What is the “gift of the Spirit”?
That’s one of the more asked questions. Understandably, there is much confusion and controversy around the subject. In Acts 2 Peter says, “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.” What does he mean by that?
In 1 Corinthians 12–14, Paul dedicates a great deal of his letter to Corinth on the subject of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The reason Acts 2:38 is confusing is because many will try to attribute those gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8–11 as the “gift of the Spirit” in Acts 2. But from the beginning of that comparison there is one problem: one is described as a gift and the other as a plurality of gifts. So what could this “gift of the Spirit” be?
In Numbers 11, the Lord has the seventy elders of Israel come before Him (vv.16–17, 24–26). The Lord places the Holy Spirit on those seventy elders. Why? To show the congregation that God had given them authority.
The prophets spoke of a time that the Holy Spirit would be poured out (Is. 32:14–18; 44:3–5; Ezek. 37:13–14; 39:28–29; Joel 2:28–3:1). All of these prophecies refer to a pouring out of the Spirit as a form of the restoration of the covenant relationship with the Lord. This was referring to the restoration of the kingdom, the restoration of the covenant, and the restoration of God’s blessings on His people.
In Matthew 3:7–12, we are introduced to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is illustrated as fire. In the Old Testament, fire depicted God’s wrath (Is. 66:15–16; Ezek. 22:20–22). In Matthew, there is a separation of the chaff from the wheat. The context here is that John is telling the Pharisees and Sadducees they will be receiving God’s judgment. And in this context, the chaff is burned but the wheat is gathered. This baptism of fire parallels the Old Testament prophecies. As the kingdom is restored and God’s blessings are restored, righteous people are separated from those who are unrighteous.
Understand this background of the pouring out of the Spirit and the baptism of the Spirit, return to Acts. In Acts 2, Peter quotes the prophecy from Joel 2 to show that the Spirit has been poured out. Jesus has received the promise of the Spirit (Acts 2:32–33). But what did He receive? He received the Kingdom (Acts 2:34–35; Phil. 2:9–10; Eph. 1:20–23; Heb. 10:12–13).
After this section in Acts 2, the question is asked “What shall we do?” (v. 37). And Peter answers with his statement in v. 38. So what does this gift of the Spirit mean? It means the same thing it meant in the Old Testament. It means…
Entrance into Christ’s Kingdom.
Entrance into a covenant relationship with God.
The acceptance of God’s
In other words, the gift of the Spirit is the ability to enter into the Kingdom of God. It is the ability to enter into a covenant relationship with God. And it is the ability to enjoy the blessings that come from being in that covenant relationship in God’s Kingdom.