And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar, Acts 11:28.
I have expressed criticism of the tendency of editors to change the word "spirit" to Spirit. They shift from the lower case "s" to an upper case "S". To be specific I wrote a post on October 5, 2017 titled The S of Acts 11:28. In that post I made the following statement: "The truth that the churches of Judaea had a relationship with the Lord prior to the cross became obscured." A reader has written that she is confused by what I meant by that statement. She wrote: "I don't understand this statement...It appears near the end of the post titled: The "S" of Acts 11:28".
This particular reader is taking extraordinary steps to look up references and to study for herself. We'll take a little time in this post to clarify that statement.
We know that God spoke to Israel through his servant Moses. In God's kindness to Moses and in his care for Israel he took of his spirit and gave it to the 70 elders of Israel. And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease, Numbers 11:25.
Here is an example of the lower case spirit in the old testament. We have traced the King James Bible's unique use of upper and lower case spirits/Spirits to differentiate between whether we are dealing with the spirit of the entire Godhead or the individual spirit of Jehovah God. Look at Genesis 6:3 as an example; And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man. This corresponds with the seven times in the gospels when Jesus Christ's personal spirit is mentioned. (Example: And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Mark 2:8.)
How does the spirit of Genesis 6:3 as it is written correspond to how Jesus Christ's own personal spirit as recorded in the gospels? It corresponds because Jesus Christ is the Lord. The spirit that would not always strive with man still strove with man in the gospels. It is the spirit of Genesis 6:3 that Jesus yields to the Father in Luke 23:46. It is also this spirit by which the Lord kept a relationship with Israel.
My older readers will mostly never care about these distinctions since they were not relevant in the debates and issues that guided their early learning. Nevertheless, my younger readers and those noble few of my generation will look into these things and see that indeed they are so and that careless editors obscure them. The King James Bible is unique among bibles in any language in that it uses upper and lower case letters to express doctrine when viewing the Godhead, and among various editions of that bible, the Cambridge Bible as it stood between c1920 until 1985 does it perfectly.
If we were to see a difference in upper and lower case renderings of the word spirit/Spirit, what would a lower case spirit mean in Acts 11:28? It would mean that the relationship that the Lord established with Israel in Numbers 11:25 is still in operation in Acts 11. To understand that statement we need to look at the modern concept of dispensationalism and contrast it with a better model based on God's slow transition from the Mosaic economy to the New Testament model.
Too many dispensationalists assume that from time to time God has stepped out on a stage and blown a whistle. When that whistle blew, the rules changed. If you ask these men about contrasts between the Old and New Testaments, the differences between Paul's and James's writings or the happenings of the Book of Acts, they explain it all away by saying that the dispensation had changed. What has really happened is that a shift has happened in the operations of God based on the recorded events of scripture.
When the gospels were taking place, not everyone in Israel was lost. God had always blessed those who by faith received and followed the laws of God. Following the laws of God could never save them, but believing the laws of God insured that they would obey those same laws. For such people the difficulty was in determining whether the ruddy Jew who stood in front of them performing miracles was indeed the Messiah to come.
Some of them such as Nathaniel realized that the man who stood in front of him was the same one that inhabited his heart. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel, John 1:49. Nathaniel did not get saved when he met Jesus. He was already an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! John 1:47. He was part of what the Apostle Paul called the true Israel, (Romans 9:6-8) and David called a blessed man; Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile, Psalms 32:8.
God did not just pull out the rug from under such men when Jesus Christ was crucified, died and rose again. The Book of Acts is a transition book which outlines the Lord's effort in reaching such Jews (and the Gentiles they taught) throughout Asia and Europe. He did not quit communicating with the elders of Judea. His spirit was with them just as it was in Numbers 11:25. I know that because my bible has a lower case spirit in Acts 11:28 and has had one since the King James translators themselves edited an actual printing of their manuscript in 1638.
That relationship existed until all of them had been able to hear the good news and had either rejected or received the truth. Then God sent in Titus the Roman to tear down the nation of Israel in its temple, its relationship with the Roman Empire and its population. A lot can be learned from believing that even the jots and tittles are from God.