On Receiving the Spirit

I believe in Baptism in the Spirit. Admittedly, no one doesn’t, we just debate what we mean by that. But I believe in receiving the Holy Spirit as an experiential reality that (ideally) happens at conversion, though it can happen later.

You can read my brief summary of how to approach this question, and my longer paper exploring it.

Sometimes the debate about the content becomes a debate about language. Should we call this ‘Baptism in the Spirit’ or ‘Receiving the Spirit’ or being ‘Filled with the Spirit,’ and of course the shadow-question is which names signal effectively what we believe; and which names create or deny associations with other Christians that we want to be (or not be) associated with.

So, because I find this sort of thing interesting, I’ve listed below all of the occasions of receiving the Spirit listed in the New Testament and the verb associated with them.

The aim here is to not make or prove any arguments about what we’re talking about, but instead to give us a sense of how the Bible uses language. I have been liberal in my inclusion of passages, some of these are arguably out of ‘scope’, but they have been included for the sake of having the broadest palette on which to draw.

I’ve listed just the verb (technically a couple aren’t verbs per se, but hopefully my decisions make sense) in connection with the Holy Spirit. Before we get too carried away my translations are the semantic domain of the words according to the sources I checked, that doesn’t mean each translation is how the Biblical author is using the word in their context.

to baptise, wash, dip, immerse, cleanse by washing (drown, flood, drench)
Mat 3.11 Mar 1.8 Luke 3.16 John 1.33 Acts 1.5; 11.16 1 Cor 12.137 occurrences
to place, set, put, appoint
Mat 12.181 occurrence
to fill, be completed, brought to a close (includes plērēes, full and plēroō to fulfil or make full )
Luke 1.15, 41, 67; 4.1 Acts 2.4; 4.8, 31; 6.4, 5; 7.55; 9.17; 11.24; 13.9, 52 Eph 5.1815 occurrences
to arrive, invade, come in, surprise
Luke 1.351 occurrence
upon, on, in
Luke 2.25, 4.182 occurrences
to give, grant, deliver
Luke 11.13 John 3.34 Acts 8.18; 15.8; 19.2 2 Cor 2.13; 5.5 Eph 1.17 1 The 4.8 2 Tim 1.7 1 Jo 4.1311 occurrences
to beget, generate, give birth to
John 3.5, 6, 8 Gal 4.294 occurrences
to receive, take up
John 7.39; 20.22 Acts 1.8, 2.38; 8.17, 19; 10.47 Rom 8.15, 15 1 Cor 2.12 Gal 3.2, 1412 occurrences
to be (given)       
John 7.391 occurrence
to dwell, stay, abide, remain, live
John 14.17 1 Jo 4.12 occurrences
in, on, among
John 14.17  1 occurrence
to pour out, scatter, shed
Acts 2.17, 18, 33; 10.45 Tit 3.65 occurrences
to fall upon, to come on, to embrace, to press upon
Acts 10.441 occurrence
to come, go
Acts 19.61 occurrence
to dwell in, inhabit
Rom 8.9, 11, 11 1 Cor 3.164 occurrences
to have, be, hold, keep
Rom 8.9, 23 1 Cor 6.19, 7.404 occurrences
to be active, to be at work, to empower, to energise
1 Cor 12.111 occurrence
to water, irrigate, cause to drink
1 Cor 12.131 occurrence
to seal, to mark an object for possession, authority, identity or security
2 Cor 1.22 Eph 1.13; 4.303 occurrences
to supply, support, furnish, give
Gal 3.51 occurrence
to send out, away (sent into our hearts)
Gal 4.61 occurrence
to live in, dwell in, inhabit  
2 Tim 1.141 occurrence
to share, partner with, partake
Heb 6.41 occurrence
to dwell, cause to live in, settle in, colonise
Jam 4.51 occurrence
to know, come to know, recognise, understand, have sex with
1 Jo 4.2, 62 occurrences
to make alive, give life to, quicken
1 Pet 3.181 occurrence
holiness, santification
1 Pet 1.2 2 The 2.132 occurrences
+ every time the Spirit is called Holy
renewal, renovation
Tit 3.51 occurrence
regeneration, new birth, renewal
Tit 3.51 occurrence
to strengthen, become strong, confirm, be firm, be resolute
Eph 3.161 occurrence
to clothe, dress, put on
Luke 24.491 occurrence
to seat, rest upon, appoint, place
Acts 2.31 occurrence

The most frequent terms to describe clear experiences of the Spirit are being “filled” or “receiving” the Spirit. Now, we could have a good debate about whether all of these are referring to the same reality or whether there are multiple actions of the Spirit included—that is a worthy question.

What’s the takeaway? I think this table is worth reflecting on, but the main takeaway is simply this: God in Christ by his Spirit clothes you, rests on you, strengthens you, renews you, sets you apart, makes you alive, unites with you in marital bliss, lives in and with you, sends you out, partners with you, supports you, falls upon you, pours upon you, abides with you, begets you, fills you, drowns you, anoints you, cleanses you, causes you to drink, seals you, invades you, appoints you, and is a gift that you receive from the hand of Jesus.

Photo by geissht on Unsplash

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