What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
Ephesians 5:18-21
Paul is commanding the Ephesian believers to never get drunk with wine but instead to be filled with the Spirit.
Published January 1st, 2021; Updated January 1st, 2021
Share / Groups / About Author
Ephesians 5:18-21
And do not get drunk with wine,
Negative Command
for that is debauchery,
Ground of 18a
but be filled with the Spirit,
Positive Command
addressing one another
in psalms
Instruments of 19a
and hymns
and spiritual songs,
and making melody
to the Lord
Destination of 19f
with your heart,
Instrument of 19f
giving thanks always and for everything
to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Does not refer to regeneration but sanctification. Believers already possessed the Holy Spirit.
Ephesian people were known to practice paganic rituals for Dionysus, the god of wine and sexual orgies.
Be filled - Verb, Imperative, present passive, 2nd person, plural.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Ephesians 5:18-21 I. Introduction The greatest preacher of the 19th century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, said, “The grand thing the church wants in this time is God’s Holy Spirit.” More than anything else, we need to rediscover the Holy Spirit and learn anew to depend on him, to be filled by him. II. Questions But some might ask, 1. What is the filling of the Spirit? 2. Is it something I do or God does? 3. How does it happen? 4. But the most significant above all others is this question: Am I filled with the Spirit? Suppose someone asked, “Are you filled with the Spirit?” what would you say? It’s not easy to answer and therefore makes us uneasy as we think about it. III. Observation from the passage In order that we might have the teaching clearly in front of us, let’s think about five observations from the passage. A. Note the contrasting commands between getting drunk with wine and filling by the Spirit. (v.18) What precisely is the point of comparison between wine and the Holy Spirit? Doubtless the issue is influence or control . A person under the influence of wine experiences altered behavior. He may say or do things he would not ordinarily do if he is under its influence. Likewise, the filling of the Holy Spirit produces a change in behavior . B. This is a command. In the Greek language this verb is in the imperative mode. This means the filling of the Spirit isn’t an optional part of the Christian life . Every Christian is to be filled with the Spirit all of the time. If you aren’t, you are out of God’s will. C. It is in the present tense. This insight is particularly helpful because the Greek present tense has the idea of continual action. We could legitimately translate this verse this way: “Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” John MacArthur says we could translate it literally with something like “Be being kept filled with the Spirit.” The Amplified translates the present tense this way: “But ever be filled and stimulated with the (Holy) Spirit.” The filling of the Spirit is supposed to be the normal way of life for the Christian. D. It is in the passive voice. This is a nuance many people would miss just like I did. To be honest, I remember consulting Bro. Quits if Action-Manner could work as an overarching relationship between v.18 and v19-21. But since theologically we cannot cause the Holy Spirit to fill us by doing the list in v.19 - v. 21, it could not also work grammatically. It should be the results instead. Ephesians 5:18 is in the passive voice. He doesn’t say, “Fill yourself with the Spirit” but rather “Be filled with the Spirit.” This is the key to everything. To be “be filled” means that the filling of the Spirit is a work of God, not man . E. It is in the plural command. This command is in the plural, as if Paul were saying, “Let each and every one of you be filled with the Spirit.” On one hand, that means the command is for every Christian. God intends and desires, that all his children be filled with the Holy Spirit. But there is a sense in which this is also a corporate command. The church as a church is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That is, the filling of the Spirit is not something for my own personal edification. God’s Spirit imparts life-giving power that transforms the church from a social club or a religious gathering into a living body of Christ. We can see that clearly in the verses that follow: Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (v. 19). Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (v. 21). IV. Conclusion So what is the filling of the Spirit? It is that state in which the Holy Spirit is free to do all that he came into your life to do . It is certainly not reserved for a few super-Christians. It’s nothing more than the normal Christian life when the Holy Spirit is in control. It is the work of God, it happens when you manifest a life of worship that honors God the Father and Christ. V. Study Questions based from the Phrasing 1. What is Paul commanding to the believers?18a-18c 2. What is the ground or explanation of Paul by his denial of getting drunk?18b 3. What is being enforced by Paul by his denial of getting drunk with wine?18c 4. What are the results of being filled with the Spirit? 19-21 5. How to address one another?19b-19d 6. Who is the object for making melody? 19g 7. How can we make melody? 19h
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.