Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 10:2 (Autumn 1997)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous


Periodical Reviews

“What Does It Mean to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit? A Biblical Investigation,” Andreas J. Köstenberger, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40 (June 1997), 229–40.

Köstenberger’s thesis is essentially this: There are two types of filling with the Spirit in the NT. One type refers to special empowering for a given task. God sovereignty determines when He will give such special enablement. While this might be influenced by our prayers for special help, God might choose to say No to such prayers, or to empower us even in the absence of such prayers.

The other type refers to spiritual maturity. One who is “full of the Holy Spirit” is a spiritually mature person.

There is much good material here. Köstenberger’s thesis is essentially sound, though it should be emphasized much more than it is.

Köstenberger briefly covers the concept of filling with the Spirit in the OT and he covers all NT uses of the concept. He rightly urges caution in making Eph 5:18 a key text on the spiritual life by pointing out that it “is the only reference to being filled with the Spirit in the entire Pauline corpus” (p. 231).

There are two aspects of this article which are lacking. In the first place, the author fails to emphasize that there were two types of filling with the Spirit in the NT. While he rightly sees one type as special enablement for a given task, he barely mentions that a number of texts, when referring to being full of the Spirit, are merely referring to a person who is a mature believer.

For example, in Acts 6:3 the apostles told the believers at the Jerusalem church to “seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” Clearly this doesn’t refer to ones who had received special power and special wisdom. It merely refers to those who are spiritually mature and wise. Compare also Acts 6:5, 8 and 11:24.

In 12 pages Köstenberger devotes only a few paragraphs to this type of fullness of the Spirit (pp. 235 top, 236 bottom, and 237 top). Here is his summary statement: “The difference between the references to being ‘filled with’ and being ‘full of’ the Spirit appears to be essentially

one of event (in the case of the former) versus general characteristic (in the case of the latter)” (p. 237). While this is helpful, it certainly could be stat...

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