The Filling of the Holy Spirit -- By: Eldon Woodcock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:625 (Jan 2000)
Article: The Filling of the Holy Spirit
Author: Eldon Woodcock


The Filling of the Holy Spirit

Eldon Woodcocka

On several occasions the New Testament refers to people being filled with the Holy Spirit. What does this involve? What did people do when they were filled with the Holy Spirit? How did that filling come about? How can Christians today experience the filling of the Holy Spirit?

What It Means to Be “Filled”

In New Testament Greek two words with their cognates meaning “to fill, to fulfill, to complete” are used in association with the Holy Spirit. They are πληρόω and πίμπλημι.1 Both words are flexible enough to designate several kinds of filling. These words are strikingly similar in their meanings. One area of shared meaning is “to finish, complete, fulfill.” Both πληρόω and πίμπλημι are used to indicate a time at which something was to begin and the completion of a period of time at which something was to end.2

The verb πληρόω is used of Jesus’ finishing a presentation of His message (Luke 7:1) and of the apostles as having completed a

specific mission (Acts 12:25; 14:26). This verb also describes Paul as having fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19) and as having presented the Word of God in its fullness (Col. 1:25).3 Paul used πληρόω to designate meeting the righteous requirements of the Law (Rom. 8:4).4 Πληρόω often refers to events as “fulfilling” or “filling up” what had been prophesied, especially in Scripture (e.g., Matt. 2:15; Acts 3:18).5

The verb πίμπλημι pictures the future time of punishment before Christ’s second coming as fulfilling “all that has been written” (Luke 21:22).

Another way these words are used is to spea...

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