen - it's because Zechariah 12 was so strong that I believed it didn't require the same depth of focus as the other passages to justify it as a messianic passage relating to the giving of the Spirit. I can expand to include an extra paragraph or so spelling out a bit more clearly why it's messianic, if that would help?
    – Steve can help
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 7:19
  • @elikakohen - yes, since your question reads "which prophecies affirm...", my answer is arguing that Eze., Zech. and Isa. affirm the Messiah would receive the Holy Spirit. Luke is relevant because it's clear this isn't "Peter's claim", but rather Jesus' claim, which the author is reinforcing by repeating it. Joel is relevant because Peter himself quotes the passage and uses it to explain the events. Therefore it helps us harmonise our hermeneutic of which words/phrases to look for when Peter is talking about a 'promise'. He clearly has Joel primarily in mind, but there are Messianic parallels.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 9:33
  • @elikakohen - oh, you changed the question three days after I answered. I wish it would have told me! Yes, in your question's new form I understand why this is not your accepted answer.
    – Steve can help
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 8:50

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