The Spirit as Gift in Acts

The Spirit’s Empowerment of the Early Jesus Community


What does Luke mean when he describes the Spirit as gift (Acts 2:38)? This study explores the social implications of gift-giving in the Greco-Roman world, arguing that gifts initiate and sustain relationships. Therefore, the description of the Spirit as gift is inherently social, which is shown in the Spirit’s empowerment of the teaching, unity, meals, sharing of possessions and worship of the early Jesus community. The Spirit as gift then leads us to see that the early Jesus community is “the community of the Holy Spirit.”

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John D. Griffiths, Ph.D. (2020), Flinders University, is a Lecturer of Biblical Studies at Alphacrucis College. He has published articles on the Holy Spirit and ecology, including “Wonders in the Heavens Above, Signs on the Earth Below: Pacific Islands Pentecostalism, Climate Change and Acts 2,” (Springer, 2020).
 1 The Spirit as Gift in the Previous Research
  1.1 Gonzalo Haya-Prats
  1.2 William H. Shepherd
  1.3 Max Turner
  1.4 Craig Keener
  1.5 Summary
 2 A Fresh Approach to the Spirit as Gift
  2.1 The Spirit and the Greco-Roman World
  2.2 The Spirit and Sociological Models
 3 Reading Acts

1 Methodology
 1 Sociological Approaches to the New Testament
  1.1 An Outline of the Social-Scientific Approach
  1.2 Comparison with Socio-Historical Criticism
  1.3 Critiques of Sociological Approaches
  1.4 Implications for this Study
 2 Sociological Approaches to Gift-Giving in the New Testament
  2.1 The Context Group and the Taxonomy of Reciprocity
  2.2 John M. G. Barclay’s Reconfigured Gift Theory
 3 Conclusion

2 Sociological Approaches to Gift-Giving
 1 Marcel Mauss and Gift-Giving
 2 The Exchangist-Structuralist Gift
 3 The Economistic Gift
 4 The Impossible Gift
 5 The Sociability of Gift-Giving
 6 Conclusion

3 Gifts in the Greco-Roman World
 1 Gifts and Sociability in the Greek Literature
  1.1 Δωρεά in the General-Soldier Relationship
  1.2 Plutarch and Gift-Giving
  1.3 Josephus and Gift-Giving
  1.4 Appian and Gift-Giving
  1.5 Summary
 2 Gifts and Sociability in Latin Literature
  2.1 Livy, Valerius Maximus and Gift-Giving
  2.2 Cicero and Gift-Giving
  2.3 Seneca and Gift-Giving
  2.4 Summary
 3 Conclusion

4 The Summary Statements
 1 The Translation and Difficult Phrases
  1.1 The Translation of Acts 2:42–47, 4:32–35, 5:12–16
  1.2 Issues with Translation
 2 Approaching the Summary Statements
 3 The Spirit and the Summary Statements
 4 Conclusion

5 Witnessing, Teaching, Wonders and Joy
 1 The Testimony of the Apostles
 2 The Teaching of the Apostles
  2.1 Teaching and Social Space
  2.2 Teaching in Complementary Couplets
  2.3 Teaching and the Reinterpretation of the Hebrew Bible
  2.4 Summary
 3 Signs and Wonders
 4 The Great Joy
 5 Conclusion

6 The Gift of the Spirit and Prayer, Praise and Gratitude
 1 Prayer
  1.1 Prayer in the Summary Statements
  1.2 Prayer and Gratitude
  1.3 Prayer, Gift-Giving and the Spirit
  1.4 Summary
 2 Praising God
  2.1 Praise and Gratitude
  2.2 Praise and the Spirit in Acts
  2.3 Summary
 3 Conclusion

7 Gift-Giving and the Lukan Jesus
 1 The Sermon on the Plain
  1.1 The Golden Rule
  1.2 Credit and Reward
  1.3 Divine Repayment
  1.4 Summary
 2 Gift-Giving and the Sharing of Meals
 3 Conclusion

8 The Communal Sharing and Sharing of Meals
 1 The Descriptions of the Communal Sharing
  1.1 Shared Property or Shared Access
  1.2 Communal Sharing as Distribution
  1.3 Wealth in Acts 3–5
  1.4 Summary
 2 The Various Allusions in the Communal Sharing
  2.1 The Hebrew Bible
  2.2 The Friendship Tradition and Utopian Ideals
  2.3 Ancient Associations
  2.4 Kinship Sharing
  2.5 Summary
 3 Shared Meals
 4 Conclusion

9 The Gift of the Spirit and Communal Sharing
 1 The Gift of the Spirit and the Communal Sharing
 2 The Great Grace upon the Community
 3 The Gift of the Spirit and the Promise of Reward
 4 Imitation in the Communal Sharing
 5 The Gift of the Spirit and the Sharing of Meals
 6 Conclusion

10 The Unity of the Community
 1 The Gift of the Spirit as Transcending Status
  1.1 The Joel Quotation in Relation to Gender, Class and Age
  1.2 The Gift of the Spirit and Regional Identities
  1.3 The Gift of the Spirit and Ethnic Identities
  1.4 Summary
 2 The Unity of the Early Jesus Community
 3 Sharing all Things
  3.1 κοινὰ τὰ φίλων in the Primary Sources
  3.2 The Gift of the Spirit and
  3.3 Summary
 4 Conclusion

 1 Areas of Further Research
 2 Implications for Pentecostal Pneumatology

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