Chapter 5

  1. In the first eleven verses we learn that the Holy Spirit is God (5:3, 5, 9), and to lie to one (or tempt) is to lie to all.
  2. It is explicitly stated that through the apostles the miraculous was done (5:12). The NKJV reads “through the hands”, that is the hands of the apostles only.[1]  So significant was their work in getting accomplished that the religious leaders arrested them and put them in prison (5:18). When called upon to give account of their disobedience to the civil authorities, they replied that to the Lord they owe greater allegiance (5:26-32). In the midst of their reply they said the Holy Spirit is witness to their atrocious act in killing God’s anointed (5:32) – but especially significant is the portion of their remark, “…and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Is this understood to be the apostles only, or more than the apostles? In v. 29 Peter made clear that the apostles are under consideration and they are the witnesses to the facts he just enumerated. Thus, when he said the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him it is my contention that this applies to the apostles directly. Alford recognizes that this could be read as I have suggested, but does not think that is how it ought to be read because of the opening of the speech binding all together.[2] However, looking at v. 12, 18, (and even v. 42) it is the apostles that are arrested and called to account, not the believers in general. In maintaining the distinction I am not addressing the gift of the Holy Spirit to the believers in general, only that the context of this phrase is best understood to refer to the apostles.

Chapter 6

  1. Due to a problem having arisen in the church the apostles’ call for a set of new appointees relative to serving the physical necessities of the congregation. Those identified and appointed are to be men full of the Holy Spirit (6:1-4). The apostles’ laid hand on them (presumably an ordination service). The requirements before identification: they were to be men, men who had good reputations, and they were to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Nothing is said relative to this phrase “full of the Holy Spirit.”
  2. The context shifts from a problem in the midst of the congregation to a problem for one notable man, Stephen. Stephen was full of faith and power (NKJV), having done many things to amaze the people as he preached (6:8). It was not only the amazing things he did amongst the people, but it was also the wisdom by which he spoke that the people were riled (some of them, anyhow), and so they stood against him (6:9-14).
  3. How did Stephen get this capability? The chapter does not explicitly state. It could have been in the (presumably) ordaining service (6:6)[3], but then again, before the men were accepted by the apostles they were to be men “full of the Holy Spirit.” Reese maintains the phrase is best understood as men full of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.[4]

[1] Alford’s Greek New Testament, Acts 5:12, E-Sword

[2] Alford on tois peitharchousin (5:32), ibid

[3] “The probability is that this is more than a mere ordination service, because it seems from the New Testament practice of the laying on of the apostle’s hands that it was for the purpose of passing on the ability to perform miracles (spiritual gifts)”  (Gareth Reese, Commentary on Acts, College Press, Joplin, MO, 1976, p. 255).

[4] Reese, ibid, p. 251