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The Three Thousand


What happened to the multitude of Jews to whom John the Baptist prophesied baptism with the Holy Spirit?  When was the prophecy fulfilled?  Is there any indication that the three thousand Jews that were converted at Pentecost, were baptized with the Spirit?  Inquiring minds want to know.


What was the population of Jerusalem in AD 33?

Allen Ross says that the population was about 30, 000 to 50, 000 swelling to 80,000 to 125, 00 during the festivals.  He adds, probably the lower numbers are more correct.  Daily Life In The Time Of Jesus, a study by Allen Ross.  Three thousand were converted the first day and the number of men who were converted in Acts 4: 4, days later, was 5, 000.  This gives us some idea of the great impact the gospel had in Jerusalem early on.  If the women and members of the households were counted, we could have ten to fifteen thousand.


How many received the prophecy of John the Baptist concerning the baptism with the Spirit by Jesus?

John began his ministry about six months before Jesus came to him to be baptized.  If a “multitude” was at least 100 people then John could easily have spoken to 100 people X 22 days X 6 Months =  13, 200 people that were told they could be baptized with the Spirit.  This is a significant number and cannot simply be ignored or “reasoned” away if we are candid.


What does this do to the Restoration Movement idea that only a small number of people, the Apostles and Cornelius and his household received the baptism with the Spirit by Jesus?

It completely negates the idea.  We can begin to understand why people in the Restoration Movement are very uncomfortable with the baptism with the Spirit.  I say this admitting that at an earlier time this was also my belief.


But doesn’t the fact that there is no specific mention of the 3, 000 Jews receiving the baptism with the Spirit indicate that they did not?

No, neither do the Scriptures identify the events with the apostles on Pentecost as “baptism with the Spirit” although Jesus identified them as such some ten days prior.  Nor do the Scriptures identify the events at the house of Cornelius on that day as a “baptism with the Spirit” even though Peter identified them as such at Jerusalem some time later.


What leads Plain Talk to conclude that the 3, 000 Jewish converts were indeed baptized with the Spirit at Pentecost?

(1)    THE PROMISE- John answered and said to them all. As for me I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  (Luke 3: 16)  This should not and cannot be ignored.  Either this happened or John the Baptist was a false prophet.  Pentecost would be the first opportunity for the beginning of fulfillment as this is when the Spirit was poured forth.  From henceforth the Spirit was abundantly available to all who would believe and obey.  (John 7: 37-39; Acts 5: 32)

The baptism with fire appears to be the judgment upon those who are lost.  Some have questioned the use of the conjunction “and,” joining the “Holy Spirit” and “fire”. We must remember that John was speaking to a multitude composed of good and bad.  If he had been speaking to individuals he would have said, He would baptize you with the Spirit or fire.  Later we will see that the baptism with the Spirit was extended to the Gentiles also with the events at the house of Cornelius.

Some in the RM have said we can’t tell to whom John was speaking.  But this is a cop out, a fourth grader can tell that he is speaking to the multitudes (v 7, 10) of Jews who had come to hear and be baptized of him.  God can and will open hearts but only if we first deny ourselves.  God gives grace to the humble but resist the proud.  Others have said he was speaking of the apostles because they were baptized with the Spirit on Pentecost.  This is partially true, they were baptized with the Spirit, but primary because of what Jesus said in Acts 1: 5, 8.  In no way was John speaking to the apostles, singled out as a small select group to receive the baptism with the Spirit.

(2)    THE NEW BIRTH- Although the new birth is not specifically mentioned in Acts 2, Plain Talk holds that the three thousand were born of water and the Spirit since the record indicates the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.  (Acts 2: 47)  As they came forth from the water and the Spirit they were born again, a child of God.  But common sense tells us one must be immersed in both water and the Spirit, before he can come forth or be born of water and the Spirit.  (John 3: 3, 5)

(3)    THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT- Then Peter said to them,”Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 2: 38) This promise was made to the three thousand.   The apostles and Cornelius all received the “gift of the Holy Spirit” while they were being baptized with the Spirit. Plain Talk believes the three thousand did likewise.   (Acts 10: 45)  Certainly, at a minimum, this shows that the Spirit was poured forth upon the three thousand

The Spirit is given when one believes and obeys.  Upon repenting and being baptized in the name of Christ they satisfied these requirements.  At that time the Spirit was richly poured out without measure, immersing them in water and the Spirit.

(4)    TWO ALTERNATIVES- When John said that Jesus would baptize them with the Spirit and fire, He seems to be setting forth two alternatives, either baptism with the Spirit or baptism with fire.

The categories at judgment, wheat or chaff, seem to reflect these alternatives.  The saved are the wheat and have been baptized with the Holy Spirit; the lost are the chaff and await the baptism with fire.

(5)    THE POURING FORTH OF THE SPIRIT- Peter identifies the baptism with the 

Spirit, with the pouring forth of the Spirit.  (Acts 2: 16)  Baptism with the Spirit is

       an aspect of the pouring out of the Spirit. 

      When is the Spirit poured forth and received in the life of the individual?  This 

      happens when one believes and obeys.  This is exactly the case with the three

      thousand.  They were pierced to the heart and asked what shall we do.  Upon

      repenting and being baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of sins,

      Jesus richly poured forth the Spirit immersing them in the Spirit.

(6)    PAUL’S STATEMENT- Paul said we all were baptized with the one Spirit into the one body.  This certainly included the 3,000 at Pentecost and this passage alone should be sufficient to establish our premise (1 Corinthians 12: 13)

Don’t let the preposition “by” fool you, it is translating the Greek preposition “en” and can be translated in/ with/ by.  In every other place where we have the baptism-Spirit connection it is translated with or in. The passage is telling us that we all have been baptized in one Spirit into the one body.


 Plain Talk holds that the complimentary nature of the baptism with the Spirit and the new birth convincingly demonstrates that one must be baptized with water and the Spirit before he can be born again.

Sometimes we think that event could not take place unless it was specifically mentioned by name.  But the baptism with the Spirit occurred at Pentecost and the house of Cornelius yet was not specifically identified as such on those days.

In Acts 2: 21 we find the statement, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”.  In the record there is no mention of the three thousand calling on the name of the Lord.  Yet we conclude that they did because they were saved (Acts 2: 47) and because Paul called on the name of the Lord by being baptized to wash away his sins.  (Acts 22: 16)  Additionally 1 Peter 3: 21 confirms that baptism saves us and is an appeal to God for a good conscience.

Plain Talk hopes that this article will be of some help to sort out our ideas about the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  I have had to revise my thinking because I now believe I got on the wrong track.  I find this view to be more consistent with the Scriptures and one that compliments the new birth.  I have no right to tell anyone what he or she should believe or do; this is offered for your consideration.  Take what you can; dismiss what you must; but always let the word of God be your authority.

God bless,

Arland Pafford,


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Last Update   09/26/12