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HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM (6): One Baptism Or Two?


There is…one Lord, one faith, one baptism…. – Ephesians 4:4-5

I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) – 1 Corinthians 1:14-16

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. – 1 Corinthians 12:13

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. – Acts 10:44-48

There he [Paul] found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. – Acts 19:1-6

Confusion?

What are we to make of these passages? There is one baptism. Yet, these passages speak of baptism in water and in the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians. Only Jesus baptized in the Holy Spirit, so the Corinthians Paul baptized, he baptized in water. Yet, he said to these same Corinthians that we all were baptized by the Holy Spirit (preferably in the Holy Spirit, as we noted in the previous post).

Acts 10 – 11. When Peter preached to Cornelius, the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard his message and they spoke in tongues. Peter said, as he explained this later:

As 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 11:15-17

Then he called for water that they might be baptized.

Acts 19. In Ephesus, Paul found disciples who had received John’s baptism, he taught them to believe in the Lord, and then baptized them (in water) in the name of the Lord. After this, he laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Does any of this make sense? Is it any wonder this subject confuses people? Some have just thrown up their hands in despair over understanding it. Others have come up with some inconsistent ideas about the whole thing – and others just ignore the problem.

A Possible Solution: Holy Spirit As A Gift & As A Giver of Gifts

I believe we can make sense of all of these passages in a consistent way if we understand the difference between the Holy Spirit as a gift and the Holy Spirit as a giver of gifts.

The Holy Spirit was active as a giver of gifts long before Pentecost. Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit fell on many people: Samson, Saul, David, the prophets, and others to empower them. In the New Testament, Jesus told His disciples the night of His betrayal that they knew the coming Comforter, “for He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

Here Jesus made a distinction between the Spirit before and after Pentecost. He uses two different Greek words, para and en. Para literally means beside or with, while en means within or in. Here are two different relationships. The Holy Spirit had been with them, for example, when they went out on the limited commission and cast out demons, healed the sick, etc. Jesus promised that the Spirit would be in them in the near future.

On Pentecost, God poured the Spirit out on all flesh. The Father sent the Spirit through the Son to be in His people. This is something new. God is now in His children because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within them as His gift to us. The Spirit marks us as sons and daughters of God. He helps us conform to the image of God’s Son. He changes us from one degree of glory to another as we become more like Jesus day by day.

Yet, the Holy Spirit was also with some of these to give gifts of tongues, healings, etc.

Another Look at the Texts

Now, let’s look again at the passages above with this distinction in view.

There is one baptism. Period. It is, however, in two elements – both water and Spirit. When a believer accepts baptism in the name of the Lord, he goes down into the water with the aid of another. At the same time, the Lord Himself immerses him in the Holy Spirit and gives him the Spirit as a gift from God. The Spirit then remains in Him to help him in his Christian walk. This is what happened when Paul baptized Crispus and Gaius.

We all share in this gift (1 Corinthians 12:13).

When the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and family, He first came as a giver of gifts. That they spoke in tongues was a sign to the Jews that the Gentiles were also to receive the gospel. Accordingly, Peter commanded baptism in water for them. Because of their faith and baptism, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit Himself as a gift from God.

Paul asked the disciples who knew only the baptism of John if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. By this, he wanted to know if they had received the special gifts from the Spirit. When they replied, “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit,” Paul knew something was wrong. By this statement, they did not mean to say they literally did not know the Holy Spirit existed, though that is the literal meaning of what they said. This construction is similar to what John wrote in John 7.

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. – John 7:37-39

There is no word for given in the Greek text here. Literally it says “the Spirit had not yet been.” You can confirm this by noting the italics in the King James Version where italics mean the word is supplied by the translators. The literal meaning, however, is impossible. The Spirit was present at the creation of the world, and the Spirit came on Jesus in the form of a dove at His baptism. Here the translators correctly added the word given to complete the thought implied in the Greek. They should have done the same thing in Acts 19:2 where the construction is similar, the chief difference being in the tense of the verb to be. Acts has a present tense, i.e. a condition that still existed in their minds. John has a past perfect tense to indicate a condition that existed when Jesus made that statement and continued until Jesus was glorified.

Paul taught these men to believe in Jesus. Then he had them baptized in the name of the Lord. If my understanding is correct, at this time they received the Spirit Himself as a gift to live in them as their bodies became a temple of the Holy Spirit. When Paul laid hands on them, they received the gift of tongues as a gift from the Holy Spirit.

It makes sense to me. I hope that I have helped it make sense to you. There is one baptism, but two elements – water and Spirit. In the same way, there is one new birth, which is of both water and Spirit (John 3:1-5). Our baptism in the Holy Spirit is how we receive the indwelling Spirit.

In the next post in this series, I will look at the relationship between being baptized in the Holy Spirit and having the charismatic gifts of the Spirit.

NEXT (7): BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT & the Charismatic Gifts

PREVIOUS (5): BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT – By One Spirit Into One Body

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33 Responses

  1. How reluctant some are to let the Bible speak for itself. Bible writers do NOT contradict themselves or one another. Paul surely would be contradicting himself if he states there is one baptism and then writes about another, which would necessarily make two baptisms. Luke’s record includes many exceptional baptisms. Of necessity it does. Yet the normal baptism is shown as normal for every convert. It’s the baptism commanded by Jesus. It’s immersion in water. It’s the one baptism spoken of in Ephesians 4:5. It’s the baptism which brings sinners into Christ as spoken of in Galatians 3:27. It’s the baptism which brings sinners into the church as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:13. It’s the ONLY baptism Christians normally should seek or expect to receive. The exceptions were the first Samaritans baptized and the first Gentiles baptized. Some don’t realize these were exceptions so they try to fit them into normal conversions. They don’t fit.

    • Ray,

      You and I have discussed this issue extensively at different times and in different ways over the past year. I have no real desire to continue the discussion here on this blog. I will, however, restate some of the things that I have said to you in the past in the hope that somehow you will begin to understand that I am not inventing these thoughts out of thin air.

      1. One of the two major differences between the baptism of John the Baptist and that commanded by Jesus in the great commission is that John’s baptism was a baptism in water only, though it was for the remission of sins. John said to those asking him if he were the Messiah that he was not – but that when Messiah came, He would baptize you all in the Holy Spirit and in fire (Matthew 3:11). The Greek word he used for “in” water and “in” the Holy Spirit are the same. It is the ordinary word for in, though like many Greek prepositions it has various other meanings, such as with, by, and others. The context determines the best English translation.

      2. John said this to “them all” – that is to all of the people who were asking if he were the Messiah (Luke 3:16-17). He did not single out different people or just a few people. He said the Messiah would baptize them all. However, two different baptisms were in view, and I think you will agree that Messiah would baptize some in the Holy Spirit but would baptize others in fire. The baptism in fire was in the fire of judgment. This is not the fire of zeal, but of judgment as seen by other uses of “fire” in Matthew 3:10, 12 and Luke 3:17. In other words, when Messiah comes, all of you will either receive from Him the Messianic blessing of the Holy Spirit or the Messianic curse of the fire of judgement. He did not suggest that a few representatives of Jews and Gentiles would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. He stated quite plainly that all would be baptized by Messiah. Since the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the baptism in fire are different, with one being a blessing and the other being judgement, the same people do not receive both baptisms. Messiah, however, would administer one or the other of those to “all.”

      3. At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell on the apostles, in keeping with the promise Jesus gave them a few days earlier, Peter said the Spirit was poured out on all flesh (Acts 2:16-21 quoting Joel 2:28-32). The expression “all flesh” or “all people” is similar to Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 40:3-5 that “all flesh” would see the glory of the Lord, quoted by John the Baptist in Luke 3:4-6, following the LXX “salvation of God” instead of “glory.”

      4. Peter, after preaching and convicting the multitude told them, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is to you and your children and to all them that are afar off, even as many as the mouth of the Lord shall call.” There is nothing in this that would make this something different from what Joel had foretold. This was a universal promise to those who received Peter’s words.

      5. Yet, not every person who received the Spirit received visible manifestations of the Spirit. This is Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 12. Evidently some of the Corinthians were abusing gifts they had received for the good of all by exalting themselves because of the gifts they had received (or were they pretending to have gifts the Spirit had not given them?). In verses 1-11 of that chapter, he lists various gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit given to different people by the Spirit as a giver of gifts. Note that these are not the same as the Spirit Himself as a gift given by Messiah. These gifts, given by the Spirit as He determined (v. 11), were for the benefit of the body, not for the individual who received the gift. To use a gift given for the body for one’s self was an abuse of the gift. In verses 12-13, Paul said this:

      The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 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.” (NIV)

      Here the word translated by one Spirit is the same word that in Matthew 3 and Luke 3 is translated either as baptize you with water and with the Holy Spirit/fire or in water and in the Holy Spirit/fire.

      Throughout this chapter to this point, Paul stresses that there are different gifts, but one Spirit. In verses 1-11, the Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of God,” the “Holy Spirit,” the “same Spirit” (4 times), “the Spirit” and “that one Spirit” (v. 9). In these verses, Paul writes of a diversity of gifts that are yet all from the same Spirit.

      In verses 12 & 13, however, he changes from diversity of gifts to universal blessings. There is one body with many members who have common blessings. He mentions two commonalities: (a) we were all baptized by (I prefer “in”) one Spirit and (b) we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Note: the “by” or “in” here is the same word used by John the Baptist.

      In verses 1-13, the word Spirit appears 10 times as a singular and 1 time as a plural (v. 10 – “distinguishing different kinds of spirits”). Except for the 1 plural, which I believe is obviously not the Holy Spirit, the NIV capitalizes Spirit, indicating that the translators believe it to mean the Holy Spirit in each of these. I believe the context attests that they are correct.

      That is why I believe Paul meant to say in verse 13 that we are all baptized in one Spirit (i.e., the Holy Spirit). If this is not the Holy Spirit, you need to provide some very compelling evidence to say otherwise. I am sure that Paul, when he wrote Ephesians 4:4 (“one baptism”), was very much aware of what he had written here and that he does not contradict himself, though you seem to believe that my understanding does make him self-contradictory.

      I suggest that Colossians 2:11-12 may offer some help.

      In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

      Certainly, baptism is not an action of man alone, nor is man’s action in baptism the most important part. God is working in it to raise us up together with Jesus and in it Christ is also active in circumcising us with a circumcision not made with hands. I suggest to you that this activity of the Deity is the equivalent of being baptized in the Holy Spirit as it describes the results of that baptism, not necessarily its process.

      For a fellowship of people who believe that there is one birth “of water and Spirit,” this should not be a difficult concept to grasp – that there can be one baptism, which is at one and the same time “in water” and “in Spirit.”

      Forget the Pentecostal contentions that “tongues are a sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-30 flatly denies that any of the gifts given by the Spirit mentioned there are universal among the people of God. Yet, there are the two universal blessings of the Spirit named in v. 13 – namely having been baptized in the Spirit into the one body and having been given the one Spirit to drink. Do not let Pentecostals define the meaning of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Instead, listen to Paul and Peter as they promise a universal gift from the Messiah to all who will repent and be baptized in His name.

      • Thanks, Jerry (not Jay). You quote John the Baptist as saying that Jesus would baptize “you all” in the Holy Spirit and with fire. If he said any “all” in the phrase, I’ve missed seeing it. And I’m almost sure that the baptism in fire is the Hell fire that surely will not be everyone’s fate. Matthew links it with the coming judgment. Why would we want to suppose we ALL would go to Hell? Why would we suppose that the baptism in the Spirit would be for everyone?

      • In the second section of your note, you make clear that you think John was promising all who had ever been baptized by him that they ALL would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and in fire. None of the writers claimed that John the Baptist said they all would be baptized. The “you” is alone. You choose to add an “all” in your thinking and teaching. But none of the apostolic writers ever spoke of a baptism BY the Spirit or IN the Spirit as being for all who received baptism into Christ in the water as He commanded. Do you not see that you’re adding to what is revealed? And when we examine the history (Acts) we see no proof there that every Christian was baptized twice (by the preacher/teacher once and by Jesus a second time). If Jesus indeed DID baptize everyone, was it unknown to Luke? I’d have thought the historian would have made clear that Jesus was baptizing right along with the ones He had commanded to perform baptism into His body. If your thinking is correct, surely Luke would have confirmed it. But I find absolutely no such record in apostolic writing. I like to believe what the apostles wrote. I believe we do not honor Jesus by rewriting the revelation or by in any way adding to what is revealed.

      • In sections 3 and 4 you speak of the baptizing done by people, and you link the gift of the Spirit with baptizing IN the Spirit. But Luke makes no such link. If Peter had promised his hearers they would be baptized in the Spirit, he knew the words. He didn’t say what you want him to have been teaching. Surely there are differing gifts of the Spirit. One of those gifts is baptism IN the Spirit. The apostles were promised they would receive that empowerment. No one else received such a promise. Luke doesn’t say that Peter promised his hearers they would receive a baptism in the Spirit. You say that those who repented and were baptized as Jesus had commanded also received a baptism in the Spirit. That is NOT what Luke reports. You write as if it WAS what Luke said. It isn’t.

      • Your further comments are all as if you had proved that Christians in that day received baptism in the Spirit. But what they all received was the indwelling Spirit, with no special gifts at all accompanying that fine gift. But Paul was an apostle. He had apparently “laid hands on” many Corinthians, or else God just chose to disperse spiritual gifts to some in the day when the New Testament (the apostolic) writings were not yet available. Is any congregation other than Corinth said to have had such “special gifts of the Spirit”? I think the answer is no. If so, that might tell us more about the prevalence of the “baptism in the Spirit” you think was and is universal. Should our thinking and teaching be based on the exceptional conversions of the Samaritans and the first Gentile family? If we believe Peter was indeed led into all truth by having been baptized in the Spirit, your thinking would be greatly strengthened if he had only spoken of a baptism in the Spirit for converts. I don’t know of any mention made by him of such an event.

      • You speak of “our” fellowship as believing in a new birth of water and Spirit. I read after many who do have that idea. But I am sure that Jesus spoke of a new birth of water and spirit, which is described in Acts 2 as being REPENTING and being baptized in water. I hear Paul basing his call for unity on the experience his readers all knew they had experienced. They ALL had repented and been baptized in water. They knew they had been baptized in water. If some of them or all of them had been baptized in the Spirit, there is no record of that happening, and I wonder why anyone would think they would KNOW it if they had received a baptism with absolutely no outward signs of it having happened. And no record of them ever being told it had happened. What Paul wrote in the verse was the simple phrase, “In one spirit we were all baptized . . .” And as a result of that baptism they were “made to drink of the Spirit.” But Paul doesn’t describe either the baptism or the drinking as a “baptism in the Spirit.” I wonder why he would have spoken of receiving the Spirit twice, which would be the case if both “spirit” words were rightly capitalized.

  2. Jerry,
    Good articles and discussion. Jesus indeed does say we must be born of water and Spirit…. Man can immerse in water, but only Jesus can give the Spirit. A Spiritless water birth is no more effective than a waterless Spirit birth. Peter said that what occurred on Pentecost was what Joel promised… and it was for “all flesh” not representatively, since Peter said, the promise was for all (who did what was said in Acts 2:38). One birth… two elements. Robert Leon Gibson explains all this very well in his book “Christian, you were baptized in water and Spirit”.
    We are so afraid of being labeled on thing or another that we deny the very power that not only enables us to live the Christian life, but will in the end, raise us from the dead (Romans 8:11). I have more on this at my web site… but you are on target brother.

    • Jesus said the new birth was of water and spirit. He did NOT say “and of Spirit.” How do I know this? It’s because of the way Peter explained to seekers how THEY could enter the kingdom. The new birth of water and spirit is REPENTING and being baptized (in water). Repenting is a change of the human spirit. No one can be saved without turning away from self-love to make Jesus Lord of the person, that is, without repenting. How is the Spirit involved. God’s gift of His Spirit FOLLOWS the new birth of water and spirit. Peter puts both remission of sin and the gift of the Spirit as resulting from the believer repenting and being baptized as Jesus commanded.

      • Ray, a year later, you are still at it. You are effectively trying to remove the Holy Spirit from conversion – or at least that’s the way it seems to me. Last year you argued that “spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:13 was man’s spirit, not the Holy Spirit, in spite of there being many references to the one Holy Spirit (all singular) in the context – and only one of any other spirits (plural). Of course, In 12:13, “spirit” is singular.

        Now, In John 3:5 you want to make the new birth of water and of spirit refer to man’s spirit.

        Jesus said the new birth was of water and spirit. He did NOT say “and of Spirit.”

        Have you never heard of a coordinating conjunction that joins elements of equal importance in a sentence? The Greek construction of John 3:5 clearly shows that “water” and “Spirit/spirit” are both objects of the preposition “of” without having to repeat the preposition. Hence, the fundamental premise from which you argue is flawed.

        Titus 3:5 in many ways is parallel to John 3:5 and definitely involves the Holy Spirit in the conversion process. You might also consider Acts 11 where the church in Jerusalem rejoiced that “God has granted repentance also to the Gentiles.” While this does not specifically mention the Holy Spirit, it does stress that the Deity is involved in bringing people into the kingdom via the new birth.

      • Of course I’m still urging everyone to believe what’s true rather than otherwise. No change. Jesus spoke of a new birth of water AND spirit. Peter spoke of a new birth of water AND spirit. Both agree that a spiritual change is essential to new birth. Both agree that the baptism commanded by Jesus is essential for salvation. Neither put the Spirit ahead of when the Spirit is GIVEN as God’s GIFT to believers in Jesus who repent and are baptized in water. Grammar is no stranger to me. I recognize nouns and verbs with no difficulty. And I hear truth from John’s account of what Jesus told Nicodemus and what Peter told inquirers after salvation. Neither disagrees with the other.

      • It goes against what many imagine to be true to point out that Jesus spoke of a new birth of water and spirit (lower-case “s”) and Peter, in explaining later about the new birth makes clear the water and spirit are repentance and water baptism. Jerry doesn’t seem to understand that not ONCE did the writers capitalize the word “spirit.” All these places where translators think spirit should be capitalized are THEIR decision based on doctrines they think are true but never on the original documents. So only if the context requires that “spirit” be capitalized do I choose to think the author was speaking of the Holy Spirit. Humans each have a spirit! Many very spiritual people are not Christians. I fear that one reason that’s true is because we preach about the Holy Spirit when the commission is for us to preach/teach about the Savior.

  3. Ray,
    In looking over what we both have written, I see that some of your failure to grasp the basis of my belief that all who are in Christ have been baptized in the Holy Spirit is my failure to adequately discuss what John said in Luke 3:16.

    John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

    This comes after a series of questions put to John about what each of the questioning groups should do: the crowds, tax collectors, and soldiers all had questions about what to do in response to John’s call to repentance. In each case, “he answered them….” The word Luke used in each instance was αυτους (aoutous), the usual 3rd person, plural personal pronoun in the direct object (accusative) case.

    Immediately after this,

    As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:15-16, ESV)

    Here as Luke introduces John’s reply, he uses a different word with a different emphasis. The word is ἅπασιν (hapasin, all), a common word used to indicate “absolutely all or (singular) every one: – all (things), every (one), whole.” (Strong’s Concordance) The KJV puts them in italics here, which indicates that there is no word in the original corresponding to them. This is where I got the fact that John said to them all that Jesus would baptize them all in the Holy Spirit and in fire. Since we agree that the fire here is a reference to judgment, it must follow that if those in Christ are not included in this baptism in fire, for John to have spoken truly when he said Jesus would baptize all in the Holy Spirit and fire, he must have been saying some would be baptized in the Holy Spirit, which is the Messianic blessing, while others would be baptized in fire, which is the Messianic curse.

    Based on this understanding of John’s statement, my understanding of Christian baptism as baptism in the Holy Spirit and in water (together making the new birth of water and spirit) as one baptism in two elements becomes more in line with your thinking.

    Of course, I also follow Paul in saying that this is not related to charismatic gifts, but is part of the universal experience of Christians while the charismatic gifts were only given to some individuals, not to all. The Pentecostal claim that glossalalia is the sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is denied by Paul in the last few verses of 1 Corinthians 12.

    This means that my position is not nearly as radical as you might have been thinking.

    • Jerry, you say much that’s good in this note! I see that Jesus promised only the apostles that they would be baptized in the Spirit. No one else. And that explains how there can be only ONE BAPTISM in the Way of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:5). Jesus commands that we who tell others about Him are to baptize those who believe. That’s a baptism for this “church age.” The apostles obeyed the Lord. They baptized believers. We do well to follow their example.

      But linking baptism with baptism in the Spirit won’t work. That’s two baptisms, one performed by JESUS and one performed as ordered by Jesus. The promise is that those who repent and are baptized in water will receive a gift from God of His Spirit, but that gift is not spoken of as a baptism. And it’s from God rather than specifically from God the Son who was prophesied to be the baptizer in the Spirit.

      • Ray, you wrote, “I see that Jesus promised only the apostles that they would be baptized in the Spirit. No one else.” Just where do you see that Jesus promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit to no one except the apostles?

        I’ve given you reasons that I believe the promise is “to you and your children, as many as the mouth of The Lord shall call.” Will you return the favor by telling me why you only see a promise for the apostles? After all, at Pentecost after the Spirit fell upon the apostles (or was it on the entire group of the 120? The word in Acts 2:1 is απαντες, just as in Luke 3:16, except that it is in the nominative case instead of the accusative.), Peter said that what the crowd was witnessing was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out the Spirit on all flesh – and Peter said the promise was for all.

        So why do you limit the promise to the apostles?

        Jerry

      • Thanks for asking, Jerry. The PROPHECY by John the Baptist is that Jesus will baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire. He doesn’t specify who or how many will receive either baptism. He couldn’t have done so. But in John chapters 14-16 and in Acts 1, Jesus told the apostles specifically that THEY would be baptized in the Spirit. He made no such promise to any others. And Luke’s record in Acts shows that Jesus baptized the apostles and no one else. All other baptisms were in water, the baptism commanded by Jesus for all repentant believers.

        As for the prophecy by Joel, can we not see that the apostles were correct in saying the Spirit would be poured out on all repentant believers.

        Peter spoke for all the apostles to promise that everyone who repented and was baptized (as Jesus had commanded was to be done by believers rather than by Himself) WOULD receive the GIFT of the Holy Spirit (not the baptism IN the Spirit).

        We notice many empowerments that accompanied the apostles receiving the baptism in the Spirit. Only the apostles had those powers. But EVERY Christian has the promise of the gift of the Spirit, meaning that the Spirit comes to HELP (not empower) us Christians. Paul makes clear that there is ONE baptism for this “Christian age.” That surely is the one commanded by Jesus for humans to perform. The ones performed by Jesus occurred prior to and will occur at the end of this church age.

      • I didn’t really answer Jerry’s good question: I’ve given you reasons that I believe the promise is “to you and your children, as many as the mouth of The Lord shall call.” Will you return the favor by telling me why you only see a promise for the apostles? After all, at Pentecost after the Spirit fell upon the apostles (or was it on the entire group of the 120? The word in Acts 2:1 is απαντες, just as in Luke 3:16, except that it is in the nominative case instead of the accusative.), Peter said that what the crowd was witnessing was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out the Spirit on all flesh – and Peter said the promise was for all.

        So, in case anyone is interested in Acts 2 and its meaning for us today, I’ll say more. The baptism in the Spirit was promised only to the apostles. I’ve explained that. There were 120 friends of Jesus there, but the apostles were not just part of the 120. They were special. All the promises concerning baptism in the Spirit were given (John 14-16) and chapter 1 of Acts to the apostles alone, no one else.

        It’s mentioned by Luke that the APOSTLES spoke and were understood regardless of language barriers that day. It’s mentioned by Luke that MANY MIRACLES were performed in the next few days BY THE APOSTLES. Not one word about miracles other than by the apostles. The apostles led the early church. Not the 120 only but all the converts to Jesus were part of the apostolic church. The leaders were not the 120, but were the apostles.

        I don’t understand why Jerry speaks about a word in Acts 2:1 and how it’s translated into English. “They” refers to the nearest particular noun ahead of the pronoun, which is the 12 rather than 120.

        Jerry mentions that Peter said “what the crowd was witnessing was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.” But mentioning the prophecy and its fulfillment does not mean only what was happening that day was the fulfillment. The Spirit is still given every day to new Christians who have repented and been baptized. It’s world-wide. It’s for us all. Not baptism in the Spirit, but the baptism commanded by Jesus for US to perform, with the promise that those we baptize will receive God’s Spirit as a result of turning to Jesus for salvation. Everywhere. Anywhere in the world. That’s what “all flesh” means. Not limited to one race. Not limited to only men and not women. Not limited except that it’s given only to believers in JESUS who repent and are baptized into Him.

  4. I see a sentence which doesn’t read the way I expected it to. I wrote, “The leaders were not the 120, but were the apostles.” It may not be clear that I’m asserting only the apostles were THE leaders of the church in Jerusalem.

  5. Ray,
    You have answered my question by repeating your assertions. In Luke 3:16, John the Baptist said to ALL that Jesus would baptize YOU in the Holy Spirit and in fire. I see no other choice. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit or He will baptize you in the fire of judgment. What other choice is there?

    Yet you say, “The PROPHECY by John the Baptist is that Jesus will baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire. He doesn’t specify who or how many will receive either baptism.” The who is ALL. Who will be baptized in which by Jesus depends on repentance and faithful response to Jesus.

    Then you added:

    But in John chapters 14-16 and in Acts 1, Jesus told the apostles specifically that THEY would be baptized in the Spirit. He made no such promise to any others.

    Where did Jesus say anything in John 14-16 about being baptized in the Holy Spirit or than none but the apostles would be so baptized? In Acts 1, He did say the apostles would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit, Yet, in Acts 2, the narrative does not support your assertions about exclusivity.

    When Peter began to explain what was happening, he turned to Joel’s prophecy about the Spirit being poured out on all flesh, sons and daughters, young and old – and when he answered the question, “What shall we do?,” he spoke of the gift God offered them – the Holy Spirit – and extended that promise to all who would respond to God’s call.

    You rightfully said:

    the prophecy and its fulfillment does not mean only what was happening that day was the fulfillment. The Spirit is still given every day to new Christians who have repented and been baptized. It’s world-wide. It’s for us all

    Yet you gloss over Peter’s use of Joel’s prophecy in explaining what was happening before them.

    In short, you have responded with the same assertions I’ve heard all my life – and which I at one time made myself. To truly answer my question, you will need to point to the specific words of Scripture that establish your theory about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Assuming what you are trying to prove or merely asserting it as truth does not meet the test of truth expected on this blog.
    Jerry

    • My Bible must be different from yours, Jerry. I see no “all” in the prophecy of John the Baptist as recorded by three gospel writers:
      Matthew 3:11
      “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
      Matthew 3:10-12 (in Context) Matthew 3 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
      Mark 1:8
      I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
      Mark 1:7-9 (in Context) Mark 1 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
      Luke 3:16
      John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
      Luke 3:15-17 (in Context) Luke 3 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations

      Did John baptize everyone who heard his message? Did Jesus baptize everyone who heard about the coming kingdom? How does an “all” get into John’s prophecy?

      Jesus did baptize with/in His Spirit. But Jesus also commands that WE are to baptize new believers. We cannot baptize with/in the Spirit. Only Jesus can do so. It seems logical then that we would baptize in water as fulfilling the command of our Lord Jesus.

      Do we want to suppose that Jesus will do the baptizing of converts that He commanded WE should do? Do we want to suppose Jesus will send every person to Hell, which is the further prophesy of John that Jesus would baptize in fire? Why do you read an “all” into the one part of the prophecy and not in both parts? Or is that what you do?

      The history book of the early (apostolic-led) church has Jesus baptizing His apostles in the Spirit and His apostles and other disciples baptizing converts in water as Jesus commanded was to be done. Does that not please you? That IS how Luke tells the story of the apostolic church obeying the Lord Jesus.

    • I’m sorry that simple English doesn’t cut it for you, Jerry. There are several gifts of the Spirit spoken of in apostolic writings. The baptism in the Spirit was accompanied, as I mentioned, by signs which were NOT present when others than the apostles were baptized. The fact that it was ONLY the apostles should be clear to anyone who looks at the story as told by Luke. And as for the upper room promises, I see I should have pointed to chapters 13-16 since it’s in chapter 13 that we see who was present when Jesus told of what was to come, and the discourse continued through the prayer John records in chapter 17. It’s in Acts 1:5 that the specific promise is given to the apostles that THEY would be baptized in the Spirit and empowered.

      We later notice that miracles were done by the apostles. Only by the apostles until the apostles laid hands on some who were selected by the church for a particular service. Later we read of Philip, one of the seven upon whom the apostle had laid hands, going to Samaria and there performing miracles. But it wasn’t until the apostles came and laid hands on some of the ones who had been baptized that some of them could perform minor miracles. The apostles lived and then died in service to Jesus. We have no apostles today. And no miracles being performed in the name of Jesus.

      Some healings do occur miraculously. But rarely, and usually only in “missionary” locations where few are yet converted to Jesus. As for the promises in John chapters 13-16 that the ones Jesus spoke to would be enabled to remember what He had said and that these particular persons would be led into all truth, it’s obvious that none today were in the upper room. Apostles were there. Apostles were led into all truth. The “power” to be given to the apostles was not for all Christians. Then or now. No Christians are led into all truth. All Christians, indeed all people can read the Bible and LEARN truth. But it’s not given as God’s gift to some to miraculously know all truth.

      Anyone who reads Luke’s history of the early church should be able to understand that the apostles were unique and irreplaceable. They were trained by Jesus and empowered by Jesus through His Spirit. No one else had apostolic powers then or ever. What Joel prophesied was not concerning apostolic powers, that is, baptism in the Spirit. The gift given to us all is NOT baptism in the Spirit. Yet the Spirit is given to help us as much as we are willing to be helped.

      • Ray wrote, “What Joel prophesied was not concerning apostolic powers, that is, baptism in the Spirit.”

        Two questions: First, where does Scripture directly tie apostolic powers to being baptized in the Holy Spirit? Second, if Joel’s prophecy had nothing to do with the Spirit falling on the apostles well before Peter’s sermon and certainly before those who were wondering about what they were seeing and hearing, then why did Peter bring it up to explain what was happening? He introduced his quote from Joel by saying, “This [that you are seeing and asking what is the meaning of these things] is that which was spoken by Joel….”

        Obviously Joel’s prophecy was of something that extended far beyond the apostles. Certainly the apostles were unique. But it was not baptism in the Holy Spirit that made them unique. The lengthy dialogue in John 13-17 does not mention being baptized in the Spirit. You have conflated that conversation with other passages that speak of the baptism in the Spirit and read baptism in the Spirit into the text of John. This is not good exegesis, but reading into Scripture conclusions you have reached from other sources or from other Scriptures.

        Jerry Starling

      • Jerry, you suggest that the baptism in the Spirit sent upon the apostles was for some other purpose than to empower the apostles. You’re right that I believe it was to empower them and to fulfill the promises Jesus had made in chapters 13-16 of John. You think that there’s no connection between the baptism in the Spirit and the apostolic powers, as I understand you. I’m curious in exchange. What was the purpose if not to empower them for the work they would begin that day? And, of course, to help all disciples realize the apostles were different from all other followers of Jesus.

      • Ray wrote, “The gift given to us all is NOT baptism in the Spirit.”

        Yet, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, in a context where Paul speaks of the diversity of gifts from the Spirit, he says pointedly that we are all baptized in one Spirit into one body.

        Yes, Paul wrote to the Ephesians that there is one baptism. Yes, we are to baptize penitent believers in water. But as we baptize in water, there is also activity by the Deity in baptizing the penitent in the Spirit. These actions are concurrent and form two parts of one whole – one baptism in two elements (as in 1 Corinthians 10:1) just as the new birth (which I believe to occur at baptism) is of both water and Spirit.

        Again, rather than take the plain sense of the words of Scripture, you have brought in elements not in the context to reconcile what you see as a contradiction by denying the force of what the text of 1 Cor 12:13 says in its context. This is not good exegesis, but eisegesis or reading into a text what you want to draw from it.

        Jerry

      • I try my best to understand scriptures in light of other scriptures on the same subject. Jerry feels I am wrong in pointing out that 1 Corinthians 12:13 does NOT refer to a baptism by or in the Holy Spirit. So I’ve asked interested readers to look at my not brief explanation for why I’m sure Paul was not teaching in this one verse a second baptism totally unknown in any other passage. If Bible passages contradict, shall we continue to believe the apostolic writings are from God? If Paul in one passage (Ephesians 4:5) says there is ONE baptism in the Christian age and in another passage speaks of a second baptism in the Christian age, was Paul inspired? The answer must be NO!

        Paul was NOT speaking in 1 Corinthians 12:13 of a baptism BY OR IN the Holy Spirit which brought sinners into Christ. The baptism all had experienced and to which Paul refers is the one commanded by Jesus and performed by Christians. Paul’s appeal is to unity. He speaks of the one baptism all readers knew they had experienced if they were in Christ, and that was the one commanded by Jesus for every new Christian. So Paul was NOT speaking of any action by the Holy Spirit at all in 1 Corinthians 12:13. He was speaking of the “one spirit” which caused each Christian to submit to Jesus as Lord. REPENTANCE. Surrender to Jesus as LORD. Of course we’ll all still be submitting to HIM and this will keep up together!

  6. Jerry wrote, “Based on this understanding of John’s statement, my understanding of Christian baptism as baptism in the Holy Spirit and in water (together making the new birth of water and spirit) as one baptism in two elements becomes more in line with your thinking.”

    But only Jesus can baptize with His Spirit. And the baptism Jesus commands that His disciples perform is in water. We don’t want to ignore Acts 2:38 where it’s made clear when the Spirit is involved. To those who have repented and have BEEN BAPTIZED, God gifts the Holy Spirit. But Luke doesn’t have Peter calling this gift a second baptism. The baptism is in water. The gift is separate from the baptism in water.

    • Ray, what have I ever said that makes you think I ignore Acts 2:38ff?

      Jerry Starling Eastern European Mission Regional development Officer http://www.eem.org Jstarling@eem.org

      • Good for Jerry! You are aware of the passages which deal with the question, and feel you understand them in a way to make each true and fully correct. The problem I see is that baptism in the Spirit is a baptism, and baptism in water is a baptism. One plus one does not equal one as you want it to in this case.

        Jesus baptized in the Spirit. People, obeying Jesus, baptize in water those believers who repent of sin and seek to obey Jesus as Lord. That’s the ONE baptism of Ephesians 4:5. It has to be, for Jesus commanded a baptism and Paul says there’s only one baptism in the apostolic age. Can we agree that baptism in the Spirit MUST be done by Jesus. It can’t be done by humans. So to suggest that the ONE baptism is one performed by Jesus and humans is really to say that two baptisms are one baptism.

        Jesus said the new birth was of water AND SPIRIT (no capital to indicate the Holy Spirit) and Peter says the entrance requirements into the kingdom of Jesus are REPENTANCE and baptism. Repentance is a spiritual change of masters. So I see Peter explaining the new birth of water and spirit as being repentance and baptism. And yes, I’m aware of the context in both verses. But I see what is exactly said in each, and I don’t feel the context negates what was said in either case.

        I further note that the baptism in the Spirit preceded the first gospel sermon and the baptism in fire will follow the apostolic age, meaning that the ONE baptism for NOW surely is the one Jesus commanded for PEOPLE to perform. And surely we will agree that the gift of the Spirit FOLLOWS baptism in Acts 2:38, a verse I feel is key to understanding the new birth of water and spirit.

    • To those who have repented and have BEEN BAPTIZED, God gifts the Holy Spirit. But Luke doesn’t have Peter calling this gift a second baptism. The baptism is in water. The gift is separate from the baptism in water.

      in 1 Cor 10, Rabbi Paul spoke of Israel’s baptism in cloud and sea. This was not two baptisms, but one baptism in two elements. In the same way, I see Christian baptism as one baptism in the two elements that Jesus mentioned in connection with the new birth, which also is one birth involving two elements.

      Rather than accept that the Spirit there is the Holy Spirit, you seem to make this be man’s spirit in his believing and repenting. If I understand your position, the Holy Spirit is not involved in the new birth at all, but is given as a gift after the birth. But I cannot understand why you ignore the immediate context of both John 3:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 where the Holy Spirit is in the immediate context to make spirit in each of these mean the human spirit instead of the Spirit of God. If you can help me understand why you make this (to me) arbitrary leap, I would appreciate it. That might help me be able to communicate my own understandings to you more effectively.

      Jerry Starling

      • Jerry, you speak of the baptism in cloud and sea as being in two elements. I think you’re meaning a separate baptism in the sea and a separate baptism in the cloud. But what is spoken of is a baptism in the sea and cloud, water on both sides of them and above them which made one baptism in cloud and sea. Both cloud and sea are water. Same element. Just in two forms.

      • Jerry, how kind you are! I’m convinced that translators were incorrect to capitalize “spirit” in many places, including John 3:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13. Acts 2:38 holds the key to understanding those other two texts. What needs to change in conversion to Jesus as Lord is the spirit of the new Christian who has until now been his/her own Lord and now MUST change to accept Jesus as Lord.

        This change is described by the apostles as repentance, a change of the human spirit. The new birth which makes a human person into a follower of Jesus the Christ is twofold. It’s repenting and being baptized in water as Jesus commands is to be done. The human spirit MUST change or there’s no new birth. God’s Spirit doesn’t change. Of course not. But our spirits must become submissive to Jesus as Lord or we’ll not be born again of water and spirit.

        Repentance is not done TO us but is done BY us. Baptism is not done BY us but is done TO us. The one change is internal. The other is seen by any onlooker. Anyone can know of the new birth by observing the raising up out of the watery grave a new Christian. The Bible makes clear how new birth of water and spirit occurs. Each conversion in Acts has the convert BAPTIZED into Christ. Without delay. That’s not the way people who believe in salvation by faith alone operate, but it’s the way it’s done when God is in control.

  7. Jerry, you quote the mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 12:13. The apostle there is pleading for his readers to be in unity because of the baptism they all had shared. So HE wrote, “In one spirit you were all baptized.” The spirit which is essential for baptism into Christ is humble submission to His Lordship, repenting of self-love and turning to HIM as Lord. No person should ever be baptized except having FIRST repented of self-love. Humble submission to the ONE Lord should unite us. No inspired writing speaks of a baptism other than the one commanded by Jesus as being involved in the Way of Christ. I urge any reader confused about that mistranslation to read my study, “Should Any Christian Ever Be Baptized?” on my web site at http://missionoutreach.org/OwensMaxey.pdf. I there point out in detail that the translation speaking of a baptism by the Spirit is obviously not what the apostle wrote.

  8. Jerry, I think it important that we realize humans cannot baptize in God’s Spirit. You want us to immerse in water AND the Spirit, as I hear you. But only Jesus can baptize in His Spirit, and HE does not link a baptism in the Spirit with the baptism He commands that WE perform. The promise is that a GIFT of the Spirit will be given to each believer who repents and is baptized.

    I observe that most of us who have been baptized into Christ seem to have no special spiritual powers of healing and the like as a result of our having been baptized. I notice that the apostles had flame-like appearances on their heads/shoulders when THEY received baptism in the Holy Spirit. I’ve never seen or heard any signs accompanying baptisms into Christ which are like the signs seen on Pentecost. Have you seen such signs? The sound of a mighty-rushing wind? Flame-like growths upon the heads of the ones being baptized?

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