Acts 2:38. And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." ESV

Repent. If a person repents in obedience to God's command to repent [e.g. Acts 3:19], it happens with "the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey". Acts 5:32.

Baptised. "For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one Body". 1 Cor 12:13.

At repentance and baptism people would surely be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. How is "the gift" more than that?

Once a person has repented and been baptised the next step ["you will receive"] might be for them to find their place in the body of Christ. Could this be "the gift"?

Barnes commentary: "The gift of the Holy Spirit here does not mean his extraordinary gifts". My comment: Barnes does not appear to define "extraordinary gifts" e.g. would preaching be an extraordinary gift?

"the gift" sounds like a specific gift. "dorean" is singular and sounds to me particular as oppose to the general effect of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Calvin: [biblehub.com commentaries] "Ye shall receive the gift of the Spirit. Because they saw the apostles suddenly begin to speak with strange tongues, Peter saith that they shall be partakers of the same gift if they will pass over unto Christ. Remission of sins and newness of life were the principal things, and this was, as it were, an addition, that Christ should show forth unto them his power by some visible gift...Therefore this doth not properly appertain to us". Calvin would not say that the Holy Spirit did not appertain to us but of tongues it appears to me that he did.

For Calvin "the gift" was witnessed by the senses, it was "visible", i.e. tongues.

  • At repentance and baptism people would surely be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. How is "the gift" more than that? I think you have answered your own question. 'The gift' is he, himself. What he (thereafter) gives . . . . are 'the gifts of the Holy Spirit'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 14:18
  • 1
    @Nigel After repentance and baptism comes "you will receive", a future event yet to come.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 14:47

7 Answers 7


Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

δωρεὰν (dōrean)
Noun - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 1431: A (free) gift, a gift (without repayment). From doron; a gratuity.

of the
τοῦ (tou)
Article - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

Ἁγίου (Hagiou)
Adjective - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 40: Set apart by (or for) God, holy, sacred. From hagos; sacred.

Πνεύματος (Pneumatos)
Noun - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 4151: Wind, breath, spirit.

This is not dative but a genitive case of possession or genitive of identification. It refers to the Holy Spirit per se as a gift to the one being baptized.

A more convincing example of genitive of identification is Galatians 3:14

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

We are to receive the Holy Spirit Himself as promised.

Genitive can be used as a genitive of source. In this case, it is used as a genitive of identification. Acts 10 confirms this:

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.

  • Gill's commentary:"the gift of the Holy Ghost....they had already...but rather the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit particularly the gift of tongues".
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:00
  • Can you give me the link to that info?
    – user35953
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:02
  • biblehub.com commentaries Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:10
  • 1
    Tony Chan : Holy spirit is like you said, it is referred to by a "neuter" noun in Greek. Consequently, it is never spoken of with a personal pronoun in Greek. It is a "which,"not a "who." It is an "it," not a "he" or" Himself." Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 17:22
  • 1
    Dottard: Correct -ἐκεῖνος ( "that one") is a masculine demonstrative pronoun. Both “that one” and “he” in verses 13 and 14 refer back to “the helper” mentioned at John 16:7. Jesus used “the helper” (which is in the masculine gender in Greek) as a personification of the holy spirit, , which is in the neuter gender in Greek.​So when the Bible uses masculine personal pronouns in connection with pa·raʹkle·tos at John 16:7, 8, it is conforming to rules of grammar,. Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 16:33

We should immediately distinguish between:

  1. The Gift [ δωρεά singular] of the Holy Spirit as per Acts 2:38, 5:32, 10:45, Heb 6:4, etc. This is the miraculous power and work of the Holy Spirit Himself in the life of the Christian follower of Jesus. Rom 8:9
  2. The Gifts [χάρισμα plural] of the Holy Spirit as per, Heb 2:4, 1 Cor 12:4, 8, 9, 11, 14:12, etc. The various supernatural abilities bestowed and decided by the Holy Spirit as enumerated in various places such as 1 Cor 12.

In Acts 2:38 we may deduce the meaning by comparing the parallel v33:

  • V33 - Exalted, then, to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
  • V38 - Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, the "gift of the Holy Spirit" is the fulfillment of the "promise of the Holy Spirit", namely the miraculous presence of working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian believer. We see the same thing in Acts 10:45.

Ellicott summarizes this distinction:

Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.—The word for “gift” (dôrea) is generic, and differs from the more specific “gift” (charisma) of 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Corinthians 12:28. The Apostle does not necessarily promise startling and marvellous powers, but in some way they should all feel that a new Spirit was working in them, and that that Spirit was from God.

Barnes reaches the same conclusion:

And ye shall receive ... - The gift of the Holy Spirit here does not mean his extraordinary gifts, or the power of working miracles, but it simply means, you shall partake of the influences of the Holy Spirit "as far as they may be adapted to your case" - as far as may be needful for your comfort, peace, and sanctification.

  • With regard to your Ellicott quote, is that "a new Spirit" or [my words] "a renewing Spirit"?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 10:50
  • @C.Stroud - I presume Ellicott intends the former primarily but without excluding the latter. (I do not speak for him but that is how I understand him.)
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 10:54
  • Apart from the Holy Spirit being given a second time I cannot imagine what "a new Spirit" is.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 11:20
  • @C.Stroud - Again, I am not a defender of Ellicott but the phrase does occur in Eze 18:31, 11:19, 36:36 and appears to refer to or be parallel with "new heart".
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 20:14
  • Your Ellicott quote puts "a new Spirit" capital S meaning God. However the Ezekiel quotes all have small s e.g. 18:31 refers to Israel having a new spirit and 11:19 "and I will put a new spirit within you". In Ezekiel men, not God, get new spirits. It appears to me that to suggest "the gift" is a new Holy Spirit is odd. What happened to the old one?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 18:00

The question concerns the gifts Peter referenced from Joel 2:28-29.

"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:

29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." (KJV)

These are the gifts that Peter referred to, saying specifically,

"16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:" (Acts 2:16-18, KJV)

Peter restated the prophesy from Joel 2:28-29 when he denied the claims of the hecklers who were saying the apostles were drunk.

The gifts from the prophesy of Joel were those that Peter said would be poured out upon those who were baptized / immersed into Christ. Those gifts of the Spirit were prophesy, dreams, visions, speaking and interpreting foreign languages (tongues), healing. These were super-natural gifts that the Spirit enabled in those who were anointed in Christ.

These were publicly demonstrated, visible to the people as miracles in order to confirm the word, the gospel of Christ to the assemblies so that they could know of the kingdom of God, of Christ's sacrifice for them (and us) and so they could believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

The gifts were not an automatic result of their anointing / immersion. They were given through the laying on of the hands of the apostles AFTER the anointing, and were selective.

"9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:....

"13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:"

"16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,"

"19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God."

"22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me." (Acts 8:9, 13-24, KJV)

Not everyone was given the gifts of the Spirit. This is why Paul told Timothy,

"Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." (1 Tim 5:22, KJV)

The Holy Spirit guided the apostles and those they designated to help them so they would know who were truly repentant and worthy of the gifts. They were super-natural, miraculous, adding power and strength to the chosen ones who would do the work of the Spirit for the spreading of the gospel to the known world of that day. The entire purpose was to prove God's word was truly from God so the people would believe.

The gifts were not permanent. Paul told them that when that which was perfect had come those miraculous gifts would fade away (1 Cor. 13:1-10). The word perfect meant complete. Knowing in part, or partially, or some meant that each gift only allowed some knowledge to those that had been given a particular gift. The knowledge would be complete when the books of the NT were circulated and the destruction of Jerusalem had been accomplished.

That which was completed, or perfect was the establishment of the kingdom after the earthly temple had been destroyed. The gifts would die out after the apostles died because they would no longer be laying hands upon those anointed in Christ. Peter told them,

"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39, KJV)

The promise of the miraculous gifts of Joel 2: 28-29 were time limited to those that heard Peter on the day of Pentecost, to their children, and to the gentiles who were yet "far off" that would be grafted in.

The gifts of the Spirit were visibly seen and witnessed by the people in greater abilities as miraculous powers. We do not have those miraculous gifts today. When we are anointed (immersed) into Christ we have the promise of eternal life with our Father in heaven, and forgiveness of sins, of being clothed with Jesus' righteousness, and of being reunited in heaven with all of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us.

That is because we have the written word of God through the scriptures He has preserved for us. He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet.1:3). If we want to know the gospel of Christ and the plan of salvation we can read about it through the words of Holy Spirit.... which word was first proved to those of the 1st century AD by the miraculous gifts of the spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit is spoken of in the OT in the same terms of greater strength and power, of prophesy and visions / dreams, of interpretation, of healing whenever the Spirit of the Lord came upon the chosen of God (Num. 11:25; Jud. 14:6; 15:14; Ex. 31:3-5; 1 Chron. 12:18; 1 Sam. 10:1-6; 1 Sam. 16:12-13; etc). The gifts were always to prove the will and the word of the Father; they always confirmed the word.

Additional reading: Gifts of the Spirit in the Old Testament


1Cor. 12:

v4. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

v7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is GIVEN to EACH ONE for the profit of ALL:

v8. for one is GIVEN the WORD OF WISDOM, to another the WORD OF KNOWLEDGE through the same Spirit,

v9. to another FAITH by the same Spirit, to another GIFTS OF HEALINGS by the same spirit,


v11. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, DISTRIBUTING to each one INDIVIDUALLY as He wills.

It’s my understanding that the word ‘GIVEN’ implies the ‘GIFT’ of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and what is written in the above verses from 1Cor. 12 coheres with what apostle Peter referred to, ‘... THE PROMISE ... (Acts 2:39)’ quoting what was spoken by the prophet Joel, Joel 2:28-32, in Acts 2:17-21.


Acts 8:20

Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God [Θεοῦ genitive] with money!

In this case, the gift of God means a gift from God and the gift is not God himself.


What is “the gift” of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38?

God grants his spirit as a gift to people that repent and become baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of their sins. This gift enables the receivers of the gift to avoid the degrading works of the flesh and to cultivate the fruitage of the spirit.

Galatians 5:16-26 (NASB)

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

The works of the flesh:

19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The fruitage of the spirit is:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who [a]belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit as well. 26 Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Extra ordinary power in times of distress

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NASB)

7 But we have this treasure in [a]earthen containers so that the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Jesus assured his disciples that God’s spirit would help them preach and teach to all nations bring back to their minds the things he had taught them, and would help them to make a defense even before governors and kings.​

Preach the good news of the kingdom of God to all the nations.

Mark 13:9-11 (NASB)

9 “But [a]be on your guard; for they will hand you over to the [b]courts and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 And when they [c]arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit.

  • Ozzie Your last sentence, the "effect of the Holy Spirit"? Is there any implication that the Holy Spirit is given twice, once at for Baptism and later "you will receive"?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 10:30
  • :The holy spirit is God’s “free gift,” which he gladly grants to those who sincerely seek and request it. (Ac 2:38; Lu 11:9-13) A right heart is the key factor (Ac 15:8), but knowledge and conformity to God’s requirements are also essential factors. (Comp Acts 5:32; 19:2-6.) Once received, the Christian should not ‘grieve’ God’s spirit by disregarding it (Eph 4:30; comp Isa 63:10), taking a course contrary to its leading, fixing the heart on goals other than that to which it points and impels, rejecting the inspired Word of God and its counsel and application to oneself. (Ac 7:51-53; 1Th 4:8; Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 11:21
  • C.Stoud: Correct tks, I copy-paste the verses from bible gateway, the last word was left out. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 14:46

What is "the gift" of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38?

There is some confusion in the present answers which stray from the text at hand and go into the fruits of the spirit which is not in view here.

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit."

God is the one who initiates a response to His grace. No one can know God unless He first makes them aware and receptive to Him. At this point the new 'child of God' has little appreciation for God being at work in them - they might simply suspect something within them is different than before...

They will gradually begin seeking answers to their thoughts and new conscious awareness and the Gospel will be made available to them.

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. 2Cor 1:21

God has begun a work in them - He will not stop this work until it's finished.

I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Phil 1:6

On repentance and baptism, God imparts His spirit as a gift - a deposit, pledge, a down-payment. This is a seed of God's spirit and is not the same as being 'born again' or more correctly, "born from above" John 3:7.

As much as tradition would insist they are 'born again' at this stage, there is no scripture to support. Being "born from above" happens at the resurrection or change at Jesus' return. Then, and only then, are they moved from a gift of spirit/new life, to the realisation and actuality of it with an immortal life as Jesus now has.

but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away with. ... 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. 1 Cor 13:10-12

We will no longer have a seed or gift of spirit, we will be as Jesus is - a body complete with new spirit eternal life and full access to God as Jesus now has (Jesus no longer needs to pray to God, he 'sits' with Him). He is the first born of "many brethren" all those gifted with God's spirit will eventually join him where he is.

For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Rom 8:29

The gift is given to all who God has called to serve Him. Jesus also was prophesied to have this spirit given to him. Some have this gift abundantly - without measure.

For he whom God sent speaks the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without measure. John 3:34

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. Is 42:1

Several OT examples of people receiving this spirit gifting - for a particular event or service and sometimes it was removed once completed. (Num 11:17-29; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 1 Sam 10:6, 10; 16:13; 1 Chron 12:18)

The gift of God's spirit then is to enable a person to see with God's eyes, and value what He values and are able to choose to serve and follow Him in Christ. God's spirit is part of God's sovereignty and grants us power over the opposing spirit of the world. While a gift only, we are still affected and influenced by the spirit of the world, but God has sanctified us (Heb 10:10) as His and will bring us to perfection. Just as Jesus had to overcome evil; so do we until the end of the age.

We cannot gain God's spirit any other way despite many worldly options that promise enlightenment - it is a gift, only God can give.

++++++++ edit

God has ordained a process believers are to follow. His promise of the spirit is a final step of the invitation to believe and trust. The 'gift' is an expression of this holy delivery - we have no reason to think it is more than this. Like everything else in God's relationship with man, we are required to do something and God will follow through. He, of course, enables the initial 'doing'. Baptism triggers the gift.

Jesus too required this gift as do all men to walk with God - it was prophesised in Is 42. By no means can we walk with God under our own power or wisdom of the world, we are called to believe and trust in God. This Jesus did to the greatest extent and became the saviour of all.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:4

  • Why does "you will receive" come after "be baptised"?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 10:46
  • receiving after baptism is in my para 5 original question.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 10:58

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