To many I would be seen as a Reformed-Charismatic. However, I would rather be known as a Reformed-Non-Cessationist. The word "charismatic" includes too much baggage, in my opinion, and the world of charismania has been infested by heretics of all sorts, and the heart-breaking truth of it all, is that many (most?) charismatics do not even know about this infestation. I have written about this infestation here, and here.
Baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit
The Baptism and/or the infilling of the Holy Spirit is a very controversial subject in the church at large today. Those who do not believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a "second blessing" for the believing Christian (the have-nots), but that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the same, or happens at the same time, as the conversion experience, feels that those who believe in such a second experience (the haves), see themselves as superior Christians to the have-nots. I have to admit that this claim of the have-nots is based on some truth. Many, if not most, of the haves have said before that the churches of the have-nots are dead churches. On the other hand, the haves have claimed concerning the have-nots that they only have head knowledge with no personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, and that the have-nots are not making a difference in this world. This claim also has some truth to it concerning the have-nots. However, both of these claims are based on perceptions, and are not necessarily the truth about all those of the opposing camps. In my experience, based on these claims, when it comes to the genuinely saved in the two groups, I have to admit that the claim of the have-nots is easier to verify than the claim of the haves. On the side of the have-nots, there are great men of God with great ministries, such as John MacArthur, J. I. Packer, James R. White, and many more. These men have proven the opposite of what the haves have claimed. Then again, among the haves, there have been men who supposedly had great relationships with the Lord, who have brought great shame on the haves, such as Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker (who has repented from his sins and his theological errors), and other Word-of-Faith men who have misappropriated funds, and taught great heresy, etc. So, the point is, the claim by the haves concerning the have-nots is simply an over-stretched generalisation without looking at the facts, and the claim by the have-nots concerning the haves has proven to be false, since it has been shown that the haves are in no way superior to the have-nots.
1 Toward a better understanding of this "baptism"
1.1 Traditional Pentecostal understanding
In Pentecostal or Charismatic (from now on this will be known as "PC") circles they believe that their position can be supported by Scripture.
1.1.1 Disciples born-again before Pentecost
It is understood that the disciples of Jesus were born-again before the day of Pentecost, and so it is a second experience. It is believed generally that the disciples were born-again when Jesus breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit." (Jn 20:22)
1.1.2 Jesus commanded His disciples to wait for the promise
Even though the disciples were born-again before Pentecost, Jesus, nonetheless, told them to wait for the promise of the Father (Ac 1:4-5, 8), who then came on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2:1-4).
1.1.3 All Christians should ask for a baptism in the Holy Spirit
Christians should ask for this experience to emulate the experience of the early church. As a result, Christians will have more power for ministry.
1.1.4 Scripture supports the second experience
According to Pentecostalism and many Charismatics Scripture supports the idea of a second experience, which may be seen in Ac 2:1-4; Ac 8:14-17; Ac 10:44-46 and Ac 19:1-7.
1.2 The meaning of "baptism" in the Holy Spirit
This occurrence is mentioned only seven (7) times in the New Testament. In order to find out what it really means we need to look at the occurrences in the New Testament. Five (5) of these passages look into the future and two (2) look back at the event as something that happened in the past.
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. (Mt 3:11)
I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mk 1:8)
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 with fire. (Lk 3:16)
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.' (Jn 1:33)
for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (Ac 1:5)
And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' (Ac 11:16)
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 Cor 12:13)
The first six verses—apart from 1 Cor 12:13—use almost exactly the same wording in Greek.
Does 1 Cor 12:13 refer to the same event in the Christian's life as the other six verses, or to a separate event?
1.2.1 1 Cor 12:13: A Pentecostal explanation
The usual Pentecostal exposition of this verse tells us that
this is a baptism into Christ. Therefore, we are "putting on Christ." … We are not referring to baptism in water, for Jesus Christ is not water. The agent here is the Holy Spirit. The subject is the redeemed believer, baptized into the body of Christ.1
Wuest explains it as follows:
The word "Spirit" is in the instrumental case in Greek. Personal agency is expressed occasionally by the instrumental case. At such times the verb is always in the passive or middle voice. The Greek construction here follows this rule of Greek grammar. The personal agent in this case who does the baptizing is the Holy Spirit. He places or introduces the believing sinner into the Body of which the Lord Jesus is the living Head. We could translate, "By means of the personal agency of one Spirit, we all were placed in one body."2
Wuest, however, was not a Pentecostal, but the above scenario of how he treated the verse in question is exactly the way PCs would treat it. The only difference is that Wuest did not endeavour to prove what the Pentecostals would like this verse to say, or for that matter, the other verses on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
1.2.2 1 Cor 12:13: A non-Pentecostal explanation
Many English translations seem to make a distinction between the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Jesus and the baptism spoken of here by the Holy Spirit. Translations that translate this verse as "by one Spirit" would include the NASB, NIV, KJV, NKJV, HCSB and RSV. This certainly makes one think that the Holy Spirit is doing the baptising. Then there are translations that translate this as "in one Spirit" such as the ESV, NRSV and ASV.
Once again, the ESV translates this verse as follows:
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 Cor 12:13 ESV)
As an example of the Greek, I give the transliteration of a representative verse from the first six verses and then of 1 Cor 12:13. Follow the subscript bold numbers for the English word order.
|in2||spirit4||you will be baptised1||holy3|
1 Cor 12:13
The distinction made by some translations does not seem to be supported as shown above.
Apart from one small difference ([Paul] refers to "one Spirit" rather than "the Holy Spirit"), all the other elements are the same: the verb is baptizo, and the prepositional phrase contains the same words (en plus the dative noun pneumati). 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 the seventh occurrence. And no matter how we translate, it seems hard to deny that the original readers would have seen this phrase as referring to the same thing as the other six verses, because for them the words were the same.3
A similar construct is used in 1 Cor 10:2
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
1 Cor 10:2
In this passage, the cloud and the sea are the elements of the baptism of the Israelites—which was not a physical baptism—and Moses the location of the baptism. As in 1 Cor 12:13, this passage also uses εις (EIS - into - location) and εν (EN - in - element). Here, in 1 Cor 10:2, the element or elements are the cloud and the sea and the location is Moses (representing the life of the Mosaic law). In 1 Cor 12:13, the element is the Spirit and the location is the body; meaning, in the Spirit, we were baptized into the body of Christ.
Looking back then, to the word-for-word translation of 1 Cor 10:2, we can show 1 Cor 12:13 as follows:
1 Cor 12:13
The translation then looks something like this:
we were all baptised into one body in one Spirit.
As can be seen, the wording is very similar to that of 1 Cor 10:2, showing that the translation of "in one Spirit" is quite consistent with the other six verses of "Spirit baptism." We conclude then, that 1 Cor 12:13 refers to baptism in or with the Holy Spirit, just as the other six verses do, and therefore refers to the same event in the Christian's life.
1.2.3 What is the "baptism" in the Holy Spirit?
Since we have concluded that the concept of the "baptism" in or with the Holy Spirit has the same meaning and refers to the same event in all seven verses, we can proceed to what it means when this concept is discussed in the New Testament.
We know what happened externally to the disciples when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. Yet, what did it mean to them and the church? Let us briefly return to 1 Cor 12:13.
 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  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.  For the body does not consist of one member but of many. (1 Cor 12:12-14)
When Paul writes here to the Corinthians that they were all baptised in one Spirit, he also added what it meant to be baptised in the Spirit. By writing "we were all baptized into one body" he put the whole event in perspective. The "baptism" in the Holy Spirit is a "baptism" into the body of Christ. Verse 13 here is in the context of Paul writing concerning the body of Christ, that though there are many members—"baptized into one body"—there is only one body, the body of Christ.
Spirit baptism brings the believer into a vital union with Christ. To be baptized with the Holy Spirit means that Christ immerses us in the Spirit, thereby giving us a common life principle. This spiritual baptism is what connects us with all other believers in Christ and makes us part of Christ's own body. Baptism with the Spirit makes all believers one. It is a fact, not a feeling.4
Of the seven passages where Scripture mentions this "baptism," six of them—not 1 Cor 12:13—refer directly to what happened on the day of Pentecost in Ac 2:1-41. Let us then have a brief look at this passage.
Most, if not all of us, have read this passage in Acts 2. Most, if not all of us, have a certain idea of what happened here. After Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem and that they "will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Ac 1:5. See also Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33), the passage in Acts 2 tells us that
(2) And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. (3) And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Ac 2:2-4)
When this happened the response of those in the vicinity varied from total amazement to mocking the disciples that they were drunk with wine. It is at this point—the point of mockery—that Peter gets up to preach. First, Peter denies that the disciples are drunk, it being only about 9am. Second, he relates what happened to that which was prophesied by the prophet Joel in Joel 2:28-32. This passage starts with the words "and it shall come to pass afterward" which Peter reinterprets for us to give us the proper meaning of "and in the last days it shall be." The passage before this Joel passage—Joel 2:1-27—is an explanation to the nation what would happen if they return to the Lord and follow Him alone. It speaks of all the wonderful blessings that will come upon Israel if they simply follow the Lord. Then, the passage is put in perspective by the words Peter starts with as "in the last days it shall be." Joel has just been speaking of the last days when he elaborates on some of the more amazing events that would happen, such as the pouring of God's Spirit on all mankind, prophecy, dreams, visions, all by normal people, and also certain events in the sky. Peter tells his hearers that these amazing events they have read in Joel are what they have just witnessed. These are the last days. Third, the last verse Peter quotes from Joel is
"And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Ac 2:21; Joel 2:32)
Peter puts this whole event in its proper context. Salvation! The context is the same as in Joel. These events Peter quotes from are related to the salvation of God's people. The point of this passage is not the so-called Pentecostal experience, but rather the salvation of God's people!
What was the significance of the day of Pentecost then? It was the transition from the Old Testament work of the Holy Spirit to His New Testament work. The Old Testament work of the Holy Spirit was very limited in the lives of individuals. In the beginning of the gospels we find John the Baptist, the last of the Old Covenant prophets.
(11) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (12) From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (13) For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, (14) and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. (Mt 11:11-14)
John is then the first to spell out what would happen under the New Covenant experience of salvation when he said
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. (Mt 3:11)
John understood the Old Covenant working of the work of the Holy Spirit, but then prophesied of the New Covenant work of the Holy Spirit when Jesus would baptise the Church with the Holy Spirit.
Originally, Jesus is the example for us of the New Covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit at work. First, the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus Himself at His baptism by John (Mt 3:16-17). Second, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt 4:1). Third, when Jesus returns from the wilderness temptation, He starts preaching and performing miracles (Mt 4:17 ff; Lk 4:13-14).
The disciples, however, do not receive this full new covenant empowering for ministry until the Day of Pentecost, for Jesus tells them to wait in Jerusalem, and promises, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8). This was a transition in the lives of the disciples as well (see John 7:39; 14:17; 16:7; Acts 2:16). The promise of Joel that the Holy Spirit would come in new covenant fullness was fulfilled (Acts 2:16) as Jesus returned to heaven and then was given authority to pour out the Holy Spirit in new fullness and power (Acts 2:33).5
As a result the Holy Spirit empowered the believers in various ways. First, they received power to be effective witnesses in their ministry (Ac 1:8; Eph 4:8-13). Second, they received power over sin (Rom 6:11-14; 8:13-14; Gal 2:20; Phil 3:10). Third, they received power over the devil's attacks against believers (2 Cor 10:3-4; Eph 1:19-21; 6:10-18; 1 Jn 4:4).
So, the "baptism" with the Holy Spirit is an experience for every believer at conversion. It is not a second experience for the Christian to seek. Even though the disciples seemingly experienced this as a second experience, it was merely a transition for them from knowing the work of the Spirit in an Old Covenant context to that of the New Covenant.
2 Being "filled" with the Holy Spirit
When it comes to a second, or rather a subsequent, experience it would be more correct then to speak of being "filled" with the Holy Spirit. Even though it seems that being "baptised" and being "filled" with the Holy Spirit point to the same concept, we have already seen from the previous section—What is the "baptism" in the Holy Spirit?—that being "baptised" in the Holy Spirit does not point to a second experience after salvation, but to what happens at salvation itself. However, based on the Pentecostal claim that such a second experience exists and that such a subsequent experience can be seen in the book of Acts and in Eph 5:18, we need to have another look at this subsequent experience.
2.1 The Biblical examples
There are five examples of being "filled" with the Holy Spirit. They can be found in Acts 2:4; 4:31; 8:14-17; 10:44-48 and 19:2-6.
2.1.1 Acts 2:4
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Ac 2:4)
This is the initial infilling with the Holy Spirit. As we have said already, this was the beginning of the Holy Spirit's New Testament ministry. Everything before this was related to His Old Testament ministry. This event gave birth to the church with the result that "about three thousand souls" (Ac 2:41) were added at once. The day of Pentecost was unique since the Holy Spirit came as Jesus promised.
(16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (17) even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (Jn 14:16-17)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (Jn 14:26)
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (Jn 15:26)
(7) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: (9) concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; (10) concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; (11) concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (12) "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. (13) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (14) He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (15) All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (Jn 16:7-15)
Jesus promised His disciples that when He left, He, together with the Father, would send them the Holy Spirit. First, the Holy Spirit was to be a Helper to them forever. Second, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth for He "will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." Third, the Holy Spirit was said to "dwell with you and in you." It was only on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit indwelt them in the New Testament way. Until then He merely dwelt with them. Fourth, the Holy Spirit "will bear witness about" Christ. The Holy Spirit's primary function is to witness about Christ and to glorify Christ. That is why, when Jesus told the disciples "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Ac 1:8), the implications were not that we would speak in tongues or prophesy, but rather that the disciples would become effective ministers for Christ and that they would bear the name of Christ to the world. Last, the Holy Spirit came to "convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment."
Now that we have seen the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit, we can also see that on the day of Pentecost, all five points mentioned above became a reality. He was certainly their Helper to go from timid disciples to very bold disciples. He, as the Spirit of truth, did help them to remember all Jesus told them and they were able to preach a great sermon that day. His position concerning the disciples did change from dwelling with them to being in them. Through the disciples He also did bear witness to Christ. Finally, He also convicted those who heard the disciples to the point of asking "Brethren, what shall we do?" (Ac 2:37) This was the purpose of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, that "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses" all over the world. This was the day that the Holy Spirit empowered the church to be effective ministers in this world.
2.1.2 Acts 4:31
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. (Ac 4:31)
When we follow the events of this passage we find that John and Peter had just been released from prison with a warning not to preach in the name of Jesus any more. Peter and John replied that it was not "right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God." (Ac 4:19). Upon their return to the rest of their companions in Christ, they relayed this story to them and they all started praying to God to give them even more confidence to preach the gospel. After they had prayed the Holy Spirit filled them all with the result that they "began to speak the word of God with boldness."
Notice, that in this passage where "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit," no mention is made of tongues or any other spiritual gift whatsoever. Once again the Holy Spirit empowered the church to be effective ministers in this world.
2.1.3 Acts 8:14-17
(14) Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, (15) who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. (16) For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (17) Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (Ac 8:14-17)
Philip had preached to the people of Samaria and they received the word of God from Philip and believed. From this, Philip proceeded to baptise them in the name of Jesus. It was then that "the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God" and proceeded to send them Peter and John who "prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit." As in Ac 4:31, there is no mention of any spiritual gift as in Ac 2:4. Many claim there had to have been something like tongues or prophecy since "Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands." (Ac 8:18) The passage does not say what Simon saw. It simply mentions in passing that Simon saw that they were filled with the Holy Spirit when the apostles laid their hands on the people. To guess what he saw is to put words in God's mouth. It was not important to the Holy Spirit to tell us here what Simon saw, so it certainly is not important to us. To want to interpret this passage with anything more than what the Scriptures have given us is to simply perform eisegesis. They could just as well have become very bold preachers of the word at that very moment, which Simon could have seen. The Samaritans had always been outcasts to Jews. We can see that in Jesus' response to the Samaritan woman, telling her that Samaritans "worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews." (Jn 4:22) Could it be that God withheld the infilling of the Holy Spirit until the apostles could personally lay hands on them in order to ratify their inclusion in the church and thus the highest leadership in the Jerusalem church could acknowledge that Samaritans are also included in the church? Could it not also be that the Holy Spirit wanted the Samaritans—who did not recognise the Jewish temple in Jerusalem—to recognise the church in Jerusalem?
2.1.4 Acts 10:44-48
(44) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. (45) All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. (46) For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, (47) Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he? (48) And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. (Ac 10:44-48)
This is the finale of the story where the Holy Spirit told Cornelius, a man from Caesarea, that he needed to send for Peter. The Holy Spirit convinced Peter to go, and Peter ended preaching the gospel to Cornelius and his household. These were unsaved people. They were simply God-fearing, i.e. Jewish proselytes. They had never believed in Jesus before. There is no second experience here. At the point of salvation, which in all probability was a sovereign act—seen in the falling of the Holy Spirit on them while they were still listening, the Holy Spirit fell on them.
What really happened in this case with Cornelius and his household? The Jews have always seen Gentiles as excluded from God's blessings and salvation, even to the point of calling them dogs. When the Canaanite woman came to Jesus for help to deliver her demon-possessed daughter, Jesus told her "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." (Mt 15:26) This woman must have known the attitude of Jews toward the Gentiles, for she did not deny she was a dog in Jews' eyes, but simply stated "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." (Mt 15:27)
So, again, what was the point to the event at Cornelius' household? This event of the falling of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius' household was to show the "circumcised believers who came with Peter" that even the Gentiles have been accepted into the church. We can clearly see this from their response. They "were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." How did they know that the Holy Spirit fell on these Gentiles? They "were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God." The word "also" that ends verse 45 is very important. Why the "also?" In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit fell upon the Jews—apostles and other Jewish disciples—who then spoke in tongues. Now, the same thing happened to the Gentiles! How do we know that "also" refers to what the "circumcised believers" knew from Acts 2? Verse 46 starts with the word "for"—a conjunction to show reason, inference, explanation—which is there to explain what came before, hence the "also." What does the "also" refer to? They "were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God!" This event in the lives of Cornelius' household is not for us to think that we need to follow suit—although the Holy Spirit does empower us for ministry—for we need to see the point this passage makes. The Gentiles have also been included in the church!
2.1.5 Acts 19:2-6
(2) He said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said to him, No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit. (3) And he said, Into what then were you baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. (4) Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in 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 began speaking with tongues and prophesying. (Ac 19:2-6)
Here Paul encountered a group of "disciples" who had never heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul questioned them whether they did "receive the Holy Spirit when [they] believed." Paul's next question was to ascertain what "disciples" they were. "Into what then were you baptized?" Paul queried. This would be the same as asking "Who's disciples are you then?" They then responded that they were John the Baptist's disciples. "And they said, Into John's baptism." These disciples were still waiting for the coming Messiah, not having any New Testament faith or understanding. Paul then proceeded to explain to these disciples of the Baptist what the Baptist's ministry was all about, that he came to point to Jesus. It was at this time that they believed in Christ and were baptised "in the name of the Lord Jesus." After they were baptised Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them producing tongues and prophecy.
These "disciples" were Jews, having known and believed John the Baptist that the Messiah was on His way. Yet, they had not come to the point of actually meeting or hearing of the Messiah—Jesus—who actually came and died for His people.
But again, one may insist that a believer does not receive the Spirit except by the laying on of hands, quoting Acts 8:17 and 19:6. The act of laying on of hands always signifies identification. In the case of Acts 8:17, the Samaritans who did not recognize the temple at Jerusalem, needed to recognize the authority of the church at that place. Submission to the laying on of the apostles' hands thus healed the breach between those Samaritans and the Christian Jews, and identified the former with the Jerusalem church. In Acts 19:6 we have Jews coming over into a new dispensation and authority, and a similar situation holds true for them. We have no such conditions today, and therefore the laying on of hands is not needed for the reception of the Spirit.6
As we have seen, the evidence is strong that these "disciples" were not Christians at all, and that this event was an induction into the body of Christ. This whole event, with all its details, simply tells of the Ephesians' new birth into the body of Christ. The fact that they received the Holy Spirit is no telltale sign of a subsequent experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This passage describes one event.
When we look at verse 2, we find Paul asking them "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" Many PCs want us to believe that the word "when" should be translated "since" in order to create a two-stage experience for the Christian: salvation and a subsequent infilling of the Holy Spirit. In order to see whether this is so, we need to look at the Greek grammar. The phrase "when you believed" is an aorist active participle which could be translated "having believed" or even "after you believed." In order to find out whether the participle should be translated as subsequent action or contemporaneous action to the leading verb, we need to look at what the Greek grammar tells us.
Contemporaneous action relative to the main verb is ordinarily expressed by the present participle; but the aorist participle, when used with a main verb in the aorist, often expresses contemporaneous action. Subsequent action relative to the main verb may be expressed by the future or the present participle—more often by the future.7
What this is telling us is that if the participle in use is a present or future participle, then its action happens after the leading verb of the sentence. However, when the participle in use is an aorist participle and the leading verb is in the aorist, then the action of the participle is at the same time as the leading verb. So, taking the translation of the PCs as "Did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed?" or even "Did you receive the Holy Spirit after you believed?", the rules as stated above should be as follows: the participle in question—"since you believed"—must be a future or present participle. If we want to use the NASB translation of them "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" which shows contemporaneous action with the leading verb, then (1) the participle—"when you believed"—should be aorist and (2) the leading verb—"Did you receive"—should be aorist. Let us find out what is used in order to conclude our interpretation of this verse. The participial phrase "when you believed" is πιστευσαντες (PISTEUSANTES) in the Greek, which is an aorist participle. The leading verbial phrase "Did you receive" is ελαβετε (ELABETE) in the Greek, which is an aorist verb. So, what do we conclude from this short study in the Greek? When Paul asked these "disciples" "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" he did not have in mind an experience that is subsequent to salvation—something that could happen even years later—but had one experience in mind. For Paul, it was not salvation and some time later the infilling of the Holy Spirit. To Paul, one was filled with the Holy Spirit at salvation.
Greek authorities agree on the translation, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" Or it could be rendered, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit, having believed?" The tense of the participle and verb point to a simultaneous act. That is, the reception of the Holy Spirit occurs at the same instant as the act of believing in the Lord Jesus as Saviour. This is what the Greek grammar here teaches.8
2.2 What do we make of this?
There are no texts in the New Testament that encourage us to seek a second experience after salvation. Only one group was told to wait and that was the initial group of disciples and apostles. They waited specifically for the day of Pentecost. We are also not taught in the New Testament to find a group that speaks in tongues in order that they could teach us to speak in tongues.
|Passage||Sovereign act or |
Table 1: Examples of being "Spirit filled" in Acts
In only one of the examples above were they waiting for the Holy Spirit. That is in Acts 2. Then, they did not have a clue what was waiting for them. There was no teaching involved at all. In fact, nowhere in these examples were they taught to wait, taught or coaxed into speaking in tongues or have any other unusual experiences. In only two of the above examples were the laying of hands employed for the receiving of the Holy Spirit: Ac 8:14-17 and Ac 19:2-6. This is hardly enough to base a whole doctrine on. From our discussions above we also know that those two cases were special cases of induction. In the other three cases the Holy Spirit fell upon the people as a sovereign act. No one had to pray the Holy Spirit down in His "power."
Concerning tongues or other spiritual gifts at the infilling of the Holy Spirit, only three of the five cases in Acts present themselves with any gifts. Again, this is hardly enough to base a whole doctrine on. This only tells us that to assume the presence of tongues as the initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is presumption and not exegetical fact from the texts in question.
What about contemporary experience among PCs? We can go back to the five examples of the infilling of the Holy Spirit above and notice that there is only one example of a subsequent experience and that occurred in Ac 4:31. We will notice in the context of this passage that they were praying before "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit."
(29) And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, (30) while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. (Ac 4:29-30)
Notice that they did not pray "to be filled again with the Holy Spirit" but rather, they were praying that the Lord would give them boldness and that He would work wonders in the name of Jesus. Why were they praying this? Simple! They were praying this in order that the gospel would be preached and people would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! After they prayed this "evangelistic" prayer, the Holy Spirit fell on them and "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." This was a complete sovereign act of the Holy Spirit when He fell on them! He was not coaxed into it as can be seen in so many PC meetings today. A doctrine cannot be formed that says that we can ask for this experience, however, if a person's heart is right and his motivation is correct, then I do believe that the Holy Spirit can do this.
What then has happened to people who say they have experienced a "baptism in the Holy Spirit" that has brought great blessing to their lives? We must understand first what is commonly taught about the need to prepare for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Very often people will be taught that they should confess all known sins, repent of any remaining sins in their lives, trust Christ to forgive those sins, commit every area of their lives to the Lord's service, yield themselves fully to him, and believe that Christ is going to empower them in a new way and equip them with new gifts for ministry. Then after that preparation, they are encouraged to ask Jesus in prayer to baptize them in the Holy Spirit. But what does this preparation do? It is a guaranteed prescription for significant growth in the Christian life! Such confession, repentance, renewed commitment, and heightened faith and expectation, if they are genuine, can only bring positive results in a person's life. If any Christian is sincere in these steps of preparation to the receive baptism in the Holy Spirit, there will certainly be growth in sanctification and deeper fellowship with God. In addition to that, we may expect that at many of these times the Holy Spirit will graciously bring a measure of the additional fullness and empowering that sincere Christians are seeking, even though their theological understanding and vocabulary may be imperfect in the asking. If this happens they may well realize increased power for ministry and growth in spiritual gifts as well.9
2.3 Be filled with the Holy Spirit!
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, (Eph 5:18)
In many PC circles this verse is used to prove that we are commanded in Scripture—in fact have a Biblical mandate—to be filled with the Spirit. It is taught that since we are commanded that we be filled with the Holy Spirit it should be quite common sense that we should seek it and indeed wait for it.
However, to find out what this verse teaches we need again to look at the Greek grammar. The phrase in English "be filled" is πληρουσθε (PLHROUSQE) in the Greek. It is a passive imperative verb (command) in the present tense from πληροω (PLHROW), "to fill." According to Wuest, in the imperative mode the present tense always represents action going on.10 To us, this means that when Eph 5:18 tells us to "be filled with the Spirit" Paul is not telling us to every now and again get a "top-up" from the Holy Spirit. This is a command of continuous force. "Be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit!" It is a command to us to remain filled with the Holy Spirit.
So, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? In order for us to answer this question, we need to find out how πληροω (PLHROW)—to fill—is used in the New Testament. The word is used many times of the Old Testament Scriptures that were fulfilled in the New Testament. Then it is used of something physical that could be filled with something else that was physical such as filling a net with fish (Mt 13:48), filling a house with an odour (Jn 12:3) and a wind filling a house (Ac 2:2). Furthermore, it is used in a more metaphoric sense where "to fill" means to bring to an end a discourse (Lk 7:1), accomplishing something (Lk 9:31), the passing of a certain amount of years (Ac 7:30), the completion of events (Ac 19:21), supplying in need (Phil 4:19). The noun πληρης (PLHRHS) is used in the same manner.
Whenever πληροω (PLHROW) and πληρης (PLHRHS) are used in relation to something that cannot be touched—something without physical substance—such as the Spirit, faith, joy or sorrow, its usage and meaning is different to that of physical substances. In this way we are said to be filled with wisdom (Lk 2:40), joy (Jn 15:11; 16:24; Ac 2:28; 13:52; Rom 15:13; 2 Tim 1:4), sorrow (Jn 16:6), Satan (Ac 5:3), the Holy Spirit (Ac 13:52; Eph 5:18), all types of evil (Rom 1:29), peace (Rom 15:13), knowledge (Rom 15:14), comfort (2 Cor 7:4), fruits of righteousness (Phil 1:11), the knowledge of God's will (Col 1:9); a city could be filled with doctrine (Ac 5:28). When someone is filled with joy, sorrow, knowledge, wisdom or all kinds of evil they are controlled by it. We are not some type of receptacle that could be filled by some abstract concept such as joy or sorrow. When the Scriptures speak of being filled by these things, we are controlled by them. The same is true of being filled by Satan or the Holy Spirit. When one is filled by Satan, he is then possessed by him and controlled by him. When one is filled by the Holy Spirit, he is then possessed by him and controlled by him.
We must not think of the Holy Spirit filling our hearts as water fills a bottle, or air, a vacuum, or a bushel of oats, an empty basket. The heart of a Christian is not a receptacle to be emptied in order that the Holy Spirit might fill it. The Holy Spirit is not a substance to fill an empty receptacle. He is a Person to control another person, the believer. He does not fill a Christian's life with Himself, He controls that person.11
Thus, Eph 5:18 can be translated as follows:
And stop being intoxicated with wine, in which state of intoxication there is profligacy. But be constantly controlled by the Spirit.
Thus, we conclude on this matter that "being filled" with the Holy Spirit, is not to receive a top-up every once in a while, but to be constantly controlled by the Holy Spirit.
What would be the results of such control by the Holy Spirit? When we look at the first word—"speaking"—of the next verse (Eph 5:19), we find that the word is a present participle—see page 48 for a discussion on participles—which in this case will mean that the "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" will be contemporaneous or concurrent with being constantly controlled or being filled with the Spirit. It will be a direct result of being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Under the control of the Holy Spirit, it will mean that our lives will be in accord with Eph 5:19-6:9.
Being under the control of the Holy Spirit may mean that we could speak in tongues or even prophesy, but the Biblical data instruct us otherwise. When we are under His control, we become effective ministers of the gospel, not tongue speaking, chandelier swinging Pentecostals or Charismatics.
What concerns me about many PC interpretations of the baptism/infilling of the Holy Spirit is that in many cases it is completely experience based. They had some amazing experience, chalk it up as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then reinterpret Scripture to comply with their experience. It would be far better to look at Scripture, and then to reinterpret our experiences within the framework of Holy Scripture!
 Ness, Alex W. Ness, D.D., The Holy Spirit, Volume One, Christian Centre Publications, Ontario, Canada, First Printing, September 1979, p162.
 Wuest, Kenneth S., Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, Volume Three, Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament, Copyright renewed 1970, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reprinted January 1979, pp85-86.
 Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Theology, IVP, Leicester, England, 1994, p767.
 MacArthur, John F., Jr., Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992, p231.
 Grudem, p771.
 Wuest, p109.
 Vaughan, Curtis and Gideon, Virtus E., A Greek Grammar of the New Testament, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1979, p157.
 Wuest, Kenneth S., Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, Volume Three, Golden Nuggets from the Greek New Testament, 1973, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reprinted January 1979, p97..
 Grudem, p779.
 Wuest, Nuggets, p33.
 Wuest, Riches, p104.
 Wuest, Kenneth S., The New Testament: an Expanded Translation, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reprinted November 1981, p456.