Q: #558. How many people were "filled with the Holy Spirit" in the New Testament?
A: (Eph 5:18) says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The Greek word “filled” in this verse is “pleuro.” A literal translation of this word is “Be being filled with the Spirit.” In other words, being filled with the Spirit should happen over and over.
I need to stress that this being “filled with the Spirit” is something that occurs after a person is “Baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” which began at Pentecost (see: Acts Ch. 2), happens the moment a person is saved, and is the guarantee of that person’s salvation (Eph 1:13-14)(Eph 4:30)(2 Cor 1:22)(2 Cor 5:5)(2 Th 2:13). However, the Bible shows us that after we are baptized with the Holy Spirit at salvation, we can, and should pray over and over for the Holy Spirit to “fill” us as we seek to live for, and serve the Lord. We see a number of people being “filled” with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Following, I will list each of these people.
Let me begin by pointing out that in the Old Testament, just as in the New Testament, a number of people were also “filled” or empowered by the Holy Spirit (Ex 28:3)(Ex 31:3)(Num 24:2)(Judg 3:10)(Judg 11:29)(1 Sam 16:13). However, the Holy Spirit did not live in most people “permanently” (notice that the “spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson” 3 separate times: Judg 14:6, Judg 14:19, Judg 15:14), and would, or could, be taken away (compare: 1 Sam 10:6,10 / 1 Sam 11:6 to 1 Sam 16:14)(Ps 51:11)(Judg 16:20). It wasn’t until Pentecost, when the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” occurred, that the Holy Spirit began to live “permanently” in “all” who believed in Christ.
I mention this because our first three examples of people who were “filled” with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament occur in the Gospels, before Pentecost, and therefore would fall into the Old Testament category of “the Holy Spirit not living in most people permanently” (John the Baptist might have been an exception).
Let’s list these first (KJV “Holy Ghost” = “Holy Spirit”):
(Lk 1:15) (Speaking of John the Baptist) “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”
(Lk 1:41-42) “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: (42) And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
(Lk 1:67) “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,”
The rest of these examples occur after believers were “baptized with the Holy Spirit” at Pentecost.
(Acts 4:8-9) “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel. If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole?”
(Acts 4:31) “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
(Acts 7:55-56) (Speaking of Stephen) “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (56) And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
(Acts 9:17) “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
(Acts 13:9) “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. (10) And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
(Acts 13:52) “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”
*** Stephen (Acts 6:5) and Barnabas (Acts 11:24) are described as men who were “full of the Holy Spirit.”