Miracles, Spiritual Gifts, z431
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Slain in the Spirit

The guards fell backwards in the Garden of Gethsemane when they came to arrest Christ.
By James Tissot, 1886, Public Domain

One of the more controversial manifestations associated with the Charismatic movement is what is referred to as being slain in the Spirit.

This occurs when people are so overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit that they are no longer able to stand and collapse uncontrollably to the ground

It usually takes place in a group setting and is often accompanied by prayer or laying on of hands. Though I have never personally experienced it myself, I have been in several services where I witnessed it happenings.

Others who have experienced it, said they felt an electrical flow entering their body forcing them to fall to the ground,

Part of the controversy surrounding being slain in the Spirit is that we have no actual teaching on the subject in the Bible and only a few recorded instances of it taking place.

Perhaps the most notable took place in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Chief priests along with somewhere between 300 and 600 Roman soldiers showed up to arrest Christ.

When Christ asked why they were there, the group answered that they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth. When Christ answered “I am He”, we are told that this large group of soldiers fell backwards, collapsing onto the ground.

It must have been quite a sight as dozens of armed guards were inexplicably pushed backwards by a mysterious force causing them to fall into each other and then crash to the ground.

4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus[b] said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:4-6 ESV)

The Greek word, aperchomai, translated drew back literally means stumbled backward and speaks of an involuntary action, something literally pushed them

The word fell, pipto, does not speak of a slight stumble, it refers to a complete collaspe. Thayers Greek Dictionary describes it as “of those overcome by terror or astonishment or grief or under the attack of an evil spirit or of falling dead suddenly.”

In the Old Testament, we are told that when King Saul encountered a group of prophets that he was so overcome by the Holy Spirit that they found Saul lying on the ground and prophesying.

24 He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and [a]lay down [b]naked all that day and all night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (a. 1 Samuel 19:24 Lit fell).

The Hebrew word, nâphal, translated lying on the ground, can refer to Saul choosing on his own volition to lie down. However, it can equally describe to being thrown or cast to the ground by an outside power, in this case by the Holy Spirit, acknowledged in the NASV footnote.

Considering Saul’s backslidden spiritual condition, I suspect the latter is the more likely scenario.

When the prophet Daniel encountered the angel of God on the banks of the Euphrates, we are told he was so overcome that he fell to the ground and like a dead man was unable to move or even speak (Daniel 10:7-9).

The same thing happened to the Apostle John who said he fell to the ground like a dead man when he saw Jesus (Revelation 1:17-18).

In other instances, such as Ezekiel 1:28; Matthew 17:6, it is not clear whether they fell under the power of God, or chose to do so out of fear and respect.

But there was an interesting report on God Reports of how a young man, Victor Saikouski, a self-proclaimed atheist ended up in church after his stepdad got saved. Struggling with his faith, Saikouski said that all changed when he had an encounter with God and was slain in the spirit.

“I had a supernatural encounter with God, with the Holy Spirit,” Saikouski said. “On that night, as I was going through the prayer and getting prayed over, I just collapsed from my legs. I was on the floor for three, four hours just encountering God. God at that moment seemed more real to me than ever before.

“At that moment, God completely delivered me, completely set me free and transformed me from inside out.”

Though we often associate this phenomenon with the modern-day charismatic movement, in fact its roots go back much further.

There were reports in the First Great Awakening that swept Britain and the American colonies in the 1700s of people falling to the ground “as if dead” in meetings being led by John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards. Initially, Wesley attributed it to the Devil, but would later call it a work of God.

It showed up again in the Second Great Awakening that swept the US in the 19th century during Charles Finney’s meetings and later at the 1906 Azusa Street Revival.

It seems when the Holy Spirit shows up, one of the many phenomena that can accompany this is being ‘slain in the spirit.’

READ: Atheist started attending church, shocked when slain in the Spirit AND Slain in the Spirit

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