Where Do We Find "Baptism in the Spirit"?

In order to develop an understanding of the doctrine of spirit baptism, we must explore the different contexts in which the event occurs or is alluded to within the context of the biblical record. There are seven passages in the New Testament where we see someone baptized in the Holy Spirit. Depending on the translation, we may read the dative preposition en (as in en pneumati) translated as ‘with’ or ‘in’ giving us the phrases ‘in the Spirit’ or ‘with the Spirit’. Both are grammatically acceptable and are used interchangeably in the discussions of this topic. The first quartet of verses finds John the Baptist speaking of the Lord and pointing forward to a time in which He will baptize people with the Holy Spirit:

    Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

    Mark 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

    Luke 3:16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

    John 1:33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

The next pair of verses refer directly to Pentecost.

    Acts 1:5 [Jesus says] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

    Acts 11:16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The final passage comes from Paul in his writings to the the Corinthians. There is an exegetical question about whether or not this refers to the same action as in the other verses.

    1 Corinthians 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body– whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free– and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

A cognate activity also found in Scripture is found in those verses which refer to being ‘filled with the Spirit.’ In the biblical context, those filled with the Holy Spirit exhibit the experiential elements of the filling as demonstrated in a supernatural enablement to witness for the Lord. In the Gospel of Luke, there are three verbal phrases and one of the noun cognate ‘full of the spirit’, the result of the action:

    Luke 1:15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

    Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

    Luke 1:67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

    Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,

In the Acts of the Apostles:

    Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

    Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!

    Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord– Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here– has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    Acts 13:9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said,

    Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Finally, there is a part of a well known passage in Ephesians:

    Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

As we explore this topic further, other passages will be introduced in which various groups find similar meaning. We will stop here for the time being as the next step is to explore the variety of views that are held on this topic, starting with the dominant evangelical position. Until then, be at peace.

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