The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Bible never uses the phrase "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". That phrase is simply used to refer to the event when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit. As such baptism with the Holy Spirit is the event when one first receives the Holy Spirit. This event is inevitable for everyone who has put their faith in Christ. There are no conditions attached to it, not even water baptism. For Cornelius had been baptized with the Spirit before he was even water baptized.

Concerning this event, Peter equates the Baptism with the Holy Spirit with receiving the Holy Spirit

Where he's referring back to what Jesus had said to the Apostles concerning Pentecost.

Prior to this, the Apostles did not have the Holy Spirit (which kind of explains the change of their behavior after Pentecost)

But some will say that they received the Spirit after Jesus' resurrection and before his ascension.

However, there was no indication that they actually received the Spirit at that point in time. Rather Jesus could have been pointing to the future event. For I don't believe he had yet been glorified in the manner he spoke of in John 7:39. For he also had said:

And he was not yet in the presence of the Father until he ascended. And he had said that he would first have to go to the Father before he would send the Holy Spirit.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit is receiving of the Spirit when one first believes the gospel. Throughout the book of Acts, people hear and believe the gospel and then receive the Holy Spirit. In the case when people only hear of the message of repentance and responded to that, they have not heard the complete message and thus don't have the opportunity to believe and thus have not received the Holy Spirit. Paul ran into some of these in Acts 19:

Once a person believes, he receives the Holy Spirit. This is God's promise and God's responsibility.

All believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit

And in fact if we haven't received the Spirit, then we don't belong to Christ.


If you have come to believe in Christ, then by faith reckon that you have received the Holy Spirit. Do not expect some special feeling or experience. For "we walk by faith and not by sight" 2Cor 5:7. There may be those who focus too much on the flesh demanding that you speak in tongues and have the same kind of experiences as in the book of Acts. Don't worry about it. The Bible never explicitly promises that there would be any particular experiences associated with the event of receiving the Spirit.

Some treat the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a way to distinguish the spiritually elite from those ordinary Christains who aren't as good as the rest of us. Of course I'm speaking factitiously. The Corinthian church seemed to have such an attitude of divisiveness with its "I am of Paul", "I am of Apollos" divisions. But in 1Cor 3, Paul basically calls them a bunch of babies. To categorize Christians as being "spiritual" or "unspiritual" based upon whether they had some feeling or speak in tongues is itself indicative of "unspiritual" thinking.

Once a person is born of God, there is only the process of maturing, which is a continuous process. There are no sudden jumps from being immature to mature. Birth, Justification (along with receiving the Spirit), Death - these are punctilinear events. These occur at points in time. There will be a sudden transformation after death. But sanctification in this life is a process. There are many experiences we have with the Holy Spirit that leads us to maturity. But these are related to our obedience to the Bible. We are filled with the Spirit and given spiritual gifts for the purpose of ministry. These are not to be used as signs that "I am better than you." If we don't have submission and service in mind or if we are simply trying to make ourselves "feel good" without service in mind, then I don't believe will give us the gifts and power of the Spirit to fill our lives. For such things are to be used in service to the Lord.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Edition: Jul 29,2015