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Baptism of the Holy Spirit - Part II

In this study we are looking primarily at the arguments used by classical Pentecostals and some Charismatics to defend Spirit-baptism as an experience that is both separate from and subsequent to conversion.


The Analogy based on the experience of Jesus


This argument is as follows. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. This is said to correspond with our regeneration or new birth by the Holy Spirit. Years later (@ 30), Jesus is anointed with the power of the HS for public ministry (Acts 10:38). This event is interpreted as his “baptism in the Holy Spirit”. If the Son of God needed this extra enduement of power, how much more do we, his disciples.


Whereas I certainly believe that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism in the river Jordan, all for the purpose of empowering him for ministry (Acts 10:38), I do not believe this experience is a valid parallel or pattern for us when it comes to our baptism in the Spirit. Here is why.


1.         The text does not say Jesus was “baptized” in the HS. It says he was “anointed” (Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18). Indeed, far from being “baptized in the HS” Jesus is himself the one who does the baptizing! John the Baptist clearly asserts of Jesus: "He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire" (Mt. 3:11b; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; Jn. 1:33).


2.         The analogy breaks down when we observe that Jesus didn’t need to get saved. Unlike all of us, Jesus was not unregenerate. There was no time at which he was an unbeliever. There was no time at which he experienced “conversion”. Therefore it makes no sense to speak of any particular incident in his life as being separate from and subsequent to conversion.


3.         The fact that the HS anointed Jesus with power at the age of thirty was simply because that was the point at which he began his public ministry as God’s messiah. There is no biblical evidence to suggest that it reflects a normative, God-ordained will for “subsequence” in either his life or the lives of his followers.


4.         There certainly is an analogy between the experience of Jesus and the experience of the Christian: we do need the power of the HS to do the works of Jesus. But there is no biblical justification for identifying this with Spirit-baptism. In Acts, it is more appropriately called the filling of the Spirit.


The Analogy based on the experience of the first disciples


This argument is as follows. The first disciples underwent a “two-stage” experience: they were regenerated and converted in John 20:22, at which time they received the HS. But they did not experience Spirit-baptism until the day of Pentecost. Their baptism in the Spirit, therefore, was obviously separate from and subsequent to their conversion (this would be the case even if we don’t regard John 20:22 as their conversion experience).


Before I respond to this argument, it would be helpful if I said something about John 20:22 and what I believe Jesus did on that first Easter Sunday. We are told that Jesus said: "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (v. 21). Then we read: "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (v. 22).


Gerald Hawthorne, in his excellent book, The Presence and the Power (a study of the relationship between Jesus and the Spirit), reminds us of this important fact.


“The very first thing Jesus did immediately after he was resurrected from among the dead and reunited with his followers was to pass on to them, as a gift from his Father (cf. Acts 2:23), that same power by which he lived, triumphed, and broke the bands of his own human limitations. On the very day of his resurrection, he came to them locked in by their fears, ‘breathed’ on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22)” (235).


Point: the mission of Jesus is not over. It merely passes into a new phase. Jesus continues the mission given him by his Father by sending forth his disciples in the same power with/by which the Father sent him forth, i.e., the power of the Holy Spirit.


Here is the problem posed by John 20:22 - In Acts the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection, whereas here in John 20 the Holy Spirit appears to come on the day of the resurrection. Are John and Luke in conflict? Several observations will help resolve this problem:


·      These are not contradictory accounts of the same event: in John we have a secret, restricted gathering, at evening, of the disciples only, and Jesus is personally present; but in Acts we have a public gathering, in the middle of the morning, with the entire Jerusalem congregation present, but Jesus is absent.


·      John 20:22 does not describe their “regeneration” or “new birth”: (a) they were already “clean” (John 13:10); their names were already written down in heaven (Luke 10:20); Peter had openly testified that Jesus was the Christ (Mt. 16:16-17; cf. John 16:30); see also John 17:8-19 where Jesus refers to them as already belonging to the Father; (b) this impartation of the Spirit is not related to their conversion but to their commission (“I also send you”, v. 21).


·      The coming of the Spirit is directly dependent on the going of the Son. See John 7:37-39 and 16:7. The sending of the HS is contingent on the ascension of the Son. Jesus is portrayed here as not yet having ascended (John 20:17). Therefore, this is not a “Johannine Pentecost”.


·      “Breathing” is obviously symbolic. Pneuma may be translated “wind,” “breath,” “air,” and “spirit.” Cf. Gen. 2:7; Ezek. 37:2-4,9. This latter text suggests that “just as a lump of clay fashioned from the earth or a pile of bones bleaching in a valley were caused to spring to life by the breath of God then, so now the followers of Jesus are being given the opportunity to spring to life with a new spiritual vitality by that same breath of God” (Hawthorne, p. 236).


·      The Greek text has been interpreted differently. D. A. Carson, for example, argues that it does not say “he breathed on them,” but merely that “he breathed,” or “he exhaled.” He points out that this is the only place this verb appears in the NT, but in all of its occurrences in the LXX there is an accompanying preposition (such as "into" or "in" or "upon") or some such auxiliary phrase. Thus Carson concludes that "the verb emphysao itself, when not encumbered by some auxiliary expression specifying the person or thing on whom or into whom the breath is breathed, simply means 'to breathe'" (652). It must be noted that Carson’s view is a minority one and has been challenged on several counts.


There are three possible interpretations of what Jesus did:


1)         Some (including Gary Burge; see his commentary on John in the NIV Application series [Zondervan]) contend that this was a genuine and full anointing of the Spirit and must not be played off against the events of Acts 2.


2)         Others argue that this constituted a preliminary imparting of the Spirit, in anticipation of the complete gift that would come at Pentecost. Calvin referred to John 20:22 as a “sprinkling” of the HS and Acts 2 as a “saturation”! Key: Luke 24:49 clearly teaches that at Pentecost the followers of Jesus would receive the fullness of divine power = the Holy Spirit. Therefore, whatever occurred in John 20:22, it was at most a taste of Pentecost, not the “full meal”; it was at most a transitional empowering of the disciples to get them from Easter to Pentecost.


Some have argued that this was not the full impartation of the Spirit by pointing to the fact that the lives of the disciples changed little as a result of it. They still lived in fear (20:26), reverted to their former employment (21:1-3), and insisted on comparing service/loyalty records in a virtual game of spiritual one-up-manship (21:20-22).


3)         Others insist that there was no actual impartation of the Holy Spirit. Rather, John 20:22 is an acted parable, i.e., a symbolic promise of the coming power of the HS that is not fulfilled until the day of Pentecost.


In sum: it matters little if this was a partial enduement of power in anticipation of Pentecost or simply a symbolic act or prophetic parable pointing forward to Pentecost. The fact remains that the principal concern of the Son after his resurrection is the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church for the perpetuation of the divine mission he initiated.


Now let me return to our main concern. Does the experience of the disciples provide a pattern for us regarding Spirit-baptism? I don't think so.


1.         It is unwise to argue that their experience is a pattern for ours when we realize that their experience could not have been otherwise than it was. In other words, it was impossible for them to be baptized in the Spirit when they believed, simply because they believed long before Spirit-baptism was even possible. Lederle put it this way:


“This conclusion is . . . underscored by the fact that the apostles began believing in Jesus (in some or other form at least) before the Spirit was poured out on the church on the day of Pentecost. This places them in a situation different to every Christian living after Pentecost. It was thus necessary that the apostles experience the new freedom and life in the Spirit which came with Pentecost in a unique way because they could not experience it before it had come (prior to Acts 2)” (60).


2.         Whereas the results of Pentecost (the presence and power of the HS) extend to the church as a whole, that day was in a very real sense unique and unrepeatable. The Spirit “came” on that day in a way that could occur but once. The Spirit, therefore, is now “here” in a way that prior to Pentecost he was not. Pentecost was the inauguration of a new phase or age in the redemptive plan of God. Thus, it is unwise to assume that the sequence in the experience of those who were alive and believing when it occurred is normative for the experience of those who were not. Wayne Grudem explains it this way:


"They [the first disciples] received this remarkable new empowering from the Holy Spirit because they were living at the time of the transition between the old covenant work of the Holy Spirit and the new covenant work of the Holy Spirit. Though it was a 'second experience' of the Holy Spirit, coming as it did long after their conversion, it is not to be taken as a pattern for us, for we are not living at a time of transition in the work of the Holy Spirit. In their case, believers with an old covenant empowering from the Holy Spirit became believers with a new covenant empowering from the Holy Spirit. But we today do not first become believers with a weaker, old covenant work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and wait until some later time to receive a new covenant work of the Holy Spirit. Rather, we are in the same position as those who became Christians in the church at Corinth: when we become Christians we are all 'baptized in one Spirit into one body' (1 Cor. 12:13) -- just as the Corinthians were, and just as were the new believers in many churches who were converted when Paul traveled on his missionary journeys" (Systematic Theology, 772-73).



The argument based on the experience of individuals in Acts


Three groups of people are singled out.


1.              1.         The Samaritans(Acts 8:4-24) - Most are familiar with the story of how Philip the evangelist traveled to Samaria and preached the gospel with amazing results. Signs and wonders were performed and many "believed" in Jesus. When Peter and John heard this, they too came to Samaria and prayed for these people "that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (vv. 15-16).


Acts 8:16 is one of the most extraordinary statements in the entire book. Why? Because it is the only record in the entire NT of people believing in Jesus Christ, being baptized in water, and not receiving the Holy Spirit. Is the experience of the Samaritans normative for all other Christians in every other age? Five interpretations are worthy of consideration.


1.         The classical Pentecostal view is that the Samaritans experience a “second” reception of the HS, a work of grace that is obviously separate from and subsequent to the initial work by which they became believers in Jesus. They identify this second experience as the baptism in the Holy Spirit.


But note that Luke says explicitly that the HS had not fallen on them at all (see v. 16). He appears to say that what occurs in vv. 16ff. is the “first” reception of the HS, not the “second”. In other words, for the Samaritans there had been no earlier or first coming of the Spirit to make this a subsequent or second coming.


2.         According to one popular view, the Samaritans had already received the HS, but they had not experienced his charismatic manifestations. In other words, it isn’t the HS himself they lacked; only his supernatural gifts. Gordon Fee argues for this view, insisting that “the phenomenological expressions of the Spirit’s presence are what he [Luke] describes as the ‘coming of’ or ‘filling with’ the Spirit” (Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 90-91). Advocates of this view point out that the words “Holy Spirit” in this narrative lack the definite article, thus pointing not to the person of the Spirit per se, but to the power or operations of the Spirit, i.e., his gifts.


However, it has been shown that no significant theological conclusions can be drawn from the presence or absence of the definite article (see pp. 68-70 of James Dunn's, Baptism in the Holy Spirit). Also, according to vv. 15-19, it is the HS, not his gifts, who comes when the apostles lay on hands. Whereas the HS is certainly distinct from the gifts he imparts, when he comes it is always with his gifts.


3.         Others suggest that this is an example of the principle that the HS only comes through the laying on of hands. But if this were the case, how does one explain Acts 2:38 where no mention is made of "hands"? (2) Also, if it were only a matter of laying on of hands, why didn’t Philip simply do it? The apostle Paul received the HS without the laying on of hands when he was converted (Acts 9). And when Philip led the Ethiopian eunuch to the Lord he didn’t lay hands on him (Acts 8:26-40). Finally, apart from Acts 19, nowhere else in Acts is the HS connected to the laying on of hands.


Not wanting to yield that easily, some say “apostolic” hands were the key. But there is no record of the apostles’ scurrying up and down the eastern end of the Mediterranean trying to keep up with the rapidly spreading gospel as new-born Christians eagerly waited on the touch of their hands for the reception of the Spirit!


4.         Another view, advocated primarily by James Dunn (63-68), is that the Samaritans had not yet received the HS because they were not yet saved. The arguments in defense of this view are as follows.


(a) The Samaritan response to Philip is described by a term used to describe their response to Simon (cf. vv. 6,10). This suggests that their reaction to Philip may have been for much the same reason and of the same quality as their reaction to Simon. In other words, this was the response, not of saving faith, but of mass emotion and mob hysteria.


(b) Their belief was at best intellectual assent, not heart-felt commitment to Christ. This is suggested by Luke’s use of the verb “to believe” with a dative object, rather than the standard “to believe in/upon” the name of Jesus. Says Dunn: “This use of pisteuein [to believe], unique in Acts, can surely be no accident on Luke’s part. He indicates thereby that the Samaritans’ response was simply an assent of the mind to the acceptability of what Philip was saying and an acquiescence to the course of action he advocated, rather than that commitment distinctively described elsewhere which alone deserves the name ‘Christian’” (65).


(c) Finally, Luke says that even Simon “believed” (v. 13), and then proceeds to reveal that his faith was spurious (v. 21). Thus, in spite of his "response" to Philip, Simon had neither "part" nor "portion" in the matter of salvation (v. 21). That is to say, he never had truly become a member of the people of God in the first place. And "Luke makes it clear (vv. 12f.) that Simon’s faith and baptism were precisely like those of the other Samaritans, as if to say, Note carefully what I say, and do not miss the point: they all went through the form but did not experience the reality” (Dunn, 66).


Against this view are the following points.


(a) According to v. 14, they had “received the Word of God,” identical terminology to 2:41 and 11:1, where genuine conversion is in view.


(b) Perhaps Luke specifically reveals the spurious character of Simon’s faith so as to distinguish it from the saving faith of the Samaritans.


(c) According to v. 12, their belief in Philip’s message was belief in Christ!


(d) When Peter and John arrived they didn’t preach the gospel. They simply prayed for them to receive the HS. This is strange indeed if the Samaritans weren't saved in the first place.


(e) If the Samaritans had in fact misunderstood Philip, I would expect the apostles to correct the problem through additional teaching (as Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos in Acts 18:26). But there is no reference to any activity of this sort.


(f) The same terminology Luke uses in Acts 8 is used in Acts 16:34 and 18:8 to describe genuine faith in God.


(g) Finally, they were baptized into the name of Jesus (v. 16). “Into the name” was a phrase common in commercial transactions when a property was transferred or paid “into the name” of someone else. Thus a person baptized “into the name of Jesus” is saying: “I have passed into his ownership; Jesus owns me lock, stock, and barrel; He is my Lord.”


5.         The most likely answer as to why God withheld the Holy Spirit from these and these only is found in the unique relationship between the Jews and Samaritans. An important fact to remember is that this was the first occasion on which the gospel had been proclaimed not only outside Jerusalem but inside Samaria. This is significant for several important reasons.


It may be difficult for us today to grasp the depth of hatred that existed between Jews and Samaritans. The Jews blamed the Samaritans for having destroyed the unity of God’s people and the monarchy following the death of Solomon in 922. They were also regarded as “half-breeds” because they had intermarried with Gentiles. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after the exile, the Samaritans hindered their efforts to rebuild the temple and constructed their own on Mt. Gerizim. In 6 a.d., during the Passover, some Samaritans scattered the bones of a dead man in the court of the temple in Jerusalem, an act of defilement that enraged the Jews and only intensified their animosity. Indeed, the Jews publicly cursed Samaritans and prayed fervently that God would never save any of them.


These are some of the reasons why the Parable of the Good Samaritan was so shocking to Jewish ears. As far as the latter were concerned, the phrase Good Samaritan was a contradiction in terms! It also explains why everyone was so surprised when Jesus dared engage a Samaritan woman in conversation at Jacob's well (John 4). The woman herself put it well when she said, "'How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?' For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans" (John 4:9). In John 8:48 the Jewish leaders addressed Jesus, saying, "Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" I suspect that if the Jews themselves had a choice between the two, they might prefer to be a demon rather than a Samaritan!


One final observation will help. Geographically speaking, Samaria was located between Galilee to the north and Judea to the south. The Jewish disgust for Samaria was so intense that when they had to travel from Galilee to Judea, or vice versa, they would first travel due east and then south (or north, as the case may be), in order to avoid even having to set their feet on Samaritan soil!


My question is this: What might have happened had the Samaritans received the gospel independently of the church in Jerusalem? Something needed to be done to insure unity, lest schism or division emerge. Frederick Bruner explains:


“The Samaritans were not left to become an isolated sect with no bonds of union with the apostolic church in Jerusalem. If a Samaritan church and a Jewish church had arisen independently, side by side, without the dramatic removal of the ancient and bitter barriers of prejudice between the two, particularly at the level of ultimate authority, the young church of God would have been in schism from the inception of its mission. The drama of the Samaritan affair in Acts 8 included among its purposes the vivid and visual dismantling of the wall of enmity between Jew and Samaritan and the preservation of the precious unity of the church of God” (A Theology of the Holy Spirit, 176).


Therefore, the unprecedented delay of the HS was in order that the leaders of the church in Jerusalem, Peter and John, might vividly and personally place their imprimatur or stamp of approval on the movement of the gospel into Samaria (cf. Acts 1:8). In view of this historical background of racial and religious animosity, it was deemed prudent by God to take steps to prevent a disastrous split in the early church: hence the temporary and altogether unusual delay of the coming of the Spirit. An unprecedented situation demanded quite exceptional methods.


[Having said all this, I have to be honest in admitting that this incident poses questions about the reception and experience of the Holy Spirit that may have to remain unanswered. For even the explanation that I have given as to why God suspended the gift of the Spirit in the case of the Samaritans does not explain theologically how they could have been regenerated, converted, and believing Christians, members of the body of Christ, without yet having received the Holy Spirit.]


2.         Cornelius and the Gentiles(Acts 10:1-48; 11:12-18) - Here is the second monumental extension of the gospel beyond the boundaries of Jewish exclusivism. The problem arises when it is argued that Cornelius was already “saved” when Peter arrived (vv. 2,35). If he were, then his reception of the Holy Spirit in vv. 44-48 would constitute a “second” blessing, or a post-conversion “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” But there are several reasons why we cannot regard Cornelius as having been “saved” prior to Peter’s arrival.


1.         Acts 11:14 says that the message Peter proclaimed was the way Cornelius was saved. The message or gospel is essential. The gospel and the gospel alone is the power of God unto Cornelius’ salvation (Rom. 1:16-17). Also, note that the tense of the verb is future (“will be saved”, 11:14). If he believes Peter’s gospel message he will be saved (indicating that he is not yet saved). If he rejects the message, he won’t.


2.         Acts 10:43 says that the essence of salvation is the forgiveness of sins, a blessing that comes only through believing in the name of Christ. One cannot be saved until and unless he/she believes in the name of Christ.


3.         Elsewhere in Acts, even the most God-fearing and “moral” people (i.e., the Jews) are told they must repent and believe the gospel to be saved (cf. 2:5; 3:19).


4.         Acts 11:18 indicates that Cornelius and the Gentiles received from God “repentance unto life” only when Peter preached the gospel and they turned to faith in Christ.


But if Cornelius was not truly converted until Peter preached the gospel to him, what does it mean to say that Cornelius was “welcome” or “acceptable” to God (Acts 10:35) prior to his hearing and responding to the gospel? John Piper's explanation is the best:


“My suggestion is that Cornelius represents a kind of unsaved person among an unreached people group who is seeking God in an extraordinary way. And Peter is saying that God accepts this search as genuine (hence ‘acceptable’ in verse 35) and works wonders to bring that person the gospel of Jesus Christ the way he did through the visions of both Peter on the housetop and Cornelius in the hour of prayer . . . .


So the fear of God that is acceptable to God in verse 35 is a true sense that there is a holy God, that we have to meet him some day as desperate sinners, that we cannot save ourselves and need to know God’s way of salvation, and that we pray for it day and night and seek to act on the light we have. This is what Cornelius was doing. And God accepted his prayer and his groping for truth in his life (Acts 17:27), and worked wonders to bring the saving message of the Gospel to him. Cornelius would not have been saved if no one had taken him the gospel” (Let the Nations be Glad, 146, 148).


In conclusion, then, Cornelius and the other Gentiles received the Holy Spirit when they were saved, and not at a time subsequent to their initial faith in Christ. Cornelius and the Gentiles were “baptized in the Spirit” at the moment of their conversion.


3.         The Ephesian Disciples(Acts 19:1-10) - The argument from this passage is that these are Christian men who had not yet received the Holy Spirit. It is only after Paul prays for them (i.e., subsequent to their faith) that they are “baptized in the Spirit”. I believe this interpretation is largely fueled by the erroneous translation of v. 2 in the KJV: “have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” The correct translation is found in both the NIV and NASB: “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"


Paul’s question in v. 2 is designed to uncover what kind of “belief” or “faith” they had experienced. If their belief was “saving”, Christian belief, then they would have received the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9!). The fact that they had not received the HS proved to Paul that their “belief” was not “Christian” belief. Says Dunn:


“It was inconceivable to him [Paul] that a Christian, one who had committed himself to Jesus as Lord in baptism in his name, could be yet without the Spirit. This is why the twelve had to go through the full initiation procedure. It was not that Paul accepted them as Christians with an incomplete experience; it is rather that they were not Christians at all. The absence of the Spirit indicated that they had not even begun the Christian life” (86).


Their response: “we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit,” does not mean they had never before so much as heard of the Spirit’s existence. The HS is frequently mentioned in the OT, and John the Baptist’s own words to his followers (among whom these people included themselves) were that the Messiah would baptize in “Spirit” and fire. The point is that although they had heard John’s prophecy of Messianic “Spirit-baptism”, they were not aware of its fulfillment. In other words, they were ignorant of Pentecost.


But if these people were not ‘Christian’ disciples, what kind of ‘disciples’ were they?” Beasley-Murray offers this explanation:


“There is . . . nothing improbable in the existence of groups of people baptized by followers of John the Baptist and standing at varying degrees of distance from (or nearness to) the Christian Church. There must have been many baptized by John himself who had listened to the preaching of Jesus and his disciples, who had received the gospel with more or less intensity of conviction and faith and regarded themselves as His followers, yet who had no part in Pentecost or its developments . . . In Paul’s eyes these men were not Christians --- no man who was without the Spirit of Jesus had any part in the Christ (Rom. 8:9). Probably Luke himself did not view them as Christians; his employment of the term . . . disciples, is a gesture in recognition that they were neither on a level with unbelieving Jews, nor classed with pagans. They were men who had paused on the way without completing the journey, half-Christians, occupying a zone of territory that could exist only at that period of history when the effects of John’s labors overlapped with those of Jesus” (Baptism in the New Testament, 109-11).


Thus, when Paul discovers they had not received the Holy Spirit he knows immediately they are not Christians. Upon realizing that they were but ‘disciples’ of John, Paul proclaimed Jesus, in whom they believe, at which point they receive the HS.



There are several other texts that speak of post-conversion encounters or experiences with the Holy Spirit that are related to but not identical with infilling.


            1.         There is the impartation of revelatory insight and illumination into the blessings of salvation (Eph. 1:15-23; cf. Isa. 11:2). Here Paul prays that God will impart to them the Spirit yet again, so that he might supply the wisdom to understand what he also reveals to them about God and his ways. This is something for which we must pray (both for ourselves and for others). There are dimensions of the Spirit's ministry in our lives that are suspended, so to speak, on our asking.


It strikes some as odd that Paul would pray for the Spirit to be given to those who already have Him. But this hardly differs from Paul's prayer in Eph. 3:17 that Christ might "dwell" in the hearts of people in whom Christ already dwells! Paul is referring to an experiential enlargement of what is theologically true. He prays that, through the Spirit, Jesus might exert a progressively greater and more intense personal influence in our souls. Thus, in both texts Paul is praying for an expanded and increased work of God in the believer's life.


            2.         There is also the anointing of power for the performance of miracles as seen in Gal. 3:1-5 (esp. v. 5). Paul clearly refers both to their initial reception of the Spirit (v. 2) and to their present experience of the Spirit (v. 5). The unmistakable evidence that they had entered into new life was their reception of the Spirit (v. 2). Fee explains:


"The entire argument runs aground if this appeal is not also to a reception of the Spirit that was dynamically experienced. Even though Paul seldom mentions any of the visible evidences of the Spirit in such contexts as these, here is the demonstration that the experience of the Spirit in the Pauline churches was very much as that described and understood by Luke -- as visibly and experientially accompanied by phenomena that gave certain evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God" (God's Empowering Presence, 384).


Paul speaks of God as the one who continually and liberally supplies the Spirit to men and women who in another sense have already received him. This is especially evident when one takes note of Paul's use of the present tense (i.e., "He who is supplying you with the Spirit"). Evidently there is a close, even causal, relationship between the supply of the Spirit and the resultant working of miracles. That is to say, "God is present among them by his Spirit, and the fresh supply of the Spirit finds expression in miraculous deeds of various kinds. Thus Paul is appealing once more to the visible and experiential nature of the Spirit in their midst as the ongoing evidence that life in the Spirit, predicated on faith in Christ Jesus, has no place at all for 'works of law'" (Ibid., 388-9).


            3.         Paul also speaks about the provision of the Spirit to face hardship with hope (Phil. 1:19). I don't believe he is thinking so much of the "help" the Spirit gives, but of the gift of the Spirit himself, whom God continually supplies to him (and to us!). In other words, the phrase "the supply/provision of the Spirit" (an objective genitive, for those of you know a little Greek) points to the Spirit as the one who is himself being given or supplied anew to Paul by God to assist him during the course of his imprisonment.