Message # 40 | 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 | April 2, 2017


According to the Pew Research Center, over a quarter of Christianity consists of Pentecostals and Charismatics.[1] Let me briefly make a distinction between Pentecostals and Charismatics. Pentecostals believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is always manifested by speaking in tongues. The obvious conclusion one could then draw is that if you have not spoken in tongues you have not been baptized in the Spirit. Slightly different are the Charismatics. Charismatics don’t believe that the manifestation of Spirit baptism must be the gift of tongues. It may be some other gift. Tongues is just one of the many potential manifestations of the Spirit. At conversion, a new believer is given accessibility to all the spiritual gifts and those different gifts may manifest the presence of the Spirit at different times.

We do note that the scripture in John 4 defines ‘true worshippers’, indicating there would be worshippers (but not ‘true’ ones) whose worship is not accepted by God because their prayers are not in the Spirit . . . [not in the] new tongues He gives. . . . We are always to . . . exalt the name of Jesus Christ . . . and there is no way to do this, but by telling others of the pattern of salvation as written in God’s Word, reading and obeying that Word, and worshipping God by praying in the new, heaven-given tongues poured out on His people when they are saved by His grace.[2]

With that said, and in an oversimplified manner, nearly a quarter of the Christian world thinks you should be speaking in tongues. Consider that about half of “Christianity” is Catholic, according to the same research, which means that Charismatics and Pentecostals make up a large percentage of Evangelicalism today. With that large of a group thinking we should have tongues present as evidence of our spirit baptism, it is worth taking a moment to look a little more in depth at this concept of baptism.

The promise of the Spirit

Old Testament. While the Holy Spirit was present throughout the history of the Old Testament, his presence was different than in the time of the New Testament. He would come upon people for a specific empowerment or task. For instance, God tells Moses to gather the seventy elders of Israel so that he can take some of the Spirit that was on Moses and put it on them. They would then help bear the burden of the people along with Moses (Num 11:16-17). We are told that the Spirit “departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him” (1 Sam 16:14).

Moses longed for a day that the “LORD would put his spirit upon them” all of God’s people (Num 11:29). This was as well prophesied of by different Old Testament prophets.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26–27 ESV).

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. . . . 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Joel 2:28–32 ESV).

The Gospels. Fourteen hundred years pass. Moses’ longing that all the people of God would have the Spirit seems like a lost dream. Six hundred years more go by since Joel and Ezekiel declared that a day would come when the Spirit would come upon all the people of God. Then, seemingly, out of nowhere, a strange prophetic man, by the name of John the Baptist, proclaims a similar message. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11 ESV).[3]

The immediate context of Matthew 3 seems to indicate that all people will be baptized by Jesus Christ. That baptism will either involve the Spirit or it will involve fire. The baptism of fire is one of destruction. John says that Christ will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. But, the baptism of the Spirit is one of life.

The fulfillment of the promise

Acts of the Apostles. Jesus’ earthly ministry comes and nearly goes before he ever mentions this baptism with the Holy Spirit. Following his resurrection, while he is preparing his disciples for his departure, he promises them that “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5 ESV).[4]

“Not many days from now” was Pentecost. The day of Pentecost was a significant day of transition from the way the Holy Spirit worked in the Old Testament to the way he works presently. This transition was not a moment in time though. As we go through Acts, we see that this transition comes in a couple of stages. He clearly baptizes all the believers in Jerusalem in Acts 2. Peter as well clearly articulates that this is the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Joel. And yet, as we continue through Acts we find other potential instances of similar experiences. For instance, in chapter 8, “the apostles at Jerusalem hear that Samaria had received the word of God” (Acts 8:14 ESV) and they send Peter and John to check it out. When they arrive they pray that they will receive the Holy Spirit “for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:16–17 ESV).  It is noteworthy that the disciples expected that these new believers would have received the Holy Spirit.

There has been much discussion as to why these believers had not yet received the Holy Spirit. The Pentecostals believe that this sets precedence for the normative experience of all believers, that being that someone believes and at a later time is baptized with the Spirit. It is more likely that during this transitional time from the Spirit’s working in the Old Testament to the New Testament that it was done in phases. This multiphase transition of the Holy Spirit allowed the Jews to observe that the Spirit had come upon the Samaritans, a group of people they would have struggled believing would be included in the people of God.

A better understanding of this event would be that God, in his providence, sovereignly waited to give the new covenant empowering of the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans directly through the hands of the apostles (Acts 8: 14-17) so that it might be evident to the highest leadership in the Jerusalem church that the Samaritans were not second-class citizens but full members of the church.[5]

There is as well a similar experience in Acts 10 (and Peter’s retelling of the event in Acts 11). In this case, Jews marvel that Gentiles believe in Christ, receive the Holy Spirit, and are empowered to speak in tongues. It is in chapter 11 that Peter has to remind the other disciples that this gift was as well given to the Gentiles.

If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:17–18 ESV).

Following the two exceptions in Acts 2 and 8 where people had already believed and then apparently were baptized in the Spirit, all the other occasions of Spirit baptism are immediately connected to someone’s conversion (Acts 19:2-7).

Paul in Corinthians. And it is with that chronology that we are led to Paul’s discussion of Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians. While there were a couple of occasions in Acts where believers had not yet received the Spirit, the other passages in Acts couple the baptism of the Spirit with the conversion experience. This doctrinal reality is more clearly articulated by Paul. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor12:13 ESV). All were made to drink of one Spirit. All were baptized into one body. This leaves no room for some believers having been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ and others still waiting for their baptism. This is similar to Paul’s teaching in Romans. “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9 ESV). Therefore, every believer has the Spirit and has been baptized into one body, that being the body of Christ – or the church.

The Pentecostals have determined that the baptism in Acts is distinct from that of 1 Corinthians. They draw this conclusion from the difference in wording from the other passages and the statement in 1 Corinthians. In the other passages, it is Christ who baptizes, whereas in 1 Corinthians (in some translations) it appears that it is by the Holy Spirit.

ESV For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body

NET For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body

KJV 1900 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body

NASB95 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body

NLT  we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit

NIV For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body

The reality is that the Greek expression in 1 Corinthians is almost identical to the occurrences in the Gospels and Acts. It seems most appropriate to translate it the same way as those other passages. It is likely that some have translated differently because the passage would then say that we were baptized in one Spirit in one body.

If we translate this same Greek expression “baptize in the Holy Spirit” (or “baptize with the Holy Spirit”) in the other six New Testament occurrences where we find it, then it seems only proper that we translate it in the same way in this seventh occurrence.[6]

There is no persuasive or linguistic reason to interpret the baptism in 1 Corinthians as distinct from the baptism in Acts. They are the same. Every person who comes to accept Christ is, at that moment, baptized with the Spirit into the body of Christ.

Pentecostal View of Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Let me cautiously outline for you the Pentecostal perspective. R. A. Torrey offers a helpful look into their biblical logic. He believed that there was a clear distinction between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the conversion experience. He went to Acts 1:5 for his evidence. Jesus promises the disciples that they will be “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Torrey writes,  “It is clear then that the disciples had not as yet been baptized with the Holy Ghost, that they were to be thus baptized not many days hence. But the men to whom Jesus spoke these words were already regenerate men.”[7]

In  a generalized and potentially over simplified manner, the Pentecostals (and Charismatics) follow the logic below.

The disciples were born again prior to Pentecost.

Jesus commanded the disciples to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).

They waited for 10 days and on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they began to speak in tongues.

Therefore, they were already believers when they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

This pattern was seen multiple times in Acts (8:12-17; 19:1-6).

In each case the manifestation of the Spirit was the individual speaking in tongues.

Luke purposefully followed this pattern so that we would know that this pattern was set for us as well.

Like the disciples, believers today should ask Jesus for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. [Note, that the disciples never actually asked for the Holy Spirit.]

There are a few issues worth noting at this point. First, and not most pressing, is that this conclusion results in division within the church. While Pentecostals are not likely, purposefully setting up two tiers of Christians, the reality is that they do. There are Christians who have come to Christ but have not yet been baptized in the Spirit. There are ordinary Christians and Spirit-baptized Christians. While they may not intend to divide, distinguishing Christians by whether or not they have been “baptized in the Holy Spirit” inherently leads to division.

Secondly, they fail to see the transitional work of the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament to the New Testament as unique to the ongoing work of the Spirit following the time of Pentecost. Luke outlines, in detail, this transition, not to establish a norm for the rest of Christian history but instead an accurate documentation of the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.

Thirdly, there is a distinction between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Distinction between baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit

Spirit Baptism occurs once, is never commanded, and is not experiential. As we consider the idea of baptism, there is always the baptizer, the one being baptized, the element in which one is baptized, and the purpose or identification of the baptism. For instance, John the Baptist baptized his disciples in water and they were identified with repentance. In the Gospels, John the Baptists speaks of another, future baptism. The baptizer is Jesus Christ. The convert or believer is the one being baptized and they are baptized with the element of the Holy Spirit. The rest of the Gospels don’t inform us of their identification or purpose. It’s not until 1 Corinthians that we fully understand the identification and purpose. Believers are baptized into the body of Christ.

Therefore, Christ is the baptizer. The believer is the one being baptized. The Holy Spirit is the element of baptism, and the believer is being baptized into the body of Christ. They are identifying with Christ.

In contrast, spirit filling can happen often, is commanded, and is experiential. For instance, Peter was filled many times with the Spirit. For Peter his baptism and initial filling occurred simultaneously in Acts. But he was once again filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:8 & 31. As a result of this filling he spoke boldly to the religious leaders.

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31 ESV).

As well, Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18).

The filling of the Spirit always produced an experience. We read of this time and again in the Gospels, Acts, or the Pauline epistles.

they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31 ESV).

they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit . . . And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:5, 8 ESV).

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. . . . he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. (Acts 11:21–24 ESV).

Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him [Elymas the magician] and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? (Acts 13:7–10 ESV).

The results of the filling of the Spirit mentioned in Ephesians is similar. The filling of the Spirit resulted in worship, godly living, submission, obedience, and thankfulness.

Baptism then is positional, filling is practical. Baptism grants the power, filling turns it on. Nowhere in the New Testament is a Christian told to be baptized. I want to remind you that he’s already in the body. That he’s already possessing the Holy Spirit and he ought to act like it. And filled simply means total control, total yieldedness to the resident power of the Spirit. That means no sin unconfessed. No self will. It’s yielding to the Holy Spirit.[8]


You don’t need to seek a Spirit-baptism as a post-regeneration experience, Paul is saying to the Corinthians and to us; if you are in Christ, you have already been baptized with the Spirit![9]

We have yet to discuss or draw any conclusions as to the presence of the supernatural spiritual gifts in the life of the church. We will shortly discuss those, but for now, we must still passionately pursue and desire the supernatural work of the Spirit in our lives individually and in the life of our church corporately. Let us not fail to embrace the divine power and work that He desires for this church. It is the Spirit that equips us to accomplish the supernatural works that God desires of us.

The Spirit has come into the life of the church and works in a significantly better and more present manner than he did in the lives of Old Testament saints. Acts 1:8 tells us that, due to his presence with us, we have more effective ministry and witness. We have the power to be victorious over the influences of sin in our lives. We possess the power to defeat Satan and overcome the philosophy of the world. We possess spiritual gifts that enable and equip us to accomplish great tasks within and without the church family.




[1] Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (December 19, 2011,), Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population, p. 67. Accessed March 31, 2017.

[2] “The Evidence of the Holy Ghost Baptism is Speaking in Tongues.” (Christian Assemblies International, n.d.) Accessed March 31, 2017.

[3] I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:8 ESV). John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16 ESV). I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:33 ESV).

[4] [As Peter is reporting back to the church, he is asked about his dealings in chapter 10. He then refers back to the statement made by Jesus in the gospels.] And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ (Acts 11:16 ESV).

[5] Grudem, Wayne A.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 773-774.

[6] Grudem, Wayne A.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine,  767.

[7] Torrey, R. A. (Reuben Archer). The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit (Kindle Locations 1968-1972). Kindle Edition.

[8] John MacArthur, “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Part 1,” Grace To You, n.d.,

[9] Anthony A. Hoekema, Saved by Grace (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 49.

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