Well, Dr. Black, I’ll Tell You What I Think

In Dave Black’s Sunday, June 2, 9:15 AM post, he quotes T. C. Robinson’s recounting of a friend appealing to Acts 2:38 as an example of a passage that suggests all Christians should speak in tongues. T. C.’s friend took “the gift of the Holy Spirit” to be the gift of tongues given by the Holy Spirit. Dave responds:

For what it’s worth, I might note that I’ve always thought “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 to be an example of the genitive of apposition (also called the epexegetical genitive). The idea is, “the gift, that is, the Holy Spirit.” A paraphrase of Peter’s words might be, “You will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift.” In other words, there is nothing here of a specific gift of the Holy Spirit (tongues, prophecy, healing, teaching, etc.). The Holy Spirit, Himself, is the gift. Another NT example might be Jesus’ promise that He would give the people “the sign of Jonah.” What He seemed to mean was, “I will give you Jonah as a sign.”

What do you think?

Well, Dr. Black, I’ll tell you what I think; I think you’re absolutely correct, and I say this as a man whose entire adult Christian life has been spent as an unabashed Pentecostal! I’ve never seen Acts 2:38 used in such a way but I’ve personally used it in exactly the way you suggest—numerous times in fact—especially in presenting the gospel. I love to speak of the Trinitarian shape of Pentecost and I point especially to Peter’s sermon in which he speaks of God raising up Jesus in order to pour out the gift/promise of his Spirit. And what a wonderful gift the Holy Spirit is!



8 thoughts on “Well, Dr. Black, I’ll Tell You What I Think

  1. I’ve always understood the Greek construction as epexegetical and that why I wasn’t taken aback.

    Nick, but I do like your trinitarian approach.

  2. I have to agree with you here also Nick. I have always understood the Act’s passage as being the promised gift of the Spirit. There are other passages we can use to describe what we can expect that empowerment and coming of the Spirit to look like, which may include the speaking of tongues.
    On a personal note, I don’t like equating tongues as the outpouring of the Spirit, though the gift is a deeply valued and personal one for myself. But that is perhaps a discussion for another day.

  3. T. C.: It’s a strange interpretation of the passage, that’s for sure! I’ve never heard a Pentecostal, Oneness or Trinitarian, explain it that way.

    Craig: We’re in the same boat. I like to explain tongues as the initial PHYSICAL evidence of being baptized with/in the Spirit, but certainly not the ONLY evidence, or even the MOST IMPORTANT evidence. The fruit of the Spirit is what matters most, I think. There are any number of people who have been baptized with/in the Spirit who have been able to speak in tongues but simply didn’t. I certainly didn’t initially. I was baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues 2 days later. In certain situations “not doing” doesn’t equal “can’t do.”

  4. I know a young lady who while under a drug high had a vision of Jesus dying on the cross for her and asking her to follow him. She immediately dropped to her knee’s proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and was miraculously healed of the drug high and set free.

    I was to meet her at Bible college and she said she didn’t speak in tongues. But on the day she met Jesus, she said it was like a stream of utterance in English just flowed out of her about Jesus being Lord.Who says that the initial evidence has to be that of unknown languages. After all, God is the creator of all languages.

  5. Craig: I think known languages are what we see throughout Acts. I think Paul elaborates in unknown languages in 1 Corinthians.

    Brian: Amen! Me too!

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