The Holy Spirit has such a prominent role in the book of Acts, some have suggested it should be designated as the “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” Here are all the verses that mention the Holy Spirit of God in the book of Acts. Read their context and make notes on what you learn…
VERSES WHICH ATTRIBUTE INSPIRATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO OLD TESTAMENT WRITERS: 1:16 (David); 4:25 (David); 7:51 (prophets); 28:25 (Isaiah).
VERSES WHICH ATTRIBUTE INSPIRATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO NEW TESTAMENT PREACHERS: 4:8 (Peter); 4:31 (church in Jerusalem); 5:3, 9 (Peter); 6:3, 5 (deacons), 10 (Stephen); 7:55 (Stephen); 8:29, 39 (Philip); 9:17 (Saul/Paul); 10:19 (Peter), 38 (Jesus); 11:24 (Barnabas), 28 (Agabus); 13:9 (Saul/Paul), 52 (Christians); 19:21 (Paul); 21:4 (Christians), 11 (Agabus).
PASSAGES WHICH DESCRIBE THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT:
1:2, 5, 8 – Verse 2 shows that Jesus taught and guided His apostles through the Holy Spirit of God. This sets the apostles on the same level of authority as the prophets in the OT. Verse 8 is Jesus’ promise that the promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit and the power that would come with Him was about to be fulfilled. Subsequently, they would be witnesses of Jesus Christ and His Gospel message.
2:4, 17-18, 33, 38 – Acts 2 is the drawing together and the fulfillment of all the previous passages we have considered, going back to the OT (Isa. 32:15; 44:3; Eze. 36:26-27; 39:29; Joel 2:28-32) that the Holy Spirit would come over Christ’s followers. Here, He comes specifically over the apostles, and as with the prophets in the OT, He gives them the ability to share the message of God, here, even in foreign languages.
After quoting that famous passage from Joel 2, Peter tells the Jewish audience that they know the Spirit has been poured out from heaven because they both “see and hear” the prophesying and the speaking in foreign languages. So it is that if someone were to repent of their sins and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, then he (or she) would also receive the gift that is the Holy Spirit. That does not mean that everyone who receives the Holy Spirit will have also the ability to prophesy and speak in foreign languages. Those gifts had a specific and limited purpose.
5:32 – Peter and John have been arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, who had warned them not to preach the Gospel. Peter is the speaker and he makes six points (vss 29-32). The final point being that the Holy Spirit was bearing witness through the Words of the apostles and others who had the miraculous gift of prophesying among those early Christians. Yet, he also says that the Holy Spirit is given to “all who obey God.”
8:15, 17-19 – Philip, the deacon from Jerusalem who was full of the Holy Spirit, could perform miracles and signs so that the Samaritans would believe his message (vs 13). But, it is evident that he could not, in turn, give that same miraculous ability to others. The text is clear in verses 15, 17, and 18 that it was through the laying on of the apostles’ hands that miraculous abilities were given. Simon wanted that same ability but Peter corrected him, saying that such a decision could only be made by the Holy Spirit Himself, a point we will see when we study 1 Corinthians 12.
Next week, we’ll consider the rest of the passages in Acts that deal with the Holy Spirit.