There are many false ideas floating around about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many today claim to have had it, and others are willing to believe these claims without demanding proof of such. This short work will examine the component parts of Holy Spirit baptism.
For a baptism to occur, there must be an administrator of it. Jesus Christ was the administrator of Holy Spirit baptism. John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11). Speaking to His apostles, Jesus said when He went away that He would send the Comforter unto them (John 16:7). Speaking to them shortly before His ascension into heaven, Jesus reiterated John’s statement. “For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). The Comforter of John 16 is the Holy Ghost of Acts 1, and Jesus did the sending/baptizing.
The next essential in baptism is the element in which it is performed. John baptized in the element of water (Matt. 3:11). This is the element in which one is baptized in order to become a Christian today (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:38). While Jesus commanded the apostles to preach this baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), He baptized them in the Holy Spirit (John 15:26; Acts 1:5).
This special baptism of the apostles was for the purpose of inspiration. The apostles were to be the teachers of the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). They did not have the New Testament in written form like we do today. So, in order to be able to teach the world, they needed direct inspiration. The two functions of inspiration were reminding and revealing. The Holy Spirit would, “bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). They needed a perfect recollection of all that Jesus had taught during His three years with them. But they also needed further instruction to complete all divine revelation: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). The perfect recollection of His teaching that they had already received, and the teaching they were not prepared to receive before Jesus’ death would be supplied via Holy Spirit baptism. It was this inspiration that produced the New Testament.
The only recipients of Holy Spirit baptism were the apostles of Christ. Acts 1:5 finds Jesus telling them that, “…ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost,” and Acts 2:1 shows that “ye” refers to “the apostles whom he had chosen.” Only the apostles were promised Holy Spirit baptism, and in Acts 2:4 we find the apostles, and the apostles only, receiving this baptism. The “they” of Acts 2:4 refers to the last word of Acts 1:26—the apostles. This shows conclusively that Holy Spirit baptism was confined to the apostles of Christ.
The accompanying manifestations of Holy Spirit baptism—direct revelation from God, speaking in languages they hadn’t studied, etc.—lasted unto the deaths of the apostles and those on whom they laid their hands to impart spiritual gifts. The apostles could pass on certain gifts, such as speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. An example of this is found in Acts 8. That chapter contains the account of Philip the evangelist who knew what to teach the Samaritans, even though he didn’t have the written New Testament from which to preach. He was also able to perform miracles to confirm what he preached. Therefore, he must have had an apostle’s hands laid on him to receive these gifts, but Philip couldn’t pass them on to others. That’s why he sent for Peter and John to come to Samaria to lay hands on the new converts and impart spiritual gifts to them (Acts 8:14-17).
However magnificent these manifestations were, they were to end at some point. First Corinthians 13:8-9 explains that prophecies and tongues would cease. Revelation was in parts in the apostolic era, but Paul said, “When that which is perfect (complete) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Partial revelation that came through miraculous gifts would cease when those parts were gathered into the perfect whole, and James 1:25 explains that the word of God is “the perfect law of liberty.” Holy Spirit baptism is unnecessary today because we have all that Jesus taught in the New Testament. Holy Spirit baptism accomplished its purpose and God allowed for spiritual gifts only so long as man needed them. With the completion of the written New Testament, we must study and follow its instructions to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim. 2:15).