Christians enjoy the presence and power of holy spirit in a way never experienced before the Church Age, which began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The holy spirit we have now is what God had promised He would give to Israel in the Millennial Kingdom, with some extra blessings as well. Throughout the Old Testament and Gospel periods, God gave holy spirit to a few believers, but that holy spirit was limited in many ways. God promised Israel that when the Messiah set up his kingdom on earth, He would give a new holy spirit that would be different from the holy spirit He had given throughout the Old Testament.

The subject of the Millennial Kingdom is not often taught, and not well understood, so before we can discuss holy spirit in the Millennial Kingdom, we must discuss the Millennial Kingdom itself. The Millennial Kingdom is the 1,000-year kingdom that Christ will set up on earth after he fights the Battle of Armageddon. Most Christians know that in the future there will be a time of terrible tribulation on earth. There will be wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, and massive destruction, and billions of people will die. This time of tribulation will end when Jesus Christ comes down from heaven and fights (and wins!) the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21), which will end the world as we know it.

After Armageddon, Jesus does not go back up to heaven. Instead, he sets up a kingdom on earth, ushering in a time of unparalleled blessing and prosperity. The entire world will have been laid waste by the Tribulation and Armageddon, so the earth will have to be restored. On this “new” earth, Christ will reign from Jerusalem as King and High Priest (Ps. 110; Isa. 9:6 and 7; Zech. 6:12 and 13), the deserts will bloom (Isa. 35:1, 6 and 7) and there will be abundant food (Isa. 25:6, 30:23-26). No one living in Israel will be sick (Isa. 33:24, 35:5 and 6). Even animal nature will be changed so that carnivorous animals return to eating vegetables as they did in the Garden of Eden (Isa. 11:7; 65:25; cp. Gen. 1:30). This kingdom will last 1,000 years (Rev. 20:2-7), which is why it is known theologically as Christ’s Millennial Kingdom (from mil, 1,000, and annus, a year).

Old Testament prophets foretold that in the Millennial Kingdom God would give holy spirit in a new, fuller, more powerful way. This explains why when Jesus was teaching in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, Scripture says, “…as yet there was no Spirit….”

John 7:39 (NRSV)
Now he said this about the Spirit [spirit], which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit [spirit], because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Verse 39 is somewhat hard to understand. Why would the Bible say, “…as yet there was no spirit…”? Why does Scripture say that spirit did not yet exist in the time of Christ? The answer is that the gift of holy spirit God promised was very different from the holy spirit that those people had at the time. Moses, Deborah, Zachariah, Elizabeth, and other Old Testament and Gospel believers had a holy spirit that was different from the gift of holy spirit that God promised for the Millennial Kingdom and which He has given to us today. It is so different, in fact, that what we have today did not exist when Jesus was speaking about it in the Temple.

Most textual scholars today believe the original Greek text of John 7:39 should be translated “for as yet there was no spirit.” However, we can see why that reading would cause problems for the scribes who copied the manuscripts, giving them reason to change the original text. First, there is the fact that most copyists believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, and if “the Spirit” is the third person of the Trinity, then “he” always existed. Second is the obvious presence of spirit in the Old Testament; it certainly seemed clear that “spirit” did exist. After all, Moses had holy spirit, David had holy spirit, and so did Deborah and the prophets. Third, almost no one knew that after the resurrection from the dead, believers would be given a new holy spirit, one that had not existed before Christ was glorified. Instead, most people believed that when a person died he went immediately to heaven and lived forever in a perfected state with no need for a new and different holy spirit. Wanting the verse to make sense, the men who copied the Greek text modified it. Therefore, there are several different later renditions of the verse, including, the spirit “was not yet given,” “was not yet upon them,” and had “not yet come.” [1]

John 7:39 also makes the point that the promised gift of holy spirit would not come until after Jesus was glorified. We today, looking back, know that this was indeed the case. When Jesus was speaking of the holy spirit that was to come, he was speaking to Jews assembled in the Temple. He was speaking about the holy spirit they were expecting to come during the Millennial Kingdom as part of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-33; Isa. 32:15; Joel 2:28). He was not speaking of the gift of holy spirit that we have today, which none of the Jews knew about or expected.

What do we know from the Old Testament and Gospels about this new and different gift of holy spirit that God was going to give in the Millennial Kingdom?

1. In the Old Testament and Gospels, holy spirit was said to be upon believers, but in the Millennial Kingdom it will be in believers.

Ezekiel 36:26 and 27 (RSV)
(26) A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(27) And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.

Jesus thoroughly knew the Old Testament and its promises, and made sure his followers knew that holy spirit would be “in” people.

John 14:17 (Author’s translation) [2]
that is the spirit of truth, which the world is not able to receive, for it does not see it, neither knows it. You know it, for it is present with you, and will be in you.

2. In the Old Testament and Gospels, only a few believers had holy spirit, but in the Millennial Kingdom it will be in all believers. Joel made this very clear.

Joel 2:28 and 29
(28) “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit [spirit] on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
(29) Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit [spirit] in those days.

3. In the Old Testament and Gospels, God gave holy spirit in a limited way, by measure, but in the Millennial Kingdom it will be poured out in abundance.

We just read above from the book of Joel that God would “pour out” the spirit in the Millennial Kingdom. This is a change from the very limited way He gave it in the Old Testament.
“…to pour out signifies communication in rich abundance, like a rainfall or waterfall. ‘There is no doubt that the prophet promises something greater here than the fathers has experienced under the law…the prophet promises here not what the faithful had formerly experienced, but something greater.’ [3]

4. In the Old Testament and Gospels, God gave holy spirit conditionally, and the recipient could lose it. In the Millennial Kingdom, holy spirit will be given permanently.

The New Covenant that God will make with Israel contains many irrevocable promises. For example, He said of resurrected Israel believers that He would “no longer” hide His face from them (Ezek. 39:29). He told them He will give them a “new heart,” taking away their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), and this is a clear reference to the fact that God will write His law on the hearts of His people so that they will all know Him (Jer. 31:33 and 34). Such promises, and those in the following verses, were part of the hope of Israel.

Ezekiel 11:19 and 20
(19) I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
(20) Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Isaiah 59:21 (KJV)
As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and forever.

God will put His holy spirit on resurrected believers, a “new” spirit, and they will then follow His decrees. They will be His people, and He will be their God. They will not have to fear losing the spirit or losing God’s favor as they could during Old Testament times. God’s people will stand firm in the kingdom of God, which will be “an everlasting kingdom” (Dan. 7:27b).

5. In the Old Testament and Gospels, it is never stated that holy spirit would influence a person to live a godly life. Holy spirit in the Old Testament gave people the spiritual power they needed to accomplish the task God had for them to do. However, Scripture promises that in the Millennial Kingdom, holy spirit will also influence people toward godliness.

In Ezekiel 39:29, God promised that when holy spirit is poured out on resurrected people in the Millennial Kingdom, His face would no longer be hidden from them. Believers will be able to talk with Him directly and intimately. Ezekiel 36:27 (RSV) says the holy spirit will “cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” John 16:13 states that holy spirit will guide people into truth, and Jesus even called it “the helper” (which some versions refer to as “the Comforter, the Encourager,” etc.). Other verses, such as the following, also testify to the godly influence of holy spirit.

Isaiah 44:3b-5
(3b) …I will pour out my Spirit [spirit] on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
(4) They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
(5) One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel.

The gift of holy spirit that God put upon Old Testament believers did not exert an influence toward godliness in the way that holy spirit in the Millennial Kingdom will exert.

We have been studying how the gift of holy spirit that God will give in the Millennial Kingdom differs from the gift of holy spirit that He gave during the Old Testament and Gospel periods. It will be in all believers, not just a few, and God will give it permanently and in fullness. Furthermore, it will help them, and guide them into truth. Why is it important for us to know and understand this? Because Christian’s today are the recipients of the “firstfruits of the spirit” of God. We get today what God promised Israel in the future. Romans says this clearly.

Romans 8:23
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit [spirit], groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

If people in the Old Testament such as Moses, David, and Miriam had the same holy spirit as we have and the believers in the Millennial Kingdom will have, how could our holy spirit be “the firstfruits”? It could not. We have “the firstfruits” because what God promised for believers in the Millennial Kingdom, He has given us by grace. Furthermore, because God promised in the Old Testament to give this new holy spirit, it is called “the promised Holy Spirit [holy spirit].”

Ephesians 1:13
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit [holy spirit].

God promised the spirit for a future time, but we get it by grace. Thus we today enjoy the same attributes of holy spirit that God said would be true for believers in the Millennial Kingdom. The gift of holy spirit is sealed inside each and every Christian at the time he believes and is saved (Eph. 1:13 and 14). Every Christian is filled with holy spirit, which is the very nature of God (Acts 2:4; 2 Pet. 1:4). Our holy spirit is permanent because it is “born” in us (1 Pet. 1:3 and 23), “sealed” in us (Eph. 1:13-KJV). It is a guarantee of our wonderful life to come (2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5; Eph. 1:14). The holy spirit born inside each Christian helps him live a Christ like life. For one thing, it is in conflict with his fleshly desires (Gal. 5:16 and 17).

Besides the blessings pointed out above that are part of the “firstfruits” of the spirit, God has given us two manifestations of holy spirit that are unique to the Christian Church. These did not exist in the Old Testament or Gospels, neither are they foretold to be part of the gift of holy spirit in the Millennial Kingdom. These two manifestations are speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. Speaking in tongues is speaking a language of men or angels that you do not understand, which is given to you by the Lord Jesus Christ, while the interpretation of tongues is giving the sum and substance, in your own language, of what you have just spoken in tongues.

God was certainly gracious during the Old Testament and Gospel periods to place holy spirit upon certain believers so they could accomplish work that He wanted done and bless the people. But the Old Testament believers looked forward to the time they would all have holy spirit in them permanently, and it would be to them a heart of flesh, guiding them and helping them.

What a blessing, and what a privilege to know that the gift of holy spirit God promised for the Millennial Kingdom, He has given to us now. We Christians do not have to wait for the Millennial Kingdom to get this wonderful, new gift of holy spirit, by God’s grace we get the “firstfruits” of the spirit at the moment we get saved.


Endnotes:

1. Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (United Bible Societies, Germany, 1975), p. 218. Many Bible versions say the spirit was not yet given, but even if that is the correct reading of the Greek text, which it almost certainly is not, it still means that before Jesus was glorified there was no such holy spirit as would be given in the Millennial Kingdom. Back to top

2. We use our own translation here because “spirit” should have a lower case “s.” When “spirit” is referring to the gift of God, the pronouns referring to should be “it” and not “who.” Back to top

3. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Minor Prophets (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, reprinted 1975), Vol. 10, p. 210. Back to top

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