Search Bible
Click for Help   Click for QuickNav   Click for Advanced Search Options
Search KJV
Your Bible Version is the KJV
Go to Top
Link to This Page Cite This Page
Share this page Follow the BLB
Printable Page
 
 
Left Contextbar EdgeLeft Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge2Prior SectionReturn to CommentariesReturn to Author BiographyNext SectionRight Contextbar Edge2Right Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge1
The Blue Letter Bible
BLB Searches
Search the Bible
Search KJV
 [?]

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval
x
Search KJV

Let's Connect
x
Daily Devotionals
x

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans
x

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan

Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: Was the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Predicted in the Old Testament?

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

Was the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Predicted in the Old Testament?

Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Question 2

It seems clear that the historical occurrence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit did not take place until the Day of Pentecost. Such an experience was foreign to those living before Pentecost. This brings up the question, “Was the baptism with the Holy Spirit something that was foretold in the Old Testament?” Bible believers are divided over the answer to this question.

One view says that the baptism was predicted in the Old Testament by at least three different prophets. This is the position of “Covenant Theology.”

A second view, known as Dispensationalism, says the Old Testament knew nothing about the baptism with the Holy Spirit because it is bound up in the New Testament church – something that the Old Testament knew nothing of.

View 1: There Are Passages That Predict the Outpouring of God’s Spirit on Pentecost (Covenant Theology)

There are a number of Old Testament passages that have predicted such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The prophet Joel recorded the Lord saying.

After all of this I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elderly will have revelatory dreams; your young men will see prophetic visions. Even on male and female servants I will pour out my Spirit in those days (Joel 2:28, 29 NET).

Joel documented the Lord predicting an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter cited this passage from Joel to the assembled multitude. The Book of Acts says the following.

Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel (Acts 2:15, 16 NRSV).

Here Peter says that Bible prophecy has been fulfilled.

This Fulfilled Joel’s Prophecy

Since Peter says that what happened to them was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy it is clear that the Old Testament predicted this outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost.

We find that Zechariah the prophet wrote of the Lord pouring out His Spirit. He put it this way.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zechariah 12:10 NIV).

The prediction, of the pouring out of the Spirit on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, is also believed to have been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Those who put Jesus to death a few weeks earlier, now say the power of His Holy Spirit come upon those who believed in Him.

Isaiah Wrote of the Spirit Being Poured Out

Isaiah the prophet wrote of the Spirit being poured out. He predicted the following would take place.

The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest (Isaiah 32:14, 15 TNIV).

Here we are told that the Spirit of God will be poured out from “on high.”

He also recorded the Lord saying.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants (Isaiah 44:3 NIV).

This is a prediction of the pouring out of the Spirit of God on the people from the nation Israel. The Day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of that prediction.

John Linked It with God’s Judgment

John the Baptist linked the baptism with the Holy Spirit with God cleansing, separating, and judging His people. Matthew records John the Baptist as saying.

I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am–I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire (Matthew 3:11, 12 NET)

Thus, John equated the baptism of the Spirit with some type of judgment.

The words of John the Baptist remind us of the prediction of Isaiah the prophet. He wrote the following words.

The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire (Isaiah 4:4 NIV).

In this instance, water is equated with the cleansing of the people.

Malachi said something similar about this future purification. He wrote.

He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness (Malachi 3:3 NKJV).

These passages all predict a future outpouring of God’s Spirit upon His people. Many see these references as predicting what happened on the Day of Pentecost.

John the Baptist, therefore, in his prediction of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, would have been speaking of something that the people of Israel would have been expecting. The pouring out of God’s Spirit is associated with the Messiah and Messianic age. Pentecost was the day which all of this was fulfilled.

View 2: The Church Age Was Not Revealed in the Old Testament (Dispensationalism)

There is the position of Dispensationalists that the church age was not revealed in the Old Testament. It is a mystery, or sacred secret, that was not made known until the ministry of Jesus Christ. The explanation of the church was basically done by the writings of the Apostle Paul. Since the church was not made known in the Old Testament, any reference to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit does not refer to the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is because the baptism with the Holy Spirit is what began the church age. Believers were now united to Jesus Christ into His body – the church.

The Old Testament passages that speak of the outpouring of the Spirit refer to a time yet future – the Day of the Lord. This is the period of time that includes the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. They are not a reference to the Day of Pentecost.

The fact that Peter quoted Joel on the Day of Pentecost does not mean the prophecy was fulfilled at that time. It is usually argued that Peter was speaking of the power that Joel referred to – not necessarily the fulfillment of his prediction of the outpouring of the Spirit.

Some dispensationalists argue that Joel’s prophecy began to be fulfilled at Pentecost with the ultimate fulfillment at Christ’s Second Coming. Whatever the case may be we should not necessarily assume that Pentecost was the fulfillment of the word of the Lord through Joel.

Observations on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit with Respect to the Old Testament

There are a number of observations that can be made with respect to the baptism with the Holy Spirit and its relationship with the Old Testament.

1. The Old Testament Writers Predicted a Future Outpouring of God’s Spirit

The Old Testament prophets predicted a future Spirit outpouring which would initiate the kingdom. Ezekiel wrote.

Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD (Ezekiel 39:25-29 NIV).

There will be a time when the Spirit of God is poured out on the people. This, without doubt, is going to take place.

2. John the Baptist Predicted That the Messiah Would Baptize with the Holy Spirit

John the Baptist came as the forerunner of the Messiah and His kingdom. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets. John’s prediction of the Messiah pouring out His Spirit was consistent with the predictions of the Old Testament prophets. We read.

I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am–I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11 NET)

The Messiah baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit.

3. Jesus Taught That the Holy Spirit Would Have a Unique Ministry with Believers

Jesus Christ promised a future ministry of the Holy Spirit among believers. We read about this in the Gospel of John.

On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39 NET).

This could not happen until Jesus was glorified. The Holy Spirit could only testify of the mission of Christ once it was completed on the earth. He could not do it before.

Jesus also made other predictions about the coming Holy Spirit. Indeed, on the night of His betrayal Jesus spoke of His disciples not seeing Him anymore. The Spirit would then teach them the things of Christ. Jesus said.

He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. All that the Father has is mine; this is what I mean when I say that the Spirit will reveal to you whatever he receives from me. In just a little while I will be gone, and you won‘t see me anymore. Then, just a little while after that, you will see me again. The disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘You won‘t see me, and then you will see me’? And what does he mean when he says, ‘I am going to the Father’ (John 16:14-17 NLT).

His teaching, along with that of John the Baptist, is consistent with the teaching of the Old Testament prophets on the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord said.

I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances (Ezekiel 36:27 NRSV).

The Spirit of God will be within the people.

4. Jesus Equated the Prediction of John with the Promise of the Father

After His resurrection, but before His ascension into heaven, Jesus told His disciples that the baptism with the Holy Spirit would occur shortly. He linked this event with the “promise of the Father.” We read.

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5 NRSV).

This seems to link the baptism with the Holy Spirit to promises made in the Old Testament of the outpouring of the Spirit.

5. Peter Said That What Happened on Pentecost Fulfilled the Prophecy of Joel in Some Sense

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter cited the prophecy of Joel to explain the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16 HCSB).

Joel spoke of this thing taking place.

He also told this crowd that this was the promise of the Father. We read. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear (Acts 2:33 NRSV).

This linked what happened on Pentecost to certain predictions made in the Old Testament.

6. The Pouring Out of the Holy Spirit on the Jews and Gentiles Was a Fulfillment of Jesus’ Prediction about the Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Later in the Book of Acts, Peter said that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jews and Gentiles fulfilled the prediction of Jesus about the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We read the following statement by Peter.

And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 11:15-16 NRSV).

Here Peter recounts what took place with the Gentiles.

Those living in the New Testament age are now able to experience the promise of the Father. Paul wrote to the Galatians

Through the work of Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, and we Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14 NLT).

All who believe in Jesus will partake in the blessings of the Holy Spirit.

Paul also wrote.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13 NIV).

The wonderful truth of the New Testament is that the Holy Spirit lives inside each and every believer. The promise which the Lord made in the Old Testament has been fulfilled.

Summary – Question 2
Was the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Predicted in the Old Testament?

The baptism with the Holy Spirit did not happen in history until the Day of Pentecost. There are some who see this ministry of the Holy Spirit predicted by the Old Testament prophets. This is the position of covenant theology. They see no distinction between the nation of Israel and the New Testament church as people of God.

Others, known as dispensationalists, see the church as something that was unrevealed during the Old Testament era. They do not believe that anything that has to do with the church was revealed during the Old Testament. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was unforeseen in the Old Testament.

There are a number of conclusions that can be made with respect to the prediction of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and the fulfillment during the New Testament era.

We know that the Old Testament predicted a time of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This is clear from a number of passages.

John the Baptist, as well as Jesus spoke of a future outpouring of the Spirit called “the baptism with the Holy Spirit.” Thus, there was a steady stream of predictions of the Spirit being poured out on believers.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter cited the Old Testament prophet Joel in explanation of the power that was evident. In some sense, the prophecy of the Lord, as recorded by Joel, was fulfilled.

The Apostle Paul said the predicted promise of the Holy Spirit was now the experience of all Christians. Indeed, everyone who has believed in Jesus Christ will receive the Holy Spirit.

In sum, we can conclude that the Old Testament predicted an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers. Whether we should call this outpouring the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is a matter of debate.

What Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? ← Prior Section
What Are the Various Views as to When a Person Receives the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


Donate Contact

Blue Letter Bible study tools make reading, searching and studying the Bible easy and rewarding.

Hotjar - Unlimited insights from your web and mobile sites

Blue Letter Bible is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization