Acts 4:29-31 (ESV)

29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

This passage from Acts gives us insight into how the early church eagerly desired and prayed for God's miraculous intervention in evangelism, through healings, signs and wonders. Interestingly, this reminded me of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1:

But earnestly desire the higher gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:31 ESV)

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV)

Would it be accurate to say that Acts 4:29-31 is an illustrative example of what Paul meant by earnestly desiring spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:31, 14:1)?

  • Being "filled with the Spirit" is no necessarily the same as receiving spiritual gifts. Balaam had the spiritual gift of prophecy but could hardly be described as being filled with the Spirit.
    – Dottard
    Apr 10, 2022 at 6:25
  • @Dottard - Oh, I meant their request for "healing, and signs and wonders" (verse 29). Were they praying for spiritual gifts?
    – user38524
    Apr 10, 2022 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


There is a question about the work of Holy Spirit that one must take a serious thinking. Weren't that the disciples already filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Act 2:4)? Why would they fill with the Holy Spirit once again in Act 4:31? Did the Holy Spirit at Pentecost only give them other tongues, and next the courage to speak? Does Holy Spirit require refill?

Act 4:29-30 is a regular prayer. In their pray, the disciples were not asking to receive spiritual gift to heal, perform signs and wonders. They were asking the Lord made the wonders to be seen through the name of Jesus. They did not possess the spiritual gifts at that moment? Act 4:31 described the place was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. It sounds like divine power is present, but do not do excessive exegesis, for we might go sideway of the truth.

In Act 4:31, The place shaken was simply because the disciples were making noise to celebrate the Lord's victory. Peter and John had proved the Holy Spirit allowed them to speak the word of God boldly. So the whole room were rejoicing.

Now take a look at 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1:

First, before Paul spoke of 1 Cor 12:31, what had happened?

The Corinthians were eager to receive spirit gifts. They would be overjoyed to have the spiritual gifts. In their mind, speaking other tongues, telling prophesy, performing miracles were sign of their spiritual status. Becoming an apostles, a prophets, or a teacher, represented their status in the Church. All wanted to receive the highest gift, some might even pretend to have the gifts. How did Paul respond?

1 Cor 12:29-30

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

Then come to the verse 31

31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

When Paul said this, it meant all the above were not greater than what he followed to say, "LOVE".

1 Cor 13:1-3 (NIV) - Paul spoke all spiritual gifts without love was nothing.

1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Cor 14:1 should not be read alone. Verse 1-25 - Paul expressed in a subtle way his disapproval of some Corinthians who pretended to have the gift of other tongues. On one hand, Paul did not want to discourage the Corinthians pursued for spiritual gifts. On the other hand, he had to corrected them what a spiritual gift should be, particularly in other tongues. Read carefully how Paul used the words, it is an essay of great wisdom.

So in conclusion, LOVE is the greatest (1 Cor 13:13). It echoes the two greatest commandments Jesus told in Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

It would be great to have the spiritual gifts as well, but it is not to our desire. As long as we are a part of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27), our joy is completed.

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