Baptism of the Holy Spirit
statement about Jesus baptizing in the Holy Spirit is found in all four gospels:
Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:15–18, and John 1:33. Jesus gave a similar
teaching shortly before he went to heaven (Acts 1:4–5). It was only about a
week later that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples and others on
the Day of Pentecost. This was apparently what John and Jesus were talking about
when they predicted the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I want to look at that event
and three other events in Acts to see if we can determine the pattern of the way
one is baptized by the Holy Spirit. Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit something
that takes place at conversion or is it something that takes place after
conversion? Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit accompanied by the speaking in
tongues or not? Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit something that requires the
laying on of hands or not? Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit a theological
doctrine or an actual experience?
the disciples had selected a replacement for Judas, they waited for that which
Jesus had promised would come. While they were waiting, suddenly something
amazing happened. A sound like a mighty wind was heard. There was no wind
blowing in the room. This only sounded like wind. Tongues of fire were seen
resting over each believer. This was something that looked like fire but it was
not actual fire. No one was burned. The temperature of the room did not rise.
Tongues were supernaturally spoken. From the descriptions a few verses later, it
appears that these were languages from all over the Roman Empire . The people
who had received the Holy Spirit were able to praise God in many different
languages although they had never learned those languages before. This was an
three main characteristics of the baptism of the Holy Spirit were the sound like
wind, the tongues like fire, and the strange languages. And Acts says that they
were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” If you had asked any of the people
present on that day what was involved in being baptized with the Holy Spirit,
they would have mentioned those four things.
the stoning of Stephen, the gospel had spread north to Samaria. A number of
Samaritans accepted that truth of the gospel. When the apostles in Jerusalem
heard what had happened, they sent Peter and John to Samaria to inspect what was
was this event like? There was some time from the point they believed until they
were baptized by the Holy Spirit. There had been enough time for word to spread
down to Jerusalem, for the leaders in Jerusalem to have a meeting and for Peter
and John to travel back to Samaria. So there may have been at least one to two
weeks between the time these people believed and were baptized and they received
the Holy Spirit. Peter and John prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy
Spirit. Peter and John laid hands on them. Acts says they “received the Holy
Peter and John were present at Pentecost, these Samaritans were not present. All
they knew about the Holy Spirit was what they had experienced. And their
experience of receiving the Holy Spirit was a good bit different from those who
received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There is no mention of any sound like
wind, tongues of fire or speaking in tongues. Therefore, it can be assumed that
these things were not present. Whereas the people at Pentecost had been
believers in Jesus for at least three years prior to the time they had been
filled with the Holy Spirit, these people had been believers only a few days or
weeks. At Pentecost, Luke says the believers were “filled with the Holy
Spirit” but at Samaria, Luke says they “received the Holy Spirit.” Was
there any difference? Apparently not. Peter and John seemed to be satisfied that
the same thing that had happened to them at Pentecost had happened to these new
Samaritan believers. Although the way they were “baptized with the Holy
Spirit” was much different, both had apparently experienced the same
was a Roman soldier. God spoke to him to invite Peter to his house. The Lord
also spoke to Peter and told him to go to Cornelius’ house. Since Jews did not
normally go into the houses of Gentiles, the Lord gave Peter a special vision of
a sheet lowered from heaven with all kinds of clean and unclean animals in it.
The meaning of this sheet was that the Christian believers should not consider
any people “impure and unclean.” When Peter got to Cornelius’ house,
Cornelius welcomed him and explained why he had sent for him. Peter stood up and
explained why he had come and also started telling Cornelius and his family
about the nature of the gospel.
were the characteristics of this event? Cornelius and his household received the
Holy Spirit while Peter was preaching to them. They spoke in tongues after the
Holy Spirit came on them. They were baptized after they received the Holy
Spirit. A variety of expressions are used related to the Holy Spirit:
Holy Spirit came upon”
gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out”
the Holy Spirit”
there were some differences from the previous occurrences. There is no mention
of any sound like wind or tongues of fire. There was no praying for them or
laying hands on them. The record does not say that they were “filled with
the Holy Spirit.”
is the summary of the event: The Holy Spirit came upon them while Peter was
preaching to them. He did not even get to complete his sermon. And amazingly,
these people had not even been baptized yet. They were not baptized until after
they had received the Holy Spirit. Was this a different experience than the
disciples had received at Pentecost? When Peter was reporting this incident to
the Christian leaders in Jerusalem, he said:
I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the
beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: “John baptized with
water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So if God gave them the
same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to
think that I could oppose God (Acts
these additional facts: The “Holy Spirit came on them as he had come
on us at the beginning.” Whatever experience Cornelius and his household
experienced was the same as what the disciples had experienced at Pentecost. “So
if God gave them the same gift.” This was the same gift that the
disciples had received at Pentecost. Peter remembered that Jesus had said that
“you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Peter apparently
identified this experience with what Jesus had said about being “baptized
with the Holy Spirit.”
you had asked Cornelius and his household how to be baptized with the Holy
Spirit, they would have narrated to you exactly what happened to them. However,
Peter had been present at all three of the times when the Holy Spirit had been
poured out and each one of them was a bit different.”
had briefly visited Ephesus on his second missionary journey. He had left
Priscilla and Aquila there to make preparations for his return. While he was
gone, Apollos from Egypt had passed through there and had made some converts.
When Paul arrived, he met Priscilla and Aquila and the new converts. Paul
questioned the new converts about their relationship with the Holy Spirit. They
stated they had not heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul followed up and asked them
about their baptism. They had been baptized by John’s baptism.
were the characteristics of this event? Since they were apparently ignorant
about the Holy Spirit, Paul gave them instructions about the Holy Spirit. Paul
then re-baptized them. He was not satisfied that their earlier baptism had been
Christian baptism. Paul laid hands on them. The Ephesians spoke in tongues. The
Ephesians prophesied. Acts says “the Holy Spirit came on them.”
were also some differences: There is no mention of any sound like wind or
tongues of fire. The Ephesians had repented and been baptized according to
John’s baptism but apparently knew little or nothing about Jesus. Paul did not
pray for them but did instruct them. Paul baptized them before the Spirit came
on them, not afterwards as Peter had done with Cornelius.
This was the most extensive way people had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Note these steps:
were interviewed and questioned about their past experiences.
were instructed about the Holy Spirit.
had hands laid on them.
these things were completed, three things happened:
Holy Spirit came on them.
spoke in tongues.
is only one reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Epistles (1
Corinthians 12:13). Therefore, we learn most about the Holy Spirit from these
four events in Acts. So what have we learned? What do we know about the baptism
of the Holy Spirit? The baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts follows no consistent
pattern. If I have made anything clear up to this point, I hope it is that there
was a variety of ways that the believers in the early church received the
baptism of the Holy Spirit. Here are two important questions:
do we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
you ask the Christians from Pentecost, they will say you need to gather in a
room and wait. Eventually you will hear the wind, see the fire and speak in
tongues. That is how you know you have been baptized by the Holy Spirit.
you ask the Christians from Samaria, they will tell you that none of those
things are important. All you need is to have the man of God pray for you and
lay his hands on you and you will receive the Holy Spirit. All of the noise and
fire and tongues are totally unnecessary.
both of these groups will tell you that it is important to be baptized before
you can experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit although they have a little
disagreement between themselves. The Pentecostal Christians believe that you
need to be baptized several years in advance and the Samaritan Christians tell
you that is not necessary. You only need to be baptized a few days in advance.
you ask the Christians from Cornelius’ house, they will tell you another
story. If you want to receive the Holy Spirit, you need to have had a vision.
And then you need to have a man of God really preach a hot sermon. It is while
the sermon is being preached the Spirit will come into your life. The speaking
in tongues is OK but all of the wind and fire is not necessary. And the laying
on of hands is not necessary either. And about baptism—you don’t need to be
baptized with water until after you have received the baptism of the Holy
Spirit. How can water baptism have any meaning until you experience the baptism
of the Holy Spirit? And certainly there is no waiting time between one’s
profession of faith and the baptism of the Spirit. All of these things happen
you ask the Christians from Ephesus , they will give you a completely different
story. They agree that the laying on of hands is good and that speaking in
tongues is a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. However, the really
important thing is to be examined carefully by the man of God and taught about
the Holy Spirit. How can you receive the Holy Spirit if you are not clear in
your understanding of who Jesus is? And how can you receive the Holy Spirit if
you do not know who the Holy Spirit is? Because of this, you need to have some
clear teaching. And speaking in tongues is good but if you only speak in
tongues, you did not really get all you were supposed to get. You need to
prophesy. So if you are examined properly, are taught correctly, have hands laid
on you, speak in tongues and prophesy, that is a sure sign that you have been
baptized by the Holy Spirit.
According to these four groups, there are a variety of ways we can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
have dramatic phenomenon like wind and fire that accompany them; others do not.
speak in tongues and others do not.
are baptized before hand and some are not.
have hands laid on and some do not.
have the man of God pray for them and some do not.
have teaching about the Holy Spirit and some do not.
prophesy and some do not.
of them are right because they are telling their individual experiences that
were indeed genuine experiences of being baptized by the Holy Spirit. However,
all of them are wrong if they insist that every other person’s experience
related to the Holy Spirit be exactly the same as theirs. All of them may be
right and they all may be wrong if they demand that everyone experience the
baptism of the Holy Spirit exactly as they have.
is an important observation: The Book of Acts gives us the practices
of the early church whereas the epistles give us the teachings of
the early church. Do you realize that none of the epistles stresses the way or
manner in which one is to be baptized by the Holy Spirit?
Baptism of the Holy Spirit is associated with the entrance to Christianity
the record of the four outpourings of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, it is
clear that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is associated with the beginnings of
Christianity. In each of the cases, the Holy Spirit came upon people at the
beginning of their Christian journey. The clearest, most straightforward
description of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13
where Paul states, “For we were all
baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or
free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Note these
were we baptized?
The grammar of the verse suggests that this baptism of the Holy Spirit is
something that has occurred in the past for the Corinthians believers; “we
were all baptized.”
The verb in this statement is a passive verb, which indicates that the subject
of the sentence is the recipient of the action, not the giver or doer of the
action. This means that baptism is something that has been done to us, not
something that we have done ourselves. Further, notice who has been baptized.
Paul states that by one Spirit “we were all baptized.” He certainly does not
mean the whole human race, so he must be referring to the church, all of the
does this baptizing?
We were “baptized by one Spirit.” It is the Spirit, the Holy Spirit who
Into what realm or sphere or entity are we baptized?
Paul says we are baptized into one body—that is, the body of Christ. The body
of Christ is a very well known synonym for the Church, the collective body of
believers throughout the world. When does a person enter the body of Christ? It
is obvious that we enter the body of Christ when we repent-when we are born
again. Therefore, when a person repents, Paul says the Holy Spirit baptizes that
person into the body of Christ.
the baptism of the Spirit is the event or time when the Holy Spirit places
a believer into the body of Christ. This takes place at conversion.
Though there are often powerful spiritual experiences that occur after
conversion, the term “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is not the appropriate
term to describe those experiences. At least, that is not the way the term is
used in the New Testament.
the disciples were certainly believers before Pentecost, they were not members
of the body of Christ. The body of Christ or the Church was not officially
constituted until Pentecost. Pentecost was the initial or the grand baptism of
the Holy Spirit. The disciples and the others who had put their faith in Jesus
Christ while He was on earth were “upgraded” and constituted as the Church
on its “birthday.” However, every person since that time who has become a
Christian, has been baptized directly into the body of Christ when he or she
repented, without having to go through any kind of waiting period.
of those who were followers of Jesus before Pentecost were believers-they were
saved-they were ready to go to heaven but they were really not part of the body
of Christ. They were not “Christian citizens” as such. However, on the Day
of Pentecost, the followers of Jesus were baptized into the body of Christ. Most
if not all of them were “adult believers” at the time. However, all of those
who entered the body of Christ after that point were baptized into the body of
Christ by the Holy Spirit.
fact this is confirmed on the Day of Pentecost. After the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit, many people came together to witness this strange phenomenon. Peter took
advantage of this event to stand up before them and explain to them what they
were seeing. After hearing Peter’s sermon, they said, “Brothers, what
shall we do?” Peter replied: “Repent and be baptized, every one of
you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children
and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts
2:37b–39). Peter declared that they would receive this amazing experience of
being filled by the Holy Spirit and baptized into the body of Christ when they
repented and were baptized which would result in the forgiveness of their sins.
Pentecost, the disciples were afraid; afterwards they were fearless. All of them
except one died because of their faith. Their courage is reflected in the words
of Peter before the Sanhedrin, “we must obey God rather than man.”
Pentecost, the disciples were self-centered, debating about who would be the
greatest in the kingdom; afterwards, they were willing to give up their lives
Pentecost, the disciples were immature followers. After Pentecost, they were
Pentecost, the disciples had very much of an ethnic understanding of the
kingdom. Afterwards, they went “to the ends of the earth.”
Pentecost, they knew about the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, they experienced
the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Holy Spirit that characterized their lives
(Galatians 5:22–23): “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
cannot be baptized by the Holy Spirit without experiencing change. The Baptism
of the Holy Spirit resulted in praise. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit resulted
in witnessing. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit resulted in power; power to
witness, power to heal, power to live victorious lives. The Baptism of the Holy
Spirit resulted in unity. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit results in changed