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Holy Spirit Distributed

Acts 2:3-4

What do we know of this gift of holy spirit that the apostles received on the day of Pentecost?

Anyone who has ever heard a teaching concerning the day of Pentecost, or read Acts chapter 2, knows that God gave holy spirit on the day of Pentecost. But what do you know about this holy spirit? Get yourself a pad of paper and a pen and take a few minutes and write down everything you know about what God gave on the day of Pentecost.

Do not read Acts for this assignment, go with what you are holding in your mind right now. Write out your knowledge, your thoughts, your perceptions. Take your time, we are not going anywhere.

In a few minutes we are going to go to an expert in the holy spirit field and allow him to teach us about the holy spirit that came on the day of Pentecost. We will consider his words and read about his thoughts pertaining to holy spirit. 

We will be looking at the Gospel of John to get a clear understanding of exactly what the apostles received with the coming of God’s gift of holy spirit. We will consider what Jesus Christ had to say about the holy spirit.

But first a little context. 

In John 13 we read about the last meal Jesus would eat before his crucifixion. 

John 13:2
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him.

From this point in John 13 until Jesus was arrested in John 18. These were the final words of Jesus to the apostles before they came under great mental pressure due to his arrest and death.

Jesus had been with these men for a little more than a year. They were his disciples. A disciple was not simply someone who followed what the teacher had to say. A disciple lived and moved with his teacher day by day and situation by situation. 

If it was windy, or raining, or cold, they faced the elements together. If the mobs were pressing and pushing to see their master, they were at the center of the compacted and compressed crowd. If the mob was angry and hostile, they faced the hostility together. When the Roman soldiers, or Temple guards, or Religious leaders were looking for blood they were looking for the blood of every disciple also. Consider the statement of Thomas as they left to see Lazarus.

John 11:15-16
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless, let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, let us also go, that we may die with him.

The apostles were not always strong in believing. Even after Jesus corrected what they were thinking privately, Thomas still thought they are going forth to die. Besides the whims of the populace, the disciples faced daily challenges from their master to learn and to grow; to expand their capacity to minister to every other person.

John 6:5-7
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Jesus challenged Philip to feed the 5,000! What would your response have been?

Knowing these were his last hours to teach the apostles, Jesus had a lot to say.

Immediately after supper Jesus washes the feet of the apostles, giving them an example of service. 

John 13:13-14
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.

Peter understood Jesus was the master and he would have nothing to do with this foot washing.

John 13:8-9
Peter saith unto him, thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

Peter changed his mind quickly. Jesus could be teaching about some amazing truth and the apostles would be off in their own heads daydreaming about something else. They were men like you or I, with the main difference being their decision to learn discipline, from Jesus, to God’s Word.

Can you imagine the emotions within the heart and mind of Jesus? After all, he was a man. Jesus loved all people, but these men had stood with him from the beginning. They had accepted his challenges; they had dedicated their lives to this man and his mission. They faced life together and that was fine with his disciples, as long as Jesus was there to led them and be strong for them. 

As I said, from John chapter 13 until Jesus was arrested in John chapter 18 are their final hours together as men of flesh and blood. At first, they remained in the room where they had shared their last meal as Jesus taught them about loving one another and that he must leave them for a while. Jesus told them he must go to his Father but that he would come again. Before they left that room Jesus spoke to them of having no anxiety but to have his peace.

To offer the apostles further comfort and encouragement Jesus teaches about the power they will receive.

John 14:12
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father.

First, recognize that this is while the apostles are still in the room where they ate their last meal with Jesus. So, the words of Jesus are directed to the apostles. Jesus knew the Adversary was coming for him and that it would scare and scatter his disciples, therefore Jesus wanted his apostles to know they would have power. 

John 14:16-18
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

In verse 16 the word “comforter” is parakletos in the Greek. It is a compound word from para and kaleo. Para means alongside of and kletos comes from kaleo meaning to call. This word, parakletos, means to call to one’s side. Further study of this word, and its word family, adds this to the definition, to call to one’s side with the intent of producing an effect. The effect to be produced would be whatever was needed at that moment.

The word “another” in verse 16 is allos in the Greek and means another of the same kind. This is important to see and understand because it gives us insight into this comforter. The comforter will call the apostles alongside of itself, as Jesus called the apostles alongside of himself. Jesus would teach the apostles and encourage them to act in believing according to what he taught. Jesus never controlled the apostles nor forced them to do what he had said. Rather Jesus encouraged and inspired his apostles to act.

Controlling a person removes freedom of will. Freedom of will has been God’s method of operation since the beginning, it is His nature! Controlling a person removes freewill, it is possession!

Jesus said he would pray the Father and He shall, an absolute, give them a comforter like himself that would “abide with them for ever.” 

“For” is the Greek preposition eis which translates into “for or with respect to,” it is setting a goal. It is motion toward an object. In this case the object is “ever.” The word “ever” is the Greek word aion and means age. 

Now this is amazing! For the apostles it is phenomenal! In the Old Testament God’s gift of holy spirit upon individuals would come and go. When God wanted to talk or teach, He would place His spirit upon someone. When the incident was over holy spirit would many times leave until the next time.

Ezekiel 2:2
And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

Ezekiel 3:24
Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house.

In the Old Testament God’s gift of holy spirit was not with them throughout their lives.

But Jesus taught his apostles in John 14 that the spirit they would receive would be with them for the entire Age or Administration. He did not teach them that they would receive eternal life spirit but to have spirit for an entire Age was new and had to be encouraging and exciting for the apostles.

Add to these things, “it is the spirit of truth.” This is a genitive of relation, meaning it is a spirit pertaining to Truth. (Consider John 17:17 and 1 Timothy 2:4)

Jesus goes on in these verses in John 14 to teach them why the world could not receive this gift of holy spirit, “…whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him…” 

Why does the world not receive the spirit from God?

First, you have the figure of speech metonymy where the world is put for the inhabitants of the world. Next, the logic of the world is based on their sense’s knowledge and intellectual knowledge. Receiving this gift of holy spirit from God is based in believing what God has declared about His son. The world does not believe in things it cannot see and analyze. 

Then Jesus continues this moment of teaching with, “…ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

“Know” is ginosko which is to know by experience. The apostles knew the spirit because it abode with them, para, alongside of, and in the future would be in them. I changed the “he and him” to “it” because the grammar has the gender of spirit as neuter.

The word “comfortless” is orphanos in the Greek. Jesus is saying I will not leave you fatherless, orphans. The disciples of a teacher were considered the children and the teacher their father. This is what is called an orientalism or a custom and practice common to that area of the world. As a figure of speech, it would be identified as an idiom. Jesus would not leave them fatherless because he would pray the Father to send holy spirit.

Consider the safety and comfort children find when their father is present. Remember the old childhood arguments, “My father is stronger than your father!” In John 14:18 the title father was not given due to age or actual relationship but rather the wisdom and insight a teacher would provide.  

Jesus once again returns to the subject of God’s gift of holy spirit in verse 26.

John 14:26
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Here Jesus adds to their knowledge and understanding of the purpose of the holy spirit that they will receive. Jesus also gives the apostles the origin of the spirit and its method of distribution.

The spirit will originate from God and be given in the name of Jesus for the purpose of teaching all things and remembrance of all things Jesus had said. 

Have you known anyone in your life for fourteen months? Can you remember everything that person has said to you for the last fourteen months? Most do not remember every word of a conversation five minutes after the conversation has concluded. 

Neither would the apostles be able to remember everything Jesus had said without God’s gift of holy spirit. This aspect of what God’s gift of holy spirit will do for the apostles is beyond measure. Then for all other situations that will arise, the spirit will teach them all things.

They sang a hymn before leaving the room to walk to a garden, a garden they knew well, having spent many a night there. 

John 18:2
And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

Jesus sitting and sharing the things of God, the disciples asking questions and growing in knowledge and understanding. At times, the teachings of the day could become lost in the crowds and the noise. Here in the garden Jesus could answer questions and eliminate misunderstandings on the part of the apostles.

That was the life of a disciple, day after day and night after night, situation by situation learning how to live life. Knowing the anxiety his death would bring to his disciples Jesus gave them a promise saying he would come back, he would return. 

John 14:3
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

This is the Jewish marriage presented throughout the Gospels. Christ is the groom and Israel, his bride.

Then, in chapter 15, while they are walking to the garden Jesus taught them more about the gift of God’s holy spirit.

John 15:26-27
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

First, it is the comforter, it will figuratively walk by their side, but it will dwell within them. Again, the method of distribution, from God to Jesus to the apostles. The spirit is once again identified as the spirit of truth that will “testify” of Jesus. The Greek word for “testify” is martureo. We get our word martyr from this word. The true meaning of martyr is to be a witness, not to give up your physical life. That the “spirit of truth” would be a witness of Jesus Christ simply makes sense, consider John 14:6

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Then John 15:27 identifies the apostles as witnesses also of Jesus. This also helps us understand the qualifications for the apostle to replace Judas in Acts chapter 1.

Acts 1:21-22
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Then, in John chapter 16 Jesus continues his teaching concerning God’s gift of holy spirit.

John 16:7-15
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Jesus begins here with teaching them once again that he must leave so that the comforter can come.

Now, let’s look at the word “reprove” from John 16:8. It is the Greek word elegcho which is defined in most Lexicon’s as to admonish, to refute, to correct, to expose.

Helps Word-studies defines it this way, “properly, to convince with solid, compelling evidence, especially to expose (prove wrong, connect).

Too often we see this word reprove and we get a mind-picture of someone yelling at us.

Look at some of the places elegcho is used in the Bible.

Ephesians 5:11
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Exposing the unfruitful works of darkness is more profitable than a confrontation with those who are practicing them.

John 3:20
For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Again, exposed is a better translation for this verse.

The spirit of Truth will expose sin because some will refuse to believe in Jesus, remember what we just read in John 14:6. No man comes unto the Father except by Jesus. This is true in every administration except for the Paradise Administration. The world may not have known about the name of Jesus until the Christ Administration but even without his name, when people looked for the “seed of the woman” or for the “Messiah,” they were looking for Jesus.

The spirit of Truth will expose righteousness because some will believe the witness of the apostles.

The spirit of Truth will expose judgment because the Revealing Administration is about the judgment of God against all unrighteousness and unbelief.

In the phrase, “the prince of this world” is the figure of speech metonymy because world is put for the inhabitants of the world and what they have believed is the prince of the world, the lies of the Adversary.

In recap, what had Jesus taught his apostles about the gift of holy spirit? 
     1.Jesus taught the origin of the holy spirit; it is from God.
     2.Jesus taught the proper sequence of the holy spirit coming. He had to first leave and              go to the Father and then God would give His gift of holy spirit.
     3.Jesus taught us the method of distribution of God’s gift of holy spirit; God to Jesus
        Christ, then to the apostles and all others who believe.
     4.Jesus taught the dwelling place of the holy spirit which would be in the apostles 
        and those that would believe because of what the apostles would teach. 
    5.Jesus taught the apostles how long the spirit would be in them, for the Age or the entire 

Consider a portion of the prayer of Jesus from John 17, while they walked to the garden.

John 17:20-21
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Finally, Jesus taught the apostles the purpose of them receiving God’s gift of holy spirit.
    1.The spirit will teach the apostles the Truth. The spirit will give them guidance in the                  Truth  (16:13).
    2.The spirit will bring to their remembrance all that Jesus said in the 14 months they were           together as Master and disciplined students.
    3.The spirit will be a comfort to all those who believe, calling them to its side, as Jesus              called the apostles to his side when he walked with them.
    4.The spirit will be a witness of Jesus Christ to the apostles, as they will be a witness of            Jesus Christ.
    5.The spirit will expose three aspects of life through the spoken word of the apostles.
         a.Of sin when people do not believe.
         b.Of righteousness when they do believe.
         c.Of judgment when people follow the Adversary.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all speak of the last meal of Jesus and some details of what happened when they reached the garden. Some additional details concerning the spirit can be found in the other Gospels. But only the Gospel of John contains the account of what Jesus taught his apostles concerning the gift of holy spirit. Only the Gospel of John contains the fulness and richness of what Jesus taught his apostles as they finished supper and took a walk to the garden.

We can also add to this list of knowledge pertaining to the purpose of God’s gift of holy spirit what Peter taught concerning the book of Joel in Acts chapter 2. This gift was for prophecy and for visions and dreams. As Jesus declared in Acts chapter 1, “ye shall receive powerafter the holy spirit is come upon you.”

Perhaps I should add in one more aspect of holy spirit in relationship to a statement I made earlier that the spirit received on Pentecost was not eternal life spirit. Israel will receive eternal life spirit at the resurrection of the Just as described in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

The Administration of Grace receives eternal life spirit the moment an individual believes.

Romans 8:15-17
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Only Jesus and those who believe in the Administration of Grace can say, Abba, Father. Abba is a term of endearment from child to Father. Notice in John chapter 14, when teaching about holy spirit, it is the comforter that will prevent the apostles from being orphans. 

Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The gift of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost is like the gift of holy spirit in the Old Testament with some unique aspects.

Numbers 11:16-17
And the LORD said unto Moses, gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

The designation of “upon” deals with the spirit not being permanent, as in eternal life. God’s gift of holy spirit has always been in the individual, as we read earlier in Ezekiel but is described as para, walking beside. 

The manifestation of the spirit is also remarkably like the Old Testament. 

Peter, quoting Joel, spoke of prophecy and dreams and visons. Prophecy, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist in Luke chapter 1. Prophecy like Mary, the mother of Jesus, also in Luke chapter 1. Prophecy like the seventy elders in Numbers 11 that prophesied. Dreams like Joseph had concerning his family in Genesis 37. Or visons like what Ananias had in Acts chapter 9.

These are manifestations of the gift of God’s holy spirit demonstrated in the Old Testament. Like a word of knowledge and a word of wisdom as in Exodus 31 when Bazeleel was chosen to work on the Tabernacle.

But this spirit given on Pentecost in Acts 2 had some unique aspects. One, it was to remain with them for the Age. Two, a new manifestation was heard for the first time when the apostles spoke in tongues.

With all these things in mind, it is time to go to the book of Acts chapter 2.

Acts 2:3-4
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

“There appeared unto them…” the pronouns are still following the apostles from Acts 1:26 but others must have also seen these tongues like as of fire because of a later verse in this chapter.

Acts 2:33
Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 

“Appeared” means to look upon, to see, even to stare at. I would say “to stare at” would best describe what those, other than the apostles, were doing. The word “cloven” is diamerizo in the Greek. This word is used twelve times in the Bible and translated “cloven” only here. It means to divide or to distribute. We saw in John the distribution would be from God to Jesus to the twelve.

According to Dr. E.W. Bullinger it is the figure of speech Ellipsis of repetition with verse 4. He handles verse 3 in this manner: And there appeared unto them, distributed, tongues like as of fire; and it (the holy spirit) sat upon each of them.”

Dr. Bullinger adds, “The tongues were not divided into two parts, as suggested by the popular term “cloven tongues,” but they were divided, or distributed, among the twelve.”

As for what this looked like, that is an answer I cannot provide. If you asked a dozen people, I am sure you would hear a dozen different descriptions. The same would be true if you raised the number to a hundred people.

This substance that was “like as of fire” had to come down in a single column and then distribute itself to the apostles. Fire had always been important in God’s relationship with Israel. Consider Moses.

Exodus 3:2
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

These “tongues, like as of fire” would have spoken loudly to the apostles and should have spoken just as loudly to Israel.

We also have the figure of speech simile, which is a comparison by resemblance, meaning it was not really fire but compared to fire, “like as.” The comparison here is straight forward and simple, the tongues, the holy spirit, that sat upon each apostle, resembled fire.

The final figure of speech here is in verse 4, metonymy whereby one noun is substituted for another. In this case speaking with other “tongues” is used in place of “languages,” the apostles spoke in other languages, other than their own language.

Verse 4 also tells us the apostles spoke, “…as the Spirit gave them utterance.” 

The Spirit, God, gave them what to speak. God gave them the words and the twelve apostles then did the speaking.

Why speaking in tongues, in other languages?

Isaiah 28:11-12
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

The incident deals with impending doom coming from Assyria. Israel’s only opportunity for safety, for rest was to trust in God. They did not and the rest as they say, is history. 

The ten northern tribes are not heard from again until James addresses his Epistle to believers in the Revealing Administration and addresses it to the 12 tribes. John also writes the book of Revelation, also addressed to the Revealing Administration, and speaks of the 144,000 with 12,000 each coming from the twelve tribes.

This fits with the day of Pentecost because God spoke to Israel with stammering lips and other tongues, and many did not listen. The only escape from the coming judgment of God was to trust in Jesus Christ whom God had sent to Israel. 

On the day of Pentecost God acknowledged Jesus Christ had fulfilled the Law given to Moses. At Pentecost there was one way to the Father, Jesus Christ and making him Lord. There were no longer proselytes since there was no longer a Law to follow. However, there was a group of people, that the Nation of Israel held in great disdain. 

Disdain means contempt. Israel viewed these people with contempt, they were unworthy. Who were these people? They were called proselytes at the gate. They believed in the God of Israel, but they did not follow the Law given to Moses.

At Pentecost, with the accomplishments of Jesus Christ came new directions; after taking this new doctrine to Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, believers were to take this message to the uttermost part of the earth.

The only other time speaking in tongues is recorded in the Revealing Administration is in Acts chapter 10 when Cornelius, a proselyte at the gate, and his household believe what was spoken by the Apostle Peter.

The apostles still had some lessons to learn and then to communicate to others in Israel who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We will look at these lessons next.

© Auxano Ministry 2021

A Journey through the Book of Acts