"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
The first portion of the giving of the Holy Spirit was upon all flesh and that represented the granting of the favor of God, the initiation of God’s eternal plan of salvation before all humankind and the return of the Kingdom of God with its pending blessing as it was soon to be opened to “all nations” and thereby to “all flesh.” As a part of that there would be signs and wonders to verify the events.
This was granted in order: first to the Jews beginning that Pentecost day and later then to all of Judea, to the Samaritans, and lastly, it was taken to the nations and to “the uttermost part of the earth.” It was accomplished precisely in the sequence that Christ had stated and commanded that it should be. That constituted this portion of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon “all flesh” and this part of the unfolding of God’s plan. We joyously should note the favor and blessings of God as we come under this blessing right now.
It was the Holy Spirit as the mover and confirmer of the word of Christ, the word of God, who acted as the recorder and compiler of this work, who acted as a witness to all things that were to be accomplished. The Holy Spirit assured that everything was taken in order by the apostles and the disciples, and that no detail was left unattended. This also took place exactly as the Christ had said that it would and in its given and precise order.
We have on this site covered these topics in several essays using the available scriptural proofs in considerable detail. We hope to refresh some of that detail in some of the lessons to come and to rekindle interest and study in these and other topics.
The time of the fulfillment of the first portion of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is identified in the texts as we have examined it here through the very words of the apostles.
The second portion had its beginning when the Holy Spirit had descended upon those same twelve apostles some short time earlier the same morning. There is no doubt that this overwhelming of the apostles with the Spirit of God was different in aspect from the outpouring upon all flesh. To gain that understanding one needs to carefully read the historical record in the book of Acts.
This work of the Holy Spirit continued as the apostles passed on certain gifts of the Spirit to those whom they chose and identified. There is absolutely no scriptural evidence that any other disciples came under this pouring out of the Spirit on that particular day. In fact the evidence is particularly clear that they did not.
Peter said, “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel…” The twelve apostles were prophesying at the very moment he uttered those words. They were speaking as the mouthpiece of God in languages previously unknown by them and were thereby exhibiting the exact behaviors that were identified by the prophet Joel of this outpouring on the servants of God. The rest of the disciples were not yet participants in these things. Though more would prophesy and work signs and wonders.
But, it was not the working of signs and wonders that was the center of things. Rather it was that the twelve apostles were the first protagonists of that portion of the outpouring of the Spirit of God — the part upon the servants of God, and most importantly they were the medium for the issuance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh that very day.
They were chosen vessels, the earthen vessels hand picked by the Son of God for this duty and to fulfill his word. This is exactly what is indicated in the scriptures. And through what they did and through what was done in their deeds and through their hands, both the pouring out of the Spirit upon all flesh and the portion of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit of God upon the menservants and maidservants of God each had its beginning that day.
Therefore, the apostles were the currency of the giving of the Holy Spirit of God upon all flesh, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God in performance of that part of his duty. Therefore, both portions or outpourings began at the same time.
The end product of this is — the twelve apostles were the only ones with a specific indwelling of the Holy Spirit on that day and for some unidentified and unspecified period of time beyond that. They were the only ones performing works through the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God on that day and for some unknown period of time to follow. They were the only ones at any time who could transfer the gifts of the Holy Spirit to others, which they also in time did. Those to whom these gifts were transferred had no power at all to continue that by transferring it onward. This is exactly and precisely what the scriptures teach. You should study the book of Acts to identify these things, to note if what I have listed here is accurate and a fair assessment of the record.
To continue with these conclusions – there is no evidence that every Christian on that day of Pentecost, or on any other day, or at any other time since, had or was given a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is mentioned about such things anywhere in the text. God does not dwell with man, he has said so.
There is no record of anyone having the specific powers the apostles possessed at any point, and at any time, except these 12 men. There is no record of anyone else having an indwelling of the Holy Spirit that day except the twelve, and this remained to be true for some unspecified time. Later the apostle Paul, as was also prophesied, was given a dispensation of the Spirit, as he too was a hand chosen servant of God. Therefore (whether you or I like it or not) it necessarily follows that the Holy Spirit was poured out on him also and to the same extent as it had been with the other twelve, although we have not so much as a single detail of that event.
The Holy Spirit also was some time later poured out upon the first gentile converts in the home of the centurion Cornelius, for the same reason (“all flesh”) and also as a sign with wonders attached for the apostles to note that these persons representing the nations outside of Israel were also now to be allowed entrance to the Kingdom — and that’s it, as far as the pouring out on the servants of God.
There simply is no record of that continuing on at any time from that point. There is also no evidence that this outpouring was with the same attendant powers attached as was possessed by the apostles. Such things are not taught in God’s book.
The rest of the disciples only had miraculous gifts with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the apostles transferred the presence of the Spirit to various individuals. It is contrary to the evidence of scripture that there was any other method by which Christians were to obtain the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is also contrary to scripture that all the early disciples somehow enjoyed a personal and general indwelling of the Holy Spirit or exhibited signs based upon these gifts in some wholesale dispensation of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures do not teach these things and neither should we.
These are the reasonable conclusions to the events of scripture as they were recorded.
The twelve apostles first put forth the “good news” beginning on Pentecost (which was in fact the first day of the week) and what they did was confirmed through the Holy Spirit in both signs and wonders wrought through their hands and by their hands alone. Both events started at the same time just as it was stated that they would. As I have noted here — this was the beginning, the opening up of the doors to the Kingdom of God and the publication of the confirmation of Christ as the savior and of his word. God had now returned his favor to those that would believe. Have you not read these things?
These events took place “in the last days.” That the phrase “in the last days” meant something far from that time and off into the future from those events cannot be – for the apostle said the events of that particular Pentecost holy day were the start and fulfillment of the prophecy. Therefore, this was not a prediction of events to come about well off in the future. The phrase referred to the very days in which Peter spoke this publicly. It was indicative of the last days of the Hebrew dispensation. The direct audience was the multitude he addressed that day and therefore its fulfilling began that day just as it was stated.
Therefore, beginning from that day, the Kingdom of Heaven would move to become accessible to all seekers regardless of heritage, location, familial or religious background, even to those considered common or unclean. It did not happen overnight as it was an outpouring and not a deluge. Part of this outpouring involved the performance of signs and wonders in confirmation of this as some of these particular disciples were granted special gifts through the direct influence of the outpouring that had been accomplished on the twelve apostles and later on the apostle to the nations.
This is the sum of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as mentioned by Joel and as recorded by the apostles on that Pentecost holiday. This is a summary of what the scriptures teach concerning these events. You should examine these things for yourself.
Your dictionary states that to fulfill means to “put into effect, to execute, to meet the requirements, to satisfy or to convert into reality and to develop the full potentialities.” Peter was signaling that the events of that day met all the requirements of the prophecy based upon what had its beginning and in what was taking place that very day. The events converted the prophet’s words and therefore God’s Word into reality — into action. Things were initiated that day and started moving toward their considered conclusion. The fabric was indeed unfolding and more of the plan of God became visible each day as it was given by God through his Holy Spirit to be put into effect. In time all was made visible, just exactly as the apostles later wrote that it had been. All could come who might come, for salvation was no longer only of the Jews. That was the promised outpouring on all flesh.
What part, dear friend, have you or I played in any of that?
We are blessed beyond what we should be in that we also are recipients to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, and therefore we should take advantage of “so great salvation.” We have had nothing at all to do with the pouring out on the servants of God for that was the medium by which the general outpouring on all flesh was accomplished. The rest is the history of the restoration of the Kingdom of Heaven to this earth and the establishment of the church and of its edification through the work of the Holy Spirit of God and of the apostles of Christ.