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What Scripture Says About Salvation

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

Monograph 20:  Holy Spirit Come Upon and Falls

                            Upon


 

 

Come upon

Falls upon

 

Summary Highlights of Monograph 20

 

 

Come upon

 

The phrases "come upon" and "falls upon" are commonly misinterpreted to mean a "baptism of the holy spirit."  Come upon comes from a compound word made up of epi, upon, and erxomai, come, hence, come upon. 

 

In the gospels, this word is used two times in the Old Testament sense (Matthew 3:16 and Luke 1:35).  Remember that "holy spirit" was not yet given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.  In the Old Testament, only individuals chosen by God for some specific work were endued with holy spirit.

 

That was the situation described in Matthew 3:16-17:

"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 

 

Some people claim that Jesus was being baptized by the holy spirit, but the simple meaning is that Jesus was being given the power to do what God had asked of him.  If he did not rebel, the power of God upon him would sustain him in his work.

 

Truth, or holy spirit, is powerful.  This is probably why the New Testament spoke of Jesus as being quite harsh with those who were dishonest and hypocritical in their lives.  He wanted and expected truthfulness, both in word and deed, from those who professed to be God's people.  Love is truth expressed by actions.

 

Luke 1:31-35 says,

"And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.  Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

 

Two things stand out in verse 35: (1) holy spirit shall come upon Mary; (2) she shall be overshadowed by power of the highest.  The word overshadowed comes from episkiasei, which is usually interpreted in this sense as being the shekinah glory of God spoken of in the Old Testament.  However it happened, Mary became pregnant by the power of God, by his truth, and brought forth one who said of himself, "I am the truth."  But this verse says nothing of "baptism."

 

When talking to his disciples just before his ascension, Jesus told them,

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8). 

 

This scripture plainly stated that the holy spirit would empower the disciples to witness not only in Jerusalem but throughout the world.  Again, nothing was said about baptism.

 

There is a continuity of witness.  Jesus came to witness about the Father; the holy spirit came to witness about Jesus to verify that his witness was true; and God poured out some of his spirit upon all flesh for the same purpose.  Jesus was faithful to this witness of God's love even unto the crucifixion, and all men are also given some way of testifying to that love.

 

These scriptures in Matthew and Luke were preliminary to the coming of holy spirit.  The first reference to the holy spirit coming upon someone after the ascension of Jesus occurs in Acts 19:6. 

"And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." 

 

These were most likely the same tongues and prophesying described in Acts 2 where the language they spoke was understood by all.

 

This is the only instance in which those who believed and were baptized "in the name of Jesus" were not said to receive holy spirit when they believed.  Although this scripture is often used by Pentecostals to indicate a second blessing, that interpretation does not prove out under careful examination. 

 

The "second blessing" is usually preached as conditional; however, Bruner (p. 184) points out that four words used to describe holy spiritgift, promise, give, and receivedispute the idea of conditional.

 

This scripture (Acts 19:1-7) is the only place in the New Testament in which those who had been baptized in the name of Jesus later received holy spirit, i.e. they were acting, and holy spirit came upon them.  Many people do not know or understand and have never been told about holy spirit.  It would be very difficult for them to be active in the process of receiving.

 

The reason this scripture is so often misunderstood is that most people have a tendency to believe that God has not already given his spirit.  This scripture refers to those people who had believed, but because of ignorance were remiss in acting, or submitting to holy spirit.  It was a matter of knowledge, not of meeting any requirement of God.

 

Receiving holy spirit is simply realizing that we have been empowered by God to be a witness in some way.  Sometimes people never discover the means of witnessing because they  lack the right knowledge.  They do not look for the gift that God has given them by the power of holy spirit. 

 

Many times people are misled by organized religions who presume to say that "God wants you to teach, or baby-sit, or visit, or sing in the choir, or teach Sunday school," or whatever other jobs the church has in mind.  Maybe God wants this, and maybe he does not.

 

We do not receive the gift when we believe, but it is only when we believe that we realize we have already been given a gift.  Our gift was part of holy spirit poured out upon all flesh.  Everyone received a gift for some kind of service, and if they are taught to expect it and to look for it they will find it, and it will become a blessing in their lives.  However, people's gifts do not always align themselves with the program needs of the organized church.

 

Holy spirit is "received" (submitted to) upon the act of faith by any person.  Unfortunately, much misinformation is being taught about what it means to receive holy spirit.  For example, many believe that if anyone has received "the baptism" they will always speak in tongues, meaning unintelligible language.  There is no basis in scripture for this idea.

 

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Falls Upon

 

The phrase falls upon comes from epipipto, another compound word made up of epi, upon, and pipto, fall, translated as fall upon or fell upon.  It means to seize, or take possession of, such as a stronger person overpowering a weaker one.

 

Acts 8:15-16 says,

"Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)" 

 

The people acted and received holy spirit.  In this instance, the scripture gives no record of anything spectacular happening to those who received holy spirit.

 

Acts 10:44 says,

"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word." 

 

Holy spirit fell upon all those present.  They all received holy spirit and they all spoke in the tongues of Pentecost, i.e. languages which were understood without interpretation.  This speaking in tongues proved to Peter that God had indeed poured his spirit upon the Gentiles at the time of Pentecost, even as he had upon the Jews.

 

When Peter gave an account of this to the brethren from Jerusalem, he told them,

"And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.  Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 11:15-16). 

 

Some claim this is "the baptism" because they assume that Peter's memory was the result of the spirit falling upon them.  Maybe this is so; but perhaps Peter only saw the falling of holy spirit on them as proof that God had poured out his spirit on them even as he had on the Jews (see Acts 10:45).

 

In this transitional period after Jesus had ascended to the Father, the spectacular evidence resulting when the spirit fell upon believers accomplished exactly what it was meant to accomplish.  Peter and others could see that God had poured out his spirit upon everyone, including the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles.

 

Many refuse to believe the word of God, that God did indeed pour out his spirit upon all flesh.  This is why there is so much superstition today concerning holy spirit.  

 

People are looking for spectacular events which can sometimes lead to an emotional exhibition.  This is then claimed as proof to those demanding such a show that people have indeed received holy spirit.  Unfortunately, it also leads to separating the brethren into two camps:  the spiritual ones who have the proper emotional response prescribed by the group, and those who do not have it.

 

Many honest people have been under the bondage of trying to "get it" for years with no success and much damage to their spiritual well-being.  Demanding that people display some prescribed response indicating "spirit baptism," even when apparently accomplished, simply leads to  contemporary gnosticism. 

 

Some claim to have been initiated into the secrets of the holy spirit, while the others are relegated to a lesser spiritual genre.  Some congregations will not even allow people who have not "got it" to hold certain offices within the church.  We can not help but recall that initiatory rites were also required in the ancient mystery religions.

 

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Summary Highlights of Monograph 20

#  In the Old Testament, only individuals chosen by God for some specific

     work were endued with holy spirit.  That was also true of Jesus.  

 

#  There is a continuity of witness.  Jesus came to witness about the

     Father; the holy spirit came to witness about Jesus, to verify that his

     witness was true; and God poured out some of his spirit upon all flesh

     for the same purpose.  

 

#  Many people do not know or understand and have never been told

     about holy spirit.  It would be very difficult for them to be active in the

     process of receiving until they know.  

 

#  Most people have a tendency to believe that God has not already given

     his spirit.  

 

#  Receiving holy spirit is simply realizing that we have been empowered

     by God to be a witness in some way.  Sometimes people never discover

     the means of witnessing because they  lack the right knowledge.  

 

#  We do not receive the gift when we believe, but it is only when we

     believe that we realize we have already been given a gift.  Our gift was

     part of holy spirit poured out upon all flesh.  

 

#  Everyone received a gift for some kind of service, and if they are taught

     to expect it and to look for it they will find it, and it will become a

     blessing in their lives.  However, people's gifts do not always align

     themselves with the program needs of the organized church.  

 

#  Holy spirit is "received" (submitted to) upon the act of faith by any

     person.  

 

#  There is much misinformation being taught about what it means to

     receive holy spirit.  For example, many believe that if anyone has

     received "the baptism" they will always speak in tongues, meaning

     unintelligible language.  There is no basis in scripture for this idea.  

 

#  Many refuse to believe the word of God, that God did indeed pour out

     his spirit upon all flesh.  This is why there is so much superstition

     today concerning holy spirit.  

 

#  Many people look for spectacular events which can lead to an

     emotional exhibition.  This is then claimed as proof to those demanding

     such a show that people have indeed received holy spirit.

     Unfortunately, it also leads to separating the brethren into two camps:

     the spiritual ones who have the proper emotional response prescribed

     by the group, and those who do not have it.  

 

#  Demanding that people display some prescribed response indicating

     "spirit baptism," even when apparently accomplished, simply leads to 

     contemporary gnosticism.

 

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© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.