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April 19, 2023

Baptized Or Filled?

Brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
–Acts 6:3

What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”? In the New Testament, this phrase is used in two distinct ways. Sometimes “filled with the Spirit” describes the baptism with the Holy Spirit–that initial experience at the time of salvation when the Holy Spirit indwells us, changes us, and connects us to the body of Christ.

For example, Luke used the phrase to describe the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first came upon the disciples: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:4). And then again in Acts 9:17 after Paul’s conversion: “Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on [Paul] said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’”

Sometimes “filled with the Spirit” refers to the baptism with the Spirit, but more often than not it describes being controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated as “filled” is “pleroo,” which was used to describe wind filling the sails of a ship and thereby controlling the direction of the ship. That is the word picture here. To be filled with the Holy Spirit of God means that God’s Spirit controls the direction of your life.

Let me share a few verses in which being filled with the Holy Spirit refers to being controlled by the Spirit–in fact, you can substitute the word “controlled by” for “full of” in these verses. In Acts 6:3, Luke recorded the selection of the first group of deacons in the church: “Brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” These men were controlled by the Spirit.

Acts 7:55 describes the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr: “Being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

Ephesians 5 is the foundational passage for what it means to be filled with–controlled by–the Holy Spirit of God. Paul said, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18). In other words, do not allow yourself to be controlled by alcohol; instead, allow God’s Spirit to control your life. That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Second Blessing” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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