Term Paper: Holy Spirit in the Book Acts

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Holy Spirit in the Book Of Acts

The purpose of the Book of Acts was to offer a history of the early church with a focus on the Holy Spirit and how it is the "life principle" of the Church (Johnson 1992, 14). The book focuses on the day of Pentecost and how one can be empowered by being a witness for Jesus Christ. Specifically, Acts tells the reader that the purpose of the book is to write "about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven" (Acts 1:1-2); this, according to Bock (2007, 51) is a reminder from his gospel and is used as a reaffirmation. Acts is the record of the apostles being Christ's witness in Jerusalem, Judea, and the rest of the surrounding area. Hengen (1979, 71) implies that Acts is to be read as a gospel for edification purposes, it is also a gospel that specifically shows the reader how the Holy Spirit works. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." The book gives the reader insight into how the Holy Spirit works to guide, teach, empower, and serve as a person's overall counselor. The Book of Acts records the great works of Peter, John and Paul and makes one look at the importance of adhering to the word of God and what can occur when one has come to know who Christ is. As well as giving references to the Holy Spirit continuously, the book of Acts also intends to instruct by offering examples of people who rejected the teachings of Christ. The reader is shown what evils can occur because of lust, power and greed as well.

The chief theological emphasis of the book of Acts is the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts begins with the promise Jesus makes concerning the Holy Spirit (Bruce & Fee 1988, 30). There are references made to the Holy Sprit that are executed in a number of different ways. The majority of these times it is a reference to a person being overcome by the Holy Spirit., or filled with the Holy Spirit -- for example: "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:4). Luke, the believed author of Acts, also equates the Holy Spirit with God.

The book of Acts shows the reader the history of the Christian church as well as how Jesus spread his gospel, despite the increasing opposition to it. There were several followers of Jesus who wanted to spread his word, but the most important was Saul, whose name was changed to Paul. Paul persecuted and killed Christians before his conversion and Acts shows us his dramatic conversion on the Damascus road in Acts 9:1-31. This is, arguably, one of the most significant aspect of the book of Acts because Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit and he goes on to become one of God's most faithful followers, preaching His word with passion and persistency. This shows the reader just how powerful the Holy Spirit is.

The book of Acts tells the reader that the Holy Spirit can change people (as clearly seen in Paul's transformation who went from being a murderer of Christians and made him one of Christ's biggest supporters, who would evidently go on to write nearly half the books of the New Testament -- so his conversion was a very important one). It isn't blatantly stated, but the purpose of Acts seems to be to illustrate the work of Jesus, which is continuous and it is carried out by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of the Holy Spirit Jesus continues to live and his work has increased his power because it is continuous and alive.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

The beginning of Acts is a reminder from Luke concerning his earlier book. He reminds the reader that Jesus was killed and then raised from the dead. Jesus shows himself to his disciples and offers them a new way of understanding the Scriptures. Acts begins as a continuation of Luke's story and how the disciples must teach other nations. At the end of Luke, the disciples are told to wait until they get the power from on high (v. 49); but, what this power from on high? Jesus taught the disciples about God's kingdom and he tells them that they must wait for a special gift from God (Acts 1:4). "In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (v. 5). With this line, Luke is setting up what the entire book of Acts is going to tell the reader about what happened next. The "followers are given a mission through the Spirit and will be enabled for it by the Spirit (Bock 2007, 53). The Holy Spirit plays a very important role in setting the stage for the book of Acts.

Moving through the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit will come to play an important role in every development of the gospel (Bruce & Fee 1988, 12-13). The message seems to be that Jesus' mission is not meant to be carried out by men who have the ability to lead -- such as the disciples, but rather, they are a sort of medium for the mission. The word of God can only be proclaimed because God said it would be, Jesus directed it, and the Holy Spirit carried it out through the believers and the faith-filled.

The Ascension of Jesus and the Power from God and the Holy Spirit

Jesus is asked about the kingdom, but the way in which they word it make it sound like they are asking about a national kingdom, which Jesus does not like. He doesn't answer them, but rather, he tells them once again about the promise and they are told to wait. Jesus states very clearly to the disciples that the power from God is the Holy Spirit, and this is what the disciples must carry throughout the world. They are to be witnesses for Jesus and their job is to let them know that forgiveness and repentance is found only through him.

There was a problem in that the word of Jesus could not be spread while he was physically on earth. As long as Jesus was around he would be the main teacher of God's word. Jesus wanted the disciples to be the teacher and he didn't just want God to be with the disciples, but rather, he wanted God to be in them. It is through the Holy Spirit filling them that they would be given the knowledge to be good teachers. With the holy spirit inside them, they would come to understand what the Scriptures really mean.

Jesus ascends into heaven as the disciples watch in awe. Then two angels come and tell the disciples that Jesus will one day come back, but they are not told when he will come back. All the disciples know to do is to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes to them.

Jesus' ascension in the Book of Acts has some very powerful messages in it. First of all, the idea is that people cannot get physical blessings from God's kingdom. While people may want Jesus' speedy return in order to solve the world's issues, the message is that spiritual blessings are more important than physical ones. This means that when Jesus is coming is not important because if one has accepted him into his or her life, then the Holy Spirit works through them and these people can go on to spread the word of God.

A Twelfth Disciple is Chosen

The issue of the 12th disciples in the book of Acts is quite relevant in understanding what the Holy Spirit can do. After Jesus ascends to God's kingdom, the disciples go back to Jerusalem and they quickly are reminded that they need to pick a twelfth disciple as Judas Iscariot is now dead (Bock 2007, 82). There is great importance with the number twelve because it is twelve people who must represent the people of God. The twelve apostles were leaders of the "nation" that God was creating. Picking a twelfth disciple is more symbolic than anything else, but it shows the reader how the Holy Spirit is important in the decision-making process.

There were certain qualities that the chosen disciple must have, for example, one was that he had to have followed Jesus since the beginning ministry to the end of his ministry. The disciples prayed for who this person would be. Matthias is chosen (Bock 2007, 75), yet despite the fact that so much importance goes into telling the reader about the selection process, Matthias becomes irrelevant to the story… [END OF PREVIEW]

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