This paper will attempt to give biblical evidence to prove that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is:
1) a separate experience after salvation; 2) is always accompanied by speaking in other tongues; and 3) is available to every believer.
In order to appreciate the biblical evidence, one needs to understand the related historical and cultural background. Our Western culture is based on ancient Greek cultural abstract thinking. All our modern sciences are based on ancient Greek abstract logic. However, the Bible did not come from Greek culture, it came from Hebrew culture. All biblical writers were Hebrews or enculturated into Hebrew culture. The Greeks taught truth with abstract principles. The Hebrews taught truth by telling parables or historical events and allowed the student to derive truth from principles taken from the parable or historical event.
(1) the baptism in the Holy Spirit is always a separate experience from salvation,
(2) the baptism in the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by speaking in other tongues; and
(3) the baptism in the Holy Spirit is always available to every believer; are abstract statements based on Greek philosophical thinking. Because of their abstract nature, these three statements do not appear in the Bible, which comes out of Hebrew culture.
Instead the Bible, based on the Hebrew pattern of thinking gives us five and possibly six case examples and allows us to arrive at our understanding from the historical events.
The ancient Greeks were circular in their thinking around the cycle of nature (spring, summer, fall, and winter) and thus thought in terms of abstract statements. The Hebrews were linear in their thinking reaching toward a goal in history and thus thought in terms of historical events.
Now let us look at five and possibly six historical events recorded in the Book of Acts and arrive at a biblical understanding of the three propositions considered in this paper.
The first case example is found in Acts 2:1-4 and describes how the 120 in the upper room received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The disciples had already expressed their faith and trust in Jesus. In John 15:3, Jesus told the disciples that they were already clean through the Word he had given them. In Luke 10:20, Jesus told the disciples that their names were written in heaven (See John 1:35-50, John 13:10-11, and Matt. 16:16). In Acts 2:4, the Bible clearly states that the 120 spoke in other tongues.
Next, let us look at the second case example recorded in Acts 8:14-19. This passage describes how the Samaritans received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Philip would not have baptized the Samaritans in water if they had not believed in Jesus Christ. Acts only gives an abridged account of the Samaritans receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, does not actually say that they spoke in other tongues. However, Simon saw something happen to the Samaritans when Peter and John laid hands on them (Acts 8:18-19). Simon did not offer money to Philip, but he did offer money to Peter and John. The inference, which many non-Pentecostal evangelical scholars accept is that Simon saw the Samaritans speak in other tongues.
The third case example, found in Acts 9:17, describes Paul receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Three days earlier, Paul had accepted Jesus when he called Jesus His Lord (Acts 9:5). Prior to the arrival of Ananias, Paul had been praying to Jesus (Acts 9:11). Again the Bible only gives an abridged account of Paul receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Bible in that specific incidence does not specifically say that Paul spoke in tongues when Ananias laid hands on him. However, in I Corinthians 14:18, Paul says that he speaks in tongues more than the Corinthian Christians. Later (Acts 19:6) Paul could only have been prepared for what happened to the Ephesians because he had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the same way.
The fourth case example, found in Acts 10:44-46; 11:15, describes the household of Cornelius. To better understand the situation with Cornelius here is some historical background. For several centuries prior to Peter and Paul, the Jews had been scattered all over the world. There were two classes of Jews: Hebraic and Hellenistic (Acts 6:1). The Hebraic Jews in Jerusalem were extremely biased against Gentiles; Peter and the rest of the 12 were Hebraic Jews. The Hellenistic Jews lived away from Jerusalem elsewhere in the Roman Empire.
The Hellenistic Jews were much more open to Gentiles, invited Gentiles to their synagogues, and in some cases even intermarried (Acts 16:1). The Gentiles were attracted to Judaism for several reasons: (1) it was the only monotheistic religion of that time, (2) the very high moral standards of Judaism in contrast with temple prostitution and low moral standards in all other religions, and (3) only Judaism promised a coming Messiah or Deliverer, which was good news to a world in which half the people were slaves.
It is estimated that there were about two million Gentiles in various stages of conversion to Judaism during the time of the early church. In Acts, these Gentiles are called God-fearers. Most of Paul’s early converts were God-fearers. Many of these Gentile God-fearers had a faith or trust in the promised coming Jewish Messiah, even though they did not yet fully understand that Jesus was that Messiah.
Cornelius and his household were Gentile God-fearers (Acts 10:1-2). Even though Cornelius did not yet know that Jesus was the promised coming Jewish Messiah, there is every reason to believe that Cornelius had already expressed faith, like the Old Testament saints, in God and in His promised Messiah. Even if his faith in Jesus was not yet perfected, the seed of the Word was already present when Peter preached and Cornelius and his household immediately believed in Jesus and almost instantaneously were baptized with the Holy Spirit. It is a mute question as to how much time elapsed between the trust of Cornelius and his household in Jesus and their receiving the Holy Spirit baptism.
The Bible clearly states (Acts 10:44-46) that Cornelius and his household spoke in other tongues as they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The fifth case example, found in Acts 19:1-7, describes Christians in Ephesus. Paul in Acts 19:2 identified the Ephesians as already believers. Priscilla, Aquila, Apollos (Acts 18:19.24) or other Christians would not have baptized the Ephesians in water if they had not already believed in Jesus (Acts 19:3). Likewise, the Bible clearly states (Acts 19:6) that when Paul laid his hands on them, they spoke in other tongues.
Last, let us consider a possible sixth case example found in Acts 8:36-39. All the ancient manuscripts of the New Testament are divided into five families. One of the family of manuscripts states that when the eunuch came up out of the water, he was speaking in other tongues and prophesying. Horton quoting Hull from “The Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles, 48,” states, “One ancient Greek manuscript says the Spirit then fell on the eunuch, which certainly gave him another reason to go on his way rejoicing”(153).
Like Cornelius, the eunuch was a God-fearer, which is the reason he initially had gone to Jerusalem. Like Cornelius, he most likely already had a faith in the promised messiah or the seed, which had already been planted, fully opened up with the preaching of Philip. If the manuscripts in question can be traced back to when Luke wrote Acts, then we have a valid sixth case example.
In all case examples, the believers receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit had already accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah or Lord and Savior.
Thus the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace following the initial salvation of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In all case examples, the Bible directly states or infers that they spoke in other tongues. Thus we can accept the fact that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by speaking in other tongues.
Now let us consider the third part proposition stated at the beginning of this paper.
Is the baptism with the Holy Spirit available to every believer?
When Joel (2:28) predicts the Holy Spirit, he states that God will pour out His Spirit on all people. In Luke 11:13, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to all who would ask.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter clearly states in Acts 2:39, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” The ALL includes the most culturally or geographically remote people of the world.
In summary, based on the evidence of the Bible we can fully accept as valid and true the theological statement listed below:
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a separate experience following initial salvation.
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by speaking in other tongues
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is available to every believer.
© 2015 Otto Kaiser, Global University
Horton, Stanley M. 2005. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House.
Hull, J. H. E. 1967. The Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles. London, England: Lutterworth Press.