Being Filled with the Holy Spirit and Indwelling
Holy Spirit Indwelling Series Part 3
The previous two articles focused on Biblical associations with the topic of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the first article, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was demonstrated to be non-miraculous representation of the Christian’s obedience to God’s will and not a literal indwelling. In the second, it was demonstrated a literal indwelling is not what the term “gift of the Holy Spirit” means. Rather the term “gift” in conjunction with the Holy Spirit focuses on the miraculous imparted by the laying on of the hands of the apostles which is in opposition to a non-miraculous indwelling. This third article will aim to show the term “filled with the Holy Spirit” is also not a literal indwelling.
Two understandings of the term “filled with the Holy Spirit” will nullify the assertion that filling is a literal non-miraculous indwelling. First, if it can be shown the term is merely representative of someone walking according to truth and righteousness (as per example in the first article) the assertion is nullified; second, if the term can be demonstrated to mean the miraculous the assertion will be nullified. It is my conviction the term “filled with the Holy Spirit” or “full of the Holy Spirit” is a term representing the miraculous as the Bible uses it.
The Old Testament must first be examined for this term. In Exodus, Moses was told to build a tabernacle. He was informed by God Bezalel (Exodus 31:2-3) and Aholiab (Exodus 35:35) had been filled with the Holy Spirit. What this meant was they were given miraculous knowledge and abilities to perform the task. This was not something they learned overtime, but rather it was given directly by God. Deuteronomy 34:9 is another Old Testament example showing someone full of the Spirit of God. Moses laid hands upon Joshua and imparted wisdom to him directly. Unlearned wisdom directly given is miraculous. Micah 3:8 demonstrates Micah full of power by the spirit to prophecy. This would be the miraculous. Obviously, these incidences are not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Now, the New Testament examples of filling shall be examined. Luke 1:15, Zacharias is told by an angel his Son John (the Baptizer) would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. To attempt to portray this as not being miraculous John 10:41 is pointed out saying “John indeed did no sign”. However, as with Bezalel and Aholiab the miraculous does not have to be a sign. The miraculous confirmed by John 10:41 was “all things whatsoever John spake of this man were true” in reference to Christ. In other words, John had inspired knowledge given by the Holy Spirit from the womb. No indwelling here.
Zacharias wife was filled with the Holy Spirit in Luke 1:41-45. It was manifested by miraculous speech of the Holy Spirit. Next Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit in Luke 1:67 and prophesied. Note: These folks in the Old Testament and New Testament were filled with the Holy Spirit, doing the miraculous, and this was before the day of Pentecost. If indwelling were said to be the filling of the Holy Spirit then it began before then. Of course, this point is moot, for indwelling is not the same as filling.
Luke 4:1 shows Jesus full of the Spirit and being led by that Spirit into the wilderness, the Spirit directly operating upon Christ qualifies this as a miraculous occurrence. Examining the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:4, filling will be seen along with miraculous utterance. Next, Acts 4:8 and 31 will show the same thing, the miraculous. In Acts 6:3-5, men were being chosen to serve the widows. They were specifically to be men “full of the Spirit”. That this is not just a reputation of Godly behavior is obvious, because their good reputation was a separate quality. Their miraculous endowments were visible characteristics that separated them apart as obedient to God (Acts 5:32) and therefore identified them as trustworthy to the people. Later, Stephen, one of those selected men, following performing miraculous signs and wonders, would deliver an inspired speech to the Sanhedrin. That miraculous speech is identified as a filling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 7:55. It is argued the reason Stephen was able to do the miraculous was the apostles laid their hands upon him. There is no doubt this occurred. I would actually suggest this was done upon Stephen’s prior unrecorded conversion. The laying on of the hands of the selected men in Acts 6:6 was merely a ceremonial thing much like was done to Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:3. The miraculous filling observed in these verses eliminates indwelling.
Continuing, Paul was filled with the Spirit in Acts 9:17-18 and spoke the inspired speech of God’s Word. Acts 11:23-24 identify Barnabas as full of the Holy Spirit exhorting the Christians. I submit his speech was inspired to aid the Christians and he did not speak of his own accord. Other examples in Acts 13:9 and 13:52-14:1 also show inspired speech of the Holy Spirit by Paul and the disciples respectively. It is understood some of these may be considered borderline examples, however, consider the possibility is present for the miraculous. Most like examples examined are very clear filling was miraculous. What is certain is none of the verses examined refute the concept of filling involving the miraculous influence of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 is the final verse in scripture using the term “filled with the spirit”. This verse is frequently explained to be a representative state of behaving in a Godly manner. This would again refute a literal indwelling; however, it is not my belief this would be an appropriate interpretation. Rather, the Ephesians who had miraculous gifts were told to engage them (those with gifts did have control over them I Corinthians 14:27-32). This does not take away from the example of Christians today to sing songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, but it was unique in the setting of the miraculous of the first century. Christians today have learned these whereas those of the first century had the miraculous inspiration to do so. For further discussion on the topic being “filled with the Spirit” and specifically Ephesians 5:18, please consider Franklin Camp’s work, “The Work of the Holy Spirit in Redemption” pp. 186-200.
The examination of the terms “filled with the Holy Spirit” or “Full” in the Old Testament and New Testament overwhelmingly demonstrate the miraculous in those ages. This completely shuts down the idea this term is the same as a non-miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Through three articles, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has been shown not to be literal, not the Gift of the Spirit, and not being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Thus far the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is being approached as if it were non-miraculous. Most people approach the indwelling in this manner. However, there are some who do believe the indwelling to be miraculous. Some believe that ability comes from baptism, which was refuted in the second article. Others believe the Holy Spirit simply needs to be prayed for to receive an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the ability to do miracles. However, this too is quashed in the second article as it was shown gifts were only enabled through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Where such a false notion comes from is Luke 11:13. In this passage, Jesus encourages his disciples to pray for the Holy Spirit. Why? They prayed for the Holy Spirit so they could receive Him. Did they receive Him and if so when? The answer is yes! They received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. No other reference in scripture is made to praying for the Holy Spirit because instruction was for the disciples before Pentecost and their prayer was answered. For man to pray for the Holy Spirit today is not scriptural because the Spirit has come and performed His work. In the final article of this series, it will be shown miracles have ceased by the hand of man altogether giving further confirmation the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not miraculous. However, the next article in this series will focus on the sealing of the Holy Spirit and whether or not that is His indwelling.