God’s Prophetic Spirit (Volume 6) – Available Now

July 17, 2014 in God's Prophetic Spirit, Uncategorized

God’s Prophetic Spirit – Volume 6

Digital Bible Study is excited to be able to share with you the sixth volume of God’s Prophetic Spirit. It is ready for download at Amazon.com for Kindle and Kindle Apps. Volume 6 contains Essay #12  in the series. The essay of this volume examines work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. It includes an examination of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the measures of the Holy Spirit. It is about a 30,000 word read (approx. 95 pages). You can find out more about this volume here.

Excerpt from Volume 6:

The Gift of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit as a Gift

Another area of great controversy on this topic is essentially a grammatical one. For many it is a critical discussion. The desire is to create a duality in the nature of the Spirit’s work with man. It seeks to establish a grammatical separation (and so a textual basis) between the Spirit’s prophetic work and His non-prophetic work with man. This allows commentators to find needed expositional space later in the New Testament. In short, it allows for there to be verses which apply to the prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit which are viewed as limited and temporary and other verses which apply to the non-prophetic works of the Holy Spirit which are viewed as universal and enduring. This approach usually views the gift of the Holy Spirit as a gift that the Holy Spirit provides. Most often that gift is said to be the prophetic gifts given to the church.[1] On the other side of the discussion is the view that the Holy Spirit Himself is the gift that is given to each Christian. This view then creates the belief that each Christian has a literal and personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It then takes Acts 2:38 as inclusive of all the blessings of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire Christian era.[2]

In these essays, we have steered clear of extensive Greek argumentation to establish points. The answer to understanding the work of the Holy Spirit is not found in specialized Greek knowledge. That is also true in this instance. The controversy about the gift of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit as a gift centers on the use of the genitive case in the Greek language. The genitive case in Greek roughly equates to English possessive case. The problem is that it can be translated in either of two ways in this instance. It can mean the Spirit’s gift or the Spirit as a gift. Both camps can make extensive arguments in support of their position. Those arguments are available in many works and students of this topic should be familiar with them. However, if either side truly had a conclusive argument it would likely have been made already. A resolution to the controversy is not going to be found in arguments from the Greek.

However, the solution can be found in understanding that there is no duality in the Spirit’s work with man. Arguing over whether the Spirit gives the gift or is the gift implies that if one side is true then the Spirit’s work with man has one effect and if the other side is true then the Spirit’s work with man has another effect. The question is not about the meaning of the phrase “gift of the Holy Spirit.” The question must be answered: Can it be established that the Holy Spirit provides man with any benefit beyond prophetic blessings?

The argument that has been put forth in these essays is that whenever the Spirit works with man, His work is always prophetic in its nature. From over 100 verses prior to Acts 2, that truth has been established. Even in this essay we noted that the Spirit’s work is referenced 10 times in Acts 1-2. Acts 2:38 is the tenth of those references. Without question from most every commentator, the first nine of those references are prophetic. So where is this non-prophetic work of the Holy Spirit introduced into Peter’s narrative?

If one cannot insert a non-prophetic conception of the Spirit’s work into the text, in practical terms, to state the gift of the Spirit is the Spirit and the gift of the Spirit is given by the Spirit is the same statement. If the Spirit’s work is always prophetic, when one receives Him as a gift, that one becomes a prophet. If the Spirit’s work is always prophetic and He gives man His gift, the effect is that man would become a prophet. In the end, this discussion becomes a distinction without a difference.

Before passing from this thought an important point needs to be highlighted. It is from Acts 2:38-39 that many seek to establish the non-prophetic blessing of the Holy Spirit. However as it relates to the gift of the Holy Spirit two observations can be made:

 1)       Every argument made against the prophetic nature of the gift of the Holy Spirit comes from after Acts 2:38. Proponents of a non-prophetic indwelling will appeal to those having the Spirit in Romans 8 and other New Testament texts. However, they cannot appeal to any Old Testament text to establish it. They cannot because in so doing they would then deny the exclusive possession of this blessing by the Christian that their doctrine demands. If the indwelling is a new blessing brought in by the exaltation of Christ, then it cannot exist prior to His exaltation. No appeal to an Old Testament text or to any New Testament text based on Old Testament teachings can be made. It is only after Acts 2 that the work of the Spirit can be non-prophetic.

2)       Every argument made against the prophetic nature of the gift of the Holy Spirit comes from a “non-gift” passage. After Acts 2, the Holy Spirit is connected to the gift (both in the singular and plural) several times. We will examine those texts in the next section of this essay. One telling truth in this area is that none of those texts can be used to establish a “non-prophetic gift” from the Holy Spirit. One would think that the best places in the biblical text to establish the meaning of a phrase is in the actual texts that use the phrase. That is so obvious that it should not have to be stated. Unfortunately it does. Where in the display of tongue-speaking and the flames like fire on Pentecost does one find argumentation for a non-prophetic Spirit? What specific language in Acts 8 can describe God’s gift as non-prophetic while Peter and John are busy laying hands on the Samaritans? Amidst the noise of the tongue-speaking in the house of Cornelius, what textual feature indicates that the gift of the Spirit in his house was non-prophetic? It cannot be done. Each of those passages must be explained away, not used as the basis for this non-prophetic work. The work of establishing that non-prophetic function is claimed in other texts and then applied backwards into Acts 2. The only way to place a non-prophetic work in Acts 2 is to read the Bible back-to-front.

 What is the answer then? Is the Holy Spirit the gift or does He give the gift?


[1] Most often proponents of this view hold to some form of “Word-only” indwelling. Broadly stated, this view admits that the Spirit gifted the early saints with prophecy but after the age of prophecy ended He only continued to dwell within man by faith from the word He revealed. While the view being put forth in this essay is that the effect of the gift of the Spirit was prophetic, it does not state that the gift was prophecy. It states that the gift was the Spirit who then provided prophecy. There is a point of commonality between this view and word-only indwelling as it relates to the work of the Spirit among modern Christians, yet the textual understanding is far different. Please see Essay #22 “How Does the Holy Spirit Indwell the Christian Today?” for a more thorough discussion of this topic.

[2] For those who hold to this view, but do not believe in modern day charismatic influence of the Holy Spirit they must create the same duality in the Spirit’s work as does the word-only view of indwelling. One popular construction for this distinction is found in a doctrine known as “Measures of the Holy Spirit.” This view typically holds that Jesus received the Holy Spirit without measure (taken from the KJV’s rendering of John 3:34) and that He alone did so. Below him there was an apostolic or baptismal measure given to the apostles. Early prophets in the church received a miraculous or “laying on of hands” measure from the apostles, and then all saints receive the indwelling or ordinary measure. Passages then that speak of the Holy Spirit among the saints can refer both to prophetic works and non-prophetic works at the same time. For a full discussion of this view please see Appendix A: “The Measure of the Holy Spirit.”