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© Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007




The Greek words:

[1] the word ‘work’ – ergon, is not used in Acts to refer to miracles.

[2] the word ‘miracle’ – dunamis, is used only 3 times to refer to miracles.

[3] the word ‘sign’ – semeion, is used 12 times

[4] the word ‘wonder’ – teras, is used 9 times [in each of these it is in partnership with ‘signs’]




From an analysis of the Acts of the Apostles [see table below] we learn:

About miracles, signs and wonders

The kinds of miraculous actions reported in Acts are:

      • Healings
      • Raising the dead [2 occurrences reported – one each by Peter and Paul]
      • Miraculous discernment [Peter, and Paul – 3 in total]
      • Casting out of spirits
      • Supernatural ability to inflict a disability as punishment [once only – Paul]
      • Miraculous protection or deliverance from danger of various kinds [by God’s direct intervention, or by angels - no direct human agent]. Sometimes this was in response to prayer; sometimes not.

In addition, we find that:

      • Peter taught that Jesus was accredited by his miracles [Acts 2:22 ].
      • The miracle of Christ’s resurrection is repeatedly referred to as the confirmation of the apostolic message about Christ.
      • Apart from Peter’s references to the miracles of Jesus in his sermon in Acts 2, and explanations of the healing of the lame man in his speeches in Acts 3 and 4, miracles of healing etc do not feature in the apostolic sermons; that is, they are not used as levers to coerce belief or to promote allegiance to the apostles.
      • Miracles are never used as a means of monetary gain, or as a base for soliciting finance.
      • The only believers reported as doing signs, wonders or miracles of any kind are (some of) the apostles, including Paul; and four people who were associated with the apostles in ministry: the deacons – Philip and Stephen; Ananias [who was used by God in the restoration of Paul’s sight]; and Barnabas.
      • When miracles, signs or wonders are reported, in the large majority of cases the active person is God, not the person through whom the miracles etc are performed.
      • Miracles, signs and wonders are understood to be the Lord’s confirmation of his message [14:3]
      • The miracles reported in Acts were performed only by the apostles and four people intimately associated with the apostles [one of whom, Barnabas, is actually termed an ‘apostle’].
      • At the council in Jerusalem [Acts 15] Paul and Barnabas reported on the signs and wonders the Lord did through them among the Gentiles. There is no mention of ‘signs’ and ‘wonders’ beyond this point in Acts. There is only one mention of ‘miracles’ beyond this point. It was in Acts 15 that Paul’s message to the Gentiles [a message that included salvation by grace apart from Jewish law] was confirmed as valid, in writing, by the leaders of the church in Jerusalem . After this point in Acts there is significantly greater emphasis on teaching and reasoning [use of the mental faculties to understand and validate the message] in communicating the message of Christ.
      • The number of reports of ‘miracles’, ‘signs’ or ‘wonders’ [using those words] performed by the apostles or their associates is 10. In addition there are 7 reported miraculous incidents where the words ‘miracles’, ‘signs’ and ‘wonders’ are not used, including the 2 instances of reviving the dead. That makes a total of 17. The period of time covered by Acts is approximately 34 years [assuming Paul died in 67AD.] This is not an impressive number of miraculous.
      • Of the additional 7 noted above, one instance of healing sounds more like normal prayer for healing than exercising any ‘gift of healing’ [Publius’ father, Acts 28:8].
      • On every reported occasion on which ‘signs’, ‘wonders’ or ‘miracles’ were performed, Jews were present. On all but the last three of the additional 7 instances, Jews were definitely present. It is possible they were also present for these three. Jews were definitely present on every occasion in which the miraculous is referred to as ‘signs and wonders’ – that is, up to the Council of Jerusalem.
      • After Acts 15 the only person reported to have been involved in performing any miracles is Paul.
      • There is no report of Paul doing anything miraculous during his two years under house arrest in Rome .
Conclusions about miracles, signs and wonders:

Predominantly miracles are referred to by the term ‘signs and wonders’. They were reported as the work of God done through human agents. The men used in this way were very few in number – the apostles, including Paul; plus associates of the apostles: Philip, Ananias, Barnabas and Stephen. . There is no mention of ‘signs and wonders’ after Acts 15 when the Council of Jerusalem verified the Gospel preached by Paul, and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God without adherence to Jewish law and ritual. ‘Miracles’ are only mentioned once after that time. Jews were always present where ‘signs’ and ‘wonders’ are mentioned, and up to the Council of Jerusalem . However, from Acts 15, once the message had been validated by signs and wonders and by the church leaders in Jerusalem , there is heavy emphasis on reasoning, on teaching, on understanding, the message and its validity. It would appear from Acts that the role of the miraculous was to confirm to the Jews the apostolic message, and its application to the Gentiles. Once that was confirmed the role and the occurrence of the miraculous faded.

To take this very minimal and restricted evidence and occurrence of miracles, signs and wonders and to build upon it an entire theology of ‘signs and wonders’ or ‘power evangelism’ or ‘kingdom now’ is to give such theology a very precarious basis.


About demon possession and casting out of demons or spirits:
      • There are 5 reports of people with indwelling spirits
      • In 4 of these the spirits were cast out.
      • In the other some unbelieving Jews tried to cast a spirit out in the name of Jesus but failed.
      • The only people reported to have cast out demons are the apostles [specifically Peter], Philip, and Paul.
      • There are no instructions about dealing with demons or spirits.
      • None of those possessed by demons were believers at the time.


About speaking in ‘tongues’:
      • The word used is the normal word for normal languages – glossa.
      • The word ‘glossolalia’ does not occur in the Greek New Testament.
      • Speaking in languages is reported only 3 times [Chs 2, 10, 19]
      • Only a small number of people are involved in these three incidents: In Acts 2, it is possible from the context that only the 12 apostles actually spoke in languages [they are called ‘all … Galileans’, and Luke writes that ‘Peter stood up with the Eleven.’]. In any case the number was not more than 120. In Acts 10, Cornelius and his household spoke in languages. In Acts 19, ‘about 12 men’ spoke in languages.
      • The things spoken in languages in Acts 2 were clearly understandable. The word used for ‘speak’ means to declare solemn, weighty sayings, and those listening heard them ‘declaring the wonders of God’ in their own languages. We are not told what was said in Acts 10 or 19, but we are told that those in Acts 10 were praising God.
      • There is no mention of the 3000 who were saved in Acts 2 speaking in languages, even though Peter promised them that if they believed they would ‘receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’.
      • When Peter explained the coming of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his household, he referred to it as ‘just as we have’ [ 10:47 ] and ‘as he had come on us at the beginning’ [ 11:15 ; see also 15:8]. Peter’s comments indicate that there was no continuum of speaking in languages etc between Acts 2 and Acts 10 – a period estimated to be about 8 years; if every Jew who believed in Christ had spoken in languages Peter would have said something like ‘as he comes on every Jew who believes.’ It was only because of this visible evidence of the giving of the Spirit that the Gentiles were accepted into the church by the Jewish believers, and that Jewish law was not imposed on them.
      • There is no reference in Acts to speaking in languages being a common and on-going practice of either the apostles or the church. Peter did not say ‘Cornelius spoke in languages just like we do all the time’.
      • The first Samaritans who believed [Acts 8] are reported to have received the Holy Spirit, but no mention is made of them speaking in languages.
      • There is no command in Acts either to speak in tongues or to seek the ‘gift of tongues’.
      • There is no reference to praying in tongues or singing in tongues.
      • There is no reference to speaking, praying or singing in an angelic or otherwise non-human language.
      • There is no indication in Acts that speaking in tongues was viewed as a necessary or initial evidence of either genuine faith or of the baptism of the Spirit.
      • When Paul met a group of about 12 ‘disciples’ in Ephesus he did not ask them ‘did you speak in tongues when you believed?’ he asked ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ These men had obviously heard only the incomplete message preached by Apollos, prior to his instruction by Aquila and Priscilla [Acts18:24-19:7]. They had not previously really believed in Jesus nor attested such belief by baptism into Jesus’ name. Their belief was essentially Old Testament belief, expressed in response to John the Baptist’s call to repentance.
      • Paul is not once reported to have ‘spoken in tongues’. It is reported that on one occasion he spoke in Aramaic, the Hebrew language of the day which he would have learned from childhood, rather than in Koine Greek, the trade language, which we assume he spoke when teaching the Gentiles.
      • There was at least one Jew present on each occasion on which tongues is reported.
Conclusions about speaking in tongues:

In the Acts of the Apostles ‘speaking in tongues’ meant speaking in human languages. It was reported only 3 times, with a possible fourth unmentioned time [Acts 8]; each of these 3 [or 4 occurrences] were at definitive points of the spread of the Gospel. None of these people who spoke in tongues on these occasions is ever reported to speak in tongues again. Thousands of people were converted without any mention made of them speaking in tongues. Nothing in Acts gives any basis for teaching that speaking is tongues is commanded or desirable for all believers, or that it is the essential or initial evidence of either regeneration, salvation or the gift or baptism of the Spirit. Its role in Acts appears to be [1] the visible evidence that the promised Holy Spirit had been poured out by Christ onto his church – the one-off outpouring on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 in which only Jews were involved; [2] to confirm to the Jews God’s acceptance of the Gentiles into the church – Acts 10; [3] to confirm the ultimate nature of the message of Christ, in contrast to the pen-ultimate nature of the message of John the Baptist – Acts 19; and [4], if tongues did occur here, to confirm the inclusion of the Samaritans into the church – Acts 8.


About the Holy Spirit
      • Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit from heaven on the Day of Pentecost [Acts 2]. The verb is Aorist Tense, referring to a one-off out-pouring of the Spirit from heaven. Audible and visible phenomena accompanied this initial outpouring.
      • ‘Receiving’ the Holy Spirit is reported only 3 times [Acts 8, 10, 19]. This is understood to be the baptism with the Spirit which Jesus promised would happen [1:5; 11:16 ].
      • The reception of or baptism with the Spirit is also referred to as a ‘gift’ or a ‘promise’ [1:4; 2:38 ; 8:20 ; 10:45 ] – something that is the result of God’s grace, and that is not obtained by human methods, manipulation, merit or money.
      • Apart from the original out-pouring of the Spirit, there are only three occasions on which the reception of the gift of the Spirit was accompanied by visible or audible signs. [1] In Acts 8, when the first Samaritans were incorporated into the church; it is not mentioned what signs were observed, but it obvious that something visible or audible most likely occurred. [2] In Acts 10, when the first Gentiles were incorporated into the church, they spoke in tongues. [3] In Acts 19, when some disciples of John the Baptist were incorporated into the church, they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
      • Receiving the Holy Spirit is promised to those who repent and believe [only in Acts 2:38 ].
      • The only reported delays between confessing faith in Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit occurred [1] in the case of the original disciples, who had to wait for the Day of Pentecost for the outpouring of the Spirit from heaven; and [2] the Samaritan believers in Acts 8; this delay was most likely because an apostle was not present when they believed. Depending on when they first believed in Christ, there is a slight possibility that disciples of John the Baptist [Acts 19] might also fit in this category, although it is more likely that these were Old Testament believers [whether Jews or proselytes to Judaism] who had responded to Apollos’ preaching of John the Baptist’s call to repentance, and had not previously believed in Christ as Lord.
      • The deacons generally, and Stephen and Barnabas in particular, are described as ‘full of the Holy Spirit’; the word is an adjective [pleres], referring to an on-going godly quality of life under the controlling influence of the Spirit.
      • Disciples [believers] are described as being ‘filled with the Spirit’ in the same way as they are described as being ‘filled with joy’; this verbal form refers to a continuing passive condition. The verb used in this reference [pleroo] is related to the adjective used in the references in the previous dot point; it is not related to the verb used in the other references to being filled with the Spirit – see next point.
      • The apostles as a group [once], Peter [once], the believers as a group [once], Saul/Paul [twice], are described as ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ [pletho] where it refers to a temporary enabling [the tense is Aorist] that resulted in bold proclamation of God’s truth in a specific situation. Some of those who are described with this being ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ in this way, were also among those who were ‘filled with the Spirit’ [same verb] on the Day of Pentecost. It is quite obvious, that they were ‘filled’ in this way, more than once. This verb, which is used only by Luke in reference to people, is distinct from the verb in the previous dot point. It is never used to refer to the on-going state of being filled with the Spirit.
      • Thus Luke differentiated between two kinds of being filled with or full of the Spirit: [1] the optimum on-going impact of the indwelling Spirit in the life of a believer, and [2] a special, non-continuous, enabling by the Spirit to speak boldly in specific situations.
      • There is nothing about being ‘slain in the Spirit’.
      • There is no reference to extreme, out-of control, or ecstatic behaviours accompanying the baptism or filling with the Spirit.
      • There is no report of people or preachers begging the Holy Spirit to ‘come’.
      • There is no record of the preachers conversing with the Holy Spirit in the middle of preaching or teaching.
      • There is no formula mentioned by which people will receive the Spirit.
      • There is nothing said about spiritual gifts or seeking spiritual gifts.

[1] There is a one-off outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This out-pouring fulfils the prophetic symbolism of the feast of Pentecost, just as the death of Christ fulfilled the prophetic symbolism of the Passover Feast. This out-pouring occurred on the Day of Pentecost, and was accompanied by audible and visible phenomena. The NIV ‘when the Day of Pentecost came’ fails to communicate the meaning of the Greek text, which uses the word sumpleroo – fully come, completed, fulfilled. This outpouring had to occur on the Day of Pentecost just as surely as the crucifixion had to occur on the Passover. Like the death of Christ it is a one-off, unrepeatable fulfilment of the prophetic meaning of the Feast of Pentecost [the Feast of Harvest or Firstfruits].

[2] From this point on, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ receive both forgiveness of sins and are baptized with [receive the gift of] the Holy Spirit.

[3] The Christian life is ideally one ‘full of the Spirit’ or ‘filled with the Spirit’ – lived under the control of the Spirit [adjective pleres; verb pleroo]. This being full of or filled with the Spirit is only possible for those who are believers – that is, those who have received the gift of, or the baptism of, the Holy Spirit described in the previous point. It is this being filled with the Spirit that Paul commands in Ephesians 5:18.

[4] On specific occasions, there was a special temporary filling by the Holy Spirit which gave empowerment to boldly speak God’s truth [verb pletho]. This was additional to and distinct from the baptism of the Spirit at regeneration, and the on-going fullness of the Spirit. This is reported only 5 times. This second kind of filling seems to have much in common with Old Testament instances in which individuals were filled with or empowered by the Spirit of the Lord in specific situations.

[5] This special, temporary filling is not even once in Acts associated with performing miracles, signs and wonders; it is rather associated with bold speech.

[6] There is no evidence in Acts that audible and/or visible miraculous phenomena were evident in all who believed. Such phenomena are reported on 4 occasions only – the initial outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and the inclusion of the Samaritans, Gentiles and disciples of John the Baptist into the church.

[7] There is nothing to validate any division of believers into those who have received [or been baptized by the Spirit] and those who haven’t.


About supernatural guidance
      • There are a few instances of supernatural guidance. It was not the norm. Most of the instances of supernatural guidance and intervention in human decisions occurred when the Lord wanted a new people group or geographical area to be reached with the Gospel.
      • Reported instances of supernatural guidance involve only Peter, Philip, Ananias, Paul, plus the elders at Antioch regarding Paul & Barnabas.
      • These instances of supernatural guidance include visions [only Paul, Ananias, Peter, and Cornelius – all ‘visions’ – no ‘dreams’; ‘dreams’ are mentioned only in the Joel quote in Acts 2].
      • These instances of supernatural guidance include guidance by an angel [Philip, Paul, Cornelius].
      • None of these instances of supernatural guidance were sought by the people involved.
      • Usually the apostles, their fellow workers, and ordinary believers made their decisions on the basis of ordinary human preferences and circumstances and within the general guidelines of Christ’s teaching and the mandate or commission Christ had given them.
      • There are no instances of anyone using verses from the scriptures as a means of individualized personal guidance.
      • There are no instructions about finding the will of God.
      • Apart from Paul’s ‘what do you want me to do?’ [ 22:10 ], which was in the context of a vision of the Lord on the occasion of his conversion, there are no instances of anyone asking God for guidance.
      • Apart from the Lord teaching Saul/Paul through Ananias, there are no instances of the Lord giving an individual person directions to be passed on to another.
      • There are no instances of people being used to guide others by ‘words of knowledge’, ‘words of prophecy’ or ‘revelations’.
      • The reference [21:4] to people urging Paul ‘through the Spirit’ not to go to Jerusalem is puzzling, as the Holy Spirit had already compelled Paul to go to Jerusalem [ 20:22 ].
      • The prophecy made by Agabus [ 21:11 ] concerning Paul was not ‘guidance’; it simply stated what would happen if Paul went to Jerusalem , which Paul basically already knew anyway. If it was meant for guidance, then Paul disobeyed that guidance, for one would naturally assume that such ‘guidance’ was given so that Paul’s arrest would be avoided.

The contemporary quest for divine guidance cannot be supported by the Acts of the Apostles. Divine intervention in people’s plans was the exception, not the norm. Such intervention or guidance was not sought by the persons involved. It occurred only when God wanted to direct his servants in a way different from the direction their normal human choices would have led them. There are no commands to seek supernatural guidance. There is nothing to endorse the perception that ‘God has a wonderful plan for my life, and I have to find it.’ There is nothing to endorse the fear that if I make a ‘wrong’ choice, I will miss out on God’s best or God’s blessing. Rather, for the most part, God worked out his purposes and extended his kingdom in and through normal, ordinary, non-supernatural, human choices and decisions.


About ‘prophecy’:

Apart from references to Old Testament prophets and prophecy, and reference to prophesying in the quote from Joel, Acts records:

      • 2 instances of fulfilled predictive prophecy; in both instances Agabus is the prophet. Some might wish to also include Peter ‘predicting’ the death of Sapphira.
      • 1 instance of a false prophet. He is not termed ‘false’ because of failure of predictive prophecies but because he was a child of the devil and opposed everything that is right, trying to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
      • 2 clear instances of the word ‘prophet’ being used to refer to several men whose ministry was something other than predictive prophecy.
      • 2 instances in which people were said to ‘prophesy’ but no indication given if this was predictive prophecy or proclamation of God’s word.
      • There is nothing about ‘words of prophecy’ or ‘words of knowledge’ or ‘revelations’.
      • There are numerous significant references to the Old Testament prophets and prophecies.

During the Acts of the Apostles there are two distinct meanings given to the concept of ‘prophecy’:

[1] predictive prophecy – recorded only of Agabus, on two separate occasions. There are no other indisputable instances of predictive prophecy.

[2] spoken messages that teach, lead, encourage and strengthen believers.

In addition, the prophecy that Acts deems important is the Old Testament prophets and their messages.


About spiritual gifts:
      • The terms ‘spiritual’ and ‘spiritual gifts’ do not occur in Acts
      • The word ‘gift’ is used 4 times to refer to God’s gift of the Holy Spirit
      • The word ‘gift’ is never used to refer to God-given or Spirit-given abilities
      • There are obviously, therefore, no commands or reports about seeking or exercising ‘spiritual gifts’.

The only conclusion we can form about the concept of ‘spiritual gifts’ is that it was not an issue in Acts, either positively or negatively. It simply isn’t there.


About apostles:
      • Christ gave instructions ‘through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen’.
      • It was the apostles Christ instructed to wait in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
      • One more apostle had to be chosen to take the place of Judas. This had to be someone who had been with them the whole time Jesus was with them, and a witness of the resurrection. This puts a clear boundary and definition around the concept of ‘apostle’. Matthias thus became one of the twelve apostles.
      • It was Peter and the rest of the apostles who spoke in languages on the Day of Pentecost. [Some believe it was the 120 believers, not just the apostles.]
      • The believers ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching …’
      • Signs and wonders were done by the apostles.
      • The apostles testified to the resurrection of the Lord.
      • The apostles were summoned when the Samaritans believed, and were present when they received the Holy Spirit.
      • An apostle was present when the Gentiles first believed in Christ and received the Holy Spirit.
      • Paul and Barnabas are first called ‘apostles’ in Acts 14:4; again in 14:14 .
      • Paul and Barnabas consulted with the ‘apostles and elders’ in Jerusalem

The apostles and the teaching of the apostles are viewed as the foundation of the church. They and their teaching were confirmed by signs and wonders. At least one apostle was present on each occasion when the acceptance of non-Jewish groups into the gospel was confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

In Acts that there is a distinction between

      • the twelve [the faithful 11 plus Matthias] – who were with Jesus Christ from the beginning and witnesses of his resurrection; 
      •  Paul, uniquely and specially commissioned by Christ to be the ‘apostle to the Gentiles’, and with the same authority as the twelve [this becomes obvious in his letters.

Apostles of the above class, being foundational, were unique, and their role unrepeatable.

      • Others who were seen as apostles in a non-foundational way: Barnabas [others are mentioned in the New Testament letters].



Acts 1:6,8

Promise that the disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes on them they will ‘receive power’ and ‘will be my witnesses …’

Promise to the apostles.

Baptism with the Spirit.

Effect: receive power and be Christ’s witnesses.

Acts 1:21-22

The man appointed to replace Judas as an apostle was to be someone who was to specifically be a ‘witness of his resurrection’ as well as having been with Jesus from John’s baptism through to his ascension.

The other miracles insignificant without the greater and confirmatory impact of the resurrection.

Acts 2:1-15

The descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was preceded by [1] a noise like a violent wind, and [2] what seemed like tongues of fire resting on each person, and followed by [3] the ability to speak in ‘other languages as the Spirit enabled them.’

Peter explained the strange phenomena by reference to Joel 2:28-32. An analysis of this quote makes it clear that not all of the things identified in the quote actually happened at Pentecost. The two specific things that did happen was that God poured out his Spirit, and that at least twelve men proclaimed the wonders of God in various languages. [As we will see in a further study, the fact that these languages were understood equates what was said with prophecy, and this thus fulfils Joel’s reference to people prophesying.]

The Greek in 2:4 literally reads ‘as the Spirit gave to speak out/to declare to them’. The infinitive form is used. The word means to speak out or to declare solemn, weighty or pithy sayings. This is a far cry from the meaningless babble paraded as speaking in tongues today.

Those who heard knew exactly what was being spoken of – ‘the wonders of God’ [11].

Note that the ability to speak in other languages was as the Spirit enabled them - NIV. It was not something they generated themselves, or that some other human generated in them. The Holy Spirit gave them the ability to declare these solemn, weighty things in other languages. Some of these ‘other languages’ were ‘dialects’ [verses 6,8] within other languages.

Note that there is no mention of interpretation of languages here; this was not necessary as those present were native speakers of the various languages involved.

It cannot be proved from this text, or any other in Acts, that this miraculous ability continued in these people beyond this particular day. In fact it is never again reported in relation to these particular apostles .

The Aorist tense is used for ‘were filled’ [verse 4] [pletho].

Acts 2:16 - 22


semeion x 2

teras x 2

Reference to Jesus’ miracles, signs and wonders – as being God’s accreditation of him.

By referring to ‘signs’ Peter picks up on the ‘signs on the earth below’ of Joel’s prophecy, and refers that to what Jesus did, rather than the events of Pentecost. In doing so he encompasses the ministry of Jesus and the Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit as together comprising the ‘in the last days’ of Joel. Whether or not Peter also had in mind the darkness that covered the earth at the time of Christ’s crucifixion he does not say.

Acts 2:33

Reference to Christ’s promise of the Holy Spirit that has now been ‘poured out’ [Aorist Tense] – a one-off initiating event.

Acts 2:38-41

Although Peter promised all those who repented forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, there is no report of either actually happening to the 3000 who believed and were baptized. We know that they are genuine believers and have received both forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit, without any mention being made of it, for they were ‘added to their number’. This lack of anything being said that these 3000 people spoke in other languages is instructive. It would have been a spectacular and indisputable way of affirming any automatic connection between speaking in tongues and receiving the gift of the Spirit, or between speaking in tongues and being born again. But nothing is said about any visible or audible manifestation. Yet these people are ‘added to’ the number of the believers. The ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’ is just as much a part of salvation as ‘forgiveness of sins’. It is not additional or separate.

Acts 2:42 ,44-47

What characterized the group of believers was that they ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ They ‘were together and had everything in common’. They sold their possessions and gave according to people’s needs. The met everyday in the temple courts; they broke bread in their homes and ate together. They praised God, and enjoyed the favour of all people.

More were added to their number daily.

There is no mention of the phenomena of the Day of Pentecost being repeated or being on-going.

There is no mention of every believer being involved in tongues, signs and wonders. Such things were abnormal, not normal.

The absence of any reference to these spectacular things in this description of the daily life of the believers indicates that they were not present in their daily lives. Had tongues, miracles, signs and wonders been present in the lives of these thousands of believers when they met together both in their homes and in the temple it would have be a particularly noteworthy phenomenon.

Acts 2:43



Many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text.]

Apostles did these signs and wonders – not every Christian.

Jews were present

Acts 3:1-10

Peter and John healed a crippled man in the name of Jesus. No indication is given that the man believed; rather, he was expecting a gift of money, not healing.

Apostles performed this miracle .

Peter’s sermon takes the attention off the miracle and puts it on Jesus Christ, in whose name and by whose power the miracle was done. It is Christ Peter wants people to believe in, not miracles per se.

Acts 3:11ff

Peter says that it shouldn’t be surprising that the power of Jesus should heal the man [12].

Peter denied any connection between the healing and any personal power or giftedness or godliness of John and himself.

Acts 4:2

The apostles were teaching … and proclaiming.

The Jewish officials are concerned that Peter and John were teaching the resurrection of Jesus. [Note they weren’t concerned about the miracle of healing.]


Acts 4:4

Multiple conversions mentioned but no mention of Holy Spirit or tongues.

These conversions were the result of hearing the message, not miracles.

Acts 4:7-22

semeion x 2

Jewish officials want to know ‘by what power or what name’ they had done the healing miracle. They did not command them to stop doing miracles, but to stop all teaching and speaking in the name of Jesus.

Peter was ‘filled with the Spirit’ – this enabled a bold response to the accusers.

‘Filled’ is Aorist tense. [pletho]

Greek has ‘sign’ not ‘miracle’ in verse 16 and 22.

Jews present.

Note: Peter was one of those ‘filled’ in Acts 2, now he is ‘filled’ again.

Acts 4:24-30



Prayer is in their own language not in ‘tongues’.

Part of their prayer was for the God to perform ‘miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus’.

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text.]

Acts 4:31

[See also 4:8]

After they prayed, the ‘place was shaken’, they were ‘all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God boldly’.

No mention made of tongues or the other Pentecost phenomena .

Holy Spirit enabled bold speech.

This being filled with the Holy Spirit is distinct from ‘receiving the Spirit’.

Verb ‘were …filled’ is Aorist tense [pletho]. Given that they were ‘all’ ‘filled’, this must include some who had been previously ‘filled’ in Acts 2.

Acts 5:3

Peter given insight into the deception of Ananias and Sapphira.

An apostle had this miraculous insight.

Acts 5:12-16



‘Many miraculous signs and wonders’ performed by the apostles

All who came or were brought for healing were healed.

Apostles did miracles

Note: no healing failures as in healing meetings today.

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text.] Jews present.

Acts 5:18-19

Apostles miraculously delivered from jail.


Acts 5:42

The apostles were the ones who were teaching day after day.

Note that the summary of the apostles teaching contains no reference to the Holy Spirit or to ‘tongues’ or miracles; the message is ‘Jesus is the Christ’. It exalts and focuses Jesus, not the Holy Spirit and not the human being who is listening – or his need for healing.

Acts 6:3

Deacons to be ‘known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom’.

‘full’ is an adjective, referring to an on-going condition or state. [pleres].

Acts 6:4

The ministry of the apostles described as ‘prayer and the ministry of the word’. – Not miracles, and not ‘tongues’.

Prayer and teaching important, not miracles

Acts 6:5,8,10



Stephen is described as ‘full of faith and of the Holy Spirit’.

Stephen did ‘great wonders and miraculous signs’ among the people.

Greek text reads ‘wonders and great signs’.

His opponents ‘could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke’

Holy Spirit enabled strong irrefutable speech [Note: no reference to ‘tongues’]

Not an apostle but the apostles had laid hands on him [6:6]

‘full’ is an adjective [see 6:3]

Jews present.

Acts 7:36 ,39



Reference to Moses’ ‘wonders and miraculous signs’ in Egypt , at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. He was rejected by the forefathers of the Jews.

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text.]

Acts 7:55

Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit …

‘full’ is an adjective [see 6:3]

Acts 8:6-8, 12, 13


semeion x 2

Philip, in Samaria , proclaimed the Christ, did miracles and signs - cast out demons, healed people. Preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus. People believed and were baptized. No mention of Holy Spirit. No mention of tongues.

Not an apostle – but the apostles had laid hands on him [6:6]

Note: the signs caused the people ‘to pay close attention to’ what Philip said. [Samaritans – part-Jews present.]

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text 8:6.]

Greek text [ 8:13 ] reads ‘signs and great miracles’.

Acts 8:14-17

When Peter and John prayed, and placed their hands on the Samaritan believers they received the Holy Spirit.

No mention of ‘tongues’ . No mention of how it was evident that the Holy Spirit was received.

Apostles present.

Affirmation of inclusion of Samaritans in the people of God.

‘received’ is imperfect tense – only use of this tense in this context.

Acts 8:26

An angel instructed Philip to go to the Gaza road.

Two of the few instances of supernatural guidance; but no mention of ‘tongues’, healing or miracles.

Acts 8:34-39

The Ethiopian believed and was baptized, but no mention of receiving the Holy Spirit

Acts 8:39

The Spirit took Philip away.

Acts 9:3-9

The Lord confronted Saul in a vision

Parallels Old Testament visions of the Lord.

Acts 9:10-22

The Lord called to Ananias in a vision.

Ananias, sent by the Lord, placed his hands on Saul so that he would see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. His sight was restored. No mention made of his actually receiving the Spirit. What is mentioned is that he immediately began to preach boldly, proving that Jesus is the Christ.

Supernatural guidance

Ananias not an apostle

Verb ‘be filled’ is Aorist tense [pletho].

No supernatural phenomena accompanied Paul’s being filled with the Spirit.

Bold proclamation followed this filling.

Acts 9:32ff

Peter healed Aeneas, a paralytic.

Peter restored Dorcas to life after he had prayed.

Both of these instances resulted in people believing in the Lord.

An apostle did these miracles.

Acts 10

Cornelius’ vision

Peter’s vision of the sheet of unclean animals, preparing him to go and preach to the Gentile Cornelius.

Supernatural guidance – Cornelius

Supernatural guidance - Peter

Confirmation of inclusion of Gentiles in the people of God.

The ‘as on us at the beginning’ indicates that this visible/audible manifestation of the Holy Spirit had not been a common occurrence or the normal thing between Pentecost and Cornelius.

Had everyone who was converted spoken in tongues Peter would surely have said ‘as on all Jews when they believe’.

‘came on’ [Aorist tense]

Acts 10:38

Peter mentioned Jesus healing those under the power of the devil.

Acts 10:44-48

Holy Spirit came [Aorist Tense] on all who heard the message. The watching Jews were astonished that these Gentiles had received [Aorist Tense] the Spirit; they knew they had because they were speaking in languages and praising God. On the basis of this observable evidence Peter ordered these Gentiles to be baptized. ‘Poured out’ [verse45] is Perfect Tense.

Acts 11:15-18

Peter defended his action in baptizing the Gentiles by stating that the ‘Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. This ‘as on us at the beginning’ made it impossible for Peter to refuse baptism to the Gentiles who believed, because it was obvious to all that God had given them the ‘same gift as he gave us’.

The critics concluded by this evidence that God had indeed granted repentance even to the Gentiles.

Acts 11:19-26

The gospel is preached to both Jews and Gentiles with no mention of tongues or miracles or healings and no mention of those who responded being filled with the Spirit.

Barnabas is described as ‘full of the Holy Spirit’

‘Full’ is an adjective [pleres].

Acts 11:27 - 28

Agabus, through the Spirit, predicted a severe famine, which happened later.

Fulfilled predictive prophecy.

Acts 12:1-19

Peter miraculously rescued from jail by an angel in answer to the prayers of the believers


Acts 13:1-4

Holy Spirit directed church at Antioch to send Saul and Barnabas on a mission trip.

Instance of divine guidance [via elders, not direct to the person]

Acts 13:5 to end of Paul’s ministry

No mention of Saul or Barnabas ‘speaking in tongues’ or teaching that people should ‘speak in tongues’; rather there is repeated reference to teaching, reasoning, discussing the word.

Acts 13:6

Mention of a false prophet, Bar-Jesus/Elymas


Acts 13:9

Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit confronted Elymas; Elymas became blind as a result of Paul’s pronouncement


The verb ‘filled’ is Aorist Tense [pletho].

Acts 13:38-39

In describing the salvation found in Jesus Christ Paul mentions neither the Holy Spirit nor tongues. In describing Jesus he did not even mention his miracles.


Acts 13:52

‘The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.’

Verb ‘were filled’ is imperfect tense – indicating continuing action. The verb used is pleroo, which is related to the adjective pleres.

Acts 14:3



Paul and Barnabas were ‘speaking boldly for the Lord who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders’. [Mixed Jew/Gentile audience; the context states that the setting was one of opposition stirred up by Jews who refused to believe.]

Note: the signs and wonders were God confirming the message of grace.

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text.]

Jews present.

Acts 14:8-

Lame man healed by Paul [an apostle]

Misinterpreted – people thought P and B were gods

Acts 14:19-20

[Possible miraculous healing of Paul ???]

Paul was not actually dead, they just thought he was dead. He did however recover from his injuries to be well enough to travel the next day.

Acts 15:7-8

Peter explained that God gave the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles ‘just as he did to us’

Greek: ‘God … testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit’.

Reference to Acts 10 – Cornelius and his household.

Peter describes the giving of the Holy Spirit as God testifying to the Gentiles – it was God’s affirmation of their faith and their inclusion in his church. This is further indicated in verses 9-11.

Acts 15:12



Paul and Barnabas told the Jewish council about the ‘miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them’

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text.]

These were affirmations of their apostolic commission and authority, and confirmation of their message.

[Jews present.]

Acts 15:32

Judas and Silas referred to as ‘prophets’ – what they did was to encourage and strengthen the brothers

Broader concept of ‘prophet’ than held in some contemporary Christianity.

Acts 16:6-10

Holy Spirit prevented Paul etc from preaching the word in the province of Asia . And Bithynia .

Paul had a vision of a Macedonian calling for help.

Rare example of supernatural intervention and guidance

Acts 16:14-15

No mention of Holy Spirit or ‘tongues’ in conversion of Lydia and her household.


Acts 16:16ff

Prediction of the future by evil spirit’s power – Paul cast the spirit out and the ability left her.


[She was not a believer.]

Acts 16:25ff

Paul and Silas delivered miraculously from jail. [Note they were not praying to be delivered or demanding deliverance]

Role of mind and understanding

Acts 16:34

No mention of Holy Spirit or ‘tongues’ in conversion of jailor and his family

Acts 17:2

In Thessalonica Paul ‘reasoned from the Scriptures’ – no mention of ‘words of knowledge’ or ‘words of prophecy’, miracles or ‘tongues’.

Role of mind and understanding

Acts 17:11

Bereans examined the Scriptures to affirm the validity of what Paul taught – they did not look for signs and wonders to validate the teaching, nor did Paul perform signs to convince them.

Acts 17:16-34

Paul reasoned in the synagogue

Paul preached to the Areopagus

Only miracle mentioned is Christ’s resurrection

Acts 18:4

Paul ‘reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks’

Acts 18:7-8

No mention of Holy Spirit or ‘tongues’ in conversion of Crispus and his household, or of the many Corinthians who believed


Acts 18:9

The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, telling him to keep on speaking.

Rare mention of supernatural guidance

Acts 18:19

Paul ‘reasoned with the Jews’ in Ephesus .

Role of mind and understanding

Acts 19:1-7

Disciples of John the Baptist were baptized in the name of Jesus and received [Aorist Tense] the Holy Spirit and ‘spoke in tongues’ and ‘prophesied’.

Apostle Paul present

[only ‘about 12 men’ involved]

Speaking in tongues and prophesying are both in the Imperfect Tense.

Acts 19:8-12


Paul argued persuasively about the kingdom of God [in Ephesus ]

He had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus [2 years]

God did ‘extraordinary miracles’ through Paul – healings, demons cast out.

Role of mind and understanding


Jews either present or informed.

Acts 19:13-16

Abortive attempt at exorcism by unbelieving Jews

Not apostles!!!

Acts 20:7-12

Eutychus raised from the dead by Paul


Acts 20:20-21,27

Paul reminded the Ephesians of his diligent teaching and preaching.

Role of mind and understanding

Acts 20:22

‘compelled by the Spirit’ – Paul was going to Jerusalem – knowing the Holy Spirit had warned him that prison and hardships were facing him.

Paul interpreted the Holy Spirit’s message as what would happen when he went; others interpreted them as warnings not to go. This is rather puzzling.

Acts 21:4

‘Through the Spirit’ the disciples warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem

Acts 21:9. 10-11

Philip’s daughters ‘prophesied’. No content given.

Acts 21:10-14

Agabus predicted Paul’s arrest … ‘The Holy Spirit says …’

Acts 22:18-21

Paul reports how the Lord spoke to him in a vision warning him to leave Jerusalem .

Lord spoke to Paul – supernatural guidance

Acts 23:11

The Lord spoke to Paul, told him he would testify in Rome

In his defense statements in 22 to 26 Paul makes no mention of receiving the Holy Spirit, baptism in the Holy Spirit, ‘speaking in tongues’, he makes no mention of ever preaching that people should receive the Spirit or ‘speak in tongues’, nor did he refer to any miracles to confirm his testimony.

Acts 27:13-44

The storm at sea. Paul told by an angel that no one would die.


Acts 28:3-5

Paul protected from the poisonous snake bite.


Acts 28:7-10

Paul healed the sick on the island of Malta .

[Prayer, laying on of hands.]


The notes above include references to the Greek grammatical forms used to refer to being filled with or full of the Holy Spirit. In particular:

      • The Aorist Tense: this indicates an inceptive action, or a one-off action.
      • The Perfect Tense: this indicates an action completed in the past, with its impact still in effect at the time referred to.
      • The Imperfect Tense: this indicates an action that was continuing in the past at the time referred to.
      • Adjectives, which describe a condition or state, not an action.