A Most Significant Scripture

By Marlin Kilpatrick

The Bible is God’s inspired word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). In one sense there are no insignificant scriptures. Still, there are some scriptures which are more relevant than others in helping us understand the great biblical themes which are woven throughout the Bible. Our Lord’s promise to send his Holy Spirit to his faithful brethren is a Bible theme which has occasioned the asking of many questions. One question concerning the giving of the Holy Spirit is whether the Spirit is given by measure.

Most all of my life I have heard of different measures of the Spirit being given. It was claimed that (1) Christ had the Spirit without measure, (2) the apostles received the “baptismal” measure, and (3) some upon whom the apostles laid their hands received the “laying on of hands” measure. All other Christians received what is called the “common” or “ordinary” measure of the Spirit. But were there different measures of the Spirit given?

A most significant scripture is John 3:34 which, due to the KJV translation, has caused many to believe and teach there are different measures of the Spirit given. The KJV reads, “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” The problem with which we are faced involves the words “unto him” which were supplied by the KJV translators. However, they are not in the old manuscripts. The ASV (1901) correctly translates the verse by omitting the words “unto him.” Likewise, most newer translations have followed suit. This is a most significant rendering of the scripture and it helps immensely our understanding of the reception of the Spirit by all who obey the gospel. There are no measures of the Spirit.

If there are no measures of the Spirit, then all who received the Spirit, beginning at Acts 2 and throughout the book of Acts, received the same thing. Since Jesus promised his apostles they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5) and there are no measures of the Spirit, then all who received the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2) were baptized in the Holy Spirit. And this harmonizes with John the Baptist’s words, “…he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).

I anticipate that someone may say, “But not all Christians could do what the apostles could do.” Yes, this is true. But now we are speaking of the power supplied by the Spirit. We must make a distinction between the baptism in the Spirit and the power supplied by the Spirit. It is certainly the case that the apostles had supernatural (miraculous) power. The apostles laid their hands on certain individuals and they received limited supernatural power. And all other Christians had non-miraculous power. Today, the Spirit’s power in Christians is limited to the non-miraculous.

If only the translators of the KJV had translated John 3:34 correctly, much of the confusion over the so-called measures of the Spirit would have never occurred. Today there are no measures of the Spirit; one either has the Spirit or he does not have the Spirit. He who does not have the Spirit, does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9-11). Think about it.