Context of "receiving the Holy Spirit":

14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they would receive the Holy Spirit. 16 (For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart will be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.” 24 But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” (Acts 8:14-24 NASB)

Now it happened that while Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “On the contrary, we have not even heard if there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. (Acts 19:1-7 NASB)

Context of "being filled with the Holy Spirit":

15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer in behalf of My name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like fish scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened. (Acts 9:15-19 NASB)

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31 NASB)

Question: What is the difference between "receiving the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:14-20; 19:1-7) and "being filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17; 4:31)? Are the phrases always interchangeable?

Note: This question is specifically concerned with the semantical distinctions (if any) between the phrases "receiving the Holy Spirit" and "being filled with the Holy Spirit". That said, if someone wants to take the opportunity to also discuss other phrases/concepts such as "baptism of the Holy Spirit", "indwelling of the Holy Spirit", "sealing of the Holy Spirit", "empowering of the Holy Spirit", etc., (see related questions below) they are welcome to do so.

Related questions

  • 1
    Great question but allow me a day to answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Jul 10, 2022 at 11:35
  • 1
    Aren't you are really looking for a way to explain the difference between the baptism of the HS, the indwelling of the H.S, and the empowering of the HS?
    – oldhermit
    Jul 10, 2022 at 12:45
  • 1
    Right out of the gate "receive" is active voice (the subject performs it) and "be filled" is passive voice (the subject receives it). +1 Jul 10, 2022 at 12:53
  • @oldhermit - someone already asked the question about the difference between baptism and being filled.
    – user38524
    Jul 10, 2022 at 15:09
  • 1
    FWIT, this does border on SysTheo, but I am fascinated by the potential to focus on the hermeneutics of the passage. Brilliant! To any who answer, please keep it about hermeneutics so we can have the pleasure of something more interesting than the norm. Cheers!
    – Jesse
    Jul 16, 2022 at 19:33

5 Answers 5


This is the Biblical data on the two terms, "receive the Holy Spirit" and "filled with the Holy Spirit".

Receive the Holy Spirit

  • John 20:22 - And having said this, He breathed on them and He says to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." [Significantly, Jesus said their reception was still future in Acts 1:8, below.]
  • Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • 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.
  • Acts 8:15, 17 - who having come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. ... Then they began laying the hands upon them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 10:47 - "Is anyone able to withhold the water to baptize these who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we also have?"
  • Acts 19:2 - he also said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit, having believed?" And they said to him, "But not even did we hear that there is a Holy Spirit."
  • 2 Cor 11:4 - For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.
  • Gal 3:2 - I wish only to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law or by hearing of faith?
  • Gal 3:14 - so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
  • 1 John 2:27 - And you, the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But just as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him. [The highlighted section is interpreted in the NLT as "received the Holy Spirit"]

Filled with the Holy Spirit

  • Luke 1:15 - For he will be great before the Lord. And he shall never drink wine and strong drink, and he will be full of the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb.
  • Luke 1:41 - And it came to pass, as Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in her womb leaped. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,
  • Luke 1:67 - And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
  • Luke 4:1 - And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
  • Acts 2:4 - And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit was giving to them to utter forth.
  • Acts 4:8 - Then Peter, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders,
  • Acts 4:31 - And they having prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and were speaking the word of God with boldness.
  • Acts 6:3 - Therefore, brothers, select out from yourselves seven men being well attested, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will appoint over this task.
  • Acts 6:5 - And the statement was pleasing before the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch, a convert, [Soon after this we have Stephen performing miracles.]
  • Acts 7:55 - But he being full of the Holy Spirit, having looked intently into heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
  • Acts 9:17 - And Ananias went away and entered into the house; and having laid the hands upon him, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, the One having appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me that you may see again and be filled of the Holy Spirit."
  • Acts 11:24 - or he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large crowd was added to the Lord.
  • Acts 13:52 - And Saul, the one also called Paul, having been filled the Holy Spirit, having looked intently upon him,
  • Acts 13:52 - And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
  • Eph 5:18 - and not to be drunk with wine in which is debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit,


  1. The Holy Spirit is supposed to be received at conversion/baptism (in ideal circumstances - there are some exceptions as recorded above.) Acts 2:38, 10:47, 19:2.
  2. However, being "filled" with the Spirit occurs, sometimes many times after people have received the Holy Spirit (eg, Paul and Barnabas, etc).
  3. Being "filled with the Holy Spirit is almost always mentioned just before some miraculous work
  4. Occasionally, the two phrases appear to be almost interchangeable.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

This was spoken of in three different terms by the Old Testament prophets. He speaks of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This will define availability, Isaiah 32:15, 44:3 and Joel 2:28. The indwelling will establish unification, Ezekiel 36:27 and 37:14, 26-27. The empowering determines functionality within the body, Joel 2:28-29. Both John and Jesus reaffirm the promise of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:28 and John 1:32-33.

There would be a baptism of the Holy Spirit of whom Jesus would be the sole administrator. Jesus promised that as a result, this baptism of the Holy Spirit would be accompanied by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, John 14:17-18. His disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4-5. In their case, they would also be empowered with the Holy Spirit, verse eight, to enable them to fulfill their appointed functions. There are some key phrases used in connection with the Holy Spirit that we need to understand. The phrase “came upon” or “fell upon” are typically associated with one being empowered by the Holy Spirit. We never see this expression used in connection with the baptism of the Holy Spirit or with the indwelling, only with the empowering. One purpose of the empowering was to establish the credibility of the apostles and others as messengers of God.

The Fulfillment of the Promise of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1&2, Ezekiel 37:26-28 and Joel 2:28-32 The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a single, one time for all time, for all men event because on the day of Pentecost we are told that he was being “pouring out upon ALL flesh.” In this, God was making the Holy Spirit available to all humanity. At a single point in time, God granted to all mankind access to the Holy Spirit.

The Empowering was a visible manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit. This was symbolized by tongues of fire. This was demonstrated by men speaking in tongues. Notice how the pattern of this empowerment follows the outline of the Great Commission.

  1. To the Jews, 1:8

  2. To the seven deacons at Jerusalem, 6:5-8

  3. To the Samaritans – Jewish descendants of mixed blood, 8:14-19

  4. To the Gentiles, 10:44-48 and 19:1-6

The Indwelling was an act of God. It was a gift, Acts 2:38. There was no way to obtain this under one’s own power. It is a fusion of the eternal and the natural, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, Ephesians 2:22 and 4:5. This completely collapses the distances between the two worlds. God and man, the natural and the eternal, have become one. Christ is in God, man is in Christ, and the Holy Spirit is within man.

The Holy Spirit is the seal of ownership, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Revelation 7:3-4 and 9:4. He is the one who confirms ownership. He is a seal of sonship, Romans 8:9-16, and Galatians 4:6. He confirms our restored relationship with deity. He is the seal of promise, Ephesians 1:14-15. He confirms our destiny.

This is how the Holy Spirit functions to finalize the work of God. What began in the mind of the Father was then actuated by the power of the Son and completed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is deity functioning in perfect harmonic cooperation.


The Holy Spirit in Acts (all passages in Acts referring to, or specifically related to, the Holy Spirit)

The point to be decided in each passage is whether the reference is to a visitation of the Spirit which empowered miraculous activity, or to an indwelling of the Spirit. We have placed either (empowerment) or (indwelling) after each passage to indicate our preference.

  • Acts 1:2. Jesus’ command to preach the gospel universally was inspired by the Holy Spirit. His utterance was prophetic, an oracle, or a divine revelation such as ordinary persons could not speak. (empowerment)
  • Acts 1:4. The “promise” here mentioned was the particular prophecy found in Joel 2, as recorded by Luke in Acts 2:17-21. The promise was that God would pour out his Holy Spirit, and that it would fall not merely on eminent persons such as the prophets, the leaders, and the specially chosen (as previously); but even the youth, male and female, servants and masters, would prophesy. Not all in OT days were prophets. But the inauguration of the kingdom would bring to the first generation of Christians widespread empowerment to prophesy and speak by revelation. As a result of the Holy Spirit conferral, wonders and signs would be manifested. (empowerment)

• Acts 1:5, 8. God promised (in accordance with Joel 2) that the apostles would receive empowerment. They would have power in their work of testifying to the gospel. They would manifest prophetic gifts. They would possess confirmatory, extraordinary attesting powers. See also Acts 14:3. (empowerment)

• Acts 1:16. David had the prophetic gift. He was empowered to speak authoritatively by the inspiration of God. (empowerment)

• Acts 2:1-4. The Holy Spirit manifested itself as a sound like a mighty wind, and as tongues like fire. Joel 2 predicted the pouring out of the Spirit on this occasion. The result was to be prophecy, visions, dreams, wonders, and signs. The wind-sound and the fire-like tongues were certainly wonders. The gift of tongues was self-validating prophecy. (empowerment)

• Acts 2:5-12. The gift of tongues is further described. They cause bewilderment, amazement, wonder, and perplexity. (empowerment)

• Acts 2:17-21. Here Peter turns his listeners’ (and Luke turns his readers’) attention specifically to Joel 2, and declares that they are seeing the beginning of its fulfillment. He declares that apostolic empowerment (resulting in widespread prophetic gifts distributed among the early Christians) marks the inauguration of the church-kingdom. The gifts of prophecy, visions, dreams, wonders, and signs are to be widely, “universally” spread in the early church. (empowerment)

• Acts 2:22. Christ himself also was attested by God by mighty works, wonders, and signs. (Cf. 1:8; 10:38). (empowerment)

• Acts 2:25-31. David prophesied. The Spirit is not mentioned. But compare 1:16-20. The prophetic word is an authoritative word. David was empowered to foresee. Such ability is not available to the ordinary religious teacher. (empowerment)

• Acts 2:33. God poured out the Spirit and thus the signs and empowering gift of tongues that were witnessed by the hearers of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost. These extraordinary Holy Spirit manifestations of Pentecost were the fulfillment of Joel 2. (empowerment)

• Acts 2:38-39. This passage, which is so familiar and so important, deserves an extended treatment, which it will get later. It will only be observed briefly that in its context the “promise” is the promise of the Holy Spirit, already identified by 1:4-5; 2:15-21; and 2:33 as the extraordinary gifts (see also the preamble to Acts 1-2 in Luke 24:49). Also notice the curiosity of the future tense in reference to the Spirit. Observe that the eis (for or unto) of 2:38 cannot be assumed to be grammatically construed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. A large number of expositors have therefore correctly identified this promised gift of the Holy Spirit as identical with the previous discussion of extraordinary spiritual empowerment. (empowerment)

• Acts 2:43. The apostles do many wonders and signs as a result of their empowerment by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 3:1-12. Peter and John heal the lame man, causing wonder and amazement. This is a result of their empowerment (3:12) with the Holy Spirit (1:8; 2:1-4ff.). The apostolic testimony is confirmed by the miracle (cf. 2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 4:7-12. Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesies and speaks with authority beyond that of ordinary teachers. This is an expression of the power of the Spirit (4:7). As David and the other prophets of the Old Testament were empowered to speak inspired messages from God, so Peter was likewise endowed. (empowerment)

• Acts 4:16. The healing of the lame man was a sign, a manifestation of power from the Holy Spirit which confirmed the words of the apostles (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 4:25-26. David prophesied. He foresaw. He did something extraordinary, as empowered by the Spirit. See Acts 1:16 above. (empowerment)

• Acts 4:29-33. The apostles pray that they might preach boldly and that their words might be accompanied by healings, signs, and wonders. The apostles are freshly infilled by the Holy Spirit. The infilling is accompanied by an earthquake, a manifestation of divine power. They keep on preaching by inspiration, with authority, with power, and with manifestations (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 5:1-11. The apostle Peter is lied to by Ananias and Sapphira. Peter says they have lied to the Holy Spirit. As a prophet, Peter knows (by revelation) that they have lied. The couple is miraculously struck down by God. Peter is empowered by the Holy Spirit with prophetic insight. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of God. (empowerment)

• Acts 5:12. Additional signs and wonders are done by the apostles—because they have been empowered by the Holy Spirit (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 5:14-16. Peter, even by means of his shadow, heals all who come responsively to the hearing of the gospel. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. (1:8; 2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 5:19. A sign occurs in which an angel miraculously releases the apostles from prison (2:17ff). (empowerment) • Acts 5:32 (see also p. 65 below). This passage is a reference backward to the special empowerment of the Holy Spirit granted at Pentecost to the apostles. The sense of it is best captured by the Simple English Bible translation: “…The Holy Spirit has shown you that we are telling the truth! God has given the Spirit to those who obeyed him.” Peter is saying that his miraculous release from prison (along with other signs and wonders) was confirming testimony by the Holy Spirit to the resurrection of Christ—a result of the extraordinary empowerments of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost. There is no mention of (water) baptism. The reception of the Spirit referred to here is not to any ordinary indwelling, but to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit (cf. Alexander, 1:229-230). (empowerment)

• Acts 6:3, 5, 10. The similarity of language in verses 3, 5, and 10 suggests that in all three passages the import of the reference to the Spirit should be similar. Why should one think of miraculous gifts here? There are three reasons. First, the phrase “full of the Spirit” occurs in verses 3 and 5. This reminds one of the extraordinary endowment mentioned in Acts 2:4 (see also the paragraphs below on “filled with the Spirit,” pp. 23ff). Second, it seems likely that here in Acts 6 there is reference to circumstances in the early history of Israel (Numbers 11:10-30; Exodus 31:1-3; 35:31). Prophetic gifts of the Spirit were conferred among them, making them wise and competent for various tasks. Thus, also, in the early days of the church, new Israel, Spirit-filled men were endowed with special gifts of wise administration. Third, the immediate context references, in connection with these very men, extraordinary manifestations (6:8, 10, 15; 7:51-52, 55-56; 8:4-13). For example, in Acts 6:10, Stephen’s prophetic oracles could not be matched by ordinary human wisdom and eloquence. And Philip is also empowered (Acts 8:6). In Acts 6:5, “faith” is not the ordinary faith, it is an inspired, and thus a true, grasp of the nature of the gospel, especially as it pertained to the universality of the gospel (see Acts 1:2 where it is noted that the Lord’s command to preach universally was inspired by the Holy Spirit). (empowerment)

• Acts 7:51. The resistance of the listeners to the Holy Spirit would appear to be expressed in their rejection of the signs, wonders, and inspired wisdom and preaching as done by Stephen and the apostles. In the same way, the ancestors had rejected the prophetic oracles and signs of the Old Testament prophets. (empowerment)

• Acts 7:55. The Holy Spirit empowers in Stephen a vision of heaven and the glory of God. (empowerment)

• Acts 8:4-13. Philip (one already noted as gifted with the Holy Spirit, 6:5) performs signs, healings and great miracles, along with his preaching. His genuine miracles trump the tricks of Simon (8:13). (empowerment)

• Acts 8:14-24. The “promise” was to all whom the Lord would “call” (2:39); therefore, the apostles are sent to confer the Spirit on the converts of Samaria also. It was the visible gift (8:18), as promised in 2:17ff. The apostles possessed the specific power that Simon coveted, that of conferral of the Spirit (8:19). The Samaritans of this passage were people who had already called on the name of Lord, been baptized, and been saved. Now they need the special prophetic gifts in order that they themselves might preach by inspiration, and that they might also validate the gospel by signs performed among those whom they evangelize. This will further confirm the arrival of the age of salvation in Jesus Christ. Simon saw manifestations of special gifts. The apostles had power to confer prophetic gifts. (empowerment)

• Acts 8:26-40. Philip, a Spirit-filled man, receives prophetic guidance in his evangelistic outreach. An angel spoke to Philip, as did the Spirit. When there is a reference to extraordinary gifts and events, the role of Spirit seems to merge with that of angels. (empowerment)

• Acts 8:39. This is a reference to miraculous translocation, similar to certain events in the OT (2 Kings 2:11-17). (empowerment)

• Acts 9:10-16. Ananias receives a vision (2:19). He is told to go and perform a miracle of healing. One may presume that Ananias is a recipient of the Holy Spirit empowerment according to the promise (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 9:17-19. Ananias lays hands on Saul, and Saul is healed. The most natural reading of the text leads one to believe that Ananias performs an apostolic function in conferring the Holy Spirit on Saul. Ensuing events show that afterward Saul also possessed extraordinary Holy Spirit power. (empowerment)

• Acts 9:31. The early church was comforted by the Holy Spirit. How? Presumably by the inspired prophecies, visions, signs, and wonders which were prevalent in its midst empowered by the Holy Spirit. Hackett quotes DeWette’s explanation: “The power of consolatory discourse conferred by the Spirit on those who preached” (1882, p. 126). If one is forced, due to the brevity of the reference, to fall back on the wider context of Acts as a whole, it surely favors a reference to manifestations of special gifts and prophetic utterances (2:17ff). By these empowerments the early church was comforted. It is conceivable that Luke has Isaiah 63:14 in mind: “Like cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So thou didst lead thy people, to make for thyself a glorious name.” The church was comforted and encouraged by the manifestations of special gifts and by the prophetic messages which came to the church through the Spirit. (empowerment)

• Acts 9:32-43. Peter had been empowered by the Holy Spirit (2:1ff). He heals Aeneas. He raises Dorcas from the dead. (empowerment)

• Acts 10:9-16; 11:4-10; 15:7. Peter experiences a vision in connection with the one Cornelius had (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 10:19-23; 11:12. Peter receives a revelation from the Holy Spirit in coordination with the visit from the messengers of Cornelius (2:17ff). Acts 10:19 references a prophetic message given by the Spirit to guide Peter. (empowerment)

• Acts 10:38. The Lord was attested above all others by the prophetic powers he possessed. (empowerment) • Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-17; 15:8. The house of Cornelius receives the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and they begin to speak in tongues as at Pentecost. The salvation comes afterward, when they are baptized in the name of the Lord. (empowerment)

• Acts 11:1-18. See the comments on passages in Acts 10 above. (empowerment)

• Acts 11:12. See above, on Acts 10:19. (empowerment) • Acts 11:15-16. See above on 10:44-47 and Acts 1-2. (empowerment)

• Acts 11:17 (NASB). The apostles, who had come to a true and faithful conviction about Jesus, received the Spirit at Pentecost, and manifested that in tongues and other signs. (empowerment)

• Acts 11:24. See comments on 6:3ff. above, on “filled with the Spirit.” Barnabas was inspired by the Holy Spirit so that he might proclaim a true perception of the faith—that it was to be universally available. See also the Seven in Acts 6. (empowerment)

• Acts 11:27-28. Agabus prophesies. Apparently he had received prophetic Holy Spirit gifts as promised in 2:17ff. Agabus was one of those many persons in the early church endowed with the gift of prophecy. (empowerment)

• Acts 12:7-11. Peter is released from prison through a miracle. See also Acts 2:19. (empowerment)

• Acts 12:23. Herod is smitten dead. See also Acts 2:19. (empowerment)

• Acts 13:1-4. The four prophets (Acts 2:17ff) of Antioch receive a revelation from the Holy Spirit. (empowerment)

• Acts 13:9-12. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul strikes Elymas blind, and causes astonishment. Paul manifests the empowerment of the Spirit. (empowerment)

• Acts 13:52. See comments on 6:3ff. above, on “filled with the Spirit.” See also the comments on 9:31 and the note below, on page 24, on the Disciples of Pisidian Antioch. (empowerment)

• Acts 14:3. Paul and Silas spoke the gospel, while the Lord bore witness to the word, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands (Acts 2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 14:8-18. Paul heals (2:17ff) the crippled man at Lystra. It causes amazement. (empowerment)

• Acts 14:19-20. (No reference to Spirit here. Included for the sake of completeness). If a miracle is intended, it is not likely a resurrection. Such an event as a resurrection would surely merit more comment by Luke. Possibly it was an example of divine protection, so that the falling stones did no real damage. The early Christians were able to distinguish between real miracles and merely fortuitous events. Absent from the account here are any words such as Spirit, miracle, sign, wonder, amazement, etc.

• Acts 15:7-9. See above on Acts 10. God does not base decisions on favoritism to Jews versus Gentiles. He made clear that the Gentiles were equally eligible for salvation by sending prophetic gifts upon them. See Acts 10:44-47. (empowerment)

• Acts 15:12. Barnabas and Paul relate accounts of the miracles performed through them (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 15:28. The Holy Spirit continues to guide the early church into the universal mission through inspired men such as the apostles (15:4, 8, 12; 2:1-4, 17ff). The early church was widely gifted with prophetic guidance. (empowerment)

• Acts 16:6-10. The Holy Spirit guides the outreach of the church by visions and oracles (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 16:18. Paul heals by the Holy Spirit power given to him (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 16:25-30. Paul and Silas are miraculously released from prison (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 18:9-10. Paul receives a vision from the Lord (cf. 2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 19:1-7. Paul knows that the twelve disciples of Ephesus, if they are believers, are eligible to receive the Holy Spirit gifts (2:38-39). He doesn’t know if an apostle has been there to confer those gifts. When he discovers that they had not even heard that the Holy Spirit had been poured out at Pentecost, he knows something is amiss with their faith. Following their conversion, Paul confers the Holy Spirit on them (2:17ff), and they are empowered with extraordinary gifts. (empowerment)

• Acts 19:11-12. Paul performs miracles at Ephesus (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 19:21. This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but to Paul’s spirit. (empowerment)

• Acts 20:9-12. Paul performs a miracle of resurrection (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 20:22. This not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but to Paul’s spirit. (empowerment)

• Acts 20:23. Prophets in the various cities, informed by the Holy Spirit, warn Paul of upcoming events (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 20:28. The Holy Spirit, by means of prophetic utterance, pointed out men for the eldership. See also Acts 13:1-3 where prophets in the early church pointed by inspiration to certain individuals to be selected for service. (Cf. Conley, Acts) (empowerment)

• Acts 21:4. Prophets, by the Spirit, warn Paul of coming events (2:17ff). See Acts 20:23. (empowerment)

• Acts 21:11. Agabus warns Paul, by the Spirit, of future events (2:17ff). See Acts 20:23. (empowerment)

• Acts 22:6-15. Paul sees a vision. He hears a divine voice, and receives divine instructions (cf. 2:17ff). See above on 9:3-9. (empowerment)

• Acts 22:17-21. Paul receives divine revelations (2:17ff). (empowerment) • Acts 23:9. Luke places in the mouths of the Pharisees the possibility (which was in fact the truth) that Paul had received revelations from the Spirit (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 23:11. Paul receives divine revelations (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 26:12-22. See above on 9:3-9; 22:6-15. (empowerment)

• Acts 27:23-25. Paul receives a prophetic revelation (2:17ff). (empowerment)

• Acts 28:25. The authority of a prophet is the divine authority of the Holy Spirit. The early church received the same divine power (2:17ff). (empowerment)

As one can see from this survey, the role of the Spirit in Acts is that of prophetic empowerment. It is the exclusive role of the Spirit in Acts. If one looks at the 55 specific references to the Holy Spirit in Acts, less than 5 or 6 of them seem even remotely like Paul’s doctrine of the indwelling, sanctifying Spirit. But each of these few contested passages is more reasonably interpreted consistent with the defining reference to the Spirit in Acts 1:8, you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and with the predominating certain references to the empowerment of the Spirit found throughout Luke and Acts.

Luke therefore concentrates his attention entirely on the prophetic Holy Spirit, the fulfillment of the Joel 2 prophecy. When this is recognized, it will help identify the nature of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I could add a lot more upon request.

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    You could also add paragraphs upon requests? Just asking for a friend Jul 17, 2022 at 21:13
  • Could you also add headings and subheadings upon request :-) ?
    – user38524
    Jul 17, 2022 at 21:36
  • Kind of like original Greek MSS,
    – Forester
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:13
  • Check out the link below or my book "Acts of the Apostles" by Frazier Conley.
    – Forester
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:17
  • whitewrightcofc.org/_files/ugd/…
    – Forester
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:17

Jesus' disciples received (Lambano 2893) the Spirit in John 20:22, and had an additional encounter where they were "filled" and expressed the Holy Spirit’s character at Pentecost in Acts 2:4 (Pletho 4130). They were enabled to become witnesses.

Ac 2:4 And they were all filled (Pletho 4130) with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

They were heard and understood by others to have been speaking about the works or mysteries of God, 1 Cor 14:2.

Peter and Paul also had multiple encounters, where after they had "received" the Holy Spirit from God, He subsequently “filled” them with His Holy Spirit.

Did the Disciples “receive” (Lambano 2893) the Spirit once, and then again at Pentecost?


The wording is different in these occurrences. Receiving is different from filling/being full, as in my cup runneth over.

They “received” (Lambano 2893) the Holy Spirit and then were repeatedly “filled” (Pletho 4130) and were at Pentecost enabled to express the Holy Spirit’s character.

The Baptism referred to in Acts 8:14-17 is the opposite of the events in Acts 10:47-48.

In Acts 8:14-17 the people are baptized in Jesus’ name, and then the Apostles arrive and ask if they had received the Holy Spirit.

After being told that they had undergone man’s outward ritual without receiving the inward confirmation from God first, the Apostles recognized that they did not have the faith necessary for God to send the Spirit.

They had to pray for them and “Lay hands on them”, or instruct them on how to "receive" the Holy Spirit.

Man’s rituals are a shadow of reality.

In Acts 10:47 we see God giving people the Holy Spirit in response to the “inward” faith that they possessed and then they "receive". The Apostle Peter recognized this and saw the need to baptize them as the "outward expression”.

God only allows people who have Faith in Jesus to partake of His Holy Spirit.

God baptizes with His Spirit, and Mankind baptizes with water.

A Spirit baptism indicates the approval of God.

A baptism with water does not necessarily indicate the approval of God.

In the cases where “men” baptized people but they did not receive (Lambano – 2983) the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17), it is because they did not have faith, as Heb 4:2 suggests.

Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard.

As Eph 5:18 suggests we can replace the Spirit with other things. This means that although the Spirit “Abode” on Christ Jesus, Christians can sometimes be filled with the Holy Spirit and then sadly, filled with another spirit.

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled (4137) with the Spirit;

God gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask, Lk 11:13.

Lu 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

We do not receive if we ask amiss, Jas 4:3.

Jas 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Not being aware of the Holy Spirit would then be one reason for not being "receiving" in Acts 19:2.

In Acts 19:2 they were baptized unto repentance and had not received (Lambano) the Holy Spirit.

We can be assured that God is faithful, Ro 3:4.

Ro 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

In Acts 8:14-17, the Apostles asked the question “Did you receive the Spirit”, meaning Did God approve of your baptism into Jesus’ name?

Since they had not received the Spirit, they apparently needed more instruction.

God requires a person to repent of unbelief and have faith before He allows them to receive/partake of His Spirit, Acts 2:38.

When the person expresses “faith” God sends the Spirit and they "receive" Him.

If the Lord sends the Spirit then the person can be understood by others to have a faith approved by God, Acts 2:47.

This could be why Paul asked the disciples” Have you received the Spirit "since you believed” in Acts 19:1-2.

He was in effect asking them if God had confirmed their faith.

Paul recognized that God adds to the Church.

Manmade rituals cannot add to the Church, no matter how Holy or Ecumenical they appear.

These rituals should only confirm what God has already done.

Ac 2:47 Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Ac 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The “outward” ritual, of “Baptism” is a shadow of the reality of “Spirit Baptism”, Rm 6:2-3.

Ro 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Ro 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

This “outward” ritual can be experienced without a person having faith. This is possibly the case in Acts 8:14-16.

God will not allow a Baptized person, without “inward” faith, to receive/partake of His Spirit.

As is seen in Acts 10:47 and 48 the Lord approved a person by giving them the Spirit (Lambano) which is “an inward occurrence”, and then they were Baptised which is an "outward occurrence".

Since the Lord saves people, the Apostles were looking for, and responding, to what they recognized to be God’s activity within people, Acts 2:47.

This is why they asked “Did you receive the Holy Spirit” after baptism in Acts 19:1-2.

Answering the case of Acts 19:2 –

Ac 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

These people did not accurately understand the “faith”.

This was the also case in Ac 18:25-26. Only in this case, the people had been through the “outward” ritual of baptism unto repentance but did not understand clearly.

Ac 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Acts 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

As an example of the laying on of Hands refer to Hag 2:12.

Hag 2:12 If one bears holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.

For God to give his Spirit to a person “faith” must be in the person’s heart.

This means that the Apostles simply laying their hands on or instructing a person is not enough to convey the Spirit.

The gospel must be mixed with the person’s faith and only God can truly recognize if they have genuine faith.

Jesus responded to people’s faith.

Mr 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folks, and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Peter explained that God’s power did not flow through Him because of His personal power or holiness.

Ac 3:12 ¶ And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

Faith comes through hearing (Rm 10:17), as Paul heard and received Jesus as Lord in Acts 9:5.

Those laying hands on the individuals in Acts 8 must have evoked faith in the hearers because God allowed them to partake of His Holy Spirit.

God then responded to the person’s faith by sending the Holy Spirit upon them.

Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

  • The information from Dottard and Mike Borden has been very helpful in my understanding of this concept, Thanks to both of you.
    – brmicke
    Mar 15 at 15:01

There is no difference. The Holy Spirit in Acts is all about empowerment as Joel 2 and Acts 1:8 and Acts 2 show. For indwelling you need to go to Paul.

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    You have some interesting points. Your answer can be accepted, but you must offer some text from the writings you quote to explain your point, including Paul. I'm sure you can if you want. Explanations like you can offer are the reason so many people find this site valuable. Please, explain from the text.
    – Jesse
    Jul 16, 2022 at 19:31
  • I would he glad to, but the site keeps telling me my post is too long.
    – Forester
    Jul 17, 2022 at 20:45
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    Surely you can find something between the 151 characters you've written and the maximum post limit of 30,000 characters!
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 18, 2022 at 2:28
  • whitewrightcofc.org/_files/ugd/…
    – Forester
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:15

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