Memoirs of A Pastor: Entry 60

*I have decided to share a choice few entries of my memoir.*

November 2, 2016; 1921 hours

What does it mean to “be filled” with the Spirit? Contrasting it to being drunk on wine, Paul says, “ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε [present passive imperative 2p] ἐν πνεύματι”—”but be filled in the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Paul’s frequent use of the present imperative is to “impress upon his readers the urgency of the situation and his desire that they take his advice” [Stanley Porter, Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1993), 357]. The present imperative is a heavier command. Why the urgency? Context suggests he is addressing the Christian way of life. Paul begins this chapter with a command to “be imitators of God” since we are His children (5:1)—Γένεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Γένεσθε is present middle imperative 2p—another heavy command. BE—or literally EXIST—as imitators of God. The core of our existence must be as imitators of God.

He tells us how to do this in the next command—περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ—a present active imperative, “WALK in love.” In verses 3-14 he lists the methods in which we fail to walk in love as God’s imitators. In verse 15 he advises us to be careful and use our time wisely (v. 16). Then comes the contrast, “Do not get drunk with wine… but be filled in the Spirit.” What is drunkenness? Inebriation dulls the senses and engages in foolish behaviour. Paul urges the Christians not to dull the Spirit—or what he later says “quench” the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19)—and not to engage in the sinful foolish behaviours preceding this verse. The opposite of this is to be filled in the Spirit—the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We are given the Spirit in Baptism. Being filled in the Spirit is not a secondary event required after Baptism, as charismatic gits purport. Rather, to be filled in the Spirit is to seek His fruit—joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, which is to seek the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Being filled in Him is Him enabling this seeking not to add to our salvation, but for the good of our neighbour. How do we let this filling happen? By praying, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10)—praying that God give us His kingdom, which as Luther says happens when He gives us the Holy Spirit, which is done in Baptism, who by His grace enables godly living. His will is done, Luther says, when He hinders our sinful nature. We are to pray, then, for His Holy Spirit’s continual sanctification in our Baptism as He hinders our sinful nature. By this, we are filled in the Spirit.


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