Acts 4:31, The Holy Spirit in the Church

"For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together  28  to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.  29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.  31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. 32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.  33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all," (NKJV)

  • Introduction
    The context of this verse.  Peter and John and others had been preaching the gospel and many were being saved.  The Jews threatened them and told them not to preach any more.  The disciples then gathered together and praised God, quoted scripture, and prayed. Verse 31 occurs at the end of the prayer
    • "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness," (NKJV).
  • The Holy Spirit had been given to them after Jesus' crucifixion (John 20:22).  They had experienced the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), and now they are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31).
    • There are various discussions on the relationship between the initial indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit -- explain them briefly.  
      • Which ever view you hold concerning the matter, it is apparent here that the disciples who were all ready saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit were subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit.  The immediate result was that they spoke the word of God with boldness.
      • I remember as a young Christian, wholly dedicated to the word of God, and speaking boldly God's word to any and all who would listen.  Swapmeet ministry, phone, beach, etc.... Evangelism was and still is a result of the Holy Spirit's work in you.


  1. In the church, the holy Spirit makes Witnesses out of Weaklings (Acts 1:8)
    1. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
      1. Power, dunamis. We get the word Dynamite from the Greek word dunamis.
    2. The death and resurrection of Christ brought the Holy Spirit, the indweller of the church and its members.
      1. The Church had to first be cleansed by the blood of God before it could be filled with the power of God
    3. It was before the ascension of Jesus and before Pentecost that the disciples received the Holy Spirit.
      1. In John 20:19-23 it says, "When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side.  The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  21 Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
      2. Notice that after they receive the Holy Spirit, after Pentecost, that is when they speak with authority and with power.
    4. One of the immediate result of being filled with the Holy Spirit is speaking God's word with boldness.
      1. In Acts 2:4 it says, And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance."  It is after this account that 3000 were added to the church.
      2. They were told to wait in Acts 1:8. In Acts 2, the Spirit came upon them and they received ability to speak with power.  And in Acts 4:31 they are filled with the Holy Spirit and they boldly speak the word of God.
        1. The rest of Acts is how the Mediterranean area was turned upside down by the preaching of the gospel from people who had received the Holy Spirit, who had the Holy Spirit upon them, and who had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
    5. Consider the initial weakness of the disciples
      1. Peter lied and denied He knew Jesus.
      2. Thomas doubted Jesus' own words about His resurrection.
      3. The Disciples deserted Jesus in His hour of difficulty.
    6. Yet, this tiny group turned the world upside down.  This tiny group of cowards, liars, and deserters turned the world upside down.
      1. Not because of their words, not because of their wisdom, and not because of the might.  It was because of the Holy Spirit who filled them and empowered them to speak the Word with boldness.
      2. This is what the Holy Spirit brings to the glory of God.
  2. In the church, the Holy Spirit also brings Fellowship instead of Factions (Acts 4:32)
    Acts 4:32, "And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them."
    1. The possibilities of divisions among the disciples was great.  They were sinners.  There were many cares of the world to consider, even possible fighting for position within the ranks of Christianity.
      1. This fighting had already begun back in Luke 9:46 which says, "Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest."
        1. Jesus went on to show them that it is not the greatest that is esteemed of God, but the most humble and loving.
    2. Where before they had fought over who would be the greatest, they had deserted Jesus, lied about him, and doubted him, now they are of one heart and of one soul full of the power of the Holy Spirit speaking the word of God together, in once accord because......
      1. Their devotion to Jesus more important than their devotion to the world.
      2. Their humility was more important than their greatness.
      3. Their bond was more important than their possessions
      4. Their love for one another more important than their love for themselves.
      5. And it was this kind of unity in love and devotion to one another that helped fuel the conversion of the world.
        1. It wasn't a program, a scheduled revival meeting, a lecture series, or great church services.  It was the Holy Spirit.
      6. Remember, we were all once far off and without a common goal until we became Christians.  It is becomes of the cross of Christ that we can ever hope for any unity at all.
    3. It is always the work of the Holy Spirit to bring unity among members in the local church.  This is so the ministry of outreach to the lost will not be hindered.
      1. If you are a Christian, then the Holy Spirit does not want you to merely be keepers of the aquarium. He wants you to be fishers of men, preachers of the gospel, sacrificial in your love, determined in your godliness, and unfailing in your prayers.
        1. Prayer - the place of power.
        2. Prayer - the place of humility.
        3. Prayer - the place of assurance.
        4. Prayer - the place where you meet God, encounter the Holy Spirit, are empowered, humbled, and filled with His love.
  3. In the Church, the Holy Spirit also produces Growth without Gimmicks. (Acts 4:33) "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all."
    1. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. Grace not Gimmicks!
    2. The Great Power was from God the Holy Spirit, not man.
    1. Acts 2:41 - 3,000 converts
    2. Acts 5:14 - multitudes of converts
    3. Acts 4:4,5 - 5,000 converts
    4. Acts 6:7 - numbers multiplied
    1. Prayer and the power of God produces growth, not only in the individual, but also in the church.
    2. Are you tired of the gimmicks?
      1. On TV and radio we are lied to and conned into believing the veracity of a product.  Gimmicks are thrown our way: discounts, programs, promises, and appeals. Gimmicks to get our money.  Gimmicks to get us to listen.  Gimmicks to get us to join. Gimmicks to get us to believe.  Gimmicks to get us to vote.
      2. Not so with the church.
        1. No gimmicks. Instead, prayer, sacrifice, love, more prayer, more sacrifice, and more love.
    3. It is the Lord who gives increase to the church, not man.
  4. Conclusion
    1. With eyes on yourself, your brother or sister's faults, the problems in the church, or whatever, the commission of the church  to evangelize the world  is often ignored and the church becomes a stale keeper of the status-quo.
      1. It is not comfortable to be shaken  even as the Holy Spirit shook the room the disciples were in but it is necessary.  It is necessary for you to be shaken.  The Power of God shakes even the very soul of the Christian and His filling can come again and again upon His vessels.
      2. It is a natural consequence of experiencing God.
      3. Beg God for that filling.
    2. What do you want to be?  Filled?  Comfortable?  Quiet?
    3. Are you bold in Christ or weak and timid?
    4. Are you more willing to endure a faction than fellowship?
    5. Which ever your condition, one thing is for sure: You need the filling of the Holy Spirit. 
      1. You need His power to give you boldness.
      2. You need His love to give you peace and hope.
      3. You need His grace to show you Jesus.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.