My family and I are currently reading about the baptism of the Holy Spirit from William W. Menzies and Stanley M. Horton’s Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective (Springfield, Missouri: Logion Press, 1993) in our after-breakfast family Bible reading. A couple days ago we began reading Chapter 8, “The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost.” In its first section Menzies and Horton examine the five occasions in which baptism in the Holy Spirit occurred in the book of Acts, beginning with the three which refer to the speaking in tongues or other languages (on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2; in the house of Cornelius, Acts 10; and in Ephesus, Acts 19) and going on to the two which don’t refer to it (in Samaria, Acts 8, and by Paul, Acts 9).
However here, instead of summarizing what my family and I read from Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective, I’m going to share what I wrote about the Biblical evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit in a history paper that I wrote for California State University some thirty years ago.
Although Luke seems to have considered that Jesus experienced a permanent filling with the Holy Spirit at his baptism (Luke 2:21-22; 4:1,14-), because of his unique God-man character I shall limit my study to those instances in Acts which seem to portray a baptism with, or an initial coming upon by or filling with, the Holy Spirit. The first of these, the filling of the believers gathered together on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) is treated by Luke as the fulfillment of the promise made by Jesus before his ascension to baptize with the eleven with the Holy Spirit (1:5), enduing them with power (1:8; also, Luke 24:49). However, he goes on to describe Peter as extending that promise to all who would repent and be baptized (2:38-40), and he refers to four subsequent occasions on which the promised gift was given–to the Samaritan believers (8:14-17), to Paul (9:17-18), to the Gentiles gathered in the house of Cornelius (10:44-46), and to the Ephesian disciples (19:1-6). For each of these five occurrences of the baptism in the Holy Spirit narrated by Luke, I shall consider the chronological relationship of baptism in the Holy Spirit to salvation and to water baptism and noteworthy characteristics of the event.
|RECIPIENTS AND REFERENCE||RELATIONSHIP TO SALVATION AND WATER BAPTISM||NOTEWORTHY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EVENT|
|the believers gathered together on the Day of Pentecost (2:1-4)||after salvation; after, or without, baptism||preceded by a wind-like sound that filled the house and by “tongues of fire” that rested on each; accompanied by speaking in other tongues “the wonderful works of God” (2:11)|
|the Samaritan believers (8:14-17)||after salvation; after baptism||preceded by Peter and John’s prayer for and laying of hands upon them; seen to be received, by Simon the sorcerer, suggesting some unusual manifestation of the Spirit’s presence|
|Paul (9:17-18)||after salvation; apparently before or simultaneous with baptism||preceded by Ananias’ putting his hands on Paul; accompanied by, or immediately following, the restoration of Paul’s sight|
|the Gentiles gathered in the house of Cornelius (10:44-46)||apparently simultaneous with salvation; before baptism||marked by their speaking in tongues and magnifying God; served as evidence to Peter and the Jews that God had given salvation to the Gentiles (11:18) and that they could be baptized|
|the Ephesian disciples (19:1-6)||after salvation; after baptism||preceded by Paul’s laying his hands upon them; accompanied by their speaking in tongues and prophesying|
Examination of the above reveals that, although the two can occur simultaneously, baptism in the Holy Spirit normally follows salvation. However, no chronological relationship is evident, from a comparison of the five events, between baptism in the Holy Spirit and water baptism. It would seem that, although the outpouring of the Spirit on the Jews on the day of Pentecost and on the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius show that God is not limited in how He gives the gift of His Spirit, the Church early recognized the laying on of hands as an act preparatory for baptism in the Holy Spirit. It also appears … that baptism in the Holy Spirit is usually, perhaps always, evidenced by prophesying in other tongues or languages.