Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 15 No. 11 November 2013
Page 15

Questions and Answers

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What Does It Mean to be
a “Royal Priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9)?

Mark N. Posey

Mark N. PoseyIn 1 Peter 2:9, Peter referred to the church as a “royal priesthood.” This means that every member of the New Testament church is a priest. Peter says that as priests (i.e., Christians), we are meant to “offer up spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5). The Mosaic priests offered physical sacrifices such as goats and pigeons, but Peter says we offer up “spiritual sacrifices.”

There are two kinds of “spiritual sacrifices.” First, are the sacrifices of good words, with which we proclaim the power of God’s grace in saving us from our sins. In 1 Peter 2:9, we are given this task (royal priesthood) so “that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This is the “sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

The second kind of sacrifices is good works. This includes living a life of holiness before the world. The church, after all, is a “holy” priesthood. We need to be aware that our holy living is not just to please God, but it is to attract others to Him. To this end Peter said we should “abstain from fleshly lusts” and keep our “behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that they may observe your good deeds and glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

The sacrifice of good works also includes works of service and benevolence with the community as a whole. As Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” By helping those in need, we show them the love of Christ and draw them to Christ. This is priestly work. As a priesthood offering up the spiritual sacrifices of good words and good works, the church thus fulfills God’s purposes for it (i.e., glorifying his name and attracting others to share in the bounty of his spiritual blessings).

Were the 120 Baptized
with the Holy Spirit?

Arlis D. Richardson

“Did the 120 receive Holy Spirit baptism on the day of Pentecost?” No, they did not! Acts 1:17 states, “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of the names together were about an hundred and twenty).” Some assume that because of this that 120 received the Holy Spirit baptism. However, the rest of the chapter shows that out of the “about 120,” one was chosen to take Judas’ place. Yet, as we move into Acts 2, there are several things which show that “about 120” could not have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

First, note Chapter 1:26. “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Now for Acts 2:1. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Which they? The eleven of the preceding verse. “They” finds its antecedent in the previous verse.

Note verse 7. All those speaking in tongues were Galileans. A close study of Scripture reveals that Jesus had disciples who were not Galileans. Even Judas was not a Galilean, but the other eleven were Galileans. Peter’s defense against the charge of being drunk helps us know it could not have been more than the number of the apostles who were speaking and who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Only those speaking in tongues were charged, and only the apostles were defended.

The clinching argument is found in verse 37. The Jews, realizing their sin, said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men, and brethren, what shall we do?” They asked Peter and the rest of the apostles. They did not inquire of anyone else but the apostles. They did not expect 120 people to answer them in their own languages.

Add to this the fact that Jesus never promised to send the Holy Spirit to Jerusalem to guide anyone but the apostles into all truth, and we arrive at no other conclusion than that the 120 disciples did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. No one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit since. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was not promised to anyone except Jesus’ personally appointed apostles.

This was a fulfillment of prophecy of John the Baptizer. He had stated, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus later stated to his apostles, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”

When one studies these Scriptures, he must come to the conclusion that the apostles rather than the 120 received that baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. When one studies these Scriptures, he must come to the conclusion that no one today receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit either.

[Editor’s Note: Acts 2:14 settles the matter concisely as to how many were the recipients of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words’” (Acts 2:14 NKJV). ~ Louis Rushmore]

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