The Baptism in the Holy Spirit – The Initial Evidence

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.

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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.

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6 thoughts on “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit – The Initial Evidence

  1. walkthwalk92

    Hello Bob,
    I thank you for your comment on my blog again, because I then opened this blog of yours and started reading.( I don’t have formal education, but the Holy Spirit has helped me learn so much over the last 21 years.) I like what I am reading and I wanted you to know.
    I have to look up the meaning of some of the words tho, lol. This is helping me to grow.
    God is so good.
    Bless you
    Jerry

    Reply
    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      Thanks, Jerry, for visiting my blog again and for encouraging me regarding it.

      I can relate to your problem with my blog as sometimes I have to do the same thing in the open theism groups that I belong to in Facebook. However, since I started the blog for my family’s benefit, I’ll try harder to use more commonly used vocabulary in my posts.

      “God is so good.” All the time!

      Reply
  2. Allison

    Your statement, “It also appears … that baptism in the Holy Spirit is usually, perhaps always, evidenced by prophesying in other tongues or languages” surprised me. I thought the evidence was just that of speaking in other tongues?

    Reply
    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      Because speaking in tongues is referred to in only three of the five narratives in which Acts records a baptism in the Holy Spirit, in the history paper I just said that baptism in the Holy Spirit is “usually” evidenced by tongues. However I added “perhaps always” because I think that speaking in tongues also occurred on the other two occasions, Simon the sorcerer’s apparently seeing something unusual when the Samaritan believers were baptized in the Holy spirit and Paul’s later telling the church in Corinth that he spoke in tongues more than all of them. Thus, despite what I said in the history paper, I believe like you that the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues.

      Reply
  3. Steve Finnell

    WATER BAPTISM OR HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM? By Steve Finnell

    Did Jesus command water baptism or Holy Spirit baptism? There is just one baptism; which did Jesus command? Ephesians 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (NASB)

    Matthew 28:16-19 But the eleven disciples…18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (NASB)

    Was Jesus telling the eleven disciples to baptize all nations with the Holy Spirit in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit? No, He was not. Remember there is just one baptism. The one baptism is immersion in water.

    Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.(NASB)

    Jesus told His disciple to preach the gospel. What were the promised results of those who obeyed the gospel? Those who believe and were baptized were saved. Were they baptized with the Holy Spirit in order to be saved? No, they were not. There is no Scripture that states being baptized with the Holy Spirit saves anyone. The disciples were baptizing converts in water in order for them to be saved. There is just one baptism.

    Acts 2:36-38 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NASB)

    The three thousand believed Peter when he preached Jesus. Did Peter tell them to repent and and be baptized with the Holy Spirit so their sins would be forgiven and that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? No, he did not. You cannot command someone to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. You, can, command men to repent and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins. There is just one baptism.

    Acts 8:34-39 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, beginning from the Scriptures he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, if you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]……….(NASB)

    The eunuch heard the gospel and believed Jesus was the Son of God, however, the eunuch did not asked “what prevents me from being baptized with the Holy Spirit?” The eunuch believed in Jesus and was immersed in water in order to be saved. There is just one believers baptism.

    There are millions who reject the premise that water baptism is order to be saved and millions more who reject water baptism altogether.

    You can believe Scripture or man-made tradition; however, only one is true.

    Jesus and His disciples preached that, he that believes and is baptized in water shall be saved.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    Reply
    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      Thanks, Steve, for sharing your thoughts on the importance of water baptism. I certainly agree with you that the baptism which Jesus commanded his disciples to administer and which they administered was water baptism.
      On the other hand, as I observed in my post, I agree with the suggestion made by Menzies and Horton (and many other Bible scholars) that “one baptism” of 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to our baptism into the body of Christ rather than to water baptism or to Holy Spirit baptism. If they are right, water baptism would be the outward sign of the “one baptism” rather than being the “one baptism” itself.
      Moreover, as I observed in my The Significance and Meaning of Baptism post, I believe that water baptism symbolizes our being saved rather than that water baptism is the means of our salvation.

      Reply

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