Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit
First of all, John the Baptist spoke about this. He said, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mat 3:11; cf. Lk 3:16; Ac 11:15-16). John the Baptist also testified, "I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'" (Joh 1:33) John made a clear distinction here between water baptism and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
In Mark’s gospel, the two baptisms are even more clearly laid out as separate and distinct from each other. There we read of John the Baptist: “And he was preaching, and saying, ‘After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’" (Mar 1:7-8)
Some time after John made this statement, he baptized Jesus in water. Immediately afterward, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Him in bodily form. Later “John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.”'” (Joh 1:32-33). So the Father told John that Jesus is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.
Differences between the two baptisms
The word to baptize (Gr., baptizo) means to dip or immerse, to make whelmed, fully wet. It’s important to understand that it is not a sprinkling, but rather a dunking.
We should note that there are some similarities and differences between water baptism and Spirit baptism. Both baptisms are for believers, not for non-believers. They are both an immersion -- an action that makes the believer fully wet or whelmed. Yet the Holy Spirit baptism is distinctly different. Unlike water baptism, where the believer is immersed in water, now the believer is fully immersed or whelmed by the Holy Spirit. And this does not necessarily happen at the time of water baptism, as we will see.
In the case of the disciples, Jesus commanded them to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After he had risen from the dead and was about to ascend back up to heaven, He said to them, "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luk 24:49) Here he said that He would send what He called the promise of the Father. So whatever He was referring to was a definite promise from the Father, which Jesus Himself would send. You can be assured that this is not something God has forgotten about or that He takes lightly. God keeps His promises.
And Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this promise, until they were clothed with power from on high. When you receive the promised baptism with the Holy Spirit, you will be clothed with power. The word for power here is dunamis, which means a miraculous, mighty, and wonderful power from God. It’s where we get our English word for dynamite, which produces violent explosions. This power was so important that Jesus did not want the disciples to go anywhere without this. They needed to wait for it. And you also need to wait for the Lord to send the promise, so that you can be empowered for service.
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit
At the time that Jesus was baptized in water, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Here is the account of what happened: “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’" (Luk 3:21-22)
Immediately afterward, the Scripture tells us that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.” (Luk 4:1). This was the first time that Jesus was referred to as being full of the Holy Spirit. So it’s reasonable to say that from that point on, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. In fact, He testified of this Himself in the synagogue. He read the passage in Isaiah that says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” (Lk 4:18)
As Jesus said, the reason the Spirit of the Lord was on Him was to empower Him to preach the gospel to the poor, proclaim freedom for the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind and to set the oppressed free. And we know from his life and ministry that He did just that.
Power is the distinct evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit
There is distinct evidence when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit. You don’t need to wonder if it has happened to you, because the evidence is always power in your life. After all, this is what Jesus promised when He said, “You will be clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49b)
“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ (Act 1:4-5) So while they had been baptized in water already, Jesus said they would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And he explicitly said that this would be evidenced by power. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8). The power they would receive would enable them to be His witnesses throughout the world.
When they were baptized on Pentecost, here is what happened. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Act 2:4). They had power to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
But it wasn’t a single occurrence. They were filled again later. “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Act 4:31). When this happened, the evidence was once again power to speak the Word of God with boldness.
Then there were the people in Cornelius’ household. He was a righteous and God-fearing Gentile man, who had invited his close relatives and friends to his home to hear Peter preach the gospel. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.” (Act 10:44-46). As Peter recalled the incident, He said, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'" (Act 11:15-16). The gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on these people in the same way as it had been poured out on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. And the evidence was the same. They all spoke in tongues. And Peter said the Lord had referred to this experience as being baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Another example is when Paul first encountered the disciples in Ephesus. “He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John's baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in 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 Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.” (Act 19:2-7)
When Paul first found the Ephesian disciples, they had only been baptized into John’s baptism for repentance. He discovered this by asking them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Amazingly they did not even know there was a Holy Spirit. So after Paul told them they needed to be baptized into Jesus, they did so. And then when he laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them. The power of God was evidenced there just as it was elsewhere. They began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
The same power was displayed when Peter and John were in Samaria. “Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." (Act 8:17-19) Just as had happened elsewhere whenever disciples had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, so also there was evidence when the Samaritan disciples received this gift. That’s why Simon the sorcerer offered to pay money for this power. He was a magician who had supposedly given his life to Jesus. But when he saw and heard the powerful evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit that was given by the laying on of the disciples hands, he wanted this power also.
Scripture records that Peter rebuked him for this. But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! "You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." (Act 8:20-23). The gift of God cannot be bought with money, as Simon tried to do.
It is possible to be born again without being baptized in the Spirit
In this same passage, aside from the laying on of hands, and the evidence of supernatural power, I want to draw special attention to one other very important thing about the Samaritans who received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is the fact that they had already believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and been baptized by Philip, before Peter and John arrived. Luke recorded, “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.” (Act 8:12). It was after they believed and were baptized in water that Peter and John prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Act 8:14-16).
Many people claim that when we believe in Jesus, and are baptized in water, that the Holy Spirit falls on us at that time. We cannot put God in a box. While this does happen in some instances where a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit when they are baptized in water or even beforehand, it is rather exceptional. The point here is that the Samaritan believers had “simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and “the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen upon any of them.”
This is the same thing that happened in Ephesus, as I’ve already explained earlier. The Ephesians also received the Holy Spirit as a distinct and separate event that occurred subsequent to being baptized into Jesus Christ (Act 19:2-7). It proves that receiving the Word of God and being baptized into Christ does not necessarily mean you’ve received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
In fact, you might even be a preacher or teacher who has been instructed in the way of the Lord. You may be speaking and teaching fervently about the Lord. You may be mighty in the Scriptures without ever having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That was true of Apollos. “Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” (Act 18:24-26). My friend, please don’t assume you’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit simply because you have become a disciple and been baptized into Christ, or because you are an effective Bible teacher. You will know when you have been baptized in the Spirit, because the evidence of supernatural power will accompany it.
Purpose of the Power
So what’s the purpose of this power that we receive, when we are baptized in the Spirit? It’s so that we can be witnesses for the Lord Jesus. Jesus told His disciples “that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luk 24:47-48). It was immediately after this that He told them to stay in the city until they were first clothed with power. So the power is needed to be His witness.
Jesus went on to say, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8)
Being a witness for Jesus is not just a matter of talk but of power. Notice the way the believers prayed in the first church. They prayed, "’And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Act 4:29-31). As I mentioned earlier, Jesus said the same thing of Himself, after He was full of the Spirit, that He was anointed to preach, heal, and bring deliverance to those bound by Satan (Lk 4:18-19). He preached with authority and a demonstration of power. “And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, ‘What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.’" (Luk 4:36)
“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.” (Mat 4:23-24). Before you can be an effective witness for Jesus, you need to receive power from on high.
The outpouring is ongoing and for all mankind
On the day of Pentecost, Peter explained what was happening, when the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit. He said that this was a fulfillment of what Joel had prophesied that the Lord would pour out His Spirit. The Lord said that prophesying, dreams, visions, signs and wonders would accompany this outpouring (Ac 2:14-17). And He said the outpouring would be for all mankind, men, women, and children alike, not just a select few. It’s for every disciple of Christ.
At the home of Cornelius’, when the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, Peter explained again what was happening. As he retold the event to the elders in Jerusalem, he said, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” (Act 11:15-16). So Peter made a direct connection between what happened there and what Jesus meant when He said, “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Peter also said that what happened at Cornelius’ home was just like what happened on Pentecost. This proves that the outpouring would be ongoing, rather than a one-time event.
This ongoing outpouring for all mankind is in stark contrast to what happened under the Old Covenant. At that time certain people were filled with the Holy Spirit. But it was rather isolated and did not happen to everyone. For example, Elizabeth responded by crying out with a loud voice, when she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:42). Likewise, her husband, Zechariah responded by prophesying, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:67). And their son, John the Baptist responded by leaping for joy, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:41).
Everyone responds when filled with the Holy Spirit
Just as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John responded under the Old Covenant, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, everyone who receives this power responds. Peter responded with great boldness when filled with the Holy Spirit (Ac 4:8). Stephen responded by speaking fearlessly of his ability to see the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Ac 7:55). Paul responded by regaining his vision. Immediately it was as if scales fell from his eyes when he was filled the Holy Spirit (Ac 9:17-18).
Subsequent fillings with the Holy Spirit
There were subsequent fillings after the initial baptism with the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul taught the Ephesians, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18). He contrasted this filling with being drunk with wine. Just as a person can repeatedly be drunk with wine, we are to repeatedly be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not for the purpose of dissipation or wasting our lives, but so that we can build one another up by sing to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that we sing to one another, as we make melody in our heart to the Lord (Eph 5:19).
The Greek word in Ephesians 5:18 is a continual action “to be”. Literally it means continually “be being filled” with the Spirit. This is consistent with what happened with the early disciples. When they prayed together after they had been filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they were filled again. These were the same disciples who were previously baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Ac 2:4; Ac 4:23-24,31). Likewise, Paul was subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit and displayed power as well as boldness (Ac 13:9-11).
Given through the laying on of hands
One of the elementary teachings of the faith that the writer of Hebrews mentioned is the laying on of hands (Heb 6:1, 2). As I’ve mentioned previously, the Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands. We saw this when the Holy Spirit was given in Samaria (Ac 8:15-18) and Ephesus. “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” (Act 19:6). In the same way, healing and miracles happen when believers lay hands on the sick, just as Jesus and the first disciples did. (Mark 1:16-18). However, just as healing and miracles can happen without the laying on of hands, so can the baptism of the Holy Spirit happen without it. In fact, sometimes people are baptized with the Holy Spirit when there is no one else present with them.
It's a gift
If you are a disciple of Christ, you shouldn't feel that God will give this gift to others and withhold it from you. A gift is free, and that means you cannot earn it. Jesus taught us to ask for it. He said, "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luk 11:9-13). Jesus explicitly said that the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. So go ahead and ask. Then expect to receive!
Putting it All Together
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands. The distinct evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is power. The power we receive from the Holy Spirit is to be witnesses.
It is possible to be born again without being baptized in the Spirit. Under the Old Covenant, certain people were filled with the Holy Spirit, but it was rather rare and isolated and not common or widespread.
On Pentecost Day, Peter explained that this was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy where the Lord promised to pour out His Spirit on all mankind in the last days. Peter also explained that the experience at Cornelius’ home was a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to baptize in the Holy Spirit.
There are certainly subsequent fillings with the Holy Spirit after receiving the initial baptism. It's meant to be a continuous lifestyle, rather than a single event in your life.
So if you are a disciple of Christ, who has never been baptized with the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to ask the Lord for this gift. He promises to give this good gift to those who ask.
And if you have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but it's been a long time since then, and you need a refill, I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to fill you once again. Take the time to wait upon the Lord to send you a fresh outpouring of His Spirit.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation, used by permission.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog at Home, such as Holy Fire Baptism, Anointed by the Spirit, The Gift of Speaking in Tongues, The New Wine, Led by the Spirit, Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference?, Fruit in Every Season, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit, and Supernatural Power for All Disciples. I also recommend Restored Truth. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.