How can people say the power of the Holy Spirit was for the apostles and
not for today? What scripture would support such a claim?

That would depend on what is meant by the claim. If someone claims that we
cannot receive the Holy Spirit today, they are obviously wrong. As it says
in Acts 2:38f, the gift of the Holy Spirit is for “all who are far off,
for all those the Lord our God will call.”

I would guess that the person who said this probably is not actually
saying that the Holy Spirit is not available today. Most likely they mean
that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer being given in
the way they were in the first century. I would say that they have a very
excellent case for this claim biblically. First, in every specific case
recorded in the New Testament, the miraculous gifts, such as healing,
speaking in tongues, prophecy and so forth were given by the laying on of
hands of the apostles. A good example of this is in Acts chapter eight in
which Philip had to send back to Jerusalem for the apostles in order to be
able to pass the miraculous gifts on to those who had been converted in

A counter argument to this is that just because there is no recorded
example of anyone other than an apostle giving the gifts of the Holy
Spirit does not mean that this never happened. This is a good point, but
it is interesting that in the example quoted above, Philip, who was
certainly one of the most “gifted” of the disciples clearly was not able
to do this.

Another important point is that there is very solid evidence from the
history of the church in the first and second century that by early in the
second century the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit appear to have
disappeared. There is no record of their use in the churches after around
100 AD. One very reasonable explanation for this is that the apostles were
no longer around to hand on these gifts. Another possible reason is that
God, by this time, had chosen not to work in this way, as the New
Testament revelation had been completed by this time. One can find in
Hebrews 2:4 a clear statement that one of the main purposes of the
miraculous gifts was to testify to the inspiration of the message being
given. Once the New Testament was complete, it seems perfectly
understandable that God chose not to use the miraculous gifts to “bear
witness” to the scripture, as no new scripture was given.

To summarize, although there is no golden bullet scripture which clearly
says in a way that is absolute proof that the miraculous gifts were no
longer handed on by the laying on of hands after the first century of the
church, example, scripture and history all very strongly imply this

I would strongly recommend the book “The Spirit” by Dr. Douglas Jacoby for
a much more thorough treatment of this question. It is available at

You ask about whether the Holy Spirit is still working in miraculous ways
today, based on the “ministry” of William Branham. I do not know who this
person is, but perhaps that makes it easier to give a fair answer. I
cannot address the specific person. I do not deny that God could work in
miraculous ways today, and do not wish to prove any one person’s claims to
be untrue. My personal experience is that when I have investigated such
claims of the miraculous–of gifts of the Spirit, the claim has not held
up to scrutiny. Many come with false signs and miracles, as is clearly
taught in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. I would caution you that the Bible only
shows examples of the miraculous gifts being given by laying on of hands
by an apostle. You need to be extremely skeptical of such claims of
miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit. Most of those I have learned of who
claim such powers are not even saved by the biblical definition of how a
person is saved. I have become extremely skeptical of such claims, but
cannot with a clear conscience tell you that God definitely cannot or will
not work through miracles today. Be careful, be skeptical, be Bible-based
and follow the biblical admonition in 2 Thessalonians to not be carried
away by miraculous claims.

John Oakes, PhD

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