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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 2:1 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 21 secs

Different Fillings of the Spirit.  Acts 2:1


Acts chapter two brings us to that great event, the day of Pentecost in approximately AD 33 which is the day of the birth of the church. There is something that happens on the day of Pentecost that is a break with what has happened before. It wasn't as clear at that time because this was a transition period. The thing about the book of Acts that is important to remember is that it is a transition. There are certain things that happened on the day of Pentecost which indicate that this is where the break occurs, where there is something new and radically different that God is doing in history, but He is nevertheless still reaching out to the Jews and there is still the offer on the table for the kingdom. 

Acts 2:1 NASB "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place." The first thing we should ask ourselves is who are the they? In the last verse of chapter one to whom does the "they" refer? It refers to the 120 in the upper room. These included women as well as men, it included the eleven disciples plus Matthias, and it was a pretty crowded room. These 120 people only came together for one day during the ten-day period between the ascension and the day of Pentecost and they came together for this time of prayer and the selection of a disciple to replace Judas. Then they went home, except for maybe the eleven who were staying in that upper room. Some of them may have had family in Jerusalem and were staying with them but they didn't all stay together.

All the way through chapter one the third person plural pronoun "they" usually refers to the eleven but when we come to the end of the chapter the last plural noun is apostles and the first plural pronoun in chapter two is "they" and the nearest antecedent to which it would refer is "apostles." So in 2:1 "they" is restricted to the eleven plus Matthias. They were in the house getting ready to go together to the temple on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost is an annual feast. There were three major feasts in the Jewish calendar that required all adult Jewish males to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to go to the temple. On any of these days there would be a swelling of the population of Jerusalem of, according to Josephus, about 150,000 people. All of a sudden the city would be just packed out. They are coming from all over the Roman empire and beyond.

It was called the feast of weeks because it is seven weeks or 49 days after Passover. The observance in terms of the Old Testament ritual is laid out in Leviticus 3:15-21. There are seven other passages that mention the feast of weeks, four in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament—Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:9-12; Acts 2:1-4; 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8. This is the most significant reference to it. At Passover there was the feast of first fruits and it is the first fruits of the spring harvest season, whereas the feast of weeks celebrates the first fruits of the summer harvest festival. They are both representing the first fruits of the harvest, and the feast of the harvest comes at the end of the spring harvest period at the very beginning of the summer harvesting period. It was a time period when the Jewish people were commanded to rejoice. It was a joyous festival because they were rejoicing in God's provision for them, that He had given them a full harvest.

In the biblical practice they were to take two loaves of bread that were leavened. It was the only time in any of the sacrifices that leaven was allowed. Remember that leaven always depicts sin. The loaves were laid out on a single sheet and they were a waive offering to the Lord. In terms of Jewish practice today they read the book of Ruth because some of the action of Ruth takes place at a time of harvest. Ruth was a Gentile who converted to the Old Testament practice of the Law, and because she was a convert to the obedience to the Law this is how Judaism interprets the feast as the time of the reading of the Law.

What are the implications for the day of Pentecost? It is part of the Jewish calendar and is the final of three feasts that occur in the spring calendar—Passover, Feast of First Fruits, Pentecost. Passover is a depiction of the sacrifice of the lamb which represents Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, it is a depiction of God's redemption of the nation, and it is a depiction of God's provision of a new life. It all deals with the process of salvation. The day of First Fruits is a depiction of the resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead on the day of First Fruits. Every single Jewish holiday points to something and there is a comparable fulfilment that occurs on that day.

What is surprising is that when we read about the day of Pentecost we will find a number of writers who will say it was fulfilled in the birth of the church. What is wrong with that? These are all related to God's plan for Israel, not the church. The church was not expected, there is no prophecy related to the church in the Old Testament. The birth of the church on the day of Pentecost is not a fulfilment of the typology of Pentecost from the Old Testament. What is it? What was promised in the New covenant to Israel? Jeremiah 31:33 and again in Joel 2: the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If Israel had accepted Jesus as the Messiah He would have brought in the kingdom. Some people say, well He had to die. The Romans would have killed Him. God's plan is not going to suffer because somebody didn't execute the way they should have. Jesus still would have been executed as a payment for sin and the day of Pentecost would have been fulfilled within the Jewish calendar in terms of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit still came on the day of Pentecost to the Jews. Was there anybody there who wasn't Jewish who received the Holy Spirit? Not one. So it is a perfect fulfilment and typology in relationship to Israel. And Peter's message on the day of Pentecost and his message again in Acts 3 are both going to offer the kingdom to Israel again even though they have rejected it. They rejected it from John the Baptist, they rejected it from Jesus and they are still going to reject it. But we still have typologies related to Israel and God's plan for Israel, not to the church.

Is this outpouring going to be fulfilled when the Holy Spirit is poured out on Israel at the end of the Tribulation? We don't' think so, it is fulfilled already. The typology is that the feast of trumpets which comes in the fall is the typology to be fulfilled when the Messiah comes triumphantly. It is a long time from September to get around to the next May or June. There is nothing Scriptural that allows for that long a time frame, there are only 75 days for the cleanup. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit comes prior to the second coming or at the time of the second coming which fits in the early fall calendar. So this has already been fulfilled. God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the Jewish people, but it was only those who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah. The two loaves possibly represent Gentiles and the Jews who are brought together in the church as one, but it is God's outpouring of the Spirit to all mankind which typically in the Scripture is categorized  as Jews and Greeks.

When we get into the next verse we see what suddenly occurs that surprises the apostles. They are not expecting it. Jesus didn't say wait for the Holy Spirit, He's coming on the day of Pentecost. He just said wait until the promise from the Father is fulfilled. Acts 2:2 NASB "And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting." Think of a tornado. This isn't just a small wind storm; it is like a locomotive coming down from the temple mount.

We have an interesting play on words here. Luke is not necessarily known for his use of paronomasias but he does that here. In this verse he uses pleroo [plhrow] which has the meaning of to fill or to fulfil. The root ple is also the root of a second word pimplemi [pimplhmi]—it's in the middle of the word. So we have pleroo and pimplemi and even though they are built off the same root they don't have the same usage. They are synonyms in one way but they are not interchangeable. Dispensationalists have made this mistake many times and have argued on the use of pimplemi which is used of the Holy Spirit a number of times. We can read Chafer, Walvoord, Ryrie and many others and they go to these verses and all say this shows that the filling of the Holy Spirit is a repeated event. What's wrong with that? It is a repeated event but the word that is the command in Ephesians 5:18 to become filled or to be filled by means of the Holy Spirit is pleroo, not pimplemi. pimplemi is a different word. It has similar meanings but it is always used in unique and distinct circumstances and you can't argue from the circumstances of pimplemi to understand the distinctions of pleroo. Yet they all did that, and all flunked Greek at this point. As a result Chafer's view related to confession and the filling by means of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18 has come under attack wrongly because of this misunderstanding of how these two words are used.

Acts 2:2 NASB "And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting." There was noise, and "like a violent rushing wind" means that they felt something as well. The word there for "wind" is not the exact word pneuma [pneuma] it is a cognate built off the root, pnoes [pnohj] which means a powerful wind. It "filled" the house. One of the meanings of pleroo is to fill something up. Then we read in verse 3 the next thing that happened.

Acts 2:3 NASB "And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them." They are seeing something visual that comes in and is over their heads, and it looks like these tongues are flames of fire. We are told that one sat upon each of them. So this is a manifestation of God and they can visually see and feel and hear that something was happening. They are not having a shared group hallucination here, there is something objective and real that is taking place. It is seen, felt and heard. So the result, verse 4.

Acts 2:4 NASB "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." We have two doctrines in this verse. The first is related to understanding the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit and the second is this thing called tongues, and their relationship to one another. The word here for "filled" is pimplemi [pimplhmi]—aorist passive third person plural—they were all filled. The passive voiced means they were acted upon. It doesn't have anything to do with their volition; there is something that happens to them apart from their volition. Ephesians 5:18, "Be filled by means of the Spirit," is a command. That is volitional, and it is the first clue that it is something different in Acts 2:4. This is something that happens to them apart from their volition and is unexpected, a sovereign act of God.

The "Holy Spirit" is pneumatos hagiou [pneumatoj a(giou] which is a genitive construction. The genitive isn't expressing means, it is expressing content here. They were full of the Holy Spirit. And what was the result of their filling? What did they do? They spoke. In both the words pleroo and pimplemi the root ple has the idea of filling something up, but it is applied and used in some similar ways and some different ways. First, the core common meaning is that something is filled up like you fill up a bucket with water. That is applied in different ways. Both words are used describe the fulfilment of prophecy, so it is something that comes to a state of being full or being filled, used in an idiomatic way of being brought to completion—not in the sense of teleioo [teleiow] which is maturity but in the sense of bringing something to its fullness or wholeness. For example, in Luke 21:22, speaking of the judgment on Jerusalem that would come in AD 70,  NASB "because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled." There it is used to describe fulfilment of prophecy. It is used also as a descriptive phrase. It describes people. In some cases they are full of wrath, full of anger, full of confusion. So it is used adjectivally where the noun that is the object of the verb that is in the genitive case describes a characteristic that dominates at that particular moment. The adjective form is used that same way when it is used to describe certain people in terms of their character, as with Stephen who is described as being "full"—pleres [plhrhj], adjective—of wisdom and the Spirit. It is descriptive. Examples:

Luke 4:28 NASB "And all {the people} in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things."

Acts 3:10 NASB "and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to {beg} alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him."

Acts 5:17 NASB "But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy."

Acts 19:29 NASB "The city was filled with the confusion…"

In those ways of being descriptive and just talking about the basic meaning of fulfilment of prophecy or filling up something that is where there is the overlap between pimplemi and pleroo. But pimplemi moves in another direction when it is talking about the Spirit, e.g. when someone is full of the Spirit. Examples:

Luke 1:41 NASB "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." But that is not the end of the sentence. [42] "And she cried out with a loud voice and said, 'Blessed {are} you among women, and blessed {is} the fruit of your womb! [43] And how has it {happened} to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? [44] For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. [45] And blessed {is} she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.'" So she was filled with the Spirit, and what did she do? She spoke. In Acts 2 they were filled with the Spirit and they spoke, in Luke 1 Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit and she speaks.

Zacharias didn't believe the angel so he was struck dumb until the baby was born. Once the baby was born he began to speak. Luke 1:67 NASB "And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying." We see a pattern here. He is pimplemi and what does he do? He speaks, he prophesies.

Acts 4:31 NASB "And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and {began} to speak the word of God with boldness." pimplemi is followed by speaking. This isn't talking about Ephesians 5:18 and the spiritual life. In this case did they ask for it, did they look for it, did they do anything, did they confess their sins? No, it is just a sovereign one-time act of God at that particular time for a sovereign purpose that ends with some sort of statement. They are speaking in some way.

Acts 4:8 NASB "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, 'Rulers and elders of the people.'" So before his third sermon there he is filled with the Holy Spirit [pimplemi] and he speaks.

The next one looks like we have a problem, it doesn't fit the pattern. Well let's see what happens. This is after Saul has been confronted by the resurrected, glorified Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and he is blinded by the bright flash of the Shekinah glory and then goes to Damascus under orders from the Lord to meet a person who will then come to him and cure his blindness. 

Acts 9:17 NASB "So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' [18] And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; [19] and he took food and was strengthened…" He didn't speak. Well not yet. [20] "and immediately he {began} to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.'" So he is speaking.

The point is that pimplemi events are always followed by somebody speaking, somebody giving a message, somebody having a career as a prophet giving a message.


1.  pimplemi is always repeated, unexpected fillings. We can't go to these as a pattern for the fulfilment of Ephesians 5:18 which is a totally different event. They start in a different dispensation. They start in Luke chapter one with a prophecy about John the Baptist, then we have Elizabeth, then Zacharias; all in another dispensation and doesn't have anything to do with the church age ministry of the Holy Spirit.

2.  They are all followed with some kind of utterance. It is something similar to inspiration that is going on here. It is not identical to inspiration, it is something similar.

3.  Then we come to the second word, pleroo [plhrow]. It is also used to fulfil prophecy. E.g. Matthew 2:15, 17, 23. It is the dominant word rather than pimplemi.

4.  pimplemi is also used of just filling something up, such as in Acts 2:2 where the wind filled up the room. Acts 5:3 NASB "But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back {some} of the price of the land?'" This is also a controversial passage among some people. Competent theologians have said that this was a verse showing that Ananias was Satan possessed. There is no possession terminology here. Satan didn't fill him; Satan filled his heart to do something. "Heart" often stands for the mind of the thinking part of the soul. It is influence. Satan influenced, he did not control Ananias. The word "filled" here is pleroo; it is his influence, just like it is in Ephesians 5:18. It is not control, it is influence. This is the parallel passage for understanding that pleroo means influence, not control. Another way it is used is for time: when so and so has filled up 40 years of life; when they had completed the journey; at the end of three days, the fulfilment of three days. It is a sort of idiom. Acts 7:23; 9:23.

Ephesians 5:18 NASB "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." This comes in a section of Ephesians that is talking about how a believer is to live. The metaphor that is used for that is the word "walking." Christians are commanded in Ephesians 4:1 NASB "…to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." Cf. 5:2. There are seventeen imperatives culminating in the last command (5:18) which is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But there is a contrast there which always derails people: "Do not be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit."

That is a bad translation because in the Greek it is the preposition en [e)n] with the dative of pneuma [pneuma] for "Spirit." That can be in the sphere of something or it can be by means of something. It should be instrumental and most people understand it that way. "With" implies association, and it also implies to some people that you are filled with content. But the Greek uses a verb plus the dative, and datives don't communicate content. Content is like when I say: "Go fill my cup with coffee." That is talking about what goes into the cup. That is when a genitive expression is used. If I want to say: "Fill the cup up by means of something, fill it up with what is in the coffee pot," I am talking about means. That is not talking about the content, it is just talking about the instrument that is used to fill the coffee cup. So Ephesians 5:18 doesn't tell us what we are being filled with in terms of content. We are not getting any more of the Holy Spirit. We never get more of the Holy Spirit than the day we were saved.

When we look at this verse it looks like there is a comparison between what happens to a person who drinks too much wine and what happens to a person who is filled with the Spirit. This is not making a comparison of control. It is not talking about "Don't let wine control you but let the Holy Spirit control you." To understand this we have to have some understanding of the religious background of the Graeco-Roman empire, especially in the area of what is now modern Turkey and in Greece. Out of Anatolea (Turkey) there came this god known as Dionysius who was the god of wine. He was worshipped in all manner of drunken orgies where the female high priestesses would have these orgies, eat raw meat, and would dance and whirl and play tambourines and cymbals. They would drink wine and work themselves up into an inebriated state so that the god would enter into them and they would commune and have fellowship with the god, and the god would strengthen them. All these things would happen, including ecstatic utterance. This Worship was all over the Greek empire at that time. How did they have fellowship with Dionysius? Through wine. The instrument that gave you fellowship and rapport and intimacy with the god was wine.

So Paul says here that wine isn't the means to spirituality: "Don't be drunk with wine, which is excess"—asotia [a)swtia], a lack of health—"unhealthy, but be filled by means of the Spirit." He is contrasting the divine viewpoint way of spirituality which is to be filled by means of the Spirit with the pagan view which is to go out and get filled with wine and then the god will fill you and you will become one with him.

When we look at this verse and see what the consequences are of being filled with the Spirit (instrumental dative) we find they are expressed through a series of participles, starting in verse 19. We are singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and making melody to the Lord with all our hearts, giving thanks… So singing as part of worship is characteristic of being filled by means of the Spirit. Then, "always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." That is going to manifest itself in marriage, home and family life, and in work life.

Colossians 3:16 NASB "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…" What does that have to do with being filled by means of the Spirit? The Spirit is the means of the filling and the content of the filling is the Word of God. "…with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." The results of one command are the same results of the other command. What does that tell us? That those two commands are talking about two actions that are complementary to one another; they work together in tandem, the Spirit of God with the Word of God. We can't have the Spirit of God alone; we can't have the Word of God alone. It is the Spirit who fills you with His Word. If we are walking in dependence on the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16) the Holy Spirit is filling us with His Word. When we stop we are no longer being filled by the Holy Spirit. He is going other things: slapping us around, getting our attention, disciplining us, trying to get us to confess our sins; but He is not producing growth anymore, He is not using the Word to fill us because we said we don't want it.

That is how Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16 fit together. It is the Spirit of God plus the Word of God in tandem to produce spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. So when we look at a passage like Acts 2:3 we read that they were all filled withy the Holy Spirit it is not pleroo, it is pimplemi. It is not talking about the spiritual life, walking by the Holy Spirit or anything like that, it is talking about a sovereign, unique, discreet act of God, unexpected, not asked for, which is going to result in speaking certain things and the boldness that comes with it, and speaking truth. "…and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." The word translated "tongues" means languages; it is the normal word that was used for language. It never means ecstatic utterance.