The Significance Of Receiving The Spirit In Luke-Acts: A Survey Of Modern Scholarship -- By: M. M. B. Turner

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 02:2 (Fall 1981)
Article: The Significance Of Receiving The Spirit In Luke-Acts: A Survey Of Modern Scholarship
Author: M. M. B. Turner


The Significance Of Receiving The Spirit
In Luke-Acts: A Survey Of Modern Scholarship

M. M. B. Turner

London Bible College

According to Acts 19:2, Paul asked certain “disciples” at Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”1 “Luke”2 presumably had a clear idea both of what the words “receive the Holy Spirit” might connote, and of what spiritual experience the expression might be used to denote. But today’s church has found it a rather difficult matter, not to say a contentious one, to define precisely the sense and the referent of the apostle’s question. Even after the careful historical research of the last century or more, the problem of whatτὸ ἄγιον πνεῦμα λαμβὰνειν (“to receive the Holy Spirit”) means for the author of Luke-Acts remains unsolved. The purpose of this article is to trace a number of the major landmarks in the scholarly attempt to resolve the question from O. Pfieiderer’s work (1873) to the present day.

1. O. Pfleiderer and H. Gunkel

Pfleiderer’s Der Paulinismus gave a decisive impetus to truly modern study of NT pneumatology by sharply distinguishing Paul’s concept of the Spirit from that of the pre*pauline community.3 For the earliest community, he maintained, the Spirit was the power of the supernatural-a donum super-additum; while for Paul it was the inner principle of new-creation life.4 This

antithesis between the pneumatology of the primitive community depicted in Acts (and reconstructed from the pauline epistles, especially 1 Corinthians), and Paul’s own teaching, was the subject ofH. Gunkel’s perceptive and influential monograph, Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes nach der popularen Anschauung der apostolischen Zeit und nach der Lehre des Apostels Paulus, first published in 1888.5

Gunkel argued that for the earliest community the Spirit was essentially not a matter of doctrine, but of experience.6 And then only certain types of experience were traced to the Spirit; for the Spirit was not conceived of as the principle of Christian religious and ethical life.7 It was given to faith, but was not the author of it.8 If we ask what was ...

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