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Measures of the Spirit



Are there measures of the Spirit?  Were you like me, taught there are four measures of the Holy Spirit?  These were considered to be different measures of power or level of abilities, which God gives His people. I believed this doctrine for many years until I took the time to look again.


I now believe that the concept of measures of the Spirit is an almost complete misapprehension of How the Spirit is given and received.  No, I am not a charismatic; I do not speak in tongues.  I simply believe there is a better understanding of the giving and reception of the Spirit.  We should not have to tip toe around John the Baptist and his statements as we have for many years.


What are the measures of the Holy Spirit?

Most of the Restoration Movement with which I am familiar teaches that God gives different measures of the Holy Spirit.  These are:


What is the most remarkable thing about this doctrine? 

Perhaps the most the most remarkable thing is that this term, “measures of the Holy Spirit”, is not found in the Scriptures.  Some will say, “How about John 3: 34?  Please, please read it in several versions.  This verse does not speak of “measures of the Spirit.”  We have a whole lot of doctrine about something that is extra biblical.  This is especially weird for people who want to speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent.


What evidence is cited for this doctrine?

The only reference is quoted below in three versions, the Geneva Bible, KJV and the NASV.

For hee whome God hath sent, speaketh the woordes of God: for God giueth him not the Spirit by measure.  (John 3: 34 Geneva Bible)

For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.   John 3: 34 KJV

For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.   John 3: 34   NASV

Notable items:


What is meant by “measure” of the Holy Spirit?

I am not really sure, and I have heard this doctrine all of my life.   But there are several possibilities that come to mind:


Do we receive different quantities of the Spirit?

Certainly not.  The Holy Spirit is not an entity that can be divided up and portioned out.   The Holy Spirit is God not some physical entity.  Christ received the Holy Spirit, the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and we receive the Holy Spirit.  We do not receive differing amounts neither is He diminished because He is poured our on many individuals.  The Spirit does give differing gifts as He wills.


Do we receive different varieties of the Spirit?

Certainly not.  The Spirit is one; it does not come in different flavors.  Ephesians 4: 4; 1 Corinthians 12: 4


Does the Spirit give a variety of gifts as He wills?

Yes, He does? He gives one gift to some and differing gifts to others, as He wills.  Because we all receive the same Spirit in no ways implies we have the same empowerment or abilities.  (1 Corinthians 12: 4-13)


How does God give the Spirit?

God gives accordingly:


What then is the limiting factor in being “filled” with the Spirit?            (Ephesians 5: 18)

According to this view Jesus was the perfect receptacle or vessel for receiving the Spirit.  He emptied Himself to a degree that we do not approach and hence is filled with the Spirit to a degree we do not approach.  (Philippians 2: 6, 7)  We are admonished to deny ourselves and that God gives grace to the humble but resist the proud.  We receive grace to the extent that we do.  (Matthew 16: 24; James 4: 6)  The grace of God has been abundantly and lavishly poured out upon all men but all cannot receive it.  (Titus 2: 11)  This is not a matter of prohibition but of inability.


How has the misunderstanding of the baptism with the Spirit contributed to the misunderstanding of the measures of the Spirit in the Restoration Movement?

We have attributed the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit with the baptism because of the Apostles and Acts 2.  We also believe that Cornelius received the baptism but was not equipped to be an apostle.  This should give us pause.  The truth is we all receive the Holy Spirits and the Spirit gives gifts as he wills.  The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit ceased when the “perfect” came as Paul tells us.


How do the Samaritans and the gift of the Spirit contribute to misunderstanding?

The Samaritans were baptized in water but did not receive the Spirit.  Later the apostles Peter and John came down, prayed for them and they received the Spirit.  We have assumed that this was to show that only the apostles had the ability to confer miraculous gifts.  I suggest that was not the purpose.  The purpose was to show that God had placed His stamp of approval upon the conversions of the Samaritans.  The Jews and the Samaritans despised one another.  Similarly the events surrounding the conversion of Cornelius were to show that the Gentiles were acceptable to God.  (Acts 8) Any extraordinary gifts were incidental.



God does not skimp; He gives the Spirit without measure.  While it is true that we will vary in our Spiritual growth, this is not because God withholds the Spirit in some degree.  .

Differences in reception of the Spirit are not attributable to the Giver but rather to the receiver and to the extent he empties and denies himself.  We can only be filled with the Spirit to the extent that we empty ourselves.

Those who read the Scriptures, know that John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize them all, not just the Apostles and Cornelius, with the Holy Spirit and fire.  This is one of the best-kept secrets in the Restoration Movement


God Bless.

Arland  Pafford  


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Last Update   09/26/12