Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit Scriptural and for Today?


The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a topic of much debate. Some denominations believe it is biblical and for today, others say it was a one time historic event on the day of Pentecost and that it died with the apostles. So, let’s take a look at the passages in the Bible that mention this event in any way and see what they say. Maybe we can figure it out for ourselves straight from the Word of God.

As we look at these Scriptures we will see that this term, “baptism in the Holy Spirit” is accurate to the Bible since the New Testament writers used it.

1. Y’shua was baptized in (with) the Holy Spirit; it rested UPON Him. Y’shua, Himself, would one day baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Matthew 3:11, 16-17

11) 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.                                                    
16) After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,                                                                                
17) and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

Mark 1:8-11

8) "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Luke 3:16; 21-22

16) John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.                         
21) Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,                                                         
22) 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."

John 1:29-34

29) The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!                                                         
30) "This is He on behalf of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'                                              
31) "I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to
Israel, I came baptizing in water."                                                                         
32) John testified saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.                                                          
33) "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.'                                                     
34) "I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God."

2. Y’shua worked through the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:1-2

1) The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,                                                                                               
2) until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.

3. Y’shua commanded the disciples to wait until they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit before leaving Jerusalem.

Acts 1:3-8

3) To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.                                                   
4) 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;
5) for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."                                                                               
6) So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to
7) He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;                                                                   
8) but you will receive power (dunamis) 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."

4. They would receive power (dunamis) when the Holy Spirit came UPON them.

Acts 1:8

8) 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."

Dunamis (Greek) = almost always points to new and higher forces that have entered and are working in this lower world of ours. We get our word “dynamite” from this word.

5. The disciples were already “saved” when they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit

John 2o:19-20

19) So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, " Peace be with you."                         
20) And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Salvation wasn’t available until Y’shua died and rose again. So, the first people (logically) to receive salvation would be the men who walked and lived with Y’shua for the last three years; his disciples. Y’shua had told them the Holy Spirit would be IN them in John 14:16-17:

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that may be  with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be IN you.

6. At the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) the Holy Spirit came UPON all who were in the upper room; they spoke with other tongues and tongues of fire rested UPON each of them.

Acts 2:1-4

1) When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place 
2) And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting
3) And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.  
4)And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

7. Yahweh cleverly had them wait until the Feast of Shavuot when representatives of every tribe would be in Jerusalem for the feast day and could take news of this event back to their homes and towns.

Acts 2:5-12

5) Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.
6) And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.
7) They were amazed and astonished, saying, " Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8) "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?
9) "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10) Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11) Cretans and Arabs — we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God."
12) And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

8. These visitors were astonished to hear these (generally uneducated) Galileans speaking in the various languages

 Acts 2:7-8

7) They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8) "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?

9. Some thought they were drunk.

Acts 2:13

13) But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine."

How many people do you know who can fluently speak a language they’ve never learned just because they were drunk?

In John 7:38-39 we clearly see the picture of what has happened here at Pentecost (the Feast of Shavout).

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

One impartation of the Holy Spirit was given at Y’shua’s resurrection for salvation (John 20:19-22) when He breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. Another impartation, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t come until He was glorified, which every Bible scholar acknowledges to be His return to heaven. We see this picture through the old adage that we are justified by faith, sanctified by walking it out and glorified when we are promoted to eternal life. This pattern of salvation and the IN-dwelling of the Holy Spirit followed by the anointing UPON of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is seen in several places throughout Acts, as we will see.

10. Peter stands up and begins to preach. The last few times we saw Peter in Scripture he was either denying the Messiah or he was hiding for fear of the Jews.

John 18:25-27

25) Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, "You are not also one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it, and said, "I am not."
26) One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" 
27) Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.

John 20:19

19) So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, " Peace be with you."

11. Something has happened to transform Peter!

Acts 2:22-23

22) "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — 
23) this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

Acts 2:41

41) So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

Peter is now speaking in front of over 3,000 people and tells the people “YOU nailed to a cross (the Messiah) through the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” SOME-THING happened to transform Peter, for to say this was a stoning offense in the eyes of the Jews.

12. Peter tells the “men of Israel” who are listening:

”Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”

What happened was apparent to all who witnessed it.

13. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the same as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The baptism is UPON. The indwelling is within, and is the seal of your salvation.

“In Him, (Messiah) you also, after listening to the message of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Y’shua the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

You don’t baptize someone who doesn’t believe that Y’shua is Messiah! Notice that Peter uses a conjunction: and, meaning in addition to this, you shall receive the Holy Spirit. This is a picture we will see again and again: that the IN-dwelling mark of salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, this outpouring anointing UPON are two separate things.

14. There is NO EXPIRATION date upon the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It has not “passed away.”

“For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” Acts 2:39

Is God still calling people to Himself? Is He still saving people today? Then the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, what Peter is referring to have just happened in Acts 2 is still available today, to “all who are far off” from the day of Peter’s speech.

15. There are only two places in Acts where we are not told specifically that tongues are the outward manifestation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The first one is found in

Acts 4:31

41) So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

But, in this passage we ARE told that they spoke the word of God with boldness, an apparent change.

16. The second place is in Acts 8 and is a very interesting story, as it tells us several things. Simon the sorcerer astonished everyone with his magic arts in Samaria. Philip begins preaching the gospel and many believed, so Philip baptized them, including Simon the sorcerer who was constantly amazed at the miracles of God taking place.

Acts 8:8-13

17. “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 Y’shua.

Again, you don’t baptize people who don’t believe in the Messiah. They had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the pledge of their being “born again” and were baptized as an outward sign of their belief. But they did not “receive the Holy Spirit” until Peter and John came down and prayed for them to do so. These were two separate instances!

How do we know this might have something to do with the outpouring of power Messiah talked about in Acts 1 and was seen in Acts 2? Because of the next few verses:

”Then they (Peter and John) began laying their hands on them, (the Samaritans) 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.”

Whatever happened when the apostles’ laid their hands upon the Samaritans and they received the Holy Spirit had to be tangibly visible for Simon the (former) sorcerer to want to purchase the power for something he’d not been formerly able to do through magic.

18. In Acts 10 (please read the entire chapter) Peter is told by God to go to the house of a gentile and preach the gospel to them. This was a first. God circumvents the normal order of events and baptized the gentiles in the Holy Spirit upon the belief in their hearts and BEFORE they’ve been baptized in water!! This is a circumstance that Peter quickly reconciles by having them baptized in water for their belief in the Messiah. I believe Yahweh did it this way to make sure that nothing interfered with His plan to include the gentiles.

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell UPON all those listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, ‘Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?’ And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Y’shua the Messiah.” Acts 10:44-48

19. Peter is “called on the carpet” by the council in Jerusalem over this event. To which Peter responds:

”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 shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If God therefore gave to them THE SAME GIFT as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Y’shua the Messiah, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:15-17

20. In the last instance of this event in Acts, we also see that these two events, salvation with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the baptism in the Holy Spirit are separate. They can happen simultaneously, but one does not immediately denote the other.

Acts 19:1-6                                                                                                
1)“…Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples, and  
2) 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.’
3) And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’
4) And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is in Y’shua. 
5) And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of Y’shua the Messiah.
6) And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came ON them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.”

21. 1 Corinthians 12:1 tells us that we are not to be ignorant about spiritual gifts, explains that they work by the Holy Spirit, are under His control and exactly what they are.

Please read 1 Corinthians 12:1-12

22. 1 Corinthians 14 will be looked at next but before doing so it’s interesting to note that sandwiched in between these two chapters is the chapter on love, telling us that it doesn’t matter what you do if you do it without love then it will be no more than “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” It also tells us that the gifts will cease when the perfect comes. There’s only one “perfect” thing or person: the kingdom of God and God, Himself, who in human form is Y’shua. So, “when the perfect comes” refers to the return of Messiah to earth which will also bring His perfect kingdom to earth with no more sin, no more war, no more death.

23. 1 Corinthians 14 is the “order of service” chapter and gives us great insight on how things are supposed to work instead of the chaotic ways of the believers at Corinth.

1) we are to earnestly desire spiritual gifts and especially that we may prophesy
2)when speaking in tongues we speak to God. Is there anything wrong with speaking to God?
3) one who prophesies speaks to men for edification, exhortation, consolation   
4) one who speaks in tongues edified himself   Is there anything wrong with edifying yourself by speaking to God? Prophesy edifies the church 
5) Paul wishes we ALL spoke in tongues but even more that we would prophesy greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, UNLESS he interprets, so the church may receive EDIFYING.

If 1+3 = 4 and 2+2 =4, then they add up to the same thing, don’t they? SO, if prophesy = edification, and tongues + interpretation = edification, THEN THEY ARE THE SAME THING! As we will see later in this chapter, they have two specific but different functions.     

6-13) Paul talks to the Corinthians about their habits of excess and chaos and why what they are doing is incorrect.
14) Paul tells us that if he prays in tongues, his spirit prays but his mind is “unfruitful.” This is a VERY important piece of information! Comparing Scripture with Scripture, we can see why.

Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 10 that the battlefield of satan is OUR MIND!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
4) for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
5) We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

So if our mind is “unfruitful” when we pray in tongues, SATAN CANNOT INTEFERE!! Have you ever been trying to pray and everything begins to bombard your mind? “Oh! I forgot to put that on the grocery list!” “Oh! I can’t forget to take Johnny to the doctor on Tuesday; did I write that down?” etc. With tongues, satan CANNOT interfere so HE CANNOT STOP the prayers God wants prayed!!

“And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.Romans 8:26-27

No WONDER satan has fought people knowing about and walking in this!! He doesn’t want to be defeated!

So, comparing this and verses1-5, we can see that you can pray in tongues to edify yourself, to speak to God, to let the Holy Spirit pray through you according to the will of God, to combat the enemy’s plans to stop your prayers. In this instance you can see how the term “prayer language” came to be coined. But there is also the issue of tongues and interpretation = edification just like prophesy does. These are two separate functions of tongues. One is private, one is for corporate worship.

15) Paul tells us that he will sing and pray in both tongues and his known language “his understanding.”
16-17) Paul talks about not abusing tongues and using it like the known language since it is not and doesn’t function the same.
18) Paul was thankful he spoke in tongues more than all the “out of control” Corinthians.
19) but in corporate worship, he would choose to speak in the known language
20) Be mature
21) quotes Isaiah 28:11 about tongues
22) tells us the function of tongues and prophesy: tongues are a sign for unbelievers; prophesy is a sign for believers.

The best example of this I’ve ever heard was the story of a retired U.S. Ambassador to the (old) Soviet Union. He was not a believer, but upon retirement visited friends who were and went to church with them. During the service, someone got up and gave a message in tongues and sat down. Another person got up and gave the interpretation. While driving home, the couple asked the ambassador how he’d liked the service. He said, “Fine, but I don’t understand something. Why did one man get up and say something in fluent Russian and another man get up and say the exact same thing in English?” They were able to show him this passage of Scripture, and that man became a believer that very night! GOD knew he was there and HE controlled the message given, the tongue in which it was spoken and the interpretation to bring that ambassador to salvation. Remember, tongues and interpretation = prophesy. One is used for unbelievers, but for believers, God doesn’t have to do this; they’ll just accept what He says in their own language.

23) again addresses the Corinthian chaos and previous misuse of tongues in corporate worhip
24-25) remember that prophesy = tongues and interpretation. Here Paul is reminding them what happens when someone comes face to face with the reality of God through the corporate assembly.
26-30) tell us how the corporate assembly is to function and the order it is to use
31-33) tells us that everyone can speak in the known language to exhort one another and that the established prophets are to keep an eye on the newer prophets (“the spirit of the prophets are subject to the control of the prophets”) and that God is not a God of confusion.
34-36) is again about order and not having chaos. In Judaism, out of which   most of the believers had come, the men were trained in the Torah (“law”), the women were not. So Paul is telling the women who are now joint heirs (I Peter 3:7) to ask their husbands questions at home if they don’t understand something and to NOT break up the move of God in corporate assembly just because they don’t understand something.
37-38) emphasizes that what Paul has written is not his opinion but the commandment of God and not to recognize someone who doesn’t recognize that.
39) Therefore my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy (tongues + interpretation), and DO NOT FORBID TO SPEAK IN TONGUES.  
40) everything is to be done properly and orderly

As we can see from these passages in the New Testament, tongues did not pass away nor will they until people are no longer saved; tongues are for private use and for corporate worship; we are not to forbid someone from speaking in tongues unless we blatantly disobey what God had Paul write in his divinely inspired letter.

If Y’shua had the baptism in the Holy Spirit and He was GOD in the flesh, how much more do you think we mere humans need it? If Y’shua didn’t send the disciples out until they had it; why do we think we are exempt from the power He said we’d need to do His work? You can do it without it, but I promise you that it will be easier and much more exciting to do it WITH the Holy Spirit, the way God designed and instructed us.