Baptism with the Holy Spirit



4. Many Christians affirm that the baptism with Holy Spirit is received when one is born again, while some others affirm that it is received after the new birth: who is right?



It is the latter who are right, for according to the Scripture the baptism with the Holy Spirit is received after one has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are various biblical examples confirming this. The first example is that of the apostles of the Lord, who were already believers (and thus they were already born again) when they were baptized on the day of Pentecost. This is what we deduce from these words that Jesus said to the Father on the night He was betrayed: “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them” (John 17:7-10). Therefore, the disciples of Jesus were already born of God prior to the day of Pentecost, on which they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, for they had believed that Jesus was the Christ sent by God into the world. Is it not written “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1)? It is true that between the arrest of Jesus and His first appearance to them the disciples had a period of confusion (for instance, Peter denied the Lord three times), and that when Jesus rose again they at first did not believe He was risen (for when the women told them that they had seen Jesus and He had spoken to them they believed not and their words seemed to them as idle tales - Luke 24:8-11), but it is also true that when Jesus appeared to them they believed He was risen: Thomas who was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them, when Jesus appeared to him too believed in Him. By the way, as for the appearances of Jesus to His disciples, I would like you to notice that when Jesus appeared to them He said to them: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22), which is very important for it confirms that the disciples even before the day of Pentecost had the Spirit, or rather they had a measure of the Spirit, thus they belonged to Christ for the Scripture says that if anyone does not have the Spirit of God he does not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9). As I have just said, the disciples even before the day of Pentecost had a certain measure of the Holy Spirit; what then happened on the day of Pentecost when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit? Well, it came to pass that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and because of that filling up they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). Therefore, speaking with other tongues was the outward sign attesting that they had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Another biblical example attesting the difference between the new birth and the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is that of the believers of Samaria. They believed the Good News preached to them by Philip and were baptized in water (Acts 8:12). However, since Philip did not have the gift of laying hands on believers that they might receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, those believers were only baptized in water. But when the apostles who were in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them to pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. And this is what happened, for the apostles went there and laid their hands on those believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. Someone might say to me that in this case it is not written that those believers began to speak with other tongues. Well, it is true that it is not written, however those believers began to speak with other tongues, for it is written that Simon, who had believed in the Gospel as the others, “saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given” (Acts 8:18). How did Simon realize that those believers had received the Holy Spirit? Obviously, because he saw and heard them speaking with other tongues.

The other biblical example is that of the about twelve disciples at Ephesus. Here is what Luke wrote: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve” (Acts 19:1-7). As you can see, those men Paul met at Ephesus were disciples of the Lord Jesus, thus they had believed in the Lord, but they had not yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit, in that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul laid his hands upon them that they might receive Him, and as in the other cases we saw before, the baptism with the Holy Spirit (or the filling up with the Holy Spirit) was accompanied by speaking with other tongues.