I have been thinking over the relationship between Lukan and Pauline Pneumatology over the past few weeks. After several recommendations I decided to read Roger Stronstad’s The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke (reviewed here). One paragraph early in the book stood out to me which I will quote here:

“…since Luke is a theologian in his own right, interpreters ought to examine his writings with a mind open to the possibility that his perspective of the Holy Spirit may, in fact, differ from Paul’s. Consequently, just as the recognition that Luke is a theologian as well as a historian makes Luke-Acts a legitimate data base for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, so the recognition that Luke is independent of Paul will broaden the New Testament data base for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. To recognize these two facts is to rehabilitate Luke as a historian-theologian of the Holy Spirit and to allow him to make a significant, unique, and independent contribution to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. (p. 11)

Stronstad makes two important points: (1) Lukan Pneumatology can stand alone. It is not dependent upon Pauline Pneumatology. I may add that it does not necessarily  contradict Pauline Pneumatology (just like the phrase “justification by faith” is different in the Pauline epistles juxtaposed with the Epistle of James), but likewise it is not saying the same thing. (2) We cannot regulate Luke-Acts to pure narrative while saying epistles are didactic. This seems to avoid the tension by ignoring that Luke-Acts was not trying to convey raw objective historical data but rather it was inviting its reader (and later readers) to participate in those things which Jesus began both to do and teach.

At Pentecost we see a “democratization” of the charismatic Spirit. In the gospel people like Elizabeth, Zecharias, John the Baptist, and even Jesus himself are filled with the Spirit. In the sequel anyone and everyone can receive the promised charismatic Spirit no matter one’s age, class, gender, or race. What seems internally evident is that Lukan Pneumatology is concerned primarily with the charismatic Spirit. Therefore, whenever the author writes about people having the Spirit poured out upon them or being filled with the Spirit it is grounded in the specific context of empowerment that we saw scattered throughout random individuals going back to Moses (who prayed that all may be charismatic prophetic leaders like he), the elders of Israel, the judges, kings like David and Saul, and various prophets of Israel. The Lukan Pneumatological language even seems to echo Septuagint charismatic Spirit language.

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to this aspect of Pneumatology (see 1 Cor 12-14), but it was not his primary concern. It seems from passages like Rom. 8 and 1 Cor. 15 that he was primarily concerned with the life-giving, resurrecting Spirit that we see building from Gen. 3 and 6 to Ps. 104 to Ez. 37 amongst other passages. So the Apostle knew and addressed the charismatic aspect of the Spirit but his primary use of Spirit-language was in the context of life and the age to come (i.e. eschatology and soteriology).

In Luke-Acts we see the life-giving, resurrecting Spirit–for both volumes are tied together at the ascension of the resurrected Christ–but this is not the primary concern. Lukan Pneumatology focuses on the reality that all people can now be “filled with the Spirit” in a way that was once reserved for a few outstanding figures. In order to convey this idea I created a “Yin-Yang” of Lukan and Pauline Pneumatology:


Pauline and Lukan Pneumatology


If we allow both authors to have their major and minor Pneumatological categories than we avoid contradiction between the two. I don’t think this is arbitrary either. I think it seems internally evident from the contexts in which you find their Spirit language. When Paul writes it is most often in the context of the Spirit drawing, sanctifying, and being a “down-payment” for an eventual resurrection. When Luke writes it provides everyone from a peasant Galilean Jew to a Roman centurion access to the Spirit in a manner once reserved for only a few heroes in Israel’s history.

This may not be a perfect system, but I think it is a good start and worth considering as we try to let Luke and Paul have their own voices.