Review. In a previous article it was established that the Jerusalem audience was invited to repent, be baptized and actually “take” the resulting gift. We studied that the verb “shall receive” in Acts 2:38 is future realization to obeying the specified conditions of “repenting of sins” and “being baptized” in the name of Jesus Christ. The verb “shall receive” is in the indicative mood, which means it is a statement or considered to be fact. It is middle deponent voice in grammar which makes it an active seizing by those qualified. Therefore, any definition of what the gift is must include a possibility of currently procuring or rejecting it.
In the last article, we looked at the identity of the Spirit. Now, we will explore the word "gift." Later, we will consider whether the gift is "from the Spirit" or is "the Spirit."
First, there are at least two major Greek words that are translated by the translators as "gift" in the New Testament. The "gift" used in Acts 2:38 is the "dorean" gift. The other Greek word is "charisma" (grace).
The doreanG1432 Word “Gift.” Just because it is a “gift” does not mean that it is a “freebie” with no strings attached as some modern evangelicals teach. The argument is sometimes made that one does not have to do anything to receive the gift of the Holy Spiritor any of God's gifts because they are free. In reality both the gift to the apostles and the gift promised to the Jerusalem audience came with prerequisites. At the same time it is called a gift.
The gift of Heaven is given to worthy souls: “They shall walk with me in white because they are worthy. The one that overcomes, that one shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before my Father and his angels”(Revelation 3:4-5).i The Bible defines who is worthy. To claim that this gift is “unmerited” is to confuse and cause reluctance to obedience.
The word “gift” in our text is doreanG1432 and is incidentally fromits parent word “gift”doronG1435ii,which was the “altar” gift (Ezekiel 20:28). Both Greek words have the verb διδοµιG1325 ("to give") as their origin.
The doronG1435 gift. The Law of Moses required one to “honor” his parents, but the hypocrites were saying their money was a “gift” (doronG1435) dedicated to God (Corbaniii) and were side stepping the “honor parents” commandment (Mark 7:11). This“altar gift”is used at least 16 times in the New Testament (I counted over 90 times used as sacrifices in the Greek OT LXX). This word “gift” does not mean “free” in the sense that the receiver was not worthy. It was offered to God who without controversy would be worthy. The wise men brought doronG1435 gifts to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:11). Jesus is worthy.
The doronG1435 gift was also used in secular society for “gifts” of honor from a lesser to a greater; e.g., tokings, to brides, etc. The derived word doreanG1432 was also used in similar ways as has been discovered in secular Greek papyri; e.g., one of the references is to an Egyptian King Apollonius' doreanG1432 estate that was confiscated during Ptolemy III's reign.iv DoreanG1432 seems to have been used more in a legal sense than doronG1435v.
It is interesting that the parent word doronG1435 is used in Ephesians 2:8 for the gift from God: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”(i.e., doronG1435). That word according to Strong's Dictionary meant “a present; specifically a sacrifice: - gift, offering.” However, notice that the doronG1435 in Ephesians 2 is not from man but is from God. In other words, when the Bible uses the word “free” gift in regard to God's gift, it means it is freely given by the donor, who in Ephesians 2 is God. He voluntarily decides what and how and when to dispense His object “gift.” It should not be interpreted that the object is dispensed without guidelines.
Contrary to some opinions, then, “gift” does not mean “no strings attached” for its recipients. Neither does God's “grace” gifts. God offers the gift in Ephesians 2:8 through the Faith,vi which lists God's requirements (Jude 3).vii One example of the faith been preached is in our text in Acts 2:38 where God's gift according to Peter requires belief,viii repentance, and being baptized. Hence, this is a similar characteristic between the parent word “gift”, doronG1435 and its derived word “gift” [doreanG1432] used in Acts 2:38.
The doreanG1432 gift. The gift (doreanG1432) of the Holy Spirit is defined as: 1. “gratuitously (literally or figuratively)” - Strong's); 2.“gift-wise” (“like a gift”) Winer's Grammar, 230); and 3. “something freely done [given] (without cost); hence, not done out of mere obligation or compulsion or entitlement; not coerced” (Helps Word Studies). Hence, the "free" aspect is describing the freedom of choice of the giver and not the value of the gift nor recipient. The "n" ending for doreaG1431 identifies it as being in the accusative case (it is the object of the verb "receive").
Although Vine's Dictionary editorializes that "It [dorea] is always used in the NT of a spiritual or supernatural gift, John 4:10; Acts 8:20; 11:17; Rom. 5:15; 2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 3:7; Heb. 6:4; in Eph. 4:7"ix we do well to remember that such is the authors' biased opinion, especially when it is evident that he's editorializing.
Gratuity. I think of “gratuity” as being a voluntary tip that one gives to a waiter/waitress that's done an acceptable job. There is a nuance in John 15:25 and Psalm 64:9 (LXX) that may help us. The people hated Jesus “without cause” (i.e., the word is dorean: gratuitously; “voluntarily as a gift”--Vincent's Word Studies). Their reaction can be categorized as the opposite of pleasure. However, it was their voluntary response based upon their judgment of Jesus' behavior. Instead of commending Jesus, they voluntarily generated hatred for Him.
The Apostles and Their DoreanG1432 Gift. The “receive” of Acts 2:38 is often taught as being passive. We have established that this verb is not passive but was understood to the audience as active. It is the same verb used for the apostles' receiving the power with the Holy Spirit's coming upon them. The apostles did not passively receive this blessing. They waited obediently to get the power given by the Spirit.
Rules for apostles to obey. First, they were to wait in Jerusalem for “the promise of the Father.” “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait forthe promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me”(Acts 1:4). The verb infinitive “wait” is of course in the active voice. However, a companion recording in Luke 24:49 is imperative: Jesus says,“Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” The “tarry” is a command. The waiting is a must. The apostles were to obey this requirement in order to be indued with the promise.
Second, they were to receive power when indued with the promise of the Holy Spirit came upon them. That is, when they were baptized (immersed, “overwhelmed”) with the Holy Spirit (not water, Acts 1:5). This “shall receive” is future middle deponent voice, the same as Acts 2:38's “shall receive.” However, in its companion record in John 20:22, “[Jesus] saith unto them,Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” The verb “receive” of John 20:22 is (aorist) imperative. They were commanded by Jesus to receive the Spirit. This was to be an active taking by them. Comparing the deponent verb with the imperative, we can understand why the audience would understand the deponent form to be action to be obeyed.
The Audience and Their DoreanG1432 Gift. Just as the apostles' receipt of their promise was predicated upon their active obedience, so it is with the audience's receiving their promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were required to do something. Convicted in their hearts, they were told to repent of their sins, and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (1) They were to repent of their sins. (2) They were to allow themselves to be passively baptized. That is they were to have someone baptize them. But (3) they were to actively take something.
What were they to "take"? This is very important: if some in the audience were added to the apostles' group, we can reasonably conclude it was because they obeyed Peter's instruction. It is proper then to ask, "Did they take anything?" If they did take or receive anything, wouldn't this be the gift they were instructed to take?
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Act 2:41-42) "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved"(Act 2:47). So, what did they take? I.e., What did they "receive"? "...they gladly received his word." Was this not the gift offered and anticipated by mankind at least from the time of the prophet Joel? Is it not the Spirit's prophetic word delivered by the apostles?
Conclusion. The audience that was added to the apostles were baptized but they also as instructed actively received the dorean gift. This is important to concede because the individual miraculous "gifts" enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12 are not called dorean gifts (in the Greek); rather, such are identified in the Greek with another gift word charisma ("favor" gift). If this be so, then this is one reason not to consider Acts 2:38 as receiving individual miraculous powers. In other words, "wrong gift word." Rather, the Word delivered by the Holy Spirit provides our ram, Jesus the only holy sacrifice that makes us presentable to the Father.
- GAYLON WEST
'THROW OUT THE LIFELINE”
http://www.biblestudylessons.netOther articles in this series, The Gift of the Holy Spirit:
iEphesians 2:8 uses doron as gift (a sacrificial gift); the gift is given through the Faith (Jude 3).
iiStrong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.
iiiEdwyn Bevan. A History of Egypt Under the Ptolemaic Dynasty (Routledge),2014.
Compare to use of dorea as a grant of benefits during the Ptolemaic age. F. W. Walbank.; A. E. Astin.The Cambridge Ancient History, 1984, p. 160.
vThe is in the Greek text but unfortunately is ignored by many; compare with Jude 3's “the faith.”
vi The faith is the gospel with the first part being the resurrection and witnesses; Romans 1:16,17; 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10
viiThey were “pricked in their hearts and cried out, What shall we do?”
viii"Gift,giving." Vine'sExpository Dictionary of New Testament Words
ixKorbanG2878 "a votive offering and the offering; a consecrated present (to the Temple fund); by extension (the latter term) the Treasury itself, that is, the room where the contribution boxes stood: - Corban, treasury." (Strong's Dictionary).