What do the Old and New Testaments teach us about receiving the Holy Spirit?

Erkki Koskenniemi
Reija Becks


There is much discussion among Bible readers about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and about receiving the Spirit. Many beliefs seem to be based more on current Christian traditions than on the Bible teachings. This is best shown by opening the Old Testament. We should start from the Old Testament and then proceed to the New Testament so that we can understand the Bible’s teaching.

The Old Testament speaks about the Spirit of God on many occasions. In Hebrew, the meaning of the word ‘ruah’ is both spirit and wind. The two different meanings have a connection which is worth noting: Like the wind blows, moving itself and making everything else move, so does the Spirit of God also move and make everything move. And as the wind is a mystery to us – where it comes from and where it goes – so also the Spirit of God is beyond our control and solely in the hands of God.

When the Old Testament speaks about the Spirit, he appears above all in connection with these things:
1) The Spirit chooses the leaders.
2) The Spirt gives us a supernatural experience.
3) The Spirit gives us a relationship with God.

1) The Spirit chooses the leaders

"Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” 
So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him. Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall commission him in their sight. You shall invest him with some of your authority, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey."
(Numbers 27:15-20)

"And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses." 
(Deuteronomy 34:9)

"And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. 
But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. The Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. And his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died." (Judges. 3:7-11)

"And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. 
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him."
(2 Kings. 2:13-15)

Summary: The Spirit of God enables us to act with courage and to become leader of the people.

2) The Spirit gives us a supernatural experience

Preliminary remark: ‘Supernatural experience’ is very broadly and loosely defined here. We are talking about receiving the Spirit in such a way that it involves prophesying or a strong emotional experience. Below I have included only a few examples:

"So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it."
(Numbers 11:24-25)

"After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you."
(1 Samuel 10:5-7)

"But now bring me a musician.”
And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’  For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’"
(2 Kings. 3:15-17)

Notice that those who were hunting David to kill him prophesied, too:

"And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 
When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied.
And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied.
Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah."
(1 Samuel 19:19-23)

Summary: The Spirit of God can sometimes give us a strong supernatural experience. We notice that many scriptures in this section concern the appointment of leaders; the Holy Spirit helps the leaders to cope with situations which they would not otherwise manage. However, the phenomenon is broader and touches on the multifaceted Old Testament prophecy too. It is also worth noticing that also an ungodly person may prophecy.

3) The Spirit gives us a relationship with God

"…until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
And it will hail when the forest falls down,
and the city will be utterly laid low.
Happy are you who sow beside all waters,
who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free."
(Isaiah 32:15-20)

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”
(Isaiah 59:20-21)

"I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.  
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. 
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  
You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God."
(Ezekiel 36:24-28)

"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

"So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.  Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 
Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 
And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 
And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
(Ezekiel 37:1-14)

"Then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. 29 And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
(Ezekiel 39:28-29)

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit."
(Psalms 51:12)

Summary: The Holy Spirit gives us a relationship and connection with God. In the Book of Isaiah, this relationship leads to material blessings and a time happiness. In the Book of Ezekiel, the heart of stone is removed from the flesh of the inhabitants of Judah and instead they are given a heart of flesh. It is made clear in the Psalms that losing the Holy Spirit means banishment from God – like what happened to Saul.

One more side-branch of the river

"The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft."
(Exodus 31:1-5)

The Spirit of God also gives the skill to make fine objects. Maybe it is this side-branch that flows to the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 12, that speaks about the various gifts of the Holy Spirit.


When we examine the work of the Holy Spirt in the Old Testament, we notice that there is a powerful river that flows with three branches. The main river is that the Spirit gives us a relationship with God. We considered that the branches of the river are that the Spirit chooses leaders or gives supernatural experiences. Now we will go on to the New Testament and see how the same river and the same branches flow there too.

1) The Spirit chooses the leaders – the office of shepherd

"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."
(Acts 20:28)

"Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 
 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 
Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off."
(Acts 13:1-3)

"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."
(Romans 12:3-8)

"Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you."
(1 Timothy 4:14)

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands"
(2 Timothy 1:6)

Summary: Also in the New Testament, the Spirit chooses the leaders, and we are talking about spiritual leaders. The Spirit chooses the apostles and the shepherds of the church.

2) Supernatural experiences

Like the Old Testament, also the New Testament describes supernatural experiences.

"The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth."
(Acts 10:9-11)

"I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 
And I know that this man was caught up into paradise — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 
On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses..."
(2 Corinthians 12:1-5)

"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 
You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 
and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 
and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 
For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 
to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 
to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy,
to another the ability to distinguish between spirits,
to another various kinds of tongues,
to another the interpretation of tongues. 
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
(1 Corinthians 12:1-13)

"On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’"
(Matthew 7:22-23)

Summary: The river stream familiar to us from the Old Testament flows into the New Testament too. The Spirit may give us powerful experiences and make miracles happen. Also a New Testament reader understands that not all prophesying or supernatural experiences are from God.

3) Relationship with God

Like the Old Testament, also the New Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us the right relationship with God.

 >"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:"
(John 16:7-8)

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 
All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”
(John 16:12-16)

"Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
(Acts 2:37-38)

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
(Romans 8:15)

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
(Romans 8:26-27)

"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him."
(Romans 8:9)

"But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 
For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 
The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ."
(1 Corinthians 2:9-16)

"And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
(1 Corinthians 6:11)

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
 (Ephesians 4:30)

Summary: It is at the heart of the Christian faith that the Holy Spirit gives us a new relationship with God and makes us His own. The words of the Old Testament are powerfully present in the above scriptures and receive a new form.

”Being filled with the Holy Spirit” – an experience or power given to witness?

"And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
 (Luke 1:41-43)

"And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
   in the house of his servant David,"
(Luke 1:67-69)

"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."
(Acts 2:4)

"And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them,
“Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:7-12)

"And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."
(Acts 4:31)

"Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 
And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
(Acts 7:54-56)

Summary: Some teach that ‘to be filled with the Holy Spirit’ is a certain kind of experience – or an experience that is a precondition for the right faith. This idea, however, does not come from the New Testament.

In the first two Bible scriptures of this section, i.e the ones from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:41-43 and 1:67-69), ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit’ is strongly reminiscent of the prophesying in the Old Testament. In Acts, the situation is a bit different: ‘being filled with the Spirit’ means brave witnessing for Christ. The expression ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit’ is of course related to the ‘outpouring of the Holy Spirit’, ‘receiving the Holy Spirit’, and ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’. In this case, our attention is drawn to Acts 8, Acts 10-11 and Acts 19 – three scriptures which speak about both the Holy Spirit and baptism. We will come back to these later.

The New Testament and the Holy Spirit – Summary and some clarification

The Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
(Matthew 28:19)

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
(Romans 8:26-27)

"Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone."
(1 Corinthians 12:3-6)

"…eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 
There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call —  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
 (Ephesians 4:3-7)

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you."
(1 Peter 1:1-2)

"By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God."
 (1. John 4:13-15)

Summary: We cannot talk about the Holy Spirit in isolation from the Father and the Son. Where the Father is, there is the Spirit, and where the Spirit is, there is the Son, and where the Holy God is, there are all the persons of the triune God. The Spirit cannot and must not be separated from the great unity that we worship.

The Spirit, word, and sacraments

The Spirit and the word of God

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
 (John 6:63)

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
(Romans 10:17)

"And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit..."
(1 Thessalonians 1:6)

"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers."
(1 Thessalonians 2:13)

"Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you."
(1 Thessalonians 4:8)

"…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
(Ephesians 6:17)

Summary: The word of God is not just information, but it has the power to make us stop and to bring us to faith – the Holy Spirit works in it.

The Holy Spirit and baptism

"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
(Matthew 28:18-20)

When you become a child of God and are baptized, you put on Christ (Galatians 3:27), and you are born of water and the Spirit:

"Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8)

The First Corinthians states that a unifying fact for all different Christians is that they have been baptized into the body of Christ and they have received the Holy Spirit:

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
(1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

The Book of Titus connects baptism and new birth:

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
(Titus 3:3-7)

The parts in the Book of Acts which speak about the outpouring of the Spirit have baffled many people.
Acts 8 tells us that the people had been baptized, but the Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them. In Acts 19, the disciples of John the Baptist are asked, if they had received the Holy Spirit when they were baptized, and they answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So, how could it be that the Samaritans were baptized and not have the Holy Spirt, and how could John the Baptist’s disciples be baptized but be without the Holy Spirit? The last question is easy to answer because people had not at all been baptized in Christian baptism, but it is worth looking into the matter more closely.

The basic structure of the Book of Acts can be seen in Jesus’s words,

"“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8)

Listed here are three stages of missionary work
1) the Jews
2) the Samaritans and
3) the Gentiles.

Whenever the gospel proceeds to a new mission field, the Holy Spirit was poured out in a manifest way. This is how the Spirit encouraged the hesitant disciples and shows that crossing this boundary too is the right decision and the will of God.

This is what happens when the gospel is proclaimed to the Jews (Acts 2), the Samaritans (8) and the Gentiles (10-11). Every time, baptism and the Holy Spirit are connected to each other: if the people have the Spirit, the baptism is needed fast, and when the people in new areas have been baptized, the Spirit shows in a manifest way that it was right that they were baptized.

The same direct connection between baptism and the Spirit can be seen in the above-mentioned chapter 19: the disciples of John the Baptist were its own separate group that continued to go their own way after their teacher had died. They did not have the Holy Spirit, and that is why Paul asks straight away, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism” (Acts 19:3). After this, they receive Christian baptism, and as a testimony that also this group of people had to be baptized, the Holy Spirit is poured out in a manifest way.

Baptism and the Spirit are connected. When the disciples were leaving for new mission fields, exceptional measures show that it was the will of God. This was well understood by those who knew that the Holy Spirit is received in baptism.

The Spirit and the Eucharist

"Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 5
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
(John 6:54-58)

"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."
(1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

"The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price."
(Revelation 22:17)

Summary: Christ is present in the Eucharist, caring for his own and giving life.


The Bible presents to us a wealth of teachings on the Holy Spirit. Even though the Holy Spirit can create various emotional states in our hearts, his work is much more than just atmosphere in some Christian meeting or the lack of it. The work of the Spirit is so much more than that, and we do well to study the Holy Spirit both in the New Testament and the Old Testament. In the light of their teachings, we see that the Holy Spirit is certainly also in believers who never prophecy or speak in tongues.

The Holy Spirit chooses the leaders and gives us supernatural experiences and inexplicable miracles, but above all, he gives us a completely new relationship with God. To those who are dead in sins he gives power to believe that the sins are forgiven, and he renews our lives. He and only he can also make weak human beings boldly testify for Christ even in difficult situations. We must not separate the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is at work in the word of God, in baptism, and in the Eucharist. There is a wealth of wonderful discoveries in store for anyone looking for them in the Bible.