PROFFER: The 12 apostles have to meet qualifications to receive the Holy Spirit. Paul had to meet the same qualifications but modified by time. Paul is qualified in a special way by Jesus.

Recap: Infallibility Is Given To All Apostles

Requirement for replacing Judas Iscariot: “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection” (Acts 1:21, 22)

The text gives the qualification for being one of the apostles. Peter told the court that the apostles were witnesses along with the Holy Spirit whom God gave to them (i.e., the apostles, Acts 5:32). The Holy Spirit is never referred to as being given to anyone else.*

* Jesus explained to the apostles in the upper room that the sending of the witness of the Holy Spirit was limited to them and was not sent to the world (John 14). The world was not qualified. The apostles were qualified especially (1) to “see” the Holy Spirit and (2) to “know” the Holy Spirit. The world could not.

Paul Claims Apostleship

A later convert, Pauli asserts that the apostles had received the Holy Spirit directly, but he includes himself as an apostle and as a recipient of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2). “Now we [apostlesii] have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Paul says that he too was an apostle in the following passages: Romans 1:1; 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 9:1, 2; 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 12:12; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1, 11; Titus 1:1.

The apostle Peter witnesses for Paul in 2 Peter 3:15,16 and labels his writings as Holy Scripture.

Paul affirms his minisry as an apostle is according to the gift (dorean) of the grace of God (compare to Acts 2:38 & John 4:l0 “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power” (Ephesians 3:7).

The Apostle Paul’s Credentials

Paul recognized that his qualifications were exceptional. He said that he “was the least of the apostles” and that he “was as one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8,9). “Born out of due time”; “like a baby born before the normal time” (ERV).

Paul does not meet the apostle qualifications of time stated in Acts 1.

1. Paul was not with Jesus at the beginning; this was a qualification for the Holy Spirit’s witness (John 15:27; Acts 1:21, 22).

2. Paul missed the Last Supper (Luke 22:14); “And they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.”

3. He missed the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was given the twelve in Acts 1:26 & 2:1f.

Born Out of Due Time Paul Is Qualified Directly By Jesus.

Although Paul missed the time period experienced by the twelve, Jesus makes up for the fundamentals: If you had knowledge of me, you would have knowledge of my Father: you have knowledge of him now and have seen him(John 14:7, BBE). The apostles had available the evidence of their experience with Jesus. Jesus said the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit because they had not (1) “seenthe Spirit nor (2) “knownthe Spirit but the apostles had because of their seeing the Father in Him.

Jesus directly appears to Paul, meeting as it were, with him so that he’s able to receive directly the Holy Spirit.

1. First, He actually sees Jesus on the road to Damascus (not just a vision). There were witnesses with him. Seeing the resurrected Lord was a requirement for the twelve: After that, [Jesus] was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:7, 8). He was witness of His resurrection on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6).

2. Paul knows Jesus because Jesus after his conversion takes him and teaches him directly, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11,12).

“By the revelation of Jesus Christ (δἰ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ). The subject of the revelation is the gospel, not Christ. Christ was the revealer. Rev. ('it came to me') through revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Vincent’s Word Studies).

This was not inspiration through the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the revealer. Paul received the gospel directly from Jesus. Paul often speaks of His receiving things directly from the Lord Jesus when he writes by inspiration in the Scriptures, (e.g., fundamentals of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:3; the institution of the Lord’s Supper, 11:23).

He explains in the context of Galatians 1:15-18 that he was three years in Arabia and Damascus and God revealed His Son in him before he had any contact with the original apostles. Jesus taught the twelve apostles three years and Paul received special contact with Jesus for a period of time which were within the three years referred to in Galatians 1:17,18. The point is, all the apostles including Paul knew and was taught by Jesus personally. This lack of contact and knowledge disqualified the world from receiving the Holy Spirit (John 14-16).


In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul affirms that he along with the “other” apostles:

1. Had received the Spirit.

2. Knew the things given or gifted of God.

3. Were given things called words.

4. Spoke words taught by the Holy Spirit.

5. Had words prepared for those that love God were revealed to the apostles.

6. Received the words what the natural man would reject.

7. “Received the Holy Spirit” equated to “received the words of the Holy Spirit” directly. Jesus used the same figure in Matthew 7:11 and its parallel, Luke 11:13.

Paul affirmed that he had direct revelation from God: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” and he adds that this direct revelation was given to all the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:3-5). We can read and understand the apostles and prophets’ writings but the Spirit has not and does not directly reveal anything to man directly.

This statement by Paul is another verification that the Spirit was not given to anyone else but the apostles on the day of Pentecost.


The 12 apostles had to meet qualifications in order to receive the Holy Spirit. Paul had to meet the same qualifications but modified by time. Jesus qualified Paul directly in a special and unique way. The Holy Spirit in the NT performs as Witness. He witnesses only with and through the apostles selected by Jesus. The apostles are divinely guided in their witness so that the NT Scriptures are inerrantly inspired.

- Gaylon West

Throw Out the Lifeline

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

i The apostle Paul was in addition to the original 12 who had been promised the Holy Spirit (John 14-16).

ii Paul said “we” versus “you”. We know that “you” would be the readers (Corinthians, etc.). The “we” includes the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 1:1), apostles (4:9), Sosthenes and possibly, Apollos, whom Paul obviously includes in his label “prophets.” Prophets did receive the Spirit “upon” through the laying on of the apostles’ hands; hence, as described as secondarily prophets (12:28).