Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts Research Paper

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Holy Spirit is the cornerstone of the Acts of the Apostles, attributed to the apostle Luke. According to Lee, the Book of Acts refers to " the formative history of the Early Church," while establishing Luke as a "charismatic theologian who demonstrates that baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience of empowering to facilitate the mission of the Church."[footnoteRef:1] The Book of Acts opens with a frank and narrative passage written self-consciously by Luke and establishing the importance of the Holy Spirit in defining the mission of Christ and His apostles. "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen."[footnoteRef:2] The phrase "through the Holy Spirit" insinuates the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Christ. Christ is moved by the Holy Spirit, which empowers and literally gives life. There is a kind of symbiotic relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, which is understood best in light of the Holy Trinity. [1: Lee, Edgar R. "Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Book of Acts." Enrichment Journal. (2013).] [2: Acts 1:1-3]

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a central theme of Acts, revealing one of the core functions of the Holy Spirit as it manifests in the lives of human beings. In Acts, the difference between baptism with water and baptism with Spirit are differentiated as follows: "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."[footnoteRef:3] The promised baptism by the Holy Spirit occurs on Pentecost, which is explained thoroughly by Luke in Acts. Moreover, the Holy Spirit manifests in other ways too such as in the speaking of tongues. The Holy Spirit is integral to the Book of Acts, which is important because of the way Luke "explains how the messenger became the center of the message."[footnoteRef:4] The messenger (Jesus Christ) became the center of the message via the power of the Holy Spirit. As Luke puts it, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."[footnoteRef:5] [3: Luke 1:5] [4: Morrison, Michael. "Exploring the Book of Acts: Introduction." Grace Communion International. (2012).] [5: Luke 1:8]

What is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is a divine force that inspires, enlightens, and empowers. It has symbolic substance, as it can "fill" or "move through" a person. One of the first instances in which the Holy Spirit is mentioned in Acts is as the power of prophecy or premonition as the force that moves through a person. In the book of Acts, Luke describes how the Holy Spirit has moved through the prophets of the Old Testament to define how the Holy Spirit works. For example, Luke describes the ministry of Peter in Acts 1, noting that Peter discovered that the Holy Spirit "spoke long ago through David concerning Judas," who betrayed Jesus.[footnoteRef:6] Similarly, when Jesus states, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you," He also establishes the method by which the Holy Spirit operates.[footnoteRef:7] The Holy Spirit is wholly unlike Christ or the Father; it is impersonal and metaphysical in nature. [6: Luke 1:16] [7: Luke 1:8]

Therefore, understanding the Holy Spirit is critical to understanding Christian theology and metaphysics. The Holy Spirit is also integral to creating the foundation rites of the early Church, and transforming the methods by which believers in Christ establish their modes of worship and spiritual practice. The Pentecost and the Baptism are the two most significant practical and symbolic displays of the Holy Spirit in the lifetime of a Christian.

The Holy Spirit in Baptism

Acts defines two different types of baptism and distinguishes between them: the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the baptism with water. Baptism with water is known as "baptismis fluminis," and is the "normal baptism" by water.[footnoteRef:8] This is the baptism given by John, which is most explicitly given for the forgiveness of sin via faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is "certainly given" by the water baptism, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a qualitatively different act or experience.[footnoteRef:9] [8: Wolfmueller, Bryan. "Baptism and the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts." (2007). Retrieved online: http://www.hope-aurora.org/docs/ActsBaptismandtheHolySpirit.pdf] [9: Wolfmueller, Bryan. "Baptism and the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts." (2007). Retrieved online: http://www.hope-aurora.org/docs/ActsBaptismandtheHolySpirit.pdf]

In Samaria, Peter and John meet a large group of believers. They had already found Christ, and had even been baptized. But they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. They "had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."[footnoteRef:10] The baptism in Holy Spirit can be viewed as a "metaphor for an overwhelming experience," and is "exponentially more powerful and significant" than the baptism in water.[footnoteRef:11] [10: Acts 8:16-17] [11: Lee, Edgar R. "Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Book of Acts." Enrichment Journal. (2013).]

Promised by John and Jesus both, the baptism by Holy Spirit is mentioned in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33, but most notably in the Book of Acts.[footnoteRef:12] In particular, the baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs for the first time on the Pentecost. Luke's description of the event indicates that baptism in the Holy Spirit is much different from baptism in water. "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them."[footnoteRef:13] The Holy Spirit fills each of the disciples and endows them with the power to speak in tongues, that they may deliver the gospel to the entire world regardless of culture or language. "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."[footnoteRef:14] [12: Wolfmueller, Bryan. "Baptism and the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts." (2007). Retrieved online: http://www.hope-aurora.org/docs/ActsBaptismandtheHolySpirit.pdf] [13: Luke 2:2-3] [14: Luke 2:4 ]

Speaking in Tongues and Laying on of Hands

When speaking in tongues is mentioned in the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is always present. In fact, the occurrences of speaking in tongues in Acts are " the only places in the Bible where speaking in tongues is an evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit."[footnoteRef:15] It is not the only evidence; but speaking in tongues is one of the types of evidence that one has been baptized by the Holy Spirit. The Greek word used to describe "speaking" in tongues is not the same word as the one used to describe ordinary, every day speech. Rather, the word apophthengomai is used and refers specifically to the speech "of an oracle giver, diviner, prophet, exorcist, and other inspired persons.[footnoteRef:16] Those who receive baptism in Holy Spirit become akin to prophets. [15: "Is speaking in tongues evidence for having the Holy Spirit?" Got Questions? Retrieved online: http://www.gotquestions.org/tongues-Holy-Spirit.html] [16: Lee, Edgar R. "Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Book of Acts." Enrichment Journal. (2013).]

Those who receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit are like prophets in part because they are able to fulfill Christ's will to spread the gospel to the ends of the Earth. With the gift of speaking in tongues, the Holy Spirit enables the Disciples of Christ to spread the word of the Gospel easily and effortlessly, without barrier. "Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken."[footnoteRef:17] Similar in description to a miracle, the gift of speaking in tongues assists in the spreading of the Gospel and the fulfillment of God's will through Christ. [17: Acts 2:5-6]

In Acts, there is a great sense of building up of energy as the disciples prepare to spread the Gospel to the farthest reaches of the Earth. This is in direct fulfillment of Christ's word that His message be carried "to the ends of the earth."[footnoteRef:18] The Holy Spirit fosters the exponential growth of Christianity directly; and speaking in tongues is an essential component of the spread of Christianity. In addition to speaking in tongues, the laying on of hands becomes a method of transmission of the Holy Spirit as the gospel is being spread. "Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."[footnoteRef:19] [18: Acts 1:8] [19: Acts 2:17]

Conclusion: The Meaning of the Holy Spirit Today

A careful reading and analysis of the Book of Acts shows that continual baptism in the Holy Spirit is essential for the fulfillment of Christ's message and mission. Baptism in the Holy Spirit transcends barriers of race,…[continue]

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