LUKE'S PRESENTATION OF THE SPIRIT IN ACTS*
F. F. BRUCE
England SK17 9B4
Like the other evangelists Luke tells how John, who came baptizing with water; claimed to be the forerunner of one stronger than himself, who would administer a baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is described as a baptism with wind and fire, as when the wind blows the chaff away from the threshing floor, leaving only the wheat behind, and the fire consumes the chaff when it has been swept together.
Nothing more is said about this baptism with the Spirit in Luke's first volume. The subject is taken up again at the beginning of his second volume, when the risen Lord repeats John's promise and assures his disciples that they will soon experience its fulfillment: "Before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5).
Yet the first volume is by no means silent about the Holy Spirit himself. John the forerunner was filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth, if not even earlier (Luke 1:15, 41-44). Indeed, the whole nativity narrative is dominated by the Spirit: John's parents are filled with the Spirit of prophecy (Luke 1:41; 67), and it is the Holy Spirit (the power of the Most High) that enables Mary to become the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:35).
John's endowment with the Spirit equipped him for his prophetic ministry, but he had no power to pass this endowment on to others. The Coming One who was to baptize with the Spirit was shown to be Jesus, on whom at his baptism in Jordan the Spirit * F. F. Bruce died days after correcting the galley proofs of this article, which reflects one of the last, if not the last, works of his long and prodigious career. We shall miss him.