What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 21: Be Ye Filled with Holy Spirit
“Being filled with the holy spirit” is another term often considered to be “the baptism.” This term is often taken to mean that there is an empty space within man which the holy spirit, when allowed, will come and fill.
It is something like filling an empty glass with water.
However, this conception completely misses the definition of the word, pletho, usually translated as fill, filled, or full. Pletho refers to something completely taking possession of our mind, or being utterly engrossed in something.
When the scriptures speak of being filled with something other than holy spirit, no one seems to conceive of anything mysterious. For example, Luke 5:26 describes the palsied man being healed by Jesus and says that all those who saw this,
“were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.”
The word filled comes from pletho, in the passive voice, which indicates that they were being acted upon. In other words, fear occupied their minds, or their thoughts were all fearful ones.
On another occasion, when Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, the scribes and pharisees,
“were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.” (Luke 6:11).
Their minds were busy figuring out how to punish Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Nothing mysterious here, just stupidity. They were utterly engrossed by their desire for vengeance.
The first scripture that says the apostles were filled with holy spirit is Acts 2:3-4:
“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Their minds were utterly engrossed with holy spirit, or truth, and they began to speak languages which were understood by everyone who heard them. They were testifying of Jesus.
Acts 1:8 says,
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Jesus told them that this power would come after holy spirit came upon them, and then they would testify, or be witnesses.
Acts 2:2-3 says,
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
After this occurred they were filled with, utterly engrossed with, holy spirit, or truth.
Jesus had told them that the spirit he would send would lead them into all truth (John 16:13). When they were “come upon” by holy spirit, then they began to speak the truth about Jesus to the people assembled in Jerusalem from many different nations.
A careful study of the different times holy spirit fell upon people reveals that the occurrences were in the exact order Jesus specified: first Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then to the Gentiles, or the rest of the world. But first the disciples had to have the holy spirit come upon them so they would have the power to testify.
In Acts 2:4, the word eplesthesan, filled with, is passive. They were utterly engrossed with truth. Their minds were filled with the truth about Jesus through holy spirit, or the spirit of the truth which Jesus said he would send to them.
Acts 4:8 begins,
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them...”
This is the beginning of Peter’s discourse about what had been accomplished by God through Jesus, the Christ. Peter was utterly engrossed with this truth, filled with holy spirit.
People are often so concerned with the tongues, or languages, aspect in Acts 2, that they miss the fact that the holy spirit gave them utterance, or “to utter forth.” The word utterance, apophtheggesthai, means to give an elevated and dignified discourse. This aspect of their speeches is fully as remarkable as the languages spoken. For the most part, these were unlearned men, but the spirit gave them truth far beyond their abilities.
The truth of God can make even the simple appear wise, and confound the supposed experts. I Corinthians 3:19 says,
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”
The worldly wise can be confounded by the simplest believer who has received the truth of God, the spirit which testifies the truth about Jesus.
Acts 4:31 also shows that the power of holy spirit, or truth, is given for testimony:
“...and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
Again, the word filled, eplesthesan, is passive. Their minds were filled with truth, or utterly engrossed with truth (holy spirit).
Acts 9:17-20 tells how Paul was filled with holy spirit, and how he immediately began proclaiming Christ as the son of The God. Acts 9:22 says that Paul increased in power and confounded the Jews,
“proving that this is very Christ.”
Paul was utterly engrossed with truth; that was all that he thought about. Again, being filled with holy spirit (truth) is done for the purpose of witnessing.
It is a joy to hear someone whose only concern is to tell the truth about Jesus. But how disappointing it is to hear superstition and error substituted for truth in order to bolster some church doctrine which the scriptures simply don’t support.
Acts 13:9-10 also relates how Paul was filled with holy spirit.
“Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
Paul was full of truth, while Elymas the sorcerer was full of guile. Because Paul was full of truth, he was able to discern error on the part of Elymas and was empowered to speak against it. Truth has its own power, if it is the truth of God, or holy spirit.
In all the scriptures quoted so far in this section, references to the spirit were in the genitive. However, in Ephesians 5:18, the word “spirit” is in the dative. Green (p. 222, note #1) provides a succinct comparison of the genitive and the dative.
“The Greek dative is therefore diametrically opposed to the genitive. 1. The latter signifies separation, the former proximity. 2. The latter denotes subtraction, the former addition. 3. The latter expresses comparison of different things, the former equality, or sameness.”
The differences between the genitive and the dative are summarized in the following table .
Green also said that the dative signifies, “the sphere in which a quality adheres.”
Blass-DeBrunner (p. l02), refers to the dative of possession. The distinction is that the genitive is used when acquisition is recent, or the accent is on the possessor. The dative is used when stressing the object possessed.
Now to Ephesians 5:18-21:
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”
The article “the” is not in the Greek manuscript, and the word with comes from en and should be translated as “in.” “In spirit” is dative. When the word “in” is used with “spirit,” the sense is always locative, i.e. sphere. The accent is on the quality of spirit which Paul assumed that those in the audience possessed. He was telling them to be utterly engrossed by the truth bestowed when spirit was poured out upon all flesh.
The word excess is a compound word made up of a added to sotia, asotia. The a is the Greek negative or the English “un,” and sotia means salvation. Therefore, Paul was telling them not to be drunk with wine because therein is unsalvation.
While drunkenness is not conducive to retaining the salvation given by God, Paul pointed out several things which will help retain that salvation:
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:19-21)
This completes the study of the scriptures which refer to men being filled with the spirit. All were in the passive voice; they were acted upon. The gift of spirit at that time completely absorbed their minds.
How wonderful to be completely absorbed by the area of service which God has given to each of us. How enjoyable it is to serve God when we find our niche in the body of Christ, whether it be prayer, giving, praising, visiting the sick and jailed, teaching, singing songs, or perhaps just being pleasant to everyone. Every person has some gift.
# Being filled with the holy spirit is often interpreted to mean that there is
an empty space within a person which the holy spirit, when allowed,
will come and fill. It is something like filling an empty glass with
water. However, this conception completely misses the definition of the
word, pletho, which refers to something completely taking possession
of our mind, or being utterly engrossed in something.
# When the scriptures speak of being filled with something other than
holy spirit, no one seems to conceive of anything mysterious. Why,
then, should the filling with holy spirit be so mysterious?
# Being filled with holy spirit means they were utterly engrossed with
truth. Their minds were filled with the truth about Jesus through holy
spirit, or the spirit of the truth which Jesus said he would send to them.
# People are often so concerned with the tongues, or languages, aspect in
Acts 2, that they miss the fact that the holy spirit gave them utterance,
or “to utter forth.”
# The worldly wise can be confounded by the simplest believer who has
received the truth of God, the spirit which testifies the truth about Jesus.
Paul was utterly engrossed with truth; that was all that he thought
purpose of witnessing.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.