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Filled with the Spirit: Reading Acts in Light of Luke

December 29, 2011 by Jeff Wright

The good doctor Luke’s writing is absolutely saturated by the miraculous work of God through the Spirit in the Son of God.  This Trinitarian view of history should shape our own view of history.

However, Luke’s writings have been blamed for much of the confusion we see in our day regarding the role of the Spirit in God’s activity among His people.  Paying close attention to Luke should help us dispel much of the fog around what has been called the Charismatic Gifting of the Spirit.

One example of this is the phrase filled with the Spirit.  When you hear that you might think of Acts 2:4 – “…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”   I don’t have to tell you that this text has been used to justify the idea that the sign of the filling by the Spirit is speaking in tongues.

One of the most significant problems with that position is that it fails to keep in mind that Acts was written under the assumption that its readers would have read Luke first.  Luke introduces the concept of being filled with the Spirit long before we get to the 2nd chapter of Acts.  Luke actually brings the phrase to his reader in the first two chapters of his gospel (1:41-42 and 67-79).  For Luke the activity of the Spirit begins with the proclamation of God’s Word in what we would call preaching.

That being filled with the Spirit results in proclaiming the Word of God in a way understandable to one’s hearers (as is obviously the case with Elizabeth and Zechariah) controls the way we read the Acts text, particularly when Acts 2:4 is read in the context of 5-13.

This reading of Acts in light of Luke also controls the way we read Acts 10:45-46 and 19:6.

1 Comment »

  1. John Gardner says:

    This is obviously a Spirit-filled blog post… I could read it in my own language!

    All kidding aside, great post, Jeff.

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