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Objections to Baptism in the Spirit


Why do so many in the Restoration Movement object to the baptism in the Spirit?  I can only surmise as I don’t know the hearts and minds of individuals and I am certainly not their judge.  In my own case, I was not able to receive the truth until I denied myself regarding the issue of the Holy Spirit.  In 1962, a division in the 17th Street Church of Christ in San Francisco led me to pray, “Father show me the truth, even if it contradicts what I believe.”  In the subsequent study, I came to  the conclusion that speaking in tongues was unwarranted my the Scriptures but also much of what I believed about the Spirit was incorrect.


OBJECTION:  There is only one baptism and you are introducing a second baptism.  (Ephesians 4: 5)

It is ironic that those who make this charge are the very ones who see Cornelius and presumably the apostles as being baptized twice, once with water and once with the Spirit

On the other hand those in the Restoration Movement, who hold to the universality of baptism in the Spirit, believe that the baptism, in water and the Spirit is only one baptism, but two elements.  This reasoning parallels the reasoning about the one birth.  All people, I know, hold there is only one birth but two elements, water and the Spirit.  (John 3: 5) We believe the same reasoning that produces one birth will also produce one baptism.  We believe that this view is supported by 1 Corinthians 10: 1- 3, which presents one baptism into Moses, yet two elements, the sea and the cloud.

Admittedly there are those in other fellowships who denigrate baptism in water because they believe baptism in the Spirit is the superior.  We believe we should not make those kind of judgments and hold to the fact that Jesus required both elements , water and Spirit.


OBJECTION:  We have no awareness of baptism in the Spirit yet the apostles were certainly aware of the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, the tongues as of fire and the speaking in tongues.

The objector is confusing the events which transpired at the same time with the baptism.

The three items were sensible events;  they were intended to attract attention and confirm the baptism but they were not the baptism.  The baptism with the Spirit cannot be perceived with the senses; it is immersion in the Holy Spirit, a non-physical being.


OBJECTION:  Only the apostles and Cornelius were baptized in the Spirit.

Only the apostles and Cornelius were identified as being specifically baptized in the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is not so bereft of words that it cannot speak of the baptism in the Spirit in other terms.  The giving and receiving of the Spirit is a process that involves giving of the Spirit, pouring out  or forth of the Spirit, falling on, coming on, baptism in the Spirit, gift (dorea) of the Spirit, receiving of the Spirit and finally the indwelling of the Spirit.    The gifts (charisma) of the Spirit are another matter; they were sometimes but not always involved in baptism with the Spirit.  When you find these terms in reference to the Spirit, you will find that the baptism in the Spirit is in context. The baptism in the Spirit was promised to many of those who came out to John the Baptist and  Paul declared that we all have in one Spirit been baptized into the one body.  (1 Corinthians 12: 13)


OBJECTION: The baptism in the Spirit was primarily intended to empower the apostles with the sign of an apostle.

Both the apostles and Cornelius were baptized in the Spirit.  Cornelius and his household were not empowered with the signs of an apostle meaning that the empowerment is from the Holy Spirit not the baptism itself.


OBJECTION: There is no mention of baptism in the Spirit after Acts.

Have you noticed that on the days baptism in the Spirit occurred, the Scriptures do not identify baptism in the Spirit by name but they do mention other aspects of the process. The baptism in the Spirit on Pentecost is identified some ten days earlier and the baptism of Cornelius is identified after Peter returns from Caesarea to Jerusalem

The apostles, Cornelius and his household and indeed all believers are recipients of the great promise, that God would pour out His Spirit on all mankind.  This is a process, God giving and pouring out, believers receiving, that is defined by several terms in two instances, the apostles and Cornelius.
(1) the pouring out or giving of the Spirit by God through Christ (Acts 2: 33; 10:
(2) the baptism with the Spirit, which is an aspect of the pouring out  (Acts 1: 5; 11: 16)
(3) the "gift of the Holy Spirit"  (Acts  10: 45)
(4) receiving the Holy Spirit  (Acts 10: 47)

I submit that believers, today, are included in the same process.
(1) pouring out of the Spirit
    a. we know we are included because it was for all mankind.  (Acts 2: 17)
    b. we know we are included because of Titus 3: 5, 6
(2) the baptism with the Spirit
    a. we know we are included because the promise of baptism in the   
       Spirit was made to many more people than the apostles and
       Cornelius. The objectors do not seem to account for them.  (Luke 3: 16)
    b. the Spirit is poured out richly and abundantly, without measure
       (Titus 3: 5, 6; John 3: 34)
    c. Paul said we all were baptized in one Spirit  (1 Corinthians 12:
(3) the promise of the "gift of the Holy Spirit" is to all who repent and
    are baptized   (Acts 2: 38, 39)
(4) we receive the Holy Spirit just like the apostles and Cornelius and He
     remains with us just as He did with our Lord.  (John 7: 39;
     Galatians 3: 2, 14)

(5) the Spirit is given to and dwells in  those that believe and obey.  (Acts 2: 38; 5: 32;  Romans 5: 5; 8: 11; 1 Corinthians 3: 15; 5: 19; 2 Corinthians 1: 22; 5: 5; 1 Thessalonians 4: 8; 1 John 3: 24; 4: 13)

When we read of any one of these items later in the New Testament we can be sure that the whole process is in view.  The later New Testament is inclined to refer to the process by the giving or  receiving of the Holy Spirit itself, the most important part.


OBJECTION:  The word, ”Spirit” should have been translated as “spirit” in John 3: 5 and 1 Corinthians 12: 13.  The objector points out that the original text was all in capital letters and that there is no definite article before “spirit” in John 3: 5.

The Greek text was in capital letters and the words were not separated so the use of capital is a matter of translation.  The translators must determine from the context whether the Holy Spirit or an attitude or disposition is intended.  The translators, correctly I believe have determined, overwhelmingly,  that these are references to the Holy Spirit not to “spirit.”

John the Baptist had come preparing the way of the Lord.  Although he practiced a baptism of repentance in water he prophesied that Jesus would baptize them in the Holy Spirit.  Here we have a combining of the two elements, water and Spirit found in John 3: 5).  Clearly the Holy Spirit, capital “S’ is in view.  We find this same combination in the prophecy of Ezekiel and long before that in the ordination  for the priesthood. were the priest are washed with water from the laver before the tent of meeting, clothed and then anointed with the oil of gladness which typified the Holy Spirit.  (Ezekiel 36: 25-27; Exodus 29:1-9)  Today many have thought that the baptism with the Spirit would supersede water baptism but such was not the case; water baptism was continued by the authority of Jesus as there is always a need for repentance, and baptism in the Spirit was initiated at Pentecost after the resurrection.  We can appreciate the consternation of Nicodemus when Jesus asked him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?”   Jesus was essentially saying you must be baptized in water and the Spirit, for immersion must precede the birth or coming forth.  In their zeal to eradicate water baptism, this page has been so twisted by modern theologians so as to make it unintelligible.

In 1 Corinthians 12: 13 the one Spirit in which we are baptized is the one Spirit of which we drink, the Holy Spirit.  (John 7: 37- 39).  The small “s” objectors are simply solving their agenda problems by changing the word.


OBJECTION:  We should judge the promise of the baptism in the Spirit in light of its fulfillment.  Presumably the “you” in Luke 3: 16 would find fulfillment in the apostles on Pentecost as they were the only other group to whom a promise about baptism in the Holy Spirit was made.

First, let me say that we make our judgment as to who “you” included by consideration of the passage in question.  When we examine the text we find that the “you” refers to the multitudes who came out to John the Baptist.  (Luke 3: 7, 10)  John told them ALL, not the apostles and not Cornelius, that Jesus would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  If that unfortunately does not fit our agenda, we are not at liberty to wait three years and then twist the words to some other meaning.

Second, the baptism in the Spirit and the pouring forth of the Spirit are inextricably linked by Peter’s statement, “This is that.” (KJV)  Was the pouring out totally fulfilled on Pentecost.  If so, where are the young men, the old men, the daughters, the dreams and the visions.   If it was not totally fulfilled, then the promise of the baptism in the Spirit was most likely not totally fulfilled.

Third, Plain Talk holds that 3, 000 received the gift of the Spirit.  This indicates that the 3, 000 had the Spirit poured out upon them and were also baptized the Spirit.  This is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise made in Luke 3: 16 and its corollaries.  Those that receive the Spirit do so because He is poured out upon them, not through osmosis.  (Titus 3: 5, 6)  

Fourth, Cornelius and his group were baptized in the Spirit without a specific promise about the Spirit.  When Peter finally sees the light about the acceptance of Gentiles, he extends it to include the Cornelius.  (Acts 11: 16)

Fifth, the happenings to Cornelius were not just about an individual and his household; they are about a whole race, the Gentiles.  (Acts 11: 18)  Presumably if Cornelius could be baptized in Spirit then the whole race could be.

Sixth, Paul says that we all in one Spirit were baptized into one body.  (1 Corinthians 12: 13)


God bless.

Arland Pafford,


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Last Update   09/26/12