Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-47)
Welcome to Lesson 5 of your Bible Study of Acts.
In this lesson, we will study Acts 2:1-47 and focus on what is commonly known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This event was of obvious importance for the early church in the Book of Acts and it is important for us to understand something about its nature.
At the same time, this event continues to generate controversy within the Christian community today. Should modern Christians seek to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
In this study, we will try to answer the following questions:
- What is the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”?
- At what point did the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” take place?
- How did the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit occur in the book of Acts?
- Is the “baptism of the Spirit” still valid for today’s church and Christian experience?
What is the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”?
Read Mat 3:11; Mark 1:8 and Luke 3:16. Next read Acts 1:5 and 11:16.
- How are the verses in the gospel related to the verses in the book of Acts?
We should first note that the phrase “baptism of the Holy Spirit” does not occur in the book of Acts.
Rather, the phrase is derived by the prediction that John made about Jesus (“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Mat 3:11, Mark 1:8 and Luke 3:16)) and the fulfillment of that promise in Acts as both Jesus and Peter express it (Acts 1:5 and 11:16).
Read Acts 2:4; 8:17; 10:44-45; 11:15; 19:6, which describe this “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
The book of Acts describes the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” by saying that the disciples were “filled with the Holy Spirit” (see Acts 2:4).
- Based on the verses that describe the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”, what other phrases are used to describe this experience?
- What do all the phrases combined communicate about the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”?
- What appears to be the purpose of this “baptism”?
At what point does the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” take place?
- Read the surrounding context of the above verses again. At what point in a person’s salvation does the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” take place? Is it before or after someone’s salvation or simultaneous with salvation? In this case we are talking about the disciples of Jesus, the Samaritans, Cornelius and John’s disciples in Ephesus.
- Why do you suppose this “baptism” occurred in different phases for different people / groups?
What were some of the manifestations during / after the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts?
The baptism of the Holy Spirit took place on four separate occasions in the Book of Acts: 1) at Pentecost (Acts 2); in Samaria (Acts 8); 3) at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10); 4) in Ephesus (Acts 19).
Study these events closely, especially the verses that deal precisely with what was occurring when the Holy Spirit was “falling upon” or “filling” people:
- What were some of the manifestations during / after the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”?
- How were these “baptisms” similar to each other and how were they different?
Is the “baptism of the Spirit” still valid for today’s church and Christian experience?
The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements (begun in 1906 and 1960, respectively) have made the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” an essential part of their doctrine and Christian practice.
- What is your experience with the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”?
- Is this something that Christians should desire today? Why or why not? Is there anything in the Book of Acts or other parts of the New Testament that would be helpful in this regard (perhaps 1 Cor 12:7-10; 14:1-6)?
- If this experience is valid today, why do most Christian not appropriate the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” for their spiritual lives?
- How would your faith be different if you were baptized by the Holy Spirit in the same way as those early church disciples were?