Question: When did the apostles get the indwelling Holy Spirit?
Answer: Greetings friend. Thank you for submitting such an important question. Scripture is clear on this issue, so I have a very direct answer for you. Of the original 12 Apostles, all but Judas received the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost. Judas was dead by this time, of course. So his replacement, Matthias, also received the Holy Spirit at that time.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1–4, ESV)
There was another apostle, however—the apostle Paul. He was one who was “untimely born” (1 Cor. 15:8), and he received the Holy Spirit shortly after his conversion through the ministry of the reluctant Ananias.
“So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 9:17, ESV)
There you have it! The texts are straight forward, and there is large consensus that these were the seminal events concerning the Holy Spirit. Allow me to continue with some fine tuning, however, because the Christian community is divided concerning the Holy Spirit…and how interesting; the Holy Spirit is he who makes us one (1 Cor. 12:11, Eph. 4:4, cf. Jude 19), yet we divide over our understanding of his ministry. Although Satan cannot affect the eternal destiny of any born-again believer, he can certainly wreck our fellowship one with another—and that we do this over the Holy Spirit drips with irony! Let us see what more the Scripture has to say.
Prior to the events of Acts chapter 2, but particularly in the Old Testament, God’s people as a whole did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit as the Body of Christ does today. However, some individuals were indwelt during this time, but this indwelling tended to be task-centric. Leaders, prophets, and those who penned the Old Testament scriptures are some examples of this phenomenon.
“And Pharaoh said to his servants [concerning Joseph], “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”” (Genesis 41:38, ESV)
“So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” (Numbers 27:18, ESV)
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.” (1 Samuel 16:13, ESV)
Jesus taught that he had to be glorified before the Holy Spirit would come in this new manifestation. Since the disciples were only beginning to learn that the Lords’ glorification required his death, Jesus’ teaching that the Holy Spirit would come as a comforter and a helper, that is, as God’s continuing presence after Jesus’ ascension, was particularly apt.
“… Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37–39, ESV)
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25–26, ESV)
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7, ESV)
Related to this, we see that this new manifestation of the Holy Spirit would be future to Jesus’ time on earth. This is an important time marker that gives evidence as to when the Spirit came to indwell believers globally.
“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11–12, ESV)
“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4–5, ESV)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, ESV)
The Holy Spirit had indeed come in Acts chapter 2, and we see him continuing in the promised ministry.
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:38, ESV)
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” (Acts 4:8, ESV)
“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?’” (Acts 5:3, ESV)
“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.” (Acts 10:44–45, ESV)
“And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us,” (Acts 15:8, ESV)
Finally, the apostles Peter and Paul taught a maturing Church more about the Holy Spirit.
“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21, ESV)
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,” (1 Corinthians 6:19, ESV)
“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3, ESV)
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” (Ephesians 1:13, ESV)
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
(Ephesians 4:30, ESV)
I pray that this retrospective on the Holy Spirit has helped you.