Holy Spirit Baptism

It was a sad day for the eleven apostles. Their Master was about to leave them and return to His Father in heaven, just as He had promised (John 14:1-2). For forty days Jesus had been teaching and preparing them for this separation and now it was here. He charged them “not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father” which Jesus also had given them. Then He said, “John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:5-6).

The events of John’s promise were given in an earlier article. Jesus “would baptize you in the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Mt. 3:11). It was shown that there were two specific references to a “baptism in fire” (Mt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16) and Luke’s account is just a parallel recital of the same promise made in Matthew 3:11. Yet, while only specifically mentioned twice, many allusions are made to it.

On the other hand, there are six specific reference to “Holy Spirit baptism” (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; Jn. 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16). All of these looked back to Matthew where John’s prophecy promised some of them would, by Jesus, be baptized in the Holy Spirit. But these references were made on least four different occasions (Matt. 3:11; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16).

Unlike “baptism in fire” (which is yet to come), “baptism in the Holy Spirit” has already occurred which will be discussed later in the article. Perhaps the question of greatest interest to the modern religious world (aside from inquiry as to what it was and what its purpose was) is, “Are men still being baptized in the Holy Spirit today?” After all, in one baptism already studied (John’s baptism) it was seen that no longer are men baptized with that baptism today. Is “Holy Spirit baptism” like that of John’s? Was there a purpose for it — which purpose was fulfilled and none are baptized in the Holy Spirit today, or is it like the “baptism of the great commission” which is still being practiced almost 2,000 years after it was commanded (Matt. 28:18-20)?

While John prophesied of a future baptism in the Holy Spirit of some of those who heard him, Jesus was specific. It would be His apostles who were to be baptized. To them He said, “John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). About ten days later, all His apostles were together in one place “and suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-3). Do any doubt these words record the fulfillment of both John’s and Jesus’ promise that some would be baptized in the Holy Spirit?

While emphasis has been made that the promise of the Holy Spirit was given by John, then later repeated by Jesus, the promise of the Holy Spirit was made several centuries before by the prophet Joel. When at Pentecost a large crowd gathered and was awed and dumbfounded by the phenomenon of unlearned men speaking languages they had not learned, it was natural that varied reactions result from such. And it was. Some asked, “Behold, are not all these that speak Galileans? And how hear we, every man in our own language wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:7-8). Others mocked and said, “These are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13). Peter, God’s spokesman for this occasion, addressed the mockers first: “These are not drunken as ye suppose; seeing it is but the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:13). Then he answered the genuinely bewildered who asked, “What meaneth this?” by saying “but this is that which hath been spoken by the prophet Joel,” then Peter cites a lengthy quotation taken from Joel 2:28-30. Can any doubt that when Peter said “this is that” that the events at Pentecost were (at least the partial) fulfillment of both the promise of John and Jesus?

Jim McDonald