This document seeks to address the questions, "Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit a separate and distinct event from the entrance of the Holy Spirit into a person’s life at the time of conversion?" and "Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in tongues?"
When someone is born again, they are baptized into the body of Christ. "For we were all baptized by [NIV note: or with; or in] one Spirit into one body…" (I Cor 12:13) All Christians have the Holy Spirit. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (I Cor 16:9) Let’s take a look at a few scriptures from the book of Acts.
The Eleven Disciples
That the Holy Spirit was present in the 11 disciples prior to Acts 2 can be seen in John 20:19-23. "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
In the last chapter of Luke we read that Jesus "opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45) This is another way of describing what happens when someone receives the Holy Spirit. I read the NT 2.5 times over 6 year period, believing every word, before I became a Christian on December 3, 1978. I couldn’t understand it until the day I was born again. It was as if someone turned on a light and from that day I began to understand the Bible.
In Acts 1:8 we read that Jesus said to his disciples: "…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." This was fulfilled in the next chapter: "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [or languages] as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:2-4) The word translated "tongues" is glossa and according to Strongs, it is "of uncertain affinity; the tongue; by implication, a language (specially, one naturally unacquired)" can and does refer in scripture to words in both a known and unknown language. In this case, it was both. To the speaker, it was an unknown language; to the hearer, it was a known language. Obviously, to the Holy Spirit all languages are understood.
Jesus made it very clear that the disciples needed more than just having the Holy Spirit and understanding the scriptures; they needed power and this would come from being immersed in the Holy Spirit. Someone who puts his hand in the water is wet. Someone who dives under water is immersed. "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."( Acts 1:4-5) Does this imply that those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit have more of the Holy Spirit than those who haven’t been? I don’t know. Maybe it means He has more of us. Forget about how many angels can fit on the head of pin. What is clear is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit always produces power. "The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." (Luke 1:35) "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…" (Acts 1:8) "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power…" (Acts 10:38) To anoint is similar to baptize. I submit that tongues releases power because it is Holy Spirit enabled speech. Jesus did not think the baptism of the Holy Spirit was optional. If he did, he would have suggested it rather than commanded it. Paul also thought it was very important. More about that later...
Phillip, Peter and John
As previously stated, a person receives the Holy Spirit when they become a Christian. There is scriptural evidence the apostles expected all new believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at a passage in Acts 8 where Phillip had just preached in Samaria. "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:14-19) Although this passage does not indicate the believers spoke in tongues after the apostles prayed for them, something did happen that Simon the sorcerer could see. What is clear is that the Holy Spirit came upon these new believers in a way that produced tangible results. This was an event separate from and subsequent to conversion.
Peter, Cornelius and friends
Peter went to Cornelius’ house and preached the gospel. "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. " (Acts 10:44-48) In the next chapter Peter is recounting this story and says "I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 11:16) So, in this case it was hearing and believing the gospel, conversion, baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then water baptism in the name of Jesus. Let’s look at one more passage that describes tongues accompanying the baptism of the Holy Spirit after conversion.
Paul in Ephesus
"While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when [NIV note: or after] you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into [NIV note: in] the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." (Acts 19:2-6) Paul asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Obviously they had because the Holy Spirit inhabits the believer at the time of conversion. What Paul was referring to was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Again, this underscore the expectancy of the apostles that new believers would be baptize in the Holy Spirit. When Paul found out that these people had not be baptized in the Holy Spirit he didn’t say, "Well that’s OK boys, it’s optional." He immediately laid his hands on them and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues. Years later Paul wrote to the Corinthians "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues…" ( I Cor 14:2-3) As you know, the Corinthians were immature in their knowledge of tongues and some confusion arose when people starting using their private prayer language publicly. There is a different use of tongues in public and must be accompanied by interpretation but, that is off topic.
Apollos, Priscilla, and Aquila
"Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately." (Acts 18: 24-26) In this passage we learn about an evangelist named Apollos who was mightily used of God but, in my opinion, did not understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Although it is certainly not mentioned here, when we look at other passages involving the baptism of John we see that the apostles always said there was something more that was to be embraced by believers: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. John the baptizer said "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Mt 3:11)
• The earthly ministry of Jesus began after the Holy Spirit came upon him. "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove." (Luke 3:21-22; cf Acts 10:38)
• God used the apostles and early disciples baptize believers in the Holy Spirit.
• Power accompanied the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8)
• In the book of Acts tongues accompanied the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
• "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…" (I Cor 14:4)
• The gift of tongues is a blessing that can be freely received by all believers. (I Cor 14:5)
(All Scripture from the NIV)