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The Baptism With The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts

There are a number of phrases used in Acts for the experience of the believer having a dynamic personal encounter with the Holy Spirit, each synonymous with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. What is the word or phrase used concerning this encounter with the Holy Spirit in:

1:5     9:17     2:4     10:44     2:38     11:16     8:15     19:6     8:16

In these nine references there are five passages where people experience Holy Spirit baptism. Each one is different, however there are some similarities you will notice as you study the events.

In Acts 2:14, what were the supernatural experiences of those in the Upper Room?

What did they hear in verse 2?

What did they see in verse 3?

Who was "filled" in verse 4?

What did they do as a result of being filled?

In Acts 8:1419 the apostles Peter and John went to Samaria "that they might receive the Holy Spirit," verse 15. What happened in verse 17?

What supernatural sign accompanied the Samaritans when they received the Holy Spirit in this passage?

Why did Simon want to buy the apostles power?

Behind the Scenes

Simon the Magus or "the magician" in Acts 8 was converted to Christ after he had held Samaria under his power as a local shaman. As Philip comes on the scene the power of God is demonstrated to be much greater than Simons ability to bewitch the people. Simon converts to Christ and is baptized in water. However, his attempt to buy Holy Spirit power is thoroughly rejected by Peter, who understands the impure motive of Simons heart. Many believe Simon left for Cyprus and is found again in Acts 13:68 as he is attempting to beguile Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of the island. Later tradition places Simon as a constant adversary to Peter in his ministry. Finally, history records elsewhere that Simon plunged to his death while attempting to impress Roman leaders with his ability to fly. Tradition has it that he failed as a result of Peters prayers.

In Acts 9:1718, Paul is "filled with the Holy Spirit." What miracle happened in verse 18?

In Acts 10:4448 the first Gentiles came to faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit "fell upon all those who heard the word," (v. 44). Which of the Gentiles had the Holy Spirit fall upon them?

What was "poured out" on the Gentiles in verse 45?

What was the miracle evidence in verse 46?

Why did the Jews present recommend water baptism in verse 47?

In Acts 19:17 the Ephesians received Pauls ministry and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (v. 5). What did Paul do in verse 6?

What miracle sign occurred in verse 6?

How did Paul know they had received the Holy Spirit?

In these five events, three include the miracle manifestation of tongues. This is the only manifestation that occurs more than one time as a result of Holy Spirit baptism. The two events where tongues are not recorded at the time of Holy Spirit baptism have interesting circumstances concerning them. First, in Samaria (Acts 8) there was an obvious miracle sign which caused Simon Magus to desire to purchase this power. What was the sign? We are not told. Could it have been tongues? Second, in Pauls experience with being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9), tongues are not mentioned. However, read 1 Corinthians 14:18. Does Paul speak with tongues?

The Necessity of Unity

What shall we conclude from our study of these passages? Tongues is recorded as happening on most of the occasions. The absence of the mention of tongues in Samaria and Pauls initial experience do not guarantee they were not present. However, neither can it be proved beyond doubt that they were.

Many Pentecostal and charismatic groups hold to the doctrine of tongues as the "initial evidence" of Holy Spirit baptism. There is ample reason to believe that tongues were so normal in the early church that the absence of reference to them may have simply been because Luke presumed them to be present.

On the other hand, many charismatic and non-charismatic believers reject the notion that tongues is always the initial evidence of Holy Spirit baptism. They insist that there are other miracle manifestations which may occur "initially" to demonstrate Holy Spirit baptismsuch as healing in Pauls case in Acts 9, or some other miracle that may have occurred in Acts 8 at Samaria.

The tragedy is that this doctrine should be used to divide the church. Those who speak with tongues they have proof. Those who do not, they are made to feel incomplete in their Christian experience as a result. Without an airtight witness of Scripture on the subject it is best we always remain charitable with each, remembering Jesus prayer in John 17.

Look up the following verses on the topic of unity. Write down what they say and how that could apply to the controversy of "initial evidence."

Psalm 133:1                                             1 Corinthians 1:10

2 Corinthians 13:11                                   Ephesians 4:3

Ephesians 4:13                                         Philippians 1:27

Colossians 2:2                                          1 Peter 3:8

Kingdom Extra

Being "of one accord" is a dominant trait of New Testament leadership. Whenever the early church leaders gathered in Jerusalem, it is said they were in unity and harmony, with each other and with God (2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 15:25). Their agreement was spiritual and practical, not only theological, for they shared their lives and possessions. Acts 2:4247 gives a description of New Testament leadership: meeting together, studying together, sharing their material possessions (2:45; 4:3237; 6:1). They met often to pray, revealing not only relationship with each other but their total reliance on God (2:42; 4:31; 12:5; 13:3).


Faith Alive

What has your experience with the baptism with the Holy Spirit been?

What do you think of the topic of tongues as "initial evidence"?

Has it ever been a challenge between you and other believers?

How do you think that believers can enter into unity and agreement on this topic?


Bible Study Adapted from:

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT Heavenly Resources for Praise and Intercession by Jack W. Hayford with Rebecca Bauer. THOMAS NELSON PUBLISHERS Copyright 1996 by Jack W. Hayford

Barrenshe Church of God
209 Barrenshe Creek Road
Freeburn, KY 41528