part of the what is truth? series

The Holy Spirit can be a difficult topic to study. As a topic, it probably ranks as one of the most critical in applying a disciplined, Scripture interprets Scripture approach without Scripture weighting. The promise of the Holy Spirit, along with miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are all important aspects to understand. Together, they form a very vital foundation to know what the Holy Spirit is doing (and not doing) for Christians today.

how Scripture answers "What is the promise of the Holy Spirit?"

There are two explicit “promise of the Holy Spirit” declarations in Scripture. Alluded to by John the Baptist1, Jesus makes one promise of the Holy Spirit (e.g. “Helper”) to the apostles in the upper room3 and again after His resurrection4,5. This promise for the apostles includes both a guidance into “all truth”3,4,5 but also an outward manifestation of power6,7. “Not many days” later, on the day of Pentecost, they would experience the first “baptism of the Holy Spirit6.

The second “promise of the Holy Spirit” is on that same day of Pentecost by Peter to the crowd that was responding to the gospel message8 for the first time. This promise is the “Spirit part” of what Jesus shared with Nicodemus2 for those born again. It is the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” for all/any that would respond to the gospel in baptism and obedience8,9,10.

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks
John answered them all, saying, I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

John [the Baptist] responded to them that effectively he was not the Christ since he simply baptized with water.  There was one far greater and mightier than him coming that would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

The early days of John’s ministry and preparing the way for his cousin, Jesus. The people were questioning him as to whether he might be the Christ (vs 15).  This is just before he baptizes Jesus, when John hears God testifying that the One he has baptized is the Messiah (vss 21-22).

Parallel accounts of this appear in Matthew 3:11-12, Mark 1:7-8, John 1:32-34.

How does it inform?

John the Baptist testifies that one is coming with the power to give the Holy Spirit.

Does it apply? Yes

Jesus answered him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus answered with a truth: unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus didn’t understand and asked how someone that is old be born again as he can’t enter back into his mother’s womb?  Jesus answered expounding on the same truth: unless one is born of water and the Spirit [born again] he cannot enter [see] the kingdom of God.
Jesus is approached at night (in secret) by Nicodemus, a Pharisee and “ruler of the Jews” (vs 1).
How does it inform?

Jesus (early ministry) foretelling the coming of being “born of water and the Spirit,” fulfilled with Peter’s response and those initially saved on the Day of Pentecost8.

Does it apply? Yes

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
I [Jesus] will ask the Father to give you [apostles] another Helper – the Spirit of truth – to remain with you.  Those in the world cannot receive Him since they neither see or know Him, but you know Him because He dwells with you and in you.

This entire section of Scripture (John 13-17) is Jesus in the upper room with the twelve apostles. He is speaking to them directly and giving them instruction about his coming death and what will follow.

Regarding the Helper (e.g. “Spirit of truth” or the Holy Spirit) specifically, Jesus later in this context defines more of how He will help them: (14:26) But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will cause you to remember everything I said to you. (16:12-13) I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

How does it inform?

Jesus (last week; upper room) tells the apostles about the “Helper” that will come.

!! study note: context is extra important here !!

Does it apply? Yes

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.
After saying this, He [Jesus] breathed on them the Holy Spirit commissioning them to go out forgiving sins of those that believed.
How does it inform?

Jesus (after resurrection; appearence to apostles minus Thomas) giving them the Holy Spirit and, if the same account as Luke5, giving them “all truth.”

Does it apply? Probably

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
Then He [Jesus] opened their [the Twelve minus Judas and Thomas] minds to fully understand the Scriptures.  He told them that it was written that He would suffer, die, and rise on the third day.  He also told them that they should preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all the world starting in Jersalem.  Finally, He reminded them that they were witnesses of these things and that He was sending the promise of God the Father so they should stay in Jerusalem until power from on high comes on them.

Luke’s account of Jesus’ life after his bodily resurrection.  Jesus has appeared to several people including the two on the road to Emmaus (vss 13-27) and is here appearing the ten (Thomas is absent).

How does it inform?

Jesus (after resurrection; just before ascension) gives them “all truth” and reminds them of the promise that will cloth them with power. (Possibly the same encounter in Acts 16, but appears timed better with Jesus’ appearence to the ten4.)

Does it apply? Yes


And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

While Jesus was still with them [the eleven], He told them to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the promise from God.  Jesus had already told them about this and further told them that while John baptized with water, they would soon be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
The final days of Jesus on earth before His ascension. When they (the eleven) come together again with Him (don’t know if this is the same occasion or another). He also tells them, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (vs 8).
How does it inform?

Jesus (after resurrection; just before ascension) reminds them of the promise he told them about3 and also connects it to a baptism with the Holy Spirit that they will experience “not many days” from then.

Does it apply? Yes

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in tongues as the Spirit directed them.

It is the day of Pentecost and Jews have made pilgrimage to Jerusalem from all different nations. The apostles have what appear to be “tongues as of fire” resting on each one of them to the amazement of the crowd. They are able to speak in everyone’s native tongue and Peter begins to preach to them of Jesus.

How does it inform?

Not many days later6 the apostles are “filled” with a physical and miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit as fire1.

Does it apply? Yes

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

When they heard these words, they were pierced in the heart and asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do [to be saved].  Peter told them that they each should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins, and they would then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This “gift” was the promise made for all that the Lord calls to himself, even those far off.

Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost where he recalled several prophetic statements from Joel and David (vss 16-36). By divine inspiration, Peter interpreted these statements to apply their fulfillment to Jesus and the ushering in of the “last days.”

On believing his message (that Jesus was the Christ), they asked what they needed to do to be saved. More were continuing to be saved and they began meeting together as the Lord’s church (

vss 41-47

How does it inform?

On the same occasion7, Peter shares a receiving (e.g. “promise”) of the Holy Spirit for those that would respond to the gospel message in repentance and baptism (of water).

Does it apply? Yes

God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

God has exhalted him [Jesus] at His right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and foregiveness of sins.  We [apostles], together with the Holy Spirit – whom God has given to all that obey Him – are witnesses to these things.

In the early days of the Christian movement and God’s establishment of His “new covenant,” the apostles are carrying the message of the gospel across Jerusalem and Judea.  Being confronted by the Jewish leadership, as often they were, Peter tells them, “We must obey God rather than men” (vs 29) and witnesses to them about the things he and the others have seen with their eyes.  In this case, Peter may be specifically referring back to witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus documented in Acts 1.

How does it inform?

A restatement of the same promise Peter made on the day of Pentecost8 that the Holy Spirit would be given to all that obey.

Does it apply? Yes


And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

For those saved (after hearing the gospel and believing), they are marked and sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the believer’s down payment to the eventual inheritance and full redemption.

Opening Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and ending a long list of spiritual blessings that they have in Christ.

How does it inform?

Paul references the same promise of the Holy Spirit for all believers that Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost8.

Does it apply? Yes

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