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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 1:4-8 by Robert Dean
Duration:59 mins 24 secs

The Coming of the Spirit. Acts 1:4-8

We are going to get into some very interesting territory regarding the ministry of God the Holy Spirit: what happens when the church is basically given birth to when the church begins in Acts chapter two, and all of this is related to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. In 1:4-8 we are really introduced to this topic of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4 NASB "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, 'Which,' {He said,} 'you heard of from Me; [5] for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.' [6] So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?' [7] He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; [8] but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.'"

Notice a few things in these verses by way of orientation. The focus is on the Holy Spirit. We have the mention of the promise of the Father in verse 4, and that promise is defined in the remainder of that sentence (v. 5) as the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. Then in verse 6, in the context of that, there is the question from the disciples: Is it at this time that you are going to establish the kingdom? So they clearly understand from their knowledge of the Old Testament that there is this connection between the arrival of the kingdom—i.e. the messianic kingdom that was promised in the Old Testament, focusing on the future ruler, the descendant of David, the God-Man who would rule over this kingdom—and a ministry of the Holy Spirit; which is correct. So the Lord is reminding them, v. 5, of what John the Baptist had promised in terms of the baptism of the Spirit. They are making a legitimate and important connection between the coming of the Spirit and the kingdom.

In Acts chapter two when Peter stands up to explain what has just happened the verses that he goes to are verses from Joel chapter two, verses 28, 29 which speak of what will take place at the end of what we describe as the seven-year Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennial kingdom. It hits that transition when the Lord returns and establishes His kingdom. Joel 2:28 NASB "It will come about after this [The last days of Israel] that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions." Then Peter said in Acts 2:22 NASB "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--" All of this shows the connection between what happened on the day of Pentecost, this quotation from an Old Testament passage, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So in this whole section, starting with Jesus' reminder of the promise of the Father given through John the Baptist related to the baptism of the Spirit, the events on the day of Pentecost, Peter is connecting these events in some way.

Starting in Matthew 13 Jesus went through that series of parables to show that there would be an intervening age before the kingdom began and that this intervening age would be characterized by a number of different features. There would be a growth of evil along with good, and this intervening age would end in a judgment that would necessarily take place before the kingdom would come in. So we saw that the kingdom was offered, the kingdom was rejected, and the kingdom was postponed.

There are other interpretations that have come up in recent years, especially related to us somehow being in a form of the kingdom or the kingdom is here, it was inaugurated but not fully established. This is not what we find in the Scriptures. What we find is a complete postponement of the kingdom because for there to be the messianic kingdom there has to be a certain ministry of the Holy Spirit, one that we don't find today. We find something similar but nothing that is in any way equated to what is promised in the Old Testament. We do not have a Davidic ruler on a literal throne in Jerusalem or any of the other characteristics that are given in the Old Testament related to the kingdom. So there is no way that we can say that we are in a form of the kingdom. In fact, Jesus the Son of Man is seated right now, a position of passivity, at the right hand of the Father. And we learn from Daniel seven that He isn't given the kingdom until just prior to His return. It is at His return that He is faced with the rebellion of the kings of the earth, as seen in Psalm 2, and He defeats the kings of the earth and establishes His kingdom.

When He establishes His kingdom that is when the new covenant goes into effect. There is only one new covenant that is mentioned in the Scriptures and that is the new covenant that is made between God and the house of Israel and the house of Judah. As part of that covenant God is blessing the Gentiles, just as He did as part of the Abrahamic covenant. The Gentiles are the benefactors of a contract but they are not parties of the contract. This new covenant is the basis for establishing a new priesthood, and that new priesthood is the priesthood that Jesus Christ had as a priest after the order of Melchizedek. There is a change of priesthood and that requires a change of contract. The sacrifice is established at the cross but the contract itself doesn't go into effect until the future. But because it is future and because that is where everything is headed there are, as it were, proleptic (things that happen ahead of time in preparation for the future) blessings applied in the church age. Because we as the church are in Christ we are being trained to rule and reign with Him as members of His body in the Millennial kingdom and everything is this age is oriented in that direction. But we are not living under the new covenant per se right now; we are beneficiaries of its blessing components. Every time we find the new covenant mentioned and the parties to the new covenant mentioned it is between God and Israel; there is never mention of a new covenant with the church. We come back to the principle we've seen in the Abrahamic covenant: all the blessings that come to the human race all come through covenants that God made with Israel and Judah.    

What we have seen in verse 3 is that during this forty-day period that Jesus is on the earth with His disciples before He ascends to heaven He is teaching them with reference to the kingdom of God. He is not teaching them about the kingdom per se, He isn't giving Bible classes on the messianic kingdom; what He is going is what He did in Matthew 13, in John 13-17, He is teaching about what the church age believers need to be doing in order to be prepared for their position in order to rule and reign in the kingdom when it comes. That is our destiny. Jesus is the High Priest, our priesthood is derivative from His high priesthood, and that is how we relate to the new covenant.

What we have learned from new covenant passages is that the role of the Holy Spirit is critical to the inauguration and the enactment of the new covenant, and there are specific blessing related to that.

So Acts 1:4 NASB "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, 'Which,' {He said,} 'you heard of from Me; [5] for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'" When they hear this in the context of discussion about the kingdom they are starting to think this out and put two and two together so that their question—"Lord is it now that you are establishing the kingdom?"—is a legitimate question to ask in light of what He has just said about the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 32:15 NASB "Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field, And the fertile field is considered as a forest." This is a passage related to the future restoration of the Jews to the land. The focal point is on the future—"until." The only passages that talk about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit are like Joel 2:28 and others that put this at the end of the Tribulation period; and this is what begins the Millennial kingdom. [16] "Then justice will dwell in the wilderness And righteousness will abide in the fertile field."

Ezekiel 11:19 NASB "And I will give them one heart [mind], and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh." The giving of this new spirit is related to the restoration of the Jews to the land. We don't have a restoration of a regenerate body of Jews to the land right now; we have a political ethnic restoration but not the restoration that comes at the end of the Tribulation.

Ezekiel 36:26 NASB "Ezek 36:26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [27] I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." So this presence of the Holy Spirit with the new covenant results in the obedience of the people. That is not what we find today. We have the presence of the Holy Spirit but the presence of the Holy Spirit in terms of believing, filling, or any of the other ministries of the Holy Spirit is not a guarantee of obedience. It is, though, in the Millennial kingdom. We can't confuse what happened on the day of Pentecost and the ministry of the Holy Spirit that began then with what is depicted and described by the prophets in the Old Testament.

Ezekiel 37:14 NASB "I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it," declares the LORD.'"

Ezekiel 39:29 NASB "I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares the Lord GOD." Notice this pouring out of the Spirit is directly related to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. There is a uniqueness about the role of the Holy Spirit in the new covenant to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will be distinct from its ministry to the Gentiles in the Millennial kingdom.

Jeremiah 32:38, 39 NASB "They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for {the good of} their children after them."

The central passage on the new covenant is Jeremiah 31:31-33 NASB "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." There will be an intuitive complete knowledge of doctrine in the Millennial kingdom. That is not true today.

The disciples were fully aware of these Old Testament promises in relationship to Israel and that that comes at the beginning of the kingdom. So they are making a legitimate inference and asking a legitimate question of the Lord. Acts 1:4 NASB "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, 'Which,' {He said,} 'you heard of from Me." This begins with a present active participle, "Being assembled" and it is related to an aorist tense verb that they were already assembled together in Jerusalem. The aorist tense verb means something in the past, so a present tense participle means it either happened simultaneously with the action or it could precede it a little bit, which is the normal sense here. They would have to be assembled before He could command them. It is probably best understood as an adverbial participle of time: "while they were assembled." The word translated "being assembled" could mean, as in some cases, the idea of fellowship around the table while they are eating, or it can just mean when they are gathered together. There is some debate on this but it probably has the second meaning.

He tells them not to depart from Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the center of God's plan. Many passages indicate that God's heart is set on Jerusalem, passages that indicate that from God's perspective Jerusalem is at the center of world history. It is the center of God's plan. They are to wait for the promise of the Father which is specifically stated in the next verse. Jesus explains what He means by the promise of the Father. God doesn't leave it up to us to guess at what He means. The promise is related to that which came through John the Baptist, related to something called the baptism by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5 NASB "for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." At the beginning of this is a particle that is not the normal particle for explanation, which is gar [gar], but a Greek word that indicates He is giving further information or expanding upon something already said. The phrase "with water" doesn't have a preposition. The form of the word for water there is hudati [u(dati)]. The ati ending indicates it is a dative singular, and there is no preposition. A dative in and of itself can just have an instrumental sense or a sense of means or instrument. If you really want to make that clear then you add the preposition en [e)n] which is in the next phrase, "but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit"— en pneumati [e)n pneumati]. The translators in the KJV, NKJV were consistent and they used the same English preposition in both phrases, because they understood that a parallel is being drawn there and so it is accorded to be consistent. The problem in many translations is that when there is this phrase en pneumati in the Greek it is not consistently translated with the same English preposition, and so it is very confusing. It should always be translated in the sense of an instrumental or means in the sense of "by means of the Holy Spirit."

We have to get into the baptism of the Holy Spirit here because everything in the next couple of chapters relates to this promise that is about to be fulfilled at this point.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit did not occur in the Old Testament. It does not occur at all until Acts chapter two.

The first baptism by the Holy Spirit occurred on the day of Pentecost in AD 33 approximately. 

The baptism by the Holy Spirit has become a controversial doctrine because of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. The Pentecostal movement came out of what was called the Holiness movement that was a sort of Wesleyan Methodist movement in the middle of the 19th century which was trying to motivate and inspire people to live moral and spiritual lives as opposed to living like the world. In this holiness movement there was the idea that a believer had two acts of grace. You got part of it at the cross when you trusted Christ but you didn't have real power for the Christian life until you dedicated yourself or had some sort of second or subsequent experience that came later on. By the end of the 19th century they began to identify that second act of grace as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then they began to say that the real sign that you had been baptized by the Holy Spirit was speaking in tongues.

The problem that we see with the Charismatic movement is the one about being dependent upon an English translation. When you base your theology on what the English says, especially the KJV, you are going to get into trouble. Notice these passages: Matthew 3:11 in the KJV John the Baptist says, "I, indeed, baptize you with water unto repentance, but he who cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire." Notice the prepositions are "with, with and with." Now look at 1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV "For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

Notice that in Matthew 3:11 Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 it looks in the English as if the Holy Spirit is the one who is doing the baptizing. That is the ambiguity of that phrase "by one Spirit were we baptized." Also there are two different prepositions used for the same Greek phrase. In both places is the preposition en [e)n] plus the dative of pneuma [pneuma]. So en pneumati in Matthew 3:11 is translated "with" and in 1 Corinthians 12:13 it is translated "by." The Charismatics came along and said we have two baptisms of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospels it is "with the Holy Spirit," and that occurs at salvation. But then you have "by the Holy Spirit," and that occurs after salvation. So you have two baptisms. The trouble is it is the same phrase in the Greek in both places, the confusion is because the English translator in 1 Corinthians didn't translate the preposition the same way as the translator of the Gospels translated it. What we have in 1 Corinthian s 12:13 is "For by one Spirit," i.e. en pneumati, "we were all baptized into one body. The word for "baptize" is the Greek word baptizo [baptizw] which is an aorist passive indicative. The subject of the verb isn't mentioned, the one who is performing the action. It is a passive construction; somebody is doing the baptizing to us but it is not the Holy Spirit. In Greek the one who performs the action of the baptizing in a passive verb construction is indicated by the preposition hupo [u(po)] or dia [dia], not by the preposition en. The trouble is in English when we convert a sentence to a passive construction we do it with the preposition "by." So we have this sentence: "For by one Spirit were we all baptized (we received the action of the verb) into one body," and that is indicated by the preposition eis [e)ij]. If we don't look at the details we end up with a bad theology. We have to pay attention to the prepositions. In Greek the agent is expressed by either hupo or dia and the means is indicated by en. The conclusion is that when we apply that back to 1 Corinthians 12:13 when it says "For by one Spirit," i.e. by means of the Spirit, the Spirit is the means and it is the means in Matthew 3:11. 1 Corinthians 12:13 just doesn't tell us who performs the action. Matthew 3:11 says that the action is performed by Jesus: "the one who comes after me will baptize you by means of the Holy Spirit." In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul isn't concerned about who is performing the action, he just wants to emphasize the means, the Holy Spirit, as the one who is the means of performing the action.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit, first prophesied by John the Baptist at the incarnation and again by Jesus Christ in Acts 1:5. Each of those times the baptism of the Holy Spirit is future. But by the time we get in to the middle of Acts it is all past. That means it had to have taken place on the day of Pentecost.

In Matthew the subject of the active voice verb is Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ who performs the action of baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. So the second part of the verse should be translated: "He shall baptize you with or by means of the Holy Spirit and with or by means of fire." What really helps us to understand this is the parallelism with what John does. John says: "I baptize you with water or by means of water." John is using water as the means or the instrument to do something: to identify them with repentance. John the Baptist uses water to identify the believer with repentance, a new state. That is parallel to how Jesus is going to use the Holy Spirit. Just as John uses water as a picture of cleansing to indicate that this believer has been cleansed because spiritually he has repented, changed his mind about the Messiah, Jesus is going to use the Holy Spirit as the cleansing agent in taking the corrupt spiritually dead believer and identify him with His death, burial and resurrection, and bring him into the body of Christ.  What John does with water is a picture of how Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to bring about cleansing. Think about Titus 3:5 NASB "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." It is the same imagery that is used there. God uses this imagery of washing, the physical washing in baptism, because it is picturing something that happens in the spiritual realm that relates to the positional cleansing that takes place in the believer at the instant of salvation when he is identified with Christ's death, burial and resurrection and is placed into the body of Christ.

Jesus uses the same verbiage in Acts 1:5 NASB "John baptized with [by means of] water, but you will be baptized [future passive] with [by means of] the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Based on Matthew 3:11 and its parallels in Mark and Luke, who is doing the baptizing? Jesus. Who does He use to bring it about? The Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit is the instrument or the means to effect the cleansing of the believer and his identification with Christ. We see this same sort of formula used in other baptism passages, e.g. 1 Corinthians 10:2 which is talking about the Israelites as they left Egypt. They were all baptized, aorist passive. Who does the baptizing? It doesn't tell us who the agent of the verb is, it just gives us a passive verb; they were all baptized or identified into Moses. Those who came for John's baptism were baptized into repentance. Church age believers are baptized into Christ. The "into" clause indicates the goal or direction. 1 Corinthians 12:13, "by one Spirit," the means, "we were all (every single believer) baptized," aorist passive, no agent is identified, "into one body… whether Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free, we are all made to drink of one Spirit." Drinking is a sort of counterpart to the pouring out, the verb that is used in the Old Testament. But "pouring out" is a non-technical word and it can describe anything related to the Holy Spirit, it is not specific to indwelling, filling or baptism.

In summary, Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to identify the believer with Christ just as John used water to identify the believer in his time with repentance. The result is that there is a unity among believers. When Ephesians 4:5 talks about one Lord, one faith and one baptism it is not talking about water baptism, it is talking about the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. When we get into Acts we discover that there are basically four "Pentecosts": the one that occurs in Acts 2, the one that occurs with the Samaritan believers, and the one that occurs with the Gentiles in Acts 10, and the one that occurs in Acts 19 with the disciples of John the Baptist. Each one is at the hands of the apostles to show that there is a unity; it is not done by separate individuals, so you can't break the church down ethnically. There is not a distinction between Jew and Greek. The implication is stated in Galatians 3:27, 28 that in the body of Christ distinctions related to race, sex and economics do not apply to our relationship to God. It does apply different things that we can and cannot do; it doesn't eradicate economic differences. But in the Old Testament under the Mosaic Law women could not come in beyond the court of the women in the temple. Women could not serve as priests so there were distinctions that women could not come into the presence of God; men could. In the New Testament all members of the body of Christ can come into the presence of God. There are distinctions. Women are not permitted to teach men doctrine, 1 Timothy 2:8-13, but that doesn't have to do with their spiritual, personal relationship with God. In the Old Testament slaves could not go beyond a certain point in the temple either. Only three men could come into the presence of God but in the church, because of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all have equal access to the throne of God.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit provides retroactive identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, which is the basis then for our victory over the sin nature, Romans 6:3-5. Because we are identified with Christ the tyranny of the sin nature is broken—not its presence, we still have the same sin nature, the same problems, but we are no longer forced to follow only the sin nature.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit began the church age, Matthew 16:15 cf. Acts 1:5; 11:15, 17.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the basis for positional truth.

It is not an experience of any kind. We can only know it because we have studied the Word of God.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit places us in Christ and in His body. This is what is being formed in this age.

The baptism by means of the Holy Spirit is the work of Christ whereby at the moment of faith alone in Christ alone Christ uses the Holy Spirit in the act of regeneration to identify the believer with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ so that he becomes a new creature in Christ where the old things are passed away and all things are new.