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The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Lesson Eight

Victor M. Eskew




A.   The phrase, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” is only found two times in the New Testament.

1.     Acts 2:38


Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


2.     Acts 10:45


And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.


B.    NOTE:  In Acts 10:45, there is no doubt that this gift involved the reception of the miraculous power of the Holy Ghost that enabled those of the household of Cornelius to speak in tongues (Acts 10:46a).


For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God…


C.   In Acts 2:38, on the other hand, the gift of the Holy Spirit has always been a highly debated topic.

1.     Did those obedient Jews receive the Holy Spirit Himself?

2.     Did those obedient Jews receive a gift from the Holy Spirit?




A.   The baptism of the Holy Ghost with the power to perform miracles


B.    The promise of the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the apostles’ hands


C.   A literal, personal, non-miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit


D.   In indwelling of the Holy Spirit through the Word


E.    The gift of salvation




A.   Keep the passage in its context

1.     One of the first rules of Bible study is to seek to understand the text using first century glasses.

2.     Question:  How would the Jews on the day of Pentecost have understood the phrase, “the gift of the Holy Ghost”?

3.     Everything they saw and heard that day revolved around the miraculous.

a.     The initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit caused the apostles to speak in tongues which, in turn, caused the multitudes to be amazed and to marvel (Acts 2:1-8).


And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven.  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.  And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?  And how hear were every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?


b.    Peter told the Jews that this was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:16-21; see also Joel 2:28-30).


But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:  and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:  and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:  and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:  the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon shall be turned into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:  and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.


c.    Peter told them that Jesus was the one responsible for the outpouring of the Spirit on that day (Acts 2:33).


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


4.     In the midst of this display and teaching about the Holy Spirit, the hearers were promised “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  What would these hearers have been expecting?

a.     Something non-miraculous?

b.    Something miraculous?


B.    Two other examples in the book of Acts

1.     The Samaritans

a.     They were baptized (Acts 8:12)


When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.


b.    They received the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-17).


Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:  who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them:  only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.


2.     The men of Ephesus (Acts 19:5-6)


When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.


C.   The use of the words “gift” and “received” in connection with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.  They always involved the miraculous.


Gift                                       Receive                                  Received


          Acts 2:38                                     Acts 2:38                                     Acts 8:14

          Acts 8:20                                     Acts 8:15                                     Acts 8:17

          Acts 10:45                                   Acts 8:19                                     Acts 10:47

          Acts 11:17                                                                                       Acts 19:2


D.   This view harmonizes with the words of Jesus in the Great Commission found in Mark 16:15-18.


And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.


1.     First, the believers were baptized.

2.     They would then possess miraculous signs.

a.     This sounds like Acts 2:38

b.    How did the believers receive the signs?  They received them by the laying on the apostles’ hands.


E.    The need that was present on the day of Pentecost.


“Here were assembled people from the four corners of the known world of that day.  Soon, very soon, they would be going their respective ways.  Each one could not take an apostle home with him.  As yet they had not that first written word of the New Covenant such as we have in completed and confirmed form today.  They were going back among people who would need to see miraculous proof that they spoke such a message for God and that bore upon its bosom undeniable proof of heavenly credentials.  The twelve apostles, then present, had the power to impart miraculous gifts to the newly baptized subjects of the beginning kingdom.  Are we to understand that they did none of this but sent them their respective ways with neither a New Testament nor any audible and visual way of proving conclusively the validity of each proclaimed word?  Did they preach back home and then back up with an allusion to the fact that they had the ordinary gift of the Holy Spirit as positive proof that they spoke for God?  Did the apostles leave them in this unarmed condition as they left Jerusalem?  If this is what they did, how exceedingly strange in view of how eagerly interested they were to have Samaritans in Acts 8 miraculously endowed and Roman readers so signally blessed by Paul’s specific presence and the imposition of his apostolic hands in the imperial city (see Rom. 1:11)!!  Are we to conclude that the apostles felt no need to endow and equip with miraculous powers the initial converts to the beginning Cause?” (What Do You Know about the Holy Spirit, ed. Windell Winkler, “What Is the Gift of the Holy Spirit of Acts 2:38 – The Miraculous Gift Measure,” Robert R. Taylor, Jr. pp. 181-182).




A.   Numerous faithful preachers of the gospel have held this position:  Franklin Camp, Guy N. Woods, Robert R. Taylor, Jr., H. Leo Boles, and Joe Warlick.  In addition, Alexander Campbell believe that Acts 2:38 involved the miraculous.


B.    This view concerns some today because it would mean that the gift of the Holy Spirit is on longer promised today.  Question:  Do you have any difficulty with the fact that miracles have ceased?  (See Mark 16:15-18).