Throughout the works of the Apostles, converts were introduced into the church through baptism, where the Holy Spirit worked miracles in weathering tough stances from non-believers. As recorded in Acts 8:14-19, Samaria’s acceptance of the Word of God was only authenticated with the baptism that John and Peter conducted, where the Holy Spirit descended on the converts. In Acts 9:17, Saul’s dramatic conversion took the intervention of Ananias as a baptizer whereupon the Holy Spirit completed the unimaginable. Equally, the inclusion of the gentiles and uncircumcised through baptism broke the barriers of salvation as recorded in Acts 10:45-47.
Similar accounts of baptism and active initiation through conversion appear in Acts 11:15-16 and 19:2-6 where the Apostles’ work introduced many into Christianity through baptism by the Holy Spirit5. Prophecy Prophetic works seen in the Acts of Apostles back the observation that the motivation of preaching the Gospel had to have an account of future events to shape up the strategy to adopt. Recounting the foretold role of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Prophet Joel, Acts 17-18 states that the children of believers would prophesy dream and experience visions.
In terms of this role as prophesied even before the birth of Christ, the Holy Spirit would in effect make believers prophets and account for things to happen in the future. This augurs well with the task allocated to the believers in terms of interpreting God’s will within the specifics of time. As witnessed in the Old Testament, to which the New Testament is a continuation but at higher standards of faith, people relied on guidance from prophets to accomplish what God wanted in the future.
This gift of prophesy facilitated the growth of the church as God would guide people to avoid pending disaster if they followed the will of God6. As recorded in Acts 11:28, a believer from Jerusalem known as Agabus prophesied as enabled by the Holy Spirit that a huge drought was pending across the world and it was manifest during the reign of Claudius Caesar. Agabus also prophesied on the pending arrest of Paul by people of a gentile origin, when Paul’s girdle was tied around his legs and arms as recorded in Acts 21:11.
The unique gift of prophesy would also descend on some believers immediately after conversion, which underscores the observation that there are different gifts under the same Spirit. As recorded in Acts 21:9, all the four virgin daughters of Philip the evangelist were able to prophesy, while their father could only evangelize.
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Longenecker, Bruce and Witherington, Ben. The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.
Marshall, Howard. “Dialogue with Non-Christians in the New Testament”. ERT 16 (1992)19-38.
Stott, John. The Message of Acts. Leicester: IVP, 1990.
Turner, Max. “Spiritual Gifts: Then and Now”. Vox Evangelica 15 (1985): 7-63.
Warrington, Keith. Discovering the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. New York, Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.
Warrington, Keith. The message of the Holy Spirit. Nottingham, UK: Inter Varsity Press, 2009.
Webster, John. “What is the Gospel?” in Bradshaw, T. Grace and Truth in the Secular Age. Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1998.