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John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

Before his ascension, Jesus recalled John's words, and told His followers that they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from then.

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence,

The purpose of the baptism was threefold:

1. To bring all the teaching of Jesus during his ministry to their remembrance.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

2. To guide them into all truth, so that what they preached would be the truth.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

3. To give them power to perform miracles to prove that what they spoke was from God.

Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?

The spectacular event on the day of Pentecost ten days later is the obvious fulfilment of Jesus’ words.

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

A similar spectacular event occurred when Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius.

Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?

Later Peter refers back to Pentecost, explaining that Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, had an experience similar to the Pentecost manifestation.

Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

Peter had to remember an event which happened several years before, clearly indicating that baptism with the Holy Spirit did not normally accompany conversion and baptism with water.

At the meeting of the apostles and elders to consider Gentile circumcision, Peter speaks of it again.

Acts 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us;

Peter makes clear that he classes the two events as being ‘baptised with the Holy Spirit’- The first at Pentecost and the second at the preaching to Cornelius.

Two conclusions can be reasonably deduced from the narrative:

1. Baptism with the Holy Spirit gave the recipients special powers.
2. Baptism with the Holy Spirit was not an event that normally happened when people believed and were baptised.

There is no passage of scripture that shows specifically that baptism with the Holy Spirit was the common experience of all baptised believers. Rather the reverse. The above conclusions are borne out by the experience of Philip with the Samaritans.

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.

From this narrative three further conclusions can be reasonably drawn.

1. The Samaritan converts were not ‘baptised with the Holy Spirit’ either before, during or after water baptism.

2. The Apostles Peter and John had to travel to Samaria, lay their hands on the Samaritans and pray for them before they received the Holy Spirit.

3. Philip who was not an apostle, although ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ and able to work miracles was unable to confer the Holy Spirit upon them.

In the first century, as Simon clearly sees, the Holy Spirit was normally given by the laying on of the Apostles’ hands and consisted of ‘gifts’ – special powers bestowed on individuals – all did receive the same gift.

Cornelius’ baptism with the Holy Spirit was a special ‘one off’ event that God used to make the point to Peter that the Gentiles were to be received in to the church. It was an event so singular that Peter could use it to convince the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem that the gentiles were to be accepted into the church.

The disciples of John the Baptist that Paul finds at Ephesus did not receive the Holy Spirit when they were baptised into Christ. They received it when Paul laid his hands on them.

Acts 19:1 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, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 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. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Similarly the Holy Spirit gift that Timothy had was by the laying on of Paul’s hands.

2Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

Paul’s desire to visit the Romans was that he might pass on to them some spiritual gift.

Romans 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

The laying on of the Apostles’ hands imparted individual gifts of the Spirit as Paul describes in his first letter to the Corinthians.

1Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

1 Corinthians 12:28  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Paul’s ‘more excellent way’ shows us that possession of Holy Spirit gifts will not save us if we do not LOVE.


Baptism of the Holy Spirit has only happened twice and neither baptism of the Holy Spirit or possession of Holy Spirit gifts is essential to salvation. Because Holy Spirit gifts could only be given by the laying on of the Apostles’ hands they are not available today (as is clear from all the evidence; notwithstanding false claims to the contrary).

I hope you have found this helpful.

God bless!