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Luke 11:9-13 (ESV):

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Is the promise of the Holy Spirit being made here for believers or unbelievers?

If the promise is for believers, wouldn't that contradict the fact that believers, by definition, already have the Holy Spirit (see e.g. Titus 3:5-6, Romans 8:9-14, 1 John 4:13, John 3:5-6, 1 Corinthians 6:19) ?


Related: Is Luke 11:5-13 talking about being filled with / baptized in the Holy Spirit and that believers should seek it with perseverance?

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  • If a person sins, Jehovah God could remove the Holy Spirit until the individual repents and turns back to doing good. After his adultery with Bathsheba, David said "do not take your holy spirit away from me." (Psalm 51:11)
    – agarza
    Sep 21 '21 at 16:10
  • If it is the 'heavenly Father' then it is for sons, that is to say for those brought into the house of God, born again in Christ. Your real question appears to be : 'Is God the Father of all mankind ?'.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 21 '21 at 16:15
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Is Luke 11:9-13 a promise for believers or unbelievers?

Believers.

Luke 11:

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;

The son asks his father. Metaphorically, a believer asks the heavenly Father.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give

διδόναι Present Infinitive Active, repetitive actions

good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

If the promise is for believers, wouldn't that contradict the fact that believers, by definition, already have the Holy Spirit?

The promise is related to repetitive (daily) giving. It is not referring to the unique giving of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It refers to the repetitive filling of the Holy Spirit. It happened in Acts 2:

4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

It was a specific enablement.

It happened again in Acts 7:

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Colossians 1:

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

The Spirit continually gives wisdom to believers.

Paul commanded believers in Ephesians 5:

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

This was not once and for all.

be filled
πληροῦσθε (plērousthe)
Verb - Present Imperative Middle or Passive - 2nd Person Plural

Is Luke 11:9-13 a promise for believers or unbelievers?

For believers' daily spiritual enablement and development. In fact, I pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit daily knowing that I have the indwelling Spirit living inside me since some decades ago :)

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(As you are no doubt aware?) You are bordering on a much debated theological interpretation.

And depending on which side of that debate you ‘sit’ on will determine whether there may be an apparent contradiction in these verses. I could argue that because the Bible has no contradictions, therefore there is an inevitable answer to that debate. But I won’t.

My perspective is …. The Holy Spirit is a gift (Acts 2:38). You cannot be good enough to earn the gift of the Holy Spirit, but you do have to ask (this verse). This is speaking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is subsequent to the born-again experience.

But as said, this view is only one side of the debate. But nevertheless, from this side, from this angle, there is absolutely no contradiction.

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The question is predicated on several assumptions that must be made explicit before we can proceed.

  1. Salvation is entirely the initiative of God and that man’s (positive) response is due to God’s prompting (Phil 2:13, John 6:44, Rom 2:4; repentance is also a gift Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25), but this does not preclude the possibility that a person can reject the prompting and pleading of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Gift of the Holy Spirit can be resisted by the choice of some, Acts 6:10, 7:51, Eph 4:30, Gal 5:17, 1 Thess 5:19, etc. See also Acts 7:42. Note that these instructions not to resist/quench/grieve the Holy Spirit apply equally to both believers and unbelievers.
  3. It is impossible to be a Christian without the Holy Spirit as Rom 8:5-10 makes very clear
  4. Paul instructs believers to have the ask for "better" gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor 12, such as prophecy and apostleship.
  5. Jesus told us to pray for the Holy Spirit in Luke 11:13.

In view of the above, I take this to mean two things:

  • The gift of the Holy Spirit is not a singular event that occurs once but is an on-going reception of the Holy Spirit as each person is better fashioned into the image of God (2 Cor 3:18)
  • The needy Christian is in constant need of new and refreshing supplies of the Spirit. If we become lax and ignore the gift of the Spirit we effectively turn away.

It is for this reason that we are instructed to pray for the Holy Spirit. (An unbeliever does not and cannot do this because an unbeliever does not know about the Holy Spirit!)

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Is Luke 11:9-13 a promise for believers or unbelievers?

The Parallel in Matthew 7:9-11 NET states:

9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?[b] 11 If you then, although you are evil,[c] know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

James states: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above," Yes, God will give his gift, the holy spirit to all those that love and fear him,

James 1:16-17 NASB

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [b]shifting shadow.

It is for believers. Jesus words in the parallel Matthew 7:9-11 -"your Father in heaven give good gifts"- indicates that it is for believers and that Christians should ask for more of His holy spirit-" God gives good gifts" True as noted in Titus 3:5-6 Christians have already the gift of the holy spirit, but this should not stop them asking for more according to their needs and circumstances. When Moses needed assistance, God asked him to select seventy men to assist him. (Num. 11:16-17)

Numbers 11:16-17 NASB

Seventy Elders to Assist

16 The Lord therefore said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will no

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