Robert Menzies: The Spirit in Luke-Acts

Robert Menzies:  The Spirit in Luke-Acts

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Abstract

A careful reading of Luke-Acts reveals that there was development in the early church’s understanding of the Spirit’s work. Luke’s pneumatology is different from that of Paul (and John). Unlike Paul, who frequently speaks of the soteriological dimension of the Spirit’s work, Luke consistently portrays the Spirit as a prophetic gift, principally directed toward others and understood as the source of power for service. The soteriological affirmations common to Paul are lacking in Luke-Acts and conflict with Luke’s narrative at various points (Luke 11:13; Acts 8:16, 19:2). Although Luke’s perspective is ultimately harmonious with that of Paul, Luke’s unique contribution to a holistic theology of the Spirit needs to be affirmed. By highlighting Luke’s desire to present Pentecost as a model for his Christian readers, Pentecostals are doing just that.

The name “pentecostal” flows from the book of Acts, and for good reason. The pentecostal movement was inspired by a fresh appraisal of Luke-Acts. It is precisely here, in Luke-Acts, where we find the distinctive message of this dynamic movement. From the earliest days of the modern pentecostal revival, Pentecostals have proclaimed that all Christians may, and indeed should, experience a baptism in the Holy Spirit “distinct from and subsequent to the experience of new birth.”1 This understanding of Spirit baptism is rooted in the conviction that the Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2), not as the source of new covenant existence, but rather as the source of power for effective ministry. This understanding of Spirit baptism has given the modern pentecostal movement its identity, its unifying experience, and its missiological focus.

Despite its uniqueness, the pentecostal movement did not emerge in a vacuum. The pentecostal movement is rooted in a foundational theological insight, admittedly not always consciously acknowledged or clearly expressed, that had just begun to find articulation toward the end of the nineteenth century. That insight, which we shall defend in this short essay, is this: a thorough study of Luke-Acts and the rest of the New Testament reveals that there was development in the early church’s understanding of the Spirit’s work.2 The key point for our study is the recognition that Luke’s theology of the Spirit is different from that of Paul. Unlike Paul, who frequently speaks of the soteriological dimension of the Spirit’s work, Luke consistently portrays the Spirit as a charismatic or, more precisely, a prophetic gift, the source of power for service. This thesis was forcefully advanced by Hermann Gunkel in 1888 and asserted in different ways in the years that followed by R.A. Torrey, Eduard Schweizer, Gonzalo Haya-Prats, and Roger Stronstad, among others.3 So, with this thesis in mind, let us examine Luke’s two-volume work.

Before we proceed, however, a word regarding definitions will be helpful. In the pages that follow I will argue that Luke consistently presents the gift of the Spirit as a prophetic enabling that empowers its recipient for participation in the mission of God. In Luke’s view, the Spirit is “the Spirit of [God’s] redeeming love, active in [believers] toward others.”4 The primary manifestations of this prophetic enabling that may be traced throughout Luke-Acts are charismatic wisdom and inspired speech.5 Since my purpose is, at least in part, to compare Luke with Paul so that Luke’s distinctive theological insights might be fully appreciated and ultimately integrated into a holistic biblical theology of the Spirit, my definition of “soteriological” must be understood in relation to Paul’s theology and language. Paul presents the Spirit as: mediating the blessings of Christ (1 Cor 6:11), the necessary and defining element of Christian life (Rom 8:9), the source of our filial relationship with God (Rom 8:15–16), new covenant existence (2 Cor 3), and ultimately, the resurrection of our bodies (1 Cor 15:42–49). All of these theological affirmations are lacking in Luke-Acts and conflict with Luke’s narrative at various points (Luke 11:13; Acts 8:16, 19:2). I firmly believe that the insights of Luke and Paul are theologically compatible and, indeed, complementary, but only when we let Luke be Luke and read him on his own terms. Legitimate diversity within the New Testament canon must be acknowledged if we are to hear the full richness of the New Testament witness.6

1 Jesus and the Spirit

Throughout his two-volume work, Luke consistently portrays the gift of the Spirit as a prophetic enabling.7 Whether it is John in his mother’s womb, Jesus at the Jordan, or the disciples at Pentecost, the Spirit comes upon them all as the source of prophetic inspiration, granting special insight and inspiring speech. This should not surprise us since the literature of intertestamental Judaism also closely identifies the Spirit with prophetic inspiration.8

From the very outset of his two-volume work, Luke emphasizes the prophetic dimension of the Spirit’s activity. The profusion of Spirit-inspired pronouncements in the infancy narratives herald the arrival of the era of fulfillment (Luke 1:41–45, 67–79; 2:25–32). A host of pious figures declare the wonders of God in language that anticipates Pentecost (Luke 1:46–47; Acts 2:11, 26): Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary, Simeon, and Anna all declare that the fulfillment of God’s glorious promises is at hand. Each of these figures speaks under the inspiration of the Spirit, with the sole exception of the prophetess Anna, whose specific words are not recorded.9 Filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 17), John, too, anticipates the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry.

1.1 John the Baptist’s Prophecy (Luke 3:16–17)

John the Baptist’s prophecy concerning the one who will baptize in Spirit and fire, recorded in Luke 3:16–17, is particularly important for our study:

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”10

Luke 3:16–17

The interpretation of this prophecy—specifically, the functions it attributes to the Spirit—is crucial, for Luke clearly sees this prophecy at least partially fulfilled at Pentecost in the disciples’ baptism in the Spirit (Acts 1:4–5). James Dunn speaks for many when he states that the prophecy presents that Spirit as “purgative and refining for those who had repented, destructive … for those who remained impenitent.”11 However, I believe this interpretation must be rejected in light of the Jewish background, the immediate context with its winnowing metaphor, and the larger context of Luke-Acts.

The Jewish background is particularly instructive. There are no pre-Christian references to a messianic bestowal of the Spirit that purifies and transforms the individual. However, there is a wealth of passages that describe the Messiah as charismatically endowed with the Spirit of God so that he may rule and judge (for example, 1 En 49:3; 62:2). Isaiah 4:4 refers to the Spirit of God as the means by which the nation of Israel (not individuals) shall be sifted, with the righteous being separated from the wicked and the nation thus cleansed. Several texts tie these two concepts together. Perhaps most striking is Psalms of Solomon 17:26–37, a passage that describes how the Messiah, “powerful in the Holy Spirit” (17:37), shall purify Israel by ejecting all aliens and sinners from the nation. Isaiah 11:2–4 declares that the Spirit-empowered Messiah will slay the wicked “with the breath [ruach] of his lips.”12 Against this background it is not difficult to envision the Spirit of God as an instrument employed by the Messiah to sift and cleanse the nation. Indeed, these texts suggest that when John referred in metaphorical language to the messianic deluge of the Spirit, he had in mind Spirit-inspired oracles of judgment uttered by the Messiah (cf. Isa 11:4), blasts of the Spirit that would separate the wheat from the chaff.

Luke, writing in light of Pentecost, sees the fuller picture and applies the prophecy to the Spirit-inspired witness of the early church (Acts 1:4–5).13 Through their witness, the wheat is separated from the chaff (Luke 3:17). This interpretation is reinforced by the winnowing metaphor, which portrays the wind as the source of sifting. Since the term translated “wind” in Greek (pneuma) and Hebrew (ruach) is also used to refer to “the Spirit,” the symbolism is particularly striking. This Spirit-inspired witness and its impact are foreshadowed by Simeon’s prophecy. Simeon, referring to Jesus, declares: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34).

In short, John described the Spirit’s work, not as cleansing repentant individuals, but rather as a blast of the “breath” of God that would sift the nation. Luke sees this prophecy, at least with reference to the sifting work of the Spirit, fulfilled in the Spirit-inspired mission of the church. The essential point for our purpose is that Luke presents the Spirit here, not as the source of cleansing for the individual, but rather in prophetic terms as animating the church’s witness.

1.2 Jesus at the Jordan (Luke 3:21–22; 4:16–30)

Luke declares that the Spirit-baptizer himself was anointed with the Spirit (Luke 3:22; 4:18; Acts 10:38). This leads us to another question of central importance: What significance does Luke attach to Jesus’s pneumatic anointing?

The description of Jesus’s pneumatic anointing accounts for only two sentences in Luke’s gospel (Luke 3:21–22). Fortunately, Luke has provided an extended commentary on the significance of this event. This commentary is found in Luke’s account of Jesus’s sermon at Nazareth. This account is recorded in Luke 4:16–30, but I shall only quote the portion critical for our task, vv. 17–19:

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:17–19

The significance of this passage is underscored by a comparison with Mark’s gospel. Luke normally follows Mark’s chronology of Jesus’s ministry very closely. But here, Luke takes an event—Jesus’s ministry in Nazareth, which occurs in the middle of Mark’s gospel (Mark 6:1–6)—and places it at the forefront of his description of Jesus’s ministry. Luke’s account of the Nazareth event is much fuller than Mark’s and includes details important for Luke’s purposes. That these purposes include helping the reader understand the significance of Jesus’s reception of the Spirit is confirmed, not only by the content of the quotation from Isaiah 61:1–2 that we have just read (Luke 4:17–19), but also by the references to the Spirit in Luke’s narrative that link the accounts of Jesus anointing (Luke 3:21–22) with his sermon at Nazareth (Luke 4:16–30). Luke reminds us in Luke 4:1 that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” as he entered into the desert of temptation. And he also affirms that Jesus departed this desert experience “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).14 With this “redactional bridge,” Luke highlights the connection between Jesus’s pneumatic anointing and his sermon at Nazareth. So, the sermon at Nazareth is important because it calls us to look back—to look back and understand more fully the significance of Jesus’s reception of the Spirit.

However, this passage also calls us to look forward. Luke crafts his narrative so that the parallels between Jesus’s experience of the Spirit (Luke 3–4) and that of the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1–2) cannot be missed. Both accounts:

  • are placed at the outset of Luke’s gospel on the one hand, and the book of Acts on the other;
  • associate the reception of the Spirit with prayer;
  • record visible and audible manifestations;
  • offer explanations of the event in the form of a sermon that alludes to the fulfillment of OT prophecy.

In this way, Luke presents Jesus’s reception of the Spirit as a model for that of the disciples in Acts and future generations of believers, including his own (cf. Luke 11:13; Acts 2:17).

It is evident, then, that this passage is crucial for understanding the significance of Jesus’s reception of the Spirit and that of the disciples in Acts. It thus also provides important definition for Luke’s understanding of the gift of the Spirit. With this mind, let us address the question at hand: What significance does Luke attach to Jesus’s pneumatic anointing? Luke’s answer is unequivocal. The quotation from Isaiah, which plays such a prominent role in the narrative, answers our question with precision: Jesus’s reception of the Spirit at the Jordan was the means by which he was equipped to carry out his messianic mission. Furthermore, the verbs in the text—“he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor … He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners … to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”—highlight proclamation, inspired speech, as the primary product of Jesus’s anointing.15 Luke thus presents Jesus’s reception of the Spirit at the Jordan as a prophetic anointing, the means by which he was equipped to carry out his divinely appointed task.

1.3 The Sending of the Seventy (Luke 10:1–16)

All three Synoptic Gospels record Jesus’s words of instruction to the Twelve as he sends them out on their mission. However, only Luke records a second, larger sending of disciples (Luke 10:1–16). In Luke 10:1 we read, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two [some mss. read ‘seventy’] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” A series of detailed instructions follow. Finally, Jesus reminds them of their authority: “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (10:16).

A central question centers on the number of disciples that Jesus sent out and its significance. The manuscript evidence is, at this point, divided. Some manuscripts read “seventy,” while others list the number as “seventy-two.” Bruce Metzger, in his article on this question, notes that the external manuscript evidence is evenly divided and that internal considerations are also inconclusive. Metzger thus concludes that the number “cannot be determined with confidence.”16 More recent scholarship has largely agreed with Metzger, with a majority opting cautiously for the authenticity of “seventy-two” as the more difficult reading.17 Although we cannot determine the number with confidence, it will be important to keep the divided nature of the manuscript evidence in mind as we wrestle with the significance of this text.

Most scholars agree that the number (for convenience, we will call it “seventy”) has symbolic significance. Certainly, Jesus’s selection of twelve disciples was no accident. The number twelve clearly symbolizes the reconstitution of Israel (Gen 35:23–26), the people of God. This suggests that the number seventy is rooted in the Old Testament narrative and has symbolic significance as well. A number of proposals have been put forward,18 but I would argue that the background for the reference to the “seventy” is to be found in Numbers 11:24–30. This passage describes how the Lord “took of the Spirit that was on [Moses] and put the Spirit on the seventy elders” (Num 11:25). This resulted in the seventy elders, who had gathered around the Tent, prophesying for a short duration. However, two other elders, Eldad and Medad, did not go to the Tent; rather, they remained in the camp. But the Spirit also fell on them and they, too, began to prophesy and continued to do so. Joshua, hearing this news, rushed to Moses and urged him to stop them. Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Num 11:29).

The Numbers 11 proposal has a number of significant advantages over other explanations: it accounts for the two textual traditions underlying Luke 10:1 (how many actually prophesied in Numbers 11?); it finds explicit fulfillment in the narrative of Acts; it ties into one of the great themes of Luke-Acts, the work of the Holy Spirit; and numerous allusions to Moses and his actions in Luke’s travel narrative support this reading.19

With this background in mind, the significance of the symbolism is found in the expansion of the number of disciples “sent out” into mission from the Twelve to the Seventy. The reference to the Seventy evokes memories of Moses’ wish that “all the Lord’s people were prophets,” and, in this way, points ahead to Pentecost (Acts 2), where this wish is initially and dramatically fulfilled. This wish continues to be fulfilled throughout Acts as Luke describes the coming of the empowering Spirit of prophecy to other new centers of missionary activity, such as those gathered together in Samaria (Acts 8:14–17), Cornelius’s house (Acts 10:44–48), and Ephesus (Acts 19:1–7). The reference to the Seventy, then, does not simply anticipate the mission of the church to the Gentiles; rather, it foreshadows the outpouring of the Spirit on all the servants of the Lord and their universal participation in the mission of God (Acts 2:17–18; cf. 4:31).20

In Luke’s view, every member of the church is called (Luke 24:45–49; Acts 1:4–8/Isa 49:6) and empowered (Acts 2:17–21; cf. 4:31) to be a prophet.21 Far from being unique and unrepeatable, Luke emphasizes that the prophetic enabling experienced by the disciples at Pentecost is available to all of God’s people. At Pentecost, Moses’ wish now begins to be realized. Luke 10:1 anticipates the fulfillment of this reality.

It is important to note that the ecstatic speech of the elders in Numbers 11 constitutes the backdrop against which Luke interprets the pentecostal and subsequent outpourings of the Spirit.22 It would appear that Luke views every believer as (at least potentially) an end-time prophet, and that he anticipates that they too will issue forth in Spirit-inspired ecstatic speech.23 This is the clear implication of his narrative, which includes repetitive fulfillments of Moses’ wish that refer to glossolalia. The motif is transparent: the pentecostal gift, as a fulfillment of Moses’ wish (Num 11:29) and Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28–32), is a prophetic anointing that enables its recipient to bear bold witness for Jesus and, this being the case, it is marked by the ecstatic speech characteristic of prophets (that is, glossolalia). This explains why, as we shall see, Luke considered tongues to be a sign of the reception of the pentecostal gift.

It is interesting to note that Luke does not share the angst of many modern Christians concerning the possibility of false tongues. Luke does not offer guidelines for discerning whether tongues are genuine or fake, from God or from some other source. Rather, Luke assumes that the Christian community will know and experience that which is needed and good. This observation leads us to our next text.

1.4 Prayer for the Spirit (Luke 11:9–13)

Another text that reflects Luke’s desire to encourage his church to experience the prophetic inspiration of the Spirit and all that entails (such as joyful praise, glossolalia, and bold witness) is found in Luke 11:13. This verse, which forms the climax to Jesus’s teaching on prayer, again testifies to the fact that Luke views the work of the Holy Spirit described in Acts as relevant for the life of his church. Luke is not writing wistfully about an era of charismatic activity in the distant past.24 Luke 11:13 reads, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” It is instructive to note that the parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel contains slightly different phrasing: “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matt 7:11). It is virtually certain that Luke has interpreted the “good gifts” in his source material with a reference to the “Holy Spirit.”25 Luke, then, provides us with a Spirit-inspired, authoritative commentary on this saying of Jesus. Three important implications follow:

First, Luke’s alteration of the Matthean (or Q) form of the saying anticipates the post-resurrection experience of the church.26 This is evident from the fact that the promise that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask begins to be realized only at Pentecost. By contemporizing the text in this way, Luke stresses the relevance of the saying for the post-pentecostal community to which he writes. It would seem that for Luke there is no neat line of separation dividing the apostolic church from his church or ours. Quite the contrary, Luke calls his readers to follow in their footsteps.

Second, the context indicates that the promise is made to disciples (Luke 11:1). Thus, Luke’s contemporized version of the saying is clearly directed to the members of the Christian community.27 Since it is addressed to Christians, the promise cannot refer to an initiatory or soteriological gift.28 This judgment finds confirmation in the repetitive character of the exhortations to pray in Luke 11:9:29 prayer for the Spirit (and, in light of the promise, we may presume this includes the reception of the Spirit) is to be an ongoing practice. The gift of the Holy Spirit to which Luke refers neither initiates one into the new age, nor is it to be received only once;30 rather, this pneumatic gift is given to disciples, and it is to be experienced on an ongoing basis.

Third, Luke’s usage elsewhere indicates that he viewed the gift of the Holy Spirit in 11:13 as a prophetic enabling.31 On two occasions in Luke-Acts the Spirit is given to those praying;32 in both the Spirit is portrayed as the source of prophetic activity. Luke’s account of Jesus’s baptism indicates that Jesus received the Spirit after his baptism while praying (Luke 3:21). As we have noted, this gift of the Spirit, portrayed principally as the source of prophetic power (Luke 4:18–19), equipped Jesus for his messianic task. Later, in Acts 4:31, the disciples, after having prayed, “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Again, the Spirit given in response to prayer is the impetus for prophetic activity.

What sort of prophetic activity did Luke anticipate would accompany this bestowal of the Spirit? Luke’s narrative suggests a wide range of possibilities: joyful praise, glossolalia, visions, bold witness in the face of persecution, to name a few. However, several aspects of Luke’s narrative suggest that glossolalia was one of the expected outcomes in Luke’s mind and in the minds of his readers.

First, Luke’s narrative suggests that glossolalia typically accompanies the initial reception of the Spirit. Furthermore, Luke highlights the fact that glossolalia serves as an external sign of the prophetic gift. These elements of Luke’s account, which we shall examine shortly, would undoubtedly encourage readers in Luke’s church, as they have with contemporary readers, to seek the prophetic gift, complete with its accompanying external sign.

Second, in view of the emphasis in this passage on asking (v. 9) and the Father’s willingness to respond (v. 13), it would seem natural for Luke’s readers to ask a question that again is often asked by contemporary Christians: How will we know when we have received this gift? Here we hear echoes of Paul’s question in Acts 19:2. Of course, Luke provides a clear answer. The arrival of prophetic power has a visible, external sign: glossolalia. This is not to say that there are not other ways in which the Spirit’s power and presence are made known to us. This is simply to affirm that Luke’s narrative indicates that a visible, external sign does exist and that he and his readers would naturally expect to manifest this sign.

Finally, the question should be asked, why would Luke need to encourage his readers not to be afraid of receiving a bad or harmful gift (note the snake and scorpion of vv. 11–12)?33 Why would he need to encourage his church to pursue this gift of the Spirit? If the gift is quiet, internal, and ethereal, why would there be any concern? However, if the gift includes glossolalia, which is noisy, unintelligible, and has many pagan counterparts,34 then the concerns make sense.35 Luke’s response is designed to quell any fears. The Father gives good gifts. We need not fret or fear.

Through his skillful editing of this saying of Jesus (Luke 11:13), Luke encourages post-pentecostal disciples to pray for a prophetic anointing, an experience of spiritual rapture that will produce power and praise in their lives, an experience similar to those modeled by Jesus (Luke 3:21–22; 10:21)36 and the early church (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6). The reader would naturally assume glossolalia to be a normal, frequent, and expected part of this experience. The fact that Luke viewed glossolalia as a significant component of this bestowal of the Spirit is suggested by the larger context of Luke-Acts, which portrays tongues as an external sign of the Spirit’s coming, and also by the more immediate context, which indicates that Luke’s encouragement to pray for the Holy Spirit is a response to the fears of some within his community. This text, then, not only reveals the prophetic character of Luke’s pneumatology, it also indicates that Luke viewed tongues as positive and available to every disciple of Jesus.

1.5 Blasphemy against the Spirit (Luke 12:10)

Jesus’s saying concerning blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is preserved in two distinct forms by Mark and Q (Mark 3:28–29=Matt 12:31; Matt 12:32=Luke 12:10). Careful examination of these texts reveals that Luke has taken the blasphemy saying from its original context in Mark and Q (the Beelzebub controversy) and placed it into another block of Q material (Luke 12:2–9, 11–12). The result is that the meaning of the saying is transformed. In the context of the Beelzebub controversy (Mark and Q), blasphemy against the Spirit involves attributing to the agency of Satan the exorcisms that Jesus performs by the Holy Spirit. In Luke’s gospel “blasphemy against the Spirit” refers to Christians who resist the leading of the Spirit and, in the face of persecution, renounce Christ (Christian apostasy). The immediate context, with its warnings against denying Christ (Luke 12:9), with its distinction between “a word against the Son of Man” and “blasphemy against the Spirit” (the former committed by non-Christians, the latter by Christians), and with its promise of pneumatic aid in the face of persecution (Luke 12: 11–12), all point in this direction.37 This interpretation also finds significant support from Acts 26:11, where Paul confesses, “I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme [βλασφημεῖν].” Luke’s “governing motive for such bold editing is his overriding interest in pneumatology and witness.”38 Once again, the prophetic character of Luke’s pneumatology is revealed. Through his careful redaction of this saying, Luke presents the Spirit as the source of bold witness in the face of persecution rather than the power behind Jesus’s exorcisms.39

This text highlights an important aspect of Luke’s theological perspective. Luke presents inspired speech (along with its corollary, charismatic wisdom) rather than miracle-working power as the primary product of the Spirit’s inspiration. Although Luke frequently presents the Spirit as the exclusive source (without reference to “power” or other qualifying terms) of prophetic activity, he never does so with reference to miracles of healing, exorcism, or marvelous deeds. This is the case although it means that Luke has had to alter his sources on several occasions (Luke 4:18; 11:20; 12:10). Luke’s penchant for introducing miracle stories with references to Jesus’s teaching is also striking.40 All of this indicates that, for Luke, Jesus is more than a miracle worker, he is the long-anticipated prophet-teacher (Acts 3:22; 7:37). And his disciples, as a band of end-time prophets (Acts 2.17–21), follow in his footsteps with their inspired witness.41

1.6 The Promise of the Father (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33, 39)

As we arrive at the end of Luke’s gospel, we encounter a striking feature of Luke’s carefully crafted two-volume work. The end of volume one and the beginning of volume two describe the same scenes. There is an amazing amount of overlap: Jesus commands the disciples to wait in Jerusalem, for they will receive the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), which is associated with power to proclaim the gospel to all people (Luke 24:47–49; Acts 1:8); Jesus then ascends into heaven (Luke 24:50–51; Acts 1:9); and the disciples remain in Jerusalem in a state of expectant prayer and joyful praise (Luke 24:52–53; Acts 1:14), reminiscent of the pious figures described in the infancy narratives. The repetition seeks to drive the point home. Luke’s message may be summarized with one phrase, “the promise of the Father.”

Luke refers to “the promise” of the Spirit four times in close proximity (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33, 39). “The promise” is identified with the pentecostal gift of the Spirit (2:33) and explicitly defined: reception of “the promise” will result in the disciples being “clothed with power from on high” and enable them to be effective “witnesses” (Luke 24:48–49; Acts 1:8). Furthermore, for Luke “the promise” with reference to the Spirit refers to the gift of the Spirit of prophecy promised in Joel 2:28–32. This is made clear through Luke’s citation of Joel 2:28–32 in Acts 2:17–21 and further emphasized in his redactional introduction of the citation.

This introduction includes the phrase “God says” (Acts 2:17) and thus identifies the prophecy of Joel as “the promise of the Father”—the full description of “the promise” in three of the four Lukan references (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33). In Joel’s prophecy the Spirit comes as the source of prophetic inspiration, a point that Luke highlights by inserting the phrase “and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:18) into the Greek text of Joel. Another alteration, Luke’s transformation of Joel’s “slaves” into “servants of God”—accomplished by his double insertion of “my” into Acts 2:18—highlights what is implicit in the Joel text: the gift of the Spirit is given only to those who are members of the community of salvation.42 Thus, Luke’s explicit definitions (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4–8) and his use of the Joel citation indicate that the “promise” of the Spirit, initially fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:4), enables the disciples to take up their prophetic vocation to the world.

Although the Lukan “promise” of the Spirit must be interpreted in light of Joel’s promise concerning the restoration of the Spirit of prophecy, Acts 2:39 does include an additional element. The passage reads:

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 2:38–39

In Acts 2:39 Luke extends the range of the promise envisioned to include the promise of salvation offered in Joel 2:32 (as well as the promise of the Spirit of prophecy in Joel 2:28). Acts 2:39 echoes the language of Joel 2:32/Acts 2:21: “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” In Acts 2:39 Luke extends the range of “the promise” to include this salvific dimension because the audience addressed now includes nonbelievers.

The “promise” of Acts 2:39, then, embraces more than the experience of conversion. Consistent with the other references to “the promise” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, and 2:33), the promised gift of the Spirit in Acts 2:39 refers to the promise of Joel 2:28, and thus it is a promise of prophetic enabling granted to the repentant. The promise of Acts 2:39, like the promise of Jesus in Acts 1:8, points beyond the restoration of the faithful of Israel: salvation is offered (Joel 2:32), but the promise includes the renewal of Israel’s prophetic vocation to be a light to the nations (Joel 2:28; cf. Isaiah 49:6 and Acts 1:8).43

Some have criticized this approach, suggesting that we should read Luke’s earlier references to the promise of the Spirit in light of the promise of salvation offered in Acts 2:39.44 However, as we have seen, Acts 2:39 does not indicate that the Spirit comes as the source of new covenant existence.45 Rather, it simply reminds us that the prophecy of Joel 2:28–32 includes two elements: the gift of the Spirit of prophecy (v. 28) and the offer of salvation to those who call upon the name of the Lord (v. 32). Acts 2:39 refers to both but does not suggest that the two are identical. Indeed, this sort of equation runs counter to Luke’s explicit statements in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4–8, his use and redaction of the Joel citation in Acts 2:17–18, and the broader context of his two-volume work. In particular, Luke’s description of baptized believers (Acts 8:16) and “disciples” (Acts 19:1), all without the Spirit, raises insurmountable problems for this position.

It is possible to argue that Luke’s understanding of the promise of the Spirit—clearly shaped by Joel 2:28–32—was also informed by a number of other Old Testament prophecies regarding the Spirit’s eschatological role, especially Isaiah 44:3–5 and Ezekiel 36:26–27. Yet this approach fails to examine how these Old Testament texts were interpreted in the Judaism that gave rise to the Christianity Luke knew. Rather than simply reading our own agenda and exegesis into the first-century setting, surely it is better to ask how those Jews closest in time to the early Christians understood the relevant texts and what significance they attached to them.

This is particularly important at this point, for the eschatological outpouring of the Spirit was generally interpreted in light of Joel 2:28–29 as a restoration of the Spirit of prophecy (MHG Gen. 140; Num. R. 15.25). By way of contrast, Ezekiel 36:26–27 was usually interpreted as a prophecy concerning the end-time removal of the evil “impulse,” and most frequently without reference to the activity of the Spirit (Exod. R. 15.6; Num. R. 14.4). Indeed, the eradication of the evil “impulse” was presented as a prerequisite for the end-time bestowal of the Spirit of prophecy (Deut. R. 6.14; Midr. Ps. 14.6).46 This means that calls for us to interpret the promise of the Spirit in light of a plethora of Old Testament texts conflict with the evidence from early Jewish sources and Luke’s own hand. Luke, unlike Paul and John, cites none of these other Old Testament texts. There simply is no evidence to support the notion that by referring to Joel 2:28–32, Luke intended his readers to think of some commonly expected, all-embracing soteriological bestowal of the Spirit.

Should the collocation of repentance, baptism, and reception of the Spirit in Acts 2:38 cause us to reconsider these conclusions? I think not, for it tells us little about the nature of the gift of the Spirit. While the collocation may indicate that for Luke the rite of water baptism is normally accompanied by the bestowal of the Spirit, Luke’s usage elsewhere suggests that even this conclusion may be overstating the case. There is nothing in the text that would suggest that the Spirit is presented here as the source of new covenant existence. If it could be established that the text presupposes an inextricable bond between water baptism and forgiveness of sins on the one hand and reception of the Spirit on the other, then we would need to reconsider our position. However, this conclusion is unwarranted. Since Luke fails to develop a strong link between water baptism and the bestowal of the Spirit elsewhere, and regularly separates the rite from the gift (Luke 3:21–22; Acts 8:12–17; 9:17–18; 10:44; 18:24–25), the phrase “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 should be interpreted as a promise that the Spirit shall be “imparted to those who are already converted and baptized.”47 In any case, the most that can be gleaned from the text is that repentance and water baptism are the normal prerequisites for reception of the Spirit, which is promised to every believer.

I believe it is prudent to interpret Acts 2:38–39 in the light of Luke’s explicit testimony concerning the promise of the Spirit recorded in Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; and 2:17–18—all of which describe the pneumatic gift as a prophetic enabling for engagement in God’s great mission. This reading also fits nicely with Luke’s usage elsewhere (Acts 8:4–17; 18:24–19:7). Additionally, calls for us to interpret the promise of the Spirit against the backdrop of a plethora of Old Testament texts, none of which is mentioned by Luke or linked in the suggested manner with the Joel text by contemporary Jewish thinkers, must be rejected. Again, wisdom dictates that we understand the promise of the Spirit against the backdrop of the text that Luke does cite, Joel 2:28–32, and contemporary Jewish expectations.

We are now in a position to summarize our findings to this point. We have discovered that the pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit represents the initial fulfillment of:

  • John the Baptist’s prophecy (Luke 3:16–17): just as the wind separates the wheat from the chaff, so also will the Spirit-inspired witness of Jesus’s disciples “cause the falling and rising of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34) and beyond.
  • the prophetic anointing anticipated by Jesus at the Jordan (Luke 3:21–22; 4:16–30) and “promised” to his disciples through the literary parallels with Pentecost that Luke creates.
  • Moses’ wish that all the Lord’s people might be prophets (Luke 10:1–16; cf. Num 11:29).
  • Jesus’s promise concerning prayer for the Spirit (Luke 11:9–13).
  • Jesus’s promise concerning the Spirit’s aid when facing persecution (Luke 12:11–12).
  • the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33, 39).

These findings validate our claim that Luke writes in order to present his readers with models for their life, experience, and ministry. Additionally, they resonate well with R.A. Torrey’s declaration, “The baptism with the Holy Spirit is always connected with testimony and service.”48 We have seen that Luke’s narrative reflects a prophetic (or charismatic) rather than soteriological understanding of the gift of the Spirit. Luke not only fails to speak of the Spirit as a soteriological agent in a manner similar to Paul or John; his narrative stands decidedly against it (Luke 11:9–13; cf. Acts 8:4–17; 18:24–19:7). We simply need to read Luke on his own terms in order to see that his theological perspective complements that of Paul and John.49

With this rich theological and literary background in mind, let us now examine Luke’s Pentecost account.

2 The Disciples and the Spirit

In Acts 2:4 we read that those present were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to “speak in other tongues (λαλεῖν ἑτέραις γλώσσαις) as the Spirit enabled them.” This phenomenon creates confusion among the Jews of the crowd who, we are told, represent “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). The crowd gathered in astonishment because “each one heard them speaking in his own language” (διαλέκτῳ; Acts 2:6). These details are repeated as Luke narrates the response of the astonished group: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?” (διαλέκτῳ; Acts 2:7–8). After the crowd lists in amazement the various nations represented by those present, they exclaim, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues” (γλώσσαις; Acts 2:11)! Since Acts 2:11 clearly relates γλώσσαις to the various human languages of those present in the crowd, most scholars understand the “tongues” (γλώσσαις) of Acts 2:4 and 2:11 as referring to intelligible speech. The disciples are enabled by the Spirit to declare “the wonders of God” in human languages they had not previously learned.

This language miracle at Pentecost is not a literal reversal of Babel. The disciples of Jesus who were “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues” (Acts 2:4) did not speak a single tongue that all understood. Rather, they spoke in the multiple mother-tongues of each individual present. The cultural distinctives were not obliterated. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus’s disciples to embrace them and to minister through them. There were many languages, but only one message: Jesus is the resurrected and exalted Lord (Acts 2:33–36).

Luke’s account of Pentecost calls every disciple of Jesus to see that we, too, have a clear mandate to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. The fact that the Spirit inspires the disciples at Pentecost to speak in multiple and diverse tongues—tongues unknown to them—this fact should encourage us to recognize that we, too. are called to identify with and embed ourselves within the cultures of the diverse people groups that populate this planet. Like Jesus, we, too, must become incarnate. This is the nature of our mission, and Luke’s description of Pentecost clarifies and reinforces this fact.

2.1 Acts 2:4 and Luke’s Narrative

Luke describes the initial coming of the Spirit on four occasions in the book of Acts: Acts 2:4; 8:17; 10:46; and 19:6. Many scholars include Paul’s reception of the Spirit (Acts 9:17–19) in this list; thus they argue that Luke only refers to tongues in three out of five instances. They then conclude that 60 percent is good as a batting average in baseball, but not sufficient to prove that Luke intended to establish a normative pattern. However, if we are to understand Luke’s purposes, I believe deeper probing into Luke’s narrative is required.

First, it should be noted that Luke nowhere actually describes the Spirit coming upon Paul. This is simply implied in the narrative (Acts 9:17–19). So, we really have only four episodes that actually describe the initial reception of the Spirit in the book of Acts. Of the four instances in the book of Acts where Luke actually describes the initial coming of the Spirit, three explicitly cite glossolalia as the immediate result (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6) and the other one (Acts 8:14–19) strongly implies it. Even the most inept reader can hardly miss that in Acts 8:14–19 something striking took place when the Samaritans received the Spirit. In light of the larger context of Luke-Acts, the striking sign that encouraged the magician Simon to seek to purchase the ability to dispense the gift of the Spirit can only be glossolalia.

So, let us examine these three, central texts. What is immediately eye-catching is the consistent manner in which Luke describes the Spirit-inspired speech that accompanies the coming of the Spirit in these three passages. In each of these passages, Acts 2:4, 10:46, 19:6, Luke uses the words λαλέω and γλώσσαις to refer to Spirit-inspired utterances. How should we understand these words? The usage of the phrase λαλέω γλώσσαις in the New Testament is instructive.

In 1 Corinthians 12–14 Paul refers to the gift of tongues (γλώσσαις)50 and uses the phrase λαλέω γλώσσαις to designate unintelligible utterances inspired by the Spirit.51 The fact that this gift of tongues refers to unintelligible utterances rather than to known human languages is confirmed by the fact that Paul explicitly states that these tongues must be interpreted by one spiritually gifted if they are to be understood (1 Cor 14:6–19, 28; cf. 12:10, 30). Paul does not even consider the possibility that one who knows the language could be present as we might expect if a human language was in view.

In Acts 10:46 and 19:6 Luke also uses the phrase λαλέω γλώσσαις to designate utterances inspired by the Spirit. In Acts 10:46 Peter and his colleagues hear Cornelius and his household “speaking in tongues and praising God.” Acts 19:6 states that the Ephesian disciples “spoke in tongues and prophesied.” The literary parallels between the descriptions of speaking in tongues in these passages and 1 Corinthians 12–14 are impressive. All of these texts associate speaking in tongues with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; utilize similar vocabulary (λαλέω γλώσσαις); and describe inspired speech associated with worship and prophetic pronouncements. Additionally, since 1 Corinthians 12–14 clearly speaks of unintelligible utterances and there is no indication in either of the Acts passages that known languages are being spoken—indeed, there is no apparent need for a miracle of xenolalia in either instance (what foreign language would they have spoken?)—most English translations translate the occurrences of λαλέω γλώσσαις in these texts with reference to speaking in tongues.

The references to γλώσσαις in Acts 2:4–11, however, raise interesting questions. In Acts 2:4 we read that those present were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to “speak in other tongues (λαλεῖν ἑτέραις γλώσσαις) as the Spirit enabled them.” As we have noted, this phenomenon creates an uproar among the Jews of the crowd who represented diverse nations and languages. The astonished group cries out, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues” (γλώσσαις; Acts 2:11)! It seems evident that the “tongues” (γλώσσαις) of Acts 2:4 and 2:11 refer to intelligible speech. The disciples are enabled by the Spirit to declare “the wonders of God” in the various mother tongues of those present. This reading of the text has encouraged some translators, including those who produced the NRSV, to translate the γλώσσαις of Acts 2:4 and 2:11 with the term “languages” rather than “tongues.”

While we can understand why translators are tempted to translate the same words in these passages differently—they actually refer to different activities (xenolalia in Acts 2:4 and glossolalia in Acts 10:46 and 19:6)—this sort of translation creates a real problem. It obscures the fact that Luke uses the same Greek terms to describe what takes place when the Spirit is received in Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, and Acts 19:6. Why, we may ask, does Luke use the same language to describe each of these events even though they actually refer to different activities? This striking literary connection suggests that Luke has intentionally shaped his narrative in order to highlight this linkage. In other words, the pattern is important to him. Luke desired to make the connection. He desired to establish Acts 2 as a model.

The significance of the verbal connections between the γλώσσαις (tongues) of these three passages becomes apparent when we examine Luke’s understanding of the role of tongues in the life of the church. A close reading of Luke’s narrative reveals that he views speaking in tongues as a special type of prophetic speech and, as such, an important sign. Speaking in tongues is associated with prophecy and presented as a significant sign in each of the three passages that describe this phenomenon in Acts. The stage is set, the model unveiled, in Acts 2.

In Acts 2:17–18 (cf. Acts 2:4) speaking in tongues is specifically described as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that in the last days all of God’s people will prophesy. The strange sounds of the disciples’ tongues-speech, Peter declares, are in fact not the ramblings of drunkards; rather, they represent prophetic utterances issued by God’s end-time messengers (Acts 2:13, 15–17). The meaning of the symbolism of the speaking “in other tongues,” which enables “Jews from every nation under heaven” to hear the message in their “own language” (Acts 2:5–6), is clearly explained. It marks this group as members of Joel’s end-time prophetic band and indicates that the “last days” and the salvation associated with it have arrived. Thus, Luke narrates Peter’s powerful declaration concerning Jesus, “Exalted to the right hand of God … he [Jesus] has poured out what you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). “Therefore,” Peter declares, “let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). The logic of the narrative is transparent: Since the Spirit of prophecy is only given to the “servants” of God (Acts 2:18)—that is, the true people of God, the heirs of the promise God made to Israel (Joel 2:28–32)—and since the disciples of Jesus are those who are now receiving this gift, it follows that Jesus is Lord (Acts 2:33) and that his disciples constitute the true people of God. In Acts 2 tongues-speech, then, serves as a sign that both validates the disciples’ claim that Jesus is Lord and confirms their status as members of Joel’s end-time prophetic band.

The association with prophecy is made again in Acts 10:42–48. In the midst of Peter’s sermon to Cornelius and his household, the Holy Spirit “came on all those who heard the message” (Acts 10:44). Peter’s colleagues “were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God” (Acts 10:45–46). It is instructive to note that the Holy Spirit interrupts Peter just as he declares, “[Jesus] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:42–43).

In view of Luke’s emphasis on prophetic inspiration throughout his two-volume work and, more specifically, his description of speaking in tongues as prophetic speech in Acts 2:17–18, it can hardly be coincidental that the Holy Spirit breaks in and inspires glossolalia precisely at this point in Peter’s sermon. Indeed, as the context makes clear, Peter’s colleagues are astonished at what transpires because it testifies to the fact that God has accepted uncircumcised Gentiles. Again, the connection between speaking in tongues and prophecy is crucial for Luke’s narrative. In Acts 2:17–18 we are informed that reception of the Spirit of prophecy (the pentecostal gift) is the exclusive privilege of “the servants” of God and that it typically results in miraculous and audible speech.52 Speaking in tongues is presented as one manifestation of this miraculous, Spirit-inspired speech (Acts 2:4, 17–18). So, when Cornelius and his household burst forth in tongues, this act provides demonstrative proof that they are, in fact, part of the end-time prophetic band of which Joel prophesied. They too are connected to the prophets that “testify” about Jesus (Acts 10:43). This astonishes Peter’s colleagues, because they recognize the clear implications that flow from this dramatic event. Since Cornelius and his household are prophets, they must also be “servants” of the Lord (that is, members of the people of God). How, then, can Peter and the others withhold baptism from them? (Acts 10:47–48).

The importance of this connection in the narrative is highlighted further in Acts 11:15–18. Here, as Peter recounts the events associated with the conversion of Cornelius and his household, he emphasizes that “the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15) and then declares, “God gave them the same gift as he gave us” (Acts 11:17). The fact that Jewish disciples at Pentecost and Gentile believers at Caesarea all speak in tongues is not incidental to Luke’s purposes; rather, it represents a significant theme in his story of the movement of the gospel from Jews in Jerusalem to Gentiles in Rome and beyond.

Finally, in Acts 19:6 the connection between prophecy and speaking in tongues is again explicitly stated. When Paul laid hands on the Ephesian disciples, the Holy Spirit “came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Here, again, tongues serves as a significant sign. Paul’s prior question posed to the Ephesian disciples, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2), implies another question, “How would we know?” Of course, the pattern and literary connections that Luke has created enable us to answer this question and anticipate the outcome that follows.

All of this demonstrates that Luke has carefully crafted his narrative in order to highlight the connections between Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:6. Luke creates this literary linkage by presenting, in each instance, “speaking in tongues” as the definitive and expected sign for reception of the Spirit of prophecy promised by Joel. This sign confirms that the disciples are the true people of God and also validates their proclamation that Jesus is Lord. I would add that this sort of apologetic suggests that Luke’s readers routinely experienced this sign themselves. If “speaking in tongues” was relatively unknown to Luke’s readers, this message—that tongues validates their proclamation and standing before God—would carry little encouragement. However, if they too experienced glossolalia, then the dialogue in Luke’s narrative takes on fresh meaning. Peter’s declaration that “[t]hey have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (Acts 10:47) speaks directly to them and reminds them of the apostolic calling and power that is also theirs. Paul’s question “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” encourages Luke’s readers to reflect on their experiences of Spirit-inspired rapture and recognize that their own expressions of tongues-speech mark them as end-time prophets, people called and empowered to bear witness for Jesus.

These literary connections, which hinge on the phrase “to speak in tongues,” challenge us to take a fresh look at Luke’s narrative. As I have noted, Luke’s record of Jesus’s exhortation on prayer (Luke 11:9–13) constitutes a dominical saying that encourages every believer to pray earnestly and expectantly for a prophetic anointing, the pentecostal gift. The full New Testament experience includes speaking in tongues, the external sign of this prophetic gift. Should we settle for anything less?

2.2 Pentecost as a Paradigm (Acts 2:17–21)

Every New Testament scholar worth his salt will tell you that Luke 4:16–30, Jesus’s dramatic sermon at Nazareth, is paradigmatic for Luke’s gospel. All of the major themes that will appear in the gospel are foreshadowed here: the work of the Spirit; the universality of the gospel; the grace of God; and the rejection of Jesus. And, as we have noted, this is the one significant point where the chronology of the Gospel of Luke differs from the Gospel of Mark. Here Luke takes an event from the middle of Jesus’s ministry and brings it right up front to inaugurate the ministry of Jesus. Luke does this because he understands that this event, particularly Jesus’s recitation of Isaiah 61:1–2 and his declaration that this prophecy is now being fulfilled in his ministry, provides important insights into the nature of Jesus and his mission. This passage, then, provides us with a model for Jesus’s subsequent ministry.

Luke provides a similar sort of paradigmatic introduction for his second volume, the book of Acts. After the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, Peter delivers a sermon (Acts 2:14–41) that parallels that of Jesus in Luke 4. In his sermon, Peter also refers to an Old Testament prophecy concerning the coming of the Spirit, this time Joel 2:28–32, and declares that this prophecy too is now being fulfilled (Acts 2:17–21). The message is clear: Just as Jesus was anointed by the Spirit to fulfill his prophetic vocation, so also Jesus’s disciples have been anointed as end-time prophets to proclaim the word of God. The text of Joel 2:28–32 that is cited here, like the paradigmatic passage in Luke 4, also shows signs of careful editing on the part of Luke.

The text of Acts 2:17–21 reads:

[v. 17] In the last daysGod says, [Joel: “after these things”]

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy

Your young men will see visions, [Joel: these lines are inverted]

Your old men will dream dreams.

[v. 18] Even on my servants, both men and women, [additions to Joel]

I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

And they will prophesy.

[v. 19] I will show wonders in the heaven above

And signs on the earth below,

Blood and fire and billows of smoke.

[v. 20] The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood

Before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

[v. 21] And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

(Acts 2:17–21; modification of Joel 2:28–32 italicized.)

Luke carefully shapes this quotation from the LXX in order to highlight important theological themes. Three modifications are particularly striking.

2.2.1 Vision and Divine Direction

First, in v. 17 Luke alters the order of the two lines that refer to young men having visions and old men dreaming dreams. In Joel, the old men dreaming dreams comes first. But Luke reverses the order: “Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). A study of Acts reveals that this alteration is not simply an insignificant stylistic change. Luke gives the reference to “visions” pride of place in order to emphasize its importance. With this modification of the LXX, Luke highlights a theme that he sees as vitally important and that recurs throughout his narrative.

A survey of the key terms is instructive. First, we find that the terms associated with dreams and dreaming occur only here in the book of Acts. The term translated “shall dream” is a future passive of ἐνυπνιὰζω. This verb occurs only here and in Jude 8. The noun, ἐνύπνιον (“dream”), is found nowhere else in the New Testament. Clearly, Luke is not big on dreaming.53

Luke, however, loves to recount stories that refer to guidance through “visions.” At first glance this may not appear to be the case. The noun translated “visions” in v. 17, ὅρασις, occurs four times in the New Testament and only here in Acts. But appearances are often misleading, and this is the case here. Luke uses another term, a close cousin to ὅρασις, the neuter noun, ὅραμα, often and at decisive points in his narrative to refer to “visions.” The noun ὅραμα occurs twelve times in the New Testament, and eleven of these occurrences are found in the book of Acts.54 Luke is, indeed, fond of visions. Although in Acts 2:17 Luke retains the language of the LXX, elsewhere in his narrative he employs his preferred, very similar term to speak of “visions.”

References to visions are not only plentiful in Luke’s narrative; they also come at strategic moments.55 Thus, Luke’s alteration at this point appears to be theologically motivated. Visions are not the only way that God guides the church in the book of Acts. Yet Luke’s point is hard to miss: by linking the “visions” of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:17) with the visions of the early church, Luke is in effect saying that in “these last days”—that period inaugurated with Jesus’s birth and leading up to the Day of the Lord—the mission of the church must be directed by God, who will lead his end-time prophets in special and personal ways, including visions, angelic visitations, and the prompting of the Spirit, so that we might fulfill our calling to take the gospel to “the ends of the earth.”56 For Luke, the experience of the early church, a church that is supernaturally led by God, serves as a model for his church (and ours).

2.2.2 Signs and Wonders

Second, with the addition of a few words in v. 19, Luke transforms Joel’s text to read: “I will show wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth below.” In this way, Luke consciously links the miracles associated with Jesus (notice the very first verse that follows the quotation from Joel: “Jesus … was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs,” Acts 2:22) and the early church (for example, 2:43) together with the cosmic portents listed by Joel (Acts 2:19–20). All are “signs and wonders” that mark the end of the age. For Luke, “these last days”—remember, Luke’s church and ours are firmly rooted in this period—represents an epoch marked by “signs and wonders.” Luke, then, is not only conscious of the significant role that miracles have played in the growth of the early church, but he also anticipates that these “signs and wonders” will continue to characterize the ministry of the church to whom he writes.

This text also demonstrates that for Luke, the salvation history presented in his narrative cannot be rigidly segmented into discrete periods. The kingdom of God (or the new age when God’s covenant promises begin to find fulfillment) is inaugurated with the miraculous birth of Jesus (or, at the very latest, with Jesus’s public ministry, which was marked by miracles) and continues to be progressively realized until his second coming and the consummation of God’s redemptive plan. Acts 2:17–22 thus offers an important insight into Luke’s view of salvation history. Pentecost is indeed a significant eschatological event, but it does not represent the disciples’ entrance into the new age; rather, Pentecost is the fulfillment of Moses’ wish that “all the Lord’s people were prophets” (Num 11:29; cf. Joel 2:28–29/Acts 2:17–18) and, as such, represents an equipping of the church for its divinely appointed mission.57 In this crucial passage Luke stresses the continuity that unites the story of Jesus and the story of the early church. Luke’s two-volume work represents the “one history of Jesus Christ,”58 a fact that is implied by the opening words of Acts: “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach …” (Acts 1:1).

One significant implication that flows from this insight is that the birthday of the church cannot be dated to Pentecost. Graham Twelftree argues, correctly I believe, that for Luke, the beginning of the church must be traced back to Jesus’s selection of the Twelve.59 Furthermore, Twelftree asserts that “the ministry of the Church is not seen as distinct from but continues the ministry of Jesus.”60 These conclusions, drawn largely from Luke’s portrait of the apostles, are supported by Luke’s citation of Joel’s prophecy. They have a significant impact on how we view Pentecost and Luke’s pneumatology.

2.2.3 Prophecy and Bold Witness

Third, Luke inserts the phrase “And they will prophesy” into the quotation in v. 18. This insertion simply emphasizes what is already present in the text of Joel. Acts 2:17 quotes Joel 2:28 verbatim: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” Now, in v. 18, Luke echoes this refrain. Luke highlights the fact that the Spirit comes as the source of prophetic inspiration because this theme will dominate his narrative. It is a message that Luke does not want his readers to miss. The church in “these last days,” Luke declares, is to be a community of prophets—prophets who are called to bring the message of “salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa 49:6; Acts 1:8). And now Luke reminds his readers that they also have been promised power to fulfill this calling. The Spirit will come and enable his church (and ours) to bear bold witness for Jesus in the face of opposition and persecution.

This theme of bold, prophetic witness is anticipated in Luke’s gospel. Jesus is anointed with the Spirit so that he might “preach good news to the poor,” so that he might “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19). The parallels between Jesus’s experience at the Jordan and that of the disciples at Pentecost are striking and intentional. Through his careful shaping of the narrative, Luke presents Jesus, the ultimate prophet, as a model for all of his followers, from Pentecost onward. Luke’s church has a mission to carry out, a message to proclaim.

This motif of bold, Spirit-inspired witness is also highlighted in the teaching of Jesus. Luke foreshadows events that will follow in his second volume by relating the important promise of Jesus recorded in Luke 12:11–12: “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Immediately after Pentecost, in the first story Luke recounts, we begin to see how relevant and important this promise is for the mission of the church. Luke describes the dramatic story of Peter and John’s encounter with a crippled beggar and the beggar’s miraculous healing. A large crowd gathers, gaping at this marvelous event. The story builds to a climax as the Jewish leaders arrest Peter and John for preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. “You killed the author of life,” Peter declares, “but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this” (Acts 3:15). The Jewish leaders, upset with this turn of events, move in and apprehend Peter and John. After spending the night in prison, Peter and John are called before the leaders and questioned. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, declares, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Peter and John’s courage is so striking that it leaves the Jewish leaders astonished and amazed. Finally, after deliberations, the leaders command the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus. But Peter and John reply with incredible boldness. They declare, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).

This is merely the beginning of the persecution the end-time prophets must face. Very soon the apostles are again arrested. The Jewish leaders interrogate the apostles and angrily declare, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name … Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching” (Acts 5:28). Peter and the apostles incur the wrath of their opponents when they declare, “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead … We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:29–32). The apostles are flogged and warned not to speak about Jesus. But the beatings do not have their desired effect. The apostles rejoice that they have been “counted worthy of suffering” for Jesus and continue to proclaim “the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 5:41–42).

The persecution intensifies. What began with warnings in Acts 4 and led to beatings in Acts 5 now extends to Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7. Just as the apostles were strengthened by the Spirit to bear bold witness for Jesus, so also Stephen’s witness unto death is inspired by the Spirit (Acts 6:10). In the midst of his sermon to his persecutors recorded in Acts 7, Stephen declares, “You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?” (Acts 7:51–52). The powerful irony should not be missed, for this same crowd moves to kill Stephen, a man “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55). The witness of another prophet is rejected.

This pattern of bold, Spirit-inspired witness in the face of opposition continues with Paul, the dominant character in the latter portion of Acts. Paul is chosen by the Lord to take the gospel to the Gentiles. We are told that his journey will not be easy. The Lord, speaking to Ananias, declares, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). And suffer he does. Yet, in the face of mind-numbing opposition, Paul is guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. A trail of churches filled with believers who worship Jesus is left in his wake. The narrative of Acts ends with Paul in prison in Rome, where he “boldly and without hindrance” preaches about Jesus (Acts 28:31).

2.3 Luke’s Purpose

Luke’s motive in presenting these models of Spirit-inspired ministry—Peter, John, Stephen, and Paul, to name a few—should not be missed.61 Nevertheless, some dismiss the notion that Luke intended his narrative to serve as a model for the mission of his church. They insist that Luke wrote to provide his contemporaries with a record of the beginnings of the church so that they would know that the message about Jesus is reliable and that the origins of the church were indeed a part of God’s divine plan. With these purposes in mind, they insist that Pentecost is a unique event that can never be repeated. The Holy Spirit inspired the apostles for their special function as eyewitnesses to the ministry and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:21–22). So also, the Lord validated this apostolic preaching with signs and wonders unique to the early church. Although we are called to faithfully pass on the apostolic message, the missionary methods of the apostolic church, we are told, are unique and not paradigmatic for later generations.62

Yet two aspects of Luke’s narrative call us to challenge this reductionistic perspective. First, it should be noted that Joel’s promise, amplified in Acts 2:18, “and they shall prophesy,” characterizes potentially every member of the church—young and old, men and women—in the period described as “the last days.” According to Luke, this epoch begins with the miraculous birth of Jesus and extends until his second coming, the climax of God’s redemptive plan. This promise of prophetic power is thus applicable to Luke’s church and ours, not simply to the apostles.

Additionally, this conclusion is supported by the fact that Luke’s description of Spirit-inspired prophetic witnesses is not limited solely to those who are apostles in the Acts 1 sense of the word (that is, those who were with Jesus during his ministry and witnessed his resurrection and ascension, Acts 1:21–22). Luke repeatedly describes how the Spirit comes upon the entire community of believers and not just the apostles, first at Pentecost and then in response to prayer in the face of persecution. The latter account explicitly states, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). Although Peter, John, and the rest of the Twelve bear witness for Jesus, so also do others who are not a part of the apostolic band. Stephen, Philip, and Paul—none of whom qualifies as an apostle according to Acts 1:21–22—are all anointed and directed by the Spirit to bear bold witness for Jesus. Indeed, this is precisely the message that Luke prepares his readers to receive with his account of the Sending of the Seventy (Luke 10:1–16), and it is the message that he dramatically highlights through his summary of Peter’s sermon: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people … and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17–18).63

3 Conclusion

Luke has a unique and significant contribution to make to a holistic biblical theology of the Spirit. His pneumatology, I have argued, is different from that of Paul. It is missiological rather than soteriological in nature. The Spirit of Pentecost is, in reality, the Spirit for others—the Spirit that compels and empowers the church to bring the “good news” of Jesus to a lost and dying world. It is this Lukan, missiological perspective that gives rich texture to a pentecostal understanding of the Holy Spirit and his work. Pentecostals do recognize that we must do justice to Paul’s soteriological contribution by emphasizing the Spirit’s role in conversion, regeneration, and sanctification. Yet Pentecostals feel justified in speaking of a baptism in the Spirit that is distinct from conversion, an anointing for service, for we see this as an accurate reflection of Luke’s terminology and theology.

Pentecostals, then, recognize that the New Testament speaks of two baptisms in the Spirit—one that is soteriological and initiates the believer into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13) and one that is missiological and empowers the believer for service (Acts 1:8). However, Pentecostals believe that it is particularly appropriate to adopt Luke’s language and speak of the pentecostal gift as a “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” After all, this baptism in the Holy Spirit is promised to every believer, to all of the servants of God (Acts 2:18). And Luke uses the phrase on three occasions, Paul only once. Pentecostals also fear that if Paul’s language is employed and the gift of the Spirit received at conversion is designated “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” then a proper understanding of the pentecostal gift will be lost.

The tendency in Protestant churches has been to read Luke in the light of Paul.64 Paul addresses pastoral concerns in the church; Luke writes a missionary manifesto. Perhaps this explains why Protestant discussions of the Spirit have centered more on his work in the Word and sacraments, the “inner witness” of the Spirit, and less on his mission to the world. Protestant theologians tend to associate the pentecostal gift with conversion and regeneration, which effectively blunts the sharpness of Luke’s message. When the pentecostal gift of the Spirit is understood in soteriological terms, Luke’s missiological focus and our expectation of it is lost. For it is always possible to argue, as many do, that while all experience the soteriological dimension of the pentecostal gift at conversion, only a select few receive gifts of missiological power. Yet Luke calls us to remember that the church, by virtue of its reception of the pentecostal gift, is a prophetic community empowered for a missionary task.

1Minutes of the 44th Session of the General Council of the Assemblies of God (Portland, OR: August 6–11, 1991), 129.

2Robert P. Menzies, The Development of Early Christian Pneumatology with Special Reference to Luke-Acts (Sheffield: JSPT, 1991). Here I argue that Paul was the first Christian to attribute soteriological functions to the Spirit and that his distinctive insights did not impact the non-Pauline sectors of the early church until after the writing of Luke-Acts.

3Hermann Gunkel, The Influence of the Holy Spirit: The Popular View of the Apostolic Age and the Teaching of the Apostle Paul, trans. R.A. Harrisville and P.A. Quanbeck II (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979; German orig., 1888); R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1972; orig. 1895); Eduard Schweizer, “πνεῦμα,” TDNT VI, 389–455; Gonzalo Haya-Prats, Empowered Believers: The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, trans. Scott Ellington; ed. Paul Elbert (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2011; Spanish orig., 1967); Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984).

4Roland Allen, “The Revelation of the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles,” IRM 7, no. 2 (1918): 167.

5As we shall see, Luke also cautiously relates miracles of healing, exorcism, and marvelous deeds to the Spirit. Cf. W. and R. Menzies, Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 145–158.

6Youngmo Cho, Spirit and Kingdom in the Writings of Luke and Paul: An Attempt to Reconcile These Concepts (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2005).

7Craig Keener offers a similar assessment, though he suggests that Luke 3:16 might be the sole exception (The Spirit in the Gospels and Acts: Divine Purity and Power [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997], 190).

8This is the dominant perspective. The only exceptions are found in sapiential writings and are rare (Menzies, Development, 52–112).

9Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55) is not explicitly attributed to the inspiration of the Spirit because the reader has already been informed of the Spirit’s presence in her life (Luke 1:35).

10All English Scripture citations are taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted.

11James Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit (London: SCM Press, 1970), 13. So also J. Kienzler, The Fiery Holy Spirit: The Spirit’s Relationship with Judgment in Luke-Acts (Blandford Forum, UK: Deo, 2015), 61–72, 208–216.

12This passage is echoed in 1 Enoch 62:2 and 1QSb 5:24–25.

13Note the omission of “fire” in Acts 1:5, evidence that Luke links the final judgment prophesied by John to Jesus’s second coming rather than to Pentecost. The “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3) signify that the disciples will be “a light to the nations” (Isa 49:6; Luke 2:32; Acts 1:8; 13:47; cf. Kienzler, Fiery Holy Spirit, 69).

14The Scriptures rather than the Spirit are presented as the means by which Jesus withstands the temptations of the devil (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). With his references to the Spirit in Luke 4:1, 14, Luke declares that because Jesus is faithful and upright, he is the bearer of the Spirit—unlike Israel in the wilderness, who grieved the Spirit (Isa 63:10). As Haya-Prats notes (Empowered Believers, 167–177), there is also no indication that Luke considered the diverse aspects of community life mentioned in Acts 2:42–47; 4:31–36; or 5:11–16 to be the direct result of the Spirit’s activity.

15Since Luke never uses καλέω (to summon or announce) with reference to preaching, his use of κηρύσσω (to proclaim) rather than the LXX’s καλέω in the phrase “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19=Isa 61:2), reflects his emphasis on preaching as the preeminent activity inspired by the Spirit. Martin Rese, Alttestamentliche Motive in der Christologie des Lukas (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1969), 146.

16Bruce Metzger, “Seventy or Seventy-Two Disciples?,” NTS 5 (1959): 306.

17One exception is John Nolland, who favors the “seventy” reading (Luke 9.21–18.34 [Dallas, TX: Word, 1993], 546).

18For the various options see Metzger, “Seventy or Seventy-Two Disciples?,” 303–304.

19For more discussion, see Robert P. Menzies, The Language of the Spirit: Interpreting and Translating Charismatic Terms (Cleveland, TN: CPT, 2010), 73–82.

20Keith F. Nickle, Preaching the Gospel of Luke: Proclaiming God’s Royal Rule (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000), 117.

21Craig S. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012), 881.

22Gordon Wenham describes the prophesying narrated in Numbers 11:24–30 as an instance of “unintelligible ecstatic utterance, what the New Testament terms speaking in tongues” (Numbers [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1981], 109).

23With the term, “ecstatic,” I mean “flowing from an experience of intense joy” rather than a loss of control.

24Contra Hans Conzelmann, Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987; German orig., 1963), 15, 159–160.

25Reasons for this conclusion include: the reference to the Holy Spirit breaks the parallelism of the “good gifts” given by earthly fathers and “the good gifts” given by our heavenly Father; Luke often inserts references to the Holy Spirit into his source material; and Matthew never omits or adds references to the Holy Spirit in his sources.

26J. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke, Vol. 2 (New York: Doubleday, 1985), 916; E.E. Ellis, The Gospel of Luke (London: Oliphants, Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1974), 164; Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, 46.

27The scholarly consensus affirms that Luke-Acts was addressed primarily to Christians.

28G.T. Montague, The Holy Spirit: Growth of a Biblical Tradition (New York: Paulist, 1976), 259–260.

29Note the repetitive or continuous action implicit in the verbs in 11:9: αἰτεῖτε (ask), ζητεῖτε (seek), κρούετε (knock).

30F. Büchsel notes the repetitive character of the exhortation (Der Geist Gottes im Neuen Testament [Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann, 1926], 189–190). So also Montague, Spirit, 259–260.

31Contra Jack Levison, who suggests that the call to pray for the Spirit is not about receiving a supernatural gift or dramatic experience; it is, rather, about becoming a holy person through a process of discipline and growing intimacy (An Unconventional God: The Spirit according to Jesus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2020], 93–95).

32The gift of the Spirit is also related to prayer in Acts 8:15, 17 and 9:17, though the prayers here are not offered by the recipients but by others. Prayer is also implicit in the Pentecost account (Acts 1:14; 2:4). In all of these texts, the gift of the Spirit is presented as a prophetic endowment.

33Luke’s comparisons feature dangerous objects (“snake” and “scorpion,” Luke 11:11–12), whereas Matthew’s comparisons include one that is simply useless (“stone” and “snake,” Matt 7:9–10). The “snakes and scorpions” of Luke 10:19 suggest that Luke here seeks to help his readers overcome their fear.

34For Jewish and pagan examples of ecstasy and inspired utterances, see Keener, Acts, 807–812.

35Note that the Beelzebub controversy immediately follows (Luke 11:14–28).

36Luke’s description of Jesus’s exultation and inspired speech in Luke 10:21, a text unique to Luke’s gospel, anticipates the reference to “my tongue rejoices” (καὶ ἠγαλλιάσατο ἡ γλῶσσά μου) in the psalm cited by Peter in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:26=Psalm 16:9 [15:9 LXX]), which the early church read prophetically of Jesus, and demonstrates that the prophecy it contains was fulfilled by Jesus. Cf. Robert P. Menzies, Speaking in Tongues: Jesus and the Apostolic Church as Models for the Church Today (Cleveland, TN: CPT, 2016), 47–65.

37Robert P. Menzies, Empowered for Witness: The Spirit in Luke-Acts (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1994), 193. For an alternative view, see M. Mittelstadt, who argues that here “blasphemy against the Spirit” should be understood as the “persistent rejection of the gospel witness” by nonbelievers (The Spirit and Suffering in Luke-Acts: Implications for a Pentecostal Pneumatology [London: T & T Clark International, 2004], 79).

38J. Shelton, Mighty in Word and Deed (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991), 107.

39Not a single text in the OT or in the Jewish intertestamental literature attributes the exorcism of demons to the agency of the Spirit (Menzies, Development, 195–196).

40Luke 5:1; 6:6; 13:10; cf. 5:15; 6:17–19; 9:1–2.

41Paul S. Minear, To Heal and to Reveal: The Prophetic Vocation According to Luke (New York: Seabury, 1976), 148–149.

42Contra Amos Yong, Beyond the Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 131. Cf. Robert P. Menzies, Christ-Centered: The Evangelical Nature of Pentecostal Theology (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2020), 134–136.

43In “The Spirit and Salvation in Luke-Acts” (in Graham Stanton, Bruce Longenecker, and Stephen Barton, eds., The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins: Essays in Honor of James D.G. Dunn [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004], 103–116), Max Turner places great weight on veiled references to Isaiah 32:15 in Luke 24:49 and Luke 1:35, much more weight, it would appear, than on Luke’s direct statements (Luke 11:13; 24:47–49; Acts 1:8, 2:17–18). These allusions encourage Turner to suggest that in Luke’s view the Spirit is the agent of the Christian community’s “righteousness, peace, and life” (110). I find Isaiah 49:6, which has a missiological focus, to be a much more convincing backdrop for Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4–8. In any event, none of this should obscure the force of Luke’s explicit statements. These allusions also lead Turner to see Jesus’s miraculous birth by the Spirit (Luke 1:35) as a parallel to the believer’s experience of the Spirit at Pentecost (113, n. 31). Yet Luke has crafted his narrative so as to present Jesus’s experience of the Spirit at the Jordan—which Turner himself acknowledges to be an empowering for mission—as the true parallel to the disciples’ experience on Pentecost.

44James Dunn, “Baptism in the Spirit: A Response to Pentecostal Scholarship,” JPT 3 (1993): 12, 21.

45Contra Luke Timothy Johnson, Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church: The Challenge of Luke-Acts to Contemporary Christians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 53–54.

46For further discussion of these points and the relevant Jewish texts, see Menzies, Development, 104–111.

47Schweizer, “πνεῦμα,” 412. So also S. Brown, “ ‘Water-Baptism’ and ‘Spirit-Baptism’ in Luke-Acts,” ATR 59 (1977): 144, and Paul Elbert, “Acts 2:38 in Light of the Syntax of Imperative-Future Passive and Imperative-Present Participle Combinations,” CBQ 75, no. 1 (2013): 94–107.

48Torrey, Baptism, 17. For an alternative view, see Matthias Wenk, Community-Forming Power: The Socio-Ethical Role of the Spirit in Luke-Acts (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 2000), passim. Wenk is unhappy with those who ask questions about the Spirit’s role in conversion-initiation in Luke-Acts (315–316). Yet, these questions are demanded by the language and theology of Paul and John. Indeed, we must pose them of Luke’s writings if we are to produce a fully orbed biblical theology of the Spirit.

49See Robert P. Menzies, “Subsequence in the Pauline Epistles,” Pneuma 39 (2017): 339–360, and “John’s Place in the Development of Early Christian Pneumatology,” in Wonsuk Ma and R. Menzies, eds., The Spirit and Spirituality: Essays in Honor of Russell P. Spittler (London: T & T Clark International, 2004), 41–52.

501 Cor 12:10; 12:28; 13:8; 14:22, 26.

511 Cor 12:30; 13:1; 14:2, 4, 6, 13, 18, 23, 27, 39.

52Luke 1:41; 1:67; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 10:46; 13:9–10; 19:6; cf. Acts 8:15, 18 (implied). In Luke 3:22 and Acts 9:17 inspired speech follows shortly after reception of the Spirit (Luke 4:14, 18–19; Acts 9:20).

53Note how Luke describes revelatory experiences at night as “visions” and not “dreams” (for example, Acts 16:9–10).

54Acts 7:31; 9:10, 12; 10: 3, 17, 19; 11:5; 12:9; 16:9, 10; 18:9; and then also in Matt 17:9.

55For the strategic role of visions in the narrative of Acts see: Acts 9:10–12; 10:3, 17, 19; 11:5; 16:9–10; 18:9–10.

56While the Spirit is loosely associated with visions in Acts 2:17, elsewhere the Spirit is not explicitly described as their source. Although the Lord directs the church through the Spirit (such as in Acts 16:6–7), in Acts the Lord also frequently communicates with and guides his church through other closely related (Acts 8:26–29) but apparently nonpneumatic means (angels, for example, cf. 5:19; 7:31; 8:26; 10:3, 7, 22; 11:13; 12:7–23; 27:23).

57How are the Spirit and the kingdom of God related in Luke-Acts? The former is the means by which the latter is proclaimed (miracle and word are inextricably related) and thus made available to the world. E. Franklin correctly notes that in Luke-Acts the “Spirit … is neither a substitute for, nor an embodiment of the Kingdom” (“The Ascension and the Eschatology of Luke-Acts,” SJT 23 [1970]: 198). According to Luke, the kingdom is present, above all, in Jesus. One can only enter into the kingdom, the realm of God’s redemptive blessing, by responding in faith to the proclamation of Jesus. For more on this topic, see Menzies, The Language of the Spirit, 59–72 and Cho, Spirit and Kingdom, 110–195.

58Martin Hengel, Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity, trans. J. Bowden (London: SCM Press, 1979), 59.

59Graham H. Twelftree, People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke’s View of the Church (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009), 28.

60Twelftree, People of the Spirit, 28.

61I agree with Karris, who posits that Luke wrote shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple (around 75 CE) to “communities whose missionary work and daily existence are prone to danger and suffering—both from Jew and Gentile, but primarily from the Jewish synagogal authorities” (Karris, “Missionary Communities: A New Paradigm for the Study of Luke-Acts,” CBQ 41 [1979]: 96).

62For example, Keith J. Hacking, Signs and Wonders, Then and Now: Miracle-working, Commissioning and Discipleship (Nottingham: Apollos/IVP, 2006), passim. Hacking argues that the miracles of Jesus and the apostles were not intended to serve as models for the post-apostolic church and that the commissioning accounts are relevant only to a select few. See my review of Hacking’s book in EQ 79 (2007): 261–265.

63Roger Stronstad, The Prophethood of All Believers: A Study in Luke’s Charismatic Theology (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1999), 85–124. Max Turner, on the other hand, argues that only a select group is empowered for prophetic witness (“Does Luke Believe Reception of the ‘Spirit of Prophecy’ Makes All ‘Prophets’? Inviting Dialogue with Roger Stronstad,” JEPTA 20 [2000]: 3–24).

64NT scholars often share presuppositions that give Paul pride of place. This fact is illustrated by Anthony Thiselton’s The Holy Spirit—In Biblical Teaching, through the Centuries, and Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013). Thiselton repeatedly questions the wisdom of those who “wish to drive a wedge between Luke and Paul” (490) and flatly states, “Luke and Paul do not stand on equal footing” (496). Nevertheless, the pentecostal reading of the NT described above has gained considerable traction among NT scholars. This judgment finds support in the Festschrift published in 2004 to honor James Dunn. See R. Menzies, “A Fitting Tribute: A Review Essay of The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins: Essays in Honor of James D.G. Dunn,” Pneuma 28, no. 1 (2006): 131–140.

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