© Rosemary Bardsley 2007



This study on the Holy Spirit summarizes the New Testament teaching on the Holy Spirit’s relationship with the church corporately and with the individual person who genuinely believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not intended to be an extensive study, nor is it a study on the person of the Holy Spirit himself.

There are a number of distinct aspects of the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the believer:


Christ’s gift to his church – the outpouring of the Spirit

In John 14 to 16 Jesus Christ promised that when he returned to his Father he and his Father together would send the gift of the Spirit to indwell those who believe in Christ. This indwelling Spirit is described as the presence of the Father and the Son in the believer. His role in the church is to teach God’s truth and glorify Christ. His role through the church is to convict the world.

For your study:

[1] In relation to the outpouring of the Spirit and his role in the church, read John 14:15-23; 15:26 ; 16:5-7, 12-16.

[2] In relation to his impact through the church as it proclaims God’s truth to the world, read John 16:8-11.

This promise of Christ was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when Christ poured out his Spirit from heaven upon the church – that small group of true believers who were at his command waiting in Jerusalem for him to do what he had promised. This outpouring of the Spirit from heaven on the Day of Pentecost is a one-off, never-to-be-repeated fulfilment of the prophetic symbolism embedded in the Feast of Pentecost, in the same way that the crucifixion of Christ on the Passover day is a one-off, never-to-be-repeated fulfilment of the prophetic symbolism embedded in the Passover Feast.

This unique outpouring of the Spirit had to occur on the Day of Pentecost. This is the significance of the statement in Acts 2:1 ‘When the Day of Pentecost came’ [NIV], where ‘came’ in the Greek has the meaning ‘was fulfilled’ or ‘was fully come’.

From this day on the Holy Spirit is present in the true church corporately and each believer individually.


The baptism in/with/of/by the Spirit

Since the Day of Pentecost onwards every person who truly believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is, at the point of his/her conversion, baptised in/with/by the Spirit into the church, the body of Christ. This is also referred to as being baptized ‘into Christ’.

This is the baptism referred to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:13: ‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink’ and is most likely also the baptism referred to in Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27.

John the Baptist indicated that it is Jesus who baptizes people with the Holy Spirit: ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’ [John 1:33 ].

This baptism in/with/by/of the Spirit is also termed ‘the gift of the Spirit’ and ‘receiving the Spirit’.

From the very nature of its description in the New Testament this baptism with the Spirit is something that happens to every believer without distinction or difference when they first truly believe in Christ. It is part of the blessedness of the comprehensive and complete salvation given by sheer grace to those who believe.

It is at this point of personal conversion to Christ that the initial one-off outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost becomes a reality in the life of the individual.

For your study : Ephesians 1:13,14; 2 Corinthians 1:21,22; Romans 8:15,16; Galatians 4:6.


The fullness of the Spirit

The New Testament refers several times to the life lived under the control and direction of the Spirit of God as being ‘full of the Holy Spirit’, or ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’.

Thus, for example, the selection criteria for deacons in Acts 6:3 required that the men chosen must be ‘known to be full of the Spirit’; Stephen, Barnabas and some disciples are described as being ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ [Acts 7:55; 11:24; 13:52]; and we are commanded to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ [Ephesians 5:18].

In each of these references either the adjective pleres [full] or the verb pleroo [fill] is used. Whenever a verbal form is used it has a continuous tense. Thus all of these references indicate a continuity of the condition of fullness. This fullness of the Spirit simply cannot and does not happen instantaneously – by the very nature of the words used it indicates and requires an on-going, sustained influence of the Spirit in the human life.

This fullness of the Spirit is evident in a life lived submissive to the Spirit of God as he teaches us from the Word of God, revealing Christ to us, and gradually transforming us more and more into the image of God.

For your study: Read 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 5:18.


Special empowerment by the Spirit to speak God’s truth boldly on a specific occasion

Luke only, in Luke and Acts, also speaks of people being ‘filled with the Spirit’ using another verb: pletho. With one exception, this being ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ is in the Aorist tense, indicating a pin-point event, not a continuous quality or condition of life. With one exception, the impact is that the individual so filled spoke the word of God boldly. [The exception in both cases is the angel’s message in which he described the future ministry John the Baptist. The future tense does not allow for the distinction between continuous and pin-point actions, but we do know that John the Baptist certainly spoke the word of God boldly.]

This filling of the Spirit which enables bold speech as the occasion demands is neither permanent nor unrepeatable. Thus in Acts 4:8 we find that Peter was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ [Aorist Tense – a decisive pin-point event at this particular point of time]; yet he was one of those who had also been ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ [also Aorist Tense] in Acts 2.

It is therefore necessary to clearly distinguish between this temporary empowerment by the Spirit, which is called being ‘filled with the Spirit’ [pletho], and the on-going condition of a life lived in submission to the Spirit which is called being ‘filled with the Spirit’ or being ‘full of the Spirit’ [pleroo, pleres].

This temporary empowerment appears to bear great similarity to the empowerment of people in the Old Testament era to do the work of God in a given situation or occasion, or in a specific calling.


Being slain in the Spirit

There is not a single word about this in either the Old or New Testament.

There is nothing by way of example or experience of this phenomena happening to anyone.

It simply is not there.



Note 1: Because of the unique and specific historical context, three of the above occurred on the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2: [1] Jesus poured out his Spirit from heaven upon the church; [2] the small group of waiting believers were baptized with [= received the gift of] the Spirit; and [3] the disciples were ‘filled with the Spirit’ [pletho] which empowered them to boldly speak the word of God.

Note 2: The fruit of the Spirit is the result of the influence of the indwelling Spirit of God in the believer [Galatians 5:22 ,23]. It is closely related to concept of being ‘full of the Spirit’ [pleres] or ‘filled with the Spirit’ [pleroo] – of living life continually under the direction and control of the Holy Spirit.