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

Don Stewart :: Was Jesus Baptized with the Holy Spirit?

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Was Jesus Baptized with the Holy Spirit?

Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Question 13

Was the baptism with the Holy Spirit something that happened to Jesus Christ? It has been argued that Jesus Himself experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit before He began His public ministry. Is this what the Scripture teaches?

Was Jesus Baptized with the Spirit before He Began His Public Ministry?

It is common to hear that Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit as He was about to begin His public ministry. The evidence for Jesus being baptized with the Spirit is as follows.

The Bible says that after Christ was baptized in water the Holy Spirit came down upon Him. Luke records it this way.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21, 22 NRSV).

Since we know that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit this could not have been His initial reception of the Spirit. Thus, it must be a second experience with the Hoy Spirit; the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The argument then goes like this: Since Jesus could not ministry publicly before being baptized with the Holy Spirit the same must be true for all believers.


While some teach that Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit, the Bible does not teach any such thing. This can be seen as follows.

Jesus Was Given the Holy Spirit without Measure

Jesus Christ did not need another experience with the Holy Spirit because the Bible says that He was given the Holy Spirit without measure. John the Baptist said the following about the Lord.

For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit (John 3:34 NLT).

He did not have to have some second experience to give Him more power. Indeed, Jesus had all the power that was necessary.

Jesus Was Set Apart for the Ministry

The coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus Christ at His baptism was the setting apart, or consecration, of Jesus for His office as the Messiah. Indeed, before He began the work as the promised Messiah Jesus was baptized in water. After this took place He was then symbolically anointed with the Holy Spirit.

This Was Similar to the Experience of the Levitical Priests

The experience of Jesus in the Jordan River was similar to the experience of the Old Testament priests. In the Old Testament, it was required that the priests be consecrated, or set apart, to begin their work when they were about thirty years of age. The Bible gives the following requirements for these priests.

Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the Tent of Meeting (Numbers 4:3 NIV).

Thus, the requirement for service was a male between the ages of thirty to fifty. We read of this in Luke where it says the following.

Jesus was that age when He began His public ministry. Luke tells us.

Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli (Luke 3:23 NKJV).

Like the priests, Jesus began His ministry about age thirty.

There Were Two Steps in the Process of Jesus Being Set Apart

The process of consecrating, or setting apart of a priest, included two steps. First, there was a washing in water, and second, there was an anointing with oil. In the Book of Exodus we read the command of the Lord to the people.

Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and wash them with water. Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head (Exodus 29:4, 7 NIV).

In the Book of Leviticus we find the fulfillment of the command. It says.

Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him (Leviticus 8:6, 12 NIV).

Thus, we find the Scripture explaining this two-step process.

Jesus Identified with Sinners in His Baptism

When God the Son, Jesus Christ, was baptized in the water He identified Himself with sinners – yet He was without sin. Indeed, John tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized. However, according to Jesus’ own testimony He did this to fulfill all righteousness. We read.

But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him (Matthew 3:15 NKJV).

Then, when He was anointed with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was set apart to do the work of the ministry. Therefore His baptism in water and the coming of the Holy Spirit was the same pattern as what the priests experienced.

Jesus Was Never Said to Have Been Baptized with the Holy Spirit

There is one final point. It is important to note that Jesus is never said to have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Nowhere in Scripture do we find Him being the recipient of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, Jesus is the one who baptizes others in the Holy Spirit – He is not the one who is baptized.

Summary – Question 13
Was Jesus Baptized with the Holy Spirit?

While some argue that Jesus Christ was baptized with the Holy Spirit after His baptism in water the Bible says nothing of the sort. Jesus is the baptizer – not the one who is baptized.

The experience that Jesus had at His baptism was symbolic of His entrance into His public ministry. At about thirty years of age, He was ceremonially washed with water and then anointed with the Spirit. This set Him apart to do the work for which He had been called to do.

This is the same way the Old Testament priests began their service. They had to be at least thirty years of age, they were ceremonially washed with water and then they were anointed with oil on their head. The picture that the Bible portrays of Jesus would have had an obvious meaning to any Jew who saw His baptism or read or heard the story. They would have known exactly what was meant.

We must also emphasize that there is no idea whatsoever that Jesus received the Holy Spirit at this moment. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and was given it “without measure.” Consequently there was no need for any further experience with the Holy Spirit. Thus, we should never assume that Jesus was “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. He was not.

Does the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Normally, but Not Necessarily, Occur at the Moment of Salvation? ← Prior Section
Is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit the Same Thing as Regeneration or Spiritual Rebirth? Next Section →
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