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

Don Stewart :: Did the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occur Once for Everyone at Pentecost?

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Did the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occur Once for Everyone at Pentecost?

Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Question 9

For some people, the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurred once and for all on the Day of Pentecost. This idea is derived from a statement made by the Apostle Paul. He wrote the following to the Corinthians.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free we were all made to drink of the one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13 NET).

Paul says that every believer has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. According to this view, it does not mean that every Christian is individually baptized with the Spirit but rather that the Holy Spirit baptized the entire body of Christ on the Day of Pentecost. In other words, it was an historical event that has already taken place.

This Event Began the Church Age

The baptism with the Holy Spirit occurred on the Day of Pentecost to begin the church age. The coming of the Holy Spirit in this manner was a once and for all occurrence – like the birth of Jesus Christ. It is no more possible for the Holy Spirit to baptize people again with the Holy Spirit than it is for the birth of Christ to happen again. They were both a once–and–for–all occurrence. Therefore no one, since the Day of Pentecost, has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. It is a past completed act.

Response to This View

This view has not gained many supporters for the following reasons.

Acts 11 Seems to Speak of Two Different Events

The description of Peter of what happened in Caesarea, when the Gentiles first received the Holy Spirit, seems to refute this position. At the council of Jerusalem, Peter described the events of Caesarea as follows.

‘Well, I began telling them the Good News, but just as I was getting started, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to argue? (Acts 11:15-17 NLT).

Peter, in describing what happened to the Gentiles at Caesarea, says the Holy Spirit fell upon them. He is speaking about a separate experience from that which took place on the Day of Pentecost. If this be the case, then the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurred on at least one occasion apart from Pentecost. This would refute the idea of a once–for–all baptism with the Spirit for all believers on the Day of Pentecost.

There Is No Evidence for This in the Context of Acts Chapter Two

There is something else which must be considered. Acts chapter two, which records the events that occurred on the Day of Pentecost, give no hint that this was a once and for all occurrence for every believer on that particular day. In fact, Peter seemed to promise the same experience for others who believed. The Bible records his words as follows.

Peter answered them, “All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act, and each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. This promise belongs to you and to your children and to everyone who is far away. It belongs to everyone who worships the Lord our God” (Acts 2:38, 39 God’s Word).

Peter said that promise belonged to them. Now we must note that it could be referring to the salvation promised in Jesus Christ, or the initial reception of the Holy Spirit and not the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Whatever the case may be, there is certainly no statement that the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which took place on that day, was a onetime occurrence.

The Baptism with the Spirit Actively Joins Each Believer with Christ

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the active joining of a person to the body of Christ. This happens at a definite point of time. Although Jesus Christ died for everyone, past, present, and future, people are not baptized into the body of Christ until they personally receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. This is when the baptism with the Holy Spirit takes place for them. It did not happen previous to their conversion.

In sum, we can say that there is no evidence for the view that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was limited to one day in history; the Day of Pentecost.

Summary – Question 9
Did the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occur Once for Everyone at Pentecost?

There is the view that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was a one-time occurrence. According to this position, on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down in a unique way and began the church age. Consequently, there should be no discussion who receives the baptism with the Spirit or when it is received because it was an historical event that took place some two thousand years ago.

However, the experience of Peter, with the house of Cornelius in the city of Caesarea, seems to contradict this idea. The Gentiles had their own unique experience with the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Peter refers to their experience as exactly what happened on the Day of Pentecost; the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This would refute that idea that it was a past historical event.

We also find Peter on the Day of Pentecost emphasizing, that the gift of the Holy Spirit was available for those who would believe in Jesus Christ in the future. This may refer to, among other things, the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit.

We can conclude that there is no statement in Scripture which would have us believe that the baptizing work of the Spirit took place once and for all at Pentecost.

Is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit the Same as Receiving the Holy Spirit after a Person Believes? ← Prior Section
Is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit the Same Thing as Regeneration or Spiritual Rebirth? 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.


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