Walking in the Spirit Before Paul

By Justin Johnson

The average church deacon goes into a conniption fit if he hears that Paul taught a different message than the twelve apostles.

It is strange that the same deacon will talk about the necessity of the believer walking in the Spirit.

Why is that strange? Because only Paul describes what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Before the Spirit

The Holy Spirit was not sent from heaven until after Christ died, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. By this fact alone it would have been impossible for any apostle prior to Pentecost to walk in the Spirit without having the Spirit.

Nor did Jesus’ earthly ministry include instructions about how to walk in the Spirit. Instead, Jesus spoke of law keeping, future promises, and prophecies.

How could the twelve apostles in Matthew-John teach the same message as Paul, if the twelve did not yet have the Spirit?

The Spirit of the New Covenant

Jesus did confirm the promise of the coming Spirit (Rom 15:8; Luke 24:49), but the coming of the Spirit in power is different than learning how to walk in the Spirit under grace.

According to prophecy it was necessary that Israel receive the Spirit of God in order to operate within their new covenant (John 3:7; Eze 36:26).

The Hebrew epistles were written by the apostles to Israel filled with the Spirit. But these epistles are also silent about how to walk in the Spirit.

Sure, they talk about having the Spirit, the power of the Spirit, and rejecting the Spirit, but how to walk in the Spirit is a subject not addressed.

Instead, James says, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:22)

John says the love of God is perfected in those that keep the commandments (1 John 2:4-5).

If you are not walking in the Spirit after Paul’s instruction, then you are inevitably walking after the flesh, in a covenant, or under the law. (If indeed you are saved.)

This is why Paul says to the Galatians who were being influenced by Jewish law keepers, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)

Walking in the Spirit

Instructions about how to walk in the Spirit are found in Paul’s epistles alone, namely Romans and Galatians.

Only Paul writes about walking in the Spirit, because he is the special apostle of the dispensation of God’s grace.

Under God’s grace, for the first time, men who are not under the law, not under a covenant, and not Israel in the flesh can receive the Spirit of God (Eph 2:18; 1 Cor 12:13).

Since it is grace, it has been revealed both how to receive the Spirit without a covenant, and how to walk without the law.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:25

Though church deacons resist the mid-Acts dispensational idea that Paul had a different message than the twelve, every time they preach about walking in the Spirit they testify to the rightness of it.

Without the revelation of the mystery of Christ, none of us would know how to walk in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit was not something people were told how to do before Paul.

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Published: November 19, 2016
Last Modified: June 3, 2019
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