Holy Spirit Baptism


Contrast water baptism with Holy Spirit baptism

1. Water baptism is for ‘all Nations’ and is required of every creature who is subject to the Gospel. Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16 / Galatians 3:26-29.

1. Holy Spirit baptism was poured out once upon the apostles. Jesus promised the apostles that the Spirit of Truth which the world cannot receive, John 14:17 / Luke 24:46ff, would ‘guide them into all truth’.

1. Water baptism is a command of God. Matthew 28:19 / Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 22:16.

2. Holy Spirit baptism was a promise of God fulfilled in Acts 2:4 and since coming into the world He is now available to indwell His people, Acts 2:38 / Titus 3:6. The Power was given to apostles, as the Spirit willed. Mark 9:1 / Mark 16:17 / 1 Corinthians 12:11.

3. Water baptism is an act of obedience and an act of man. Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 22:16, and is ‘for the forgiveness of sins’.

3. Holy Spirit baptism was an act of God, not an act of man. Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4, and was not for salvation, but given to confirm the word. Hebrews 2:4.

4. Water baptism is administered by men or by those doing the teaching. 1 Corinthians 1:14.

4. Holy Spirit baptism was to be given by Jesus. Matthew 3:11 / John 1:33 / Acts 2:4.

5. Water baptism is a condition of salvation. Mark 16:15+16 / 1 Peter 3:21 / Hebrews 9:14.

5. Holy Spirit baptism was not related to salvation.

6. Water baptism is ‘INTO the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit’. Matthew 28:19 / Acts 2:38 / Acts 8:14-16 / Acts 22:16 / 1 Corinthians 6:11.

6. Holy Spirit baptism had no formula because it wasn’t performed by man. Matthew 3:11. 7. Water baptism demonstrates the believer’s faith. Galatians 3:26-27 / Mark 16:15-16 / Colossians 2:12.

7. Holy Spirit baptism was not a human act and did not require faith. Matthew 3:11 / John 1:33.

8. Water baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Colossians 2:12 / Romans 6:1-6.

8. Holy Spirit baptism had no such symbolism. It was the indication of the bestowal of ‘authority’ and the ‘power’ which accompanies authority. Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4 / Acts 2:17 / Acts 2:38.

9. Water baptism is a baptism of repentance that is, it belongs to and grows out of repentance. Mark 1:4 / Luke 13:3 / Acts 19:4 / Acts 2:38.

9. Holy Spirit baptism came before the first Gospel sermon of Peter. Mark 1:4 / Luke 7:29-30 /Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4.

10. Water baptism is a condition of cleansing from sin. Acts 22:16 / Ephesians 5:25-27 / John 8:31-32.

10. Holy Spirit baptism, came along after the apostles were clean by the word. John 15:3, not for cleansing but to confirm. Hebrews 2:4.

11. Water baptism puts one into Christ. Romans 6:1-4 / Galatians 3:26-27.

11. Holy Spirit baptism was poured out after the apostles were already in Christ, and had been urged to ‘abide’ in Him. John 15:1-6 / Acts 2:1-4.

12. Water baptism was in order to receive the gift of the Spirit. Acts 2:38 / Acts 5:32.

12. Holy Spirit baptism was the one-time act of the coming of the Spirit into the world 1 John 2:2 / 1 Timothy 2:6 / Hebrews 2:9. Just as Jesus’ blood was shed as a one-time act but has an ongoing benefit for all. Power was to cease when the message was confirmed. 1 Corinthians 13:1-9.

13. Water baptism must continue even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

13. Holy Spirit baptism was a one-time event. No two baptisms were known after the Ephesian letter was written. Ephesians 4:5.

Holy Spirit Baptism

‘And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days’. Joel 2:28-29

‘But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel’. Acts 2:16

Any consideration of the themes contained in the Book of Acts must surely include the administration of the Holy Spirit. As Joel prophesied, the ‘last days’ would see the ‘pouring out of the Spirit of God’.

Peter, one of the twelve who received this ‘pouring out’ in Acts 2, confirmed that God had kept His word, the last days had arrived and the Spirit was thereby being given.

It’s notable that the apostles were never confused about the Spirit, His mission nor His medium, but confusion reigns today as every charlatan and huckster seeks to make merchandise of the Spirit of God. How fearful it is to consider the fate of those who do despite of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit was promised

Luke confided to us that Jesus told the apostles ‘Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’. Acts 1:4-5

We find these promises, which were made only to the apostles, recorded in John 14:26.

‘But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’

Also, John 16:13, ‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.’

It is a mistake of major proportions both textually and contextually, to assign these promises to all disciples. When we read carefully we will see that only the apostles were addressed. And it was only the apostles who received the fulfilment of the promise.

The Holy Spirit was given

True to their Lord’s command, the apostles were waiting in Jerusalem. Just prior to the time when the Spirit was given, several brethren gathered to witness the selection of Matthias to replace Judas, Acts 1:25-26. But it is a superficial reading that would appoint the 120 disciples or the multitudes at the place where the Spirit was given.

Please note that the last verse of chapter 1 states that Matthias was numbered ‘with the eleven apostles.’ Then chapter 2:1 begins with the statement, ‘And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place.’

Who were the ‘they’ of verse one?

Was it not the ‘apostles’ who are the antecedents of the pronoun in verse one?

Further, we can pinpoint who received the Holy Spirit, because the ones who received the Spirit spoke in tongues, but verse 7 informed us that those who spoke in tongues ‘were all Galileans,’ an obvious reference to the apostles.

Again, verse 14 clearly stated that ‘Peter, standing up with the eleven’ began to speak and the crowd recognised that only the apostles were speaking, Acts 2:11, ‘as the Spirit gave them utterance’, Acts 2:4

But the multitude didn’t come together until after the Spirit was given, so they couldn’t have been recipients any more than the 120 were.

The Purpose of Holy Spirit Baptism

Please note that every time there was evidence of the Spirit doing something it did not mean that a ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit was taking place.’

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was not a common event. Peter later recalled, at the time when the Spirit was poured out on the household of Cornelius, that it reminded him of what was given to the apostles ‘at the beginning’, Acts 11:15

Between Acts 2 and Acts 10, there is much evidence of spiritual activity, but not of Holy Spirit baptism. All the saved, Acts 2:41, received the Spirit, Acts 2:38, but it was not Holy Spirit baptism. Likewise, God gave the Spirit to all who obeyed him, Acts 5:32.

The Spirit shook the place where the brethren had gathered to rejoice at the release of Peter and John, Acts 4:31, but it was not Holy Spirit baptism.

Were the apostles baptised in the Spirit more than once?

The seven men who served the church, in Acts 6 were ‘full of the Spirit’ Acts 6:3, but we know that they were not baptised in the Holy Spirit.

How do we know?

Because Philip was one of these who had the Spirit and could work miracles, yet when he preached to the Samaritans in Acts 8:5-24, he couldn’t lay hands on the converts and give them the Holy Spirit. This wasn’t a problem for the apostles’ Peter and John who came to Samaria later and imparted the Spirit to the Christians.

Simon, being observant, wanted to buy the power which the apostles had, for ‘when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit’. Acts 8:18-19

Simon didn’t try to buy the gift from Philip, who, though ‘full of the Spirit’ couldn’t lay hands on others and impart the Spirit. He saw that the apostles had what others didn’t have. It’s clear that God gave the apostles the baptism of the Holy Spirit to empower them for their work as ambassadors of Christ and as those who would be able to unfold the ‘mystery’, Ephesians 3:1-5 of the Gospel.

The apostles occupied a unique role in this work and were enabled by the Spirit to complete the task. But by the time the epistle to the Ephesians was written, Paul stated that there was only ‘one baptism’, Ephesians 4:5 and it was water baptism, not Holy Spirit baptism. Holy Spirit baptism wasn’t for all men and not for all time.

Cornelius and the Holy Spirit

1. But didn’t Cornelius also receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? First of all, it isn’t stated that he was baptised in the Spirit, but that the Spirit ‘fell on them’, Acts 10:44 / Acts 11:15

I have little doubt that it was similar to what the apostles received, but for a different purpose. Cornelius wasn’t called to be an apostle, Acts 1:21-22. But he was a Gentile and this presented special problems to the church, completely Jewish until this time.

God used Cornelius in a special manner to prove in unmistakable fashion, by giving the Holy Spirit to Gentiles, that to ‘Gentiles also has God granted repentance unto life’, Acts 11:18

Peter understood this, for as a Jew and reluctant to associate with Gentiles, he concluded ‘who was I that I could withstand God?’ Acts 11:37

What happened to Cornelius reminded Peter of what had happened to the apostles ‘at the beginning’, Acts 11:15. It also reminded him of the promise of Jesus to baptise the apostles in the Spirit, Acts 11:16. Cornelius was a special case.

He wasn’t called to be an apostle but God used him as proof that Gentiles could enter the kingdom along with Jews. We shouldn’t make more of Cornelius and the Holy Spirit than the Scriptures do. What was their spiritual state, when the Holy Spirit ‘fell on all those who heard the word’?

To reach an understanding of the events in the house of Cornelius there are several points that need to be considered.

We must recognise that when ‘the Spirit came upon them’, Cornelius and his friends hadn’t yet become Christians and were therefore not yet saved, because they hadn’t yet been told how to be saved!

We understand this because Acts 10:44 tells us that the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentile listeners, ‘while Peter was still speaking’. This was made even clearer when Peter went to Jerusalem and was required to explain his visit to a Gentile home. Peter said, ‘As I began to speak the Holy Spirit fell upon them, Acts 11:15

Only later, after they had heard the Gospel, did he instruct them to ‘be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ’, Acts 10:48.

Now, we remember that, on the Day of Pentecost, the same Peter had said to the Jews who believed his message, ‘repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’. Acts 2:38

Shortly after this, he informed the Jewish Council that God gives the Holy Spirit ‘to those who obey Him.’ Acts 5:32. Therefore, until these Gentiles had heard and understood the message which Peter had been sent to bring them, and had been baptised in the name of Jesus.

a. Their sins were not forgiven and they were not saved, and,

b. They did not receive that ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’, which was promised in Acts 2:38.

2. This raises the next question.

When the Holy Spirit enabled these Gentiles to speak in tongues, what purpose did this serve? Or, in other words, why did the Spirit come upon these unsaved Gentiles?

The short answer is, that it happened just because they were Gentiles! Nothing like this ever happened, either before or after this event, to any other group of converts that we read about in the New Testament!

As a Jew, Peter was well aware that Fellow-Jews would consider him guilty of a grievous offence when they heard that he had entered the house of a Gentile. And they certainly did, as Acts 11:2-3 reveals! Therefore, when he set out to go to Caesarea, he was careful to take the precautionary step of inviting six Jewish Christians to go along with him to witness whatever might occur. Acts 11:12.

The vision he had received at Joppa had taught Peter himself that the Good News is for everyone, even Gentiles, but Jewish Christians generally had still to learn this lesson. They had to learn that even Gentiles were invited to hear and obey the Gospel.

The six Jewish believers who, probably very reluctantly, had entered the house of Cornelius with Peter, were taught that lesson very vividly when the Holy Spirit enabled the Gentiles to speak in other languages, and it was to his companions that Peter’s question in Acts 10:47 was addressed. It was, in effect, a challenge, ‘does any one of you now dare to refuse to baptise these people?’

They raised no objection because there could hardly have been a more vivid and convincing expression of God’s approval of Peter’s action, than the dramatic intervention of the Holy Spirit when he began to speak to his Gentile audience.

Indeed, his Jewish companions were ‘astonished’! verse 45, and Acts 10:15 and Acts 11:18 prove that both they and the apostles and brethren in Jerusalem were quick to recognise the significance of what had happened and had the grace and wisdom to acknowledge that this was God at work.

3. Was this another instance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

I recall, a few years ago, being taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred twice during the New Testament period, once in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when the first Jews obeyed the Gospel, and once at Caesarea when the first Gentiles became Christians.

That explanation was both simple and satisfactory because it dealt very effectively with many of the arguments made by so-called ‘Pentecostal’ and ‘Charismatic’ groups, who continue to claim to be baptised in the Holy Spirit.

But I don’t now believe that this explains what happened in the house of Cornelius. I don’t think that this was a second occurrence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Just consider. We must ask ourselves the question, to who was the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised and why was it promised?

1. It was personally promised by the Lord to His apostles and never promised to anyone else. John 16:7.

2. Those to whom it was promised were instructed to wait to receive it. Acts 1:4-5.

3. When they received the baptism, it would guide them into all truth, they would receive new revelations, and they would be granted total recall of all that they had been taught by the Lord. John 14:26 / John 16:13-14.

4. Their baptism in the Spirit would endow them with power and bestow on them the authority to become His witnesses. Acts 1:8-9.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord’s promise was fulfilled. Acts 2:33. The Holy Spirit fell on the apostles, not on the listening Jews, nor on the 3000 who obeyed the Gospel. But, in contrast, in the house of Cornelius, the Spirit fell upon the listening Gentiles.

The two events are obviously quite different, and the only point of similarity is the fact on the Day of Pentecost, in the house of Cornelius the Holy Spirit signalled His presence and approval by enabling these seeking Gentiles to speak in languages they had not learned, and.

1. They received the forgiveness of their sins, Acts 2:38 and,

2. They received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s own gift to those who obey Him. Acts 5:32.

Confirmation of the Word

Jesus had promised the apostles that ‘signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them, they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover’. Mark 16:17-18.

This is equal to what the Hebrew writer stated, ‘For if the word, which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will’. Hebrews 2:2-4

All these things happened as God bore witness to early disciples so that the word of God was confirmed. There were nine gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and many disciples had them by ‘the laying on of the apostle’s hands’, Acts 8:17-19

But we should be reminded that such gifts were ‘according to his own will’, Hebrews 2:4 and not according to what men wanted.

God’s will was, that during the time of ‘the oral revelation’, as well as during the writing of that ‘oral message’, confirmation of truth was clear so that false doctrine could be discerned.

However, once the full message was delivered, John 16:13 / Jude 3 / 2 Timothy 3:16+17 / Galatians 1:6-9, the spiritual gifts were no longer needed and were removed by God. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

During the infancy of the church, special gifts were needed to supply truth. Once full truth was delivered, the church ‘grew up’, 1 Corinthians 13:11 and ‘put away childish things’. The age of miracles, of spiritual gifts, is over. Just one example should show the work of the Spirit during the formative period of the church.

Acts 15 recorded the great debate over the admission of Gentiles into fellowship. When the apostles and elders at Jerusalem gathered, Barnabas and Paul ‘rehearsed what signs and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles through them’, Acts 15:12.

The letter that was sent to the churches testifying of the events at Jerusalem included that ‘it seemed good to the Holy Spirit.’ Acts 15:28

The Holy Spirit was at work in the world, bringing in the full Gospel message and confirming it. Acts 19:1-7.