The word pimplemi is used to indicate some type of “filling” several times in the books of Luke and Acts. When this “filling” is with the Holy Spirit, dramatic events typically take place. John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spirit” for the exercise of his prophetic office (Luke 1:15). “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” when she spoke prophetically about the Messiah (Luke 1:41; cf. 1:42–45). “Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” about John the Baptist and the Messiah as well (Luke 1:67; cf. 1:68–79). The disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues” (Acts 2:4). Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and ably defended the gospel and his healing of a lame man (Acts 4:8; cf. 3:1–10). The church was “filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak of the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). The apostle Paul was told by the disciple Ananias to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” when he was commissioned for his apostolic mission (Acts 9:17). Paul was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and smote the wicked magician Elymas with blindness (Acts 13:9).
Luke also uses a related word, pleres, usually to describe someone as being “full of” the Spirit in order to describe their character. The church was to choose seven men “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). Stephen was such a man, “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). He is described again as being “full of grace and power” (Acts 6:8), working miracles as a result. He saw Christ in heaven when he was “full of the Holy Spirit” just before his murder (Acts 7:55). Barnabas “was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24).
The one time we are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” in the New Testament is Ephesians 5:18. The word “be filled” is pleroō, which is similar to pleres and pimplemi in that each of these three words has a ple root. Paul is not commanding us to seek dramatic spiritual experiences but to live a life controlled by the Spirit in areas such as marriage (Eph 5:22–33), family relationships (Eph 6:1–4), work relationships (Eph 6:5–9), and spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10–20).
What is the filling of the Spirit for us today? This filling is not a dramatic filling such as those found in the book Acts but to be constantly controlled by the Spirit so that we show His fruit and work in our lives in every way.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.