Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. ...And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them(Acts 6:5,6).

The prevailing beliefs say that the disciples passively received the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. This article reminds us that the gift is not one that is passively given but must be taken or seized. It is a gift given indeed by the Holy Spirit but it is to be taken. This article deals with the expression the “full of the Holy Spirit” which is not the same thing as “the power of the Holy Spirit.” Neither did any disciple receive the same powers as Jesus.

Baptism In Water and The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit cameupon Jesus” at His water baptism by John the Baptist (Luke 3:22; 4:18). He is led into the wilderness by the Spirit (Luke 4:1) and “returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14) to perform His first miracle at Cana (John 2:11). This was unique. None of the others baptized by John received the Spirit coming upon them. John claimed that the reason he was baptizing was for God to introduce the Son of God to Israel. He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God(John 1:34). For John and Israel to know the Son of God, the Spirit would be seen coming upon Him. This identified Jesus.

There is an example of twelve of John's disciples in Ephesus and they “had not received the Spirit” (Acts 19:1-7). They had “been baptized by John” but they unlike Jesus had not received the Holy Spirit “upon” them. The apostle Paul then baptized these disciples but in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5). Even then the Spirit did not come upon them. The apostle Paul had to lay his hands upon them in order for the Spirit to come upon them.

There are those that teach that Acts 2:38 means that once you are baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. But this did not happen to the twelve in Ephesus. Following Pentecost and the Jerusalem persecution Philip one of the chosen deacons of Acts 6 went to Samaria and preached the gospel. They that believed were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:12) but the Holy Spirit was not fallen upon anyone of them (Acts 8:16). The apostles Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem so that they could lay their hands on them so that “they received the Holy Spirit” (8:16).

Whatever Acts 2:38 is teaching, the texts plainly teach that baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is not the action that pours out the Holy Spirit on anyone. The gift of Acts 2:38 is not the outpouring of the Spirit. The Spirit “upon” requires the laying on of the hands of the apostles.

Philip and The Holy Spirit

One of the seven, Philip, is an example of this “fallen upon of the Holy Spirit's power” (Acts 8:16). He (1) prophesied in Samaria and (2) performed signs and wonders. When did the apostles lay their hands on him? The only record of “the faith” (New Testament, Jude 3) that we have of such an action is Acts 6:5 & 6. Philip along with six others were appointed to a business but when set before the apostles, the apostles prayed and they laid their hands on them.

Apostles → lay hands on Samaritans → Holy Spirit upon them with Power.
Apostles → lay hands on Philip and six → Power of the Spirit occurs.

But the opponents to this say that the laying on of the apostles' hands for the seven was exclusively for appointment to the service of distributing support to the Grecian widows.

This camp is divided. One group wants the seven to have received the “gift of the Holy Spirit” along with 3000 at their baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. This is dispelled from the evidence of the Scriptures above. Baptism in the name of the Lord is not sufficient to do it.

Another group argues that the seven had the apostles lay their hands upon them at least twice. This is concluded from the expression that they were “full of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 6:3 and 5.

The Adjective “Full” in Acts 6:3, 5.

The argument continues that the seven were “full of the Holy Spirit” (6:3, 5) before the apostles laid their hands upon them. I have previously answered that this was a natural state of growth and application of the Word of God and does not refer to “power.” Their reputation was honorable and wise in the Word (Ephesians 5:18-20). They had continued in the apostles' doctrine for a number of years. Hence, they would have in devotion being wise in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

The retort, however, is that this is the same language describing Jesus as He was led into the wilderness to be tested by the Devil plus the description of Barnabas in Acts 11:24. The conclusion is that Jesus was full of power and the disciples were full of power.

Equivalence of Power?

First, there is a distinction made between “full of spirit” (“the” isn't in the original) and “returning in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:1, 14). Jesus goes to Cana. “This beginning of miracles (signs) did Jesus in Cana of Galilee(John_2:11). His power of the Spirit is manifested after the temptations; not before. Stephen likewise has both expressions at different instances. His being “full of spirit” is in verses 3 and 5. Stephen's power is mentioned in a different verse in Acts 6. His “full of” power is in verse 8.

Second, we cannot compare the power measure of the seven to the power measure of Jesus. The seven weren't even of the original twelve apostles. Would their power equal that of Jesus? Notice that Jesus “received the Spirit” without measure. “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand(John 3:34). That's Jesus. Jesus had control over everything, even nature itself, in His public ministry. Are we to compare the measure of power of the seven to Jesus? Surely not.

Seven's Power Cannot Be Compared To Jesus Power

Now any church members that enjoyed the power of the Spirit possessed a different measure than Jesus. And God was a witness with them, by signs and wonders, and by more than natural powers, and by his distribution [merismos] of the Holy Spirit at his pleasure(Hebrews 2:4, BBE). “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ(Ephesians 4:7). “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. ...But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us(1 Corinthians 12:4, 11, CEV). The power “grace” gifts were distributed by division or measure by the Spirit. But not to Jesus. So, I would urge that we cannot equate the powers of the seven with Jesus' power.

Finally, I challenge whether Luke is referring to the power of the deity, the Holy Spirit. Is not Luke speaking of the furnishing of a person's identity spirit and not any power from the Holy Deity? I submit that he is speaking of one's spirit being holy. This is in regard to Jesus, the seven, and Barnabas.

Definition of “Holy”

G39 ἅγιον hagion
Thayer Definition (contraction): 1) reverend, worthy of veneration 2) set apart for God, to be as it were, exclusively his 3) services and offerings; prepared for God with solemn rite, pure, clean 4) in a moral sense, pure sinless upright holy

Definition of “Spirit”

G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma
Thayer Definition (contraction): 1) the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal 2) the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated; the soul 3) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting 4) the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one 5) a movement of air (a gentle blast)

“Full of Holy Spirit” Is Not “'The' Deity Holy Spirit”

In all of these passages, there is no definite article for spirit.i I've checked through the lexicons and there is consistent pattern in the Koine Greek of using the definite article (i.e., “the”) with a person or place. For example, Jesus, God, Zacharias are “the Jesus, ο Ιησους” “the God, τω θεω”, and “the Zacharias, τον Ζαχαριαν.”ii See the endnote. When Jesus leaves the wilderness, He goes in the power of the Spirit (εν τη δυναμει του πνευματος ). Jesus is also led by “the” Spirit (Luke 4:1). But He is simply “full of holy spirit” (πνευματος αγιου πληρης) with no “the.” I believe it is reasonable for Truth sake to restrain from dogmatically assuming that this phrase refers to the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is upon Jesus but He is literally not in Jesus. Jesus' body has His own spirit.

Jesus Had/Has A Distinct Spirit.

There are a couple passages mentioning Jesus groaning “in the spirit” (e.g., John 11:33). In Mark 8:12 it is certain that Jesussighed deeply in His spirit (πνευματι αυτου).” Everyone has a unique spirit. Even Jesus. Remembering this should keep us from any prejudicial interpretation of “full of holy spirit.”

The Godhead (Trinity) consists of Spirit. Jesus said that “God is Spirit” (“πνευμα ο θεος”, John 4:24) and that includes God the Father, Jesus, the Son of God, along with the Spirit of God. According to Philippians 2 Jesus did not seek to hold on to His equality with God but emptied Himself and humbly became as man. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me(Hebrews 10:5). He was born of woman as a human baby (Galatians 4:4). But as a vulnerable baby He still had His own spirit. Upon the cross, He again still had His own spirit. Jesus upon the cross cried to the Father, “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Then He “gave up the spirit.” When Jesus as a grown man was baptized by John, the Spirit descended upon Jesus as the Father spoke from Heaven. Three spirits, separate beings, were present. The point is that Jesus had His unique spirit. Yet as Jesus said in prayer to the Father in John 17:17-21, they were one.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him(Luke 2:40). And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God andxxx man(Luke 2:52).

Did Jesus wax strong in His spirit or Another Spirit?   Obviously, He waxed or was fortified in His personal spirit (no “the”); i.e., “to be made strong, to increase in strength, to grow strong” (Strong's). He was filled or furnished with wisdom (Luke 2:40) and yet He continued to increase in His wisdom as He “matured.”

Jesus' spirit was holy on earth. He was said to be holy by the angel. The Spirit of God comes upon Mary but Jesus is “that holy thing.Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God(Luke 1:35). Jesus was consistently holy on earth. His spirit is singular. The summation of His qualifications is Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners...(Hebrews 7:26).

Jesus Thirty Years Old And Full of Holiness

This is enough to show Jesus' perfection at His manhood at the beginning of His earthly ministry. The Scriptures is saying that Jesus was “completely furnished of holy spirit.” Yet, He was vulnerable in the flesh so that He could be enticed by the Devil. God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13) but Jesus was divested of His godly glory and was hence in human form could be tempted (Hebrews 2:8; Philippians 2:7). He's hungry in body and subject to fleshly desires and needs. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Hebrews 2:18). But was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

No where does it say that the deity Holy Spirit is tempted. The Holy Spirit is not divested of powers as Jesus is and is still equal to deity in glory; hence, He cannot be tempted. Since Jesus is "full of holy spirit" it cannot be surmised that there are two spirits present in Jesus' body. So the spirit that's tempted is the personal spirit of Jesus. He doesn't submit to the devil because His spirit is "full of holiness."

Jesus was holy. He fulfilled all righteousness while on earth. Jesus was baptized of John after He said, “Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness(Matthew 3:15). That also included the Law of Moses. He taught, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil(Matthew 5:17). Jesus walked a life of holiness: “sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated)”, according to Strong's Dictionary. Jesus is different in His holiness from us. We depend on His blood to cover our sins so that we might be holy. Jesus did no sin. He was full of holy spirit. I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God(Mark 1:24; compare Acts 3:14; 4:30).

Everyone's Target: To Have A Living Holy Spirit

We are made holy by the blood of the Lamb. Our spirit is holy. To God's church in Corinth, you who have been made holy because you belong to Christ Jesus. You were chosen to be God's holy people together with all people everywhere who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ--their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2, ERV).

Our target and reward in Christ is living holy: Because God, then, will give us such rewards, dear brothers, let us make ourselves clean from all evil of flesh and spirit, and become completely holy in the fear of God(2 Corinthians 7:1, BBE; compare Acts 9:13). According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love(Ephesians 1:4). “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints (holy ones)” (Ephesians 5:3).

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight(Colossians 1:22). Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering(Colossians 3:12).

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15, 16). “Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness(2 Peter 3:11, ASV).

One that cares for the things of the Lord purposes to be holy both in body and in spirit (1 Corinthians 7:34; 2 Peter 3:11). “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God” (1 Peter 3:5). Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved” (Colossians 3:12)In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight(Colossians 1:22).According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love(Ephesians 1:4).

Although we cannot have the power of Jesus, the Son of God, yet our goal is to be from a babe in Christ to manhood in Christ by “grow(ing) up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” ( Ephesians 4:15).

In conclusion, “full of holy spirit” is the culmination of one's growth in the Spirit's Word. It does not mean that there are two spirits in our body.iii The gift of Christ is provided so that “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ(Ephesians 4:13). Our target is to be “full of holy spirit” and “full of (heaven's) wisdom.” This is possible through application of the gift of the Holy Spirit, His prophetic Word (the faith, the New Testament).

-Gaylon West

Throw Out the Lifeline

Other articles in this series, The Gift of the Holy Spirit:


i, 04/12/2016. Please see the Appendix on "The" in this series.

ii “In contrast to English, Greek often uses the article with proper names, even when there is no attempt to distinguish between more than one person with the same name. For this reason, ὁ Ἰησούς must be translated simply as "Jesus," not “the Jesus.” “Observe the following examples from Mark 9:2: Ἰησοῦς ➞ Jesus” [ is Greek for 'the']; τὸν Πέτρον ➞ Peter [τὸν ='the' Peter]; τὸν Ἰάκωβον ➞ Jacob / James (not "the James"); τὸν Ἰωάννην ➞ John (not "the John").

iii 1 Cor. 3:16- The deity Holy Spirit dwells in the church. 1 Cor. 6:19- The deity Holy Spirit dwells in a member in the same way tha God dwells in a person.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).
But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17).
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:13).
Are they not metaphors (e.g., metonomy) as Jesus spoke in His prayer (John 17:20-24)? “ That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” ”
All goes back to the gift of the Holy Spirit which is His gift, the Father's prophetic Word.