Acts 4:31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Just three days before Jesus was executed, Jesus told his disciples, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Jesus would speak on this again just before he ascended to heaven, Jesus said to his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you …” (Matt 28:19-20) Of course, being curious, they were asking him, “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in both Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the extremity of the earth.”–Acts 1:6-8
It has been and will be mentioned several times in this publication, Christianity has lost its way in the great commission of proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, teaching biblical truths, and making disciples, even in the face of centuries of intensified missionary work this is true. It is the mission of Christian Publishing House and this author that the first-century lifesaving work of evangelism is restored, so that, all Christians may play a role in making disciples. Therefore, it is tools like this publication and others by this author and other authors, which will enable any willing Christian to share biblical truths effectively within their family, their community, their workplace or their school, to make disciples. Within this chapter, we will cover how the Holy Spirit can enable us to be bold when we are sharing biblical truths with others.
One can only imagine the joy of making a disciple for Christ, who, in turn, goes out to make disciples himself. Congregation Evangelists, be it male or female should be very involved in evangelizing their communities and helping the church members play their role at the basic levels of evangelism. There is nothing to say that one church could not have many within, who have the calling of an evangelist, which would and should be cultivated. However, like in the first-century, we in the twenty-first-century have many challenges that get in our way. Generally speaking, few today are eager to hear from God’s Word, mostly because the majority have preconceived ideas about it (just a man’s book, full of errors and contradictions, and the like), many are of the same mindset as those who were living the days of Noah. “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark.” (Matt. 24:38-39, NASB) Then, the apostle Peter warned,
2 Peter 3:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
On these verses, David Walls writes, “In the last days refers to all the days between the first advent of the Messiah and the second advent. Characteristic of that time frame, however long it will be, is the fact that people will make fun of the doctrine of the Second Coming. Scoffing toward Christians is to express derision or scorn about a Christian or Christianity, the Bible, or God. It describes the characteristic attitude of the day toward the Second Coming. False teachers argued that the promise of the Second Coming had been delayed so long that we may safely conclude that it would never happen. As far as they could see, the world was going on just as it always had–people lived and died, but nothing really changed.” (Walls and Anders 1996, p. 141) Today, we have false teachers on both sides of the second coming fence: (1) ones that scoff at the idea of Jesus’ second coming and (2) those that act as though they are prophets of God, knowing the very day and hour. However, we also have those that from liberal and moderate “Christianity” that ridicule, mock and oppose conservative Christianity. All of this, and we have not even gotten to those outside of Christianity, who also ridicule, mock and oppose the Almighty God and his Word, the Bible.
As true Christians, we may face ridicule, mocking and opposition from the governmental officials, the news and entertainment media, other religions, and the agnostics and atheists. However, even more close to home, it may come from those that our children go to school with, their teachers or it may come from those we work with, even from close family members. All of these people need to be evangelized to if we are to carry out the Great Commission of proclaiming and teaching God’s Word, to make disciples for Christ. We need to evangelize those in false forms of “Christianity,” the unbelievers and those in either of these categories, who are closer to us.
However, we face yet more challenges that are in our way. One such challenge is our human imperfection, i.e., our human weaknesses, such as shyness and fear of being ridiculed, mocked and opposed. Lastly, our greatest obstacle is our church leaders, who are failing to train us to be effective evangelizers in our communities. James, Jesus’ half-brother wrote, “One of you says to them [the poor], ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Jam. 2:16-17, ESV) This principle can be carried over to pastors, elders, priests, ministers, who say to their congregation, “You need to share the gospel in your community, so that you may help build up the church for Christ.” All of this pointing the finger at them by using the second person pronoun, “you” repeatedly, and these leaders have not even given them the tools to be effective evangelists within their community. What good is that? Therefore, their supposed faith that the evangelism work will be done, but having no works of training such ones, means they have no genuine faith at all, it is dead. If we are to persist in sharing the Word of God, this will require that we have the tools to help us (i.e., this book and others like it), as well as boldness. In this chapter, we will focus on boldness.
Ephesians 6:19-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 and for me, that a word may be given to me at the opening of my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may proclaim it boldly, as I ought to speak.
The Greek word, parresia, “boldness” in verse 19 has the sense of in boldness “in an evident or publicly known manner–‘publicly, in an evident manner, well known.’” The Greek word, parresiazomai, “boldly” in verse 19, is a “(derivative of parresia ‘boldness,’ 25.158) to speak openly about something and with complete confidence—‘to speak boldly, to speak openly.’” However, this boldness, confidence, courage, fearlessness does not give us a license to be blunt or rude to the ones we speak to, even if their demeanor is such. The apostle said to the Christians in Rome, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.” (Rom. 12:17; See Col. 4:6, NASB) He went on to say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Rom. 12:18, NASB) When we go about our evangelism work, sharing God’s Word with others, we need to be bold in this hostile world, but it needs to be balanced with tact as well because our objective is not to offend the one we to whom we are witnessing.
To be sure, this sort of boldness calls for personal qualities that involve much effort that needs to be developed over time. We do not just wake up one morning and decide that we are going to be bold from here forward. In addition, we do not just read a couple Bible verses about being bold, and then, we are all of a sudden able to be bold in our witnessing to others. “But after we [Paul and his companions] had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much conflict.” (1 Thess. 2:2) We today can acquire a similar boldness if we are hesitant, shy or nervous at the idea of speaking to others about the Word of God.
Paul and his traveling companions had boldness, which you can note he said in the above, “we had the boldness in our God.” In other words, God removed Paul’s fears and gave him boldness. The rulers, elders, and scribes gathered in Jerusalem and commanded Peter and John to no longer witness about Jesus. These Jewish religious leaders had the power of life and death over them. Of course, they could only take their life, not their opportunity at eternal life. However, Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” God was well aware of these threats, but he granted his servants to speak his word “with all boldness.” Ac 4:5, 19-20, 29, ESV) The Father had provided them with Holy Spirit. What about us; Should we expect that the Holy Spirit under this direct and supernatural control will guide, lead, and direct us in the same bold way.
A significant change was in the offing. The Jews had followed the lead of their religious leaders in the last act of rebellion, resulting in their rejection as his people. The Mosaic Law was being replaced with the law of Christ. This does not mean that no Jew could be received into the newly founded Christian congregation. To the contrary, the next three and half years would be only the Jewish people, which would make up this new way to God. As was the case with Moses, there was to be a sign, miraculous events, which included the speaking in tongues, this as evidence to those, whose heart was receptive to the truth that the Son of God had come, had given his life for them, and ascended back to heaven. Exodus 19:16-19
However, there was much labor to be done. Beginning in 36 C.E., with the conversion of Cornelius, an uncircumcised Gentile, the gospel got underway in its spread to non-Jewish people of every nation. (Acts, chap. 10) In truth, so swiftly did it spread that by about 60 C.E., the apostle Paul could say that the gospel had been “proclaimed in all creation that is under heaven.” (Col. 1:23) Consequently, by the time of the last apostles death (John c. 100 C.E.), Jesus’ faithful followers had made disciples all the way through the Roman Empire—in Asia, Europe, and Africa! By 125 C.E., there were over one million Christians.
If we objectively look at the history of first-century Christianity, the three and a half year ministry of Jesus, founding the Christian congregation, the apostles spreading the good news throughout the whole of the Roman Empire, and the Holy Spirit miraculously guiding, leading and showing the apostles the “things to come,” reminding them of all that Jesus had said. The apostles and a select few of others, like Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Timothy, Titus, Philip, were under direct and supernatural control as they established Christianity in the first century. While there may have been a few individuals, attempting to cause division in the first century, by 100 C.E. there was but one Christianity, the one Jesus founded and the apostle grew. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament were to be added to the Old Testament by 200 C.E. The particular work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of had run its course by the death of the apostle John in 100 C.E., as he was the last apostle. After John, no man has been miraculously guided or directed, in the same manner and way, because that same specific work of the Holy Spirit was no longer needed. The work of the Holy Spirit from the second century forward has been within the inspired, inerrant Word of God. There was no need for the Holy Spirit to operate the same as in the first century because the work of setting up Christianity and completing the Word of God was completed. The work of the Holy Spirit now takes place through the Spirit-inspired Word of God.
What miraculous, supernatural gifts were the apostles and a select few workers to receive, to establish first century Christianity? They would receive a helper, comforter, an instructor, a guide, a supporter, i.e., the Holy Spirit. What did Jesus say about the Holy Spirit, being specifically applied to the apostles and a select few other fellow workers, to accomplish their work of establishing Christianity and completing the Bible? He had much to say on this, as we will discover from the texts below. Italics and underlines are mines.
John 14:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may be with you forever; 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see him or know him, but you know him because he dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 15:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, that one will bear witness about me.
This took place with the apostles starting at Pentecost 33 C.E., as well as other Christians throughout the first-century.
John 16:5-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when that one arrives, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
John 16:12-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when that one, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak from himself, but whatever he hears, he will speak; and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 That one will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All the things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes what is mine and will declare it to you.
In the above texts, we have a number of things that the Holy Spirit was to do for the apostles and a select few other fellow workers. While the apostle were not ignorant or illiterate as some commentators suppose, they did not possess training in the Rabbinic study of Scripture, such as the apostle Paul had under Gamaliel. Luke tells us of an account of Peter and John before the Jewish religious leaders, where he writes,
Acts 4:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were astonished, and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
All of a sudden, Peter and John, literate fishermen were keeping pace with the Jewish religious leaders, who had training in the Rabbinic study of Scripture. This is the Holy Spirit teaching them, guiding them, instructing them, bringing back to their remembrance all that Jesus had said. Therefore, the apostles and a select few fellow workers needed the Holy Spirit if they were to establish Christianity on the grand scale that it was by the end of the first century and complete the New Testament. There was no way that the apostles alone could have educated themselves to the level of Paul, in such a short period, it was the Holy Spirit, who taught and instructed them miraculously. The Holy Spirit guided them as well. One way was in their writings, as no New Testament author contradicted another; they were all one because there was really one author, God. This is actually true of all forty plus authors of the entire Bible. From the second century forward, this has never repeated. In fact, today we have 41,000 different denominations, all teaching different things on the same doctrines.
Nisan 14, 33 C.E., the night of the Passover feast with Jesus, he told the apostles, “When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8, ESV) How did the Holy Spirit do this on Pentecost? The first stage was to baptize the apostle in Holy Spirit, which means that they would have been miraculously endowed with guidance, instruction, teachings, and a remembrance of what Jesus had said. Again, looking at Jesus’ words just before his ascension, he said, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5, ESV) The second stage was the work that these ones would carry out in the first century, namely, putting the world on notice (convicting them concerning their sin and righteousness), which was very similar to what the Mosaic Law had done with the Israelites. Remember the words of the apostle Paul,
Romans 5:20-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
20 The [Mosaic] Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
How did the Mosaic Law make sin “increase”? From Adam’s rebellion to the Mosaic Law, man was well aware of right and wrong because even in imperfection he had a sense of right and wrong. God had given Adam and Eve a conscience, an internal mechanism, to evidence the difference between right and wrong. In their perfection, they were able to sin still because even if a perfect person entertains bad thoughts, it will lead to sin and death. (Jam 1:14-15) Nevertheless, humankind in imperfection has a measure of that conscience that was given to Adam and Eve, meaning they have always had a sense of good and bad. However, the Mosaic Law laid our more explicitly what sin was and the different aspects of it. The Pentateuch itself contained 613 laws. It was a theocratic government, covering religious obligations, duties of the priesthood, a judicial system, covering business, marriage, family, sexual relations, morality, military, dietary restrictions, sanitary laws and much more. Therefore, the Mosaic Law caused sin to increase. On this Paul wrote,
Romans 7:7-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
Like the apostle Paul, neither Jewish persons nor us today would know the full range of sin without the Mosaic Law. Paul gave us the example of coveting. The law exposed the coveting spirit that Paul would never have truly recognized in its fullest sense. This is how Paul could say, “apart from the Law sin is dead,” specifically, it would not be as recognizable, as exposed, as highlighted. The Law made people more aware of the extent of their sinful nature. We should offer a word of caution, though, the Mosaic Law did not move them toward sin or make sin more appealing, but rather it exposed sin for what it was. Sin is missing the mark of perfection. Sin is being out of harmony with the Creator, his personality, standards, and ways, which he inculcated in his creation. The Law made it possible to convict more people concerning sin. Now, the apostles, baptized in Holy Spirit were going to take this a step further with the law of Christ. Again, Jesus said to his apostles, “When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world [by way of the apostle workers] concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8, ESV)
What do we mean by ‘convicting the world concerning sin’? This is not a reference to sin in general, as though, the Holy Spirit would personally come upon a person who just watched a movie they should not have, or they just told a lie, or they committed any sin. When we feel this inner guilt, a groaning of our inner person, because we know we have just done wrong, this is not the Holy Spirit convicting us of that sin. It is the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God, which convicts us of sin. Sin will cause us to feel guilt, anxiety, insecurity, shame. We get a clearer understanding of this when we consider Paul’s words that “the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” (Rom 2:15, ESV) In other words, when we fall short of God’s standards as they are laid out in Scripture or our God given conscience, we will feel an internal groaning within us, which is our conscience convicting us of wrongdoing.
We are born with the weaker version of the conscience that God had given Adam and Eve. It will prevent most humans from committing the obvious right and wrongs, even if they never read the Word of God their entire life. However, considering that almost all of the teachers and professors in the United States and Especially Europe and Canada are of a liberal progressive mindset, which is contrary to God’s standards, the conscience is greatly weakened by Satan’s world. If our conscience is ignored, it will become calloused and unfeeling, no longer warning us of our wrongdoing, because it is no longer signaling a wrongdoing in our heart and mind. On the other hand, if Scripture trains our conscience, it will not allow us to commit the wrongdoing in the first place. Returning to the being made bold by the Holy Spirit, we too can receive the Spirit in our evangelism work, but not in the same way and the same sense as the apostles and their fellow workers.
There was a different level of relationship between fist century Christianity and Christianity over the next 2,000 years. It must be remembered that Christ needed (1) to train those that would, (2) establish Christianity, and (3) grow Christianity to the point that it was extensive and united. This was needed to withstand the apostasy and false teachers that were to come over the next 2,000 years, who would split Christianity into so many factions, finding the truth and the way of the first century today is nigh impossible. All that Jesus and his apostles were to accomplish took place in a mere one hundred years while also publishing the twenty-seven books of the New Testament that later Christians would bring together as one book. There was a definite need for the Holy Spirit in first century Christianity. Let us look at the gifts of prophecy and speaking in tongues.
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
Some may argue that the evidence does not give one any idea of when the gift of tongues was to end. However, they would be mistaken in this case. There are three lines of evidence that present the fact that the gift of tongues would die out shortly after the death of the last apostle, which was the apostle John, who died about 98-100 C.E. First, the gift of tongues was always passed on to the person, only by an apostle: either by laying his hands on this one, or at least being present. (Acts 2:4, 14, 17; 10:44-46; 19:6; see also Acts 8:14-18.) Second, 1 Corinthians 13:8 informed the Corinthian reader specifically that this gift would “cease.” In short, the Greek word for cease [pausontai], means to ‘peter out,’ or ‘to die out,’ not to be brought to a halt. We will deal with pausontai more extensively in a moment. Third, both one and two are exactly what happened when we look at the history of this gift of tongues. M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopaedia (Vol. VI, p. 320) says that it is “an uncontested statement that during the first hundred years after the death of the apostles we hear little or nothing of the working of miracles by the early Christians.” Therefore, following their passing off the scene and after those who in that way had obtained the gift of tongues breathed their last breath; the gift of tongues should have died out with these ones. (Elwell, 2001, 1207-8) This analysis concurs with the intention of those gifts as acknowledged at Hebrews 2:2-4. In other words, The gifts of the Spirit in the first century, which includes speaking in tongues, was evidence that God had abandoned the 1,600 years of the nation of Israel being the way to God to the Christian congregation.
Daniel B. Wallace in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics helps us to better comprehend how we are to understand pausontai of 1 Corinthians 13:8:
If the voice of the verb here is significant, then Paul is saying either that tongues will cut themselves off (direct middle) or, more likely, cease of their own accord, i.e., ‘die out’ without an intervening agent (indirect middle). It may be significant with reference to prophecy and knowledge, Paul used a different verb ([katargeo]) and out it in the passive voice. In vv 9-10, the argument continues: ‘for we know in part and we prophecy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial shall be done away with [katargethesontai].’ Here again, Paul uses the same passive verb he had used with prophecy and knowledge and he speaks of the verbal counterpart to the nominal ‘prophecy’ and ‘knowledge.’ Yet he does not speak about tongues being done away ‘when the perfect comes.’ The implication may be that tongues were to have ‘died out’ on their own before the perfect comes. (Wallace 1996, 422)
These abilities were only established by the presence or lying on of hands by the apostles. This coincides with 1 Corinthians 13:8 and the history of these phenomena. Our Greek word for “cease” means that the gift of tongues was to ‘die out’ over time as the last of those who had received this gift passed off the scene of this earth. This is established by the historical fact that the second century saw just that being evidenced. Today, the Christian is moved by Spirit to speak with his heart and mind, defending and establishing the gospel, and destroying false doctrines, snatching some back from the fire. It is these things, which will give credence to the words of the modern-day Christian congregation: “God is really among you.”–1 Corinthians 14:24-25.
The special, supernatural gifts, such as speaking in tongues gave impetus to the evangelism work that needed to be done in the first century, into many different lands throughout the Roman Empire. (Matt 28:19-20; Ac 1:8; 2:1-11) In the first century, the ones who spoke in tongues did so in languages that others could understand. (Ac 2:4, 8) If we look at those who claim to do so today, it is some ecstatic explosion of incomprehensible sounds, which only draws attention to them.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
What we see here mentioned by Paul, apparently does not take place today in any Christian congregation. He is indicating various direct and supernatural manifestations of the Spirit, which was a direct gift from the Holy Spirit. There was a reason for these miraculous gifts, which Paul mentions in his letter to the Ephesians,
Ephesians 4:11-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 And he gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as shepherds and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the holy ones or the work of ministry, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
If we look at the above mention history of the Christian congregation of the first century and what was accomplished, it perfectly fits Paul’s reasons here. The reason for the direct gifts of the Holy Spirit was (1) to train those that would, (2) establish Christianity, and (3) grow Christianity to the point that it was extensive and united. This gift of the Spirit accompanied the baptism of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. As has been mentioned, the 120 disciples in that upper room, grew to become a united, one denomination of Christianity, which numbered over one million all throughout the Roman Empire, after a mere century. Therefore, when Peter promised the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, it was not to be universally given across the whole of Christianity until the return of Jesus Christ, applying to all who obeyed the Word of God. Rather, it was limited to those of the first century. Even so, it was the apostles and a select few fellow workers, who manifested the Holy Spirit in a supernatural way, by being miraculously taught, instructed, guided, and bringing to their remembrance exactly what Jesus taught for three and a half years, and what Jesus meant by the words that he used. Yes, there were a number, in the first century, who were used as apostles [those caring for many congregations], and some as prophets [those proclaiming God’s Word], and some as evangelists [a proclaimer of the gospel or good news], and some as shepherds [elders or overseers in the congregation] and teachers [those who teach within the congregation].
Philip the Evangelist
Philip preached the Word of God to the Samaritans in the city of Samaria after the great persecution arose following the death of Stephen.
Acts 8:12-17 English Standard Version (ESV)
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
What do we notice here? We have Philip, a very important and prominent evangelist, who took the good news to Samaria. He preached and baptized the Samaritans. Philip was endowed with Holy Spirit with six other men, who were selected for a special service. “These [seven men] set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.” (Ac 6:6) We see that Philip was able to perform signs and great miracles. If the gift of the Holy Spirit was to be for all who accepted Jesus and was baptized, why did the Samaritans not receive the Spirit? Philip was not an apostle, meaning he could not confer the gift of the Spirit by laying hands on them, even though he had had hands laid on him, and he could perform signs and great miracles. Therefore, Peter and John were dispatched to Samaria, to lay hands on the Samaritans, so that “they might receive the Holy Spirit.” It should be noted that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were always conveyed to others by the apostles of Jesus Christ (1) laying on of hands (2) or in their presence.
The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentile
Cornelius was a Gentile an army officer (centurion, KJV), who commanded 100 soldiers. He was “a devout man” who “feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God,” “an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation.” About the ninth hour of the day, he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” The angel also told Cornelius, “send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter.” (Acts 10:1-22) Again, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were always conveyed to others by the apostles of Jesus Christ (1) laying on of hands (2) or in their presence.
Acts 10:44-48 English Standard Version (ESV)
44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
Disciples at Ephesus
In Acts chapter 19, we find Paul meeting up with certain disciples that had been baptized by the John the Baptist. Paul explained that John was not aware of the full Gospel before his death. Below you will notice that these disciples of John had not even heard of the Holy Spirit, even though John pointed his disciples toward Jesus. Yet again, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were always conveyed to others by the apostles of Jesus Christ (1) laying on of hands (2) or in their presence.
Acts 19:1-7 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
Here is yet another experience where someone has received the Holy Spirit by an apostle laying hands on him or her. Once more, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were always conveyed to others by the apostles of Jesus Christ (1) laying on of hands (2) or in their presence.
2 Timothy 1:4-7 English Standard Version (ESV)
4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Christians In Rome
That the gifts of the Holy Spirit were always conveyed to others by the apostles of Jesus Christ (1) laying on of hands (2) or in their presence was clear. Listen to the praise of Paul to these ones in Rome. He writes, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be holy ones: ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.’” Paul goes on to tell these Christians.
Romans 1:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;
Notice that Paul could encourage and counsel them from a distance in the longest letter he had penned. However, it was necessary that he be present to convey gifts of the Spirit by his presence or the laying on of hands.
What have we learned thus far? First, the gift of the Spirit was a miraculous, supernatural gift for helping the first-century believers to be bold, to perform signs and miracles, to speak in foreign languages, to be Jesus’ “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Ac 1:8) We also notice that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were always conveyed to others by the apostles of Jesus Christ (1) laying on of hands (2) or in their presence. Moreover, once the last apostle died, John, in 100 C.E., there was no longer one available to convey the gifts of the Spirit. Therefore, the Greek word at 1 Corinthians 13:8 for “cease” [pausontai], became a reality in that the gifts that had been given ‘petered out,’ or ‘died out,’ namely, they were not brought to a halt, as some were, like prophecy. In other words, they died out as the last ones who were given them died at the beginning of the second century. Second, we can see from the letters of the New Testament authors that in the first century, many of the congregations were filled with members that had the supernatural power of the Spirit. Moreover, when we interpret those letters, this must be a part of the historical setting. Below are a few examples from these letters,
Romans 8:9, 23 English Standard Version (ESV)
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 15:30 English Standard Version (ESV)
30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,
2 Corinthians 5:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Ephesians 1:13-14 English Standard Version (ESV)
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 2:18 English Standard Version (ESV)
18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Ephesians 5:18 English Standard Version (ESV)
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
1 Thessalonians 4:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Titus 3:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Hebrews 2:4 English Standard Version (ESV)
4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
James 4:5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
1 John 2:20, 27 English Standard Version (ESV)
20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.
1 John 4:13 English Standard Version (ESV)
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
Can The Holy Spirit do the same for us? No, the Holy Spirit cannot, at least not in the same way and the same sense. How, then, can we receive the Holy Spirit, to be instructed, guided, taught, reminded and to be directed in our witnessing to others in our evangelism work? As an aside, the answer will apply to every other facet of our Christian life as well, we just happen to be focusing on the evangelism aspect. Let us look at the thought of the Holy Spirit instructing and teaching Christians. Today we have over 41,000 different denominations, all teaching different doctrinal positions on the same subject matter. If we choose just one denomination, we find that each of the tens of thousands of pastors in the churches does not have to teach the same thing about the same doctrine. Then, let us take and one church within that denominations, and we will find that the church members do not all believe the same thing as their pastor.
Thus, we have all sorts of men teaching different views on every doctrine. Let us look at a few examples, so we can better understand. In dealing with the inspiration of God’s Word, most church leaders teach The Infallibilist View, meaning that they believe the Bible is infallible only in matters of faith, but that it contains many mistakes, errors, and contradictions in matters when it touches on science, history, and geography. On the other hand, few conservative church leaders still teach The Inerrantist View, meaning that they believe the Bible is without error of any kind. On the doctrine of the atonement, some leaders have The Penal Substitution View, meaning that they believe that Christ died in our place. Others have the Christus Victor View, meaning that they believe Christ destroyed Satan and his works. While others have The Moral Government View, meaning that they believe Christ displayed God’s wrath against sin. Concerning the doctrine of Sanctification, there are four main views. We have the Lutheran View, meaning sanctification as a declaration by God. We have the Calvinist view, meaning sanctification as holiness in Christ and personal conduct. Then, we have the Keswick View, meaning sanctification as resting-faith in the sufficiency of Christ. In addition, we have the Wesleyan, View, meaning entire sanctification as perfect love. Even these four beliefs on sanctification are not completely accepted because each church leader can tweak it to fit his understanding of things. These doctrines are just the beginning. We could cover The Providence Debate, i.e., the sovereignty of God. We could talk about different foreknowledge beliefs, the divine image differences the different salvation beliefs, the different beliefs about the human constitution, eternal security, the destiny of the evangelized, baptism, charismatic gifts, hellfire, and numerous others.
These differences in the Christian leader’s beliefs are often contradictory. Are we to believe that the Holy Spirit one church leader to teach that sinners are destined to enteral torment in hellfire while other leaders teach eternal destruction for the sinners? Are we to believe that the Holy Spirit teaches different church leaders four different views on sanctification? The belief that the Holy Spirit is still carrying out the same work today as what the Father and the Son assigned in the first century, place the Holy Spirit in a very unenviable position, i.e., teaching different views on the same doctrine, some of which are even contradictory. Can we accept that the Holy Spirit teaches different views on all doctrinal positions, even being contradictory? Remember, it was the Holy Spirit, who taught and instructed the apostles miraculously. The Holy Spirit guided them as well. One way was in their writings, as no New Testament author contradicted another, they were all one because there was really one author, God. This is actually true of all forty plus authors of the entire Bible. Thus, we are to believe that the Holy Spirit moved over forty Bible authors miraculously, over a 1,600 year period, to pen sixty-six Bible books, in all of which there is not one contraction, error or mistake, but now the Holy Spirit is teaching different views and contradictory information? We would not say in the church of and leader, who taught contradictory information, so why would we accept that the Holy Spirit would do such a thing. Supposing that churches evangelized their own communities, which they do not, but let us suppose they did. How should an atheist feel if different churches came to his home to witness to him and they told him contradictory views about the same doctrine?
The problem is the belief that the Holy Spirit is carrying out the same work after that work was completed in the first century. Only the apostles and a select few fellow workers received the Holy Spirit in a direct and supernatural way, teaching them, guiding them, instructing them, bringing back to their remembrance all that Jesus had said. The apostle Paul told Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2) We all know that Timothy traveled with Paul for 15 years, being taught by Paul (Paul already being extremely educated by Gamaliel), but more importantly, miraculously taught and instructed by the Holy Spirit. This clearly was not the case with Timothy (his being taught and instructed by the Holy Spirit in the same way and to the same extent), as Timothy was taught by Paul and his study of the Old Testament Scriptures. This text evidences that we are to be taught and instructed by Holy Spirit by way of our study the Holy, Spirit-inspired Scriptures.
If the Holy Spirit were miraculously teaching and instructing Christians today, as took place with the apostles and a select few fellow workers, there would be no need for any sort of Bible study tools, such as Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, word study dictionaries, commentaries, and the like. Even so, while there are no direct Scriptures to evidence Timothy receiving Holy Spirit in the same way as Paul and the twelve apostles, we know that Holy Spirit led Paul to Timothy on his second missionary tour. We know that Paul saw something in Timothy that brought about a 15-year friendship and bond between the two like no other. Timothy became an extremely valuable co-worker of the apostle Paul, in a time, when the Holy Spirit was building the first-century Christian congregation. Therefore, we cannot discount the possibility that Timothy was guided by the Holy Spirit as Paul had been, maybe not to the same degree, and that he was not taught and instructed in the same way and sense but used more directly by the Holy Spirit than those after the first century, including us today. Let us get back to the apostles for a moment. Let us look at the apostles in the very beginning of Acts, as Jesus tells them,
Acts 1:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Earlier, Jesus had told them that he was going away and that he was sending them a helper, the Holy Spirit. Now, he specifically tells them, “You [namely, the apostles] will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Just after Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he ascended back to heaven to be with the Father. Some days later on Sivan 6, 33 C.E., they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit, where there was an outpouring of Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-17, 38) If they had already received the Holy Spirit, they would not have needed to call the brothers together to determine who was going to replace Judas as the twelfth apostle. Moreover, “they cast lots for them [Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias], and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”–Acts 1:15-26
Jesus told his listeners,
Luke 11:13 English Standard Version (ESV)
13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
If we want to receive the Holy Spirit, we just go to the Father in prayer and ask him. If want to be bolder in our sharing of the good news, we can pray to God for the Holy Spirit. However, we must not misunderstand the Scriptures, so as to expect the miraculous, supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit in the same sense and the same way as the apostle, their fellow workers, and the Christians of the first century. If want to become a better teacher in the Bible class at our churches, we will have to be a better Bible student, take in many Scriptures that deal with the principles of being a more effective teacher, put these into practice, and maybe pick up some good Christian books on being a better teacher. In this way, we would be working in harmony with our prayer, because the Word of God is Spirit inspired, and thus the more we delve into it and apply it in a correct and balanced manner; in essence, we are getting more Holy Spirit. If we want to teach the Bible to the Spanish speaking people in our community, we may want to learn the Spanish language.
Some might believe that I am suggesting that the Holy Spirit is not active today. This is not the case. It is not the question of whether the Spirit is active, but how the Spirit is active. We can all agree that the Holy Spirit is pleading with the unsaved world, to help them find the path of salvation that leads to accepting Jesus Christ. This is not accomplished in some miraculous, supernatural way, but rather through our work as ambassadors for Christ. New Testament Bible scholar Richard L. Pratt Jr., made the following comment on 1 Corinthians 5:20a,
Paul’s role in the divine plan of reconciliation led him to a remarkable claim. He and his company were Christ’s ambassadors. “Ambassadors” was a technical political term used in Paul’s day that closely parallels our English word “ambassadors.” An ambassador represented a nation or kingdom in communication with other nations. Paul had in mind his apostolic call to represent the kingdom of Christ to the nations of the earth. Ambassadors held positions of great honor in the ancient world because they represented the authority of the kings on whose behalf they spoke.
This was also true for Paul as the ambassador of Christ. When he spoke the message of reconciliation, it was as though God were making his appeal through him. Rather than speaking directly to the nations of earth, God ordained that human spokespersons would speak for him. As an apostle, Paul had authority to lead and guide the church (2 Cor. 13:3, 10). Yet, this description applies to all who bear the gospel of Christ to others—even to those who do not bear apostolic authority (1 Pet. 4:11). Though we may not present the gospel as perfectly as Paul did, we do speak on God’s behalf when we bring the message of grace to others. But Paul and his company were to be received as mouthpieces of God in the most authoritative sense. (Pratt Jr 2000, p. 359)
2 Corinthians 5:16-20 English Standard Version (ESV)
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
As ambassadors for Christ, we are not seeking to offer superficial feel-good solutions to the problems of their imperfection, nor the wicked world in which we live. We are not telling them that, if they accept Christ, God will take care of their problems, and they will feel better about life. Sadly, many who first come to a Christian meeting are looking for just that; they want God to help them cope with the imperfection that surrounds their every waking moment. We certainly can counsel them biblically, which will enable them to improve their lot in life, will help them be stronger in dealing with this imperfection we all face, and, generally speaking, if they live a Christlike life, there will be fewer problems that a worldly life. However, our serving as ambassadors for Christ, this is not the goal of our service to the unbelieving world. We are offering them the same gospel that Paul did. In other words, the Father loved the world of humankind so much, he offered the only begotten Son, and the Father is willing to forgive any of their Adamic, inherited sin, by means of Christ Jesus. Paul wrote,
Romans 5:10-12, 32 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
To receive the most from your Bible reading and personal study, see the book INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Edward D. Andrews
- Why is it important that we be boldin out evangelism of the Word of God?
- In what way did the Holy Spirit help the apostles and a handful of fellow workers of the first century, make disciples with boldness?
- How can the Holy Spirit help us to be boldin our evangelism?
- How does attaining boldness help us?
 Or in the whole world
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 337.
 IBID., 398.
 Basic Evangelism is planting seeds of truth and watering any seeds that have been planted. [In the basic sense of this word (euaggelistes), this would involve all Christians.] In some cases, it may be that one Christian planted the seeds, which were initially rejected, so he was left in a good way because the planter did not try to force the truth down his throat. However, sometime later he faces something in life that moves him to reconsider those seeds, and some other Christian waters what had already been planted. This evangelism can be carried out in all of the methods that are available: informal, house-to-house, street, and the like. What amount of time is invested in the evangelism work is up to each Christian to decide for themselves.