Does the grammar of Acts 2:38 mean that the gift of the Holy Spirit can’t be salvation?


I believe the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit is salvation, but a brother in Christ has told me it cannot be, due to the Greek grammar of “shall receive” in verse 38 having “middle voice future tense”.

He believes salvation cannot be the gift since the gift is future tense middle voice, as in something that takes place in the future by cooperation after baptism as in Acts 8 or Acts 19. He insists that it is the miraculous. Does the grammar with “shall receive” in Acts 2:38 change the gift from being salvation?


The Greek word lepsesthe (you will receive) is grammatically a second-person, indicative, future, middle verb.

  • indicative means that this is an assertion, which is why it is translated as will receive.
  • future means that we are talking about something that has not happened yet.
  • middle means that the subject (you) has a vested interest in the action. The emphasis is on the subject instead of on the action.

At the time Peter spoke these words, his audience had not yet been baptized. Thus, what they will receive is in their future. Peter is emphasizing that they have a vested interest in receiving the gift. This gift comes in response to their action (repenting and being baptized). It is not just a gift given to them (that would require a passive voice). It is not something they are earning (that would require an active voice).

Notice, whether you see the gift as salvation, the miracles granted by the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Spirit Himself, the grammar alone doesn't tell you what the gift is. Nor does it tell you when it will be received -- other than sometime in the future.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email