part of the what is truth? series

Being baptized with the Holy Spirit (aka Holy Spirit baptism) is a remarkably hot topic – often disputed among Christians today. And yet, there is little direct Scriptural reference to the explicit act of being “baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

In fact, there is much the Bible leaves to the imagination regarding the Holy Spirit in general. As a result, there is ample opportunity to go where Scripture does not take us. We may be inclined to take liberties in drawing conclusions. Furthermore, adding to the confusion about Holy Spirit baptism are the other types of baptism in Scripture.

However, there is information in Scripture about Holy Spirit baptism to examine. Let’s leverage the Bible Study Framework to answer this important and often misunderstood question.

In Christian theology, baptism with the Holy Spirit, also called baptism in the Holy Spirit or baptism in the Holy Ghost, has been interpreted by different Christian denominations and traditions in a variety of ways due to differences in the doctrines of salvation and ecclesiology.
WikipediaBaptism with the Holy Spirit, Wikipedia

How Scripture answers "What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?"

Being baptized with the Holy Spirit only happened twice6 in the New Testament, both of these occurrences3,4 marking “firsts” – the first conversion of Jews3, and then of Gentiles4. It was the miraculous ushering in of the kingdom of God for “the Jew first and also the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

The baptism with the Holy Spirit was foretold by John the Baptist1 and promised by Jesus2 when, “not many days” later on the day of Pentecost2, the apostles would preach the gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem, saving 3,000 souls. The second time we read of the Holy Spirit baptism is at the conversion of the first Gentiles4. It was a miraculous spectacle just like on the day of Pentecost5,6. In fact, it was a necessary display to convince Peter, his traveling companions5 and the Christian Jews back in Jerusalem6 of God’s acceptance of Gentiles into the kingdom4,5,6.

What it means to be baptized with the Holy Spirit can sometimes get mixed with other aspects of God’s promise of the Holy Spirit. For example, Holy Spirit baptism is not the same as water baptism4, nor is it the same as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As a result, other passages7 are sometimes promoted as speaking about this special Holy Spirit baptism but they are forced interpretations often taken out of context.

<< Helpful? comment your thoughts >>

Leave your comment below…

…and if you’re wondering more about what we’re doing and why, here are some links we hope can help explain it (and maybe even get you excited about contributing):

what do you think?

connect with us

related to 'What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?'

lend your own study to the discussion

PUBLIC COMMENT POLICY: While your email is required, it will not be posted publically.
All comments are vetted for potential spam before being published, but will not be restricted otherwise.

  1. Charlie Brackett at - Reply

    What Peter said in Acts 11:15-17 is impressive: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.” Peter’s reference to the beginning refers to his sermon to Jews on Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. That was ten or eleven years before his sermon to the Gentile household of Cornelius (Acts 10). The Holy Spirit baptism in Acts 2 was on Jews, in Acts 10 on Gentiles with a decade or so between them.. Peter summed it up by saying, “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” (Acts 11:16) The inescapable conclusion was that the gospel invitation was to Gentiles as well as Jews. Impressive!

    • It is inescapable and the ten year gap is a really interesting point. A twice-in-their-lifetime event that occurred a decade apart! No wonder Peter reminding them of “the beginning” was the vivid correlation they needed to know God had welcomed the Gentiles into the kingdom. Of course, they also had the countless prophecies speaking about “the day” the “nations” would come to the house/mountain/city of the Lord.