John Kilgallen, «`The Apostles Whom He Chose because of the Holy Spirit' A Suggestion Regarding Acts 1,2», Vol. 81 (2000) 414-417
In Acts 1,2 Luke has placed `through the Holy Spirit' between two verb forms, the participle `having given orders' and the verb `he had chosen'; suggestions have been offered over the years as to which of these two verb forms `through the Holy Spirit' is supposed to modify. In this note, there is offered a fresh suggestion to resolve this syntactical problem; moreover, with this suggestion Luke's intention is better clarified.
There is practically universal agreement that in, Acts 1,2, dia_ pneu/matoj a(gi/ou means through the Holy Spirit, by means of the Holy Spirit; this phrase could, with a thought appropriate to the Holy Spirit, be better expressed thus: under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Such is understood to be the force of dia/ with the genitive.
As regards the syntax of Acts 1,2, scholars have two suggested readings regarding dia_ pneu/matoj a(gi/ou. Some would see dia_ pneu/matoj a(gi/ou as modifying the participle e)nteila/menoj, and thus would read the phrase: having given orders through (i.e., under the influence of) the Holy Spirit1. Others would understand dia_ pneu/matoj a(gi/ou to belong with e)cele/cato and so would read the phrase: whom he chose through (under the influence of) the Holy Spirit2. Each of these readings is possible certainly each is grammatically possible, using the usual sense of dia/ with the genitive.
The problem here is primarily one of sense, but also one of grammar. That is, if one agrees grammatically that dia/ with the genitive can only mean through, under the influence of, then one is well on the exegetical path that makes one interpret the dia_ phrase with either e)nteila/menoj or with e)cele/cato in quite hypothetical ways.
For instance, one can, in regard to the first of the opinions above, assert that Jesus gave orders while under the influence of the Spirit, but one would be hard put to find any sure indication from the Gospel (especially Luke 24) that Jesus gave any orders at any time under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Yes, there is always the early description of Jesus to reflect upon: And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4,14); and one must always make allowance for the constancy of the Spirit in his adult life: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me ... He has anointed me (Luke 4,18). But that these texts are the justification for saying that Jesus gave orders (we are dealing with the latter verses of Luke 24) while under the influence of the Holy Spirit is an argument that rates the qualification possible, but not much