The Gift of the Holy Spirit #16

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:8).

In lesson (6)i on the “Genitive Case 'Of'in Acts 2:38, we reasoned that it makes no difference whether one follows the rule of “genitive of identification” or of “genitive of possessive.” The interpretation has to be the same. According to Mathew 7:11 and Luke 11:13 Jesus designates the “good things” of God by the trope designation of God's "gift-giver", His Holy Spirit.   Our conclusion is that it is consistent with the Scriptures, this context and grammatical customs, to refer to the matter as the Holy Spirit's gift.

In this lesson, we consider that Peter calls the “good things” of the Holy Spirit the promise of God.”   This expression is used by Peter both in Acts 2:33 and 39.

The Eternal Plan of God's Redemption is described as, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: ...wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:3-7).

This Eternal Plan of God's Redemption was revealed by the apostles: (1) All spiritual blessings are in Christ; (2) our purification (holy and without blame) in Jesus has been planned since before the foundation of creation; (3) it is God's will and good pleasure; (4) our redemption is through the death of Jesus according to His grace. This is the same as the context of Peter's sermon in Acts 2. This is the Spirit's golden thread throughout the Bible.

Jesus Received the Promise. The people to whom Peter was speaking had witnessed a miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit and had asked the meaning of it. Peter answered them by quoting Joel's prophecy of a miraculous bestowing of the Holy Spirit. In verse 33 Peter attributed this scene at the Temple as the result of Jesus having "received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit." He told the people that that promise was what the people saw and heard.

The Audience Response. The audience pleaded, “What shall we do?” Part of the answer was “You shall receive ('get' as in 'take') this gift of God.” The audience “gladly 'took'- received” what? They received the message that was preached and they were also baptized. This gift of the revelation was the spiritual blessings promised for the whole world.

This was what Jesus had announced in the “Great Commission” (recorded in Mark 16:15-20 and Matthew 28:18-20). Preach the gospel to every creature.” It was the culminating gift of spiritual blessings promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-5; Galatians 3:8). That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through [the] faith” (Galatians 3:14). “Through the faith.” What is in the faith (Jude 3)? Is it not God's message to be believed? The faith preached by Peter had the promise of the Spirit.

The Promise. "For the promise is unto you ..." The word “promise” is the same word used in both verses 33 and 39. Because of this word “promise” being the same, some have supposed that it meant all were/are promised the miraculous baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The Word “Promise.” The English word “promise” means “a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future.ii The Greek nounpromise” (ἐπαγγελίαG1860) is defined by Strong's Dictionary as “an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good): - message, promise”. It is an “announcement” that is foretold and backed with God's assurance. I can understand why any announcement by God can be interpreted as a promise because God does not lie. What He says is guaranteed! Concerning God's announcement, the Scripture records, For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, which it was impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:13, 18).

This promise word (ἐπαγγελία) according to Vincent's Word Studies (on Acts 1:4) is a promise “given without solicitation. This is the invariable sense of the word throughout the New Testament, and this and its kindred and compound words are the only words for promise in the New Testament.” The Greek word "to promise in response to a request", does not occur in the New Testament.

The word “promise” means and can be translated then as “guaranteed message.” In fact, the word is translated “message” in 1 John 1:5; i.e., This then is the message (ἐπαγγελίαG1860; i.e., same as “promise”) which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” If we use “message” rather than “promise” in the context of Acts 2's “the Holy Spirit's gift,” controversy should evaporate.

The Promise of the Father through the ages.
        The Promise of God the Father Down Through the Ages

Robertson's Word Pictures on Acts 2:33 comments, “The promise of the Holy Spirit (την τε επαγγελιαν του αγιου πνευματος). The promise mentioned in Acts 1:4 and now come true, consisting in [my emphasis] the Holy Spirit 'from the Father' (para tou patros), sent by the Father and by the Son (John 15:26; John 16:7).”

Acts 2:33. The promise or “message” in Acts 2:33 which by metonomy is called by its the message-bearer, the Holy Spirit (that Jesus promised to guide the apostles in John 16:13) and is what Jesus received and is identified with Joel's prophecy and as “what you now see and hear. The people were hearing the Spirit's “prophetic” message through Peter about Jesus the Christ.iii They were “seeing” Heaven's confirmation of signs that were to confirm the message (Mark 16:20). To limit the message to a supposed promise of miracles (i.e., the associating signs) is to ignore, I believe, and could even disparage the intended message of the cross.

The product: The Promise of God's Plan of Redemption. One way to look at the Holy Spirit's gift (Acts 2:38) is that it is simply but remarkably the message of “God's Plan of Salvation.” It was planned from before the “conception of the world.” It is the theme of the Bible. It was promised by God immediately at the fall of man in the Garden (Genesis 3:15). It was promised to Abraham ("all nations shall be blessed" through him, Genesis 12:1-5. It was promised in the OT by the Holy Spirit's prophets (e.g., Joel 2:28-32; 2 Peter 1:21). It was finally fulfilled on the day of Pentecost according to the apostle Peter. Since it was being announced by means of the Holy Spirit's power of speech and confirming signs of noise and tongues, it is called “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The gift is the product which the hearers were offered by the Spirit through the apostles. The message was to be “taken”, “received”, “accepted” by the audience. “You shall receive (this) gift.” It was an action required of the immediate audience of Jews and extended to all that God would call. It is a response by the way that the audience gladly made according to verse 41.

This Is Supported By The Prophecy Quoted...

The Message of Joel 2. The prophecy of Joel included at a minimum, if not the whole, the product of a “signal preservation of the Lord's people is promised: 'Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved' (Acts 2:21) shall escape that judgment which shall be a type and earnest of everlasting salvation”.iv

Joel's prophecy especially then emphasized the promise of salvation via latter days' prophesying by the Spirit through man. By prophesying is meant in these passages, speaking God's divine message by inspiration. v This was fulfilled on that day through the apostles, for Peter said,"This (i.e.; what the apostles were doing) is that spoken by Joel".   Although it is true that later Cornelius, the Samaritans, and the Corinthians prophesied, yet no one else but the apostles spoke on the day of Pentecost "as the Spirit gave them utterance (αποφθγγομαι, a Greek word used for divine utterances)." vi

The prophecy of the miraculous and figurative expressions (e.g., “wonders”, “sun shall be darkened”, “moon into blood”) were indicated as metaphorical incidentals in Heaven's confirmation of the message. Incidentals could therefore include Pentecost's marvels of the noise from heaven and speaking in unknown languages which confirmed the Spirit's witnessing (Acts 5:32), and the wondrous changes in the economic system from the Jewish kingdom's rules to that the Kingdom of God.

Direct or Indirect? Someone told me that these audience had to have direct revelation from the Spirit because they didn't have the New Testament. I ask the question, where does it say this? Anywhere in the Bible, please. Again, what were the apostles doing? They were teaching via the Spirit's prophecy. The audience did not need the Spirit's mouth speaking directly to them like He did to the lone inspired evangelist Philip in Acts 8:29 (compare to Luke 12:12). They had the mouths of the apostles who spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). The audience just had to open their ears and hearts to the message. This was the gift from God. If so, this was the gift of His Holy Spirit. It is the same gift for us today when we read the message.

Direct Prophecy Does Not Eliminate Study. There was no advantage of having the Spirit speak the gospel message rather than hearing the message from Peter and the apostles. Even Paul's friend Timothy, who had the direct “grace” gift through prophecy (1 Timothy 4:14), was required to study to show himself approved of God ( 2 Timothy 2:15). In all cases one has to study the message in order to be blessed by God's good things.

            The Message is Important. As far as the hearer is concerned, the miracle of speaking for God is not what is important; what the spokesman for God says is the important factor. Faith comes by hearing; and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The prophet Joel predicted that the prophecy would announce who the Lord is and thereby make available salvation for sins.

Read the following verses and substitute the word “message” for “promise.”

The message is called “the promise of the Spirit” in Galatians 3:14: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise [message] of the Spirit through [the] faith.” Notice that here it is the Holy Spirit's promise which is through “the Faith.” Surely this is the faith, the gospel (Romans 1:16,17), delivered to the saints of Jude 1:3.

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise [message]” (Ephesians 1:13). Young's translation is “ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise.

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise [message] in Christ by the gospel(Ephesians 3:6). More below.vii

It is as if Peter announced, “This is that moment. The Spirit is having us prophesy about this promise [message] of salvation.” The Lord is identified for them as Jesus. “Whosoever will call upon this name of the Lord Jesus will be saved” (cf. Romans 10:13). Although the extraordinary spectacle of speaking in foreign tongues was not what was prophesied by Joel, the Pentecost manifestation in Acts 2 was a confirmation that this was it; this was the day of God's prophecy come true. It's the promise of God. It's the gift of the Holy Spirit. Take it; it's for you.

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

- Gaylon West




iii Prophecy was revealing God's Word, message, from Heaven to Earth. It was God's communication to man.

1. Prophets spoke the words for another person. 2. Aaron was Moses' prophet. 3. Moses tells Aaron what to say.And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God(Exodus 4:16). Aaron was Moses' “mouth.” And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet(Exodus 7:1). So God's prophet is God's mouth. He speaks the mind of God. Paul as an apostle was a prophet just as Peter: For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).

ivActs 2:14-36.” Matthew Henry's Commentary of the Whole Bible.

v Strong's Dictionary: prophe_teuoG4395 "to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office: - prophesy."

vi "A peculiar word, and purposely chosen to denote the clear, loud utterance under the miraculous impulse. It is used by later Greek writers of the utterances of oracles or seers. So in the Septuagint, of prophesying" (Vincent's Word Studies). See, on this site,

viiTo the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16b).

It is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:18).

the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:22).

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Galatians 4:28).

Heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:1).

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).