Baptism in the Holy Spirit

I just read this:

“Take for instance the popular phrase ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit’. Now as a noun phrase, it does not occur at all, in the New Testament.”  here

Are Christians automatically baptised with the Spirit (BHS) as part of being born again?

1 Cor 12 uses it as a verb “baptised by/in one spirit”. But as is pointed out Paul says this is true of all of the Corinthians. “You were all…”. If that were all we knew then the matter would be settled.  BHS would them seem to occur at the time of conversion automatically, no mater what we might experience.

But then there are the accounts in Acts. People get converted but do not have the Spirit so 1 Cor 12 is not universally true even after Pentecost. The same could be said of Rom 8:9. If they are saying you must have the Spirit to be a Christian then what about the baptised believers in acts who had received Jesus, trusted in him, etc but not been baptised in the Holy Spirit?

The see-saw seems to be “Acts is an exceptional time” on the one side and “the epistles assume a universal experience” on the other. A middle position is possible where you say they are talking about different things. All believers have the Spirit in one sense but need to receive the Spirit in another sense. I guess I am somewhere in-between that middle position and the “assumption of universal experience” position. Why? Acts gives several clear examples of being baptised subsequent to conversion. Jesus teaches his disciples to wait and ask in a way that sometimes seems to be more universal in scope “How much more does your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask”.   I am suspicious of cessationaist arguments in general. ie This that or the other was only for the first few Christians.

Also, I think the phrase “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” as a noun phrase is a good one. Jesus said to his disciples that in a few days they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit Acts 1:4–5 (verb form). What follows is a description of what that looked like. When others experience a similar thing, like the Gentiles at Cornelius’s house, the disciples recognise that they “received the Spirit just as [they] had”. Given these things lots of expressions (given, received, poured, fell…) can legitimately all be grouped together under the phrase “baptism in the Holy Spirit”.


“that they might receive (λάβωσιν) the Holy Spirit” Acts 8:15

“they received (ἐλάμβανον) the Holy Spirit” Acts 8:17

“saw that the Spirit was given (δίδοται)” Acts 8:18


“regain your sight and be filled (πλησθῇς from πίμπλημι) with the Spirit” Acts 9:17


“the Holy Spirit came (ἦλθε) on (ἐπ᾽) them” Acts 19:6

The gentiles:

“the Holy Spirit fell (ἐπέπεσεν from ἐπιπίπτω) on (ἐπὶ) all who heard the word.” Acts 10:44

“Amazed that the Holy Spirit was poured out (ἐκκέχυται from ἐκχέω)” Acts 10:45

“Who have received (ἔλαβον from λαμβάνω) the Holy Spirit”  Acts 10:47

“The Holy Spirit fell (ἐπέπεσεν from ἐπιπίπτω) on (ἐπ᾽) them just as on us” Acts 11:15

“And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (ESV) Acts 11:16

“bore witness to them by giving (δοὺς from δίδωμι) them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us” Acts 15:8



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