TWO EXPERIENCES OF FILLING
By all these verses we can be clear about the two kinds of filling: the inward filling and the outward filling. The inward filling is for life, and the outward filling is for power in the ministry. The Lord Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, so we must believe that He was filled inwardly with the Holy Spirit. However, at the age of thirty, before He came out to minister, He was baptized in the water, and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him as a dove. His inward filling and His outward filling were two different experiences. It was the same in principle with the apostles, such as Peter and John. On the day of resurrection, they received the Holy Spirit of life within them. It was many days later, however, on the day of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit came down upon them, but before this day they had the Holy Spirit within them already.
When Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, was on the way to Damascus, he was met by the Lord. At that very moment he repented, he received the Lord Jesus as his Savior, and the Holy Spirit came into him. It is not logical to say that he received the Lord but did not receive the Holy Spirit within. Logically speaking, it must have been that when he was met by the Lord, he received the Lord, and at that very juncture the Holy Spirit came into him. Then after a certain period of time, the Lord sent a disciple named Ananias to lay hands on him so that he might be filled outwardly. This does not mean, however, that before that time Saul did not have the Holy Spirit within him. Paul’s being filled with the Holy Spirit inwardly and outwardly were two different aspects.
THE CONDITION OF BEING FILLED INWARDLY
The adjective form of pleroo is pleres, referring to the condition after one has been filled with the Spirit inwardly. It is used in Luke 4:1, which says, “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, while being tempted for forty days by the devil.” The Lord Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit within. This is a matter of life. Similarly, Acts 6:3 says, “But brothers, look for seven well-attested men from among you, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint over this need.” Their being full was inward, not outward. Verse 5 continues, “And the word pleased all the multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Full here also refers to something within for life. Acts 7:55 also says that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit within, and Acts 11:24 says of Barnabas, “For he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” This also is an inward filling for life. All these passages make it easy to realize that there are two aspects of the work of the Spirit: the inward filling and the outward filling.
FIVE CASES OF THE OUTWARD FILLING
In the book of Acts there are five particular cases of the outward filling. The first case was on the day of Pentecost. On that day, the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples, and they were filled with the Spirit outwardly.
The second case was with the group of believers in Samaria, in Acts 8. Verse 15 says of Peter and John, “Who went down and prayed for them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit,” and verse 17 says, “Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” These Samaritans were believers; they already had believed in the Lord Jesus. Therefore, it is impossible that they had not received the Holy Spirit within. For what then did the apostles Peter and John pray? It was for the outward work of the Holy Spirit. The Samaritans had received the Holy Spirit inwardly as life, but they had not received the Holy Spirit outwardly as power. Therefore, the apostles laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came down upon them, and they received the Holy Spirit. If we read this passage carefully, we can see that it speaks of the Spirit upon them, not in them. As far as the Spirit being within them is concerned, this work was fully accomplished. They already had received the Spirit as life, but they had not received the Spirit coming down upon them as power.
The third case was the case of the apostle Paul, of which we have spoken already.
The fourth case was in the house of Cornelius in Acts 10:44-47. While Peter was speaking there, the Holy Spirit came upon the audience.
The fifth case is in Acts 19, with the believers in Ephesus. Verse 6 says, “And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” This does not mean that before this time these believers did not have the Holy Spirit within them. Before this time, at the time they received the Lord, they had received the Holy Spirit within them, but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit coming down upon them. In verse 2 Paul asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Paul did not mean that when these believers believed in the Lord, they did not receive the Holy Spirit within.
This was a word spoken to the disciples in Ephesus, and in Ephesians 1:13-14 Paul says clearly that at the time we believe in the Lord Jesus, we receive the Spirit within. If we compare Acts 19 with Ephesians 1, we can see that what the apostle asked about was not something inward but outward. The Ephesians had received the Holy Spirit within at the very time they believed in the Lord Jesus, but they had not received the Holy Spirit coming down upon them. By all these passages we can be very clear that the Holy Spirit within us for the inward filling is one matter, while the Holy Spirit upon us for the outward filling is another. These are two kinds of filling.
(The Work of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)