The Ministries of God the Holy Spirit Today: Filled by the Spirit
Ephesians 2:21–22; 5:18; Colossians 3
Ephesians Lesson #081
August 30, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father we’re so thankful for this opportunity to study Your Word, to be refreshed by the truth of Your Word, to see how consistent Your Word is, to see the consistency in language confirming what we believe—that every word, every form of every word is breathed out by You. That the Word of God is completely and totally from You and not the word of man.
“Father, help us as we study through You the Word today to see clarity, to understand the distinctions that are made in Your Word that we might come to a clearer fuller understanding of what it means to be filled by God the Holy Spirit. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
We are looking at another ministry of God the Holy Spirit today: to be filled by the Spirit. What exactly does it mean to be filled by the Spirit?
We live in a theological world that for the last 2,000 years has seen any number of different interpretations, ideas and opinions upon what it means to be filled by the Spirit. In the last 200 years I think some of these have multiplied, but we have to look at what the Scripture says.
I’ll show you three basic views on this; two of which I would not agree with, one I agree with; and we need to understand why.
One of the reasons that we have this confusion is that there are various phrases that are translated in a similar way. You have people described as being full of the Spirit in Acts or filled with the Spirit. Our passage talks about being filled with the Spirit in some translations, filled by the Spirit in other translations.
So naturally when people have translations that offer two different prepositions, and then you have these other phrases that you find in Acts and in the Gospels, it’s no wonder people can get confused, because there just isn’t a consistency of translation.
Part of that is just the limitations of the English language and what happens whenever you look at prepositions. So today we will look at some things in detail; to look at grammar. Anybody who glazes over, I guess I’ll have to call on you and have you recite. That’s your threat for the morning. I’m not going to do that; I’m just having fun with you this morning, but we have to get into these technicalities.
Somebody may say, “Well, why do you get so technical sometimes?” Do you have any idea the kinds of questions that I get asked by people? 90% of them I have to drill down into some kind of detail because they are those kinds of questions.
And I prefer to do it one time here than do it 25 times afterwards, so that’s why I get into this kind of detail. These are significant issues. In fact, I’ll mention one view, and we have had a couple of guest speakers that I know who would probably go along with that view. At least one of them may show up here again. So, if you hear that view, you’ll know where it’s coming from and deal with them in grace if they have a different view.
We’re coming at this from our study in Ephesians 2:11–22 where twice we have a reference to God the Holy Spirit. At the end of the first paragraph, Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him—that is, through Christ—we both—that is, both Jew and Gentile have access. Here’s our phrase—by one Spirit.”
The Greek preposition EN is used here, translated as “by” in the sense of an instrument or means.
Ephesians 2:22, “in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God—we are being built together—by the Holy Spirit.”
It’s the same phrase using the same preposition. But you will find that in English you have different prepositions, sometimes “in,” sometimes “with,” and sometimes “by.” Actually, if you do the technical work on the English, those overlap in meaning.
The Greek preposition EN can also have a really large meaning, because by the time you get into the Koine, that preposition is doing triple duty. It can be used in place of about four other prepositions.
Its meaning was getting to be so broad, and people were using it in place of just about every preposition, that by about the sixth or seventh century they just got rid of it altogether as it had come to be rather meaningless. Because once something can mean anything, then it means nothing.
That’s a problem we have to look at this morning.
So far we’ve looked at the ministries of God the Holy Spirit, broken them into two categories. One to the world; that is, to nonbelievers, to unbelievers. There is the restraining ministry God the Holy Spirit where He restrains evil in the world, and if you think we have evil in this world, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” What happens in the Tribulation and beyond is beyond anything that Sodom and Gomorrah ever even thought about.
Then we see the convicting ministry of God the Holy Spirit in our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 16. He said the Holy Spirit would come and He would convict the world—that’s the object of His convicting ministry—of sin, righteousness, and judgment. All three relate to the work of Christ on the cross because the issue is that they have not believed in Him.
First, He convicts them because they have not believed in Him. John 3:18 says that that’s the one condition that will guarantee eternal condemnation. They are condemned because they have not believed in Him.
I have listed six things that happen at the time of salvation:
- Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- Sealing by the Holy Spirit
- Filling by means of the Holy Spirit
- Illumination, one of the also confused.
It’s amazing how much confusion there is out there.
The Ministries of God the Holy Spirit Today at Salvation.
What the Bible teaches about the indwelling of the Spirit, we looked at last time.
On the chart the left circle indicates that eternal positional reality that we have in Christ. We enter into union with Christ through the baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit, and at that time we as Church Age believers are permanently indwelt by God the Holy Spirit.
This is one reason that we are never commanded to be indwelt by the Spirit. It’s automatic. We’re never commanded to be baptized by God the Holy Spirit either, because it’s automatic for every Church Age believer.
Last time we looked at the indwelling of God before the Church Age, God’s indwelling presence on the earth in the Garden of Eden. Then He stays on the earth; there’s no indication that He leaves. But He has fortified and protected the garden by an army of cherubs, and then when you come to Genesis 6:3 He says, “I will not abide.”
Some translations are using that now. It only occurs in the Hebrew, and the word that you’re usually used to hearing is “My Spirit will not strive with man.” But cognate studies show that this word has the meaning of abide and not the meaning of striving.
God leaves, then the judgment of the Flood. And God does not return until the tabernacle is anointed, and He descends in the Shekinah, a word that means the indwelling presence of God in the temple.
He is there until Ezekiel sees in his vision that the dwelling presence of God departs Israel, then again there is judgment, and that judgment is on Israel for their disobedience and in AD 70 the temple is destroyed. Notice God’s presence is there until He leaves, then when He leaves it’s followed by judgment. That’s the pattern of the Flood; that’s the pattern in 586 BC.
Then His presence comes back in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. He is God; He is present. He came into this Earth, and the Scripture says He dwelt among us. It actually uses a word that some translate, “He tabernacled among us.” His presence is here until 40 days after the resurrection when He ascends to heaven.
Then He sends the Holy Spirit; God the Holy Spirit comes and baptizes all Church Age believers. We’re indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, and that indwelling occurs up until the Rapture, when the Church is removed. It is God the Holy Spirit Who is indwelling all of the church. We saw that earlier in the Ephesians 2 verses.
He’s the Restrainer. He’s removed, then literally all hell breaks loose in the Tribulation. There will not be the presence of God or the presence of the Holy Spirit with believers during the Tribulation Period.
Then Jesus Christ will return to establish His presence on the earth, ruling from Jerusalem, where a new temple is built for His dwelling during the Millennial period. At the end of those thousand years when Satan is released, he will deceive the nations, and those who are numbered like the sand of the seashore will rebel against the perfect administration of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God will destroy them immediately. They will be incinerated by brimstone and fire. Then this earth and heavens will be destroyed. God will create a new Heaven and new Earth, and He, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will dwell in the New Jerusalem. They will be the source of light for the world. There will not be a distinct temple because God will be dwelling among us, but not in a distinct temple.
That’s the panorama of the dwelling of God on the Earth.
Definition for indwelling today:
“God the Holy Spirit at the instant of salvation takes up residence in every believer. His purpose is to make both the Church as a whole—that includes every believer from the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture, living and dead—and the individual believer a temple for the indwelling of God the Father and God the Son.”
We looked at being sealed by the Spirit …
… which also takes place instantly with salvation.
Ephesians 1:13, “… In whom when you believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.”
It is an instrumental use of “by the Holy Spirit:” He’s the means of the sealing, Ephesians 1:13.
“The seal by the Spirit is the down payment that certifies God’s ownership and protection, which secures the salvation of the Church Age believer from the moment of faith when the Holy Spirit indwells until ultimate salvation and glorification is realized.”
It’s our down payment; we will get the rest of it when we are face-to-face with the Lord, Ephesians 1:13–14.
What in the world does being filled by the Holy Spirit mean?
Our central passage is Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine—that’s the negative command—in which is dissipation, but be filled—the New King James translates it—be filled with the Spirit.”
To many people, the preposition “with” indicates that the Spirit is the content of the filling—that you’re going to get more of the Holy Spirit.
Another problem: if you read some older dispensationalists like Chafer, like many who went through Dallas Theological Seminary in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, they will say that the difference between indwelling is that it is permanent and the filling, because there are multiple fillings.
They are correct; there are multiple fillings. There are multiple fillings every hour for most of us. But then when you look at the passages they use, they’re not using the same verb that is used here, and it’s not talking about the same thing. They’re just wrong; they didn’t do their homework in the Greek. Actually, Chafer didn’t know the original languages, Walvoord did. But like a lot of theologians, they’re not necessarily good exegetes, so we have to look at these issues.
Some translations use the word “with.” For example, the NASB, the ESV; and the New International—I like to call it a commentary because it’s more interpretive than it is just translation—all three translate this using the English preposition “with.”
“Fill my cup with coffee.” You’re talking about what’s going into the cup; and that’s the idea of content. The basic and most significant problem with this is that Greek is a little more precise than English. And when the writer is talking about filling something with what the content is, he uses the verb plus a genitive noun. The noun of the content is in the genitive case.
That’s not what you have here, so it can’t be talking about content. You have the preposition EN with the dative of instrument or dative of means, and that indicates the means by which we are filled. But it doesn’t tell us what we are filled with. It doesn’t talk about the content in this passage.
There are other translations that translate it as means; they use the English preposition “by.” For example, the NET. I don’t recommend the NET because they did a lot of interpretive stuff there in places and in their footnotes that very confusing for people I think at times. But it’s correct here, “by the Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit.” Holman Christian Study Bible.
Here’s the phrase EN PNEUMATI. PNEUMA means wind, breath, spirit or Spirit for Holy Spirit.
When we look at the fact that there are three different views for translating this, we have to look at usage; we have to get a little technical because the Scriptures tell us how we should translate things by comparing Scripture with Scripture. You don’t just go to the dictionary and say, “Oh, look at this. It means Spirit.”
No, it means wind, it means breath; it means spirit as in the human spirit or Spirit for Holy Spirit. Some passages like 1 Corinthians 2 uses at least three of them. You have to understand that all words have a range of meaning.
In English it does too. When you hear different words in different context, your brain automatically filters the context, and you know exactly what somebody’s talking about, at least hopefully.
What do we have to do? Well, we have to look at how this word is used. The first thing to do is to look at how the author uses this word, any word, in the particular epistle or letter that they’re writing.
We have PNEUMA in Ephesians. One of the issues is a minority view that says that this should be translated lower case “s,” and that we are to be filled in our human spirit.
The other two views translate it as the Holy Spirit with a capital “S,” but one is means—which is our view—and the other is content.
It’s used 14 times in Ephesians. 12 of them refer to the Holy Spirit. That’s important to understand. It refers to the Holy Spirit. There’s only two times when it doesn’t refer to the Holy Spirit. One time it’s very clear that it’s talking about demons or Satan, the “spirit of disobedience,” so it’s talking about an attitude.
Ephesians 1:13, “Sealed by means of the Holy Spirit”
Ephesians 2:18, “we both have access by one Spirit.” The instrumental use of EN.
Ephesians 2:22, where we started, we’re “built together by means of the Holy Spirit for a dwelling place.”
Ephesians 3:5, “now revealed by the Spirit.” Again, it’s instrumental. The Holy Spirit is the One who’s used for revelation.
Ephesians 3:16, “to be strengthened with might through the Spirit.” This is a different preposition, but DIA with the genitive is the same as EN with the dative. It’s instrument or means. It means “through,” and it’s translated, “through the Spirit.”
Ephesians 4:3, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit—there it is ‘of the Spirit,’ and its source—in the bond of peace.” It’s not talking about means there, but it’s the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body and one Spirit—Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 4:23, here’s a difference—PNEUMA, but it is “the spirit of your mind.”
It’s talking about your attitude, how you think, that you are to be renewed in your thinking, basically. But you understand what “spirit” is here, because it’s qualified by the phrase “of your mind.” In other places you’ll have “the Spirit of God.” Same thing: you know that PNEUMA is talking about the Holy Spirit because it’s qualified by the phrase “of God.”
1. Of the 14 uses of PNEUMA in Ephesians, 12 of them refer to the third Person of the Trinity. One refers to Satan or a demon, one refers to the spirit of the mind.
To say Ephesians 5:18 should be the human spirit and not the Holy Spirit, runs against the primary usage of the term PNEUMA in Ephesians. Not only that, but it is EN PNEUMATI, and that phrase always refers to God the Holy Spirit not only in Ephesians, but also through most of the rest of the New Testament.
In this first view, the idea that this should be translated as human spirit runs afoul.
I have one dissertation that is quite well researched and studied that takes the human spirit view, and I have looked at it, but it misses some of these points. You have to do your research and read the guys who take alternate positions and figure out, “Well, did I miss something or did they miss something?”
2. Filled with the content of the Spirit, i.e., the believer gets more and more of the Holy Spirit.
This second view is often misunderstood by people in our camp, in our milieu. This view was taken by Campus Crusade for Christ. And there are people in this congregation who spent a lot of time in college going to Campus Crusade, and this was their view, that what you’re filled with is the Holy Spirit.
You’ll hear people pray, “Father, give me more of the Spirit.” That’s just wrong; it borders on heresy. It’s denying the fact that God’s already given us all of the Holy Spirit, and we’re not going to get anymore because there’s no more to get.
You often hear these phrases; you hear them in some hymns. There are some really poor hymns based on poor understanding of the Holy Spirit. This is a very dominant position that we’re filled with the content of the Spirit; that is, that this believer gets more and more of the Holy Spirit as they grow.
“Content” is normally expressed with a genitive case. This isn’t a genitive case of Spirit; it’s in the dative or instrumental, so that is fallacious.
Another way in which people will talk about this is they will make a contrast with the first part of Ephesians 5:18, “Do not be drunk with wine.” They get content from somebody drinking wine, but I think that they miss the point there.
We’re 2000 years removed from the mystery religions that dominated the ancient world, and although the primary temple in Ephesus was to Artemis of the Ephesians—equivalent to Diana the Huntress—it was calmer than the worship of Dionysus.
Dionysius was still very prominent in the area that today is Turkey, Asia Minor, and Ephesus. In the Dionysian worship, the way to get close to Dionysus was to get drunk, just get blitzed out of your mind, because Dionysus was the god of wine. So if you drank enough wine, then the god would enter into you, and you would utter glossolalia with the god.
That explains some things about tongues as well. This was a pagan way of becoming spiritual, becoming one with the god. You would have these orgies, get drunk, and the spirit of this god would enter into you.
How do you get close to God? Well, if you’re a Dionysian worshiper, you get close to god, who fills you up, by getting drunk. In contrast the believer is to be filled by means of the Holy Spirit of God, not Dionysus or some other pagan deity.
When we look at the context of Ephesians, four of the five times that we have this phrase, it is used with this instrumental idea. The one time it’s used with content, it’s clearly with the genitive case. This takes us to understanding the third view:
3. We should translate this that we are filled by means of the Holy Spirit. He is the instrument that Christ uses, if we look at it in context with the way the verb is used in Ephesians.
He fills us with something, and it doesn’t tell us what it is here, but we can find it out, and we will before we’re done. We’re filled by means of the Holy Spirit and that this indicates the Spirit is used to fill us up with something.
How do we figure this out? Because there are people who will take this different ways, and the key thing is you have to go through usage. I went through all 37 uses of the phrase, looking at every verse and looking at the contexts. In those 37, there are two times when it’s used of someone who’s filled with an unclean spirit.
This is a descriptive phrase, and there’s not really a parallel to that in any other uses, so I think that was a rather idiomatic way, and it only occurs in one gospel.
The instrumental is used in all of the baptism statements. Remember, we’ve looked at Matthew 3:11 where John the Baptist says, “I baptize you—using the preposition EN, and the word for water in the dative case, “I baptize you by means of water.”
John is using water to identify the repentant believer with the coming kingdom. In the parallel, the first part of that verse, “I baptize you with water, but the One who comes after me, He will baptize you—EN PNEUMATI—by means of the Holy Spirit.”
It’s clearly understood in those passages.
I’ve picked a few of the 37 verses, all helpful to our understanding of the spiritual life.
John 4:23–24, Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman by the Well of Jacob in Samaria, “A time is coming when we will worship by means of the Spirit and by means of truth.”
Not IN the Spirit—location; that’s possible, doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It sounds kind of mystical, “Are we in the Spirit or out of the Spirit.” It’s better “by means of” the Spirit: are we walking by means of the Spirit.
Romans 15:16, “that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
You just can’t make that location. You can’t say it is locative, “sanctified IN the Holy Spirit.” It’s sanctified by the Holy Spirit: He’s the one who sets it apart.
1 Corinthians 12:3, a passage beginning to deal with the Spiritual gifts. Paul says, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by means of the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed …”
You might be able to do that if you’re speaking by means of the flesh. That’s the contrast in Galatians 5. But Paul is saying if you’re in fellowship and you’re walking by the Holy Spirit, you’re not going to curse Jesus. But if you’re out of fellowship, you can do just about anything that an unbeliever can do, and maybe do it better or do it more intensely because you’re in the spiritual warfare.
2 Corinthians 6:6, “by purity, by knowledge—all of these are translated as instrument—by means of purity, by means of knowledge, by means of long suffering, by means of kindness, by means of the Holy Spirit.”
All using the same phrase in the Greek all translated as an instrument—as the means to accomplish something.
1 Peter 1:12, “To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by means of the Holy Spirit.”
Makes perfect sense. That’s how it’s translated in the New King James and most other translations.
Jude 20, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying by means of the Holy Spirit.”
So you can pray NOT by the Holy Spirit, and your prayer doesn’t go any higher than the ceiling; but praying by the Holy Spirit.
A couple of places don’t use the preposition, but the idea is communicated by the dative case in Galatians 5:16. Galatians 5, Ephesians 5 are some of the most important passages for understanding the spiritual life.
Paul writes, Galatians 5:16, “I say then: Walk by means of the Spirit walk—it’s just a dative case—and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Later he says, Galatians 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Galatians 5:25, “If we live by means of the Spirit, let us also walk by means of the Spirit.”
It’s translated as “in the Spirit” here; the translator isn’t consistent. That gets so confusing for Christians because you think it’s something different in the Greek, but it’s the same phrase all the way through.
The idea here is that EN PNEUMATI, which we find in Ephesians 5:18, is talking about the means for the filling. Now we have to figure out what this filling thing means. That’s the other thing because you have all this language in Acts: they’re full of the Spirit and truth, they’re full of wisdom.
Then you get the fun ones: they’re full of anger; they’re full of wrath; they’re full of bitterness. But they are the exact same grammatical construction, and all of those examples I just quoted all use the same adjective for full, but it’s not related to the word here.
The word in Ephesians 5:18 is PLEROO. It means to fill something, to complete something, to fill something up. It is frequently used in the Gospels when talking about something in the Old Testament now being fulfilled: it’s brought to completion in Christ’s First Coming, in something that He did.
The idea is filling something up. It is used sometimes to fill up a container with something, but then it’s in the genitive because it’s talking about content.
Here are some notable uses of PLEROO in the book of Acts:
Acts 5, the case of Ananias and Sapphira. Remember, Barnabas was a wealthy man. He owned some prime real estate in Jerusalem, he sold it, and he gave all of the money to the Church.
That is not what we’re supposed to do—I mean it’s not a command, it’s descriptive. This was his volition. He decided to give all the proceeds for that land to the Church, so that they could use it to provide for the needs of the widows and others who were impoverished there in Jerusalem. That was his decision.
Then everybody, of course, when they knew that somebody’s done something like that, they praise them. Ananias and Sapphira decided they wanted all of that attention, so they sold some land. But they kept some of the money back, and they only gave some of the money to the Church. Now there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Bible isn’t talking about socialism or communism here when the early Church held all things in common. It’s not talking about the fact that they were communal. It is that everybody understood that everything each one had come ultimately from the Lord, and that if anybody else needed anything, then they would be willing to sell or to give whatever they could as God had prospered them to help others.
That’s the same principle. It’s grace. It’s an individual decision. Peter and John, the leaders of the church weren’t telling anybody, “You have to give this, and you have to do that.” This is the problem with progressivism and liberalism, is that what they read into these things is a corporate mandate.
There’s no command here. Every command related to giving in Scripture is as each person determines ahead of time in their heart, as I quoted this morning. This is the issue.
In the early Church, God the Holy Spirit is using a heavy-handed discipline to get people’s attention. Have you ever noticed that at the beginning of certain dispensations that there are harsh judgments from God? Just think about this.
Abraham was called in Genesis 12. Then in Genesis 19, there is a harsh judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s at the beginning of that dispensation. How come God hasn’t destroyed San Francisco? How come God hasn’t destroyed numerous other cities and places that are completely immersed in all of the perversion of the LGBTQ+ category? Because He only does these things one time at the beginning of a dispensation to authenticate that He’s at work in that dispensation.
The same thing happened at the beginning of the next dispensation, the Dispensation of the Law. First God does this miraculous thing where He brings all of His people, the Jews, out of slavery in Egypt, and what marks that? The 10 plagues that God brings upon the Egyptian people.
God doesn’t really do anything like that to anybody else over the course of time. We may wish He did, but He doesn’t because He only does these kinds of things at the beginning of a particular dispensation.
This is the beginning of the Church Age, so there’s going to be a harsh discipline on Ananias and Sapphira because as Peter puts it in Acts 5:3, they have lied to the Holy Spirit. But the question he asked in Acts 5:3 is, “Why has Satan filled your heart?”
No Satan is the subject of the verb “filled” and the thing that he fills is the innermost thinking of a person, but he isn’t the one who is filling it.
A well-known theologian in the free-grace camp now with the Lord—he knows the truth now—but he always want to argue with Tommy and me, and say this is a satanic filling of Ananias and Sapphira. But Satan is the subject of the verb, the performer of the action, not the object of the verb. This is demon influence. He is influencing them to lie about what they’ve done, but it’s filling your heart with something,
Acts 5:28, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?”
This situation is also good to look at. This is the Sadducees in Acts 5 accusing Peter and John. Remember, they had already arrested them, beat them, and told them don’t do any more preaching or teaching in the name of Jesus. They went out, and immediately went into the courtyard of the temple and began to proclaim the gospel and teach about Jesus. So they got arrested again.
In their accusation the Sadducees said, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.”
This is in the genitive. The content of the filling is their teaching. It’s not means, it is content. So the genitive is important here; all this is dealing with genitive.
Acts 13:52, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
This isn’t means; this is content. It’s a genitive for joy, and Holy Spirit is genitive. This is descriptive; it is an idiom: being filled in terms of content with joy. That’s describing the person. When we look at this double object here, “with joy and with the Holy Spirit,” they both are qualified the same way.
So it’s talking about what characterized them as joy and the Holy Spirit when this happened. It’s a description of their character.
The other word we have in Acts and also Luke—remember, Luke wrote Luke and Acts—is PIMPLEMI, which means to fill, to fulfill, to complete; and many times it can be a synonym for PLEROO. But it’s a different word, and exegetes have to pay attention. It’s not the similarities that are important, it’s the differences that are important.
In Luke, talking about John the Baptist, Gabriel says, “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”
“From his mother’s womb,” as we’ve studied many times, is an idiom for birth. In fact, a number of English translations translate the idiom correctly as from birth.
“Filled with the Spirit” is PIMPLEMI. It has nothing to do with Ephesians 5:18. We get a clear understanding of what PIMPLEMI does when we look at the next two verses.
Luke 1:41, “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was—what?—filled with the Holy Spirit.”
That’s PIMPLEMI: she’s filled with the Spirit, and she speaks. That’s what I want you to see—PIMPLEMI leads to some speaking. It’s akin to some kind of inspiration or prophetic utterance. Remember, this is before the Church Age.
Luke 1:67–68, this happens now to Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, “Now his father Zacharias was filled—PIMPLEMI—with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied.”
In all of these, PIMPLEMI is followed by some utterance.
It’s also used sometimes as a descriptor.
Luke 4:28, “So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things—what Jesus said—were filled with wrath.” They got mad! It’s describing their character.
Luke 6:11, “But they were filled with rage …” Same thing: it’s just an idiom describing what’s going on.
Acts 2:4, this is with the apostles on the Day of Pentecost, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit— this is a genitive, PIMPLEMI—and began to speak.” Notice PIMPLEMI and then they speak.
This is not something that happens today, and when you read people like Chafer, Walvoord, Ryrie and others, these are the verses that they’ll cite. You know the style, you read, and then in parentheses you have five references listed and you don’t look them up. Well, if you looked them up in the Greek, you would discover that they are using different verbs.
Acts 3:10, “Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were—notice this description of what’s going on—and they are filled with wonder and amazement.”
Here it’s a descriptive term giving their characteristics: they’re filled with wonder and amazement.
Acts 5:17, “Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him—when they get mad at Peter and John again—and they were filled with indignation.”
When it’s used this way, it’s describing their character, their attitude at that time.
Then Peter in Acts 4:8, “Then Peter—PIMPLEMI—filled with the Holy Spirit.”
What happens? He speaks. Who knew? When it’s PIMPLEMI with the Holy Spirit, it is almost always followed by speaking something in some prophetic way.
Acts 4:31 talks about the believers are gathered, “… they were all filled with the Spirit, and they spoke … Interesting! … and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
We have various positive descriptions of the disciples. They are proto-disciples, not the actual disciples, these are the early church leaders that are chosen in Acts 6:5, “And (they chose) Stephen—then they described him—a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.” This is using PLERES, which is an adjectival form of PIMPLEMI.
He is full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t what you have in Ephesians 5:18. It’s a totally different word, and it’s just describing his character. He’s a man who is faithful. He trusts the Lord and the Holy Spirit characterizes his life.
Stephen, “full of faith and power …” is again described in Acts 6:8.
Acts 9:36 is a little different; the same adjective, “Dorcas … was full of good works and charitable deeds.”
When we see it there with no mention of the Holy Spirit, what do we see? We see this is just describing the characteristics of her life. It’s just an idiomatic way of describing what a person’s like.
Acts 11:24, “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” He’s spiritually mature. That’s what that’s describing. But it’s not the same verb, and it’s not the same language you have in Ephesians 5:18.
When we get through all of this, we discover, in conclusion, a couple things:
1. PIMPLEMI is a different verb. It’s not the same word that used, and that’s the word that is predominantly used in Acts or its adjectival form, PLERES, so it’s not the same thing.
2. When you find the word PIMPLEMI or PLERES, it’s always with a genitive which indicates a description of a person—what that person’s like.
3. None of these is a command. It’s just describing their character; they’re spiritually mature.
4. Only in Ephesians 5:18 do we have a command, “be filled by the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s look at this passage to see what comes after it. Ephesians 5:18, we are to “be filled by the Spirit.” What’s the result? The participles following describe the result of the filling, Ephesians 5:19, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”
I know some people don’t like to sing in church, but you notice the first characteristic of somebody who’s being filled by the Spirit is that they want to sing praises to God. That’s the first thing he lists. It’s not the last thing, it’s not a footnote; it’s not buried in the fifth appendix.
It’s the first thing he mentions, “… speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Why? Because you’re excited and joyful about what God has done.
Next, Ephesians 5:20, is “giving thanks.” Notice next time you read through the first part of Ephesians 5, I think giving thanks to God is mentioned three times, and it is a consequence of walking by the Spirit, being filled by means of the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:21, “… submitting to one another in the fear of God.” The next section explains that even more.
It doesn’t tell us exactly what the filling is, but we get a clue in Colossians 3:16–17, “… teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
There’s a command at the first part of Colossians 3:16, then there’s a list of the results. The results are the same as the results in Ephesians 5:19 and following, but the command is different. So, if you have Command A and you have Command B and the results of both of them are identical, then Command A and Command B have to go together. You get two sides of the coin.
In Ephesians 5, it’s “be filled by means of the Spirit,” but what are you filled with? That’s Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you in all wisdom.” That’s the command.
If you’re not reading your Bible every day, you’re not listening to the Word of God every day, you’re not memorizing Scripture and letting that float around in your thinking all day, then the word of Christ is not dwelling richly in you. That’s what God the Holy Spirit uses to mature us.
He’s like a mechanic, and you have two kinds of mechanics. You can go to some little shop and the guy’s got about five tools, and you bring your car in, and it takes in three days because it’s hard to do everything with a screwdriver and a wrench and maybe a hammer. But the guy down the street has all the whiz-bang computer stuff, and he can hook it all up, and he has all the latest tools and gadgets to use in fixing your car, and it’s done in an hour.
The first person doesn’t give the Holy Spirit any tools. This is like the guy, “Oh, I go to Bible class, I go to church once a week, I read my Bible on occasion once a year,” and that’s it. You’re not giving the Holy Spirit any tools to reformat your thinking, to change your life, to transform you into the image of Christ.
But the person who is reading the Bible daily and memorizing Scripture and coming to Bible class or listening online, five, six, seven times a week, then that person is giving the Holy Spirit a whole lot of tools to use in their life to change it. The result is that they are walking by the Spirit.
The result of walking by the Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit: transformed character. And the person who is walking by the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is one of those people like Stephen and others that are mentioned in Acts who are full of the Spirit and wisdom, full of faith in the Spirit. They are the ones who are maturing and growing and learning the word of God to apply the Word of God.
This is what it means to be filled by the Spirit: to be in the Word, to be walking by the Spirit, which means you have to be in fellowship and to be reading, studying, thinking about the Word of God and letting that just saturate your thinking, so that God the Holy Spirit can transform your life.
Next time we will look at the last one which is the leading of the Spirit.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity that we have to come together to study Your Word to gain a greater, more precise understanding of what it means to walk by the Spirit, to be filled by the Spirit, to let Your Word just saturate our thinking, saturate our souls so that God the Holy Spirit can transform us day by day into the image of Christ.
“Father, we pray that if there be some who listen to this message and maybe are unsure if they’re saved, they’re uncertain if they will go to heaven when they die, that it’s a different issue. It is an issue of trusting in Christ as our Savior, for Jesus died on the cross for our sins. There he paid the penalty for our sins. The Bible says that “He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us.”
“Father we pray that You would work on the minds of those who are unsaved to clarify and illuminate their thinking. God the Holy Spirit, we know, will be convicting them of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and He will be making it clear that they need to trust Christ. Father, we pray that they will.
“Father, we pray for us that we might not let these words fall to the ground, but that God the Holy Spirit will use them to continue to transform us into the character of Christ, and we pray this in His name, amen.”