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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 2:3-4 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 20 secs

Filling of the Holy Spirit; Tongues. Acts 2:3,4

People don't realize how much hinges on Acts chapter two. And it is a hinge chapter because things turn on it. What has been before is past with the events of Acts chapter two. Ever since the time of the call of Abraham in Genesis chapter twelve God has put the focal point of the way He has worked to reach humanity through the Jews. He doesn't change from that in that all of the New Testament writers were also Jewish member of the early church, but there is a shift in God's plan and program. He is not replacing Israel. It is clear that God still has a plan and a purpose for Israel but the New Testament teaches that because the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah God has temporarily set them aside in this church age and He begins to do something new in a new organism that is called the church. The church is made up of both Jew and Gentile but ethnicity is not the issue that it was prior to the day of Pentecost. In the Old Testament God worked exclusively through Israel and the plan that God had for reaching the world was that He would build a counter-culture civilization in Israel based on the Law given at Sinai. And as the world saw God's treatment of Israel and saw the blessing of God upon Israel as they walked in obedience to Him, then the world would come to Israel and learn about God and then take that information back to their home countries. That was the means of spreading the truth about God in the Old Testament.

Israel's failure to live up to that responsibility led to their divine discipline. We see this in the warnings to remove them from the land if they did not return to Him, which He did in fulfilment of His promises in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Always there was the promise that if they would return back to Him He would restore them to the land. Now in Acts 2 Israel has rejected the Messiah and because of that there is going to be a warning again of judgment. This is what occurs on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:3 NASB "And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them." So they hear it; they see it; it was experiential. It was not normatively experiential in the life of believers; it was experiential each time it happened in the book of Acts. It happened on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem to an all-Jewish audience. It will happen again when Peter and John take the gospel to the Samaritans, it will happen again when Peter takes the message to the Gentiles (Cornelius), and some similar things will happen when the Old Testament followers of John the Baptist are given the gospel by Paul in Acts 19; and it was experiential because God was doing something new. We are at the beginning of this transition period, but the emphasis to note in the first five chapters of Acts is still on Israel. It is only the Jews who receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at this time, there are no Gentiles involves. There is no Gentile entrance into the church until Acts chapter ten. There is still this transition period and the transition message; there is still the hope that Israel can turn to God and the times of refreshing will come, the times of the kingdom will come, and this is a part of Peter's gospel messages and sermons that we have in the initial period following the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost. 

Acts 2:4 NASB "And they were all filled [pimplemi] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." There are two key doctrines to discuss here. One of the filling of the Spirit and the second has to do with speaking in tongues.

There are two verbs to describe the filling of the Spirit: pleroo [plhrow] and pimplemi [pimplhmi]. They do come from the same root. Ephesians 5:18 (pleroo) is the only time in all of Scripture that there is an imperative in relation to the filling by means of the Spirit. Although these two words come from the same root they are not necessarily interchangeable terms. There is a field of meaning in both of these words that overlaps and where they are interchangeable. Both words are used at times for the fulfilment of Old Testament passages. Both words are used of filling up something, such as a basket or some sort of container, with something. But there the similarity stops. There are distinct meanings within each word group that indicate that they are not always the same. The word used in Acts 2:4 is pimplemi and is not the word used for filling by means of the Spirit mandated in Ephesians 5:18. This is not a ministry of God the Holy Spirit related to spiritual growth and the spiritual life, this is a filling of the Spirit that is related to the pronouncement of the Word of God and the announcement of truth. It is probably close a word that we have that would be related to an act of divine inspiration. This is an enduement of the Spirit for the purpose of making some sort of utterance or some sort of announcement.

Then there is the word pleres [plhrhj]. It is translated "full" or "filled," not as a verb but as an adjective. This is important to understand. When we have a verb it can be used as an imperative, and whenever there is an imperative it is like a mathematical equation that either you do X or you do Y, you can't do both at the same time. When we are told to do something we either do it or we don't do it, we don't have any other option. And an imperative is always addressed to the volition, emphasizing the fact that people have a choice to respond in obedience or to disobey the command. But in an adjective, which is a noun that is used to describe other nouns, its purpose is description. It is not talking about an action, it is not a noun of action; it is simply describing a characteristic. That is how this word is used.

Four verses where this is used in a non-spiritual context: Luke 5:12 NASB "While He was in one of the cities, behold, {there was} a man covered [pleres] with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.'" The word that follows pleres is in the genitive case and it is describing a person's situation or a characteristic of that person. It describes a person who has a power, a gift, a feeling or characteristic quality. So it says he was "full of leprosy," which means he has leprosy. It is an idiomatic way of expressing the characteristic of a person.  

Acts 9:36 NASB "Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated {in Greek} is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did." We have here the adjective pleres and then two genitive phrases which describe her character. She is full of good works and charitable deeds; she does good things, and there is a double object to this adjective. It is describing her character.

Acts 13:10 NASB "and said, 'You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?'" This is the negative use of this same phrase. He is being described as being evil, as being a deceiver, but the phrase that is used is this adjective pleres plus the genitive for deceit and the genitive form of fraud. It is simply characterizing him that he is a con-man, a fraud, a deceiver. It is not doing anything other than making a clear description of the man's character.

Acts 19:28 NASB "When they heard {this} and were filled with rage, they {began} crying out, saying, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'" The crowd reacts to what Paul says in speaking the truth and they become angry, so they are described as being full of wrath. The phrase "full of wrath" describes the anger of the crowd. So we have established the fact that this is nothing more than an idiomatic way of describing a person's character. 

Luke 4:1 NASB "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness." The word "full" here is pleres, an adjective plus a genitive construction of the Holy Spirit. It is a description of His character, it is not a statement that somehow He has more of the Holy Spirit than He had in the previous times in His life. Just as "full of anger, full of good works, full of deceit" are phrases, idioms used to describe character Luke is speaking here. It could indicate, and probably does, spiritual maturity. Jesus had to grow to spiritual maturity in His humanity. He had to be sanctified in His humanity; He had to learn obedience by the things that He suffered. That doesn't mean that He was disobedient, it doesn't mean that He was not sanctified at some point; it doesn't mean that He was carnal at any point; it means that as a human being He had to go through the same growth processes we do, and He had to learn the Word of God in His humanity, learn obedience to God in His humanity, and He had to grow to spiritual maturity. So here we have the phrase "full of the Holy Spirit" which describes Him as a mature spiritually in His humanity.

The reason we say that is because this type of phrase is used of several other people in the New Testament and it has to mean the same thing for everybody. Of course, He is the archetype of what spiritual maturity and humanity is supposed to be. We see it used by the apostle John in John 1:14 NASB "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." It is a descriptive phrase that Jesus is the epitome, the picture of grace and truth.

Acts chapters six and seven is where we have most of the usage of this type of phraseology, primarily related to Stephen but also to the other seven who were chosen by the apostles to help them in the distribution of aid to the Hellenistic widows in Jerusalem. Acts 6:3 NASB "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task." They are expressing their need to have some assistance because the apostles needed to focus on prayer and teaching, and so they are going to seek out seven men. Here again, "full of the Spirit" is a description indicating spiritual maturity; "full of wisdom" is the application of doctrine within that spiritual maturity. This is pleres plus the genitive, not pleroo with a dative.

Acts 6:5 NASB "The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch." "… a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" is a description that Stephen is a man who has faith in God, he has excelled and mastered the faith-rest drill, and "of the Holy Spirit" is a description of spiritual maturity.

Acts 6:8 NASB "And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people." This is describing him. He has faith in God and he has power. He was able to perform miracles just as Philip did and some of the others who were associated with the apostles.

Acts 7:55 NASB "But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." This isn't pleroo, it is pimplemi; a genitive phrase, not a dative phrase so it is not talking about the means of spiritual growth, spiritual life, but it is describing the end product. He has grown to spiritual maturity.

Acts 11:24 NASB "for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord." This is a reference to Barnabas. The phrase "full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" is the same as that made of Stephen, indicating spiritual maturity characterized by a person who trusted God in the details of his life.

This phrase "full of the Holy Spirit" is almost only used in Acts. There is one example of it in the Gospel of John but the rest of them are in the writings of Luke. What this tells us is that the phrase "full of" is an idiom showing a person's attributes, qualities, whether good or bad. Second, we saw that in the case of the Lord it presents His character at the end of a process: that He has reached spiritual maturity and is now prepared for His public ministry and is going to go through His authentication testing in Luke chapter four where the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness because He had become spiritually mature in His humanity. Third, in the case of Stephen and others it described their character—full of faith and wisdom, full of the Spirit and wisdom, full of faith and power. This describes the end result of their spiritual growth and spiritual maturity.

In conclusion, we see that there are three different words that are used all coming off the same root, but they have different applications and distinctly different uses in the Scriptures. pimplemi emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit that results in something spoken, it is never used as an imperative. pleres is an adjective and is always followed by a genitive clause, and it is an idiom that describes the character of a person. It is never used with a dative phrase, so it is not talking about means or instrumentality. Third, we have the use of pleroo in Ephesians 5:18 which is the command to be filled, which means it is passive so we have to respond to it. Somebody else performs the action: God the Father or the Holy Spirit performs the action of filling us, and it is the Holy Spirit who fills us with the content of His Word; but it is we who have to be responsive to His filling. So the command to be filled with the Spirit emphasizes that either-or: Will we be obedient or disobedient? Are we abiding in Christ or are we not abiding in Christ? Are we walking by the Spirit or are we not walking by the Spirit? We are either walking in the light or we are not walking in the light. All of those phrases are ways in which we maintain our fellowship with God. When we quit walking then the default position is to live according to the sin nature and that immediately breaks that fellowship or rapport with God and there has to be a recovery through the use of 1 John 1:9, confession of sin, in order to be restored to a position where we can again go forward in our spiritual growth.

So Acts 2:4 is not talking about spiritual life dynamics, it is talking about a sovereign act of God on someone—in this case the disciples in Jerusalem—for a specific purpose, to give them utterance so that there will be a pronouncement of truths about God as they praise God on the day of Pentecost, and this will attract an enormous crowd.

" … and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." This word "tongues" is really an antiquated English word. We don't use it that much anymore. It is the Greek word glossa [glwssa] which is where we get our word glossalalia, a technical word for speaking in tongues—glossa = tongue; laleo [lalew] = to speak. glossa, though, is never used of ecstatic utterance. If we look in any of the excellent Greek lexicons we will usually see three meanings for glossa. One has to do with that thing that is in your mouth that you use to speak with, and that is the first use of "tongue," the physical organ in your mouth. The second use refers to languages, and this is really how the word was used in English predominantly up until the early 20th century when we began to use the word "language" instead of "tongue" (What language do you speak? What tongue do you speak?). Then there is the third meaning of ecstatic utterance, but the only places that people go to to support that are Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 13 & 14. You can't prove that the Bible teaches ecstatic utterance by using the Bible as the support for that definition, you have to be able to go to some place other than the Bible with all of the hundreds of thousands of Greek documents that we have to find even one place where glossa is used to refer to ecstatic utterance. You can't; it just doesn't happen. It is clear that it refers to a human language that communicates, that is spoken and understood between human beings. So "began to speak with other tongues" should be translated "began to speak with other languages"—languages that they did not learn in the normal way; they did not require the skill in those languages by the normal process. It was a miraculous gift of God so that at that instant they began to speak in a language that they had never learned the normal way.

Look at the response. Acts 2:8 NASB "And how is it that we each hear {them} in our own language to which we were born?" We are told that the apostles spoke in the language and the people heard it in their language. There was a reason for this. This isn't something that just miraculously happened, some isolated incident. God works through history and He sets things up thousands of years ahead of time so that He can work out all of the little details and then bring them to a magnificent demonstration when the time is right.     

We learn of this in the Old Testament. There is a prophecy in Isaiah chapter 28:10-13, but we will read some of the surrounding context. Isaiah is writing at a time when the northern kingdom of Israel has not yet gone out under judgment, hasn't been defeated by the Assyrians, but is about to be. Isaiah is announcing the warning to the northern kingdom that they are about to come under divine judgment.

Isaiah 28:1 NASB "Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty, Which is at the head of the fertile valley Of those who are overcome with wine!" This shows the perversion of the culture in the northern kingdom. They have put all their emphasis on the superficiality of looking good. They have an external beauty; they put all their emphasis on the externals and not on the internals. They are actually given over to the pursuit of personal pleasure above anything else. [2] "Behold, the Lord has a strong and mighty {agent;} As a storm of hail, a tempest of destruction, Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters, He has cast {it} down to the earth with {His} hand." This is figurative language in relation to the armies of the Assyrians that is coming. [3] "The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot." This is the leadership of the northern kingdom of Israel which will be destroyed. [4] "And the fading flower of its glorious beauty, Which is at the head of the fertile valley, Will be like the first-ripe fig prior to summer, Which one sees, {And} as soon as it is in his hand, He swallows it. [5] In that day the LORD of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people." Notice the leap from the past and the judgment that was coming then to the future when God will establish His Messianic kingdom. "In that day" always seems to allude to the day of the Lord. He will only be this to the remnant of His people. The Old Testament recognized that there are two classes in the people of Israel. There is the remnant, i.e. those who are devoted to God and who worship God and are obedient to the Torah. And then there is the rest who are reserved for judgment. Those who are the remnant ar those who will have eternal life and those who will have a future in the Davidic kingdom.   

Isaiah 28:6 NASB "A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment, A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate." That is the role of God. He will provide justice and strength. [7] "And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter {when rendering} judgment." This is the voice of Isaiah: a condemnation, and indictment of the false teachers. [8] "For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a {single clean} place." The imagery moves from physical vomit to the imagery of what they are producing in terms of their leadership. Their leadership is nothing but vomit. 

Then there is a response from the false teachers, thinking that they are ridiculing Isaiah, so they are describing his style of teaching. Isaiah 28:9 NASB "To whom would He teach knowledge, And to whom would He interpret the message? Those {just} weaned from milk? Those {just} taken from the breast? (They are ridiculing Isaiah) [10] "For {He says,} 'Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there.'" Just like what is heard from people who say they don't want to go to a church where someone is exegeting the Word of God, teaching line upon line, word upon word, and going in depth into the Word. It's "Let's go some place and sing praise and worship choruses. Let's go and listen to somebody who is going to make us fell good." This was the ridicule of the time of Isaiah. Isaiah was rejected. He was sawn in two for his faithful message of God. People never seem to want truth.

Then there is a warning from Isaiah. This is his announcement of coming judgment. Isaiah 28:11 NASB "Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue [another language], [12] He [God] who said to them, 'Here is rest, give rest to the weary,' And, 'Here is repose,' but they would not listen." God called them through Abraham to be the covenant people through whom He would speak His word to the nations, and when they rejected Him God said that the judgment is going to be that they would hear God's Word not in Hebrew but in Gentile languages. And when they heard it in Gentile languages; that was the sign that judgment was coming.

The gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost was the first warning shot across the bow of the leadership of Israel that judgment was coming; it was on the horizon. God warns before He brings judgment. They would hear a message of judgment and divine truth in a foreign language, not in the language of Hebrew. Verse 11 is then quoted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:21, 22 as he explains the purpose for tongues. Tongues wasn't given for evangelism; it wasn't a missionary gift. It wasn't given to give people super spirituality or to be a prayer language. Paul tells us that the purpose is right here coming out of Isaiah 28:11.

1 Corinthians 14:21, 22 NASB  In the Law it is written, 'BY MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME,' says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy {is for a sign,} not to unbelievers but to those who believe." It is a sign of judgment.

All of this goes back to Deuteronomy 28 where there is an announcement of all the judgments that God is going to bring upon Israel progressively as they become progressively perverted and reject God. Ultimately foreigners are going to come into the land, destroy their house and their crops, and they are going to be removed from the land. And in the midst of all of that the Lord said in Deuteronomy 28:49, 50 NASB "The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young." In other words, When you hear Gentile languages in the temple you are going to know that judgment is around the corner. It is not that they are hearing the gospel. There is no place in any of the examples that we find in Acts of tongues where they are giving the gospel to unbelievers. In Acts 2 they speak of the wonders of God. That might include the gospel, and certainly Peter when he preached gave the gospel, but that is not the point. The point is that simply hearing Gentile languages in the court of the temple is an affront to everything that was meant to be Jewish. God speaks in Hebrew! What are these Gentile languages doing here? It is a sign of judgment. That judgment came to Israel in AD 70.

Acts 2:5 NASB "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven."