Thursday, June 30, 2005

Acts 19:2

Acts 19:2 has always been an interesting verse to me, for two reasons. First, concerning the issue of how it is translated in the KJV, and second, how it is used to support the charismatic idea of a "second filling."
A new third interest recently appeared as I have been reading the "Three Fold Secret of the Holy Spirit" by James H. McConkey, which concerns the relationship between repentance and faith.

The KJV reads:
Act 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Notice "since ye believed." Most modern translations read "when ye believed," like the ESV:
Act 19:2 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

There are some differences between the Critical Text and TR in this verse. Not being able to read the Greek directly, here are some literal translations of each:
Act 19:2 LITV(TR) he said to them, Believing, did you receive the Holy Spirit? And they said to him, We did not even hear whether the Holy Spirit is.
Act 19:2 NASB(CT) He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."

It would appear then that the problem doesn't rest on textual variants. Further, it appears that the TR literally translated agrees with newer versions moreso than with the KJV. Here's another literal TR translation:
Act 19:2 DARBY(TR) he said unto them, `The Holy Spirit did ye receive -- having believed?' and they said unto him, `But we did not even hear whether there is any Holy Spirit;'

What's up with the KJV here? Even Scofield eschews the KJV's "since ye believed":
"Not as in A.V, 'since ye believed,' but as in R.V. And margin reference, 'Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?'"

Staunch KJV defender Ruckman doesn't deal with the verse in his book on alleged problems with the KJV (as of the 1999 edition), but elsewhere he points to the laying on of hands in vs.6 as proof that "since ye believed" is correct.

The men were baptized with John's baptism, which was a baptism of repentance. The men had evidently repented but not believed. This is all in v.4. Upon believing, the men were baptized (v.5) and filled with the Spirit.

Paul _incorrectly_ assumed the men had turned in faith to Christ when in fact the men had only undergone repentance. The way the men answered caused Paul to quickly realize this wasn't the case.

The baptism of these men is similar to the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. Upon believing, baptism was carried out immediately.

This is all well and good but it doesn't answer the question of _why_ Paul asked a question that indicates believing and recieving the Holy Spirit are separate events in time. I believe this passage represents two nested issues:

-First, Paul assumes salvation and inquires about the Spirit's _manifestation_.
-Secondly, the men indicate they don't even have the _indwelling_ by questioning the Spirit's existance.
-Next, Paul deals with the salvation issue by inquiring about their baptism and then, realizing they _repented_ but did not yet have _faith_, exhorts them to believe.
-Then, the men believed and are baptized. Per Eph 1:13-14, these men recieve the _indwelling_ at this moment.
-Finally, Paul returns to the question of the Spirit's _manifestation_ and lays hands on them. The men recieve the _manifestation_ and display the gifts of tongues and prophecy.

The mistake often made is to treat this passage as either _only_ speaking of the indwelling or _only_ speaking of the manifestation, of the Spirit.

It might be objected that due to word "recieve" in v.2 the subject is actually indwelling. However, given that "came" is used in v.6 which is definately referring to manifestion, the use of the word "recieve" in v.2 doesn't seem to _require_ that we take it as referring to the indwelling. Unless Paul is asking a trick question this can't be the indwelling because we are certain that Paul believes indwelling happens upon belief (Eph 1:13-14).

Speaking of nested issues, what does the truth of this passage say about the proper translation? What is seen is that _either_ translation, "since," or "when," is appropriate in the context. It is obvious that while the _manifestation_ of the Spirit can come right on the heels of the _indwelling_, it doesn't always do so. "Since" gives a broader picture allowing for the manifestation immediately following the indwelling _or_ some time later. "When" would tend to restrict the time frame for manifestation to immediately after the indwelling. Whether Paul was more interested in the timing of the manifestation or the fact of the manifestation would tell conclusively what it ought to be.

As far the Greek is concerned, the choice of "since" or "when" depends on how you translate the word for "believe," which is "pisteuo". The word here is listed as an aorist active participle, which tells us that Paul is assuming they do believe(aorist), that they believe presently(active), and that they continue to believe(participle). Thus the very literal translations of the LITV ("Believing, did you receive the Holy Spirit?") and Darby's ("The Holy Spirit did ye receive -- having believed?"). Given this, the addition of either "since" or "when" is interpretation of the passage, strictly speaking.

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