Full, Not So Full, Empty

“Be full of the Holy Spirit”. This expression is sometimes used in Christian Churches, but not always properly. What does the Scripture say about this?


“To fill” always consists of two things:

The action of “filling” happens when “something” enters into a certain “space” and then the space is totally occupied by what is entering.

Let's say we have a glass: If we proceed to “fill” the glass with water, we will pour water inside of it to the brim, and we will say: The glass is full. Or if a bus stops for people to climb on it, when there is no space for any more, we say: the bus is full.

“To fill” is the action, and when within a space there is no more place for whatever is flowing in, we say “it is full”. The previous moment (when that  something is flowing into the space) to being full would be “to be filled”, and the beginning of the action could be called “it is starting to be filled”.

In the matter that occupies us, that "something" that fills, is a person: The Holy Spirit. And the "space" into which He enters, is all human being, man or woman, that has believed in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. All the Christians are the space to be occupied by the Holy Spirit.

Finally let us add that the expression “to fill” is always entwined with the concept of “fullness”. A place occupied completely.

Hch 2:4
And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Ef 5:18-19
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Hch 13:52
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

These verses speak of that fullness, and the context shows the results of being full of the Spirit, by what happens in and around those full ones.

Notwithstanding that fullness is the goal, the same verses let us understand that:

(a) Before being filled, the children of God mentioned here WERE      NOT full.
(b) Paul recommends to be full (so it also means that it is possible      NOT to be full).
(c) They were “continuously” full (this lets understand that it can      be NOT continuous).

The desire and purpose of God is for His Children to receive the Holy Spirit and that they may be fully filled. Nevertheless, if someone is not FULL, he does not lose the condition of being a Child of God. We add this comment, because on occasions the following question has been heard: Can one be a “child” and be empty of the Holy Spirit?

The Life received by the believer, received from Jesus, is not withdrawn if someone does not have the Holy Spirit.

Jn 6,51
I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he shall live forever. And truly the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. .
Jn 6,63
It is the Spirit that makes alive,...

The Spirit (the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the same One we are talking about here) gives Life to all who believe that Jesus is the bread of life that descended from heaven. This is the Good News of the Gospel. But to receive Life and to receive the Holy Spirit are not the same thing.

The believers -the redeemed Children of God-, as it can be understood from the words of the Apostle Paul we just read, can be full, not so full, almost empty or -empty! of the Holy Spirit.

Relying on the Apostle John's words…

1st Jn 5,1
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.
1st Jn 5,11-12
And this is the record, that God has given to us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

…we understand that to be “Children” it is necessary to have life, which certainly those receive, as we read above, who believe that Jesus is the Christ.

In His last days before being crucified, being Jesus with His disciples He blew over them saying: “Receive…” Was He talking to “Children” of God? Yes. But did they have the Comforter? No. They did not have the Holy Spirit. This was sent to them later.

Another situation shows us Paul as during one of his missionary trips met with certain disciples.

Hch 19,1-2
And it happened in the time Apollos was at Corinth, Paul was passing through the higher parts to Ephesus. And finding certain disciples, he said to them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said to him, We did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit is.

These had believed in Jesus as the Christ, and God had given them life. Without doubt they already were “Children”. Yet the existence of the Holy Spirit was unknown to them.

Can one be a “Child of God” and at the same time be empty of the Holy Spirit?
Yes, one can be a Child of God, have life, and -nevertheless- not have, or be empty, of the Holy Spirit.

But, here is the great promise: It is possible to be full!