SPECIAL TOPIC: SPIRIT (gift of. . .)
Acts 2:38 – "You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" is a future middle (deponent) indicative. The gift of the Spirit was
1. an assured salvation
2. an indwelling presence
3. an equipping for service
4. a developing Christlikeness
We must not push the items or the order of the events of salvation because they are often different in Acts. Acts was not meant to teach a standard formula or theological sequence (cf. How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth, pp. 94-112), but record what happened.
Should an interpreter use this text to assert a sequence of salvation acts: repent, be baptized, forgiveness, and then the gift of the Spirit? My theology demands the Spirit as active from the first (cf. John 6:44,65) and crucial all through the process of conviction (cf. John 16:8-12), repentance (cf. Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25), and faith (Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21). The Spirit is primary and necessary (cf. Rom. 8:9) from start to finish. He certainly cannot be last in a series!
One of the books that has helped shed my denominational indoctrination and let the Bible speak with power is F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions. In it he makes several good comments about Acts 2:38. One that grabbed me is:
"This reception of the Spirit might be experienced before baptism (Acts 10:44), after baptism (Acts 2:38), or after baptism plus the laying on of apostolic hands (Acts 8:16; 19:54)" (p. 167).
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