What Is the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
Old Testament prophets prophesied of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So, what is it?
- It was not the Holy Spirit Himself being outpoured (the literal outpouring of a Person is absurd). Instead, “outpouring” is a “metonymy” (“a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated…” Merriam-Webster). The outpouring “of” the Spirit is the outpouring “from” the Source – not the Source Himself. It is representative of the Holy Spirit.
- It would come on the descendants of the Israelites from Isaiah's time; and it would bring about transformation (from the wilderness to a forest), Isaiah 32:15–18. The “outpouring” figure was used as an indication of a change in the hearts of the people.
- The “outpouring” is illustrated as an imagery of water being poured out from a pitcher, conveying blessings, Isaiah 44:1–5. The imagery is designed to make you think of transformation (they will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses).
- God “poured out” His wrath on His Jewish people (in the form of the Babylonian Captivity in 586 B.C.) because they continued to break His Old Testament Law, Ezekiel 39:25-29 (2 Chronicles 34:21,25; Hosea 5:10). Ezekiel 39 prophesies of the Jews being brought back from exile and God making a New Testament with them by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (a totally different, new covenant, not a renewal of the old covenant that was made at Sinai).
- The Holy Spirit of grace and supplication would be poured out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Zechariah 12:10. Zechariah then proceeds with the prophecy that speaks of Christ's crucifixion. When Christ ascended to the right hand of God, He would send forth the Holy Spirit to come upon the apostles.
- The outpouring of the Holy Spirit would be signaled by miracles, Joel 2:28–32.
Two main points concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: (1) it would bring about transformation (2) it was signaled by miraculous gifts given to the Jewish Christians, the Jewish Christians' children, and Gentile Christians (Acts 2:17–21; 2:38,39).
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurs several times throughout the book of Acts: (1) it occurs at Pentecost of which the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a part of it (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:4,5; 2:1–4; John 14:16-18,26; 15:26; 16:7–13); (2) Stephen (as well as other men) received miraculous gifts, by implication (Acts 6:6, 8); (3) the Samaritans (upon whom the apostles laid their hands) received miraculous gifts (Acts 8:14–25); (4) the Gentiles Cornelius and household received miraculous ability (Acts 10:44-48); (5) the twelve men of Ephesus who received miraculous gifts (Acts 19:1–7); etc. Three New Testament writers connect the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the theme of transformation: John (John 7:37–39), Luke (Acts 3:19), and Paul (Titus 3:4–6).
It can certainly be stressed today that we do not receive the direct outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but we do receive the benefits that came from it, namely, the life-giving message of the word of God that is able to change our lives (Mark 16:20).
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