By Dr. Kimon Nicolaides, PhD

In the previous chapter, this writer discussed some conditions that should lead a student of preaching to be concerned about having the fullness of the Holy Spirit for the empowerment and illumination essential to the ministry of proclamation.[2] This chapter will examine some Scripture passages and key words on the fullness of the Spirit, explain why that state is essential to the illumination of the Holy Spirit so necessary to the exegete, and offer some suggestions for the preacher in that regard.

 Fullness of the Spirit

First it is necessary to assess briefly some key New Testament words and passages that are used to justify the classical Pentecostal position of subsequence, that is, a work of grace beyond conversion for which the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit” has been applied. Three authors of special concern are Luke, John and Paul. The primary contention here is based on Jesus’ command in Luke 24:49: “And behold, I am sending (ἀποστέλλω) the promise (ἐπαγγελίαν) of my Father upon you (ἐφ᾽ ὑμᾶς). But stay in the city until you are clothed (ἐνδύσησθε) with power (δύναμιν) from on high.”[3]

Luke 3:16 is helpful in clarifying what Jesus refers to:

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize (βαπτίζω) you with water, but he who is mightier (ἰσχυρότερός) than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize (βαπτίσει) you with the Holy Spirit (πνεύματι ἁγίῳ) and with fire (πυρί).

All the Gospel accounts record John’s pronouncement that Jesus would be the one to baptize with the Holy Spirit.[4] The fulfillment of that pronouncement is recorded in Acts 2:1-4:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled (ἐπλήρωσεν) the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues (γλῶσσαι) as of fire (πυρὸς) appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled (ἐπλήσθησαν) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (γλώσσαις) as the Spirit (πνεῦμα) gave them utterance.

It is claimed that the two major events of the New Testament, the incarnation of Christ and the charismatic endowment of the Spirit at Pentecost, bring to at least a proleptic fulfillment all the major prophesies and promises of the Old Testament, and with them a closure to that era, inaugurating the eschaton.[5] As such, both these events are seen to be equally paramount in the heilsgeschichte.[6] More debatable is the claim that since Pentecost, a new step, which may not be essential for salvation, is added to the ordo salutis.

To the traditional Protestant list, which includes one’s calling, conversion, repentance, regeneration, sanctification and adoption, “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” is said to be appended.[7] In this view, obtaining the fullness of the Spirit in the New Testament would be contingent upon having first been baptized by the Spirit. It is argued, therefore, that this baptism is a distinct work of the Holy Spirit and separate from that of regeneration or indwelling. While it is considered essential to the ministry of proclamation, such a baptism does not necessarily occur automatically at the time of salvation or water baptism and therefore is not necessary for salvation. The preacher, however, is required to continually seek after it diligently.

That this position appears suspect is evident from Acts 2:38. There, after explaining the meaning of the outpouring of the Spirit that occurred at Pentecost, Peter encouraged the attending crowd to repent and be baptized, so as to receive (λήμψεσθε) the gift of the Holy Spirit, indicating his availability to them at that time. From this it would appear that since Pentecost, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church ensures that the conversion of any new believer is to be accompanied by the immediate infusion of this gift of the Holy Spirit. Sacramentalists find in this text, along with those on the baptism of Jesus, grounds to claim that such an infusion occurs at water baptism or confirmation.[8] To conclude entirely from this passage that such an infusion is always assured at that time may go beyond what the text explicitly states and thus make an inference presumptive of the nature and freedom of God.

To buttress the position of baptism at conversion, therefore, an appeal is made to Paul’s usage of the term “baptism,” and 1 Corinthians 12:13 provides further corroboration: “For in one Spirit (ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι) we were all (πάντες) baptized (ἐβαπτίσθημεν) into one body (εἰς ἓν σῶμα) — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all (πάντες) were made to drink (ἐποτίσθημεν) of one Spirit (ἓν πνεῦμα).” The universal nature of this spiritual baptism for Christians makes it very difficult to reconcile with the view that it could be referring to a post regenerative experience.

If doubt remains that Spirit baptism is the automatic birthright poured out on every Christian at the moment of conversion, then consideration is directed to Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you (ὅσοι) as were baptized (ἐβαπτίσθητε) into Christ (εἰς Χριστὸν) have put on (ἐνεδύσασθε) Christ.” Although Paul may mean water baptism, here the preposition (εἰς) carries inferences going beyond mere outward ritual, and the verb (ἐνεδύσασθε) has implicit associations as well. It was the same form Jesus employed in referring to the Spirit baptism (Acts 2). It was also used to describe how Gideon or Amasai in the Old Testament was filled with the Spirit.[9] There seems thus to be a link with the Pentecostal outpouring in light of Acts 2:38.

Another nail to the coffin on the Pentecostal position may be applied with Ephesians 4:5: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” In light of this text, one may ask why, if a post conversion experience of being baptized in the Spirit is essential to being empowered for witness and living the Christian life, Paul, who was concerned with the daily pressures of all the churches, never encouraged any of them to ensure that their new converts obtained this Spirit baptism. The argument from silence is difficult to accept in view of the emphasis placed upon such a baptism in these Spirit-minded churches. Their popularity and apparent success in fulfilling the Great Commission, however, warrants a closer examination of the exegesis they offer in defense of their position.

The universality of the gift of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is what most traditional commentators rely upon to conclude that post-Pentecost Christians need not concern themselves about a distinct or subsequent baptism of the Spirit.[10] This verse, therefore, has been the target at which most Pentecostals would like to take aim.

One problem raised with the assumption is that the word “baptize” or “baptism” is not used in the English language other than as it has been adopted from its ceremonial use in the New Testament. Contemporary use of the word, therefore, always carries with it the ritualistic connotations associated with baptism, that is, the sacrament instituted by Christ wherein a new convert is publically initiated into the church.[11] In Koine Greek, however, the word βαπτίζω carried more than merely ceremonial connotations. It was a commonly used word with several related meanings such as dipping hot iron into water to temper it, dying wool in colored liquid, sinking a ship in the ocean, or even dipping a ladle into broth so as to draw some out. The word normally implied repeated dippings, as opposed to βαπτω, which meant to dip or immerse once.[12]

Of special interest is that in addition to these mechanical or ceremonial meanings, βαπτίζω also could carry a metaphorical meaning (a meaning in which an analogy is made with one of its other meanings). Our Lord used such a meaning when he referred to the baptism he had yet to undergo (Mark 10:38); that is, he was to be plunged into his sufferings and then rise up from them. The metaphorical use, however, found to be most predominant in Koine Greek was “to introduce or place a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else so as to alter its condition or its relationship to its previous environment.”[13]

This, it would appear, is precisely the meaning Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 12:13, where the context shows that he is specifically referring to the union that the believer has with Christ and thus with his body. This baptism is where the Holy Spirit places the believer into a new environment of freedom in Christ, having removed him from his old environment of slavery to sin.[14]

Other clues appear to indicate that Paul’s use of this term may diverge from that found in the Gospels or Acts. Of the seven passages in Scriptures that have the phrase “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” only 1 Corinthians 12:13 inserts ἑνὶ into the phrase. Only this passage either does not or could not include καὶ πυρί without violating its meaning. Only this passage fails to include the designator ἁγίῳ to modify “Spirit.” And only in this passage does the Spirit appear to be the agent who does the baptizing.[15] In all the others, Jesus is the baptizer. The context of all the other passages is clearly the day of Pentecost. The context of Paul’s passage is the body of Christ. The use of εἰς ἓν σῶμα clearly shows he is referring to entrance into the body of Christ, which is clearly not what any of the other passages have in mind. The other passages appear to refer specifically to a charismatic endowment or empowerment.

In addition, the Pauline passage is the only one that is epistolary. A fact peculiar to epistolary texts is their occasional nature. Their interpretation, therefore, is crucially dependent upon the specific circumstances being addressed, and in Corinth that circumstance was the unity of the body.[16]

This is not to say that Paul was unaware of the meaning employed by Luke, Matthew or John, but he chose to use a different meaning to address a different situation, as he had done with any number of other words. Consider, for example, his use of the term σάρξ, which he had used with as many as four different meanings.[17] So, in Ephesians Paul can affirm the unity of Christ’s body in that there is only one baptism by which its members are grafted into the church. That is not to say that all its members have of necessity been filled with (baptized in) the Holy Spirit.

Another problem with the traditionalist viewpoint is that in the book of Acts there are at least three other cases in which post-Pentecost Christians had yet to receive Spirit baptism (Acts 8:12-17; 9:18; 19:1-7), not to mention innumerable cases, allegedly, since.[18] To say that historical narratives must be subject to the test of intent before they are of value in a didactic sense is fine if such intent is evidently other than what one discerns to be a precedent.[19] In the case of Luke’s work, however, the intent is not always obvious, and when a pattern continues to be repeated, it is difficult not to see some didactic value.

Before concluding that Paul can be accommodated to allow for the classic Pentecostal interpretation of the Lukan passages, however, there are further points to consider. Paul’s use of the word “baptism” is to be found only in its technical sense (i.e., referring to the initiation ritual of water baptism [see 1 Cor. 1:13-17]), or in its metaphorical sense, as one more of the numerous metaphors he applies to help explain what happens in the process or event of being incorporated into the body of Christ (i.e., of being born again, being sealed, converted or adopted).

When he uses the metaphor of putting on Christ, Paul equates that with the process of walking according to the light, that is, of obeying the light that now dwells within. The first step in that process is water baptism. That is what he means in Galatians 3:27, and that is why he uses the phrase “to put on (ἐνεδύσασθε) Christ.” This is also why he associates water baptism with the second person of the Trinity. Consequently, when he is making a creedal affirmation about the triune nature of God, as he is in Ephesians 4:4-6, such an association may be included to reinforce his point. The reference to one baptism in Ephesians 4:5 is, therefore, used in the technical sense.

While many commentators may accept the instrumental sense of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13a, such an interpretation is not to be found in any of the other scriptural occurrences of the phrase associating baptism with ἐν πνεύματι.[20] The almost certain conclusion that Paul refers to the common experience of conversion in 1 Corinthians 12:13a and its parallel reference in the latter part of the verse (1 Cor. 12:13b, to their being made to drink of the Spirit) ties that experience back to the historical event of Pentecost, thus equating the two experiences.[21] Ultimately, despite careful consideration, this author tentatively concludes that Paul’s meaning does not support the position separating the timing of the gift of the Holy Spirit in any sense.

In any case, whether or not one believes it is possible for a Christian never to have been baptized in the Holy Spirit today, it would be difficult to deny that it is possible for Christians to lack the fullness of the Spirit even if such fullness was once evident in their lives. One primary reason for being baptized in the Holy Spirit is not only to be indwelt by the Spirit (John 7:39). If that were the case, then there would have been no need for Jesus to ask his disciples to tarry until Pentecost when he had already infused them, in that sense, with the Spirit (John 20:22).[22] A primary reason for the Spirit baptism, or the fullness of the Spirit, is for charismatic endowment empowering the Christian for works of ministry.

Since the English language does not have a word that corresponds appropriately or adequately to the Greek word βαπτίζω, to avoid confusion it is suggested that the phrase “baptism in the Spirit” be replaced with “fullness of the Spirit.”[23] These phrases are used synonymously in Scripture, so there should not be a problem with using either phrase as long as it is understood that this is something that is available to every believer. Whether they are called to preach the gospel or not, it should be sought, but if they are called to preach, they dare not do so without it.

Further evidence on this point can be found by showing the charismatic implications of a few more verses and key words related to this event. Consider 1 Thessalonians 1:5a: “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power (δυνάμει) and in the Holy Spirit (ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ) and with full conviction ([ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ)”[24]

Many commentators equate δυνάμει here with the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18).[25] Harold Hunter argues that such a position fails to appreciate the qualification of ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ.[26] Also, Paul frequently combines pneuma with dunamis (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:43ff.; Rom. 1:3-4) as a hendiadys. Here, however, Hunter finds that a distinction is drawn in which pneuma applies to the spoken word, while the power (being plural here and including an additional ἐν) implies that some miracles also occurred (see, e.g., Rom. 15:18ff.; 1 Cor. 2:4; 4:19-20; 5:4; 12:10; Gal. 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:6-16).[27] G. W. H. Lampe writes, “It is the same concept employed by Luke where the Spirit works as a dynamic force to inspire the apostles, and attest the gospel through a demonstration of power (see also Rom. 15:19; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Cor. 2:10; 13f; 1 Thess. 5:19; Ephesians 5:18).”[28] And from George Montague comes this assessment: “It is the charismatic Spirit promised to accompany Apostolic preaching (Acts 1:8) by signs of healing, deliverance, miracles, and produce utter conviction in their preaching.”[29]

Much more likely than either of these positions is that Paul is referring to the power evident in the gripping and compelling conviction of truth that accompanied his preaching. And even more compelling evidence is the testimony of faith standing in the face of persecution arising from it. The main message here is that the word of God apart from the Spirit’s accompanying power cannot bring life. A secondary note to preachers is that while Paul must have evidenced the Spirit’s fullness in his preaching to the Thessalonians, the assurance of that fullness was not experienced by him at the time. This is clear from Paul’s testimony and from his expression “this gospel came to you.”[30]

Further argument may be deduced from 1 Thess. 4:8, which says, “So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives (διδόντα) his Holy Spirit (τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον) to you.” Again, although the present indicative participle διδόντα would normally indicate this to be a continuous or ongoing repetitive action, many commentators are unwilling to accept it at face value only because of a presupposed notion that the Spirit is given as a once-for-all action at conversion.[31] Whether for charismatic purposes or for sanctification, the demands of the Christian life would imply the necessity for such continual appropriation. This is evident not only here but also in Romans 5:5 and John 3:34; 4:14; 7:37ff. Another corroborating passage is Galatians 3:2b, 3, 5, and 14b:

did you receive (ἐλάβετε) the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? . . . Having begun (ἐναρξάμενοι) by the Spirit, are you now being perfected (ἐπιτελεῖσθε) by the flesh? So then, does He who provides (ἐπιχορηγῶν) you with the Spirit (πνεῦμα) and works (ἐνεργῶν) miracles (δυνάμεις) among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? . . . so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit (ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πνεύματος) through faith.

The aorists ἐλάβετε and ἐναρξάμενοι indicate an event taking place in the past (i.e., at their conversion).[32] The primary focus here, however, is on the charismatic work of the Spirit, as indicated by ἐπιχορηγῶν, ἐνεργῶν and δυνάμεις. The use of present participles implies a continuous, ongoing action since then. Some commentators would even find thereby an inference connecting these verses with Ephesians 5:18.[33] Paul frequently uses ἐπιχορηγῶν together with ἐνεργῶν when referring to the infinite “supply” of spiritual power so necessary for accomplishing God’s work (e.g., see Philippians 1:19; Eph. 4:16; 2 Cor. 2:19; 9:10). That the noun cognates of ἐνεργῶν refer specifically to the outworking of the Spirit’s charismatic endowment is clear from 1 Cor. 12:6, 10 (with ἐνέργημ) or Phil. 3:21, Eph. 3:7, and Colossians 1:29 (with ἐνέργεια). The other key word mentioned here (δυνάμεις) is found so frequently in Luke or Acts to be indicative of these charismatic activities that only a sampling of verses will suffice to make the point (e.g., Luke 1:17; 5:17; 6:19; 8:46; 10:13, 19; 19:37; 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:22; 4:33; 6:8; 8:13; 10:38; 19:11). That Paul calls this, in Galatians 3:14, the promise of the Spirit ties this back to the outpouring at Pentecost that Peter explained as being the fulfillment of the promise that God made to Abraham and that Jesus called the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4; 2:33). The point of this passage emphasizes the continual, ongoing need to be thirsting for, and drinking from, this well or source of power that only the gift of the Holy Spirit can supply (i.e., the charismatic endowment enabling one’s ministry to bear fruit). Its means of attainment is through faith alone.

Another substantiating verse is Gal. 4:6: “Because (ὅτι) you are sons, God has sent forth (ἐξαπέστειλεν) the Spirit (τὸ πνεῦμα) of His Son into our hearts, crying, (κρᾶζον) ‘Abba! Father!’ ” Here, the aorist (ἐξαπέστειλεν), used in the same sentence with the present indicative participle (κρᾶζον), describes an event preceding in time the action described by the participle. Many commentators use this verse to support the contention that there is a designated and distinct sequence in the framework Paul presents of God’s plan (the ordo salutis):[34] God first “sent” his Son in the fullness of time (v. 4), which is followed by the “sending forth” of his Spirit (v. 5). Each account uses the same word (ἐξαπέστειλεν) that Jesus employed in Luke 24:49. Then there is the logical sequence implied by the use of ὅτι (“because”): that being sons of God must precede the sending of the Spirit.

Such a focus, however, misses the point of what Paul is trying to say here: that the true mark of the Christian is the indwelling Spirit. The presence of the Spirit within the believer’s heart provides all the evidence needed of his sonship. Its objective historical reality is logically consequential and subsequent to the objective historic reality of Christ’s redeeming work. That having been done prior to a person’s conversion, however, means that there is no need for any more delay in the reception of the promised gift, and so no further sequence is meant to be envisioned here by Paul in that event. Of note in this verse is that a most fundamental aspect of the charismatic work of the Spirit is the ongoing intercession that the Spirit makes through the faithful and in their behalf that the participle (κρᾶζον) so aptly depicts (see, e.g., Matt. 9:27; Acts 14:14; Rom. 8:5-17, 26; 9:27; John 7:28, 37; Psalm 3:4 or [Ps. 3:5; 107:13]).[35] That which is so anticipated as to be considered necessary, therefore, for the maintenance of the condition of the “fullness of Spirit” stressed here is the ongoing intercession that should characterize the minister’s life (see Eph. 6:18).

The next passage of interest is Phil. 1:19: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance (σωτηρίαν) through your prayers and the provision (ἐπιχορηγίας) of the Spirit (τοῦ πνεύματος) of Jesus Christ.” In view of the association with the cognates of ἐπιχορηγίας with Spirit (as was the case with Gal. 3:5 and other texts), it is possible to assume that the Spirit, being here the object of the provision, is once again that charismatic endowment of which there is an expressed need for an ongoing supply.[36] This reading accords well with the metaphors employed by Christ in John 7:37-39. It also indicates that once again prayer is essential for its maintenance and in this instance implies the need of both the minister and his congregation as well.

Phil. 4:13 says, “I can do (ἰσχύω) all things through Him who strengthens (ἐνδυναμοῦντί) me.” The charismatic implications of this verse stem first from the associations of the verb (ἰσχύω) (present indicative, “I am strengthened”). Apart from having a noun cognate (ἰσχύς) that is an attribute of God (Revelation 5:12), it is used in Scripture to describe the power that may be attributed to God’s word (e.g., Acts 19:20). Its adjectival cognate (ἰσχυρότερος) can also have the same meaning (2 Cor. 10:10) and was used by John the Baptist to describe Christ’s ministry relative to his own (Matt. 3:11), while noting Christ’s baptism to be with the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus also used this term to describe his works relative to those of Satan (Luke 11:21-22). When combined with the present indicative participle ἐνδυναμοῦντί, describing the means of this empowerment, there is an ongoing reliance as well as an implied progressive nature to the charismatic endowment that is stressed (e.g., see Eph. 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:17; Col. 1:29; Acts 9:22; Rom. 4:20). Some commentators see in this verse a reflection of Paul’s frequent joining of two other key words (ἐνεργῶν and δυνάμεις) so as to remove any doubts as to whether it is the charismatic Spirit that is in view.[37] The nature of the task of proclamation should inspire the preacher to frequently look to this verse as a promise of no small import.

A crucial verse for this thesis is 1 Cor. 2:4: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration (ἀποδείξει) of the Spirit (ἐν πνεύματος) and power (δυνάμεως).” The argument Paul is making must be considered in light of the problem he is addressing before one can understand the meaning he assigns to the hendiadys here (πνεύματος) and (δυνάμεως). His choice of ἀποδείξει means more than merely manifestation. It carries the implication of combining a series of irrefutable premises in such a way as to deliver an overwhelmingly compelling conclusion to an argument.[38] It is meant to add an ironic twist to the problem of being enamored with articulate eloquence that has apparently consumed the Corinthians. For this hendiadys to refer to an external display of miraculous power, however, may serve only to divert one potential source of pride, the display of human wisdom, to another, the ability to perform miracles. Therefore, as opposed to many,[39] it is proposed that the type of miraculous power Paul had in mind here was more in keeping with whatever inside knowledge the Spirit may have made available to Paul in order that his preaching would be most effective in convicting them of their sins, as with Christ and the Samaritan women (John 4:7-42). Similar experiences are frequently encountered in preaching the Word. The Spirit directs the choice of certain texts that speak directly to the needs of an audience without the preacher even being aware of what those needs were.[40] The convicting power of the Word is effective only inasmuch as the omniscient Spirit brings its application to bear on the consciences of those hearing by exposing their sins in the light of its standards (e.g., 1 Cor. 14:24-25). Other Pauline passages that may bear upon the issue of the minister’s need for the ongoing charismatic endowment supplied by the Spirit and for which “the fullness of the Spirit” is such a crucial prerequisite would include 2 Cor. 1:12; 12:9; 2 Tim. 1:6-7; and Titus 3:5-6.

The passages in Ephesians, including the pivotal text of 5:18 that bear upon this topic, require a close look at this entire epistle. The significance of this epistle, in part, may be inferred from the time and location from which it was written as well as its original implied audience and author.[41] It was one of Paul’s last written documents (about a.d. 62), likely composed while under house arrest in Rome or Caesarea. It was written to the church at which Paul had spent the longest tenure of any during his missionary career. Paul had not visited Ephesus until his last missionary journey, by which time he had accumulated considerable firsthand experience in the nature of the spiritual warfare about which he was writing. It was also the home of what was arguably the largest cult of his day, Diana or the moon goddess, the same territorial spirit that is associated by some with Islam today.[42] It was also the place where he experienced the greatest successes in the spiritual battles that he waged.[43] Therefore, from the preacher’s perspective this epistle should offer potentially great insight into the nature of the spiritual conflict being waged whenever the gospel is preached. The Holy Spirit has seen fit to use these experiences in the life of Paul to convey these crucial insights to the church today.

Understanding the means to be fully empowered[44] by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel[45] fearlessly so that Christ’s church may be established and built up[46] is of supreme importance to any preacher. That power, as revealed in this epistle, is just as necessary and available today.[47] The means of maintaining the anointing or fullness of the Spirit appears here to have a correspondence to the process of continuously “putting on” Christ.[48]

Those who have evidenced a powerful anointing upon their preaching ministry appear also to have recognized how desperately the preacher needs to be continuously refilled with the Holy Spirit’s power, that is, to be re-energized continuously by the Holy Spirit.[49] That is because the power for preaching, as well as for sanctification, comes from God but is wholly consequent to one’s faith; as one’s faith in God increases, one’s faith in self correspondingly decreases. What contributes to the strengthening of faith in God stems in part, at least on the preacher’s side, from a continued willingness to obey the command of Eph. 5:18.[50] What this command entails in consideration of its context is of crucial import to the preacher.

The epistle to the Ephesians begins with an extended trinitarian berakah in which Paul introduces God’s fulfillment of his promise to Abraham in the eschatological deposit of the Holy Spirit now indwelling Jews and Gentiles alike. Jesus is the one who has sealed them as his own private possession (Eph. 1:3-14). This metaphor of sealing describes well the action of the Holy Spirit that impresses on the nature of this newly created inner man an indelible imprint of the imago Dei to identify that person as belonging to God (see Matt. 22:17ff.).[51] The Holy Spirit is also described metaphorically here as an ἀρραβὼν, a pledge indicating that God, by giving him the Holy Spirit, is promising to fulfill in the life of this believer a perfecting and completion of the imago Dei. The presence of this deposit of the Holy Spirit also brings much assurance that there is reserved for him a place in God’s eternal kingdom. This will be given to him along with a gracious and glorious future inheritance that includes a new, immortal, and indestructible resurrection body at that time. The Holy Spirit’s abiding presence within believers is said, thereby, to guarantee that it is God’s intention of ultimately fulfilling that promise to them and in them.[52]

In this introduction, Paul also sets the stage by declaring the new and real environment of the believer’s life. It is now to be lived out as if he were already in the heavenly (spiritual) realms and seated with Christ far above every other spiritual dominion and power. This is because all that power and authority is already directly available and immediately accessible to every Christian at any time and in every place through the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This is without regard for personal circumstances or apparent outward situations. Key to understanding the power available to the preacher was how Paul viewed himself in possession of that power. His view was that he was seated far above any other conceivable power. He was essentially seated in the heavenly realms with Christ, and that is where every other Christian[53] is: in the throne room of God and with full access to that all-surpassing power and inexpressible glory, which is already theirs by right in their identification with Christ.[54]

A more complete grasp of the significance of Paul’s statement, however, requires the consideration of Paul’s circumstance at the time of writing. He was under arrest and probably had been, by then, for a number of years. He was destined not long thereafter to be executed.[55] It is with this context in mind, where believers are being or are about to be engaged in an intense spiritual conflict, that the whole epistle must be read. It is also how the Ephesians themselves understood it.[56]

From the natural perspective, this reason for hope was incomprehensible aside from a diagnosis of insanity. If the measure of Paul’s madness, however, may be determined by the impact his words would have upon the church and the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth in the ages to come, then it would be absurd to think so. It would be a challenge of gargantuan proportions to find a writer whose perception of reality was more discerning.

The importance for preachers to come to have such a vision of the unfolding of God’s glory cannot be overstated. What does Paul mean when he says we are seated in the heavenly realms with Christ? This writer believes that the authority that we have been given to complete the mission Christ has given to us on earth is absolute. Therefore, no effort to thwart our mission can possibly succeed. All such efforts, despite their intentions or their temporal appearances of success, will ultimately not only fail in themselves but also serve only to further the goals in completing that mission. How crucial it is for Paul’s disciples to gain this confidence through having their own spiritual insight illuminated. This becomes the focus of one of Paul’s immediately subsequent prayers.

So this berekah section (Eph. 1:3-14) is followed by another extended passage (Eph. 1:15-2:10) in which Paul expresses a prayer of thanksgiving for this gift of the Holy Spirit to believers. In this, he asks for a renewal of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Ephesians’ hearts so as to enlighten them to a more thorough knowledge of God through a more comprehensive understanding of this Spirit-inspired wisdom and revelation. This is so that they may “know” the hope of their calling and the all-encompassing extent of the all-surpassing power that is at work in them and presently accessible to them through the Holy Spirit.[57]

In Eph. 2:11-22, he then begins to explain more specifically what that wisdom and revelation of the Holy Spirit entails. First, their salvation and deliverance is a work that is entirely of God’s grace and as such entirely irrevocable. Moreover, that which was folly to the world — the cross — was the wisdom of God. This wisdom achieved the ends that God had purposed. It granted to God, without compromising his holiness or robbing his glory, the right to give his Spirit to those whom he had elected as his children. In giving to them his Spirit, he would secure for them their salvation and sanctification, while at the same time safeguarding his own glory in every aspect. His Spirit is now free to replicate his own image within his children, thus making them into his “workmanship.” Their identity, as such, is itself a revelation of the character of God. This workmanship of God is now being put on display through their lives, to the watching cosmos, which consists of spiritual principalities in the heavenly realms, all to the glory of God.[58]

Through the cross, God has also destroyed the enmity that once existed between Jew and Gentile, reconciling them to each other and to himself. They now are being built up together into his holy habitation by means of the Spirit (ἐν πνεύματι) on the foundation of the Word, that is, prophets and apostles.[59] Paul’s prayer is for the empowerment of their hearts, their inner being, through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.[60] In view of this revelation of God’s will in the reconciling work of Christ, Paul then (Eph. 2:11-22) digresses to expound upon the vital and essential unity of all of God’s people. Together, in Christ, they have direct access to God through the Spirit. God’s presence is also manifested on earth through the same Spirit in the community of faith, which through the administration of the same Spirit the finished work of Christ is brought to completion.[61]

In Eph. 3:1-10, Paul expresses his amazement at having been entrusted with this new revelation as a servant of Christ through the grace afforded to him and made effective by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.[62] In Eph. 3:11-21 he returns to, and concludes, his prayer by asking that this power of the Holy Spirit would manifest itself in individual believers’ hearts by granting to them a deeper knowledge of God and thus of the magnitude of his great love for them in Christ. This will result in the formation of (or bringing to a state of maturity) Christ’s image and character within them, causing them to be filled with all the fullness of God. This is said with God’s work of creation (v. 10) and his administration over it (v. 15) in view. The result of gaining such an experiential knowledge of God’s love will manifest itself to the world through their mutual love for each other.[63]

The next and final sections of the epistle (Eph. 4:1-6:9) consist of exhortations on how these truths will work out in believers’ lives. Eph. 4:1-16 begins by emphasizing how the unity and consequent peace of the body is that for which Christ died and that which the Spirit now is sent to guard. Hence, it is to be most diligently preserved through the “putting on” of certain fruits of the Spirit (i.e., Spirit-cultivated character traits and dispositions, all exercised in love) of humility, meekness, gentleness, and forbearance. Then Paul explains that the reason for the Holy Spirit’s gifting to individual members of the body is so that all its members may ultimately be built up together into the unity of the faith and come to a complete knowledge of Christ, the head, with each member doing its part in a strengthening and maturing body until complete maturity is reached, or until Christ’s image has been brought to a state of complete perfection in them. It is expressed here so that they will have a clear understanding of their true identity in Christ and will no longer be subject to the deception that enslaves those whose minds are still cloaked in the darkness of this age.

The next section (Eph. 4:17-30) begins by stating specifically what practices one should no longer walk in and how instead one should walk in love. These sins deal primarily with speech (lying, corrupt talk) or whatever may be harmful to relationships.[64] These must be replaced with edifying and encouraging words. Theft is also mentioned. The Ephesians should work with their hands so that they may give to those truly in need. Their change in behavior is directed toward maintaining and promoting the unity of the body of which they are now members, reflecting on Eph. 4:1-16 and the work of the Spirit and Christ. This paraenesis concludes with the exhortation to “take off” the works of their old nature, “put on” the new person, and clothe themselves with what they learned in Christ: their love for one for another.[65] The way they had adorned themselves with this new nature is expressly stated here as by having been renewed through the spirit/Spirit of their minds.[66]

Paul then continues with another paraenetic section that continues through Eph. 5:18. Here a series of imperatives contrast light and darkness, wisdom and foolishness, and understanding and ignorance, and conclude with the final and pivotal imperative to be filled ἐν πνεύματι.

The question has been raised as to whether πνεύματι here refers to one’s human spirit or to the Holy Spirit. The possibility that Paul’s reference to the spirit in Eph. 4:23 refers to the human spirit has caused some commentators to believe it may have a similar meaning here. For that to be the case, however, its preposition would have to be interpreted as a dative of sphere.[67] If it can be shown that ἐν is in the instrumental case, then πνεύματι would have to refer to the Holy Spirit. Some writers have found that this ambiguity also exists in the three other places where this prepositional phrase has been used in this epistle.[68] That possibility is erased, however, when one considers Paul’s use of this preposition in 1 Cor. 12:3, 1 Cor. 13, and Rom. 15:16 and 14:17. No such ambiguity exists in those cases. Each time Paul explicitly refers to the Holy Spirit, so one may rightly assume that he must refer to the Holy Spirit in each of the passages in Ephesians.

Wallace gives an even stronger defense by considering the preposition here to be instrumental, which would also demand, according to Robinson, that the object be the Holy Spirit as well (see note 69 below). Most versions, however, still translate this as a command to be filled with the Spirit.[69] Wallace argues that since the Spirit is found in the dative case with the preposition ἐν it has to be translated in an instrumental sense. Therefore, a correct interpretation would render this command to be filled “by means of” or “through the instrumentality of” the Holy Spirit.[70] An even better understanding of the word would be “to be made complete in, and completely of” God “by means of” the Holy Spirit.[71] The one performing the action is Christ. The instrument by which he performs it is the Holy Spirit. The object upon whom the action is being done is the believer, and the goal of the action is to be made like God the Father.[72]

This is also in keeping with the idea that the Holy Spirit has been sent to us by the Father to be our helper and advocate, as opposed to the notion that the Holy Spirit is simply an agent at our disposal. The command here uses the verb πληροῦσθε, which is the present passive imperative of πληρόω. This can mean to fill,[73] but it can also be, and very frequently is, translated “to complete” or “to bring to completion or perfection.” It is likely a gnomic present, which means that the action continues in a progressively increasing measure or intensity.[74]

The participles that follow this main verb are the consequence of such filling, completing or perfecting by the Holy Spirit. The increasing difficulty in performing the activity described by those participles supports this interpretation.[75] Most translations of this passage also place a somewhat arbitrary period at the end of verse 20 and then begin a new paragraph.[76] There is little, if any, justification for attempting to cut off the flow of thought at this point.[77] In fact, everything that follows Eph. 5:18, right up to 6:10, continues and completes the thought.[78] At Eph. 6:10, one reaches the pinnacle of that command to be clothed in the Lord and in his mighty strength so that one may be fully equipped to take a stand against all the schemes of the devil.[79]

Here one discovers one reason why it is essential for believers to be clothed in God’s mighty power. It is because of who they are being prepared to be in conflict with: all of the forces of darkness in the spiritual realms.[80] After having clothed themselves with the full panoply of God, believers are to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. This should serve to remind preachers that whenever they proclaim God’s Word from the pulpit, they are engaging in spiritual warfare and cannot afford to come to that task in any condition less than being fully prepared and equipped.[81] They are literally tearing down spiritual strongholds[82] and will inevitably come under spiritual attack.

This brings this thesis back again to its starting place and the verse upon which the whole epistle appears to hinge.[83] The idea that the imperative exhortation, ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, means to “be made complete in God through the means of the indwelling Spirit” has in its favor this writer’s understanding of the central theme of this epistle and goal of Paul’s message to the Ephesians. Believers must allow God’s Spirit to bring to complete formation in them the new person, the restored and renewed imago Dei. The only means to accomplish this is the power of the indwelling Spirit, which opens their hearts to understand and experience God’s love for them, as Paul prayed in Eph. 3:19 (“that they may be filled with all the fullness of God,” ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ).[84] This happens as they work out their salvation in the community of believers. Thus the participles that follow and define the imperative of Eph. 5:18 all have to do with relationships, until readers finally arrive at a new set of imperatives beginning at Eph. 6:10. Here Paul restates what he meant in Eph. 5:18.[85]

The components of the spiritual warrior’s armor mentioned here (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, as well as the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God) all have genitives of apposition as their modifiers. Thus, what Paul means is to put on truth, righteousness, peace, faith and the gospel.[86] In the next verse, he adds the next indispensable component of the believer’s armament to the list. It is to pray always (ἐν πνεύματι). Paul refers not just to individual prayers but also to the corporate and individual prayers of the church body.[87]

The first four components are all defensive in nature and allow the person so armed to stand against the attacks of the devil. In order for one to put on the four components, one has to do no more than believe the gospel and all that is entailed in it and implied by it. In other words, each believer needs to come to a more fully illuminated grasp of the truth and the meaning of the gospel.[88] All believers fail to believe the gospel to some extent in the core of their beings.[89]

In summary, the command of Eph. 5:18 is best translated in the passive sense of allowing Christ to fill believers with all the fullness of God by means of the Holy Spirit. That by no means negates in any way the responsibility of the believer to continuously come to Christ, with an unquenchable thirst, seeking to be so filled.

Further, the metaphors of clothing used throughout this epistle imply there is an active component of the believer’s responsibility to more fully believe the gospel by living in the reality of its truth. Such living will serve to confirm the truth of that faith to one’s heart, and that faith in turn will continue to become stronger. It is by means of the growth of that faith that the imago Dei is brought to perfection and completion; the process by which sanctification occurs is through increasing one’s faith in the gospel, not some sort of moral striving.[90] It is also as a direct result of that increase in the measure of one’s faith that the measure of one’s anointing by the Holy Spirit for the empowerment of proclaiming the gospel is accomplished.

A primary goal, nonetheless, of the command of Eph. 5:18 is to find the empowerment necessary in order to be able to walk in love for the sake of the unity of Christ’s church.[91] This corresponds to Christ’s final command to his disciples (John 15:12) to love one another as he was describing to them the consequence of their imminent reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The operation of this gift would be theirs so long as they abode in him, that is, as branches abide in the vine, and so were united with him and through him with each other. This concept of love is also a major emphasis in all of Paul’s other epistles (e.g., Rom. 12:8-10; 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 5:14; Gal. 5:22; Phil. 2:1-4; Col. 3:12-14; 1 Thess. 4:9-10; 2 Thess. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6: 11; 2 Tim. 1:7; 3:10; Titus 2:2; Philemon 7) and in Hebrews 13:1. It is similarly of first priority in the epistles of Peter (e.g., 1 Peter 1:22; 3:8; 2 Peter 1:5-7). The apostle of love, John, reiterates this command on numerous occasions in his epistles (e.g., 1 John 2:5, 10; 3:10, 14, 18, 23; 4:8, 11, 12, 16-21; 5:2; 2 John 1, 5, 6; 3 John 6), as well as in Revelation, where Jesus commands the Ephesians to return to their first love (Rev. 2:4). Jude commands it (21), and James elaborates upon it (2:14-26). Jesus also elaborates upon this love in each of the Gospel accounts (e.g., Matt. 5:44-45; 7:12; 19:19; 22:39; 24:12; Mark 12:31, 33; Luke 6:27, 35; 10:27; John 13:1; 34; 15:13), as well as illustrating it in his life and death.

One may even say that the contents of the command of Paul in Eph. 5:18 is paraphrased by John in 1 John 4:12b, “if we love one another God’s love lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”[92] This finds confirmation in that elsewhere John states plainly that “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

Love is unquestionably the major theme of the New Testament. The point is that love is both the result and the means of being filled by the Spirit. There is no better means of acquiring, maintaining and increasing the capacity for and of the Holy Spirit’s fullness than to exercise a sincere love that will promote the unity of Christ’s body. There is likewise no better means of having such capacity to exercise this love than by being filled with the Spirit. The exercise of this love should then also be the greatest assurance one may gain of being filled by the Holy Spirit, as well as the strongest witness testifying to it.

When this becomes the consistent practice of the believer, that fact should in turn lessen the likelihood of grieving or quenching the Spirit. By becoming more accommodating to the Spirit’s leading, the likelihood of remaining in such a state of fullness will be increased. This will also empower the believer to exert even more love and to withstand whatever temptations arise from the adversary. It should also be the means of assuring that the illumination that is so necessary for the success of the preaching enterprise will be provided.[93] Thus believers have what N. T. Wright refers to as the hermeneutics of love.[94]

In summary, Eph. 5:18 is a command that refers to the responsibility to appropriate the dynamic charismatic power made available to believers at Pentecost. This conclusion is evident from the synonymous meaning of the verb πληροῦσθε (a form of πληρόω), which Paul uses here, with that of ἐπλήσθησαν (a form of  πίμπλημι), which Luke uses to describe the effect of the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) or on other occasions the filling of the Holy Spirit (πίμπλημι, as in Luke 1:15, 41, 67; Acts 4:8; 9:17; 13:9; or πληρόω, as in Acts 13:52). Both instances are contrasted with the idea of being drunk, literally, filled with wine. The access one has to the Spirit’s power is frequently described by the metaphor of drinking (e.g., John 4:13; 7:37-38; 1 Cor. 10:4; 12:13). The nature of drinking (to the point of satiation or inebriation) is such that this state is not maintained indefinitely but requires additional imbibing whenever those effects wear off.

Most scholars would translate the imperative ἐπλήσθησαν in a passive tense, implying the means available to the believer stem from the Spirit’s constant presence and willingness to fill a believer’s heart under normal conditions. The major obstacle to such infilling is the need to empty the heart of anything else. Virtually all the interests vying for occupancy have to do with self. Consequently, the greatest need of the preacher, that for which he must strenuously contend and that which more than anything else will guarantee the filling of the Holy Spirit, is the capacity and willingness to deny self in whatever shape or form.


The correspondence between fullness of the Spirit and illumination has already been touched upon in the exegesis of Ephesians. Both the starting point and the goal of exegesis is an increased experiential knowledge of and fellowship with the one true living God that will leave an indelible impression upon the heart, mind and soul of the believer. That is, the believer is to be illumined. Thus the disciplines of exegesis and spirituality are closely linked.[95]

The necessity of receiving illumination from the Holy Spirit for any success in the preaching enterprise stems from the fallen condition of the human heart. As a result of the fall and alienation of man from his Creator, an impenetrable barrier was established that prevented the possibility of perceiving or looking upon that which was divine (Genesis 3:22-24). The darkness of man’s heart spelled the loss of any capacity for acknowledging the truth of God (Gen. 6:5). The enslavement of man’s will to sin resulted in a dysfunctional faculty for reasoning that could not accept the reality of God’s righteousness, justice, goodness and glory (John 8:34; Rom. 1:18). Consequently, it became impossible for man to come to knowledge of the truth (1 Cor. 12:3) through his own investigation, despite the fact that such truth was implicit in every aspect of his world (Ps. 19:1-7; Rom. 1:19). Therefore the wisdom of God and the meaning of the gospel remain hidden (1 Cor. 1:18ff.).

This means that the first and foremost prerequisite for anyone to be able to preach the gospel is salvation, that is, being born again by God’s Spirit (John 3:3ff.; Matt. 11:25-27; 2 Cor. 3:14-18). Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil that has covered his eyes is removed so that he sees God’s glory. Moreover, whenever this happens, God makes his light to shine in a believer’s heart to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).

This is only the beginning of a progressively developing and increasingly abundant radiance of God’s glory being reflected in and through believers’ lives as a result of the Spirit’s continuing work (2 Cor. 3:18). This also means that there will continue to remain a diminishing remnant of the sinful and darkened nature that will require ongoing and diligent efforts, by God’s grace, to repress, deny and extinguish (Matt. 10:38; 16:24). It means that the ability to discern the truth in God’s Word and in his world, so necessary for proclaiming that truth, will depend upon growth in grace and maturity as believers, as well as the level of intimacy they have in their relationship with the Lord. In addition, God will not reveal everything to them at once, but only as they need to know it, in part because they are not able to bear it all (John 16:12) and because it is to God’s glory to conceal a matter and to believers’ glory to search it out (Proverbs 25:2).

One definition of illumination is the capacity for having a greater insight into a truer and deeper meaning of God’s Word and the nature of God for the purpose of applying that experiential knowledge and insight to one’s life and communicating it to the church and the world. It is obtained through the entirely gracious provision of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ’s solely sufficient merit and God’s sovereign electing call to the end of his own glory. It is absolutely necessary for any proper exegesis or application of the meaning and intent of the Word of God. It involves opening the eyes of the heart by clearing away such obstacles as may hinder their spiritual visual acuity. This is done by exposing any untruths, erroneous attitudes, biased opinions or hardness of heart that may exist and that would otherwise precondition and prejudice the interpretation of any passage blinding the reader from accepting the Word on its own terms.

The effect of illumination should always be a conviction of sin, a perception of righteousness and a judgment.[96] This should result in a change of the values and beliefs of the individual and the transformation of his character so as to reflect a greater degree of godliness and exhibition of the fruits of the Spirit, which include love, joy, peace, kindness, forbearance, gentleness, perseverance, self-control, faithfulness, humility, hope and assurance. At the same time, it should arrest and subdue the attributes of fear, guilt, shame, despair, pride, condemnation, boastfulness, hatred and deceit, so as to produce holiness or sanctification and greater freedom in Christ.

The hindrances to illumination would include preconceived ideas of who God is (i.e., what he is like and culturally accepted mores and value judgments regarding modes of behavior). Other hindrances include pride, lust, self and ingratitude. Many of these are presuppositions of the heart and thus are subconsciously held.

An indispensable means of illumination comes by continually being filled by and in communion with the Holy Spirit, the author of the Word who also teaches believers and will bring back to their active memories those verses of Scripture they have read in the past. This will in many instances enable believers to see them in the light of whatever new information or other scriptural passages may be coming under present consideration.

The process of illumination begins with an increasing appreciation for the holiness, omnipotence and omniscience of God, which inculcates an immediate apprehension and fear of retribution that is merited by the offenses of sins (Prov. 1:7). This occurs through the application of the Word, specifically the Law, by the Holy Spirit to the heart (Rom. 7: 8-25: “The light of the law brings conviction of sin”) although not by itself the power to obey it.

The process of illumination continues by the revelation of God’s love, mercy and compassion in Christ and his willing propitiation of God’s wrath, as well as his invitation to find refuge in an acceptance of the sufficiency of his atoning sacrifice. This occurs through the gospel being applied by the Holy Spirit. When someone is born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the commandments of the law are written upon that person’s heart so that he now possesses the power to obey, and obedience becomes second nature.

In addition to the aforementioned means of broadening the avenues by which the Spirit’s illumination may be obtained, there should also be a removal of the internal obstacles within the heart against hearing God’s voice. It is crucial to attend vigilantly to the condition of the heart. It is by the eyes of the heart that believers apprehend the things of the Spirit; this is the part of their being that most needs to be enlightened (Eph. 1:18).

The condition of the heart is most comprehensively described by Jesus in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-23; Mark 4:3ff.; Luke 8:5ff.). The immediate context of this parable makes it clear that Jesus is dealing with the issue of illumination and spiritual blindness (Matt. 13:13-16). Although the three qualities of soil, representative of the heart, that do not produce fruit would certainly apply to nonbelievers, they also have benefit for consideration of the conditions of believers’ hearts. Each condition is experienced by believers, although to a lesser degree than by nonbelievers. Even the good soil results in different quantities of fruit being produced, indicating that there are different qualities of the condition of heart among believers. And the value of this parable would be significantly diminished if, from a heuristic perspective, it applied only to the condition of unbelievers’ hearts. However, the parable is repeated in all of the Synoptic Gospels, indicating that it was of crucial importance to understand. Not only was it repeated, despite its considerable length, but also it was interpreted in each Gospel, and with it was given the solemn admonition for those who have ears to hear, to hear! This admonition obviously was directed to believers.

Therefore, what factors hinder one’s ability to access spiritual illumination? What may believers do about them in order to have hearts that are more fertile from the standpoint of being spiritually illuminated?

The first condition mentioned is the soil in which the seed falls along the wayside. It is immediately consumed by the birds. Jesus likens this to those who do not understand the word because Satan immediately snatches it away. Soil on the path was hardened, having been packed down by constant walking. Hardness of heart occurs when hurts or grievances go unresolved and result in bitterness. The heart loses its capacity to respond because it develops a protective shell. Consequently, no illumination is able to penetrate. This is a typical condition of the unbeliever. For believers, the appropriate response to offensive words or actions is to find healing in God and extend forgiveness to others, which is possible only through the exercise of faith.

The second condition has to do with seed falling on rocky soil, which receives the word with joy. But, because faith cannot develop sufficient roots, it merely springs up, is scorched by the sun, withers and dies. This condition is likened to those who are not able to persevere because the word has not penetrated the heart sufficiently. Persecution because of the word will not be endurable because one’s belief in God’s promises, his presence and his provision is too weak. This is why it is important to count the cost of discipleship before committing oneself so that the commitment will be commensurate with reality. A reality check can be made by examining Christ’s life and the commitment that he demonstrated. He told his disciples that they would be required to drink from the same cup as he. Unless believers are willing to assume the same level of commitment, then they should not expect that it will be possible to experience the illumination or infilling of the Spirit that will require enduring whatever suffering or dark night of the soul it may take. Note that the fullness of the Spirit experienced by Christ was not evident at his baptism but only after having spent 40 days fasting in the desert.[97] Cultivation of one’s heart is a personal responsibility. Regular inventories and frank assessments are necessary and can be accomplished only with the aid of the Spirit and the Word of God.

The last condition of the heart was soil upon which had already grown a considerable quantity of thorny weeds. Those weeds eventually choked any plants that the seed produced and made it unfruitful. This condition applies to many Christians in Western, affluent and consumption-driven societies. In this case, the preacher needs to make a radical assessment of his values. Jesus said that one cannot be his disciple unless he is willing to give up everything he has in this world, including any other relationships. It is the will that matters to God. To prevent the distractions of the world from becoming a distraction or preoccupation, the preacher needs to make the cultivation of his relationship with God his highest priority and re-evaluate his own assessment of that relationship on a regular basis.

That responsibility of making this assessment is incumbent upon every preacher. It involves not only knowing what are the marks[98] of spirituality and of carnality or what may be his besetting sins but also the possibility of seeking out a brother or sister in the Lord with whom the preacher may develop the trust and commitment to be accountable and to call each other into account regularly.

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Fee, Gordon. God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. __________. Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Foster, Richard, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. San Francisco: Harper, 1992.

Gaffin, Richard. Perspectives on Pentecost. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1984.

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Kinlaw, Dennis F. Preaching in the Spirit. Nappanee, IN: Francis Asbury Press, 1985.

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Stott, John. The Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today. Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976._________. A Message to the Galatians, Only One Way. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1986.

Wallace, Daniel. Greek Grammar, Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

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[1] This article is excerpted from a chapter of an unpublished dissertation of the author for a DMin in homiletics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2009.

[2] In essence, in order to be a “burning and shining light” (John 5:35), both aspects are necessary: the power and the illumination. Both aspects will be dealt with respectively in this chapter.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version.

[4] See also Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; John 1:26.

[5] E.g., George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 333-34, sees the arrival of the Spirit in power as tantamount to God’s kingdom reign beginning on earth as a proleptic fulfillment of what is yet to come. Also see Frederick D. Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 156, where the coming of the Spirit is described as the penultimate event of salvation history prior to Christ’s return; or Sinclair Fergusson, A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996), 91, who writes that this is a once for all, unrepeatable event in God’s redemptive-historical plan yet with a personal-existential appropriation; see also James D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit (London: SCM, 1970), 44, C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 26; Eduard Schweizer, The Background of the New Testament and Its Eschatology, ed. W. D. Davies and D. Daube (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964), 503-4.

[6] See Eduard Schwiezer Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, (London: A & C Black, 1952), 6:412; for historia salutis, see Richard B. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1984), 22.

[7] The order depends upon one’s theological stance, but that such elements have abundant scriptural attestation is generally conceded.

[8] The liturgical or sacramentalist position is that water baptism or confirmation as such may be a defining means of grace or the means by which the Holy Spirit is imparted. For this view, see Oliver C. Quick, The Christian Sacraments (London: Nisbet, 1932), 184; Herbert G. Marsh, Origin and Significance of New Testament Baptism (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilm, 1977), 194; Richard Baxter, The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, ed. William Orme, (London:Duncan,1830) 14:401ff.; G. W. H. Lampe, The Seal of the Spirit: A Study of the Doctrine of Baptism and Confirmation in the New Testament and Fathers (London: S.P.C.K, 1967), 33, 66; Oscar Cullman, Baptism in the New Testament (London: SCM, 1950), 10; Otto Kuss, Auslegung und Verkundigung (Regensburg: Pustet 1960), 104-5; J. G. Davies, The Spirit, the Church, and the Sacraments (London, Faith Press 1954), 104; Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (London: SCM, 1958), 138; G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1963), 112; Ernest Haenchen, Der Weg Jesu (Berlin: Topelmann, 1966), 498-99; Hans Conzelmann, The Theology of Luke (New York: Harper, 1961), 100; Alfred Wikenhauser, Die Apostelgeschichte (Regensberg: Pustet, 1967), 54.

[9] See Judges 6:34; 1 Chronicles 12:18.

[10] John R. W. Stott, The Baptism and Fullness of the Spirit (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1964), 38-39; Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost, 28-29; Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 127ff.

[11] See Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 5ff.; Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994),179.

[12] Kenneth S. Wuest, Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1945), 70ff.; contra Isaac Taylor, A History of Baptism, rev. John H. Hinton (London: Paternoster, 1864), 4-5.

[13] Wuest, Studies in Vocabulary, 72.

[14] Paul also uses this sense in Romans 6:3, 4.

[15] This point is debatable. Commentators arguing for the instrumental use of the dative with ἐν include James Moffat, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938), 186; Cullman, Baptism in the New Testament, 30; Rudolf Schnackenburg, Baptism in the Thought of St. Paul (New York: Herder and Herder, 1964), 27-29; Howard M. Ervin, Conversion-Initiation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1984), 99; Harold Hunter, “Spirit Baptism” (Ph.D. thesis, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1979), 44, W. A. Criswell, Baptism, Filling, and Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 8, Harry A. A. Kennedy, St. Paul and the Mystery Religions (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1913), 239-40; H. Oepke, ἓν with® πνεῦμα TDNT, 2:540-541; Lucien Cerfaux, The Christian in the Theology of Paul (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967), 302; John Baker, Baptized in One Spirit: The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 12:13 (London: Fountain Trust, 1967), 7-8; Michael Harper, The Baptism of Fire (Plainfield, N.J.: Logos, 1970), 8. In this view, the Spirit is the agent, as is reflected by the translations in the NIV, RSV, TEV, Darby, KJV, GNB, ISV, NASB, NCV (“through one Spirit”), NKJV, NLT, and The New Expanded Translation NT. Those preferring a locative understanding include Fee, God’s Empowering Presence,181; Anthony A. Hoekema, Holy Spirit Baptism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 22; Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 128; A. T. Robertson and Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1914), 272; Hans Lieztmann and Werner G. Kummel, An die Korinther I-II, in Handbuch zum Neuen Testament (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1949), 63; Jean Hering, The First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (London: Epworth, 1962), 129; Gerhard Delling, Die Taufe im Neuen Testament (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1963), 119; Werner Bieder, Die Verheisung die Taufe im Neuen Testament (Zürich: EVZ-Verlag 1966), 120; C. K. Barrett, The Holy Spirit in the Gospel Tradition (London: S.P.C.K., 1966), 288; NEB, JB, NRSV, YT, ESV, Vulgate, ASV. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost, 29, also argues cogently against the instrumental sense.

[16] Or its diversity, depending upon which commentator one agrees with; e.g., see Fee, Empowering Presence.

[17] Hunter, “Spirit Baptism,” 44; consider Rom. 1:3, ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα (human nature or ancestry); Rom 2:28, ἐστιν οὐδὲ ἡ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ ἐν σαρκὶ (physical) περιτομή; Rom. 3:20, διότι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σὰρξ (humanity); or Rom. 7:5, σαρκί (sinful or carnal nature).

[18]See Joel Robbins, Becoming Sinners (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 125ff., for the perspective from a secular anthropologist; for a more comprehensive list, see Hunter, “Spirit Baptism,” 34ff.

[19] Gordon D. Fee, “A Major Problem with Pentecostal Hermeneutics,” in Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism, ed. Russell P. Spittler (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 125-26.

[20] The six other uses found in Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16; Mark 1:8; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16.

[21] Dunn argues that this term (most commonly translated “to drink”) is also translated “having poured out upon” in numerous Old Testament texts (e.g., Isa 29:10); see Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 18.

[22] See ibid., 194. While this event cannot be considered normative or in any way repeatable for post-Pentecost Christians, it reinforces this point.

[23] Stott, Baptism and Fullness, 30; Hoekema, Holy Spirit Baptism; L. S. Chafer, He That Is Spiritual (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967); Rene Pache, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (Chicago: Moody Press, 1954); James D. G. Dunn, Jesus and Spirit (London: SCM, 1975); Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit.

[24] The ἐν preceding “full assurance,” although it is included in brackets, is likely a later addition, since its earlier omission (with א, B, 33, r, lat), would otherwise be inexplicable. This means that “full assurance” will join with “Spirit” in a hendiadys.

[25] Leon L. Morris, First and Second Thessalonians, NIC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1959), 57; E. Edmong, A Commentary on the Thessalonian Epistles (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), 54.

[26] Hunter, “Spirit Baptism,” 28.

[27] See also E. Earle Ellis, “Christ and Spirit in First Corinthians,” in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament, ed. Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 270-71; George Montague, The Spirit: Growth of the Biblical Tradition (New York: Paulist Press, 1976), 127, 132-33; J. Terrence Forestell, Letters to the Thessalonians (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentiss Hall, 1990), 229; A. M. Hunter, Paul and His Predecessors (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961), 93; Charles H. Giblin, A Threat to Faith: An Exegetical and Theological Reexamination of 2 Thessalonians 2 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1967), 45; I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 53-54; Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistle to the Thessalonians: A Commentary on the Greek Text  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 79; W. Grundman, “The Concept of Power in the New Testament,” in Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. and ed. G. W. Bromiley, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 2:311.

[28] G. W. H. Lampe, The Holy Spirit (Fairacres, Oxford: SLG Press, 1974), 2:638.

[29] Montague, Spirit, 127. See also Edmond J. Dobbin, “Towards a Theology of the Spirit,” Heythrop Journal 17 (June 1976): 14.

[30] See Fee, Empowering Presence, 44. The idiom ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς means to come to someone.

[31] See, e.g., Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 105, 171; Leon L. Morris, The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians: An Introduction and Commentary (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984), 128; William Niel, The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1950), 84; Ernest Best, A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 169; James Moffat, First and Second Thessalonians, Moffat New Testament Commentaries (London: Hodder & Stoughton, n.d.), Expositor’s Greek Text, 4:36; D. Edmund Hiebert, A Commentary on the Thessalonian Epistles (Chicago: Moody Press, 1976); Beda Rigaux, Saint Paul: Les Epitres aux Thessaloniciens (Paris: J. Duculot, 1956), 514.

[32] John R.W. Stott, A Message to the Galatians, Only One Way (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1986), 31; Frederick Rendall, The Epistle to the Galatians, Expositor’s Greek Text (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1900), 3:167.

[33] Hunter, “Spirit Baptism,” 34.


[34] Ibid., 33ff.; see also Heinrich Schlier, Der Brief an die Galater (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962 ), 197-98; Franz Mussner, Der Galaterbrief (Freiburg: Herder, 1974), 275; J. K. Parrett,” The Witness of the Holy Spirit; Calvin; The Puritans; and St. Paul,” Evangelical Quarterly 41 (1969): 165; L. S. Thornton, Confirmation (Westminster: Dacre Press, 1954), 11-12; Ervin, Conversion-Initiation, 86-88.

[35] Supported by Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 113; Thornton, Confirmation, 11-12; Ernest D. Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1920), 221-22; Stanley M. Horton, What the Bible Says about the Holy Spirit (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1976), 173; Herman Ridderbos, The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), 157; contra Bruner, Theology of the Holy Spirit, 268; Hoekema, Spirit Baptism, 81; Donald Guthrie, Galatians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 120; J. B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957), 169; R. A. Cole, The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 116.

[36] Those supporting this view are E. F. Scott, Philippians, Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1952), 11:34; Marvin R. Vincent, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians and Philemon (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1897 ), 24; Jac Muller, The Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and Philemon (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans 1955), 58; J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1953), 91; A. B. Simpson The Holy Spirit, (Harrisburg, Penn.: Christian Publications, 1896), 2:158.

[37] Hunter, “Spirit Baptism,” 39.

[38] As per Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 92n.

[39] G. G. Findley, St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, Expositor’s Greek Text (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1900), 2:776; Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 32; Paul W. Marsh, First Corinthians, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969), 378.

[40] Space prohibits more than two brief personal examples. As a chaplain filling in for the Ancom Hospital chaplain in Panama, the writer was called to the emergency room to minister to a young girl who was scheduled to be sent home to the States. She was acting erratically and would wander out of the hospital in her pajamas unless she was given intensive oversight. He prayed with her and felt led to read Psalm 37. Unbeknownst to the writer, she had been raped and her life threatened by a man in the region to which she was being sent. At another time, the writer was called to preach at a church for the first time with a congregation that he had never met. He felt led to preach on Psalm 23, thinking perhaps that they were in need of a pastor. Later he discovered that a relatively large family in that church had buried a family member that week.

[41] Although there is some dispute as to the authorship of Ephesians (see Mark Harding, “Disputed and Undisputed Letters of Paul,” in The Pauline Canon, ed. Stanley E. Porter, Pauline Studies 1 [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2004], 156-58), most scholars agree that it is thoroughly Pauline in doctrine (see Jean-Noel Aletti, “Les difficultes ecclesiologique de la letter aux Ephesiens: De Quelque Suggestions,” Biblica 85 (2004): 457-74). The implied author is the apostle Paul (Eph 1:1; 3:1). This writer assumes the integrity of Scriptures, a view that stems from one implication of their being inspired (2 Peter 1:21; 1 Tim. 3:16). That such a presuppositional stance is necessary to experience the fullness of the indwelling Spirit is also a claim that will be made in this thesis.

In any case, that there is no need for those more skeptical to suspect anyone other than Paul was its human author has substantial support (see Terry L. Wilder, Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and Deception: An Inquiry into Intention and Reception [Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2004], 265, or Ben Witherington, Letters and Homilies from Hellenized Christians, vol. 1, A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy, and 1-3 John (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2006], 38). In this thesis, therefore, it is assumed that the implied audience, the Ephesian Christians, is in fact those to whom Paul intended to send this epistle (Eph. 1:1). For corroboration of the authenticity of the words “in Ephesus” in this verse, see Bruce M. Metzger, A Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nded. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), 532; Clinton E. Arnold, “Ephesians, Letter to the,” in Dictionary of Paul’s Letters, eds. G. F. Hawthorne et al. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press,1994), 244-45; Markus Barth, Ephesians: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary on Chapters 1-3, Anchor Bible 34 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974), 67.

As to the date of its writing, this may be inferred from the fact that it was written while Paul was in prison (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20), which means it was written in Rome or Caesarea, within a.d. 60-64. For a more in-depth study of these questions, see P. T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 4-47; Nigel Turner, A Grammar to the New Testament (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1976), 84-85; Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 659-60; Klyne R. Snodgrass, Ephesians: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 23-29; F. Beisser, “Wann und von wenn konnte der Epherserbrief verfast worden sein?” Kerygma und Dogma 52 (2006): 151-64.

[42] George Otis, The Last of the Giants: Lifting the Veil of Islam (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), 61ff.

[43] Acts 19:26-27.

[44] Eph. 6:10-11.

[45] Eph. 6:19.

[46] Eph. 2:20-22.

[47] Eph. 3:16, 20.

[48] Luke 24:49; Eph. 3:17-19; 5:18; 6:10-11. That is not to say it involves an active striving for either faith or moral purity but simply allowing oneself to be so clothed by God’s Spirit, that is, being Christ’s workmanship through faith.

[49] Michael A. Eaton, The Baptism of the Spirit: The Teachings of D.M. Lloyd-Jones (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989), 126.

[50] Although this is a circular argument, it is made, nonetheless, with an appeal to its scriptural basis.

[51] What greater likeness to God (imago Dei) could possibly be attained than that by which God is personally present in the person of the Holy Spirit. The person of God becomes incarnate in the life of the Christian through the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit upon that life, which thus partakes of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). It is not unlike the process by which a piece of wood becomes fossilized.

[52] Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 668-69; Phil. 1:6.While that image may not appear to be restored completely in the believer’s life, that is in part because the remnants of the carnal nature still exert any influence, thus obscuring the ability of God’s image to shine through. It is important to note that believers are sealed once and for all; that is, the sealing action that occurs at the initial baptism of the Holy Spirit is complete, so the image is also completely there even if not fully developed.

[53] Spirit-led Christians (Rom. 8:1ff.).

[54] A study of the Johannine references to the Spirit indicates a similar “sphere of the Spirit” (e.g., John 3:6; 4:21-24; 6:63; 7:39; also see Col. 3:3-4). See John M. Hamilton, God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testament, NACSBT 1 (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2006), 59-63.

[55] Depending on whether it was written from Caesarea or Rome.

[56]Ibid., 667-68.

[57] Ibid., 668-72.

[58] Ibid., 672-73.

[59] Many scholars claim Paul could only be referring to New Testament prophets in light of his usage of this term in similar context (see Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost). Regardless of this possibility, it is still clear that their authority stems from God, whom they represent, so their words represent God’s word to them. That Eph. 2:22 is foundational to the preaching enterprise, see Dennis F.Kinlaw, Preaching in the Spirit (Nappanee, IN: Francis Asbury Press, 1985), 55.

[60] Fee, God’s Empowering Presence. 672-78. It is to open the eyes of their hearts (Eph. 1:18).

[61] Ibid., 681-90.

[62] This expression of amazement is a poignant testimony to the astonishing degree of humility possessed by the apostle despite all the sufferings he endured for the sake of Christ, his church and the gospel.

[63] Being filled up with the fullness of God means the same thing as having the moral character of God reproduced in the life of the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit (ibid., 697). The way in which we are thus to be “filled up with the fullness of God” is to love one another, having Christ’s love in us and ours for one another in Christ (ibid., 694).

[64] Abiding in such sins is what would “grieve the Holy Spirit” (v. 30) or give place to Satan (v. 27). Since believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit and thus authentic representatives of God, their actions not only reflect upon him but also serve either to unite or to divide the body of Christ.

[65]The Greek of Eph. 4 has in verse 23 ἀνανεοῦσθαι δὲ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶ; νerse 24, καὶ ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι τῆς ἀληθείας. Fee provides a tempting rationale to accept the translation, “to be made new by means of the Spirit in your minds and to clothe yourselves with the new person that is being created by God in the righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Thus “to put on the new person” or “to have a mind renewed by the Spirit” are two ways of expressing the same reality (Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 710). Whether one accepts his argument or not, because this is indirect discourse the verbs may be translated either in the imperative or indicative cases, as this writer has done above, and will not affect the conclusion about the proper translation for the next occurrence of this word.

[66] Eph. 4:23-24. The imagery of investiture with the Holy Spirit corroborates the understanding that this clothing is representative of the imago Dei, as that which required restoration; that the mind or heart is the object that required renewing in order for this investiture to occur; and that this is a lifetime process, although there may be ebbs and flows in the progress made. See ibid., 705-12. A slight hurdle associated with the translation of τῷ πνεύματι as the Holy Spirit arises primarily because of its occurrence with the article (ibid., 711-12). It is still possible and is most compatible with Paul’s flow of thought throughout this epistle.

The metaphors of clothing also are in keeping with Christ’s command (Luke 24:49), which almost all commentators associate with the initial baptism of the Spirit. The middle tense of the verb there implies this was the responsibility of the believer.

[67] J. Armitage Robinson, Epistle to the Ephesians (London: Macmillan, 1928), 202-3.

[68] So with Robinson, Epistle to the Ephesians, 202-3, although he agrees that in each case translating as the Holy Spirit appears to make the most sense.

[69] Those translations that have the command “be filled with the Spirit” include NIV, Darby, ASV, KJV, ESV, GNT, ISV, NASB, NCV, NKJV, and NRSV. NLT has “let the Spirit fill and control you.” The New Testament: An Expanded Translation has “be constantly controlled by the Spirit,” and YLT has “be filled in the Spirit.”

[70] “We are never commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.” Wallace, Greek Grammar, 94, when using the verb πίμπλημι (which is used much more often than πληρόω in the sense of content), and only once could it be argued that this verb takes a dative to indicate content (Rom. 15:14). There it is associated with “with all knowledge.” All other uses of πληρόω that have a sense of content use the genitive case (e.g., Luke 4:1, πλήρης πνεύματος). With the prepositional phrase ἐν πνεύματι it is never appropriate to translate it this way. Consider Matt. 12:28, where Jesus replies, “If I cast out demons (ἐν πνεύματι).” Approximately 50 percent of the eighty-seven occurrences in the New Testament of the dative ἐν πνεύματι are preceded by the preposition ἐν. Of those occurrences, three (Mark 1:8, 23; 2:8) could be translated using the English word “with.” However, in the case of being baptized with the Holy Spirit, none of those would have anything other than an instrumental sense. It is arguable that there is no case in which the verb is used in the sense of content with or without the preposition.

This would seem to indicate that there is a significant difference in kind between what Paul is commanding here and what occurred in Acts 2:4. Hamilton, God’s Indwelling Presence, 3-4, points out that the regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit are two completely separate works that have often been confused, and that this indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit was not something enjoyed by Old Testament believers (see John 7:39). As an initiating event, therefore, Acts 2:4 will always maintain a certain unique quality to it that does not negate the other similarities between the effects of these commands, that is, of Jesus in Luke 24:49 as opposed to that of Paul in Ephesians 5:18.

[71] This is as opposed to being self-made. This agrees with the thrust of this epistle, in which Paul describes the Ephesians as belonging to God because they are his workmanship and are being created in his image as that image is being restored by the Holy Spirit. It also sees the imagery of clothing in terms of the imago Dei being formed in them, and it sees that image being restored in them as they are being filled with the fullness of God (ἐν πνεύματι).

[72] This interpretation agrees with Wallace (n. 24) and is similar to the way Stott describes one’s baptism in The Baptism and Fullness, 34ff.

[73] Andrew Lincoln, Word Biblical Commentary on Ephesians (Sheffield: Word, 1990), 344. Lincoln claims that it is in the content sense because when used with the verb πληροῦσθε the instrument sense is unusual. He also finds support for his position with Abbot, Robinson and Schnackenburg.

[74] Wallace, Greek Grammar, 170-71, 375, also 93; see Thomas K. Abbot, International Critical Commentary: Ephesians (New York: Scribners, 1909),161-62.

[75] Wallace, Greek Grammar, 375. The first participle, “speaking” to one another in psalms, is easier than “singing” to God. That, in turn, it may be argued, is easier than “giving thanks” for all things at all times. All of these would be preferable to the idea of submitting to others. Also see Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 718ff.

[76] Those having a period after verse 20 include NIV, Darby, ASV, GNT, KJV, NCV, NLT, NRSV and Young. Those having a period after verse 21 include ESV, ISV, the Message, NAS and NKJV.

[77] Wallace, New Testament Greek, 340. Also see Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 719-20. Fee notes that all of the participles following the imperative in verse 18 serve to define that imperative. He would put the period after verse 23, and there only because there is a change in the nature of the exhortations following, which go from more general in the community of worship to specific relationships within households. All of the subsequent exhortations at least to 6:9, however, continue to serve that pivotal imperative.

[78] Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 639. This is also strongly supported through the analysis of Heil, in which the epistle is broken down into a series of fifteen basic chiasms in which Eph. 5:15-6:9 represents the twelfth unit. See John Paul Heil, Ephesians: Empowerment to Walk in Love for the Unity of All in Christ (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 31-44.

[79] Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 651.

[80] The Ephesians were already aware of the nature of their battle. This epistle was addressing these issues from the outset, as will be shown in the exegesis below.

[81] In being anything less than fully clothed in the full power of the Holy Spirit.

[82] 2 Cor. 10:4ff.

[83] This would appear to be the case from the perspective of summarizing the gist of Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians. The implication of Heil’s analysis would place Eph. 3:14-21 at the center of a macro-chiastic structural breakdown of the epistle. That would conclude that the epistle has the goal of “knowing the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” as its central focus. See Heil, Ephesians, 43-44. This, however, agrees with the point that the means of obtaining this knowledge is through simple obedience to the command of Eph. 5:18, which itself is the central command of the three exhortations or prayers for them that are nearly identical in meaning (Eph. 3:19; 5:18; 6:10-11).

[84] The word translated “fullness” (τὸ πλήρωμα), when referring to God (Col. 1:9), refers to his divine nature or being. See Barclay A. Newman, A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (London: United Bible Society, 1971), 144-45. This word is also used by Jesus on occasion to refer to a garment (Matt. 9:16; Luke 2:22). The main point is that there is a synonymity of the meaning between the phrases “being filled by means of the Spirit,” “putting on the new person,” “being renewed in the imago Dei,” and “being clothed in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

[85] In the parallel passage in Col. 3:16, Paul replaces the Spirit with “the word of Christ.” Here is another link that reinforces the position that there needs to be a fusion between the Spirit and the Word in order for God’s power to be exercised.

[86] In defense of what Paul means here, “the word of God” is the proclamation of the gospel. See Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 726-27. Some commentators claim that the type of shield Paul mentions is the type designed to be used by soldiers in formation together with others in rank with them so as to defend against any possible penetration of arrows, darts or spears. This may be considered potentially offensive in nature as well.

[87] As a final note, this underscores the importance of the Christian’s prayer life, of which the preacher should be the model. Aside from noting the essential quality of the prayer life, space limitations here require that the elaboration of this topic be left for others. See E. M. Bounds, The Preacher and Prayer (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991) and Power Through Prayer (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972); Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: Harper, 1978) and Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (San Francisco: Harper, 1992).

[88] Jesus invites believers to learn from him (Matt. 11:28). The learning process is more than mere assimilation of facts, having both cognitive and affective objectives of increasing degree, for example, receiving, responding, valuing, organizing and characterizing. See Robert Mager, Developing Attitude toward Learning (Palo Alto, Calif.: Fearton, 1968); Leroy Ford, “Developing Performance-Oriented Learning Objectives,” Search 4 (winter 1974): 31-40, as cited in Roy B. Zuck, Spirit-Filled Teaching (Nashville, TN: Word Publishers, 1998), 113. These degrees apply to believing as well as to learning.

[89] See Timothy Keller, Preaching to the Heart, vol. 2, CD-ROM (South Hamilton, Mass.: Ockenga Institute, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, 2006), for a good defense of this crucial need of preachers and their hearers. As stated earlier (n. 31), one of the preconditions for obtaining the fullness of the Spirit and thereby to enjoy the power and illumination attendant to such a condition is to have strong faith in God. Prerequisite to this is having a presuppositional belief in the inspiration of Scriptures in their veracity, infallibility and inerrancy.

[90] Or even striving after more faith but resting Christ’s absolute sufficiency; see Ruth Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Missions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), 183.

[91] As mentioned earlier (n. 8), Heil, in Ephesians, would claim that this is the central theme and focus of this epistle.

[92] The suggested meaning of unit 12 of Heil’s chiastically structured analysis of Eph. 5:15-6:9 is “walking in love as those who are wise.” On a macro-chiastic level these verses complement Eph. 2:1-10, the third unit, for which he suggests the meaning “walking in the great love with which he loved us.” See Heil, Ephesians, 43-44.

[93] 1 John 2:10.

[94] N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God 1 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 64.

[95] This is despite the fact that most seminaries treat hermeneutics, exegesis and homiletics in a completely different category from which they will deal with spirituality (see chap. 1 of this thesis). See Gordon Fee, Hearing the Spirit in the Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 4.

[96] John 16:8-9.

[97] Luke 4:1. It is the nature of God’s Word that it bears fruit only after penetrating the depths of the heart. This does not occur until after an exilic experience is endured (e.g., Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David [as opposed to Saul], Solomon, Daniel and others).

[98] For a list of such marks, see Gal. 5:19-20 for those that are carnal and Gal. 5:22-23 for those that are spiritual.


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