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A Study of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

Fall 2004 INTRODUCTION – Definition of Baptize: Baptizo – dip, immerse, wash (in non Chr. Lit. also plunge, sink, drench, overwhelm); fig. soak; from Walter Bauer’s Greek English Lexicon p. 131

I. John’s Prophecies/Proclamations of: Matt. 3:11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Cf. Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16; John 1:26, 33;

II. Jesus’s Prophecies/Proclamation of: Acts 1:5 “for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Questions: Were not the disciples already saved before this happened? (cf. Luke 10:20; John 15:3) Had Jesus not already given them the Holy Spirit? (see John 14:16,17; John 20:22) What was the intended purpose? To make them a part of the body of Christ, or to fill them with power and enablement for their task? (note Acts 1:8 that follows Acts 1:5 & Luke 24:47-49)

III. Occurrences related to the above in Acts: 1. Acts 2:1-4 is clearly the fulfillment of Acts 1:5;

2. Acts 8:16 “For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (see vs. 14-18) Would they have been baptized in water if they had not been born again? Can one be born again and be baptized in water and not receive the Holy Spirit? (note what Peter says to the Jews in Acts 2:38) And yet in vs. 17 it says “and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.” How did Simon “see” that the Spirit was bestowed? Was there some outward manifestation not recorded here?

3. Acts 8:26-40 Why did the Holy Spirit not lead Phillip to pray that the Ethiopian Eunuch would receive the Holy Spirit? He was obviously converted and baptized in water. And the same is true in Acts 16:27-34 with the jailer who along with his household was converted and baptized.

4. Acts 10:44-47 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” (cf. Acts 11:15,16 where Peter clearly equates their experience with the baptism of the Holy Spirit).

This was a sovereign work that happened while Peter was still preaching to Cornelius and gang. No one prayed or asked for it. Peter compares it to their Acts 2 experience of receiving tongues, which as we know by now was a fulfillment of Jesus’s words in Acts 1:5. Notice he makes clear in vs. 17 that this gift came “after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ..”.

5. Acts 19:1-7 “….And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. And there were in all about 12 men.” These 12 men evidently placed their faith in Christ and were baptized in water by Paul. (Vs. 2-5). After that Paul laid his hands upon them and presumably began to pray for them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and the result or manifestation of that was both speaking in tongues and prophesying.

6. The only other passage that might relate to this discussion is I Cor. 12:13 which reads, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The word “baptized” in this verse clearly means placed, not immersed, overwhelmed, drowned, drenched, etc. It has nothing to do with power or enduement. This clearly happens at conversion. It should be noted that the word “baptized” is used in several different ways in the New Testament. Most occurrences refer to water baptism. One refers to Jesus’s baptism of suffering in Mark 10:38,39. Several refer to being baptized by the H.S. (cf. Acts 1:5). And some refer to the idea of being placed into such as Romans 6:3; I Cor. 10:2; I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27. It is not uncommon for one Biblical writer to use a word in a different way than another.

Concluding Thoughts/Questions: 1. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit that John and Jesus predicted, and the disciples in Acts experienced clearly happens after one’s conversion. There are no exceptions to this.

2. The obvious concern in all these instances in Acts was that believers “received” the gift (enablement?) of the Holy Spirit. It is true that in the case of Cornelius and gang, their receiving the gift of tongues just like Peter and gang did – did help confirm that the gospel was for Gentiles as well as for Jews. But are we then saying that the only purpose for this gift was that?? Surely this reason was not in their minds. Did they give the gift back to God after this first occurrence and never use it again? Doesn’t it seem that the word “receive” is used differently in these passages (initial and subsequent)?

3. It is true that there are no commands in scripture to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Whereas there is a clear command to: be filled by the H.S. – Eph. 5:18; walk by the Spirit – Gal. 5:16; not grieve the H.S. – Eph. 4:30; not quench the H.S. – I Thess. 5:19; pray at all times in the Spirit – Eph. 6:18 (cf. Jude 20). Nor are there commands to fast or tithe….

4. Should we be more concerned about how they laid hands on and prayed for people to get the results they did in the book of Acts – – or should we be more concerned about how to become the kind of disciples they were so that we can walk in the anointing they walked in?? Isn’t this just one more aspect of ministry (like speaking to the lame man in Acts 3 and seeing him instantly and fully healed and walking) that the apostles and guys like Phillip and Steven walked in – that we just have to admit we aren’t there yet? If the goal of the baptism of the Spirit that John and Jesus spoke of was enablement/power for the fulfillment of the great commission, aren’t we in danger of mistaking fruit in fulfilling that commission with someone’s received gift of speaking/praying in tongues? Somehow we must encourage the receiving and operating in this gift, and yet continue to encourage each other in the fullness of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives (individually and corporately).

5. Could the answer to some of the controversy and misunderstanding of this important topic be in the overlap of the theme of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit? (cf. Acts 2:4)

6. Finally one must note the role of human agency in “the ungifted” (cf. I Cor. 14:16, 23) receiving the wonderful gift of speaking/praying in tongues. God often chooses to impart through another farther down the road, though He reserves the right to sovereignly bestow it apart from human agency at times.

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