The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)



There are many and various ideas about Holy Spirit Bap­tism. These ideas range from "I don't have any idea" to the bizarre. Even though the Bible does not have a great deal to say about this subject, it tells us enough so we can come to some definite conclusions. We believe and will prove that there is only ONE recorded instance of Holy Spirit Baptism in the New Testament and the implication of one. The recorded instance is Acts 2:1-4; the ONE implied is Paul. Paul stated that he was made an apostle not by men, but by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:1). If the empowering that made him an apostle came through human agency, then he was made an apostle by men; since he denied that his apostleship was conferred upon him by human agency, we must assume that Jesus Himself empowered him for his apostleship by baptizing him with the Holy Spirit.


Since there are so many ideas about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, it behooves us to note some things that Holy Spirit Baptism is not…


We can confidently say that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is NOT:

1. Merely the ability to perform miracles

2. Merely the ability to speak in tongues

3. Being filled with the Spirit

4. The "gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38; 10:45)

5. Being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5)

6. Baptism in fire

7. Merely the Holy Spirit being within


Furthermore, there are some things Holy Spirit Baptism was NOT intended to do. These are:

1. Make people believers ‑ they were already (Matt. 16:16­-28)

2. Prepare them for baptism ‑ they had been (Luke 7:30)

3. Make people repent ‑ they already had (Matt. 3:2; Acts 19:4, etc.)

4. Save them ‑ great commission baptism does this (Acts 2:38; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16)

5. Cleanse them ‑ the Word of God does this (John 15:3)

6. Put them into Christ ‑ great commission baptism does this (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3‑4)

7. Sanctify them ‑ the Word of God does this (John 17:16­-17)


John Promised Holy Spirit Baptism to the Jews


Speaking to a mixed multitude about the coming Lord, John said, “Whenever you change your hearts, I immerse you in water. But there is one coming later who is more important than I am. I am not worthy to carry his shoes. He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and in fire!” (Matt. 3:11). John preached only to the Jews. Therefore, the PROMISE of Holy Spirit Baptism was ONLY to the Jews. In addition, John affirmed that Jesus would be the Administrator of this baptism, thus it was not bestowed by the laying on of apostolic hands. It also should be noted that John the baptizer is here addressing two groups of Jews. He is addressing an obedient and a disobedient group.


Let us go to Matthew 3 and commence with verse 5: “People from Jerusalem and all over the land of Judea and all the area around the Jordan River continued coming to John. They were admitting that they had sinned. John immersed them in the Jordan River. When John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his immersions, he said to them, You are like poisonous snakes! Who told you to run away from God's punishment which is coming? You must do the things which will show that you really have changed your hearts! Don't think this to yourselves: 'Abraham is our father!'  I tell you that God could make children for Abraham from these rocks here. The ax is now ready to cut the trees down. Every tree which does not produce good fruit is being cut down and thrown into fire. Whenever you change your hearts, I immerse you in water. But there is one coming later who is more important than I am. I am not worthy to carry his shoes. He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and in fire! He will come ready to clean the grain. He will separate the good grain from the straw. He will put the good part of the grain into his barn. Then he will burn the straw with a fire which cannot be put out.”


Here in these verses, we have two classes of people represented. One class is represented as wheat and the other as chaff: the wheat - the good and obedient (Matt. 13:30); the chaff - the no good, the disobedient, the ungodly (Ps. 1:4-6). It should be observed in this third chapter of Matthew that “People from Jerusalem and all over the land of Judea and all the area around the Jordan River continued coming to John. They were admitting that they had sinned. John immersed them in the Jordan River” (Matt. 3:5-6). But notice also that the Pharisees and Sadducees went to John's baptism, but John called them, “poisonous snakes” (vs. 7). He called them that because they were the disobedient ones.


Go with us now to Luke 7:29-30, “All of the people and the tax collectors who heard this agreed that God’s command was good; they had allowed themselves to be immersed by John. But the Pharisees and teachers of the law refused to obey God’s plan; they did not allow themselves to be immersed by John.” This is conclusive proof that John was addressing two groups, an obedient and a disobedient group. No wonder he told them that Christ would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.


Friends, there is no Biblical record of the good and obedient being baptized with fire. Fire is for that which is no good. The branches that do not bring forth good fruit are taken away and cast into the fire and are burned (John 15:2, 6). Fire is for the disobedient (2 Thess. 1:7-8); for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10-15). Those who submitted to John's baptism had no promise of fire at all (Mark 1:8).


Uniqueness of the Apostolic Office


The uniqueness of the apostolic office cannot be over­emphasized. Many people believe this office was special, but most do not realize just how unique it truly was. On the day of His resurrection, Jesus breathed on the apostles and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you say some people are forgiven, then they are forgiven. But, if you say that the sins of some people are not forgiven, then they are not forgiven” (John 20:22‑23). What did He mean by the idea of the remitting and retaining of sins? Was it based upon the capricious, whimsical, flighty fickleness of the apostles? Certainly not! He had specific reference to the preaching of the Gospel and to the loosing or retention of sins dependent upon the attitude of the hearer. Those who heard and obeyed the Gospel enjoyed the remission of their sins. Those who heard and did not respond were those whose sins were retained.


Akin to this is Jesus' statement to the apostles near Caesarea Philippi. He said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have already been bound in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will have already been loosened in heaven” (Matt. 16:19; see also 18:18). Thus, the keys of the kingdom of heaven in this passage denote authority to give entrance into the kingdom of Heaven - the New Testament church (Matt. 16:18).


The apostles began to exercise this authority on the day of Pentecost after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" point directly to the "remitting or retention" of sins in John 20:22‑23. The apostles were God's special spokesmen through which the Gospel was first announced. Whatever God had determined to loose or bind in heaven, He would do so on earth through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. Truly, the apostles were an intricate and essential part of God's plan to make known His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.


The apostles exercised an authority enjoyed by no other individuals. For instance, to the Corinthians Paul said, “Someone may think he is a prophet or an inspired person. However, that person must acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command from the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). How many today can claim to write the commandments of Christ? How many can command "by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ" as Paul did? (2 Thess. 3:6).


The Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Book of John


We previously mentioned that John the baptizer introduced the subject of Holy Spirit Baptism. We also noted that Jesus dealt with this subject before His ascension. Now we want to notice some things Jesus said to the apostles the night of His arrest on the same subject. After the last Passover supper and before arriving at the garden, Jesus had a long discourse (John 13:31‑16:33) with the eleven; Judas had already left on his betrayal mission. The words spoken by Jesus point directly to the day of Pentecost and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and the subsequent blessings that would flow from it.


Several of Jesus' statements in these chapters can only be understood when we realize they were made to the apostles ONLY. Man truly errs when he takes the Lord's statements in these chapters and applies every aspect of them to man in this century. The sayings of Jesus in these three chapters have specific reference to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles (Acts 2) and the power derived there from.


In John 14:16, Jesus said, “I will ask my Father and He will give you another Comforter. He will be with forever.” Many want to apply this verse to present day Christians. But considering that Jesus said this Comforter was the Holy Spirit and would bring to their remembrance ALL things He had said to them, it is clear this statement was limited in its scope (John 14:26).


In John 15:26‑27, Jesus said, “I will send you the Comforter from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth who is coming out from the Father. When he comes, he will tell the truth about me. You will testify, too, because you were with me from the very beginning.” Here Christ reveals the Comforter was the "Spirit of truth," and He (the Comforter) would testify of Him and they (apostles) would also testify or bear witness. This promise is limited to those that had been with Him from the beginning.


Does this apply to any today? Did it apply to Cornelius and his household? Certainly not! It is easy to see that this discourse focuses upon the coming power on the day of Pentecost. These promises of the coming “Comforter” and of the “Spirit of truth” were only to the apostles of Christ, and to no other people. This shows without doubt, the promise of Holy Spirit Baptism was made only to the apostles.


What was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?


We now turn our attention to answering the question of exactly what Holy Spirit Baptism was. Jesus Himself PROMISED Holy Spirit Baptism to the apostles ONLY. Luke records, “From the beginning until the day when he was carried up into heaven. He talked to the apostles whom he had chosen. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus told them what they must do. After his death, he showed that he was alive. Jesus proved this by doing many convincing things. The apostles saw him several times during 40 days. Jesus was talking about the kingdom of God. Once when he was together with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem. He said, Wait here for the Father's promise that you heard me talk about (the Holy Spirit - see John 14:26; 16:13). John immersed people in water, but in a few days you will be immersed in the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2‑5). Notice in verse two that the apostles are specified as those who were to receive it.


In these verses the Lord equates the "promise of the Fa­ther" with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is the same thing He referred to in Luke 24:49, “Listen, I am sending my Father’s promise upon you, but must stay in Jerusalem until you are clothed with that power from heaven.” In this passage, Jesus introduced something that helps us to better understand Holy Spirit Baptism. He said they would be "clothed with power from heaven." Thus, the act of being "clothed with power from heaven" was equal to the "promise of the Father." Since the "promise of the Father" is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, then "clothed with power from heaven" likewise refers to Holy Spirit Baptism.


This is what Jesus meant in Acts 1:8. He told the apostles, “However, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the world.” If this reception of power was not equal to being "clothed with power from heaven" (Luke 24:49), then to whom or what does it refer? It is clear: the power of Acts 1:8 is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. To say it another way, when the Spirit came, the POWER was to come (Holy Spirit Baptism); the Spirit came, thus the power came. This is what is meant by the term, "Baptized with the Holy Spirit."


After the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles in Acts 2, some were "confused," and all "were amazed and marveled" (Acts 2:6‑7). The apostles were even charged with drunkenness (Acts 2:13). The inspired Peter responds to this false charge (Acts 2:14ff). In verse 16, He connects the events of Acts 2 with the prophecy of Joel 2, saying, “This is the same thing which God said through the prophet Joel,” and then quotes Joel 2:28‑32. Peter shows it was NOT the Person of the Holy Spirit that was poured out, but in fact, it was the POWER that came from the Holy Spirit that was poured out.


In Acts 2:17 we read, “God says: In the last days, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will have special dreams.” The phrase "I will pour out of my Spirit" is of utmost importance. In this phrase, the preposition "of" is translated from the ablative preposition "apo." The ablative case was used to denote source or origin. Thus, the Holy Spirit was the source of that which was poured out. He was NOT the "element" poured out.


Furthermore, the verb translated pour out is prefixed by "ek" which is also an ablative preposition. Dana and Mantey says, "Verbs compounded with apo, ek, and para in the very nature of the case take the ablative where these prepositions bring to the verb the idea of separation (p. 82)." This simply means the Holy Spirit was the "source." He was NOT that which was poured out.


Inspiration records the coming of this power (Acts 2:1-4). John the baptizer and Jesus the Christ spoke of it as the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit." By this pouring out of the power of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, there would be the authority to confer spiritual gifts upon select individuals. It was to be upon all flesh (Acts 2:17). Their "sons and daughters" would prophesy. "Prophecy" was one of the spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:8‑10). Also, the young men would see visions and the old men would dream dreams. The "visions" and "dreams" referred to the manner is which God would make His will known. For instance, the Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:10). Peter received a vision (Acts 10:17).


Holy Spirit Baptism and the Apostles


Prior to being sent on the “Limited Commission,” the gift of apostleship was given to the twelve before the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Matt. 10).  On that occasion Christ strictly forbade them to preach to the Gentiles. They were told, “but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (vs. 5-6). Thus, this mission was “limited” to the nation of Israel. With this commission, Christ told them to preach “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 7), and gave them miraculous power to effectuate their mission. With this power He told them, “heal the sick cleanse the lepers, raise the dead cast out devils” (v. 8).  After His resurrection, Jesus told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for power (Luke 24:49). Since Jesus had given them miraculous power earlier (the Limited Commission), the necessary conclusion is that this power was withdrawn once the mission on which they were sent was accomplished.  


Christ would empowered the apostles to be witnesses of Him in Jerusalem, Judea and eventually the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). Again, it follows that they did not at that time have power. Thus, the apostles were given a new commission, the “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:18-20). On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), after being baptized with the Holy Spirit, the apostles began to fulfill this new commission. Their mission was to go to all nations, rather than just the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 28:19).  The message they were to preach would also be different. Earlier they had been told to preach the “nearness” of the kingdom, but now, in the post resurrection era, they were to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15-16). This good news would include the fact that the promised kingdom of the Old Testament age had come, and that men could be translated into it and receive the forgiveness of their sins (Col. 1:13; Acts 2:38).


Inspiration tells us that "apostleship" was a miraculous gift (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11). When one considers the situation existing in the first century, he can truly appreciate the absolute need for the apostolic office. The Great Commission was a stupendous undertaking. Twelve men from a small nation located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, was to take a strange message into a polytheistic world. This message consisted of the thought there was one God (the God of the Hebrews).


This one God sent His Son from heaven to this world by way of a virgin birth, where He lived for some thirty‑three years. This Son was rejected by His own people and was ultimately crucified by the Roman authorities (a death reserved only for the most base of criminals). This Savior of the world was buried, but remained in the sepulcher only three days, being resurrected by the power of this one God. After about forty days, this "Son of God" was taken back into heaven and there He reigns over His spiritual kingdom. Furthermore, it is because of His death that all men, Jew or Gentile, can have forgiveness of sins, dependant upon their willingness to come to Him in obedience to the Gospel.


No doubt, something special was needed to give validity to this "good news." There were many barriers to overcome, one of which would be the various dialects and languages spoken by the people of the world. Another problem was how could they prove their message was of divine origin? Thus, we see the need for the accurate deliverance, the undeniable confirmation and substantiation of this peculiar message. Indeed, their mission was daunting, to say the least.


In His infinite wisdom, God anticipated every problem that would arise from the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. In one generation, He saw to it this message of eternal hope “was preached to every person under heaven" (Col. 1:23). This specific aspect of God's eternal purpose in Christ had its beginning at Pentecost with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The apostles received special powers from the Holy Spirit. Paul argued, “The signs of a true apostle have been done among you very patiently – proofs from God, miracles, and powers” (2 Cor. 12:12). What were these "signs of an apostle"?


The signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds can only refer to the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit. But by using the term "signs of an apostle," Paul un­doubtedly was arguing for something above and beyond the other things he mentioned. Why appeal to them if they were not something special? Why petition these things if they were not unique?


The apostolic office was unique. They had special powers other spiritually gifted men did not have. One of these was the ability to impart miraculous gifts (Acts 8:14‑19). There can be no doubt, there had not been any like the apostles before and there has not been any like them since. They stood between first‑century man and God, as the Bible stands between men of our century and God. They were the authority then.


There is One Baptism


The Bible says, “There is one body and one Spirit. You were called to one hope, when God called you. There is one Lord (Jesus). There is one faith. There is one immersion. There is one God. He is the Father of everyone. God is above everything, through everything, and in everything” (Eph. 4:4-6).


It should be noted that in the fifth verse of Ephesians 4 we are taught that there is one baptism. This alone, is enough to prove that the claimants of the Holy Spirit Baptism are wrong, for we are taught that the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 is the water immersion of Ephesians 5:25-26. Surely the great apostle Paul did not tell the church at Ephesus that there is one baptism, meaning Holy Spirit Baptism in chapter four and turn around and say there is water baptism in the next chapter. The water baptism of Ephesians 5:26 is connected with the great commission for men administered it.


All that we do must be done by the authority (in the name) of Jesus. The only authority that Jesus gave respecting baptism is recorded in Matthew 28:19. When Jesus got up from the grave, He gave the disciples their marching orders, “Therefore, after you’ve gone out, make followers for me from all nations. Immerse them by the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I commanded you. Remember, I will always be with you – even until the end of time” (Matt. 28:19-20). This is water immersion, for water immersion is the only baptism commanded.


In the face of the plain teaching of the Holy Spirit through the great apostle Paul that there is ONE baptism many are claiming three baptisms. They claim water, Holy Spirit, and fire. Doubtlessly they have been immersed in water, but they are too late for Holy Spirit Baptism and too early for the fire which all that ignore the plain Bible teaching will surely get. These contentions are the result of failures to study and rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).


Men could NOT administer Holy Spirit Baptism. Christ only could administer Holy Spirit Baptism (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 24:49). Christ commanded men to administer baptism and the only immersion that men can administer is water baptism. Men immersed the Ephesians (Acts 18:24-25; 19:1-5). Philip immersed the man of Ethiopia (Acts 8:36-39). Paul immersed Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas (1 Cor. 1:14-15).


Since there is but ONE baptism, it follows that if it is Holy Spirit Baptism, it is neither fire nor water; or if it is fire baptism, it is neither Holy Spirit nor water, and if it is water baptism, it is neither Holy Spirit nor fire, for there is but ONE. The Holy Spirit Baptism was never commanded. The Holy Spirit Baptism was a promise (Luke 24:49; Mark 1:8; Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:4-5). Christ was the administrator of Holy Spirit baptism and Christ will be the administrator of fire baptism. The only baptism that men can administer is water baptism (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21).

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a special event in God's overall scheme of redemption. It is sad this subject has been so sadly treated in the religious world. But Satan never fails to use anything and everything to turn people from the Truth of God's Word.

Go To: Gift of Holy Spirit

Return To: Holy Spirit

Return To Home Page