The Word's Christian Fellowship, Inc.
#122 Nothing Fell On Me. How About You?                                            November 1, 2015

 

Acts chapter 10, verse 44 can be a troubling verse of Scripture because of a mistranslation in the King James Version.

          Acts 10:44:  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

It’s the word “fell” that has caused a fair amount of confusion over the centuries. 

The word “fell” in the King James Version is translated from the Greek word epipipto.  In this context and in other occurrences of this Greek word as well, “came” or “come” is a much better translation of the Greek word epipipto.

I think most of us would understand that the English words “Holy Ghost” here in the KJV shouldn’t be capitalized, for they don’t refer to God.  They refer to God’s gift of holy spirit.  “Ghost” is simply an old English word, which, at the time of the King James translation, meant “spirit.”  When epipipto is properly translated and the private interpretation of the capitalization is removed, verse 44 would read:

         “While Peter yet spake these words, the holy spirit came on all them which heard the word.”

God’s Word is simply describing what happened at this particular time in the household of Cornelius.  Peter and those with him saw something that caused them to realize that these Gentiles at the house of Cornelius had received God’s gift of holy spirit.  It had been “poured out” to them.  It “came” on them.  How did Peter and those with him know that? 

          Acts 10:45 and 46a:  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came  with Peter, 
          because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
          46  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.

They knew God’s gift of holy spirit had been received by the Gentiles because they heard them speak in tongues.  Cornelius and his household didn’t fall to the ground because something fell on them.  They spoke in tongues.  Translating epipipto as “fell” describes an experience that few people would relish happening to them.  When things fall on you it normally isn’t pleasant, is it?  Spirit, holy or otherwise, falling on you sounds strange or weird to say the least.  (Though of course, it is most agreeable to the “slain in the spirit” crowd.)  Epipipto also occurs in Acts 11:15 where it should be translated as “came.”

           Acts 11:15:  And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost [God’s gift of holy spirit] fell [epipipto, came] on  them, as on us at
           the beginning.

In Acts 8:16 epipipto is translated as “fallen” and would more accurately be translated as “come.”

           Acts 8:16:  (For as yet he [it] was fallen [epipipto, come] upon none of them: only they were baptized in  the name of the 
           Lord Jesus.)

God’s gift of holy spirit has never “fallen” on anyone and it never “fell” on anyone.  The believer who receives it can certainly know that they have received it, that it has come to them, when they speak in tongues.  Believers who understand the significance of speaking in tongues can also know that a person has received the gift of holy spirit if they hear that person speak in tongues.  Nothing fell on me when I received God’s gift of holy spirit.  How about you?

                                                     © Stephen A. Harrison  The Word’s Christian Fellowship, Inc.  4415 Yank Road  Wilson, NC 27893