View Additional "Plain Talk"  TOPICS:

Home Page


Plain Talk About

The Gift of the Holy Spirit


And Peter said to them, “Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children, and all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.”  ( Acts 2 38, 39)


What is the “gift of the Holy Spirit”?

 There are at least six views of the gift, perhaps more.:

(1)  The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself, promised to all who

       repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. 

(2)  The gift is salvation or eternal life

(3)  This passage is referring to the gifts of the Holy Spirit:.

(4)  This passage refers to the fruit of the Spirit.

(5)  The gift is the “times of refreshing.”  (Acts 3: 19)
(6)  The gift is the promise  (Acts 2: 39)


Is the gift of the Spirit eternal life and salvation or some other thing other than the Spirit?

 Plain Talk holds that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself for reasons given in the rest of this article.

 While it is true that salvation and eternal life are gifts of God, they are not specifically spoken of as gifts of the Spirit.   Plain Talk recognizes that the Spirit does give life. The focus of the first two chapters of Acts is the pouring out of the Spirit for all of God’s people and the fact that that repentance for remission of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem (Romans 6:23: Ephesians 2: 8, 9;Acts 217, 16; Luke 24: 47)

  We should not confuse the gift of the Spirit with the gifts (pleural) of the Spirit.   There is no evidence that the 3,000 souls who were converted on that first Pentecost after the resurrection received miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The gifts of the Spirit are word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of Spirits, and kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues.  (1 Corinthians 12: 8- 10)

 And we should not confuse the fruit of the Spirit, that which is produced by the Spirit, with the gift of the Spirit. They are not the same. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  (Galatians 5: 22, 23)

 Acts 3: 19 appears to be parallel with Acts 2: 38. In which case the times of refreshing would be seasons of enjoyment and peace brought about by the remission of sins and the presence of the approving Spirit of God, given as both a seal and pledge of God.

 The promise of the Spirit in Acts 2: 33 and 39 is clearly defined in v. 33 as the Spirit Himself.  This thought is confirmed in Ephesians 1: 13, which speaks of the Holy Spirit of promise and Luke 24: 49 in which Jesus says He is sending the promise of His Father upon you.


Opinion of Commentators and writers as to the meaning of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 Adam Clarke’s Commentary- the Holy Ghost

Albert Barnes- the influence of the Holy Ghost as far as the may be adapted to

      Your case, comfort. Peace, sanctification

Family Bible Notes- the Holy Spirit

John Wesley- fruit of the Spirit

Peoples New Testament Commentary- the Holy Spirit

Robertson’s Word Pictures- Holy Spirit (genitive of identification)

Teachers Commentary- Holy Spirit

The Fourfold Gospel- the Spirit

William Burkitt- gifts of the Holy Spirit

F.F. Bruce- the Spirit himself

Leo Boles- miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit

Jimmy Allen- the Holy Spirit himself

Foy E Wallace, Jr.- promise of salvation to all mankind

Herman House- eternal life

James D Bales- the Holy Spirit


To whom is the Spirit given?

 Plain Talk also recognizes that God has promised to pour out His Spirit upon all mankind  (Act 2: 17, 18) as modified by other statements given in the Scriptures.

 I was taught and believed for many years that the pouring out of the Spirit upon all mankind was fulfilled when the Apostles (Jew) and Cornelius and his household (Gentile) received the Spirit.  I no longer accept that position as the text, (Acts 2: 17- 21) says nothing about race as a category and the apparent meaning of the text is that all of God’s people receive the Spirit.


Does the language and grammar allow the interpretation that the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself?

 In his book, The Mission and Medium of the Holy Spirit, Foy E Wallace Jr., devotes pgs. 38- 49 explaining why in his view the gift is the promise of salvation to all mankind (pg 43).  Contrary to his opinion, apparently the phrase can be taken either as an Objective Genitive or as an Appositional Genitive. Franklin Puckett is quoted, “The meaning must be determined on the basis of doctrinal truth rather on grammatical form.”


 I do not know Greek, and hence I am only able to read the comments of others.  The majority of commentaries favor the position that the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself.  Just five verses prior, in Acts 2: 33, we find the same grammar in the phrase, “the promise of the Holy Spirit.”  Is the “promise of the Holy Spirit” the Spirit Himself or a promise made by the Holy Spirit?  In this verse there is no doubt that the promise is the Holy Spirit Himself because Jesus said He received the promise from the Father, not from the Spirit.  Please read this verse very carefully.  This demonstrates that the same type of phrase five verses later is capable of the same interpretation.


God has promised to pour out His Spirit upon all mankind in the last days.

 But this is what is spoken of through the prophet Joel.  (Acts 2: 16)

 Peter absolutely confirms that the events that were occurring on that Pentecost were what Joel spoke of.  This promise was for all mankind with the exceptions made elsewhere, that the world, non-believers, cannot receive the Spirit.  This promise beautifully coincides with Acts 2: 39. This passage would seem to confirm that the Holy Spirit is given as a gift.


What is a gift?

 Back to basics.  Webster’s new Collegiate Dictionary states that a gift is “anything given.”  This dictionary also gives an example of “a gift of wit” or “a gift of gab.”  That is the same construction as the verse in question, “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  We all recognize that the gift of gab is gabbing itself, nor some gift that gab gives. Therefore, it seems there is nothing preposterous in concluding that Acts 2: 38 is speaking of the Holy Spirit as a gift.   Let’s move on to doctrinal truth about the Holy Spirit.


Is the Holy Spirit in fact, referred to as a gift in other Scriptures?

 Yes the Holy Spirit is “given” and “received” as a gift many times.



These Scriptures confirm that the Holy Spirit, Himself, is often called a gift from God.  This shouldn’t surprise us that much because Jesus our Lord is also spoken of as an indescribable gift. (John 3: 16; 2 Corinthians 9: 15)

 The objectors attempt to circumvent these passages by limiting the recipients to the Apostles.  You can see that this is not true by the following considerations.

 I have been there, but now refuse to rationalize these statements to fit preconceived ideas, which is nothing more than “adding to the Scriptures.” 

 The Holy Spirit dwells in us.

 This is the clear teaching of the Scriptures.  (Romans 8: 9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3: 16, 17; 19; 2 Timothy 2: 14) 

The Holy Spirit is God’s seal and pledge.

 It is difficult for Plain Talk to understand how the Holy Spirit can be God’s seal, that we are his children, and His pledge that God will fulfill His promise to redeem our mortal bodies, if we do not actually receive the Spirit Himself, but only receive the Spirit representatively.  (Ephesians 1: 13, 14; 2 Corinthians 1: 22)


Is there a comparable expression, the gift of the Holy Spirit, in the Scriptures?

 Yes, in Acts 10: 45 we find that the “gift of the Holy Spirit” had been poured out upon the Gentiles at Caesarea and also on the Apostles at Pentecost in Jerusalem.  In Acts 10: 47 we learn that this gift was the Holy Spirit.  This is confirmed in Acts 15: 8.  So we have two instances where “the gift of the Holy Spirit” is the Holy Spirit.  Plain Talk suggests that the third usage, in Acts 2: 38, is also the Holy Spirit.


Summation and conclusion:


 Therefore, Plain Talk concludes that “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2: 38 is the Spirit Himself.  When we are baptized, God richly pours out the Spirit on those  As they come forth from the water, they are born of both water and the Spirit.  The Spirit remains with us and in us as a seal and pledge to guide, fill and dwell.

 Now, no one has the right to tell another what he must believe and do; Plain Talk can only share what we have, hoping it will be useful to others

God Bless.

Arland  Pafford  


Please contact us if we can be of assistance:


Plain Talk 

PO Box 1182

Oakdale, CA 95361


Last Update   09/26/12