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Be Filled by The Spirit
pp. 218 - 220
The injunction to be "filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5: 18 A.V.) has been greatly
misunderstood by some believers and interpreted as though it referred to an ecstatic
experience which the Lord desires His people to have. It has been thought that such an
experience may be gained by convening prayer meetings and "waiting for the Spirit", or
by whipping up emotions through repetitive chorus-singing, handclapping and other
There has also been a failure to realize that the Holy Spirit is, in this verse, the Giver
and not the gift; the believer here not being filled "with the Spirit" but "by the Spirit"
(see The Companion Bible and The Giver and His gifts by E. W. Bullinger). When
however, it is appreciated what the Holy Spirit (as Giver) is prepared to fill the believer
with, then none of the views or practices mentioned above will be seen to have any
relevance to the fulfillment of the injunction.
Ephesians and Colossians have, from early times, been recognized as being parallel
epistles. As such, a truth expressed in one of the epistles may be seen in a clearer light by
referring to a parallel passage in the other. So here, Eph. 5: 18 - 6: 9 is in some respects
parallel to Col. 3: 16 - 4: 1. Both passages refer to "psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs . . . . . giving thanks . . . . . wives, husbands, children, parents, fathers, servants,
masters" in much the same general order. But whereas Eph. 5: 18 enjoins,
"Be filled by the Spirit",
Col. 3: 16 (standing in the section in a parallel position) exhorts,
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom."
The outcome of this is to note that the Holy Spirit fills the believer with the word of
Christ according to the believer's desire and response.
Such an idea is not confined to this part of Scripture however, for the ministry of the
Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John is associated with the things of Christ (John 16: 13,
14), and the Lord claims that His own words are spirit and life (John 6: 63). There are
also a number of passages in both the O.T. and the New where "spirit" and "word" are
associated together in such a way as to suggest that they are almost synonymous in some
aspects of their usage.
"The Spirit of God moved . . . . . And God said" (Gen. 1: 2, 3).
"By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made; And all the host of them by the
breath (spirit) of His mouth" (Psa. 33: 6).
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (The God-breathed Word) (II Tim. 3: 16).