Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

The Baptism (Immersion) of the Holy Spirit

The first reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit is in Mt 3:11, where John the Immerser mentions tells the Jews that Jesus will baptize (immerse) people with (in English, we should use the preposition "in" - you immerse something in something else, not with something else) the Holy Spirit.

In John14:17f, Jesus promises his disciples that the Holy Spirit will be "with us" and "in us". In Acts 2:2, the Holy Spirit comes and fills the house. In v4, they were all, individually, filled with the Holy Spirit. Verse 2 of Acts 2 is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In the epistles, the only verse about the baptism of the Holy Spirit is 1 Corinthians 12:13:-

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

We know the time, place, people and purpose of this event - 1 Corinthians 12:13 says that the purpose is to make us all into one body. Again, the appropriate English preposition (for the Greek preposition "En") is not "by" but "in". The baptism was -BY- the Father in response to the Son, -IN- the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit filled the house, they were immersed in Him. The purpose was to bring into existence the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus. This was a historical collective event, not to be repeated individually.

When we receive Christ and thus the Holy Spirit, we're brought into all the effect of that historical baptism of the Holy Spirit - just as the effect of the sin at Eden is felt by us at birth, or the redemption at Calvary is effected in us today.

Thus the baptism (immersion) of (or in) the Holy Spirit is a once-and-for-all event that took place at Pentecost. Of course, the Jewish disciples thought that the whole thing was meant only for Jews, and so to convince them, God replicates the phenomenon with the Samaritans, and the Gentiles (Acts 10:44, 45, 11:15-18).

After these things have happened, the epistles were written and we observe the following:
  • In 1 Corintians 12:13, the aorist Greek tense is used for "baptized" and "drink". The closest English equivalent is the past tense. The baptism is something that happened in the past - not something that will happen individually in the life of each believer.
  • Paul uses the word "ALL" in 1 Corinthians12:13. This means that all his audience (which must have included believers of all types) have been included in this baptism. Some people teach that after you get saved, you need to wait and ask God for a second experience. However, Paul's use of the word ALL means that such a thing does not exist (at  the least, from here we can conclude that it is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit - there is no evidence for any such second experience by any other name)
  • The passive voice used in 1 Corinthians 12:13 for "baptized" and "made to drink" indicates that this baptism is something done by God as His own prerogative. We cannot ask for it. (There is no point in us asking for it now because it has already been done once and for all).
  • Nowhere in the epistles are we asked to wait or pray for a second experience or "baptism" of the Holy Spirit. We are however given the instruction to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Since the Holy Spirit is not a liquid but a person, we understand that being filled with Him means having all our actions and motives brought under His direction and approval - this is our responsibility. We don't have to ask for the Holy Spirit, but we have to (continuously) endeavor to give Him full reign over our lives, now that He is already indwelling in us.
Thus, to summarize, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the event in which the apostles were immersed in the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It signals the inauguration of the church and the start of the individual indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When we are saved, we are made part of that same body - the church - that was birthed at Pentecost. It is in this sense that we have been baptized into the Holy Spirit.