THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF
THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES
Messiah's First Advent and the New Priestly Body
Galatians 4:4 tells us that when the fullness of the time
came, God sent forth His Son. The sending forth of the Son as the promised
Messiah reaches out not only to the nation of Israel, but also to the whole
world just as Simeon proclaimed shortly after the birth of Jesus (LK. 2:29-32).
Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart In peace,
according to Thy word; For my eyes have seen Thy salvation,
Which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Thy people Israel.
It is thus God's plan, through the work of the Messiah,
not only to
provide redemption for the human race, but also to create
from Jew and Gentile, one new body, reconciled to each other and to God,
as the agent to promote His truth in the world until the times of the Gentiles
are fulfilled (Ephesians 2:13-19; Romans 11:25-27).
In order to accomplish an orderly change from the old
priestly body (Israel) to the new priestly body (the church) there existed
a transition period between 30 and 70 AD; the time between God's spiritual
rejection of the nation and His physical rejection of the nation. During
this transition period there will occur on numerous occasions the sign
of the gift of languages, that will announce to Israel that not only has
she been temporarily rejected by God, but that she will also be physically
destroyed as a nation, and that God will replace her with a new nation
that will produce the fruit of His kingdom.
During this transition period, the new body (nation) will
be under construction, being built with the JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS of
Christ as the corner stone (Isaiah 28:17), and upon the foundation of the
apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:4-10). The mechanics for
building this new body is the baptism of the Holy Spirit which takes the
believer and so uniquely "identifies" (baptizes) him with Christ
that he is actually positionally placed into union with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:13
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one
whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free,
and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
"For through Him (Christ) we both (Jew and Gentile)
have our access in (or by) one Spirit to the Father."
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free,
there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Because of this, it was necessary to have a "formal"
manifestation of the Spirit for the four groups of
people involved. And it was necessary that the sign
of the new priestly body be given in each context in order to clearly demonstrate
to Israel that God was making a change. The sign is
not directly "tied in" with the giving of the Spirit, but occurs
only to make the connection between the rejection
of the old priestly body (Israel) and the establishment of the new priestly
body (the church).
The FIRST GROUP is comprised of those of Israel, who had
personally and collectively identified with Jesus as the Messiah Savior.
This occurred at the feast of Pentecost in 30 AD as the direct fulfillment
of the many prophecies that had been given by John the Baptizer and by
Jesus. In association with this fulfillment of the promise, there occurred
the sign of tongues for the nation to demonstrate that God was now making
some changes in how He would administer His Truth throughout the world (ie, a new priestly body).
We find therefore, at Acts 2:1-21, the initial fulfillment
of the sign of the gift of tongues. That is, the proclamation of Divine
blessing and cursing to the Jewish nation by the use of REAL Gentile languages.
1. Verses 2:1-21, The initial baptism of the Holy Spirit.
2. Verses 2:22-41, Peter's first message
3. Verses 2:42-47 Local church activity on a daily basis
Verses 2:1-21 The Jewish Pentecost
1. Day of Pentecost: ten days after the ascension of Christ
A. Sunday: day of resurrection during the feast of firstfruits
Leviticus 23:11, 1st day after the sabbath
B. Pentecost: 50 days after the feast of
C. Resurrection ministry is 40 days long (Acts 1:3), therefore,
Pentecost is 10 days after the ascension.
2. See Topic: Jewish feasts
3. all together in one place: the group of Acts 1:14-15
= 120 people.
A. probably a house near the temple. Luke 24:53; cf. Acts
B. Verse 2 indicates the whole house, so not the upper
But possibly the same house.
4. This fulfills the instructions of Christ at Acts 1:4.
1. and suddenly: aphnō (adverb) means, unexpectedly,
2. there came: aorist active indicative indicates a specific
point of time when something occurred.
3. out from heaven: (ek ouranos) Probably best to interpret
this as out from the sky.
4. a noise: āchos, here indicates an audible
manifestation of His presence
A. violent: biaios means very strong and powerful.
B. Rushing: phero is a present middle participle used as an adjective.
C. pnoā: wind
5. filled the whole house: plāroo (aorist
A. everyone in the house was aware of the sound
B. Verse 6, the sound (probably from the āchos rather than
C. When the people arrive on the scene, then they hear the languages.
1. and there appeared: horao (aorist passive indicative)
indicates a visible manifestation
2. tongues as of fire: a flame-like appearance
Fire speaks of Divine justice in two areas, blessing and
cursing, which is what was prophesied by Isaiah at Isaiah 28:12-13.
3. Being distributed to them: diameridzomai (present passive
participle, plural to refer to the tongues of fire). The passive voice
indicates that this was a personal administration by the Holy Spirit.
4. and it rested on each one of them: kathidzo (aorist
active indicative) as a 3rd person singular indicates one flame manifestation
per believer (upon each one of them).
1. and they were all filled: pleroo (aorist passive indicative)
indicates the same point of time and refers to the initial filling/control
of the Spirit which results from His indwelling.
2. pas - all of them: pas = the "all" of verse
1 and the 120 of V. 1:15.
3. and they began to speak:
A. archomai as an aorist middle indicative, indicates
they probably spoke one at a time which would be reasonable in view of
1 Cor. 14:27.
B. to speak: laleo as a present active infinitive = and
they began to be speaking.
C. They, refers to the group not EVERYONE in the group.
If each one of the 120 possessed this gift, it would SEEM to violate 1
4. just as the Spirit was giving them utterance:
A. didomi as an imperfect active indicative indicates
that the Holy Spirit was doing this over a period of time and not all in
one point of time. It was enough of course, so that each member of the
Jewish nation who was present, heard what it was necessary for him to hear.
B. ability: apophteggomai (present middle infinitive)
= ability to speak.
C. not everyone was speaking in a tongue but only those
who received that spiritual gift at this time. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
It included the apostles as the apostleship gift included that function
as 1 Corinthians 14:18 indicates.
5. The noise of the coming of the Holy Spirit attracted
a large crowd who gathered outside the house. These
are the ones who heard the message of tongues as a fulfillment of Isaiah
1. Jews living in Jerusalem: katoikeo (present active
participle) is used to indicate dwelling both permanent and temporary for
the feast day.
2. devout men: eulabes is a word of religious devotion.
it indicates they are dedicated to their faith or religion, which in this
case is the apostate Judaistic system which for decades had distorted the
doctrine of the Messianic promise while still giving lip service to the
Messianic scriptures, and which Jesus so thoroughly condemned (Matthew
These are not believers at this time.
3. from every nation under heaven: many different languages
Verse 6 The sound attracts the people
1. The sound occurred: this is not the languages being
spoken, but the noise from the arrival of the Spirit described at verse
2. The people gathered to the area.
3. And then they were bewildered when they heard the specific
languages being spoken: sugcheo (aorist passive indicative) means confused.
This is the initial reaction, then follows amazement (verse 7).
4. Because: explains the confusion.
5. They were hearing, akouo (imperfect active indicative).
They were hearing in the same way that the languages were being spoken
- off and on during the time period, as the Spirit was controlling the
6. own language: dialektos refers to a dialect and the
ones spoken are listed in verses 9-11.
1. amazed: exzistemi (imperfect middle indicative) means
to stand out from ones senses or logic. (they were BEING amazed).
This is the mental attitude of amazement based on two things:
A. The ones who were speaking were uneducated Galileans.
B. The content of the message: The wonderful deeds of God.
2. and marveled: verbal expression of the attitude - thaumadzo
(imperfect middle indicative).
3. saying: ouk idou indicates a rhetorical question -
Check this out - aren't these guys all Galileans?
The Galileans were generally uneducated who speak a course and unrefined
4. our own language: A very clear indication that we are
talking about REAL Gentile languages. How can this be from uneducated men?
This and verses 9-11 represent the basic reaction, not
what each person was saying.
Also, it is important to note the identification of the dialects as languages
(tongues) in verse 11.
The languages represented may not be a complete list, but are clearly referring
to the GENTILE languages used in the geographical areas mentioned.
1. The megaleion of God: plural neuter refers to magnificent
things. The basic message of Isaiah 28:12-13 which is peace and rest through
trust in Divine design.
2. There is no mention of interpretation. It is probably
not an issue OR Peter's message may well serve as the official interpretation
given in Aramaic or more likely, the Koinae Greek.
3. Since so many languages were being spoken one right
after the other, it gave the impression to ones who were not listening
to the information in their own language that the people were drunk.
Verse 12, Positive response
1. And they were all being amazed: existemi (imperfect
active indicative). The word means to stand outside of your senses. It
indicates that what was going on "shocked" their senses and defied
the logic of their own standards and frame of reference.
2. And greatly confused: diaporeo (imperfect active indicative).
The content of the message they heard was information
that did not correlate with their frame of reference. They do not know
what it means.
3. What does this mean? They recognized it as unusual
and unique but did not see the significance. However, they were "positive"
to the content they heard and wanted answers as to what it all meant.
Peter's message will correlate it with the Messianic promises
of the Old Testament and with Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of those
Verse 13, Negative response
1. But others, continually mocking: The present active
participle of diachleuadzo, indicates that they were continually mocking
while it was all going on.
They ignore the information revealed in their languages
and rationalize the rest as drunkenness.
2. Were saying: lego as an imperfect active indicative
indicates that they just kept on mocking and accusing them of being drunk.
The point is, that they did not say this just one time, but continued to
badger and accuse the participants.
Verses 14-21 Peter's explanation
1. Taking his stand: authority is demonstrated by standing
in front of everyone.
2. Raised his voice and declared: continues the air of authority.
3. Let this be known to you: gnōstos- the characteristic of
understanding. This is a plea to volition in perception. If they do not
"listen" they will not perceive.
4. And give heed: enōtidzomai (only here)
indicates volition in acceptance. Once the information is perceived, it
requires a volitional response.
5. my words: hrāma emphasizes the spoken word
and refers to the content of his message.
Verse 15 the logical answer to the claim of drunkenness.
Verses 16-21 Comparison to the kingdom promise of the
Verse 16 But this is:
1. Is: present indicative of eimi. Eimi is the verb of
"being" or "status." Sometimes it is used to dramatically
2. An example of this is found at 1 Corinthians 11:24-25.
In reference to the bread, "this IS my body, which is broken for you."
In spite of the claim of Romanists to the contrary, the bread of the communion
is NOT the literal body of Jesus, but simply "represents" or
symbolizes His body which is sacrificed for the sin of the world. Similarly
with the wine, which "IS the new covenant in My blood." However,
the wine is not "literally" His blood, but simply symbolizes
the spiritual sacrifice of His soul "as a guilt offering," (Isaiah
And of course, Jesus used the "is" in the same
way when He instituted the communion service at Mat. 26:26-28.
3. With this in view, we should allow the context to determine
whether the Joel passage IS what happens on this historical occasion,
or if it is simply symbolized, portrayed or exemplified by the phenomenon that occurred here.
4. The passage quoted is from Joel 2:28-32 and does not
refer to the period of time in question, but looks
to the 2nd advent and the beginning of the Millennium.
4. But this is like what was spoken by the prophet Joel.
5. The key to Joel's passage is at verse 28, "after
this" which refers to the events of verses 18ff.
1. and it shall be: future indicative of eimi
2. In the last days: technical term referring to the time
period known as Daniel's 70th week, but with special focus here, on AFTER
the Day of the Lord arrives. It corresponds to "after this" in
3. That I will pour forth my Spirit: special
indwelling of the Holy Spirit on believers of the kingdom.
4. on all flesh: suggested from this passage that this
is universal on all believers in the kingdom.
A. cf. all OT passages on the same subject: only 8 times
Isaiah 32.15; 44.3; 59.21; Ezekiel 36.27; 37.14; 39.29; Joel
2.28-29; Zechariah 12.10
B. All of these passages indicate two primary things.
1. The Holy Spirit is given at the 2nd advent of Christ.
2. The ones who receive the Spirit are Jewish believers
in the Kingdom only.
3. Possible exception at Joel: "upon all flesh, "but
the context even here indicates restriction to Israel. All flesh then would
mean all of Israel now dwelling in the land as believers in the Messiah.
C. The coming of the Spirit on this Day of Pentecost in
30 AD, is not on "all flesh" or even on "all Israel,"
but restricted only to the 120 believers in Jerusalem.
D. Later, it is extended to all believers based on Romans
8:9 and 1 Corinthians 12:13, but never on "all flesh," as Joel
indicates will happen in the Kingdom.
5. Your sons and daughters: prophateuō, future
A. young men:
B. old men:
C. verse 18 - bondslaves: doulos
D. female servants - doulā
E. This all refers to the universal proclamation of Divine wisdom throughout the entire land of Israel so that
everyone will be taught of God in Palestine and all Israel will be instrumental in teaching the world.
Isaiah 2.2-3;11.9-10; 56:6-8; 60:3, 11-14; Jeremiah 3:17; 31:31-34; Zechariah
6. In those days: the days after the arrival of the Day
of the LORD.
Specifically, after Jesus sets up His kingdom on the earth.
1. Now the quote backs up to the period of time just before
the arrival of the Messiah.
The signs of Christ's coming - Joel 2:30-31
A. wonders in the sky: teras - supernatural (unusual)
Luke 21:11, 25; Revelation 6:12-13;
B. signs on the earth: sāmeion - prophesied
signs that point to a specific thing. Luke 21:25; Romans 16:21;
C. blood, fire, columns of smoke: Revelation
6:12-17; 8:6-13; 9:1-11; 9:12-18
Seems to be describing the results of meteorites landing on the earth.
Could also be describing activity during the tribulation period
2. sun turned into darkness: Mt. 24:29;
3. Moon into blood: color effect from the sun's light
But this is not "total" darkness as will occur after Jesus descends
to the Mount of Olives just before Armageddon. Zechariah 14:6-7
4. before: before Christ returns.
5. the great and glorious day of the Lord:
In this context, the Day of the Lord refers to the arrival
of Christ in the clouds to pour out His just wrath upon the unbelieving
6. and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord:
A. all: pas, invitation given to all. But the all in the
context of Joel, refers to the members of the nation.
B. who shall call: epikaleo - aorist middle subjunctive
call upon for assistance. This is an attitude of total dependence
on the object of faith. In this context it is spiritual assistance.
C. name: character, reputation and work - in other words,
The Plan of God for salvation.
D. However, in application, ANYONE who trusts in Christ
at that time will be delivered.
7. Shall be saved: sodzō - future passive
The issue in Joel is physical deliverance from the tribulation
judgments at Christ's return. Joel 2:32; Is. 59:20
There are two perspectives to this deliverance.
A. Those who "call upon the Lord" prior to His
return at the Day of the
LORD, will be delivered from God's wrath by being raptured out from the
earth at that time.
B. Those who "call upon the Lord" after Jesus
arrives, will be delivered from God's wrath, while still living on the
C. But the basis for that deliverance is faith in Christ.
That is, total dependence on Jesus as the promised Messiah/Savior. This is the force of Peter's quotation at this point in Acts,
as well as Paul's quotation in Romans 10:13.
8. Now, having quoted from the Old testament and reminding
them that only through trust in the Messiah will one be saved, Peter makes
personal application to the nation and proclaims Jesus as that Messiah
who must be trusted (Verses 22-40).
The SECOND GROUP to whom God decreed to manifest a formal
arrival of the Holy Spirit, is comprised of the Samaritans who chose to
identify with the new priestly body through faith in Jesus as the Messiah
after His resurrection. Although many Samaritans trusted in Christ during
His ministry (John 4:39-42), there needed to be a formal administration
of the Spirit to them and the sign of tongues to the nation of Israel in
connection with the Samaritans being included in the new priestly body.
This is recorded at 8:14-17.
The situation with the Samaritans required a "formal"
administration of the Spirit because of their Jewish heritage.
Verse 12, we have a group of people who become believers
and then undergo water baptism.
Verses 14-17 - a formal administration of the baptism
of the Spirit BY the apostles.
1. This was only administrated by the apostles as they
were the foundation layers of the church.
2. The laying on of hands for this was only a temporary
policy and was only administrated by the apostles.
3. Simon just misunderstood the significance of the ritual
and was more interested in power and attention anyway.
Tongues is not mentioned in this context but it probably
occurred as a necessary sign to the nation that God was indeed in the process
of replacing it with "all" who would receive the Messiah.
As a "formal" transitional administration of the Spirit, it was
necessary for the apostles to be the human administrators. There is never
an occurrence of such a "formal" administration of the baptism
of the Spirit by any one other than an apostle of Christ.
The THIRD GROUP is comprised of the Gentiles who chose
to identify with the new priestly body through faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
Although Gentiles trusted in Christ at various times throughout Christ's
ministry (Matthew 8:1-10) and after His resurrection (Acts 8:26-38), there
needed to be a formal administration of the Spirit and the sign of tongues
to the nation in connection with the inclusion of Gentiles into the new
body. This is recorded at Acts 10:34-48 and at this time the pattern for
the rest of the church age is established.
A very significant difference here is that the Holy Spirit
indwells them immediately when they make a decision
to trust in Jesus, verses 43-44.
"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through
everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.
WHILE PETER WAS STILL SPEAKING these words, the Holy Spirit
fell upon all those who were listening to the message."
1. He was still giving his evangelistic message when the
people who were listening - trusted Christ in the privacy of their own
souls, ie, believed and were saved.
2. At the very moment that they believed, God the Holy
Spirit indwelled them and baptized them into the body of Christ.
3. This was evidenced by the gift of tongues in this instance
because of the presence of many Jewish nationalists who needed to hear
the message according to the prophesied sign.
4. The pattern that was established, was that at the moment
that one believes, he is indwelled by the Spirit and baptized BY the Spirit
into union with Christ,
and at that instant becomes a part of the new priestly body.
5. That is why there was no formal administration of the
baptism in this situation and why there is no other recorded incident of
it happening in the entire NT - - - except - -
Paul's letters which were all written after c.56 AD, reflect
this PATTERN, as we read that by one Spirit have we "all" been
baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13) and that if anyone does not
have the Spirit of Christ he is none of His (Romans 8:9). That is also
why, about 10 years later (in c. 56 AD), when Paul encountered some believers
in Jesus who were not associated with the formal "church" organization,
he inquired whether they had received the Spirit WHEN they had believed.
And it is these who are an example of the fourth group.
The FOURTH GROUP involved includes those who became believers
in Christ as the Messiah, before the crucifixion, resurrection and arrival
of the Spirit at Pentecost. These had not made identification with Christ's
disciples and were therefore not present at Pentecost in 30 AD. Such a
group, Paul encounters at Ephesus and inquires whether they had received
the Holy Spirit when they believed. Acts 19:1-7
It was obvious that these men were disciples of Jesus.
What Paul did not know, was whether they had received the Spirit and therefore
been identified (baptized) into the body of Christ. Their answer clears
up the matter and Paul as an apostle (foundation layer), had the authority
to administrate a formal baptism of the Spirit (v.6). And again, tongues
occurred as a sign to any of the nation who were present. I believe that
there were present, members of the nation (though not mentioned) to observe
the "sign" in the same way that I believe that the sign occurred
(though not mentioned) with the Samaritans recorded at Acts 8:14-17. It
is probable that many such groups were encountered by the apostles, and
in each case would have been "initiated" into the body of Christ
through the formality that occurred here in Acts 19.
This incident at Acts 19:1-7, occurred in c. 56 AD, before
any of Paul's letters were written. All of what Paul wrote views the baptism
and presence of the Holy Spirit as a completed fact for all believers.
It should be clear that the standard pattern for the church age had been
established prior to any of Paul's writings. It is to be understood that
anyone who becomes a believer after the initial "formal" administration
of the "promise" of the Spirit, possesses completely the indwelling
presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians
1:22) and has been baptized by the Spirit into union with Christ (1 Corinthians
12:13). At no place in his letters does Paul even hint that there is a
need to "ask" for the Holy Spirit or to seek the Spirit. The
command that is found at Galatians 5:25, "If we live by the Spirit,
let us also walk by the Spirit," deals with the control of the Spirit
in the believer's life.
This assumes (using the 1st class condition "if"
in the Greek) that the believer has the Holy Spirit
(that is, LIVING in the Spirit) and is indeed so stated at Galatians 3:2-3.
The issue then, is to utilize the indwelling presence
of the Holy Spirit by allowing Him to fill and lead (Ephesians 5:18). This
is called walking in the Spirit (Gal.5:16) or being
"spiritual" (Gal. 6:1) and is realized by keeping personal sin
out of the life (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thes. 5:19).
A crucial question that needs to be answered relates to
identification of the indwelling presence of the Spirit with the baptism
of the Spirit and a further identification of the baptism mentioned at
Matthew 3:11 with the baptism mentioned at 1 Corinthians 12:13.
The reason for this is because of the serious error of
the "tongues movement" that designates the baptism of the spirit
as an EXPERIENCE subsequent to salvation and one that will ALWAYS be accompanied
by the speaking in tongues, and which is required for all believers.
The simple answer is the fact that all the prophecies
concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit speak of one idea and all the
prophecies are fulfilled in one idea. That idea is the indwelling of the
Holy Spirit in the heart of everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ and the
act of the Spirit by which He takes that believer and baptizes, that is,
places him into a positional union with Christ. As already pointed out,
the initial arrival of the Holy Spirit required specific and formal administration
of His indwelling presence because of the transition from the old priestly
body to the new one. And it provided the opportunity to give the sign of
replacement to the nation being replaced (Israel).
THE PROPHECY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The first promise of the coming of the Spirit is given
by John the Baptizer as recorded at Matthew 3:11-12.
It is very important to recognize that there is a difference
between the ministry of the Spirit in the Old Testament and the promised
indwelling of the Spirit taught by John the Baptizer and by Jesus.
Throughout the Old Testament period the Holy Spirit came
upon various believers for specific jobs. This is not an indwelling presence
of the Spirit, but an empowering in order that those certain individuals
might accomplish the specific tasks that God had for them to do. This was
not a universal empowering for every believer, but restricted only to those
whom God chose to use for certain tasks. Furthermore, this empowering of
the Spirit was not a permanent endowment, but often times came and went
at the discretion of God. This included the early leaders of the nation
(Moses and Joshua, Numbers 27:15-23), all the prophets (even Balaam, Numbers
24:2), some of the judges (Judges 3:9-10, Othniel; Judges 6:33-35, Gideon;
Judges 11:29, Jephthah; Judges 14:5-6, 19; 15:14-15, Samson) and some of
the kings (1 Samuel 10:6-11, King Saul; 1 Samuel 16:13, David). It also
included certain specialized groups of men who had a special function in
the nation of Israel (Exodus 35:30-35, the builders; Numbers 11:16-17,
24-29, the 70 elders)
Even during the events of Messiah's birth which occurred
in what we call, an Old Testament context, we see some believers who were
"empowered" by the Spirit (Mary, Luke 1:35; Elizabeth, Luke 1:41;
Zacharias, Luke 1:67; Simeon, Luke 2:25-27; John the baptizer, Luke 1:15)
The Holy Spirit came and went according to His own sovereignty.
The Spirit came and went on Samson: Judges 14:5-6, 19; 15;14-15
The Spirit left Saul: 1 Samuel 16:14
David asked that the Spirit not be taken away: Psalm 51:11
One could ask for the Spirit: 2 Kings 2:9-14
At Luke 11:13, Jesus stated this truth and encouraged
the disciples to ask for the presence of the Spirit. It is important to
recognize that this occurred in an Old Testament context, prior to the
resurrection of Jesus and prior to the fulfillment of the promise for indwelling.
The disciples never did ask for the empowering of the Spirit, and finally,
just before His ascension to the Father, Jesus simply breathed upon them
the Spirit's presence (John 20:22) to assist them until the promise of
indwelling would be fulfilled several days later at the feast of Pentecost.
This giving of the Spirit was not the fulfillment of the promises made
by either John the Baptizer or by Jesus.
THE MESSAGE OF JOHN
John's message was that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit
and with fire (Matthew 3:11-12). John was seeing both advents of the Messiah
and describing two different events. The coming of the Spirit would be
fulfilled after Messiah's resurrection. The word, baptize, simply means
to identify something with something else through either an actual or a
symbolic immersion into it. John originated the term in connection with
the Spirit, and meant by it that the Spirit would be uniquely identified
with believers through His indwelling presence.
The preposition used here is EN, which can mean IN or
BY MEANS OF.
It is true that the people were baptized IN water, but also BY MEANS OF
water. Also, in the future, unbelievers will be baptized both IN and BY
MEANS OF fire. However, when the Holy Spirit is provided by Jesus, believers
are NOT baptized IN the Spirit, but the Spirit comes INTO the believers.
At 1 Corinthians 12:13, we find, "BY MEANS OF one Spirit have we all
been baptized into one body." The idea of IN, is the positional identification
of the believer IN CHRIST and not in the Spirit. At John 7:38, when Jesus
teaches that the Spirit's presence will be like "springs of water"
that flow OUT OF his innermost being, it is clear that the Spirit will
be INSIDE. At John 14:16-17, Jesus says of this future indwelling of the
Spirit, "but you know Him because He abides WITH you, and will be
Accordingly, it is best that we see John's message NOT
as a baptism IN the Spirit, but a baptism BY MEANS OF the Spirit.
Jesus will also baptize (immerse with; identify with)
with fire when He returns in judgment, verse 12. The fire refers to an
administration of divine justice poured out on those who do not know the
Lord, that is, who have not believed in Christ as Savior (2 Thessalonians
1:8-10). Their ultimate destiny will be the lake of fire for all eternity
There is a chain of events that leads to the ultimate
delivery up to the lake of fire. It begins at the Day of the Lord return
of Jesus, when he raptures all believers out from the earth and leaves
the rest to either trust in Him or undergo the Day of the Lord judgments.
It will continue through the administration of those Day of the Lord judgments
via the trumpets and bowls until Armageddon, after which all unbelievers
will be removed from the earth as the kingdom begins with believers only.
Finally, it will culminate at the end of the Messiah's thousand year reign,
when all unbelievers of all history will be cast into the lake of fire
for all eternity. This application to judgment is clarified by the explanation
in verse 12, "but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
There are some who want to make FIRE refer to the tongues
of fire that occur at Acts 2. However, the comparison is invalid and the
only similarity is the fact that FIRE is used consistently throughout Scripture
as a symbol of divine justice. At Acts 2, the presence of the flames (tongues)
of fire is to represent the judgment aspect of the baptism of the Spirit
and the message of tongues. The coming of the Spirit initiates the formal
rejection of Israel as a failure before God and speaks of judgment on all
who reject Jesus as the Messiah.
THE TEACHING OF JESUS
Jesus taught about a unique coming of the Spirit which
would be different from the Spirit's ministry in the Old Testament.
"He who believes in me, as the scripture said,
from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water."
"But this he spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed
in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was NOT YET GIVEN
because Jesus was not yet GLORIFIED (resurrected)."
We see from this prophecy that there will be a "special"
giving or coming of the Spirit which must be viewed as different from what
we have seen in the Old Testament. Notice the important factor that this
promise would not be fulfilled until AFTER the resurrection of Jesus.
"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you
another helper, that He may with you FOREVER."
that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive
because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know
Him because He abides WITH YOU, & WILL BE IN YOU."
The WITH YOU factor does not refer to the Old Testament
empowering because they did not have it. It refers to the universal presence
of the Spirit as omnipresent (Ps. 139:7).
The IN YOU factor refers to what will happen after the
resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
"But I tell you the truth,
it is to your advantage that I go away;
for if I do not go away,
the Helper shall not come to you;
but if I go, I will send Him to you."
Once again, it should be clear that this promise of the
Spirit would not be fulfilled until AFTER Jesus leaves. At this point I
repeat that the incident recorded at John 20:22, when Jesus breathed on
them and they received the Spirit, does not fulfill this promise, but instead
complies with the provision of the Spirit as an empowering presence which
was His ministry throughout the Old Testament period.
Throughout the Old Testament we see prophecies of a coming
of the Spirit upon God's people. Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; 59:21; Ezekiel 36:27;
37:14; 39:29; Zechariah 12:10; Joel 2:21-29.
But these prophecies do not refer to what Jesus promised
and what happened on the day of Pentecost. These will not be fulfilled
until the Messiah sets up His kingdom on the earth after the great tribulation.
This includes Joel 2:28-29, which Peter quotes at Acts
2, after the Holy Spirit had come upon the believers at Pentecost.
Peter quoted it as an example of what had just happened.
If one studies the context of Joel carefully, it will
be seen that this mention of the Spirit's coming takes place after the
Day of the Lord, which is Messiah's 2nd coming.
Before that Day of the Lord there will be the signs in
the sun and moon, etc, which Peter also quoted, but those signs did not
occur at Pentecost did they? They are yet future, as is the coming of the
Spirit mentioned by Joel and quoted by Peter.
Peter only quotes it to show the onlookers that what they
had mistaken to be drunkenness was indeed a spiritual phenomenon which
could easily be understood from the Old Testament scriptures.
And the reason he quotes it "in context," that
is, mentioning the signs, is to make certain that the objective "hearer"
will understand that he is not claiming fulfillment of Joel, but using
it as an example.
Now what is it that happened at Pentecost in AD 30?
It was the fulfillment of the promise.
1. the Holy Spirit came to be IN THEM. John 14:17
2. The Holy Spirit would from that time forward, forever
be with the church. John 14:15
3. They were baptized with, that is, BY MEANS OF the Spirit.
And once the transitional needs are met, it can be said of all believers,
that (1 Corinthians 12:13),
"BY one Spirit we were all baptized INTO one body
- - -
and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
There are two things mentioned at 1 Corinthians 12:13
that describe the work of the Spirit.
FIRST, we see that all have been baptized BY MEANS of the Spirit INTO the
ONE body of Christ. This refers to our positional union with Christ where
there is no Jew or Gentile; bond or free; male or female
At Galatians 3:27-28, Paul can only be referring to the
same baptism BY the Spirit that is described at 1 Corinthians.
"For all of you who were baptized INTO Christ,
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile),
there is neither slave nor free man,
there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one IN Christ Jesus."
SECOND, it involves the indwelling presence of the Spirit
with the result that we all drink of (as in receive) one Spirit. This refers
to the actual indwelling of God the Spirit inside the heart (2 Corinthians
1:22) and body (1 Corinthians 6:19) of each and every believer. Accordingly,
it can now be said of all believers, "If anyone does not have the
Spirit of Christ, he is none of His," (Romans 8:9).
Not directly related to our subject, but important to
understanding the ministry of the Spirit, is the difference between the
baptism and the filling of the Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit is when
he comes to dwell in the believer at the moment of salvation. The filling
of the Spirit is when the Spirit fills and controls the believer in his
walk here on earth.
The modern tongues movement not only confuses the terms
baptism and filling in reference to the Holy Spirit, but it also, as previously
mentioned teaches that the baptism of the Spirit is an experience subsequent
to salvation, is evidenced by the speaking in tongues, and is required
for every believer as a sign of genuine salvation. Accordingly, it is necessary
to understand these terms and I refer the reader to the topic - Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit.