Acts 1 and the Giving of the Spirit

Notes Outline


    1. Pentecostal outpouring in early 20th century
      1. Framed initially within eschatological lens
      2. Seen as special grace given for the end-time mission of taking Gospel to ends of the earth
        1. Glossolalia vs xenolalia
    2. Key question: What does it mean?
      1. My intention in this session: Clarity on purpose of God giving his Spirit might give you certainty on what God is doing with you as He fills you with his Spirit
      2. False narratives drive misunderstanding about Spirit and the miraculous gifts
        1. Spirit given to birth the Church/Christianity
        2. Spirit ‘in’ disciples only after Pentecost.

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.” (1 Pe 1:10–11 NIV) 

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—” (Ex 31:2–3 NIV) 

So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;” (Nu 27:18 NASB) 

        1. Spirit given to enable miracles

And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.” (Mt 12:27 NIV) 

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” (Mk 6:12–13 NIV)


  1. Gospels and Acts as source for meaning of spiritual gifts vs Pauline Epistles
  1. Epistles aim to regulate function, not define
  1. Gospels/Acts use history to define events already taking place for the audience (miracles, turning of Gentiles, etc…)
  1. Primary point: The Spirit given for the sake of mission
      1. Acts 1: Spirit given so that disciples might be enabled/empowered to be witnesses

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”” (Ac 1:6–8 NIV) 

    1. Spirit empowerment to enable witness of apocalyptic coming of the Kingdom of God

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Ac 1:3 NIV) 

    1. Outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 1 is to keep disciples in the pocket of boldly preaching the Gospel of the coming Kingdom
      1. Initial evidence: In Acts 2 we are supposed to note the radical change in Peter 
        1. Peter’s cowardice is highlighted by Luke in Gospel account (Eg. Lk. 22:31-33, 54-60)
    2. Acts 4
      1. Spirit renews boldness for the sake of proclamation

“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Ac 4:29–31 NIV)

    1. Acts 10
      1. Peter’s Testimony to Cornelius highlights the mission of Acts 1/Matt 28
        1. Peter’s testimony essentially highlights the known stories about Jesus (Acts 10:36, 37 ‘you know’), but the sending and calling to be witnesses (Acts 1) involved taking the known stories and interpreting them along apocalyptic lines. 

He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”” (Ac 10:42–43 NIV)

          1. Peter highlights the lens for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that was given during the 40 days Kingdom conversation (cf. Acts 1:3)
        1. The Spirit’s approval statement

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”” (Ac 10:44–47 NIV)


    1. Activity of Spirit in gatherings of disciples intended to empower witness
      1. Context of I Corinthians 12 is likely about persecution and resistance to Gospel

“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Co 12:1–3NIV)

        1. Pliny’s letter to the emperor Trajan 

“An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.” (Pliny, Epistles 10.97)