Baptism of the Holy Spirit

hello all. i have taken a break from blogging in the past few months. however, i would like to get back on it. So, this is my first blog in a while. if this is your first time to my blog, check out my first blog to learn more about the purpose of my blog. below is my most recent piece of seminary work. i hope you enjoy reading it and that it brings you some clarity on the subject. i will continue posting the weekly songs for life fellowship next week.




The Charismatic doctrine known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit has been a source of debate throughout Christian history. Most Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and denominations hold to a belief that “the full gospel includes holiness of heart and life, healing for the body, and baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit give the utterance.”[1] Furthermore, they believe that this experience is “distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth” as stated by the Assemblies of God.[2] Although there are many other passages used, these Charismatic views are mostly based upon the day of Pentecost account found in Acts 2:1-4.

On the other side of the debate there are many differing points of view. Some hold to a strong cessationist view, which is the belief that the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the death of the Apostles and the completion of the canonization of Scripture. Most cessationists are not in alignment with the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at all. Instead, they believe that the believer receives all of the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation and they can never receive more. However, there are also some different views that fall in between the two. Some, like the famous Anglican Evangelical leader John Stott, hold to a view that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a one-time event at Pentecost, but there is, however, a “filling” of the Spirit that can be repeated even today.[3]

The purpose of this paper is to more closely examine the argument of whether or not the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a post salvation experience is truly biblical. In order to accomplish the task of thoroughly examining this issue we will further survey the arguments for and against this doctrine. Then, we will explore and define the terminology used in scripture regarding this subject. Lastly, we will unearth some better terminology to assign to the Holy Spirit’s work in a believer’s life. Throughout the course of our journey, we will study the Scriptures to find the truth about this subject. As a result, it will be proven that scripture does not support the traditional doctrine known as baptism of the Holy Spirit. Rather, the concept of the Holy Spirit coming upon a believer is supported by scripture and is, therefore, a more accurate way to describe a believer’s post salvation experience with the Holy Spirit.

The Argument for a Post-Salvation Baptism of the Holy Spirit

            The Pentecostal and Charismatic view is that of a subsequent to salvation Baptism of the Holy Spirit experience. This is the view that there are in fact two stages in the believer’s experience with the Holy Spirit. The First is conversion: the apostles were already believers (Acts 1). The second is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is accompanied by the gift of speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:45-46; 19:6; 1 Cor. 14:18). As a believer of this doctrine, nineteenth and twentieth century evangelist R.A. Torrey wrote this regarding the matter, “The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a work of the Holy Spirit separate and distinct from His regenerating work. To be regenerated by the Holy Spirit is one thing; to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is something different, something further.”[4] He goes on to say, “If a man has experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit he is a saved man, but he is not fitted for service until in addition to this he has received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.”[5] This view is widely agreed upon among those who align themselves with the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The speaking in tongues component is a little more controversial. The traditional Charismatic view is that tongues must accompany the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as stated above. However, many scholars, teachers, and writers do not believe that tongues necessarily have to occur in conjunction with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Chuck Smith points out that though speaking in tongues is often a companion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit experience, “in the eighth chapter of Acts, when the Samaritan believers received the Holy Spirit, there is no mention that they spoke in tongues.”[6] Torrey holds to the view that “this power [speaking of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit] will not manifest itself in precisely the same way in each individual. This is brought out very clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:4, 8-11, ASV.”[7]

The Argument Against a Post-Salvation Baptism of the Holy Spirit

            The counter argument to the two-stage experience is traditionally the view that when a believer experiences conversion, they receive all of the Holy Spirit at that time. This view typically holds to the interpretation that the phrase baptism of the Holy Spirit refers exclusively to the Day of Pentecost experience when the Holy Spirit was initially given to the church. Frederick D. Bruner takes this position in his book, A Theology of the Holy Spirit. He says, “the baptism of the Spirit belongs exclusively to Pentecost and there can be no ‘replicas’ of Pentecost, no ‘little Pentecosts’.”[8] Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4 both record Jesus commanding the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit, which the Father had promised he would send to them. The view is that the day of Pentecost was the one and only fulfillment of these commands. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit that we see in Acts 2:1-4 is said to be the initial and only outpouring of the Holy Spirit as the gift to the church from the Father.

The reason that the apostles and the 120 believers at Pentecost experienced this once and for all outpouring of the Spirit was because they were living in a transitional period.[9] This transitional period consisted of the shift from the Old Covenant (ending with Jesus’ death) to the New Covenant (marked by the Spirit’s outpouring). John Stott provided a great explanation of this concept when he wrote:

[The Day of Pentecost] was the last event of the saving career of Jesus, the long-promised outpouring of the Spirit consequent upon his death, resurrection and ascension. As such it completed the inauguration of the new or Messianic age, the age of the Spirit. In itself it is unrepeatable, as unrepeatable as the Savior’s death, resurrection and ascension which preceded it. But its blessings are for all who belong to Christ. All Christians since that day, without any exception, have become participants in this new age and have received the gifts of forgiveness and the Spirit which Christ made available.[10]

Furthermore, it is said that the subsequent passages of the outpouring the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17; 11:17; 19:5-6) are simply an overflow of the Pentecost experience in Acts 2:1-4. R. C. Sproul explains this by saying: “What is normative about Pentecost is that the Spirit baptizes all the people of God. That there was a time delay in Acts between conversion and baptism does not establish this aspect as a norm. There were clear redemptive-historical reasons for these distinctive “Pentecosts” to occur.”[11]

Para, En, and Epi

            A careful examination of the terminology associated with this doctrine is very important. Much clarity can be brought to the subject simply by surveying and defining a few key terms. Important distinctions are begging to be made involving the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s relationship to the believer. Chuck Smith helps us with this distinction when he writes, “there are three Greek propositions used in the New Testament to designate the different relationships of the Spirit to the believer: para, en, and epi.”[12] Para is translated “with”, en is translated “in,” and epi is translated “upon.” John 14:17 says, “You know him, for he dwells with (para) you and will be in (en) you.” It is important to notice that this verse helps us see that these first two terms, para and en, define the two-fold, natural relationship between the believer and the Holy Spirit. Smith says, “The Holy Spirit was with us prior to our conversion. He is the one who brought us conviction of sin and revealed Christ as the answer. When we accepted Jesus as our Savior and invited Him into our lives, the Holy Spirit began to indwell us.”[13]

The term epi (upon) is also used many times in the Scriptures. This term is where we get the idea that God has something “more” for the believer. This comes through the epi relationship. For example, in Luke 24:49 Jesus says, “and behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon (epi) you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The disciples whom Jesus was speaking to had already experienced the para and en relationships with the Holy Spirit. They were already believers and followers of Christ, which meant the Holy Spirit was already in (en) them. However, in this Luke passage, Christ was promising them something different, something “more.” In essence, he was saying, “wait for something more.”

Furthermore, in Acts 1:8, Christ again promises to the disciples, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (epi) you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We see further manifestations of this epi relationship throughout the book of Acts. In Acts 10:44 the Holy Spirit descended upon (epi) the Gentile believers at the house of Cornelius. In Acts 19:6 the Holy Spirit came upon (epi) the Ephesian believers when the apostle Paul laid hands on them and prayed. Moreover, in Acts 8 we see that Philip proclaimed the gospel of Christ to the Samaritans. Many of the men and women there “believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, [and] they were baptized” (Acts 8:12). At this time the Holy Spirit indwelled, or came into (en) the Samaritan believers. However, the scripture goes on to say, “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on (epi) any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This account confirms that the epi relationship between the Spirit and the believer is definitely something different and perhaps distinct from the en relationship. D.L. Moody says, “I believe that, although Christian men and women have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, He is not dwelling within them in power.”[14] This power he is speaking of comes out of an overflow of the epi relationship. It is what Moody calls the “overflowing streams” of a believer’s life.[15]

Baptized with the Spirit

            The phrase “be baptized with the Spirit” appears in seven verses in the New Testament. Four of those are found in the gospels when John the Baptist is proclaiming the prophecy of Christ’s ministry: “He will baptize with the Holy Spirit” (Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33).[16] The fifth is found in Acts 1:5 when Jesus promises the coming of the Spirit to the apostles: “before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The sixth occurrence is found in Acts 11:16 after the conversion of Cornelius when the apostle Peter is remembering and quoting the Lord Jesus’ statement: “John baptized with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The seventh and last verse including a semblance of this phrase is the one I would like to focus on. It occurs in 1 Corinthians 12:13, in which Paul writes, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” With a great exegetical explanation of this verse, John Stott wrote, “this cannot be a simple reference to the Day of Pentecost, for neither Paul nor the Corinthians were there to share in the event itself.” He continues by saying, “so the baptism of the Spirit in this verse, far from being a dividing factor (some have it, others have not), is the great uniting factor (an experience we have all had). It is, in fact, the means of entry into the body of Christ.”[17]

The term baptize is initiatory in nature. When someone acts in obedience to the Lord through water baptism, it is biblically supposed to directly follow the conversion experience (Mk 16:16). Therefore, happening at the initiation of the believer’s Christ-following life. Furthermore, the term baptize in the Greek (baptisma) literally means to plunge, to immerse, or to wash.[18] In order to be immersed or plunged, there must be an “element” to be immersed or plunged into. So, when speaking of Holy Spirit baptism, 1 Corinthians 12:13 confirms that the Holy Spirit is in fact that “element” that we are “all” baptized into. Stott says, “Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 and Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:13, indicate that the “baptism” of the Spirit is identical with the “gift” of the Spirit, that is one of the distinctive blessings of the new covenant and, because it is an initial blessing, is also a universal blessing for members of the covenant.” Therefore, the term baptism of the Holy Spirit is a good term to describe the event that happened at Pentecost and in turn the universal blessing that we “all” have inherited as children of God. On the contrary, however, whatever the potential post-salvation experiences may be between an individual believer and the Holy Spirit, baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the appropriate, biblically accurate terminology to use.


The term revival is not itself found in scripture. However, some argue that this is a good word to use to summarize the post-salvation experiences of believers in the New Testament as well as today. According to Iain Murray revival means “the presence of the Holy Spirit.”[19] For the purposes of this paper, I would add this to Murray’s definition: Revival is the post-salvation (post-en) presence of the Holy Spirit upon (epi) a believer or group of believers. We see that throughout Acts the Holy Spirit seems to come upon (epi) believers that are already saved. However, this does not confirm the baptism of the Holy Spirit doctrine because the baptism of the Holy Spirit was exclusive to the event at Pentecost. As proven earlier, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which occurred at Pentecost, was an initiatory, “once and for all” event. Murray says,

At Pentecost the Spirit of God was given once and for all to the Church…while the Spirit was permanently given, He was not given permanently in the same measure and degree as was witnessed at Pentecost. Two things overlapped at Pentecost. The first was the coming of the Spirit which established the norm for the whole gospel age – the Spirit was given, never to be removed, and therefore the work of conversion and sanctification in the whole earth is never to cease. But the second thing was the largeness of the degree in which the influences of the Spirit were then experienced by the church and by thousands who until that day were ungodly.[20]

Furthermore, the book of Acts confirms that all Christians did not remain “filled with the Holy Spirit” in the sense of Acts 2:4. If that had been so, then it would not have been possible for those same believers (including Peter and John) to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” again in Acts 4:31. This also implies that the “filling” can possibly occur in the life of a believer multiple times.

There are evidences throughout scripture that point to the fact that the Spirit is given in different measures at different times. For example, in John 20:22 when Jesus and the disciples are in the upper room it says, “And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Then, after that in Acts 1:8, Jesus says to them, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;and you will be my witnessesin Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,and to the ends of the earth.” Through scripture we see proof that the Holy Spirit comes at various times in various ways and/or measurements. At conversion the Spirit indwells all who repent and believe (Acts 2:38). It is conceivable then that the term revival could be used to describe a subsequent, upon (epi) type experience whereby the Holy Spirit falls “upon” a believer or a group of believers. In speaking of these occasional Holy Spirit manifestations known as revivals, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, “if you read the history of the church you can come to only one conclusion: this has been God’s way of keeping the church alive. The Christian church would have been dead and finished centuries ago and many times over were it not for revivals.”[21]


In Conclusion, the study of the terms and verses dealing with this doctrine show us that it cannot be true that the traditionally popular Charismatic view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is biblically supported. However, it is biblical that in reference to the Holy Spirit’s dealing with a believer there is potentially something more after a believer’s conversion. This potential post-conversion experience has to do with the epi (upon) relationship. It can be best summarized in that it is a revival type experience in which the Holy Spirit falls upon a person or a people in a special outpouring of his presence. Both the Bible and history show us that these instances are few and far between. Additionally, based on Acts 4 we conclude that it can in fact happen to the same person or people more than once. This means that it is not a one-time, post-salvation baptism of the Holy Spirit as believed by many, but rather a special outpouring of the Spirit thus coming upon and empowering (Acts 1:8) the individual(s).

The phrase baptism of the Holy Spirit should be reserved for the “once and for all” event that took place on the day of Pentecost. Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles in Acts 1:8, which in turn happened in Acts 2:1-4. Once the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost, this new empowerment of the Spirit, this baptism of the Spirit, was now a part of the universal church forever. Speaking of the Spirit which was given to the early church for all generations to come, the great theologian John Wesley wrote, “The Holy Spirit was to give them what is essential for all Christians in all ages. It was to give them the mind which was in Jesus. It was to give them the holy fruit of the Spirit, without which no one is a Christian. The Holy Spirit was to fill them with love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, and goodness.”[22] Finally, we conclude that the subsequent events of the outpouring of the Spirit upon a person or people found in later chapters of Acts following Pentecost can best be described as revivals or simply a supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit; not baptism of the Holy Spirit.


 Bruner, F. D. A Theology of the Holy Spirit. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Press, 2008.

Ferguson, Sinclair. The Holy Spirit. Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Jones, Lindsay, ed. Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. 15 vols. Detroit: Macmillan

Reference USA, 2005.

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Joy Unspeakable: The baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Lottbridge

Drove, Estbourne: David C Cook, 1995.

Moody, Dwight Lyman. Secret Power. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1997.

Murray, Iain H. Pentecost-Today?: The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival. Lymington,

Hants: The Spartan Press Ltd, 1998.

Smith, Chuck. Charisma Verses Charismania. Costa Mesa, CA: The Word For Today, 2000.

Sproul, R. C. The Mystery of the Spirit. Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, 1991.

Stott, John. Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today, 3rd ed.Downers Grove,

IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

Torrey, R.A. The Baptism With The Holy Spirit, Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1972.

Wesley, John. The Holy Spirit & Power. Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2003.

[1] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology. (Chicago: Moody Press, 2008), 674.

[2] Ibid., 674.

[3] John Stott, Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today, 3rd ed.(Downers Grove,

IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 62.

[4] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism With The Holy Spirit, (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1972), 16.

[5] Ibid., 17.

[6] Chuck Smith, Charisma Verses Charismania. (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word For Today, 2000), 99.

[7] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism With The Holy Spirit, (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1972), 20.

[8] F. D. Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970), 169-170.

[9] Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1996), p. 82.

[10] John Stott, Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today, 3rd ed.(Downers Grove,

IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 29.

[11] R. C. Sproul, The Mystery of the Spirit. (Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, 1991), 154.

[12] Chuck Smith, Charisma Verses Charismania. (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word For Today, 2000), 87.

[13] Ibid., 88.

[14] D. L. Moody, Secret Power. (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1997), 91.

[15] Ibid., 100.

[16] John Stott, Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today, 3rd ed.(Downers Grove,

IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 50.

[17] Ibid., 50-52.

[18] Lindsay Jones, ed, Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. 15 vols. (Detroit: Macmillan

Reference USA, 2005), 779.

[19] Iain H. Murray, Pentecost-Today?: The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival. (Lymington,

Hants: The Spartan Press Ltd, 1998), 7.

[20] Ibid., 17.

[21] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable: The baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Lottbridge Drove, Estbourne: David C Cook, 1995), 469.

[22] John Wesley, The Holy Spirit & Power. (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2003), 186.


2 thoughts on “Baptism of the Holy Spirit

  1. One of my favorite posts here’s about blogging. You are the Jedi master with regards to blogging. Not every writers can skilfully write the way you do. Truly amazing gift you have there. Thanks for your wonderful posts.

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