A Completed Historical Event:
An Exposition and Defense of the Historic Baptist View of Spirit Baptism
Thomas D. Ross
- Statement of views
A. Post-conversion special power (PCP)
B. Contemporaneous with regeneration and an action that places one in the universal body of Christ—universal church dispensationalism (UCD)
C. Completed historical event—the historic Baptist view
- Proof for the validity of the historic Baptist view
A. Spirit baptism in the Old Testament
B. Spirit baptism in the Gospels
C. Spirit baptism in Acts
D. Spirit baptism: The alleged reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13
a.) Is the body of Christ the visible congregation or a universal, invisible church?
b.) Does Christ baptize with the Spirit, or does the Holy Spirit baptize?
c.) Was Spirit baptism a completed historical phenomenon at the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, or is it a event that takes place regularly throughout the entire dispensation of grace?
d.) The Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:13
e.) A Summary of the Conclusion of the Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:13
f.) Support from Commentators for Interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a Reference to the Church Ordinances
E. Historic Baptist support for a first century fulfillment of Spirit baptism and for interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to the church ordinances
F. Spirit Baptism: Other Alleged References in the Epistles: Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21[i]
- Appendix: Excerpts from the sermons “The First Pentecost” and “The Church, The Habitat of the Holy Spirit” by B. H. Carroll.
Spirit baptism is an important Biblical doctrine. Wrong views of the event do not only constitute Pneumatological error but lead to various other errors in systematic theology, such as false ecclesiology (developing, e. g., from a wrong view of 1 Corinthians 12:13). Furthermore, incorrect views of the baptism of the Holy Ghost lead to confusion in the intensely practical matter of sanctification. Entire religious movements, such as Pentecostalism, have arisen in large part from unbiblical views of Spirit baptism. Thus, one’s ability to glorify God, and to love Him with the heart, soul, and mind, is strengthened by a correct comprehension of Spirit baptism, and weakened by erroneous views of it.
II. Statement of views
Many conflicting views of Spirit baptism compete for adherents in the modern religious milieu. One prominent view, which will be referenced below as the post-conversion special power (PCP) view, affirms that the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which it avers continues to take place today, occurs after the point of conversion in the life of some, but not all, Christians. The baptism is said to bestow a variety of special benefits or powers. The adumbration of these benefits or powers varies greatly based on the theological paradigm of specific PCP advocates.[ii] In contrast, what this composition will term the universal-church dispensational (UCD) view holds[iii] that at the moment of faith and regeneration, the Holy Spirit baptizes a believer into the universal, invisible church—the body of Christ.[iv] The UCD and PCP views[v] agree that Spirit baptism continues to take place today, but the UCD position, contrary to the PCP, affirms that all believers have been Spirit-baptized, and maintains that Spirit baptism is not intrinsically connected with any visible signs or special powers.
A third view, which will be termed the historic Baptist view,[vi] affirms that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is a phenomenon restricted to the first century and connected with the sending of the Holy Spirit by Christ on the day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts. This position, contrary to both the UCD and PCP doctrines, denies that anyone receives Spirit baptism today, although it affirms that the Holy Spirit indwells all believers immediately at the point of faith and regeneration (Romans 8:9, 14; Galatians 4:5-6). In agreement with the PCP position but against the UCD view, the historic Baptist position affirms that the Bible teaches that Spirit baptism took place after regeneration. In agreement with some PCP advocates, the historic Baptist position connects Spirit baptism with miracles, signs, and wonders. Furthermore, while advocates of the historic Baptist position agree that Scripture contains dispensational distinctions,[vii] their ecclesiology, against the UCD doctrine and the generality of PCP advocates,[viii] denies that the doctrine of a universal, invisible church is Scriptural, affirming instead that the word church pertains solely to the local, visible assembly.[ix] Since the doctrine of a universal, invisible church, developed especially by Augustine of Hippo in his battles against the Anabaptist Donatists and assumed within the Protestant movement by the Magisterial Reformers, is the position of almost all non-Baptist, Protestant religious denominations, this third view is held nearly exclusively by Baptists. Thus, it is properly termed Baptist. Furthermore, since many modern Baptists, especially those who have abandoned the militant separatism of the New Testament (NT), are influenced more by the broad spectrum of Protestant evangelicalism than by classical Baptist systematics, and have consequently abandoned much historic Baptist doctrine and practice, including its position on Spirit baptism, in favor of UCD or PCP positions, this third position is properly termed historic among Baptists because of its historical dominance in past centuries, despite its decline among many today that claim the Baptist name.[x]
While the prominence of the UCD and PCP doctrines throughout the gamut of denominational affiliations within evangelicalism and fundamentalism leads to large amounts of interaction between their advocates, as manifested in books, journal articles, and other studies comparing the merits of the two, the modern restriction of the historic Baptist doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Ghost to the most conservative elements within the Baptist movement has led to most advocates of the PCP and UCD doctrines ignoring it, often because of ignorance of its existence. This abandonment is unfortunate, since, as the remainder of this composition will demonstrate, the historic Baptist view, not the PCP or UCD doctrine, is taught in the Bible.
III. Proof for the Historical View
A. Spirit Baptism in the Old Testament
When the Lord Jesus baptized the church with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter, in Acts 2:16-21, proved the legitimacy of the events of the day by quoting Joel 2:28-32:
28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.[xi]
This text sets forth the Old Testament prediction of Spirit baptism. Its exegesis consequently provides important insights for the understanding of Spirit baptism in its New Testament fulfillment.
One notes that the Old Testament prediction of Spirit baptism was not connected with regeneration, but with those who were already converted (and were thus the Lord’s “servants and handmaids” before the Spirit was poured out upon them). Spirit baptism, Joel predicted, would be connected with miraculous powers, signs, and wonders (2:28-30). The reference[xii] to Joel 2:28ff. in Acts 2 did not bring salvation and forgiveness to the 120 members of the pre-Pentecost church who received the baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:15; 2:1) but brought, as promised, “power” (Acts 1:8; dunamis, du/namiß). An analysis of dunamis in Acts demonstrates that it is always connected with Divinely-bestowed miraculous power.[xiii] Consistent with this use of dunamis, in Joel 2:28 supernatural prophecy, dreams, and visions are the fruits of the prediction “I will pour out my spirit.” The recipients of Spirit baptism in Acts two received supernatural powers to speak in tongues and do other miracles, and Peter employs the quote from Joel in Acts 2:15-21 to justify the Spirit-produced speaking in unlearned foreign languages (2:6-11) that had amazed and enthralled the onlooking unconverted Jewish crowds (2:14-16). Joel did not predict a Spirit baptism that was temporally simultaneous with the invisible inward works of regeneration, conversion, and justification, but a post-justification bestowal of power to do visible signs and wonders on those within God’s institutional covenant community. Acts 2 therefore records a bestowal of such miraculous power by means of Spirit baptism on those who were already saved and baptized church members.
Furthermore, Joel did not predict that the Spirit would be regularly outpoured upon individuals who, day by day, year by year, came to faith in the Messiah and were converted; he predicted a massive, one-time outpouring[xiv] of the Spirit upon the generality of the covenant community. This does not suit the UCD insistence that Spirit baptism takes place at the point of individual regeneration for all believers for the duration of the church age. Nor does the PCP belief that Spirit baptism continues to occur as individuals experience special post-conversion crises throughout the church age find support in Joel 2:28-32. The text is, however, entirely consistent with the historic Baptist position that Spirit baptism was a first century gift from Christ to the corporate church, a completed event fulfilled in the first century as recorded in the book of Acts.
The only other two texts that connect the Spirit (ruach, Aj…wr) and the verb rendered pour out (shafach, Kpv) in Joel 2:28-29 are Ezekiel 39:29 and Zechariah 12:10. Both texts refer to events that pertain to the eschatological future for Israel (as, indeed, does Joel 2:28-32 in its ultimate fulfillment). Neither passage contains an “all flesh” expansion,[xv] as Joel 2:28 does, that reasonably incorporates Gentiles. Furthermore, neither Ezekiel 39:29 nor Zechariah 12:10 is referenced in the New Testament as being fulfilled in or relating to Spirit baptism, nor does anything in the New Testament indicate that the latter passages pertain to events in the church age. Isaiah 44:3, which employs a different verb for pour (yatsaq, qxy) than Joel 2:28-29, is also a promise to Israel (44:1) which relates to the Millennium, not to the NT church. It has no necessary connection with the doctrine of Christian Spirit baptism as explicated in Acts 2 and Joel 2. Other Old Testament texts likewise speak of special works of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 32:15; 34:16; etc.), but these are all also references to His blessings upon Israel, not the church. While a general analysis of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is a valuable and important task,[xvi] it goes beyond the bounds of the current study, in which Old Testament passages are relevant only as they pertain to the New Testament phenomenon of Spirit baptism. Consequently, while advocates of Reformed covenant theology can and regularly do, consistently with their theological system and spiritualization of Old Testament prophecy, employ texts that pertain to Israel as if they had to do with the NT church,[xvii] believers who hold to a literal, dispensational hermeneutic, and who consequently recognize the Biblical distinction between Israel and the church, ought not so to do.
The Old Testament, as evidenced in an examination of the passage (Joel 2:28-32) Peter quoted in Acts two to explain the baptism of the Holy Ghost, supports the historic Baptist view of the doctrine, rather than the UCD or PCP position. Spirit baptism was predicted as a post-conversion gift for the collective body of God’s covenant community, not an event simultaneous or synonymous with regeneration. It would not apply the invisible grace of justification to the legal standing of sinners but bestow power to perform visible miracles to saints. It was not a personal, individual event that would occur regularly and gradually as individuals came to the Redeemer in repentance, but a one-time corporate gift for those already part of the people of God. The promise of Spirit baptism was fulfilled for the church on the Day of Pentecost, in those who had already been converted and immersed upon profession of faith.
B. Spirit Baptism in the Gospels
The only references in the gospels to Spirit baptism[xviii] are found in Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; and John 1:33. All of these are upon the lips of John the Baptist. John, the first Baptist preacher, prepared the way for the Lord Jesus by preaching the gospel and immersing people who had been saved, preparing people for Christ’s coming and His gathering of the church during His earthly ministry.[xix] John’s baptism is that practiced by Christ’s church and perpetuated from the first century until today[xx] by true Baptist churches; his baptism was not some other sort of non-Christian baptism.[xxi] When “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins[,] [then] there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:4-5). The Baptist preached to those he immersed that “there cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:7-8). John thus identified the recipients of Spirit baptism with believers who had received his immersion in water. Spirit baptism was not received only by the apostles, but was for the church as an institution, the entire body of immersed believers. John’s identification was in line with Old Testament predictions, which affirmed that men and women, old and young, would receive Spirit baptism (Joel 2:28-29). The context of Matthew 3:11[xxii] and Luke 3:16[xxiii] likewise identify those who believe the gospel and are immersed with the recipients of Spirit baptism. When the Baptist, as recorded in John 1:19-33, specifically speaks to unbelieving and unbaptized individuals, to unconverted “priests and Levites . . . of the Pharisees,” he does not say that they will be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
While one who believes that the baptism with fire of Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16 refers to the damnation of the unconverted in hell[xxiv]—a position that appears initially plausible because of the connection of the word “fire” in Matthew 3:11 to that in 3:12[xxv]—can still agree with the conclusions made above concerning the connection between Spirit baptism and the church, the position that baptism with fire is synonymous with Spirit baptism deserves serious consideration and should be considered correct for a number of reasons. First, the reader of the gospels could very easily conclude that they were synonymous. One who simply reads “I indeed baptize you with water . . . but . . . he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11; Ego men baptidzo humas en hudati . . . de . . . autos humas baptisei en Pneumati Hagio kai puri, e˙gw» me«n bapti÷zw uJma◊ß e˙n u¢dati . . . de« . . . aujto\ß uJma◊ß bapti÷sei e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ kai« puri÷; cf. Luke 3:16) could very easily think that the same “you,” the “you” that receives water baptism, also receives both the Spirit and fire. Baptism Pneumati Hagio kai puri would reasonably be viewed as being received by the same individuals at the same time, as both “Spirit” and “fire” follow a single en in connection with the single verb “baptize.”[xxvi] Furthermore, the men/de clause confirms the association of the several instances of “you” in the verse. Second, Acts 1:5 refers back to Luke 3:16. Why would not the entire action of the verse, the “Holy Spirit and fire” baptism, happen at the same time? Third, in Acts 2:3-4, the baptism with the Spirit and the appearance of “fire” on the heads of those Spirit-baptized happens at the same moment. Would not Theophilus, reading Luke-Acts, recall Luke 3:16 and think that this was the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire? Fourth, the gospel accounts in Mark 1:8 and John 1:33 both record only baptism with the Spirit; fire is not mentioned. This fact suggests that there is one baptism with the Spirit and fire, since neither Mark nor John believed the reader needed to hear about fire baptism as a distinct event; simply mentioning Spirit baptism covered both “Spirit and fire.”[xxvii] Fifth, in Acts, only a record of Spirit baptism as a fulfillment of John’s preaching is recalled from the gospels (Acts 1:5; Luke 3:16) and recorded (Acts 2), suggesting that baptism with the Spirit and fire was a single event predicted by John. Sixth, the parallel between Spirit baptism’s validation of the church and the coming of the shekinah on the Old Testament tabernacle and temple[xxviii] supports the unity of the two baptisms. Seventh, while one who believes baptism with fire is eternal torment affirms that one either receives Spirit baptism or fire baptism, the disciples in Acts never told anyone that, since they did not receive Spirit baptism, they were going to get fire baptism. Eighth, while Spirit baptism was a one-time event, the lost who die are cast into hell moment by moment, day by day, so the baptism with fire would seem not to be a one-time event, but something daily repeated, indeed, something that is occuring continually worldwide. Parallelism between the two would then be minimal. One who wished to extenuate this difficulty might argue that the baptism with fire refers to the postmillennial future after the Great White Throne judgment, when all the lost in Hades are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). In that case, while all the lost, throughout the entire Old Testament and into the Millennium, get cast into the lake of fire and thus allegedly receive fire baptism, only the tiny fraction of church age saints connected with the events in Acts receive Spirit baptism, thus making the two baptisms most discontinuous. John the Baptist also did not prophesy that all the lost would receive the baptism of fire—at the very least, people in the Old Testament dispensation are not referred to in his preaching. Were fire baptism the eternal torment of all the lost of all ages, its fulfillment would be strikingly different than its prediction. Ninth, no passage states that the eternal state of the lost is a fulfillment of the baptism of fire—the conclusion is an implication drawn from what are not foolproof premises. Tenth, the allusion to Malachi’s prediction concerning John the Baptist, which undergirds Matthew 3:11-12, refers to two different types of fire, a sanctifying fire that separates some among the people of God to a special purpose (Malachi 3:1-3; cf. Isaiah 1:25; Zechariah 13:9) and a different kind of fire associated with the damnation of the wicked (Malachi 4:1). A fulfillment of Malachi that mentions a baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire that sets apart the church for a specific purpose and an unquenchable fire that the wicked will receive in the eschaton is entirely consistent with the Old Testament. Therefore, the Old Testament background eliminates the initially plausible conclusion that the baptism of fire of 3:11 must necessarily be the fiery eternal damnation mentioned in 3:12. Last, maintaining that fire baptism is synonymous with Spirit baptism, on the historic Baptist view elucidated below, makes both Spirit and fire baptism, like literal immersion in water, ecclesiological, not soteriological events. Christ gathered His church from those who had received the baptism of John, and it is the same church that received the baptism with the Spirit in Acts 2. John made “ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17) by bringing them to salvation and then baptizing them, so that they could be part of the congregation Christ was gathering (John 3:29), which the Savior later authenticated by baptizing His assembly with His Spirit. For one to affirm that fire baptism is damnation in hell is to move this latter baptism from the realm of ecclesiology to that of soteriology and eschatology. As literal baptism is not a means of receiving salvation, so no metaphorical reference to baptism in the New Testament is ever clearly soteriological. The cumulative weight of the reasons above lead to the conclusion that, while the position that the baptism with fire is the eternal damnation of the lost appears initially plausible, the position that the baptism with the Spirit and fire is a single event received by the church in Acts 2 is clearly preferable.
The translation of the Authorized Version that Christ “shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 3:11, etc.) is superior in its particular context to a rendering of Baptisei en Pneumati Hagio, bapti÷sei e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ, as “he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost.” A comparison of the gospel texts on Spirit baptism indicate that both the simple dative and the dative with en specify the same category of usage in the text. For example, in Luke 3:16 the dative hudati (u¢dati) parallels en Pnumati Hagio kai puri, e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ kai« puri÷. Acts 1:5 likewise parallels John’s baptism hudati with baptism en Pneumati Hagio. Note also the simple dative puri (puri÷) in Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17. The simple datives are best taken as examples of a “dative of means/instrument [by, by means of, with] . . . [where] the dative substantive is used to indicate the means or instrument by which the verbal action is accomplished. This is a very common use of the dative, embracing as it does one of the root ideas of the dative case (viz., instrumentality) . . . before the noun in the dative, [one should] supply the words by means of, or simply with.”[xxix] While the instrumental dative is very common, there is a great “scarcity of . . . usage [for the] . . . locative of place without a preposition . . . [so that the grammarian] Blass indeed remarks that the ‘local dative’ does not occur in the N. T.”[xxx] If there are few simple datives representing a dative or locative of place in New Testament Greek, or perhaps none at all, but the instrumental idea for the dative form without a preposition is very common, then the presumption that the baptisms in Matthew 3 and the parallel passages are “with” water, “with” the Holy Ghost, and “with” fire, rather than “in” these three, is very strong. Similarly, en Pneumati constitutes a use of en with the dative indicating instrument or means.[xxxi] Thus, in Spirit baptism “Christ is the agent . . . and the Holy Spirit is the means . . . that the Lord uses to baptize . . . Pneumati Hagio clearly indicates means in Mark 1:8 (as in several other passages dealing with Spirit-baptism).”[xxxii] Furthermore, en pneumati regularly possesses the sense of means or instrumentality in the LXX; the locative idea of sphere is significantly less common.[xxxiii] Indeed, the locative sense is not clearly present in any passage in the Greek Old Testament where en pneumati refers to the Holy Spirit.[xxxiv] The related en puri (cf. Matthew 3:11, baptisei en Pneumati Hagio kai puri, bapti÷sei e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ kai« puri÷) also very frequently possesses the sense of instrumentality or means in the LXX.[xxxv] However, such metaphorical language for Spirit baptism does not exclude any locative sense in Spirit baptism, nor does Christ’s pouring out the Holy Ghost from heaven, which resulted in Spirit baptism, exclude the Spirit’s “fill[ing] all the house where [the 120 in the church] were sitting” (Acts 2:2) and thus immersing the church in His overwhelmingly powerful presence.[xxxvi] Nevertheless, syntax and context demonstrate that the rendering of the Authorized Version and of English Bibles back to Tyndale[xxxvii] is correct in affirming that Christ performs Holy Ghost baptism with the Spirit.
Luke 11:13, although not employing the words “Spirit baptism,” likewise refers to the once-for-all coming of the Spirit recorded in Acts 2; no reference to any post-regeneration crisis, along the lines of the PCP position, are in view. Luke-Acts indicates that Christ personally had spoken to the disciples about Spirit baptism while on earth (Acts 1:4), but Luke 11:13 constitutes the only previous reference in Luke’s inspired record to which Acts 1:4 can refer. During Christ’s earthly ministry and before Pentecost, as recorded in the gospels, the potential existed for the Spirit to be asked for, to come for a particular purpose as He did in the Old Testament, and then to leave (cf. Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29). Before Pentecost, the Spirit was promised (Luke 11:13; John 14-16), temporarily given so that in the period of Christ’s bodily absence, but before the permanent arrival of the Spirit in Acts 2, a member of the Godhead would be with the church (John 20:22; cf. 16:7; 14:16-18),[xxxviii] and prayed for in the period between the promise of His permanent coming and its fulfillment (Acts 1:14). Finally, the Holy Ghost permanently came to indwell the saints when Spirit baptism took place in Acts 2.[xxxix] No record exists in Acts of any post-Pentecost prayers along the lines of Luke 11:13 for the benefit of those who already possessed the indwelling Spirit, since the onset of His permanent abode in the saints made the dispensationally transitional action of praying for Him no longer necessary or appropriate.
Indeed, since Christ Himself prayed for the Spirit to come to permanently indwell the saints (John 14:16-17), the Father has certainly heard His Son’s prayer as Mediator and, in light of the fact of Luke 11:13, has given the Spirit to the saints. The Spirit was “the promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), which Christ received from Him when He asked (Acts 2:33), and which the Father consequently gave to the saints for Christ’s sake at Pentecost. If, before the Spirit permanently indwelt believers, the Father gave the Holy Ghost to those who asked for Him, how much more would He give the Spirit permanently to the saints when the Son asked for Him on their behalf? To affirm that one must still ask for the Spirit today, based on a misunderstanding of Luke 11:13, actually denies the efficacy of the prayers of that blessed Savior and Mediator who said, “thou [Father] hearest me always” (John 11:42), for He has already asked for and received the Spirit and given Him to His own.
Thus, Luke 11:13 refers to the receipt of the Spirit Himself[xl] by those who, in the time period when Christ spoke those words, asked for Him.[xli] No reference to greater ability to exercise spiritual gifts, or any other ministries or blessings from the Holy Ghost which will abide throughout the age of grace, is indicated by the verse. Christ promised that the Father would give, not blessings by the Spirit, or gifts from the Spirit, but, in response to urgent and continued prayer as recorded in Acts 1:14 (cf. Acts 8:15),[xlii] would “give the Holy Spirit” Himself. Luke 11:13 contrasts human parents, who repeatedly give good gifts to their children,[xliii] with God the Father, who, in Spirit baptism (as a one-time, yet future event in Luke 11:13),[xliv] would give the Person of the Holy Spirit.[xlv] While, at the time of the Lord’s discourse in Luke 11, parents were providing good gifts to their children, the Father’s permanent giving of the Holy Spirit had not yet taken place, and it would not occur until the record of Spirit baptism in Acts, when Christ, having asked the Father for the Holy Ghost, gave the indwelling Spirit to His people.
As an examination of the grammar of Luke 11:13 itself supports a reference to Spirit baptism and the initial receipt of the Spirit, so the fulfillment of the verse in Acts also demonstrates that the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit is not a repeated event, but the one-time action of the initial receipt of the Spirit, first by Spirit baptism during the transitional period in Acts, and then in regeneration throughout the dispensation of grace. One-time, non-continuous action, expressed by the Greek aorist, is the consistent language of Acts (Acts 5:32; 15:8) and the rest of the Bible (Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 3:24)[xlvi] for the giving of the Spirit. Only in 1 John 4:13 is God’s gift of the Spirit to an individual not expressed with the aorist; in that verse the perfect tense indicates that the Spirit was given in the past at a moment in time, and continues to dwell within His saints. There are no instances in the New Testament where continuing action tenses are employed for a particular individual’s being given the Holy Ghost.[xlvii] In striking contrast, spiritual gifts from the Holy Ghost are expressed consistently with continuing action tenses.[xlviii] The recorded Scriptural fulfillment of the prayers indicated in Luke 11:13 demonstrates that, as the Lord intended, the saints prayed in the book of Acts for the coming of the Spirit (Acts 1:14; 8:15), and their prayers were answered in Spirit baptism (Acts 2:33; cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). Just as no Spirit-indwelt person in Acts ever prays that he would receive the Spirit, as mentioned in Luke 11:13, so the prayer specified in the verse is not appropriate for the universally Spirit-indwelt Christians (Romans 8:9) of today.[xlix] Those who are already indwelt by the Holy Ghost have no need to ask for Him whom they already have.[l]
C. Spirit baptism in Acts
The first chapter of Acts evidences that the predictions by John the Baptist that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Ghost were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter two. Referencing these predictions, the risen Christ appeared to His disciples, “to whom . . . he shewed himself alive after his passion . . . being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:3-5). Spirit baptism, which would take place “not many days”[li] after Christ’s ascension at the conclusion of the forty-day period when the Lord appeared to His church after His resurrection, was “the promise of the Father.” While the Apostle John records an extensive discourse by Christ concerning the coming of the Comforter in the act of Spirit baptism (John 14-16; cf. 7:37-39), only Luke 11:13, in the Gospel written by Luke, records speech by Christ about Spirit baptism before His death, while Luke 24:49 records Christ’s post-resurrection back to the promise of Luke 11:13[lii] that the Father would give the Holy Spirit. The “promise of the Father” mentioned in Acts 1:4 is the “promise of my Father” of Luke 24:49, the Holy Spirit, who would bring the church “power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) to assist in her witnessing work (John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8) when He was sent by the ascended Christ as One to take His place on earth. When the church received the baptism of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost, she received the “power” spoken of in Acts 1:8; no individually received second blessing at a post-conversion crisis, along the lines of the PCP doctrine, is envisaged in Acts 1:8. Indeed, since Acts 1:8 employs the word dunamis, the verse is most likely a reference, not to the universal power that the Spirit gives to His saints in the church age in gospel preaching and Christian living, but to the miraculous power to perform signs and wonders that accompanied the Pentecostal outpouring of Acts 2 (cf. dunamis as “miracles” in 2:22).[liii] Acts chapter one thus affirms that the promised baptism of the Holy Ghost predicted by John and the Lord Jesus in the gospels would take place in Acts chapter two.
In Acts two, on the day of Pentecost, the ascended Christ sent the Comforter from heaven and baptized the church[liv] with the Holy Spirit. The corporate nature of this baptism is emphasized, among other indicators, through the consistent use of plural word forms (2:1-4, 6-7, 11, 13-15, 17-18, 32, etc.) and the mention that the Spirit, under the figure of wind, “filled all the house” where the 120 were (Acts 2:2), and gave every member of the church tongues of fire and miraculous tongues (2:3-4).[lv] The church, unified (v. 1, 41-47) and blessed by Christ, is emphasized at the beginning and end of the chapter (2:1, 47).[lvi] The arrival of the glory of God and the special presence of Jehovah, shown here by the permanent entrance of the Spirit into the church in the baptism “with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16), parallels the coming of the fiery shekinah glory (Exodus 24:17) upon the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38; Leviticus 9:24), and upon Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 7:1-3),[lvii] even as His glory will come into the future Millennial temple (Ezekiel 43:2-5; 44:4). Spirit baptism validated the church as God’s institution for latreia—that is, holy service and worship—as the glory of God validated the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple.[lviii] And, as the coming of the shekinah on the institution for worship in the Old Testament was a one-time act with continuing results of the abiding presence of Jehovah, so Spirit baptism was a one-time act with the abiding result of the presence of the Triune God in the church.
The 120 members of the pre-Pentecost church (Acts 1:15), upon being baptized with the Spirit, received miraculous power to speak in tongues, prophesy,[lix] and do other signs and wonders (2:4, 17-19, 43). In accordance with the division of the book of Acts in 1:8 into Spirit-blessed witness in “Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth,” the Spirit, who came upon and validated the church to Jews in Acts 2, performed similar works in Acts 8 with Samaritans, in Acts 10 to Gentiles within the compass of the Promised Land (10:24) who were connected to Judaism,[lx] and in Acts 19 to Gentiles outside of the Land with no previous connection to Judaism, representing the “uttermost parts of the earth.” As the baptism with the Spirit brought visible miraculous evidence, particularly the ability to speak in tongues, “which [those present could] see and hear” (Acts 2:33), so in Acts 8, Philip, who had already received the Spirit, did “miracles and signs” (Acts 8:13). Thus, the receipt of the Holy Ghost was again accompanied with visible evidence such as tongues speaking, which could be seen and heard (Acts 2:33), for “Simon saw that . . . the Holy Ghost was given” (Acts 8:18).[lxi] In Acts 10, “they of the circumcision which believed were astonished . . . because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:45-46).[lxii] The coming of the Spirit here was very obviously attended with miraculous ability to speak in unlearned foreign languages. Finally, when “the Holy Ghost came on them [who had just previously believed and been saved];[lxiii] . . . they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). The signs and wonders of Acts 2 accredited the church to the Jews, who require a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22), as the Lord’s new institution of service, replacing the Jerusalem temple (Matthew 23:38). Likewise, the miracles of Acts 8, 10, and 19, in each of which Jews were present, demonstrated that the Lord did indeed want Samaritans and Gentiles incorporated into His newly authenticated church. With the events of Acts 19, the progression of Acts 1:8 was complete—the miraculous coming of the Spirit as the inauguration of permanent Spirit-indwelling for the church and all saints in the age of grace had commenced. In each instance, Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19, a particular group—Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles in the Promised Land with a connection to Judaism, and finally all other Gentiles—received the Spirit. In each instance, miraculous ability to speak in tongues and other external supernatural manifestations were evident. With the events of Acts 19, the dispensational transition of the coming of the Spirit was complete.
The Spirit’s being poured out or shed forth (Acts 2:17, 18, 33), employing the Greek verb ekkeo (e˙kce÷w), is employed in Acts 2 in connection with Spirit baptism.[lxiv] This one-time event[lxv] where the Father, at the Son’s request, poured out the Holy Ghost in accordance with the prediction of Joel 2:28-32, is employed in Luke-Acts only for the unrepeatable event of Pentecost. This NT use of ekkeo is consistent with the facts that the Hebrew verb shafach (Kpv), employed in Joel 2 and discussed above, “does not mean a gradual pouring as required, but rather a sudden, massive spillage,” that the LXX employs ekkeo to render shafach in the three passages where the latter verb is connected with the outpouring of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 12:10; Ezekiel 39:29), and that the Greek verb is not employed in the Greek Old Testament in connection with Spirit outpouring in any other passage. No other text in Luke-Acts connects the work of the Spirit with ekkeo,[lxvi] although the closely related but distinct verb ekkunno (e˙kcu/nnw)[lxvii] is employed in Acts 10:45 for the closely related but distinct miraculous work of the Spirit on the Gentiles in Acts 10. When “the Holy Ghost . . .[was] shed forth” or poured out, visible miracles, “which ye now see and hear,” were connected with the event (Acts 2:33). Thus, the outpouring of the Spirit was for those already converted and already church members, it took place once for the entire church age in Acts chapter two, and it was accompanied with signs and wonders. For the Spirit to be outpoured again, He would have to leave the earth, which He will not do for the entire dispensation of grace. However, after He is removed at the Rapture, He will be outpoured again on Israel in the Tribulation in the ultimate fulfillment of Joel chapter two.
In contrast to the once-for-all outpouring of the Spirit on the church for the entirety of the dispensation of grace in Acts 2, when the Spirit’s validation of Samaritans[lxviii] and Gentiles as fit members of the NT church in Acts 8 and 10 is in view, the Spirit is said to fall upon (e˙pipi÷ptw) them after their conversion (Acts 8:16; 10:44; 11:15). Christ baptized the church with the Spirit directly and immediately in Acts 2, and the benefits of this one-time event were transmitted mediately through the apostles to Samaritans and Gentiles in Acts 8, 10, and 19, explaining the connection of the miraculous fruits of Spirit baptism in connection with the laying on of apostolic hands. The uniqueness of Acts 2, as the actual and unrepeatable act of Spirit baptism, is supported by the appearances of tongues of fire on each member of the pre-Pentecost church (2:2-3), a miracle not repeated in the coming of the Spirit on the groups in Acts 8, 10, and 19. The Spirit fell upon the Samaritans subsequent to both faith and baptism in Acts 8, and the Greek construction employed for the Spirit’s falling upon men in 8:16 suggests that the falling took place at one point in time, with abiding results.[lxix] Furthermore, no text in Acts or elsewhere in the New Testament portrays the Spirit as repeatedly falling upon anyone.[lxx] One would have expected the Spirit to fall upon the Gentiles in Acts 10 after their faith and baptism as well, but Peter and his Jewish brethren would never have accepted the immersion of Gentiles had the Spirit not come on them first; as it was, they “were astonished” that the Spirit had fallen upon the Gentiles (10:45) but recognized the fact as proof that God wanted them added to the church by immersion, which they consequently performed (10:47-48)—although even in this situation the addition of uncircumcised Gentiles to the church was an occasion of trouble which Peter needed to explain and defend (11:3ff.). In both Acts 8 and 10, the Spirit fell upon the Samaritans and Gentiles subsequent to the point of their faith in Christ, with an emphasis upon them as a corporate body, rather than as individuals, just as in Acts 2 and 19 the coming of the Spirit took place after saving faith.[lxxi] Since Peter states, “the Holy Ghost fell on them [Gentiles, Acts 10], as on us [Jews, Acts 2] at the beginning” (Acts 11:15), the book of Acts indicates that it is appropriate to view the pouring out of the Holy Ghost on the church in Acts 2 as another instance of the Spirit falling upon a body of people. It is likely that the falling upon terminology emphasizes the coming of the Spirit from heaven upon a particular group of believers and is thus appropriately employed for any of the miraculous bestowals of the Spirit recorded in Acts 2, 8, 10 and 19. However, this terminology is never employed for the receipt of the Spirit by individuals at the moment of conversion; nor is it ever found apart from the miraculous bestowal of the gift of tongues; nor is it ever connected with any kind of PCP blessing on those already Spirit-indwelt.
In Acts two, the Spirit was poured out on the 120 pre-Pentecost church members, but Acts 2:38 promised those who “repent . . . [that they] shall receive [lamba¿nw] the gift of the Holy Ghost.”[lxxii] Receive terminology is employed both for the indwelling of the Spirit experienced by all believers after the transitional period connected with the baptism of the Holy Ghost in Acts, which was not connected with signs and wonders (cf. Romans 8:9), and for the commencement of His indwelling in those who experienced Spirit baptism and its concomitant speaking in tongues. Thus, the Spirit was received by the 3000 men converted on Pentecost, but He was poured out also (and in this manner likewise received) by the 120 members of the pre-Pentecost church. There is no evidence that the 3000 spoke in tongues or manifested any miraculous gifts when they repented, or at any subsequent point whatever, other than the certain manifestation of the miraculously bestowed new nature bestowed on all saints in regeneration (2:41-47; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ received from the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost (2:33), and the Son gives the Spirit to all who find salvation (2:38-39), but the “promise” (2:39) of the possession of the Holy Ghost is of Him as a Person, not of some particular manner of His coming, such as Spirit baptism with its accompanying signs and wonders. Receipt of the Spirit is thus specified as a gift for believers throughout the dispensation of grace; the Spirit is received at the point of conversion or regeneration (John 3:5) in Luke-Acts (Acts 2:38) and elsewhere in Scripture (John 7:39; Galatians 3:14). However, receive language is also used for the action of the Spirit’s falling upon men in the dispensationally transitional events accompanied with miraculous phenomena in Acts 2, 8, and 10 (Acts 8:15-19; 10:47; cf. Acts 19:2, 6; John 20:22).
The baptism of the Holy Ghost, accompanied with tongues speaking,[lxxiii] is also associated with the Spirit’s coming upon (e˙pe÷rcomai . . . e˙pi÷) the church in Acts 1:8. Consequently, this language is employed in the beginning of Acts for the miraculous coming of the Spirit and is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in the beginning of Luke’s gospel, where the miraculous work of the Spirit within Mary is associated with the coming of the Son into the world (Luke 1:35).[lxxiv] The miraculous coming of the Spirit associated with tongues speaking, as found in Acts 19:6, employs similar—but not identical—“coming upon” language (e¶rcomai . . . e˙pi÷), found elsewhere in the NT (yet cf. Ezekiel 2:2; 3:24, 37:9; Wisdom 7:7; LXX) only in the record of Christ’s baptism with its associated visibly miraculous manifestation of the Spirit (Matthew 3:16). The pneumatological coming upon language of Acts is thus appropriately considered as necessarily accompanied with signs and wonders.
The historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism fits the evidence found in the book of Acts. The baptism of the Holy Ghost was the validation of the church as God’s new institution for worship, comparable to the coming of the shekinah into the tabernacle and temple in the Old Testament. Accompanied by miraculous signs and wonders, Christ baptized the church as as a one-time event in Acts two on the day of Pentecost. As the Jewish church of Pentecost spread to the Samaritans (Acts 8), Gentiles connected with Judaism and in the Promised Land (Acts 10), and Gentiles without any previous Jewish connection (Acts 19), the Spirit came upon these new groups with similar signs and wonders, although mediately through the apostles as representatives and leaders of the church, in fulfillment of the outline provided in Acts 1:8. With the immediate baptism of the church by Christ in Acts 2, and the coming of the Spirit as mediated by the apostles on the groups in Acts 8, 10, and 19, Spirit baptism was complete, never to be repeated in the church age. The evidence of the book of Acts contradicts the UCD view. Spirit baptism was corporate, not individual. It was a post-conversion event, not one synonymous with conversion. It was always associated with miraculous signs and wonders including tongues, while tongues and other miraculous gifts have now ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8).[lxxv] Spirit baptism took place after the moment of faith and, with one exception, after baptism as well; it did not not take place at the moment of saving faith. It was associated with the historically completed sending of the Comforter, and was very far from being an act unaccompanied by visible miraculous phenomena that is repeated until the Rapture whenever a sinner is regenerated. The evidence of the book of Acts also contradicts the PCP view. PCPs interpret Spirit baptism as an individual, not corporate event. Most PCPs do not claim that they receive the same ability to do miracles, signs, and wonders as were found in Acts, while the evidence belies the claims of those that do so claim.[lxxvi] Furthermore, the Comforter has already come to indwell the church, so Spirit baptism simply does not happen today. Only the historic Baptist doctrine of Spirit baptism fits the evidence of the book of Acts.
D. Spirit baptism: The alleged reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13
1 Corinthians 12:13 is the lynchpin upon which the structure of UCD doctrine of Spirit baptism is based.[lxxvii] Deprived of the verse, it is very difficult to even attempt to defend it exegetically. The verse reads, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”[lxxviii] UCDs argue that “in this dispensation those who place their faith in Jesus Christ have been baptized into the body of Christ, both Jew and Gentile, and are now seen as one in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12–13). . . . According to 1 Corinthians 12:13, it is the Spirit who baptizes Jew and Gentile into one body.”[lxxix] The UCD affirms: “Every believer is baptized by the Spirit[.] . . . The Spirit forms the church . . . by baptizing all believers into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12, 13).”[lxxx] However, 1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches nothing of the kind.
In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul teaches that the members of the church at Corinth, led by the Holy Spirit, were all baptized in water to join the membership of that local assembly—the particular congregation, not a non-extant universal church, being the body of Christ—and that all the members of that assembly partook of the common blessing of the Lord’s Supper. The theological division between UCDs and historic Baptists on the significance of 1 Corinthians 12:13 may be resolved into the following elenctics: a.) Is the body of Christ the visible congregation or a universal, invisible church? b.) Does Christ baptize with the Spirit, or does the Holy Spirit baptize? c.) Was Spirit baptism a completed historical phenomenon at the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, or is it an event that takes place regularly throughout the entire dispensation of grace?
a.) Is the body of Christ the visible congregation or a universal, invisible church?
The body of Christ, referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:13, is the particular, local assembly. It is not a universal and invisible church, because no such entity is found in the New Testament. While a discussion of the many proofs of the unscriptural nature of the universal church dogma would go beyond the boundaries of the present composition,[lxxxi] it will briefly be noted that the word translated church, ekklesia (e˙kklhsi÷a), is never used for a universal, invisible entity in any of its 115 appearances in the New Testament.[lxxxii] The LXX, in accord with the significance of the word in classical Greek, likewise employs ekklesia of local, visible assemblies, not of anything unassembled[lxxxiii] and invisible.[lxxxiv] While the family of God is a universal, invisible entity that consists of all believers everywhere (Galatians 3:26), a church is a particular, local, visible congregation. The major metaphors for the church also demonstrate that the idea of a universal, invisible church is false. The church is Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27), His temple (1 Timothy 3:15), and His bride (2 Corinthians 11:2).[lxxxv] Bodies are very local and visible—sundry piles of flesh and bones scattered around the globe do not constitute a body. A temple rests in one particular location, available for everyone to see, but bricks scattered everywhere are not a building at all. And certainly every man on his wedding day rejoices that his bride is very local and visible, not invisible or cut into little pieces which are scattered all over the earth! Christ’s church is not a building, a denomination, or something universal and invisible; it is a particular assembly of baptized saints.
Furthermore, the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 12:13 demonstrates that the body metaphor refers to the particular congregation. First Corinthians 12:27, the only verse in the New Testament that defines the body of Christ, addresses the particular congregation at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2) and states, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” The Pauline exhortation to unity in 1 Corinthians makes it evident that the apostle employed the body metaphor to emphasize the need for real oneness among the brethren in the city of Corinth. His purpose was not to teach some sort of theoretical church-unity between believers at Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, and everywhere else. In 12:14-27, Paul tells the members of the Corinthian congregation that each of them is required for the smooth function of the assembly—one is like an eye, the other like a hand, another like a nose, and their united functionality underneath the direction of Christ the Head (Ephesians 1:22-23) is necessary for their congregational “body” to work effectively, just as united functionality of literal body parts is necessary for a healthy human body. The local sense of “body” in verses 14-27 is directly tied to the statement of verse 13 by the explanatory word for and requires a local sense of the body metaphor in 12:13. Furthermore, universalizing the Pauline image to make members of the congregation at Corinth into parts of a body cut up into pieces all over the world would not only violate the necessarily localized nature of a living body but would do nothing to advance Paul’s purpose of promoting Corinthian unity. Rather, a universal body would have further contributed to Corinthian division, as today the Protestant universal church doctrine, when adopted by Baptist churches, contributes to a neglect of, disrespect for, and a failure to adequately strive for genuine, Scriptural unity within particular assemblies. First Corinthians 12:13 cannot refer to the Spirit’s placing someone into the universal, invisible church as the body of Christ, because the body of Christ is the local, visible assembly in the context of 1 Corinthians 12 and in the rest of the New Testament.
First Corinthians 12:25 states that there should be no schism in the body (cf. Ephesians 4:3-4). If all believers are the body of Christ and unity is commanded in the body, then it would be a sin for a fundamental Baptist to separate from any believer whatsoever, whether he is part of the church of Rome, is committing the grossest forms of sexual immorality, or is a terribly compromised neo-evangelical, for such separation would be sowing discord in the body of Christ. Ecclesiastical separation from any believer would be sin. However, such a conclusion directly contradicts the Biblical imperative to separate from disobedient brethren (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14) and the example within 1 Corinthians itself of separation from an errant believer (5:1-5). The UCD position cannot consistently apply the Biblical standard of unity to its universal “church” and practice the Biblical doctrine of separation.[lxxxvi] Indeed, an examination of the nature of the genuine unity in orthodoxy and orthopraxy commanded within the assembly (Ephesians 4:3-16) demonstrates that the tremendous discord of doctrine and practice within the alleged universal “church” has very little to do with the Bible. Since the body of Christ is the visible and local assembly, the conflict inherent in the UCD view is removed by the historic Baptist doctrine, for an imperative for unity within an assembly of the Lord’s people is entirely consistent with the removal of a disobedient or doctrinally errant brother from a congregation by church discipline.
An advocate of the UCD view might allege that the use of “we” in 1 Corinthians 12:13 demonstrates that Paul was claiming to be part of the same body as the Corinthians, thus validating the UCD asseveration that the body of Christ is all believers worldwide. However, there is no reason to conclude that Paul’s “we” means that the apostle was part of the same body as the Corinthian church. Paul had been water baptized into one local body, just as the Corinthians had been immersed into one local body. A Baptist pastor who holds to local-only ecclesiology can easily say to Baptist brethren from other assemblies, “we have all been baptized into one body,” because all those he addresses thus have indeed been immersed into the membership of the several churches in view. No implication that the various Baptist churches were truly one big church made up of all of the churches put together would follow from such a statement. Why then would Paul’s “we [are] all baptized into one body” do so? Cannot Paul identify himself with his readers in such a manner in 1 Corinthians 12:13? Does he not identify with his audience in this way with some frequency in his epistles?
Even if one did not accept the explanation above for Paul’s we in 1 Corinthians 12:13, a speaker or writer may at times employ we without including himself. A teacher in a classroom might say to his students, “If we break the rules, we will be in big trouble,” but he clearly addressed the students alone in such a situation. A fundamentalist preacher may say, “If we do not get saved, we will go to hell,” but one certainly hopes that he does not make such a statement because he is himself yet unconverted. Such a sense of we has New Testament support.[lxxxvii] The use of the first person plural pronoun in 1 Corinthians 12:13 does not prove that the verse refers to a universal, invisible church.
Paul’s use of both “we” and “body” in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 refer back to the usage of 1 Corinthians 10:16-17: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”[lxxxviii] The thematic connection between 1 Corinthians 12:13, a verse (as explicated below) about unity around the church ordinances—including the Supper, as expressed by “drink into one Spirit,” and 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, the previous passage about unity around the Supper that begins Paul’s discussion of this topic (as elaborated in more depth in chapter 11)—is confirmed by the linguistic connection through the use of “cup”[lxxxix] and “made drink,”[xc] the repeated “one,”[xci] “body,”[xcii] “we all,”[xciii] and the phrases referring to the unity of the many (oi˚ polloi÷) into one.[xciv] First Corinthians 10:16-17 provides a strong precontext for the use of “we” in 1 Corinthians 12:13. However, in 10:16-17 the use of the singular in the phrases “the cup” and “the bread” do not establish that every member of the Corinthian assembly, along with the Apostle Paul, together broke only a single piece of bread into tiny pieces and drank out of only a single cup when they took the Lord’s supper together (so that Paul, although not present with them, still drank from the same cup as the Corinthians and ate the same piece of bread). Rather, the words emphasize the generic category of “bread” and “cup” in connection with the generic Greek article.[xcv] One who wished to deny the categorical or generic use of the articular words “bread” and “cup” would also, for consistency, need to affirm that the assembly used the same loaf of bread every time they celebrated communion, in light of the customary present tense[xcvi] verbs employed in 10:16-17 to indicate the repeated, continuing action of the celebration of the Supper.[xcvii] It would be a wonder indeed, on this view, that the one piece of bread eaten by every member of the congregation every time the Supper was celebrated never was used up—it must have been exceedingly large to begin with and required a very large oven to bake. As “the bread” did not indicate that there was only one piece of bread—and certainly not a universal, invisible piece of bread—no more does “the body” of 1 Corinthians 12:13 indicate a solitary body, much less a universal, invisible body for Christ. The nouns “bread,” “cup,” and “body” are all generic nouns. Likewise the uses of “we” in both 10:16-17 and 12:13 are generic references indicating what typically happened in the congregation at Corinth. The “we” of 10:16 did not require that every member of the Corinthian church was present and participated every time the Supper was celebrated—some were doubtless not in the assembly on any given occasion because of sickness, travel, or other such reasons; those who were holding on to sin had no right to partake; and Paul, who wrote the “we,” was not in Corinth at all. If the “we” in 10:16-17 (and in the very closely related reference to the Supper in 12:13 in “we . . . have been made to drink”) does not even require the inclusion of every member of the Corinthian assembly, how much less does it require the inclusion of the Apostle Paul? Was Paul present with the church at Corinth, and thus included in the “we . . . break . . . bread” of 10:16-17, every time that assembly celebrated communion? If not, how can the “we [are] . . . one body” of 10:17 or the “we” and “body” of 12:13 establish that Paul and the Corinthian church members were part of the same church body—a supposed universal, invisible church which cannot be exegetically established from the meaning of the word ekklesia, the clear use of the body metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:13-27 for the particular, local assembly, and any reasonable understanding of the necessarily localized nature of a body? The we in both 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 and 12:13 simply establishes that the respective actions indicated in the respective passages were going on among the Corinthians and with the apostle Paul. The word emphasizes the fellowship around the church ordinances among the members of the church at Corinth in both passages.
One cannot affirm that Christ has both a universal, invisible body and a local, visible one, and that 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks of the universal body but 12:27 of the local one, since the metaphor of the body of Christ is not bifurcated: Christ has but one body (Ephesians 4:4).[xcviii] Additionally, even if Scripture taught—which it does not—the existence of a universal body of Christ, it would be impossible to contextually support a universal reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Where in the flow of v. 13-27 would Paul change from speech about the allegedly universal body of Christ to the local body clearly in view in v. 27? What part of the body metaphor in v. 14-26 is local, and which universal? No acceptable answer exists. Both the fact that there is but one type of body of Christ and the unity of 1 Corinthians 12:13-27 obliterate the UCD view of 1 Corinthians 12:13.
First Corinthians 12:27 defines the body of Christ as an ecclesiological metaphor, but the UCD makes the body of Christ soteriological. The UCD view thus confuses ecclesiology and soteriology. This confusion suits the historical development of the universal church doctrine; post-apostolic, proto-Popish apostasy from the faith developed the idea of a universal or catholic church[xcix] and the related idea encapsulated in the Cyprianic formulation Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, “Outside the church there is no salvation.” The Protestant movement transferred the notion of the essentiality of church membership to salvation from the visible universal (catholic) church concept of Rome to the allegedly invisible universal church,[c] a view adopted by UCDs in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Historic Baptists, following Scripture, reject entirely the notion that there is no salvation outside of the church, maintaining rather that one must be saved before he can properly join the local, visible congregation, the only church that exists, and that salvation is not conjoined to membership in either a universal visible or invisible church, since such concepts are not taught in the Bible. The confusion of ecclesiology and soteriology involved in the UCD view of 1 Corinthians 12:13, but avoided in the historic Baptist view of the text, demonstrates the superiority of the latter.
The first commentary we have on the Corinthian epistles, 1 Clement, written by the pastor of the church at Rome to the Corinthian church around the turn of the first century, understands the metaphor of the church as “body” in a local sense, not a universal one (37:5; 38:1; 46:7). Contrary to later patristic baptismal regeneration, universal ecclesiology, hierarchicalism, works salvation, and other grievous heresies, Clement’s epistle evidences local-only ecclesiology, congregational church government, the unity of the office of presbyter/bishop, justification by faith, and other Baptist doctrines.[ci] Thus, the earliest known historical commentary on the body metaphor, composed only decades after Paul wrote his epistle, supports the historic Baptist view of the body metaphor against the UCD position.
The fact that the church of Christ is only a local, visible institution, the fact that the body of Christ metaphor throughout the New Testament is employed for the particular congregation, the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 12, the nullification of the Scriptural doctrine of separation involved in the UCD position, the fact that there is but one type of church body, the confusion of soteriology and ecclesiology involved in the UCD doctrine, and the evidence of 1st century extra-canonical Christian understanding of the body metaphor all tell heavily against the UCD view of 1 Corinthians 12:13. Certain of these evidences, of themselves, make the UCD view of the verse entirely impossible. Moreover, alleged proof of the UCD view from the use of we in the verse falls very short. First Corinthians 12:13 cannot teach that the Holy Spirit baptizes people into the universal, invisible body of Christ, because there is no universal, invisible body of Christ. The UCD view does not affirm that the Spirit baptizes people into the membership of local assemblies, but the body of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is the local, visible congregation. Thus, the UCD view is not taught in 1 Corinthians 12:13. The historic Baptist understanding of the verse avoids all the problems in the UCD position and gives a satisfactory and consistent understanding of 1 Corinthians 12.
b.) Does Christ baptize with the Spirit, or does the Holy Spirit baptize?
An examination of the gospel accounts of the promise of Spirit baptism manifest that Christ is the One who baptizes with the Spirit; the Spirit is not said to baptize anyone. In Matthew 3:11 (cf. Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16) John the Baptist predicted, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” John likewise stated that “he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (John 1:33). These are all the explicit references to baptism with the Holy Spirit in the gospels, and Christ is the agent performing the baptism in every case, while the Holy Spirit is the means or instrument[cii] through which the baptism takes place. The fact that Spirit baptism took place when Christ, in conjunction with the Father, sent the Comforter—the Holy Ghost (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; Acts 1:4-8)—to abide with the church at Pentecost (Acts 2) also demonstrates that the Lord Jesus, not the third member of the Trinity, is the agent in Spirit baptism. In Acts 1:5, referring back to these predictions and forward to their fulfillment on the day of Pentecost, the Lord Jesus stated, “John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Again, the Holy Spirit is not the agent performing the baptism, but the medium or instrumentality whereby Christ baptizes. The evidence in the gospels and Acts is uniformly against the Holy Ghost being the agent in Spirit baptism.
Both the Old Testament prediction of Spirit baptism and the statement of fulfillment in Acts, employing the language of the Spirit being “poured out,” deny the agency of the Holy Ghost in Spirit baptism. Jehovah affirms in Joel 2:28-29, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”[ciii] On Pentecost, Peter referenced this text, stating that “God [promised], I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” Consistent with the Old Testament, Peter affirmed that the Spirit did not pour Himself out in the action of Spirit baptism. The Holy Spirit was poured out by the other two members of the Trinity, the Father (Acts 2:17-18) and the Son (Acts 2:33).
The UCD view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 avers that the Spirit baptism allegedly set forth in the text is performed by the agency of the Holy Ghost. Such a view of the text disregards the Old Testament predictions of Spirit baptism and contradicts every statement concerning the nature of this baptism in the gospels and in Acts. The historic Baptist view avoids these extreme hermeneutical difficulties by correctly recognizing that Christ was the agent in the completed action of Spirit baptism and 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks not of baptism with the Holy Ghost but of the immersion in water through which a believer is united to the membership of a local, visible church body.
c.) Was Spirit baptism a completed historical phenomenon at the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, or is it an event that takes place regularly throughout the entire dispensation of grace?
In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul indicates that there was but “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), demonstrating that by the time he wrote the epistle (c. A. D. 57-62) Spirit baptism was already a completed historical phenomenon and only immersion in water remained for the rest of the age of grace.[civ] In fact, the cessation of Spirit baptism had already occurred by the time 1 Corinthians was written (c. A. D. 54); for, subsequent to the events of Acts 19:1-7—or, more properly, after Acts 2 itself—Spirit baptism ended, having fulfilled its purpose.[cv] Because the Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles had received the Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8; 2; 8; 10; 19), the dispensational transition connected to the baptism of the Holy Ghost was complete, and all who subsequently came to faith received the Spirit immediately at the moment of their regeneration (Romans 8:9). Christ baptizes no further groups or individuals with the Spirit. While Spirit baptism was a transitional event, and nothing in Scripture states or hints that it would continue until the end of the church age, the Lord Jesus specifically declared that water baptism would continue to be practiced by His church until His return (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). For the entirety of the dispensation of grace, immersion in water is commanded; but no such command is found for the transitional and passing event of Spirit baptism. “Repent and be baptized” in water (Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12, 36-39; 16:13-15, 32-33; 18:8; 22:16) is the continuing, enduring order from heaven, and refusal to do so is to reject the counsel of God (Luke 7:29-30). Thus, when Ephesians 4:5 indicates that one baptism, not two,[cvi] was extant at the time of its composition, Spirit baptism must by that time have passed away.[cvii] Water baptism could not have ceased, since it is to continue until the return of Christ and is mentioned in epistles composed after Ephesians (cf. 1 Peter 3:21). Had both water and Spirit baptism been continuing events at the time the book of Ephesians was written, Ephesians 4:5 would have read, “one Lord, one faith, two baptisms.” Ephesians 4:5, therefore, demonstrates that Spirit baptism had ceased. This cessation of Spirit baptism also explains the entire absence of reference to it as an ongoing work in the New Testament epistles—indeed, to an almost total absence of reference to Spirit baptism in the epistles at all.[cviii]
The UCD view that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to the Holy Spirit’s baptizing believers into the universal church, the body of Christ, cannot be sustained. Scripture teaches that there is no universal church into which the Holy Spirit can baptize believers. Furthermore, Christ, not the Holy Ghost, is the agent in Spirit baptism. Moreover, Spirit baptism had already ceased at the time 1 Corinthians was written, never again to take place during the church age, while water baptism was ongoing in 1 Corinthians itself (cf. 1:14ff.), enduring until the return of Christ. In sum, the problems of the UCD view of Spirit baptism are avoided by the historic Baptist view, for it is the position taught in the Bible.
d.) The Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:13
First Corinthians 12:13 reads, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”[cix] The clauses of this passage will be examined in order and their significance evaluated.
“For by one Spirit”: kai« ga»r e˙n e˚ni« Pneu/mati
The historic Baptist position affirms that this clause refers to the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, as do both the PCP and UCD doctrine. This clause, in the Biblical, historic Baptist view, refers to the Holy Spirit’s leading the members of the church at Corinth to submit to water baptism. Although the members of the Corinthian assembly boasted about the amazing spiritual gifts given them by the Spirit and caused division in the assembly on account of those gifts, the Apostle Paul reminded the congregation that the Holy Spirit had led the members of their church to submit to a common immersion with the phrase “by one Spirit.” First Corinthians 12:13 affirms that the Holy Spirit is the Producer of congregational unity around the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Various commentators and writers have advanced the idea that by in the verse should be translated in and have consequently affirmed either that the correct translation is either “in one Spirit” or “in one spirit.” The question of a reference to the Holy Spirit, or a “spirit,”[cx] and of the rendition of en as by or in, will be addressed in order.
Thomas Strouse, Baptist seminary professor and advocate of Spirit baptism as a completed historical event, commented concerning 1 Corinthians 12:13:
Paul employed the expression “by one Spirit” (en heni pneumati) in Phil. 1:27 as “in one spirit,” referring to “the spirit of unity.” Since pneumati is anarthrous in I Cor. 12:13, Paul differentiated pneumati (“spirit”) from the seven previous articular references to “the Spirit” (to pneumati) as deity.[cxi]
Strouse affirms that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to a “spirit of unity” that the assembly possessed when its members received water baptism, rather than to the Holy Spirit leading the members of the assembly to receive immersion. However, the idea that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to “a spirit” of unity rather than the third Person in the Trinity cannot be sustained exegetically.
First, the immediate context provides overwhelming support for a reference to the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Consider 12:3-13:
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.[cxii]
The eleven references to the word pneuma, “Spirit/spirit,” in 1 Corinthians 12:3-13, uniformly refer to the Holy Spirit. Changing “by one Spirit” to “in one spirit of unity” in v. 13 is very contrary to the context. For that matter, the “one Spirit” of v. 13 is the “one and the selfsame Spirit” who “worketh . . . as he will” in v. 11. The explanatory words “for” in v. 12 & 13 connect the reference to the “one Spirit” (hen Pneuma) of v. 13 immediately back to the “one . . . Spirit” (hen . . . Pneuma) of v. 11. Since v. 11 refers to the Holy Spirit, v. 13 refers to the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, that the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to “drink[ing] into one Spirit,” the Holy Spirit, not a “spirit of unity,” confirms the reference to the Holy Spirit in the first half.[cxiii] The overwhelming evidence of eleven references to the Holy Spirit in the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 12:13, the fact that v. 13 explains and develops the reference to the Holy Spirit in v. 11, and the evidence of the second half of v. 13, prove that 1 Corinthians 12:13a refers to the Holy Spirit, not to a “spirit of unity.”
Furthermore, the word “spirit” is not employed anywhere in Scripture as a reference to a “spirit of unity.” If 1 Corinthians 12:13 referred to such a thing, it would be absolutely unique in Scripture in doing so. An alleged parallel to Philippians 1:27 fails because the latter passage refers to the human spirit, as is made obvious by the immediately following reference to another portion of the human person, the mind or soul: “I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit [en heni pneumati], with one mind [mia pseuche] striving together for the faith of the gospel.”[cxiv] Philippians 1:27, along with the similar reference in Acts 4:32 to “the multitude of them that believed [being] of one heart and of one soul,”[cxv] do indeed emphasize unity in the assembly, as in both verses the inner beings, the minds, souls, hearts, and spirits, of the members of the church were to be in agreement as they strove together to serve the Lord. Nonetheless, Philippians 1:27 and Acts 4:32 do not refer to a “spirit of unity” anymore than they do to a “soul of unity” or a “heart of unity.” Thus, unless one wishes to make 1 Corinthians 12:13 into a reference to being baptized and drinking into the human soul and spirit—which would require a definite mental stretch to produce any reasonable signification—there is no parallel whatever between 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Philippians 1:27 in the use of the word pneuma, “Spirit/spirit,” as a reference to a “spirit of unity.” None of the 385 references to the word pneuma in the New Testament refers to a “spirit of unity.” A very large number of the references to pneuma—including ten instances other than 1 Corinthians 12:13a in 12:3-13—refer to God the Holy Spirit.
Strouse’s statement, “Since pneumati is anarthrous in I Cor. 12:13, Paul differentiated pneumati (“spirit”) from the seven[cxvi] previous articular references to ‘the Spirit’ (to pneumati) as deity” cannot be sustained. Several rules of Greek grammar demonstrate that there is no reason to require an article to make “by one Spirit” have a definite signification. Daniel Wallace, in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, writes:
The function of the article is not primarily to make something definite that would otherwise be indefinite. . . . It is not necessary for a noun to have the article in order for it to be definite. . . there are at least ten constructions in which a noun may be definite though anarthrous. . . . [A] proper name is definite without the article. . . . There is no need for the article to be used to make the object of a preposition definite. . . . [they are only] occasionally indefinite . . . Thus, when a noun is the object of a preposition, it does not require the article to be definite: if it has the article, it must be definite; if it lacks the article, it may be definite. The reason for the article, then, is usually for other purposes (such as anaphora or as a function marker). . . . [Furthermore,] [a] one-of-a-kind noun does not, of course, require the article to be definite (e.g., “sun,” “earth,” “devil,” etc.). One might consider pneuvma as monadic when it is modified by the adjective a‚gion. If so, then the expression pneuvma a‚gion is monadic and refers only to the Holy Spirit.[cxvii]
A reference to the name of the monadic Spirit of God,[cxviii] with Spirit as the object of the preposition “by,” has no need of the Greek article to express definiteness. To argue otherwise neglects important characteristics of Greek syntax.
Furthermore, not all the references to the Spirit of God in 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 contain the Greek article. In 12:3, the Holy Spirit is twice mentioned without an article, both instances following the same preposition (en) employed in 12:13.[cxix] Furthermore, the Spirit of God is referred to without the Greek article following en (and in a variety of other constructions, naturally, 7:40, etc.) elsewhere in 1 Corinthians (2:4, 13; 6:19). In fact, the construction en heis, “in/by one,” is never followed by the Greek article in the epistles of Paul or, for that matter, in any of the New Testament outside of Luke’s gospel[cxx]—but one could not properly supply the English indefinite article after any of the Greek nonarticular en heis constructions.
First Corinthians 12:13a of necessity refers to the Holy Spirit. The connection of v. 13 to v. 11 and the eleven uses of pneuma for the Holy Spirit in the immediate context compel this conclusion. Arguments in favor of an alternative reading of the text as a reference to a “spirit of unity” fall far short of dismantling the contextual evidence for a designation of the Holy Spirit. Scripture does not refer to a “spirit of unity” with the word pneuma anywhere in the Bible. Syntactical asseverations against a reference to the Spirit of God in 1 Corinthians 12:13a entirely fail to establish their conclusions. Indubitably, reference to the great God, the Holy Spirit, must not be removed from 1 Corinthians 12:13a.
Since the Holy Spirit, not any kind of other “spirit,” is found in the first clause of 1 Corinthians 12:13, the question arises whether the sense of en heni Pneumati is “by one Spirit,” as in the King James Version, or “in one Spirit.” Should the Greek preposition en be translated here as “by” or “in”? Arthur Pink, arguing in favor of an “in one spirit” position, wrote:
[T]he preposition translated ‘by’ in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is ‘en,’ which is translated in the N. T. ‘among’ 114 times, ‘by’ 142, ‘with’ 139, [and] ‘in’ 1863 times. Comment is needless. ‘In one spirit were we all baptized’ should be the rendering of 1 Corinthians 12:13.[cxxi]
Pink expresses the single major argument against the reading of the Authorized Version—the preposition en is translated in more frequently[cxxii] then it is translated by. This, however, is not by any means sufficient evidence that in is correct for 1 Corinthians 12:13.
First, the fact that en “is the workhorse of prepositions in the NT, occurring more frequently and in more varied situations than any other”[cxxiii] must be recognized. As the most common preposition in the New Testament, and one used in a greater variety of situations than any other, the size of the word’s semantic range must be recognized. While in is the most common translation, it is by no means the universal one, and there are hundreds of verses in the New Testament where it is simply not possible to properly translate the word as in. It is clearly invalid to affirm that because en is most commonly rendered in, it must be so translated in every instance. Such an argument must ignore around 900 uses of the word.
Second, the underlying question is whether an idea of place or sphere, a locative notion (the common idea when in is the translation) or one of instrumentality (when by or with is commonly the translation) represents the idea in the text. The fact that instrumentality may be expressed in English with more than just by also points to the fact that comparing the frequency of that translation alone (to the exclusion of, e. g., with, the third most common translation for en), against the sphere notion emphasized through the rendition in, underestimates the frequency of the instrumental use of en.
Third, having concluded that the Pneuma of 1 Corinthians 12:13a is the Holy Spirit, not some other kind of spirit, a translation “by one Spirit” rather than “in one Spirit” follows, since advocates of the in translation—such as both Strouse and Pink, as cited above—at least nearly universally believe that the phrase does not refer to the “Spirit,” but to a “spirit.” Very few argue for “in one Spirit.” If “one Spirit,” not “one spirit,” is the correct translation, then “by” rather than “in” follows.
Fourth, a consideration of the context of 1 Corinthians 12:13a is determinative for the significance of the phrase. Both the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 12 and the comparative grammatical context derived by an examination of uses of en in connection with “Spirit,” Pneumati, demonstrate that by is the correct translation of en in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
The New Testament and wider Koiné background evidence that a consideration of action en Pneumati as “by the Spirit” is not uncommon. The LXX contains the instrumental sense of en Pneumati. One finds phrases with en and Pneuma signifying “by [the, thy, etc.] Spirit (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:12; Nehemiah 9:30; Micah 3:8; Zechariah 4:6).[cxxiv] More importantly, when a reference to the Holy Spirit is in view, an examination of all New Testament verses where en is followed within four words by pneuma in the dative case will evidence that the definite majority of the time the locative en is not the intended sense. In the thirty references to this construction in the New Testament, only nine[cxxv] are rendered as “in the Spirit” in the Authorized Version. The other twenty-one[cxxvi] are rendered otherwise, including twelve instances of “by the Spirit,” the most common single translation.[cxxvii] The broad New Testament context supports the strong possibility that 1 Corinthians 12:13a should be rendered “by the Spirit.”
The book context of 1 Corinthians, and specifically the immediate context of 12:13a in 1 Corinthians 12, supply overwhelming evidence that an instrumental use of the preposition en is in view in 1 Corinthians 12:13a, thus validating the accuracy of the translation by, as found in the King James Version. First, elsewhere in Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians, there is no instance of the sense required by the alternative locative translation of en as in—the Spirit is not the medium of anything in the Corinthian epistles. Second, and in contrast, the idea of the Spirit’s being the agent or instrument, as conveyed in the Authorized Version’s translation of the members of the church at Corinth submitting to baptism in water “by the Spirit,” are found throughout the epistles Paul wrote to Corinth. One notes elsewhere such phrases as “by his Spirit” (2:10), “by the Spirit” (6:11, 12:8, etc.), and many other instances of the Spirit actively engaging in activity, such as teaching (2:13). Third, since 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to baptism in water, the medium of the baptism referred to in the verse is water, not the Holy Spirit. One is immersed in water, not in the Spirit, when one is baptized into a church’s membership; but the Holy Spirit is He who leads a believer to submit to water immersion. A Christian submits to water baptism “by the Spirit,” but water baptism is in water, not “in the Spirit.” Fourth, one notes that when en modifies the word Pneuma as a reference to the Holy Spirit, it always has an instrumental idea in the Corinthian epistles:
6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
6:11 kai« tauvta¿ tineß h™te: aÓlla» aÓpelou/sasqe, aÓlla» hJgia¿sqhte aÓll∆ e˙dikaiw¿qhte, e˙n twˆ◊ ojno/mati touv Kuri÷ou ∆Ihsouv, kai« e˙n twˆ◊ Pneu/mati touv Qeouv hJmw◊n.
12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
12:3 dio\ gnwri÷zw uJmi√n, o¢ti oujdei«ß e˙n Pneu/mati Qeouv lalw◊n le÷gei aÓna¿qema ∆Ihsouvn: kai« oujdei«ß du/natai ei˙pei√n Ku/rion ∆Ihsouvn, ei˙ mh\ e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ.
12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
12:9 e˚te÷rwˆ de« pi÷stiß, e˙n twˆ◊ aujtwˆ◊ Pneu/mati: a‡llwˆ de« cari÷smata i˙ama¿twn, e˙n twˆ◊ aujtwˆ◊ Pneu/mati:
6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
6:6 e˙n Ôagno/thti, e˙n gnw¿sei, e˙n makroqumi÷aˆ, e˙n crhsto/thti, e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ, e˙n aÓga¿phØ aÓnupokri÷twˆ,
Fifth, the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 12:13 has a very great number of references to the Spirit as instrument or agent, employing a variety of Greek forms. Consider 12:8-13:
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
The previous verses consequently strongly indicate that 12:13a expresses the active action of the Holy Spirit. Finally, 12:11 affirms that the “one . . . Spirit . . . worketh,” indicating active agency, so the reference merely two verses later—which is even connected to v. 11 by the word “for” that begins v. 12, 13—to action “by” the same “one Spirit” is necessarily a reference to the Spirit’s agency or instrumentality. The context of the Corinthian correspondence validates what is required by the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 12:13a—the en heni Pneumati of that verse is a reference to action “by the Spirit,” not to something taking place “in the Spirit.”
In sum, 1 Corinthians 12:13a properly signifies and is translated “by one Spirit.” No reference to a “spirit of unity” or anything less than the third Person of the Trinity is exegetically viable. Furthermore, the preposition en is necessarily translated in this clause as “by.” The text indicates that the event referred to in the remainder of the verse took place through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost.
“Are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free”:
hJmei√ß pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n sw◊ma e˙bapti÷sqhmen, ei¶te ∆Ioudai√oi ei¶te ›Ellhneß, ei¶te douvloi ei¶te e˙leu/qeroi
The baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is immersion in water, since, as demonstrated earlier, Spirit baptism had ceased by the time the first epistle to the Corinthians was inspired. Furthermore, a reference to Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13 would be unique in the Pauline corpus—all other references to the baptism of the Holy Ghost are in the gospels or in Acts.[cxxviii] Indeed, throughout the entirety of Scripture, whenever baptism is mentioned without a contextual qualifier (“with the Holy Ghost” “with fire” “unto Moses,” etc.) immersion in water is universally the referent. No contextual qualifier is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Thus, the verse does not constitute a unique reference to Spirit baptism contrary to the uniform Pauline usage elsewhere in his epistles, but a simple reference to baptism in water, like all other unqualified references to baptism in the Bible. Such general considerations from Scripture establish that 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks of immersion in water, not Spirit baptism.
The statement of the verse itself supports a reference to immersion in water. As discussed earlier, Christ is the agent of Spirit baptism—the second, not the third Person of the Trinity performs this baptism (Matthew 3:11, etc.). Were 1 Corinthians 12:13 a reference to Spirit baptism, it would contradict all the clear passages on the doctrine by making the Holy Ghost the baptizer. Recognizing in the text a reference to the working of the Spirit in leading the members of the Corinthian church to be baptized in water harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the Bible.
A reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13 to the working of the Holy Spirit in leading the members of the Corinthian church to receive water baptism fits the context of 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote his epistle to a church filled with “contentions” (1 Corinthians 1:11), where factions had formed claiming to follow Paul, Apollos, and others (1:12). The apostle exhorts the church to unity based on their uniform immersion in the name of the Trinity—they were not baptized in the name of Paul or any other affirmed head of a church faction (1:13ff.), but had all pledged themselves to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the baptismal bath. Likewise in 1 Corinthians 12:13, all the members of the Corinthian church, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, had received a common water baptism into the body of Christ, the local congregation (12:27), and thus unity was incumbent upon them. Having been added to the body by an identical immersion in water (12:13), each member of the church was a body part which needed the others for the congregation to function properly (12:14-27). The Corinthians exulted in the various pneumatic gifts, often improperly manifested among them (1 Corinthians 12-14), but they were to be unified, as they had all been led by the one Holy Spirit (12:13a) to submit to immersion into a common church body. The assembly was to recognize and prize the unity derived from the identical, Spirit-led immersion in water participated in by all its members. Finally, the reference to the other church ordinance, the Lord’s Supper, in 12:13d, supports a reference to water baptism in 12:13a. The context of 1 Corinthians 12:13 clearly supports a reference to baptism in water, rather than to Spirit baptism.
Paul refers to water baptism “into one body” because the ordinance adds a believer to the membership of the congregation authorizing the immersion. This truth is also manifest in Acts 2:41-47. Those that “gladly received [Peter’s gospel preaching of the] word were baptized: and the same day there were added [to the pre-Pentecost church membership of around 120, Acts 1:15] about three thousand souls.” These three thousand were “added to the church” (v. 47). The verb “add,” prostithemi (prosti÷qhmi), is not just a word for joining a church’s membership in Acts 2:41-47, but is also employed in this way in Acts 5:14 & 11:24[cxxix] (cf. Isaiah 14:1, Zechariah 14:17, LXX).[cxxx] Thus, 1 Corinthians 12:13 affirms that, led by the Holy Spirit, the members of the Corinthian church had been immersed in water and by that means had been added to the membership of the congregational body in that city.
“And have been all made to drink into one Spirit”
kai« pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n Pneuvma e˙poti÷sqhmen
As the members of the church at Corinth had been contentious and factious over the issue of baptism (1 Corinthians 1), so they had been practicing the Lord’s Supper improperly (1 Corinthians 11). As Paul had exhorted the congregation to Spirit-led unity around their common immersion in the first half 12:13, so he reminds them that they had all participated in the Lord’s Supper, had “been all made to drink,” with reference to the same unifying Holy Spirit. The verb make drink is used for literal drinking in Scripture.[cxxxi] The use of the passive voice for the verb is parallel to the passive voice for were baptized; indeed, the clauses discussing the two church ordinances manifest strong parallelism[cxxxii]—a strong argument that the phrase refers to the church ordinance that complements believer’s immersion, the Supper,[cxxxiii] the celebration of communion with reference to (eis) the one Holy Spirit. The topical and linguistic connection of 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 to the discussion of communion in 10:16-17, as explained earlier, further supports this interpretation. While a reference to the Lord’s Supper is natural when compared to the first half of the verse, and the perspicuity of Scripture supports the fact that one can indeed determine the significance of the text, the question of why the Supper would be referred to as “drinking” rather than “eating” (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20), along with the use of potidzo as “make drink” rather than the verb drink elsewhere used for the Supper, pino, makes understandable a view that the clause refers more generally to common blessings received from the Spirit, including (but not exclusively referring to) the Lord’s Supper. However, both of these arguments for a wider reference to spiritual blessing, rather than a restricted one to the Supper, can be effectively answered.[cxxxiv] While the verb potidzo is not used elsewhere of the Supper in Scripture, the related noun poterion is regularly employed in the New Testament in connection with communion (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 21; 11:25-28), and the noun is exclusively used of the Supper in eight references, the only references to the word in Paul’s epistles, all of which are in the two chapters immediately preceding 1 Corinthians 12. Furthermore, the specific sense of potidzo as made to drink, in contrast to the simple idea of drink with pino, emphasizes the work of the unifying Spirit in bringing the Corinthians to both immersion and the Supper. The connection of 12:13 with 10:16-17, with its mention of the Supper first as drinking, explains the reference in 12:13 to the ordinance as a common drink rather than a common eating—contextually, greater clarity is achieved through the representation of the Supper in this manner.[cxxxv] Furthermore, one wonders what substance, other than the fruit of the vine, could possibly be drunk in 1 Corinthians 12:13, since drinking is not clearly a metaphor anywhere in the Bible for general Spirit-produced spiritual blessings. The fruit of the vine from the church ordinance complementing baptism, which is spoken of in parallel syntax in the first half of the verse, is the logical reference. Contextual and lexical considerations demonstrate that the final clause of 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to participation in the Lord’s Supper.
e.) A Summary of the Conclusion of the Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:13
In the divided church at Corinth, the ordinances of baptism and communion, which were intended as sources of unity, had been distorted and were associated with divisiveness and strife within the Corinthian congregation (1 Corinthians 1:11-17; 11:20-22). The Corinthian strife was further worsened by the misuse of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul reminded the church that God had given them a common baptism and Lord’s Table, and called them to the unity the Lord intended for their congregation as the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul told the Corinthians, in paraphrase, “Spiritual gifts are for unity in the congregation, the body of Christ: the Spirit who gave these gifts to your church also worked in you to receive a common immersion and to partake in a common Lord’s Supper—so be unified!”
f.) Support from Commentators for Interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a Reference to the Church Ordinances
Many Biblical commentators, both Baptist and non-Baptist, have viewed 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to baptism in water and the Lord’s Supper. Of course, many other commentators have adopted a large variety of alternative positions. The view that the first half of the verse is a reference to water baptism is somewhat more widespread than the position that the second half refers to communion. Some commentators hold that baptism in water is spoken of in the first half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 while positing that the second half refers to something else. On the other hand, almost all who view the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to communion likewise see water baptism in the first half of the verse. Some examples are worthy of citation.
A. T. Robertson affirmed that the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is water baptism, “a reference to a definite past event with each of them of different races, nations, classes, when each of them put on the outward badge of service to Christ, the symbol of the inward changes already wrought in them by the Holy Spirit.”[cxxxvi] Albert Barnes stated: “Many suppose that there is reference here to the ordinance of baptism by water. . . . [including] Bloomfield, Calvin, Doddridge, etc.”[cxxxvii] John Wesley saw water baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13,[cxxxviii] as did G. W. H. Lampe, evaluating both the New Testament and patristic doctrine.[cxxxix] Henry Alford, in his classic Alford’s Greek Testament,[cxl] states that the verse speaks of “the water of baptism . . . so (understanding the whole verse of baptism) Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecolampadius, Rückert, Meyer, De Witt.” Alford also declares that “Luther, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Grotius, [et.] al., refer the latter half to the Lord’s Supper.” The Expositor’s Greek Testament, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll,[cxli] states that “Paul refers to actual Christian baptism” in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and further indicates that “Augustine, Calvin, Estius, [etc., understand] the poterion of the Lord’s supper (10:16, 11:25),[cxlii] as though kai coupled the two sacraments.” John Calvin, commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:8-13, wrote:
“We are,” says [Paul], “engrafted by baptism into Christ’s body[.”] . . . He speaks . . . of the baptism of believers . . . Hence, with respect to God, this invariably holds good—that baptism is an engrafting into the body of Christ[.] . . . The Apostle, also, observes here a most admirable medium, in teaching that the nature of baptism is—to connect us with Christ’s body. . . . We have drunk into one Spirit . . . [Paul refers] to the Supper, as he makes mention of drinking . . . Now, though the cup forms but the half of the Supper, there is no difficulty arising from that, for it is a common thing in Scripture to speak of the sacraments by synecdoche. Thus he mentioned above in the tenth chapter . . . simply the bread, making no mention of the cup. . . . He teaches, therefore, that believers, so soon as they are initiated by the baptism of Christ, are already imbued with a desire of cultivating mutual unity, and then afterwards, when they receive the sacred Supper, they are again conducted by degrees to the same unity, as they are all refreshed at the same time with the same drink.[cxliii]
The Jamison, Faucett, and Brown Commentary,[cxliv] commenting on “drink into one Spirit,” affirms, “There is an indirect allusion to the Lord’s Supper, as there is a direct allusion to baptism in the beginning of the verse.” Matthew Poole, commenting on “drink into one Spirit,” stated:
[M]any others choose rather to interpret drinking in this place, of drinking at the table of the Lord, partaking of that whole action being set out here by one particular act there performed. This is probable, considering that the apostle, in the former part of the verse, had been speaking of the other sacrament of the gospel, and that he, speaking of the Lord’s supper, 1 Cor 10:17, had used this expression: For we being many, are one bread, and one body.[cxlv]
Albert Barnes commented on the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13:
This probably refers to their partaking together of the cup in the Lord’s Supper. The sense is, that by their drinking of the same cup commemorating the death of Christ, they had partaken of the same influences of the Holy Ghost, which descend alike on all who observe that ordinance in a proper manner. They had shown, also, that they belonged to the same body, and were all united together; and that, however various might be their graces and endowments, yet they all belonged to the same great family.[cxlvi]
While it would be inaccurate to affirm that viewing 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to the two ordinances the Lord Jesus gave His church is anything like the unanimous position among commentators on the passage, the position is very widely represented. Indeed, within the wider world of Christiandom “the most popular view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is that Paul is describing Christian water-baptism . . . which incorporates the baptisand into the Body of Christ.”[cxlvii] A reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13 to immersion in water cannot be dismissed as a new and novel position, for it has been believed by many of the Lord’s churches and people, as well as within Christendom generally, and deserves to be evaluated sympathetically and accepted on account of the strong exegetical merits indicated above.
E. Historic Baptist support for a first-century fulfillment of Spirit baptism and for interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to the church ordinances
While many in certain circles have not given much consideration to the view maintained above, and an unfortunately large number of advocates of both the PCP and UCD doctrine have never even heard about the historic Baptist position on Spirit baptism, the view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 expounded above, where the passage is considered as a reference to the church ordinances of baptism and the Supper, has strong Baptist support historically.[cxlviii] Indeed, the fulfillment of Spirit baptism as a past event that ended in the first century is an important Baptist position in the history of doctrine.
In 1802, Pastor T. B. Montanye, representing the “elders and messengers of the Philadelphia Association,” wrote the work “On the Baptism of the Holy Ghost” as a circular letter, which was “signed by order of the Association” by the Association moderator.[cxlix] This letter, as representative of the beliefs of the most influential Baptist body of the time, is worth quoting at some length. The letter stated:
The Baptism of the Holy Ghost . . . was never inculcated . . . [as] the work of regeneration and sanctification . . . in the Gospel, and we think ought not to be considered as constituting any part in the office work of the Divine Spirit in renewing the heart. . . . [O]ur respected [non-Baptist but Christian] friends . . . may be regenerated, and enjoy the highest consolation in the sweet incomes of the Holy Comforter, and the most sensible communion with Christ; yet as all this does not constitute the baptism of the Holy Spirit, nor is designed by it in the sacred Scriptures, it follows of consequence, that, rejecting the water baptism, they have no baptism whatever, and ought cheerfully to submit to that prescribed in the example of Jesus Christ. . . . [T]here is no well founded evidence of [the] present existence . . . of the baptism of the Holy Ghost . . . The term baptism of the Holy Ghost . . . was first taught by the harbinger of Jesus Christ, Matthew 3:11, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” . . . the accomplishment of the promise made by Jesus Christ [of Spirit baptism was in] . . . Acts 2:16-22 . . . [as predicted in] Luke 24:49 . . . Acts 1:4, 5 . . . [and it was] the ground on which the apostles went to Jerusalem, and there in holy concert joined in prayer and supplication for the accomplishment of such qualifying aid, to [promulgate] the knowledge of their exalted Redeemer. . . .
The nature of this baptism, most clearly evinces it to be distinct, and materially different from that of regeneration. The one a still small voice, saying “this is the way;” the other, that of “a rushing mighty wind.” One invisible, “A white stone, and a new name given, which no man knew save he that had received it;” the other, to be seen, “Cloven tongues of fire sat on them.” One internal, filling the heart with secret consolation, joy, and pleasure; the other external, “The whole house where they were sitting.”
This renders the term baptism proper, because they were immersed in the fountain of the Spirit, and thereby made partakers of such extraordinary and miraculous influence, as in regeneration and conversion were never promised.[cl] . . .
The subjects of this baptism differ essentially from those of regeneration. The work of grace is upon the hearts of the unregenerated, bringing them from a state of moral death to life, from darkness to light, and from the power of sin, and service of Satan, to the liberty of the gospel, and the enjoyment of fellowship with God. Whereas, the baptism of the Holy Ghost was upon the apostles; who, having experienced the work of grace upon their souls, and being thereby made partakers of all that is peculiar to regeneration, could not be regenerated by the descent of the sacred Spirit, which being a work only once in the divine life, could not be effected again. . . .
Here it is proper to remove some apparent difficulties, which are a means of puzzling the minds of many. First, what baptism the apostle denominates one baptism? We answer, The instituted appointment of Jesus Christ, which he authorized after his resurrection, which remains a standing ordinance in the church, and which Peter, when filled with the Holy Ghost, enjoined on Cornelius and the rest of the believing Gentiles, even after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit; though the baptism of the Spirit was never an essential prerequisite to water baptism[.] . . . [I]n 1 Corinthians 12:13 . . . there seems no absurdity in saying that the same Spirit influences all nations to yield an obedience to the instituted appointments of Jesus Christ, and so come [by immersion in water] into the union of the body the church. As for sundry other Scriptures, such as Romans 6:3, 4; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27; they have an evident relation to water baptism, and are no way connected with, nor yet refer to, the work of grace in the heart. . . .
We . . . leave you to [some closing] further instruction. 1.) That though regeneration and sanctification be essential to the character of a Christian, yet neither of them constitute the baptism of the Holy Ghost. 2.) However much you may enjoy of the Spirit, as the Spirit of life, light, and love; you have no Scripture grounds to call this the inward baptism, and so the one baptism, and thereby live in the neglect of the appointments of Jesus Christ. 3.) That as the baptism of the Holy Ghost was given for the confirmation of the gospel dispensation, it has effected its design; the sacred prophecy is fulfilled, and it has ceased. 4.) That as [this] extraordinary work, and no other, is known in the gospel as the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and that took place after faith in Christ, or regeneration, we have no right to call regeneration baptism. 5.) Though we are the hopeful subjects of divine grace, and live in the smiles of heaven; it is both our duty and privilege to submit to the appointments of Jesus Christ, as laid down in his word.
And now, dear brethren, you may perceive, that our intention is not to deny any of the blessed operations of the holy Ghost upon the human mind; but to distinguish between truth and error. . . . And as churches, we would exhort you to live in the Spirit, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed until the day of redemption. In the mean time, pray for us, that as instrumental of your joy, you and we may honor our profession by holy living, in the smiles of God’s gracious Spirit.
The historical fulfillment of Spirit baptism was affirmed with striking clarity in 1802 by the Philadelphia Association. A position very similar to that advocated in this composition, and very different from both the PCP and UCD view, was thus the official doctrine of the most influential body of American Baptists in that era. Similarly, Texas Baptists of the nineteenth century believed:
When the Holy Spirit came with power upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2), and fell on the house of Cornelius (Acts 11:15-16), while Peter preached to them, it was called a baptism of the Holy Spirit. In both cases, and all cases of such baptism, speaking with tongues followed. . . . The ordinary operation of the Holy Spirit in the first century, in the regeneration and conversion of men was [not] called a baptism . . . of the Spirit. . . . To speak of the operation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and conversion as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is both unscriptural and misleading. For it is not a baptism, even figuratively.[cli]
Dr. Alvah Hovey was a Baptist pastor and then a professor of Hebrew, church history, theology, and Christian ethics at the Newton theological institution, a Baptist college, for a number of decades, starting in 1849. He became the president of the college in 1868, the year he also became a member of the executive committee of the American Baptist missionary union, a position he held until 1883. Concerning Spirit baptism, he wrote:
Do the Scriptures speak of a “baptism in the Spirit” after regeneration, as something to be expected by all Christians to the end of time? . . . [T]he baptism of the Spirit . . . embraced the gift of inspiration, and, indeed, the other miraculous gifts of the first age. . . . [such as] a mysterious power of using languages which they had never learned. . . . [A] miraculous endowment was an important part of the baptism of the Spirit. . . . [T]he gift of prophecy . . . was an effect of “baptism in the Spirit” . . . [B]aptism in the Holy Spirit included miraculous gifts . . . extraordinary powers . . . special and visible effects[.] . . . The questio[n] . . . [whether] “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” after regeneration, [is] something to be expected by all Christians to the end of time . . . ha[s] been answered in the negative. [One who does not have] miraculous gifts . . . should not profess to have been “baptized in the Holy Ghost,” nor apply to [himself] those texts which refer to this baptism. . . [Through] the apostolic age . . . [there was a] gradual decrease of [miraculous] “gifts” of the Spirit. . . . “baptism in the Holy Ghost” conferred miraculous powers, as that of speaking with tongues, of prophesying, of healing the sick, and . . . these extraordinary gifts, having served their purpose, were [then gradually] withdrawn from the Church. . . . Plainly, then, the work of the Spirit, by which extraordinary powers were conferred . . . might cease with the apostolic age, while the work fo the same Spirit in other forms adapted to the needs of the saints might continue until the second coming of Christ.[clii]
The view that Spirit baptism was a post-conversion phenomenon which conveyed supernatural powers and was limited to the apostolic age, is indeed the historic Baptist position.
Considering specifically 1 Corinthians 12:13, one notes that the Baptist Confession of 1527 affirmed the faith of all Baptists accepting the document that being “baptized into one body” referred to that immersion in water by which one joined the membership of the local, visible assembly:
In the first place, mark this concerning baptism: Baptism should be given to all those who have learned repentance and change of life, and believe in truth that their sins have been taken away through Christ; and to all those who desire to walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to be buried with him in death, that with him they may rise; and to all those who with such intention themselves desire and request it of us. By this is excluded all infant baptism, the Pope’s highest and first abomination. . . . In the second place, we were united concerning excommunication, as follows: Excommunication should be pronounced on all those who have given themselves to the Lord, to walk in his commandments, and on all those who have been baptized into one body of Christ, and who call themselves brothers and sisters, and yet slip away and fall into sin and are overtaken unawares. . . . Thirdly, we were one and agreed concerning breaking of bread, as follows: All who would break one bread for a memorial of the broken body of Christ, and all who would drink one draught as a memorial of the poured out blood of Christ should beforehand be united to one body of Christ; that is, to the Church of God, of which the head is Christ, to wit, by baptism.[cliii]
The pastor of the first American Baptist church, John Clarke,[cliv] believed that 1 Corinthians 12:13 referred to immersion in water and gave no indication that he believed that Spirit baptism was still occuring after the first century:
Believer’s baptism by immersion was a cardinal tenet of Clarke’s church way. . . . Clarke wrote only of water baptism. Although he spoke of being filled with the Holy Spirit, he never suggested a “baptism of the Spirit.” . . . [I]n his discussion of 1 Corinthians 12:13 . . . Clarke glossed . . . it as “knit together in one by his Spirit.”[clv]
A historical fulfillment and cessation of Spirit baptism, and a view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to immersion in water and the Lord’s Supper, was advocated in 1828 by the congregations of the Georgia Baptist Association, which affirmed that the “plain” interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 was one which read the verse as a reference to the church ordinances:
The Georgia Baptist Association of Elders and Brethren, to the Churches which they represent, send Christian salutation [in 1828]: . . . We now advance some plain Bible proof of that gospel order observed by us. . . . We believe that water baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are ordinances of the Lord, and are to be continued till his second coming[,] that true believers in Jesus Christ are the only subjects of baptism . . . that dipping is the mode[,] [and] [t]hat none but regularly baptized church members have a right to commune at the Lord’s Table. In vindication of these doctrines we bring the following plain scriptures: . . . For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one spirit.”[clvi]
Similar declarations from other Baptist groups of that era and afterwards are found:
For we believe that Christian baptism is the first ordinance a believer ought to comply with; and persons cannot become regular church members without first being baptized according to the word of God. This appears from the conduct of the apostles in the first gathering of the churches of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:41, 42. They that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they (i. e., those baptized) continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Also it is said, “By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:13. That is, by the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit we are all baptized into one body, i. e. the church. And we cannot find from the Holy Scriptures, and we think no man can, that since the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that any were received members of the visible church before they submitted to the ordinance of baptism.[clvii]
A belief that Spirit baptism ceased in the first century, and that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to immersion in water and the ordinance of communion, is not a new view among Baptists. Many of the Lord’s churches have demonstrably held this view of the verse for centuries.
F. Spirit Baptism: Other Alleged References in the Epistles:
Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21[clviii]
It is very rare for one who recognizes that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to immersion in water and the Lord’s Supper to consider any other references to baptism in the epistles as setting forth the baptism of Holy Ghost. All other texts sometimes alleged to refer to Spirit baptism, when taken in their natural sense, speak of the church ordinance of immersion. The position of the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1802, as quoted extensively above, is still true: “As for sundry other Scriptures, such as Romans 6:3, 4; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27; they have an evident relation to water baptism, and are no way connected with, nor yet refer to, the work of grace in the heart.” The only substantive reason typically given to attempt to prove that these passages refer to Spirit baptism is that, were a reference to immersion in water in view, the heresy of baptismal regeneration would allegedly follow. Having dispelled this notion and demonstrated the entire compatibility of justification by faith alone with a reference to the church ordinance of baptism in these texts, no reasons remains to deviate from the normal sense of these verses as references to immersion. Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; and 1 Peter 3:21 will consequently be analyzed in order, and the entire compatibility of interpreting them as references to immersion in water with justification by faith alone will be demonstrated. Indeed, affirming the necessity of considering these texts as references to Spirit baptism, because of a supposedly unavoidable necessity of affirming baptismal regeneration if they are recognized as simple verses about immersion, gives far too much exegetical favor to the baptismal regeneration heresy. Since the simple fact of the matter is that the verses in question are about immersion in water, not Spirit baptism, affirming that they require salvation by baptism if the ordinance is in view would in fact go far to establish, rather than refute, baptismal regeneration.[clix]
5.) Romans 6:3-4
Baptismal regenerationists allege that Romans 6:3-4 teaches that baptism is the literal means through which one is united to Christ. They argue that spiritual blessings are said to be “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3) and that these verses say one is “baptized into Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:3). They conclude that a person is out of Christ until he is baptized, and through baptism “into” Christ he gets “in” Christ and begins receiving spiritual blessing for the first time. However, an exposition of the passage in its context demonstrates the fallacious nature of this claim. This argument for baptismal regeneration also cannot be supported by an analysis of the phrases “into Christ” and “in Christ” that are found throughout the Bible. One is “in Christ” at the moment of faith, prior to baptism.
In chapters 1-5 of the book of Romans, Paul clearly explains that the gospel, “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” is “that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” that “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,” so that “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16, 3:28, 4:5, 5:1). Having explained that sinners are justified by faith alone in these chapters (where the words believe and faith are found almost fifty times, and baptism is never mentioned), Paul then begins in Romans 6-8 to explain the implications of justification by faith in the life of the saved individual. He naturally mentions baptism early in this section of his discourse, since it publicly identifies the saint with the people of God, and is one of the first acts of obedience for the newly regenerate individual. Romans 9-11 then surveys God’s relationship to Israel, while chapters 12-16 discuss God’s righteousness at work in the believer’s life. The greater context of the book of Romans supports the conclusion that baptism, as mentioned in 6:3-4, is not the means through which one is declared just before God, for it appears in a section dealing with the Christian life, not the reconciliation of the lost. A careful examination of the passage also yields the same conclusion.
Romans 6:1-11 reads as follows:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In verses one and two, Paul deals with the slanderous notion that the doctrines of justification by faith alone and the eternal security of the believer provide a license to sin; the enemies of the gospel had affirmed as much (Romans 3:8). He counters that one who dies to sin[clx] at the time he is justified by faith (as expounded in chapters 1-5, cf. Galatians 2:19-21) and so is now “dead to sin” cannot “live any longer therein” (v. 2). A dead man is not influenced or affected by the affairs of this life; its sounds, tastes, pleasures, ambitions, and all else mean nothing to him. God gives a sinner a new heart and nature at the moment of regeneration (2 Corinthians 5:17, Hebrews 8:10-12), so that his “old man” is now “crucified” with Christ and he henceforth will “not serve sin” any longer (Romans 6:6). Paul argues that, since God breaks the dominion of sin over men when they believe, justification by faith leads to a holy life, not lawlessness. He then reminds his readers that their baptism was a symbol or “likeness” (v. 5) of their death to the old life of sin and resurrection to a new holy life in Christ at the moment when they trusted in Him. They were “baptized into [Greek eis, “with reference to”][clxi] Jesus Christ,” and so were “baptized into [Greek eis, “with reference to”][clxii] his death” (v. 3). They were “buried with him[clxiii] by baptism into [Greek eis, “with reference to”] death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so [they] also should walk in newness of life.” Since Paul taught justification by faith, not baptismal regeneration, he affirmed, as Baptists do today, that baptism is connected with a “walk in newness of life.” Nothing in Romans six states that the ordinance is administered “in order that men might obtain the remission of past sins.” Nor does the chapter affirm that baptism is the act that makes one dead to sin. On the contrary, it states baptism is a picture or “likeness” (v. 5) of Christ’s atoning work, which is the true foundational cause of deliverance from sin’s penalty (Revelation 1:5) and power (Hebrews 9:14). Indeed, baptismal regenerationists must affirm the incongruity that one buries a man in baptism in order to kill him to sin, rather than burying one who is already dead to sin, as do true churches. Happily, very few of the advocates of forgiveness through water bury people in order to kill them, or argue in favor of such a practice, at any other time than when they attempt to prove their views from Romans 6. When baptismal regenerationists affirm that a person dies to sin when he is buried in baptism, the ordinance is no longer a true likeness of Christ’s death (v. 5), for Christ died before He was buried, just as in Baptist baptism one is dead to sin before he is buried beneath the baptismal waters. Furthermore, v. 5 states that those Biblically baptized (“planted together in the likeness of his death”) “shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Since only true believers can be baptized, and all true believers are eternally secure, this certain promise of resurrection with Christ for the Scripturally baptized fits well within the Biblical view of baptism. However, baptismal regenerationists almost always deny that those they baptize are eternally secure; thus, the “shall be” guarantee of v. 5 creates a significant problem for them. Paul’s argument in v. 6-10 also gives no solace to advocates of water salvation; the passage never states that one actually dies to sin in baptism, while the use of the Greek perfect tense to state that one dead “is freed”[clxiv] from sin (v. 7) buttresses the fact that those so dead will never be alive to sin again, and so are eternally secure. Finally, v. 11 commands believers to constantly “reckon . . . yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The dominion of sin having been shattered when justified by faith, the saints are to count themselves dead indeed to sin as they grow in holiness day by day. Nothing in Romans six affirms that one gains forgiveness of sin or is literally made dead to sin at the moment of baptism. On the contrary, the chapter invalidates baptismal regeneration.
Not only does the context of Romans 6:3-4 nullify the affirmations of baptismal regenerationists, but a study of the Biblical uses of eis + Christon (“into . . . Christ,” Romans 6:3) and en + Christo (“in Christ”) demonstrate the fallacious nature of the baptismal regenerationist assertion that one only becomes en or “in” Christ at the time of baptism. The word “Christ” is the object of the preposition eis nineteen times in the New Testament.[clxv] Examination of these verses demonstrates that the two New Testament instances of the presence of the word “baptize” after the preposition eis prove nothing about how one gets en or “in” Christ. If baptism eis Christ proves one literally enters into Christ at the moment of the ordinance, then why cannot one believe eis Christ to get in Him, since believing eis Christ is found more frequently than is baptism eis Christ (Acts 20:21, Galatians 2:16, Colossians 2:5)? In fact, one is said to believe “into” (pisteuo + eis) the Lord Jesus Christ in 45 verses.[clxvi] If baptism eis proves one is “in Christ” only after the ordinance, why does one not actually speak eis or “into” Christ (Ephesians 5:32), or even sin eis Christ (1 Corinthians 8:12)? Why is it that baptism eis proves that one is not “in (en) Christ” until baptized, and baptism is the means through which one becomes “in Christ,” but belief eis Christ does not prove that one is “in Christ” at the moment of faith? Why not affirm that one is eis or “into” Christ whenever he speaks, or that one must actually sin eis or “into” Christ? Baptismal regenerationists who argue that baptism eis Christ proves one is unforgiven until he receives the ordinance evidence either ignorance or dishonesty concerning the preposition eis as found in New Testament Greek. When it employs the preposition eis, Romans 6:3 simply asserts that one is baptized “with reference to” Christ.
Furthermore, the New Testament does not associate the state of being “in (en) Christ” with baptism. Eighty-five verses in the New Testament contain the terms “in (en) Christ,” but not one connects baptism with the phrase.[clxvii] This is a devastating fact for one who would assert that one is en Christ through baptism. It is further compounded by the fact that the forty-six verses that speak of being “in the Lord” (en Kurio),[clxviii] the fifty-two verses that use “in Him” (en auto) with reference to Christ,[clxix] the twenty-three verses where the phrase “in Me” (en emoi) references being “in Christ,”[clxx] the references where “in Thee” is used of being “in Christ,”[clxxi] the twelve references to being “in God” (en Theo),[clxxii] the references to being in the Father or en Patri,[clxxiii] to being in the Son or en Huio,[clxxiv] and to being en the Spirit (en Pneumati)[clxxv] never state or even hint that through baptism one enters into the state of being in Christ, in God the Father, or in God the Holy Spirit. If people were to become en Christ through baptism, one would expect to find a great number of verses that connect the two; but never once, in the two hundred seventy-nine verses which deal with the appropriate phrases in Scripture, does such an assertion appear.
While Scripture never affirms that one is “in Christ” (en Christo) at the moment of baptism, it does make affirmations about the “in Christ” state that are incompatible with the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Nothing can remove one who is “in Christ” from that blessed state; he is eternally secure therein (Romans 8:37-39).[clxxvi] All who are “in the Spirit” are saved (Rom 8:9), but people were so before water baptism (Acts 10:44-48). Only en the Spirit can one confess Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3), but this profession must be made before baptism is Biblically possible. Indeed, the Spirit leads one to submit to baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13), for one has Him before immersion.[clxxvii] Furthermore, men are “in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6), and it is “the gospel . . . by which also ye are saved” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Truly God’s “purpose and grace, which was given [the elect] in (en) Christ Jesus before the world began” is “manifest by . . . our Saviour Jesus Christ . . . through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:9-10, note v. 12), but the gospel is defined with no mention of baptism (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and is, in fact, even contrasted with baptism (1:17). These references alone refute the notion that one is en Christ by means of baptism.
Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17 demonstrates that one is “in Christ” by faith, not by baptism. The Savior asks His Father that “them . . . which shall believe on me . . . may be one in (en) us . . . I in (en) them . . . that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:20-23). Since all Christ’s prayers are answered, all who believe on Him are in the Father and the Son. Christ is also in all of them (v. 23; note also Galatians 2:20, “Christ liveth in me . . . I live by the faith of the Son of God,” and 2 Corinthians 13:5). The Lord’s intercessory prayer never mentions baptism. It indicates, rather, as do other passages of Scripture, that one is in Christ by faith, and that the Son likewise indwells all believers.
The book of 1 John also devastates the idea that one is “in Christ” only upon baptism. It affirms that we can know that we are in Him if we are keeping His Word, not if we are baptized (1 John 2:5-6, 3:24). The transforming power of spiritual union with Christ is altogether different from the ordinance of baptism. All who are in Christ have been given the Holy Spirit, and they can know they are saved because of the Spirit’s presence (1 John 4:13), but the Holy Ghost is received before baptism. God the Spirit also guarantees that all truly in Christ “shall abide” in Him (1 John 2:25-27). Consequently, were one were “in Christ” through baptism into a congregation’s membership, church discipline or excommunication would be impossible. Further, those in Christ cannot live in continual sin (1 John 3:5-6, 9), but church members can do so. God dwells in all who from a heart of faith confess Jesus (1 John 4:15-16), but such a confession is a prerequisite to baptism (Acts 8:36-38). Similarly, all who love God, which they begin to do when they first know and believe the love God has for them, are in Him (1 John 4:16). If baptismal regeneration is true, one must baptize someone who does not have the Spirit and so is not led by Him into its waters. Baptism would be for those who do not confess Jesus as Lord, who do not obey God’s Word, who live in sin, and who do not love God, but hate Him. When such Spirit-resisting, non-confessing, disobedient and sinful God-haters are baptized, they then could not be subsequently be removed from the church rolls, for one “in Christ” remains there forever. Either all this is true, or baptismal regeneration is false, and one is “in Christ” before baptism. Furthermore, John writes “unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life,” and this life “is in (en) his Son.” (1 John 5:13, 11). His audience is “in (en) him that is true, even in (en) his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Believers constitute John’s intended audience in his epistle, and his audience is en Christ and has eternal life as a consequence of faith. 1 John proves that believing, not baptism, gets one in or en Christ.
Indeed, the doctrine that one is “in Christ” or en Christo by faith is very frequently taught in scripture. In Galatians, Paul associated being en Christo and faith, declaring that “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ . . . even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified . . . we seek to be justified by (en) Christ” (Galatians 2:16-17). Galatians 3:14 is similar: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through (en) Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:26 reads, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in (en) Christ Jesus.” Galatians 5:5-6 states, “We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in (en) Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Note also Galatians 2:20-21; 3:2. Galatians repeatedly associates the “en Christ” state with faith.
The book of Ephesians also indicates that one is in or en Christ by faith. Ephesians 1:1 refers to the “faithful [pistos—translated “believing” in John 20:27; Acts 10:45; 16:1; 2 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Timothy 4:10; 5:16; 6:2] in (en) Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 1:12-15 declares that we “trusted in (en) Christ . . . [upon hearing] the word of truth, the gospel of . . . salvation,” and that when one “believe[s], [he is] sealed with that holy Spirit of promise . . . the earnest of your inheritance,” for “faith [is] in (en) the Lord Jesus,” and God demonstrates “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe” (v. 19). All the spiritual blessings “in Christ” of Ephesians 1:3-14 are given to those who believe or trust in Him (v. 12-19). Ephesians 2:6-10 clearly links being in Christ with faith, stating that God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in (en) Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through (en) Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in (en) Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 3:11-12 states that we are “in (en) Christ Jesus our Lord: in (en) whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” Thus, Ephesians 1-3 repeatedly links the state of being in or en Christ and faith, but baptism is not mentioned anywhere in these chapters.
Other books of the Bible also associate faith and the “in (en) Christ” position. Colossians 1:4 refers to “faith in (en) Christ Jesus”; 1 Timothy 1:14 to “faith . . . in (en) Christ Jesus”; 1 Timothy 3:13 and 2 Timothy 3:15 to “faith which is in (en) Christ Jesus”; 1 Corinthians 4:17 to those who are faithful/believing “in (en) the Lord”; Philippians 2:19, 24 to “trust in (en) the Lord Jesus . . . trust in (en) the Lord”; Colossians 2:5 to “faith in (en) Christ”; 2 Thessalonians 3:4 to “hav[ing] confidence [or trust][clxxviii] in (en) the Lord”; and 1 Timothy 6:17 to “trust . . . in (en) the living God.” We are “found in (en) him, not having [our] own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). Dozens of passages indicate that one is “in (en) Christ” by faith. Many others that do not make the connection to faith explicit are nevertheless incompatible with baptismal regeneration. Not one of the two hundred seventy-nine relevant texts connect being “in Christ” and baptism.[clxxix]
Romans 6:3-4 provides no support whatever for baptismal regeneration. Neither the passage in its context, nor the phrase “into (eis) Christ,” nor the phrase “in (en) Christ,” provide a shred of evidence for salvation by baptism. At the moment of faith one is in Christ, and the Lord Jesus indwells all believers, not the baptized only. Those who argue for baptismal regeneration using passages such as Romans 6 “do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).
6.) Galatians 3:27
Galatians 3:27 states that “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Since the verse declares that in baptism one puts on Christ, baptismal regenerationists argue that forgiveness for (past) sins is only received at the point of baptism.[clxxx] This view has a number of major problems.
First, “put on” (enduo) is never plainly used for anything that relates to the immediate forgiveness of sin in any of its twenty-eight appearances;[clxxxi] the baptismal regenerationist must simply allege, without any evidence, that to “put on” Christ refers to justification. Enduo (“put on”) is, in contrast, clearly used in a number of passages for the walk of the already forgiven Christian, and of those already baptized. In Romans 13:12-14, Paul exhorts the baptized believers at Rome to “cast off the works of darkness, and . . . put on (enduo) the armour of light . . . put ye on (enduo) the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” His command to the church at Rome to “put on” Christ and the armor of light is an exhortation to live for God, not to receive forgiveness of past sins by being rebaptized. Paul similarly commands the church at Ephesus to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man . . . and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and . . . put on (enduo) the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Again, the text calls already baptized believers to live for God. It is not an exhortation for church members to submit to a second baptism. Later in the same epistle, the apostle commands the congregation at Ephesus to “put on (enduo) the whole armour of God. . . . Stand therefore . . . having on (enduo) the breastplate of righteousness.” Similarly, Colossians 3:10-14 relates an appeal to the church at Colosse to “put on (enduo) the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. . . . Put on (enduo) therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind . . . and above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8 likewise commands “us, who are of the day, [to] be sober, putting on (enduo) the breastplate of faith and love.” In all these instances, those who are already forgiven are commanded to “put on” a variety of things that relate to the Christian life. One could compare baptism to the uniform donned by an enlisted man when he joins the army;[clxxxii] the recruit is enrolled before he gets his uniform and puts it on. The uniform simply makes him easier to identify than civilian clothing would. Since “put on” is terminology for those already justified before God, the statement of Galatians 3:27 indicates that those already forgiven should “put on” Christ in baptism as a public testimony of a previously received pardon and as a public identification with Christ. The verse does not teach that one receives remission of sins or becomes a Christian through baptism.
Second, both the immediate and wider context of Galatians 3:27 explode the claim that the verse teaches baptismal regeneration. Galatians 3:26, the verse immediately preceding v. 27, indicates that “ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” If Paul were to affirm in v. 27 that one becomes a child of God through baptism, he would contradict what he had said the verse before.[clxxxiii] Paul’s contextual point is the equality of Jew and Gentile (v. 28); both are saved in the same manner by faith (v. 26) and both receive the same baptism (v. 27). The immediate context of Galatians 3:27 destroys the baptismal regenerationist argument.
The wider context of Galatians 3 also demolishes the argument of baptismal regenerationists in 3:27. Paul argues that the Spirit was received “by the hearing of faith” (3:2), that the ministration of the Spirit and the working of miracles was not “by the works of the law” but by the “hearing of faith” (3:5), and that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (v. 6). He concludes, “know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (v. 7). As Abraham was justified by faith, so today men are justified by faith. Abraham was certainly not baptized, so baptismal regeneration confounds Paul’s comparison. The doctrine also confounds Paul’s assertion in Galatians 3:8 that the Scripture “preached before the gospel unto Abraham . . . foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith,” unless one wishes to argue the non sequitor that Abraham received prophecies concerning baptism. Paul concludes that “they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (v. 9). The chapter then asserts that “the just shall live by faith . . . the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit by faith” (v. 12, 14). Paul proceeds to vindicate justification by faith on the basis of God’s offer of the gospel to Abraham before the giving of the Mosaic law (v. 15-21), completing his argument with the recognition that “the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (v. 22). An unbaptized Abraham cannot be the prototype of a supposed New Testament teaching of baptismal regeneration, but an Abraham saved by faith in the coming Savior is a great proof for New Testament justification by faith in Christ. The Law of God itself is “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (v. 24), for “ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (v. 26). The rest of Galatians chapter three, along with the rest of the book (2:16, 20-21; 5:5, etc.), demonstrates the folly of affirming baptismal regeneration in Galatians 3:27.
Galatians 3:27 utterly fails as a proof-text for remission of sins through baptism. “Put on” is not Biblical terminology for the receipt of remission of sins; it is a term of Christian growth. Both the immediate context, Galatians 3:26, and the wider context of the chapter and the rest of the book preclude baptismal remission in 3:27. Those who use the verse to prove that baptism is the gateway to heaven completely miss the point.
Colossians 2:12 states that believers are “buried with [Christ] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” It is alleged that since people are “buried with him” in baptism, and also “risen with him” in the ordinance, one must therefore be baptized to have his sins removed. However, the verse does not say that sins are removed through baptism; it affirms that in the ordinance one is buried and risen with Christ.[clxxxiv] The true churches of the Lord Jesus affirm both justification by grace through faith alone and that, having already been justified and become dead to sin, men are to be outwardly buried with Christ in baptism by immersion[clxxxv] and rise with Him when they come up out of the water. Since the verse never states that forgiveness of sins happens at the moment of baptism, one cannot legitimately draw such a conclusion. Furthermore, the spiritual circumcision of verse 11, which does take place at the point of faith and so regeneration (cf. Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:28-29),[clxxxvi] is “without hands”; God performs this new birth as a work of His mighty power apart from human agency. In contrast, baptism is very much a work of man and is certainly not performed “without hands.” As in Romans 6:4,[clxxxvii] the only other passage in Scripture where the verb “buried with”[clxxxviii] appears, Colossians 2:12 affirms that in baptism believers publicly identify with Christ but fails miserably to prove that the unbaptized are damned.
Baptismal regenerationists attempt to use the fact that Titus 3:5 refers to the “washing of regeneration” to prove their doctrine. This washing, they affirm, is baptism. However, the complete verse reads, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” In addition to the omission of any mention of baptism, the verse specifically states that men are not saved “by works of righteousness.” Since baptism is a work of righteousness, as is plain upon consideration of its nature and purpose, and as Matthew 3:15 specifically indicates, Titus 3:5 clearly eliminates it as a prerequisite to forgiveness. The “washing of regeneration” is the cleansing by the blood of Jesus that takes place the moment a sinner forsakes confidence in his works and believes in Christ alone for justification. For water salvation advocates to make the “washing of regeneration” a reference to the unmentioned and unimplied act of baptism, despite the fact that a handful of words earlier the text excludes the ordinance, is to “wrest [this verse] . . . as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
1 Peter 3:21
The final major attempt to support baptismal regeneration with Scripture comes from 1 Peter 3:21. This verse states that “baptism doth also now save us,” while verse 20 mentions that “souls were saved by water.” Baptismal regenerationists argue on this basis that the unbaptized are lost. However, this view takes the verses out of context, as a study of the passage and Peter’s teaching elsewhere indicates.
First Peter 3:18-22 reads:
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Within the wider context of a primary theme in 1 Peter, suffering for Christ (v. 13-17), verse 18 mentions the Lord Jesus’ substitutionary death for sin, as He, “the just for the unjust,” suffered in the place of mankind. The verse then recounts His “death in the flesh,” and explains how, by the Holy Spirit, Christ was “quickened” or “made alive.” Verses 19-20 mention that by this same Spirit He preached to those who are now “spirits in prison,” but were, at the time of the preaching, the rebellious and ungodly generation of men that “sometime were disobedient . . . in the days of Noah.” When Noah, a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), proclaimed the truth to his contemporaries, he functioned as God’s mouthpiece, so that, by the Spirit, it was really Christ preaching to that rebellious generation. However, since the men of Noah’s day did not receive the truth in that time “while the ark was a preparing,” they died in the flood and went to hell, where they are now “spirits in prison.” Eight people or “souls,” namely, Noah, his wife, and their three sons with their wives (Genesis 6:18; 7:7, 13) were then “saved by water”; that is, they were separated and saved from the ungodly world system by means of the waters of the flood. They were not saved from their sins by the floodwaters, and the water certainly did not save them from either physical or spiritual death—those in the water and not in the ark drowned and were damned. Verse 21 then explains that as Noah and his household were saved from the ungodly world by the flood waters, so Christians today are saved from the ungodly world by baptism (v. 21a), which is not the act which actually puts away sin (v. 21b) but is rather the “answer of a good conscience toward God” (v. 21c). The doctrines mentioned in the text are only possible because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (v. 21d), who has ascended into heaven and has all authority (v. 22). Furthermore, these truths can encourage the suffering Christian (4:1ff.). Having surveyed 1 Peter 3:18-22, an analysis of its alleged support for baptismal regeneration is now possible.
First, the parenthesis in verse 21 demonstrates that Peter does not here teach baptismal regeneration. On the contrary, it expressly disclaims the doctrine. It could well have been included specifically to forstall the danger of abusing the passage to unwarrantedly conclude that baptism is required for forgiveness. The parenthetical statement teaches us that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Peter’s affirmation that baptism does not put away filth is incongruous if regeneration takes place by means of the ordinance.[clxxxix] Conclusive evidence against baptismal forgiveness is found in the affirmation that baptism is the “answer of a good conscience toward God.” Peter affirms that one has a good conscience prior to his baptism, which is his “answer[cxc] . . . toward God” resulting from his reconciled state and peace of mind and heart.[cxci] If one heading up to the baptistry is, as baptismal regeneration teaches, still lost and a child of the devil (John 8:44) who is under the wrath of God, a heartbeat from the fires of hell, and an unforgiven, Spirit-resisting, non-confessing, disobedient God-hater[cxcii] who still sinks under the weight of every sin he has ever committed his entire life, how can he possibly have a “good conscience” toward God, as 1 Peter 3:21 affirms one must prior to baptism? The lost have, rather, a “reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28) and a “corrupt mind” (2 Timothy 3:8). They are “vainly puffed up by [their] fleshly mind” (Colossians 2:18). They have “their mind and conscience defiled” (Titus 1:5) and “seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). They need to have their conscience “purge[d] . . . [with] the blood of Christ” (Hebrews 9:9, 14; 10:2,[cxciii] 22). The fact that baptism is a good conscience’s answer[cxciv] toward God proves that baptismal regenerationists err in their view of 1 Peter 3:21.
Second, a study of the specific words used in 1 Peter 3:20-21 indicates that spiritual salvation from sin and hell is not in view. In verse 20, the word “saved” (“in the days of Noah . . . eight souls were saved by water”) is diasodzo. This Greek word is never used in the New Testament for salvation from sin;[cxcv] instead, it means “to rescue or deliver from a hazard or danger, bring safely through.”[cxcvi] A first century Christian reading Peter’s epistle in Greek might be saved in the diasodzo sense by means of baptism if he hid in the baptistry and so escaped from Roman soldiers seeking his arrest, but he would not have used diasodzo to convey the idea of salvation from sin. The idea is similar to the declaration in Hebrews of Noah’s physical deliverance and separation from the world system when he “prepared an ark to the saving [physical deliverance, not spiritual salvation] of his house” and in so doing “condemned the world” (Hebrews 11:7). The use of diasodzo in verse 20, which also fits with the background of Hebrews 11:7, controls the understanding of Peter’s use of the verb sodzo in verse 21 (“baptism doth also now save us”). This word[cxcvii] is used for both physical deliverances such as salvation from drowning (Matthew 14:30) and for salvation from sin (Matthew 1:21). The connection with the diasodzo of verse 20 indicates that in verse 21 sodzo does not speak of baptism saving in the sense of forgiving sin.[cxcviii] Rather, baptism “doth also now save us” in the sense of disassociating believers from this world and its ungodly system and identifying them with God’s new order. God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah . . . bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5). As Noah was saved from “the world that then was” (2 Peter 3:6) by the Deluge, being separated from its influence and power, so baptism saves a Christian from the ungodly world with its influences and power and identifies him with God, His redeemed people, and His new order. When the Christian identifies himself with Jesus Christ in the ordinance, he outwardly and publicly cuts himself off from his old life and ways. Having submitted to Christ as his King and entered His kingdom at the moment of repentant faith, in baptism he publicly puts on the uniform, as it were, of His Master’s host (cf. Galatians 3:27).[cxcix] Baptism’s saving the Christian from the world’s ungodly system and publicly separating him unto God fits the words used in 1 Peter 3:20-21. Baptism to achieve forgiveness of sin does not.
Third, Peter’s comparison between the events in the days of Noah and baptism nullifies claims of regeneration by the ordinance. Noah’s deliverance or salvation “by water” is “the like figure”[cc] whereunto baptism saves us. Noah, however, was by no means saved from his sin by the waters of the Flood. The book of Genesis recounts that “the wickedness of [the entire race of] man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5); therefore, Noah was a sinner deserving condemnation along with the rest of the mankind. However, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8); God saved Noah by His grace, by undeserved favor, and so justified him entirely apart from any righteous act of his. As Romans 11:6 states, “if [salvation is] by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Noah was “heir of the righteousness which is by faith” and was saved “by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Furthermore, God commanded Noah to enter the ark because he was “seen righteous” (Genesis 7:1), “just,” and “perfect” (Genesis 6:9) before Him, being justified on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness (cf. Revelation 13:8b) when he believed in the coming Savior. Because he had been justified by faith, Noah manifested his change of state in a change of life—he “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Having been “seen righteous” judicially before Jehovah, he “did according unto all that the LORD commanded him” (Genesis 7:1, 5) in his practical life. Christ was in fact preaching through Noah (1 Peter 3:18-19) for one hundred twenty years (Genesis 6:3) before the flood; by the grace of God, the sinner Noah was transformed into a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Clearly, he was saved from his sin and manifested his change of life far before the time of the flood. Indeed, God saved him from the evil world by the Flood specifically because of his state as an already justified individual (Genesis 7:1). As evidenced in the life of Noah, individuals today must be justified and show evidence of regeneration before they are Biblically baptized (Matthew 3:8). The comparison with Noah in 1 Peter 3:20-21 demonstrates that one must be justified by faith before he can rightly enter the waters of baptism. As Noah was justified before he passed through the flood, so for Christians today justification by faith takes place before one reaches the water and is a prerequisite for a proper relationship to it.
Fourth, a recognition that Noah’s ark pictures Christ provides further evidence that 1 Peter 3:20-21 does not teach baptismal regeneration. As the ark was “lift[ed] up” (Genesis 7:17), so “the Son of man [was] lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). As there was only one ark, so there is only one Savior (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). Only one door saved from destruction in Noah’s day, and Christ, the only way to heaven (John 14:6), said, “I am the door” (John 10:9). The ark was sufficient and complete to save from destruction, as Christ is sufficient to save (cf. Hebrews 9:12-14; Hebrews 10:10-14). The ark was available for all men who believed God’s promise of judgment and accepted His provision for salvation (cf. Revelation 22:17; 1 Timothy 2:4) which was needed by all (Romans 3:10, 23); so it is with Christ. God waited patiently before the Flood (Genesis 6:3; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9), but there came a time when it was too late to accept His offered escape (Genesis 7:11-13; 2 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-14); likewise He waits patiently today for men to repent and believe in His Son, but a time will come when the opportunity to receive salvation has passed. Furthermore, all that were in the ark were secure and saved, shut into it by God’s power; not one person on the ark was lost or died, just as all who believe are in Christ and will never suffer eternal death (Genesis 7:16; 1 Corinthians 15:22, John 10:27-30, 1 John 5:11-13). Those who are in Christ will never have the wrath of God poured out upon them, as it was poured out on the inhabitants of the world in Noah’s day who were outside the ark (Psalm 79:6; Ezekiel 22:31; Revelation 14:10-11), since Christ, pictured by the ark, saves men from their sin. Only those first in the ark passed through the water with Noah; it was the “ark . . . wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” As Noah and his household were in the ark, shut into it by a miraculous act of God (Genesis 7:16), a week before the flood began (Genesis 7:1, 4)., so a man must be “in Christ” by faith before he can enter the waters of baptism.[cci] One certainly did not pass through the waters of the flood in order to enter the ark—nor does one become “in Christ” by means of baptism. The ark saves from destruction, and the water from the world system. The “figure” of Christians and their baptism (1 Peter 3:21) provided by Noah’s passing through the flood fits very well with the Biblical truth that men are justified before their immersion; it does not fit baptismal regeneration well at all.
Fifth, 1 Peter 3:20-21 does not affirm baptismal regeneration because Peter earlier in his epistle, and elsewhere in Scripture, taught justification simply by “precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1). 1 Peter 1:1-5 affirms that the “elect . . . are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:1, 5). Peter establishes in the beginning of his epistle that God’s elect, all believers, are eternally saved and secure by Divine power. He affirms that “believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1:8-9). Further, he contrasts redemption by the incorruptible blood of Christ (1:18-19), received by supernaturally given faith (v. 21) in the imperishable Word of God (v. 23) with redemption by “corruptible things” (v. 18), which would include the solely temporal waters of baptism. The apostle also states that “he that believeth on [Christ] shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (2:6-7).[ccii] When Peter speaks of the new birth, he never connects it with baptism (1 Peter 1:3, 23). In Acts, Peter’s message was: “repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19); “repentance . . . and forgiveness of sins” (5:31); and that “through [Christ’s] name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (10:43). Peter declared: “God gave them the [Holy Spirit] . . . who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (11:17), since “the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost . . . purifying their hearts by faith” (15:7-10).[cciii] Peter did not contradict his teaching elsewhere and affirm baptismal regeneration in 1 Peter 3:20-21. As the waters of the flood lifted up the ark (Genesis 7:17), baptism is designed to exalt Christ, who in His death, burial, and resurrection, provides the meritorious cause of justification, which is received instrumentally simply by faith.
The conclusion that 1 Peter 3:20-21 does not teach forgiveness by baptism is clear. The parenthesis of verse 21, the words used for “saved” in the passage, the comparison to Noah’s deliverance by the Flood, and Peter’s teaching elsewhere in his epistles and in Scripture prove this fact. Baptismal regenerationists must mangle this verse, as they do the handful of other passages examined earlier, to invent support for their view, since the Word of God provides no support for their devilish perversion of the precious gospel of Christ. Those who neglected the ark and were in the water in Noah’s day died. Those who look to the waters of baptism for deliverance from sin will likewise be destroyed.
Conclusion to Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21
Since none of the alleged references to Spirit baptism in the epistles teach baptismal regeneration when analyzed with grammatical, historical hermeneutics, the affirmation that one must abandon the natural interpretation of these passages, which recognizes them as references to immersion in water, to refer them instead to Spirit baptism, fails to convince. The historic Baptist position, which considers all these texts as references to immersion in water,[cciv] should be maintained. Indeed, since none of the passages, interpreted naturally, have anything to do with Spirit baptism, arguing that they teach baptismal regeneration—if interpreted of immersion in water—actually plays into the hands of the advocate of sacramentalism, since he can demonstrate that the texts in question do not deal with Spirit baptism. Whenever baptism is spoken of in the epistles of the New Testament, immersion in water is in view. This is not unusual in light of the transitional and temporary nature of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Pentecostal events of Acts 2 were already complete when the epistles were written.
Scripture teaches the Baptist doctrine that Spirit baptism was a historical event completed in the first century. Both the post-conversion special power (PCP) and the universal church dispensational (UCD) views of Spirit baptism are erroneous. The references to Spirit baptism in the Old Testament, in the Gospels, and in the book of Acts all corroborate the classical Baptist view and contradict both the UCD and PCP positions. Passages that speak of baptism in the epistles and that are used by PCP’s and UCD’s to support their respective doctrines fail to do so, because in every case the texts refer to the church ordinance of believer’s immersion. Believing the Biblical, historic Baptist doctrine of Spirit baptism will protect God’s people from serious and harmful errors in pneumatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology. It will preserve them from false religious systems, such as Pentecostalism, that are largely based upon erroneous views of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It will enable them to more effectively grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) as they have a more Biblical understanding of the doctrine and practice of sanctification. Most importantly, it will enable them to more greatly love, honor, and serve the Triune God as they live by every word that proceeds from His mouth (Matthew 4:4; John 14:15). To Him alone be the glory for the wondrous truths about Himself and the ineffable graces bestowed on His saints that were authenticated and enacted in the Biblical, Baptist doctrine of Spirit baptism!
V. Appendix: Excerpts from the sermons “The First Pentecost” and “The Church, The Inhabitation of the Holy Spirit” by B. H. Carroll, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Waco, TX, Professor of theology and Bible at Baylor University and Seminary from 1872-1905 and professor and president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1908-1914.[ccv]
Sermon #1: The First Pentecost
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind,” not a wind, but a sound like that which a mighty wind makes. The sound was audible evidence of a Presence. “And it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder like as of fire.” Not fire, but “like as of fire.” That does not necessarily mean that the tongues were red. The reference is not to color but to the fact that a blaze of fire went up in a tongue-shape, lambent flame, reaching out as if licking up the substance it played about. Hence, because of shape and movement, we say, “a tongue of flame.” This visible manifestation, accompanying the sound, was divided into tongues, not cloven tongues, one tongue divided into two parts, but the whole appearance distributed it self into tongue-shapes and sat upon each. Following these phenomena of sound and sight, the record concludes: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
It is an amazing thing that, after so long an interval, the people of God do not yet have clear conceptions of the signficance of this wonderful transaction. Indeed, if you want your mind tangled up and confused, all of its ideas reduced to thick mist and shifting shadows, you have only to read the miscellaneous literature extant upon the subject.
I first mention some of the errors, the misconceptions, that attach ordinarily and with most people, to this transaction of the Day of Pentecost. You hear some say that on the Day of Pentecost the kingdom of God was set up; that there and then the church was established or organized.
There is in this second chapter of Acts not even an indirect hint toward the establishment or organization of either a kingdom or a church. And if you have allowed anybody to impose such a thought upon you with whatever specious pleading or argument, you have received great damage. On so vital a point there cannot be exercised too critical a supervision of the literature we place in the hands of our children. It is a lamentable misrepresentation of a great truth to say that on the day of Pentecost any kingdom was set up, any church was established or organized.
Again, you find in many books placed in young people’s hands, or frequently hear in discussing this Pentecost occasion, expressions such as this: “In the days of John the Baptist and in the life of Christ, was water baptism. Here was Spirit baptism. The first was formal, external, symbolic; the latter was spiritual and antitypical, and hence is the real baptism. It matters not much about the first: it matters a great deal about the second.”
And the question is pressed upon the young heart: “Have you received the baptism of the Spirit?” And all sorts of vague notions are taught about that baptism, some making it synonymous with regeneration. It is a common expression, “I may not have water-baptism, but I have the Spirit-baptism. I am a child of God. I am converted.” As if the baptism of the Spirit meant conversion, meant regeneration. It is an awful perversion of the truth. It overclouds and puts out of sight a mighty doctrine to have the mind rest upon any such statement as that.
What is the baptism in the Spirit? This is an important inquiry on which you are entitled to a clear conception. Indeed, your conception of it should be so clear that as soon as you hear the expression, “baptism in the Spirit,” you may know what that means, just as you say you know what it means when it is said, “Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan.” And so quickly ought the true idea of it flash into your mind with the naming of it, that it would be impossible for a wrong view of it to get before you at all.
Few people will claim that, when the expression, “the baptism in the Spirit,” is mentioned, they have as definite, well-defined idea of its import as they have when water-baptism is named. Hence the importance of this lesson.
If you permit yourself to think that you have already received the baptism in the Spirit, or that you are now entitled to it, then you have fixed your mind upon a vain delusion. You put a palpable discredit upon the teaching of God concerning one of the highest doctrines of the gospel.
Let me give you one profitable statement. Jesus is the administrator of the Spirit-baptism, and Jesus never did baptize a single individual under any circumstances in either water or Spirit. You can remember that, can’t you? I say that the Lord Jesus Christ never baptized an individual in water nor an individual in the Spirit. Spirit-baptism does not relate to the individual. Can you bear that in mind? There never has been but one baptism in the Spirit, and that was the baptism of a church, of an organization, and that baptism was immediate. Do you know what the word “immediate” means? It means without means, without the intervention of any instrumentality.
I mean to say that the Lord Jesus Christ himself, without employing a second or third party, baptized His church on the Day of Pentecost. After that when other people got the benefits of the Spirit-baptism they got it mediately, not immediately. They got it through an Apostle. For instance, Peter, in preaching to Cornelius as an Apostle, inducted Cornelius into the benefits of Spirit-baptism, whatever it means. And in Samaria, when Philip had preached there, the Apostles came down and, through laying on of hands, imparted the miraculous gift. Similarly at Ephesus, through Paul as an intermediary. The presence of an Apostle was always necessary.
Let us get this a little more clearly before us. There has never been but one baptism in the Spirit. That baptism took place on the occasion of this text, the first Pentecost after the passion of Christ. That was not the baptism of an individual. It was the baptism of an organization. It was the baptism of a church, as such, strictly. And it was immediate, without the intervention of any means whatever. Later, but limited exclusively to apostolic times, the benefits of that baptism were conferred upon others mediately, that is, through the Apostles.
Let us notice another error, for I want to get the errors before you. It relates to the church and is of two kinds. You hear on the streets, you read in the books you come in contact with, wherever you go, the phrase, “church universal,” that is to say, there may be a church particular in a place, but the church universal is the aggregate of the local churches.
There is no such idea conveyed anywhere in the Book of God as the church universal, and to take a local congregation of one faith, and a local congregation of another faith, and a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth kind of faith in a city, and then lump all of these heterogeneous communities, in all of the different localities spread out all over the world, and call that aggregate the church universal, is a degradation of the teaching of God’s Word. You ought never to think in that direction. Your mind cannot form a definite conception when you use the term “church universal.” You cannot put it in a clear expression, and if you do put something in a clear expression as your mind sees it, it is an unscriptural concept.
Another form of the error comes by confounding the local church, in the given place, with the church in glory, the completed body of Christ in heaven. Beyond a few anticipative references, the New Testament tells us nothing of the church in glory until we come to the last two chapters in the Book of Revelation. That . . . church is not referred to in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
It is an awful perversion of the New Testament teaching to designate local congregations of different faiths or of various denominations as so many branches of that heavenly church. I trust that you and I will be present when the last stone is put in that true spiritual temple, and until the last stone is placed, it will not be a completed house, ready for a tenant, but when the last man is saved, thereby completing the spiritual house of God, then, and not till then, will it become the permanent habitation of God.
Here in the second chapter of the Acts, He went into the local, earthly congregation. The last two chapters of the Book of Revelation tell us exactly how the heavenly house will be occupied. It gives first a word description of it and then permits the prophet to see it in vision. The house will descend from heaven—the full, completed church, in the heavenly sense, in the glorified sense, when the last man will be saved that ever will be saved and the work of redemption be completed as to all its units, and as to the fullness of all its parts. Then that house will descend with God for its inhabitant, fulfilling the Scripture, “The tabernacle of God is with men, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” And there shall be no temple in it. There shall be no altar of burnt-offering in it, and it shall be lighted by God and the Lamb. It shall be the everlasting habitation of God. But we have not arrived at the state set forth in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, and it is an awful perversion of the truth to apply the thought concerning what will take place as described in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation as applicable to what took place described in the second chapter of the Acts.
What, then, is the meaning of the second chapter of the Acts? One writer rightly abandons the idea of its being a building, establishing and organizing of a church, but he compares it—and he is much nearer the truth—to the launching of a ship. That is a better illustration; it is nearer the truth, but it is about a thousand miles yet from the truth. You know what takes place when a ship is launched. While the ship is actually built, while it is being completed, before it is launched, it has never sailed a foot. It has never as a ship moved on the waters that are to be its home. Launching is putting it in the water. But the church our Lord Jesus Christ built had been launched before this and it had made a good many long voyages. They were not distant, but what you would call trial voyages. It had been launched by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who built it, but it had been confined to Jewish waters. And if you ask me, under the image of a ship, to tell you what the second chapter of Acts means, it means this: not indeed the launching of the ship of the church but the putting out to the open seas. Heretofore it had been in Jewish harbors and in the rivers and along the coast, but on the Day of Pentecost it pushed out from all shores and went into the boundless sea of all nations and tongues and kindreds and peoples of the earth. Now, that illustration would suit.
Then let me give you very briefly the meaning of this second chapter of Acts. There was not an atom of uncertainty about the time nor the import. Both time and import
had not only been fixed but crystallized in monumental teaching for thousands of years. I shall quote you a passage from Leviticus showing that the day must be what we now call the Lord’s Day; that commencing from the morrow after the Sabbath, which is our Sunday, and the Sabbath must be the Sabbath that followed the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb, you count full seven weeks, which bring you to Pentecost, the fiftieth day, making it Sunday, the Lord’s Day.
The Lord Jesus Christ baptized His church as certainly on the day that He rose from the dead (I mean the day of the week that He rose from the dead), which was the first day of the week, as Leviticus is true[.]
Not only then was the date fixed but the import of it. Let us see what it was. We read concerning three houses in the Bible; I think I may say four—one yet future. That house that Moses built was the tabernacle in the wilderness, built according to a pattern as exact as the draft of an architect according to which our houses are constructed. Moses built a house, and when that house was completed, when everything was done called for by the plan, then the cloud came down and filled it. (See Exodus, chapter 40). That cloud was a symbol; that house was a type. That house was a type of the church. That cloud was a symbol of the coming of the Spirit into the church. The cloud came down and occupied the house, not when the foundation was laid, not when the walls were half-way up, but when the tabernacle was complete. Then the cloud filled the house that Moses built.
In the First Book of Kings (fifth and sixth chapters), we have an advance in the typical and symbolical idea, showing the house that Solomon built. The first house related to the wanderers, before they had a settled habitation; later another house was built, the immovable and enduring temple. Solomon built it. Away out in Lebanon’s forests and in the mountain quarries, preparations went on. Each piece of timber and each rock that went into the wall was individually gathered out and prepared. Then around by Joppa the timbers were brought, the stones were gathered together, and they were all brought into one place. But if you had been there when every piece of material had been brought to the ground and looked at the great pile of the finished rock and timber, you would not call that a house any more than you would a pile of bricks stacked out there in the street, a house. Before there can be a house, the pieces must be brought together and adjusted, fitted up. Now, when that building was completed, the Scriptures tell us a cloud came down and filled Solomon’s Temple.
Now, let us look at the house that Jesus built. He is the builder of the two. He built a house for the earth and is building a house for heaven. According to strict correspondence, the tabernacle, or house built by Moses, was the type of the New Testament church, an earthly, militant organization. But the Temple or house built by Solomon, was a type of the heavenly body. In both cases, Jesus himself built the antitypical house.
Just now we are talking about the house on earth. We are not looking at the other. That is in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, or more dimly seen in Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple. We are talking about His house on earth. There was to be a house set on earth, having earthly visibility, having earthly ordinances, having earthly officers, having earthly forms and ceremonies, and there will be one having nothing earthly in it whatsoever, and that one is the one I speak about, the one that is to be occupied by the Holy Spirit as an everlasting habitation after the judgment. The constituent stones of that house harmonize, name by name and stone by stone, with the names that are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But now the earthly house is not so. It will not harmonize that way.
But let us look at the earthly house. That is the one of which you are a member. That is the one with which you have to do. That one is a business body. That one receives and develops and disciplines members. That one has a commission given to it. That is the one church preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the whole world, and that is the one about which Pentecost speaks, and no other.
Let us look, therefore, at that one. When did the preparation of the material for this house commence? I can tell you exactly; I can put my finger right on the starting-point. It was the day that John the Baptist preached his first sermon, the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the voice of one preaching in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make ready a people for the Lord. Make ready a people.” As if to say, “John, go out yonder and cut down your timber. Go out yonder and quarry your stone. We will want them after a while, when we are ready to put them into a house.” How did he quarry them? By preaching repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. How did he ceremonially prepare them? By baptism in water, a new ordinance hitherto unknown to the world.
When Jesus came, He took this material John had prepared and added to that material. From the day that Jesus came John decreased and Christ increased. Christ entered into possession of John’s work, and made and baptized more disciples than did John; and Christ, like John, preached, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” And Christ through His disciples baptized those that had repented and believed, and the work of preparation went on.
When did He begin to put these materials together? I can tell you when He commenced. You know a house commences when its foundation is laid. That is when you commence to put a house together, isn’t it? Well, this house that Jesus built, (Jesus and nobody else), was built upon the foundation of the New Testament apostles and prophets. When did that commence? You read in the tenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew that Jesus commenced the work of organization, construction, putting together. How did He do it? He called unto Him twelve and ordained them to be apostles. There the work of construction properly commenced. And later we learn that He appointed seventy others also; and then that He brought in the last ordinance, to-wit, His Supper. Here is the ordinance of baptism and there is the ordinance of the Supper. There were no others.
Let no man dare to add another unless he assumes to make an improvement on the building that came in its perfection from the plan and hand of the Divine Architect. Do not add others and call them sacraments. Do not say that there are seven, when God’s Word shows only two ordinances and the Supper is the last one.
Thus Jesus built the church-ship and Himself made several trips with it—what I referred to a while ago by harbor sailing, sailing in the rivers, sailing near the coasts, with local, circumscribed boundaries. What did He say when He looked at it? He said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”
“Finished, Lord?” “Yes, finished.” “Oh, no; shall we not organize that church on the Day of Pentecost, days and days after your passion?”
From the cross comes the rebuke as from the realms of sacred death, “It is finished.”
Let not man take up the saw and the hammer and talk about building a church on the Day of Pentecost or organizing a church on the Day of Pentecost. “On this Rock,” says Christ, “I will build my church.”
Who is going to claim equality with Him in that structure? Let thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth before making an assertion that Peter could set up a kingdom or organize a church. If Peter could do it, why can not you do it? When you admit that this building can be done by anyone but the King of kings and Lord of lords, you encourage this idea, sweeping about over the world, that just any fellow can go out and make a church of his own. “I will start a church, a new church. I will set up a church.”
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church that He built on the earth, commenced in His lifetime, in all of its essential parts, was completed in His lifetime, and any institution pushed out into the waters at a later date stands accursed for lack of time in the start.
And I say to you boldly that if the local congregation is not after the model embodied in the first and mother church, Jerusalem, as ordained and established by the Lord Jesus Christ, then do not claim that it is a church of Jesus Christ. Do not claim it. Call it a society, and a human society at that.
Now, I say that our Lord Jesus Christ, having fashioned His church, built it and finished it prior to the day of Pentecost. He then appointed a day when a tremendous transaction was to take place, and that is the transaction recorded in the second chapter of the Acts. That is exactly what we are to look at. That is the thing whose import we are to fix in our minds. On a specific day, the fiftieth day from the passion, or seven full weeks from the morrow after—on that day there was to take place as regards His earthly house, the antitype of what took place after Moses’ house was built, to-wit: the descent of the Holy Spirit to occupy the house. I do not hesitate then to affirm that the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles records a transaction that was initial. I mean that up to that day there never had been on this earth a church of Jesus Christ occupied by the Spirit.
Well, hadn’t the Spirit been at work? Oh, yes, the Spirit converted men in Abel’s time, but there was never a baptism of the Spirit until the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, conversion and baptism are not the same. You could not say of conversion, “The Holy Spirit was not yet.” You could not say of sanctification, “The Holy Spirit was not yet.” But I will tell you what you could say; you could say that the descent of the Spirit to occupy a New Testament church was not yet. That you could say. So then, on that day the Lord Jesus Christ baptized His church in the Holy Ghost—His church. . . .
Then why did He send the Holy Spirit down on the Day of Pentecost—to what end? Why baptize a church? Why didn’t He baptize it before? I shall tell you why. Before that, the church He organized was making its trial trips and He was in it Himself. He was here. His hand was at the helm. He was moving and directing everything in it. But in the development of His plans and of God’s purposes it became necessary for Him to go away, to go up to heaven. And there is the ship without a captain. Jesus is gone. But he says, “I was with you in your trial trips and took care of you. But before you put out to the open sea (and I command you to go out on every sea, to carry the Gospel to all nations), before you put out to the open sea, wait for your captain, the other Paraclete. On the day appointed of old I will send Him.”
The coming of the Holy Spirit that day, the baptism of the church in that Spirit, was for what end? To accredit the church; to accredit and authenticate the church as God’s organization. There had been miracles before, but the miracles before accredited men. Now, the Day of Pentecost was to be signalized by an accrediting of an organization, and that was a new thing under the sun. On that day the church was to be demonstrated as divine, as being sent forth of God to do its work; Therefore, they were to wait; not to push out into the ocean by themselves; wait until they were indued with power from on high.
Mark how exactly the credentials correspond to the scope of the voyage, to the work they were to do. What is the instruction? What is written in the orders? “Go ye into all the world. Preach the gospel to every creature. Go ye and make disciples of all nations.” When this ship approaches a foreign shore and a Parthian or an Elamite or a Persian or a Grecian or a Roman or a dweller in Mesopotamia shall ask, “Where are your credentials?” our text answers: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” There were present men from every nation under heaven, and these men heard the church, through its representatives, speaking unto them in their own tongue, wherein they were born, and they were accredited; there was the amazing miracle that authenticated the church of Jesus Christ as being commissioned to carry the gospel to all nations.
Well, is this accrediting a thing to be perpetually repeated? No, accrediting has limits as to time. Just as soon as its functions are performed there is no repetition of it. Therefore, said the apostle, in speaking to the local church at Corinth, which had received its heavenly credential, a credential that spoke with tongues, “Whether there be tongues they shall cease.” It was not designed that this baptism in the Spirit should be perpetual. It had a function. When its function was accomplished, then it ceased. The church was to go out and prove itself to be from God by the ability to speak in every tongue. That was one thing. “But whether there be tongues they shall cease.” The church was to go out having also upon her the power of prophecy: “But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail.” The church was to go out having power to work miracles, but miracles also were to cease.
Now, I want to prove that to you, taking a case in the days of the apostles, in the days when the credentials had to be exhibited. It is said that “These signs shall follow them that believe.” What signs? The signs of what? These signs shall follow: That they shall take up serpents harmlessly, and if they eat or drink poison, it shall not hurt them, and they shall lay their hands upon the sick and heal them. Is that so? Certainly. When our Lord sent them out, as we find in the tenth chapter of Luke, He said, “If you find any sick anoint them with oil, and raise them up,” and the raising up of the sick was to constitute the credentials of that man in that community. . . .
But do you mean that this is for today? Not a breath of it. I do affirm that God’s Word distinctly restricts such signs to the days of authentication. Miraculous healing pertains to the credentials, and I would just as soon stand out yonder in the cemetery and ask an old inhabitant, buried forty years ago, to rise up from his grave, and expect to see him rise up, as I would . . . [to] go today to a sick man and anoint him with oil and expect to see the sick rise up.
The attempt would be blasphemous in either case. Why blasphemous? Simply because it would say to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Your church whom you baptized in the Holy Spirit, was not sufficiently accredited. We want new credentials issued. We want the signs repeated in our time.” It argues that the work then done was not completed.
And the whole of this Christian Science business is predicated upon that misconception of God’s Word and is as diametrically opposed to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as any other heresy that ever cursed the world by its introduction. . . . It is important to have clear ideas on all these lines.
Let me advance in that thought just a little and I am through. Of course, there are thousands of other things that could be said on it, for its boundaries are immense, but you cannot hear all of them in one day. I have shown you before, but I want to show you again; I want to make it just as clear as a sunbeam, that this baptism of the church in the Spirit and by the Lord Jesus Christ was temporary in its nature, that it referred to a special object, and that object was accomplished; and then I want to show you that the church, in the New Testament sense, when we come to that word in the New Testament, must all the time be construed as applied to one local congregation. . . .
[B]aptism in the Spirit [would] cease [while] certain other things should abide; . . . the graces would stay; . . . faith, hope and love would continue, but this thing stop. This is for a sign, he said. . . . [N]o man ever did receive a baptism in the Spirit to affect him as an individual only. No man ever did receive a baptism in the Spirit except as a constituent part of the church.
Christ baptized the church, and when He baptized the church all were baptized[.] . . . It was one baptism once for all. In other words, one might never claim that the baptism in the Spirit prompted him to set up a new order of things. He might not say, “I am guided by the’ baptism in the Spirit to go off at a tangent, to set up a different establishment, to defy church authority, to go off as a free lance.” No, sir. . . . [N]one might dare claim Spirit guidance for separatist work. Much less do you do it now. Don’t you say, when you are despising dignitaries, and speaking evil of them, and bringing about schism and disrupting and dividing the people of God—don’t say the Spirit prompts you, that the baptism in the Spirit makes you do this. If you had the Spirit baptism it would be into, it would be for the church; it would be with reference to the church and not contrary to it and against it. . . .
Do you yet say you have the baptism of the Spirit? Well, if you say it, then I ask you to give me the signs. These signs shall follow. “Which things,” says Paul, “are for a sign.” They were to be a sign of something, accrediting in certain directions. You have it? Give me a sign. What is the sign? Well, let a rattlesnake bite you. Raise the dead. Let me see you do it. Give me the sign. And not in some dark corner bring about a miracle, but in the open daylight, before competent witnesses, as Christ wrought in the presence of thousands. Let there be such miracles wrought as cannot be questioned. Give me the signs.
A picture I leave with you. I have it in my own mind. It makes my heart thrill as I look on the mental canvas. I see the Master coming here on earth. I see the harbinger hewing down the trees and shaping them and exhuming the rocks and finishing them. I see him pointing to the Architect and saying, “Oh Thou Divine Builder, here is the material. You told me to get it ready.” I see the Builder take the material and, commencing with the foundation, building and building and building, until at last before my eyes is a New Testament church, organized, established, set up, with officers, with ordinances, complete and tried under the Master’s own hand, to show that it would work, and that it would do the things appointed in Judean localities. But it-has a wider destiny.
I see the Captain standing on the deck and reading orders for that ship: “Go ye into all the world. Heretofore I said, Go not to Samaria. Go not to the cities of the Gentiles. I lift the embargo. I tear down the dividing wall. I now order the ship which I have built to go to earth’s remotest bounds—long, perilous voyages, mighty undertakings.” But the Captain says, “I am about to leave you. You never will see me here again in this ship. Therefore, wait; do not put up the sails. Do not lift the anchor. Wait until you are indued with power from on high. Wait until your credentials as a church come down. Wait until you are authenticated to the nations. Wait until the time appointed, and then you put out to the open sea and you keep to the sea. Don’t ever come back to port anymore. Keep to the sea as long as your mission lasts. O Ship of Zion, sail on, sail yonder, and there, and everywhere. Go to this ocean and that bay and that lake. Go on, Ship, ever sailing in storm and calm and sunshine. O Ship, sail on until your Captain comes again.” And so on the Day of Pentecost, when it was fully come, suddenly by sound speaking to the ear, by sight speaking to the eye, by feeling speaking to the inner senses, the credentials come, the accrediting takes place.
They speak with tongues. They are now ready to go forth. And I hear a voice, saying, “Up with your anchor; hoist your sails. Move out of the harbor and away and away and away until the Master comes. On for the long voyage in His name.” The other Paraclete, the other Captain, the Holy Ghost, is in the ship yet, not now to authenticate it, but to guide and give power. He remains not in the universal church (there is no such organization), not in the heavenly church—its time is not yet come—but in the local congregation. Read Revelation concerning the seven churches of Asia; behold Jesus Christ, through the Spirit, moving, not in the church universal, but among the churches— this church, that church, the other church. And as Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, “Each several building,” not all the buildings making a town, but “each several building is a church of God,” this one here, that one yonder. Each single local congregation is the house of Jesus Christ, infilled and guided by the Holy Ghost.
Now, I hope that your speech will be conformed to the true New Testament idea when you speak of these things. I do not pretend in this day to work miracles; they have passed. The credentials are completed. The attesting is consummated. But I do say that the local congregation is to be the house of Jesus Christ inhabited by the Holy Ghost. . . . Amen.
Sermon #2: The Church, The Habitat of the Holy Spirit
Perhaps the most perplexing of all the questions to be answered today are these: What is meant by the Scripture, “The Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified”? And in what new sense did the Holy Spirit come on the first Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus? And does He abide with us in any sense peculiar to New Testament times? No other questions relating to the interpretation of God’s Word have more engaged my own mind and heart for years than these.
And now I am going to answer them so these Sunday-school children will understand. Let us commence with an examination, in order, of several Scriptures that constitute our text.
First, the tabernacle: “Our fathers had the tabernacle in the wilderness.” The tabernacle, or tent, was a movable house for God, to serve only while Israel was on the road. Many chapters in Exodus are devoted to telling how it was constructed, but the significant fact, the one most pertinent to this discussion, is recorded in Exodus 40:33, 34: “So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
(1) This was the house that Moses built;
(2) every part of it was fashioned separately according to the divine pattern furnished Moses;
(3) though each part was complete in itself, and all the parts were gathered in one place, as a workman gets together his material on a building site, they did not make a house until they were put together. It took all of them to make the house and all of them united, that, “fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplied, according to the working in due measure of each several part”;
(4) When the house was finished, God moved in and inhabited it in the presence of all the people.
Pass now to a second Scripture: “But Solomon built him a house.” You will find the history in the fifth and sixth chapters of the First Book of Kings. This was after the traveling days of Israel were ended and they had become thoroughly established in the Promised Land. God now needed a permanent house instead of a tent. Again we find the same significant fact so pertinent to our discussion—1 Kings 6:37-38; 8:10-11: “In the fourth year [i.e., of Solomon’s reign] was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the month Zif. And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it … And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the Holy Place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord.”
Here again observe:
(1) This was the house that Solomon built;
(2) Every part of it was fashioned separately, according to the divine pattern given David;
(3) Though each part was complete in itself, and all the parts were gathered in one place, they did not make a house until they were put together. It took all of them to make one house and all of them properly united;
(4) As the stones put in the walls were not rough ashlars, but each previously shaped and numbered and as the timbers were all thoroughly dressed and adapted beforehand, there was no sound of the saw or hammer in putting them together. The mighty building was set up in silence;
(5) When the house was finished, then and not until then, God moved in and inhabited it.
Now, the tabernacle of Moses and Solomon’s Temple were types of the New Testament church, and the cloud was a type of the Holy Ghost. But after all, Solomon’s house was made with hands and in reality God “dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” The cloud was not the Holy Ghost himself but just a symbol of Him.
The Temple, however, did foreshadow a real house, built not with human hands and skill, which the real God would inhabit. One greater than Moses or Solomon must build this house. In the fullness of time came Jesus, the real builder. “I will build my church,” said He. . . . The process of the building was this:
First, John the Baptist was sent before to announce that the kingdom was at hand and to prepare the material, that is, make ready a people one by one for the coming Lord. How did he make them ready? By utterly discarding all idea of a national basis or fleshly descent from Abraham; by insisting upon a personal and voluntary repentance and faith and confession of sins and reformation; by giving them “the knowledge of salvation in ‘the remission of their sins;” and by baptizing these saved people.
Second, Jesus received this prepared material and added more to it in precisely the same manner. So far, the work was individual, that is, it consisted merely of getting out the timbers, quarrying the stones, and dressing them in proper shape to fit into a house yet in his own mind.
Third, He next began to lay a foundation, i.e., to organize His ready-made people. This He commenced by the ordination of the Twelve Apostles and subsequently of seventy prophets, or teachers. As one of our Scriptures says: “Ye are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets [of course he means New Testament prophets].” Here was the beginning of His church. This was the first step in organization.
Fourth, by His Sermon on the Mount and His subsequent parables, He instructed these apostles in all the fundamental principles of His kingdom.
Fifth, according to the tabernacle-type, this was His itinerant church moving about wherever He moved. As a present, living Paraclete, He administered all its affairs while the building progressed. At Caesarea Philippi He announced the foundation principles of church-membership:—a God-revealed and personal faith in Him, saying, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” Later he instructed them (Matthew 18) in the discipline and authority of the church: “Tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mark that word “agree,” and note that phrase “on earth,” and that other phrase, “gathered together.” We shall need them all after a while.
Sixth, having unfolded His doctrines, organized His material, laying the foundation in the apostles and teachers, it now became necessary to unite the walls with the great, elect, precious corner-stone, Jesus Christ himself. So He made known fully His approaching death and instituted His second and last memorial ordinance, the Lord’s Supper.
Now hear the builder: “Father, the hour is come; … I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do” (John 17:1-4). Hear Him again in His death agony: “It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). And thus the house was built.
Here in the antitype observe:
(1) This was the house that Jesus built: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken afterward; but Christ as a son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:1-6). This house was built “without hands.” It was no material structure of stone and timber. It was a spiritual house. The foundation stones—apostles and teachers—were living stones. The only dead stone in the foundation—Judas Iscariot, the son of perdition—was eliminated, and Matthias, a living stone, replaced him before the house was occupied. Hence one of our Scriptures: “Coming unto Christ, himself a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house.” This “spiritual house” is expressly declared by another Scripture to be the “church of the living God,” a church to which the truth is committed for propagation. So, expressly, the church at Corinth is called “God’s building,” “a temple of God.” So likewise the church at Ephesus is called a “holy temple, builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.” So also when we compare 1 Corinthians 3:9, 17, with 1 Peter 2:4-5, we have the Spirit’s own interpretation of Matthew 16:18: “Upon this rock I will build my church.” That rock is Christ himself.
(2) That every stone was prepared separately-made a living stone by personal regeneration, repentance, and faith, and was then baptized.
(3) That these individuals were organized into a body with ordinances, and the gospel work committed to them.
(4) That while our Lord had finished His house, it, as a house, remained without an occupant[ccvi] to the first Pentecost.
Whatever influence of the Holy Spirit had been exerted on them and in them as individuals to make them Christians, this was in their separate capacity. As an organization—a composite structure—fitly joined together, it was vacant. A hundred thousand bricks, lying apart, make no house, however perfect each brick. When these bricks are put together in the wall and according to the architect’s plan, united by mortar, and a turn-key job of a finished structure is turned over for acceptance, though a complete house, it is yet unoccupied.
We now see the new house built by Jesus Christ. It is a church composed exclusively of regenerated individuals. There is no provision in it for any unconverted man, woman, or child. The laws are complete. The ordinances are complete. Its uses and duties are all defined, and no new thing was ever added, the Spirit afterwards only bringing to their remembrance what Christ had previously taught.
We pause here to emphasize that the earth in all its history had never before known a Christian church. It was an absolutely new organization. And now we are prepared to see it occupied. Such a building needs an inhabitant.
In a word, then, what is the significance of the second chapter of Acts? Was it the setting up of a kingdom or the building of a temple? Nay, verily, the God of heaven, Jesus Christ, in His own person, while on earth, had already set up His kingdom and built His house.
What was it Peter had?
The keys of an established kingdom.
Why had he the keys?
That he might open its door to people that they might enter.
When he did open the door, did he open it from the inside or from the outside? And if he opened it from the outside when and by what process did he himself get in? Did God give Peter the keys, and while He held the keys up in His hand, build a kingdom to fit the keys?
The house was finished. Peter was in it and opened it from the inside. What then signifies the second chapter of Acts?
The simple answer is this: That day God, the Spirit, moved into the house that Jesus had built, as His cloud-type had moved into the typical house built by Moses and Solomon.
How then was the descent of the Spirit on that day different from any past work of
In this, that never before had He inhabited an organization of Christians. Individual Christians, like Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and David, he had made and indwelt. But the patriarchal and Mosaic organizations were not spiritual but fleshly. It was the family and the nation typifying, indeed, the church, but they were not the real church itself. Hence the cloud that occupied the house of Moses and the house of Solomon was only a symbolical presence of God. But on the Day of Pentecost God himself came down and filled His house. In this sense, then, the Holy Spirit had not been given, because Jesus had not been glorified. And therefore it was expedient for Jesus to leave His little flock that the Comforter might come.
We now open another important inquiry. In coming on the Day of Pentecost He came with miracles, i.e., conferring miraculous power.
Were there no miracles wrought by the Spirit before the Day of Pentecost? What was there new here?
Moses was accredited by miracles. So were the prophets. So was Jesus. What, then, was new here?
This was new, that on this day the church, as the executive of her absent Lord, was accredited for the first time in the history of the world. Miracles were now the credentials of the church and authenticated its Gospel message.
This, my brethren, was the baptism in the Spirit, a baptism in miraculous power, authenticating and accrediting the church as the house Jesus built. And, mark me well, just here. No man on that day, or subsequently in apostolic times, received this baptism of miraculous power apart from his relation to the church. He was baptized in the Spirit unto, i.e., with reference to, the church. That is to say, he did not receive this miraculous power, whether of tongues or interpretations of tongues, or healing, or inspiration, or prophecy, or in any other gift as an individual, that he might go off at a tangent and become a separatist, or glorify himself, but he was “baptized in the Spirit unto the church.” The gifts were for edification, upbuilding the church. . . .
[The] baptism of miraculous power . . . [and] temporary gifts . . . [were inferior to] the enduring graces of regeneration, [and] were temporary—were for a sign, that is, to accredit the church and [then they] would then cease: “Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge [supernatural], it shall vanish away.”
(5) And here in this very text he assured them that this very “baptism in the Spirit” was [for] . . . the church – not out of it, not against it, not to its detriment, but for it; not to its confusion, but to its order; not to its shame, but to its glory; not unto its destruction, but unto its upbuilding. The whole context shows, as other Scriptures abundantly confirm, that the baptism in the Spirit was a baptism in miraculous power, for a temporary purpose, but that baptism, while it lasted, was to give credentials unto the church. Hence the baptism in the Spirit was a baptism unto, or into, the church.
(6) Believing as I do, that in Apostolic times the church was thoroughly and sufficiently accredited, to my mind there is now no need for this baptism in the Spirit, and as the Scriptures were completed, inspiration ceased with John. . . . What then does remain of the new enduement received on the Day of Pentecost? The Spirit did not occupy the house of Jesus merely to accredit it by miracles but to fill it with ability to do the work assigned it, to enable it to carry out all its mission. This is our everlasting heritage.
Do understand me here. When I say the Spirit fills the church today, I do not refer:
1. To that mere concept of the mind—all the elect as they are or shall be in heaven. I refer to no invisible church.
2. Nor do I refer to any provincial, national, or world-wide organization of professed believers.
3. I do refer to independent, local, visible organization of baptized believers. There was one such organization at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. That was the church. There was afterwards one such in Corinth, to which Paul wrote, and he called that one a temple of the Holy Ghost. There was one such at Ephesus, and he wrote to that one and called it a temple of the Holy Ghost. And wherever elsewhere one was organized, it became a temple of the Holy Ghost. They were all visible and had visible ordinances. All of them were working bodies here on earth. To such a one, and only to such, could our Savior’s precept apply: “Tell it to the church.” These were the organizations that received, educated, disciplined, and, if need be, excluded members. These preached the gospel. Each was the house of God, the church of the living God, and pillar and ground of the truth. The Holy Ghost does not inhabit a denomination. He inhabits a church. The Holy Ghost does not inhabit a nation. He inhabits a church—a local church.
This was the new thing at Pentecost. Christ built the first one. It was designed not only to perpetuate itself but to multiply itself.
Do listen carefully again to my fourth Scripture: “In Jesus Christ each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord.” If this general proposition of Paul be true, that “every several building” which is “fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple,” of course, it would follow just as he states concerning the particular Ephesus church: “In whom ye also are builded for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” That is to say, if it is the law of Jesus Christ that wherever local churches are organized on New Testament principles, each for itself would be a temple of God, then it would follow that if this local church is organized on the New Testament, “we also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Now mark two things:
1. That a denomination in a particular section or country, is not a temple of God. There is no such thing as a state or national church. If God ever thought of such a thing, He did not reveal His thoughts.
2. That Christian people even in one city or community are not a temple of God, any more than a hundred thousand loose bricks make a house. A temple is an organic structure. The parts must be put together according to a plan and so united as to make one building. That is a house. And for Christians to unite themselves together into any kind of human society, whether creditable or innocent its objects, is no temple of God. The Spirit of God inhabits only one organization on this earth—the church of Jesus Christ. And unto no other organization as Jesus given His commission and ordinances. And no other organization is the pillar and ground of the truth. The Confederate Veteran Association, the Bar Association, the Medical Association, the Democratic and Republican parties, . . . all of them man-made, may be good and serve good purposes, but none of them is the house of the living God, the holy temple the habitation of the eternal Spirit.
Yea, more, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the B.Y.P.U. of America, or the South, or of the State, or the Salvation Army—none of them is the temple, or even a temple of God. To none of them has God committed the world’s evangelization.
But, you will say, “Brother Carroll, where does this doctrine lead? Have you looked to the end of it?” No matter where it leads I am willing to follow it, as confidingly as Moses followed the pillar of cloud and fire, even if need be into deserts and waterless and foodless places, and simply trust God.
“But don’t you believe in ladies’ aid societies, and Sunday-schools, and young people’s unions?”
In the local church, yes; as working committees of the church, yes; working in and through and by and for the church, yes. Representing for themselves and from themselves into any State or National organization, no, SO HELP ME GOD. . . .
I mean to say this much: That if the human societies for doing the work of the church were disbanded-every one of them-the church of Jesus Christ could go right on with the work of evangelizing the world and Christ would have the glory in the church more fully. The following corollaries set forth a summary of the whole matter:
1. This explains the sense in which the Holy Spirit was given after Christ’s ascension.
2. This also explains the baptism of the Spirit as never before existent, and here by miraculous endowments bestowing credentials on the church.
3. And how these endowments ceased with the accomplishment of their purpose.
4. An explanation . . . that the baptism in the Holy Ghost was into or unto one body and subordinate to the church.
5. [I]n an accommodated sense, used one time only, a single Christian is called a temple and might have been so called before Christ as well as since Christ[,] [but]
6. No other organization whatsoever is an habitation of the Spirit.
7. No other is the pillar and ground of the truth.
8. No other has committed to it the ordinances and possesses one atom of official authority from God.
9. All the good accomplished by any other can be better done through the church.
10. For purposes of cooperation in evangelization the churches may [assist each other]. . . .
11. My deliberate conviction is that no work of evangelization whatsoever should be committed to any organized convention or association whatsoever except such as are composed solely of the representatives of the churches. [Though Biblically there is no basis in Scripture for any organized parachurch conventions or associations at all.]
12. I do not deny their work or its value, but it could have been better done by honoring the church and with less harm. I do not oppose, but favor Sunday-schools, Ladies’ Societies, Young People’s Unions, as working committees in the local church, doing all their work in, through, by, and for the church and representing as societies in nothing.
13. As this is a spiritual house, I believe its worship should be spiritual, that its choirs that lead the music should be spiritual, just as much as the preachers and deacons. In other words, it is just as lawful and congruous to employ an unconverted, professional elocutionist or actor to do your preaching and an unconverted business expert to manage the temporalities of the deacons’ office as to employ unconverted singers.
14. If this is a spiritual house to offer spiritual sacrifices, and as contribution for Christ’s sake is a part of this worship, all secular methods of raising money by pew-rents, fairs, raffles, suppers, balls, etc., are an abomination in the sight of God. Let the world raise its money that way if it wants to.
15. That we ought never to canvass the world for church-money. If any voluntarily, without solicitation, and from respect to religion, wish to aid, receive it. If, however, the circumstances of the tender show it to proceed from a spirit of patronage or a means of advertising you had better let it alone.
16. That every dollar expended in meeting-houses that apes the temple or cathedral idea as if brick and wood and stained glass spires were holy; and every dollar put into mere style or ornamentation, such as would make the poor feel not at home, leave it out. Whatever is necessary to endurance, size, safety, ventilation, warmth, acoustics, ingress and egress, and especially acoustics, have them, of course. Simplicity and utility may combine with taste.
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Baptists who read only neo-evangelical or non-historic Baptist compositions on Spirit baptism will probably never even have the historic Baptist position presented to them. For example, in critiquing the PCP position in favor of a UCD view of 1 Corinthians 12:13, the evangelical J. I. Packer wrote, “Can it be convincingly denied that 1 Corinthians 12:13 . . . refers to one aspect of what we may call the ‘conversion-initiation complex’ with which the Christian life starts, so that according to Paul every Christian as such is Spirit-baptized? Surely it cannot. The only [emphasis added] alternative to this conclusion would be to hold, as the late R. A. Torrey influentially did, that Paul here speaks of a ‘second blessing,’ not mentioned in his letters elsewhere, which he knew that he and all the Corinthians had received, though some Christians today have not” (pg. 163, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005). Packer goes on to (effectively) critique the PCP view of 1 Corinthians 12:13. What is noteworthy is that he presents his UCD position as the “only” alternative. The historic Baptist position is entirely ignored. Packer is typical of evangelical books and articles on Spirit baptism, as even a cursory examination will verify. Journal articles such as “Dispensationalists and Spirit Baptism,” Larry D. Pettegrew, Master’s Seminary Journal 8 (Spring 1997): 29-46 ignore the historic Baptist view, despite historic Baptist acceptance of dispensational distinctions. Dictionary articles such as “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” by Craig Blomberg in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996) ignore the historic Baptist position. Evangelical books such as Baptism & Fulness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today, John R. W. Stott, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978) and Holy Spirit Baptism, Anthony A. Hoekema (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972) ignore the historic Baptist position. It is noteworthy, however, that Hoekema admits that the passages concerning Spirit baptism in the gospels, as well as Acts 1:5, refer to Pentecost alone, stating: “This outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost Day . . . was a historical event of the greatest importance—unique, unrepeatable, once-for-all. It may be thought of as an event comparable in magnitude to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. . . . In Jerusalem the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 disciples . . . in fulfillment of the promise of the Father; this outpouring was a great salvation-history event[.] . . . In this sense, therefore, Pentecost can never be repeated, and does not need to be repeated. . . . [T]he expression ‘to be baptized in the Spirit’ is used in the Gospels and in Acts 1:5 to designate the once-for-all, historical event of the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost Day. In this sense the baptism of the Spirit is never repeated” (pg. 17-20, cf. 15-29). However, Hoekema then argues for a UCD perspective based on Acts 11:16 and 1 Corinthians 12:13, interacting with the PCP doctrine but engaging in no interaction at all with the historic Baptist position. His bibliography (pgs. 94-95) lists no books by historic Baptists, so it appears that his affirmations on the Spirit baptism texts in the gospels and in Acts 1:5 agree with the conclusions of the classic Baptist doctrine simply from the force of grammatical-historical interpretation, and potentially without any knowledge on his part of the existence of the view.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in relation to Pentecostalism Today by James D. G. Dunn (Chatham, England: SCM Press, 1970) may be considered as representative of treatments of Spirit baptism by those less conservative than historic Baptists, fundamentalists, or evangelicals. Dunn writes:
Of particular interest to the NT scholar is the Pentecostal’s teaching about the baptism in the Spirit, for in it he claims to have discovered the NT pattern of conversion-initiation—the only pattern which makes sense of the data in Acts—and also the principal explanation for the amazing growth of the early Church. But does the NT mean by baptism in the Holy Spirit what the Pentecostal understands the phrase to mean? Is baptism in the Holy Spirit to be separated from conversion-initation, and is the beginning of the Christian life to be thus divided up into distinct stages? Is Spirit-baptism something essentially different from becoming a Christian, so that even a Christian of many years’ standing may never have been baptized in the Spirit?
These are some of the important questions which Pentecostal teaching raises, and it will be the primary task of this book to re-examine the NT in the light of this teaching with a view to answering these questions. Put in a nutshell, we hope to discover what is the place of the gift of the Spirit in the total complex event of becoming a Christian. This will inevitably involve us in a wider debate than merely with Pentecostals. For many outside Pentecostalism make a straghtforward identification between a baptism in the Spirit and the Christian sacrament of water-baptism, while others distinguish two gifts or comings of the Spirit, the first at conversion-initation and the second at a later date, in Confirmation or in the bestowal of charismata. I shall therefore be defining my position over against two and sometimes three or four different standpoints. . . . I hope to show that for the writers of the NT the baptism in or gift of the Spirit was part of the event (or process) of becoming a Christian, together with the effective proclamation of the Gospel, belief in (ei˙ß) Jesus as Lord, and water-baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus; that it was the chief element in conversion-initation so that only those who had thus received the Spirit could be called Christians; that the reception of the Spirit was a very definite and often dramatic experience, the decisive and climactic experience in conversion-initiation, to which the Christian was usually recalled when reminded of the beginning of his Christian faith and experience. We shall see that while the Pentecostal’s belief in the dynamic and experiential nature of Spirit-baptism is well founded, his separation of it from conversion-initation is wholly unjustified; and that, conversely, while water-baptism is an important element in the complex of conversion-initiation, it is neither to be equated or confused with Spirit-baptism nor to be given the most prominent part in that complex event. The high point in conversion-initation is the gift of the Spirit, and the beginning of the Christian life is to be reckoned from the experience of Spirit-baptism.” (pgs. 3-4)
One notes that Dunn equates Spirit baptism and the gift of the Spirit and adopts other elements of the UCD view while corrupting the doctrine of conversion by mixing in baptism in water and other heresy as a consequence of his non-evangelical, anti-inerrancy, semi-sacramentalist position. (Compare his statement that “[W]ater-baptism can properly be described as the vehicle of faith; but not as the vehicle of the Spirit. It enables man to approach God . . . but otherwise it is not the channel of God’s grace.” Pg. 100, Ibid. Dunn states that Paul’s sins were forgiven at the time of his baptism, pg. 75, and argues against the view that baptism is a sign of a conversion which has already taken place, pg. 145, 226-227. His acceptance of forms of higher criticism is obvious throughout his book.) Dunn also interacts with the PCP position and rigid sacramentalism in his book, speaking of his “debate with Pentecostal and sacramentalist” (pgs. 21, 170), but he never acknowledges the existence of the historic Baptist view. Advocates of the historic Baptist doctrine do not appear in his index of modern authors and works (pgs. 230-236). Similarly, neo-orthodox theologian Frederick Dale Bruner in his A Theology of the Holy Spirit never mentions or interacts in any way with the historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism. Bruner can nevertheless assert: “To be literal, being ‘baptized with the Holy Spirit’ is not a doctrine which Acts teaches for the on-going church since the phrase occurs only at the crisis initations of the Jews and the Gentiles into the church. After Caesarea the phrase disappears from the vocabulary of Acts” (pg. 195). However, being ignorant of the true view, and being an unregenerate person, Bruner goes on to argue that Spirit baptism takes place at the moment of water baptism. Non-evangelical writers, like many of their modern fundamental and evangelical counterparts, are entirely ignorant of the historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism.
Most ironically, the book Perspectives on Spirit Baptism (gen. ed. Chad Brand; authors Ralph D. Colle, H. Ray Dunning, Larry Hart, Stanley Horton, & Walter Kaiser, Jr. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2004) ignores the historic Baptist view, although it contains chapters presenting and then critiquing what are termed the Sacramental, Wesleyan, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and Reformed views of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The book ignores the historic Baptist position despite asserting that it “presents in counterpoint . . . the basic common beliefs on Spirit baptism which have developed over the course of church history with a view toward determining which is most faithful to Scripture.” Amazingly, the book is edited by a Southern Baptist professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and published by the same Southern Baptist Convention that, only a half century earlier, had a president and long time professor at the very same seminary that advocated the historic Baptist view in the classic and widely circulated International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
Thus, as indicated, the historic Baptist position is advocated in the article “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” within the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (gen. ed. James Orr. orig. pub. Eerdmans, 1939; elec. acc. Online Bible For Mac software, Ken Hamel). The article’s author, E. Y. Mullins, was professor and later president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at the turn of the ninteenth century, and, from 1921-1924, president of the very Southern Baptist Convention that in modern times either ignores or repudiates his doctrine of Spirit baptism. “The question is often raised whether or not the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred once for all or is repeated in subsequent baptisms. The evidence seems to point to the former view to the extent at least of being limited to outpourings which took place in connection with events recorded in the early chapters of the Book of Acts. . . . [Evidence is then presented in favor of the conclusion that Spirit baptism was limited to the events in Acts.] . . . [N]owhere in the epistles do we find a repetition of the baptism of the Spirit. This would be remarkable if it had been understood by the writers of the epistles that the baptism of the Spirit was frequently to be repeated. There is no evidence outside the Book of Acts that the baptism of the Spirit ever occurred in the later New Testament times. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul [makes] . . . reference . . . not to the baptism of the Spirit, but rather to a baptism into the church.” The historic Baptist view ignored by the modern Southern Baptist Convention was also affirmed by other prominent Southern Baptists in the time of Mullins, such as B. H. Carroll, professor of theology and Bible at Baylor University and Seminary from 1872-1905 and professor and president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1908-1914. (See the appendix: “Excerpts from the sermons ‘The First Pentecost’ and ‘The Church, The Habitat of the Holy Spirit’ by B. H. Carroll.”)
Concerning the use of Joel 2:28-32 by Peter in Acts 2, Paul Feinberg helpfully comments:
In Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost he quotes Joel 2:28–32 in support of what God is doing on that day. . . . Acts 2:16–21, as a fulfillment of Joel 2:28–32, is one referent of Joel 2:28–32. This is supported by the introductory formula “this is that” (Acts 2:16). Second, Acts 2:16–21 is not the complete referent (fulfillment) of Joel 2:28–32. This can be seen from the sense of the OT prediction, and from the fact that section two of the prophecy was not fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Third, the amplification or expansion of the promise in Joel to include the church is justified in terms of the OT text itself and antecedent theology. To put it another way, the application of the text to the church is not simply an ad hoc resolution of the matter. There is indication in the Joel 2:28–32 text that the application of the promise is to extend beyond the ethnic bounds of the nation. 2:28 says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (r$DcD;b_lD;k_lAo). There are those who hold that this expression refers exclusively to the nation of Israel. However, I think that the best evidence supports usage broader than ethnic Israel. r$DcD;b_lD;k occurs thirty-two times outside of Joel in the OT. In twenty-three of these occasions the reference is to Gentiles alone (e.g., Deut 5:26; Isa 49:26; 66:16; Zech 2:13). In the majority of its uses it serves as a reference to everyone regardless of race, sex or age. This outpouring, then, even in its promise, is to be upon some who are not Jews.
Moreover, the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit in Joel is an amplification of the promise given to Abraham (Gen 12:1–3). God’s promise to Abraham included promises to Abraham personally, to his descendants, and to all the peoples of the earth. Thus, when a part of the referent (fulfillment) of these promises turns out to be the church, we should not be surprised. Furthermore, Paul says that these promises were spoken to Abraham and his seed, namely Christ. That is, the Abrahamic promises find their fulfillment in Christ. Since the church is related to Christ, we should not be surprised that Paul can call its members “children of Abraham” (Gal 3:7) and “Abraham’s seed” (Gal 3:29) and make them “heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29). Having established the church’s relationship to the Abrahamic promises, it would be wrong to think that this in any way invalidated the right of those who are Abraham’s physical seed to these promises, or to think that both Israel and the church have the same relationship to these promises. The church has direct access to the promises of spiritual blessing because the spiritual blessings are said to be universal in their application, while its access to the national blessings promised to Israel is only indirect through the church’s relationship to Israel’s Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .
The sense of the OT text must be determined within its historical and cultural setting, and that sense is determinative for the NT fulfillment. . . . Where a promise or prediction is expanded or amplified, the amplification does not preclude the original addressees as a part of the referent (fulfillment) of that promise. Expansion does not require exclusion. Exclusion from any promise must be based upon some explicit or implicit statement of subsequent Scripture. Therefore, a concern for those to whom the prediction was given will always be necessary. . . . Where a promise or prediction is expanded or amplified, the amplification is justified in the text itself or in antecedent theology or both. This grows out of the belief that God has a unified plan and that plan is known to him, even if he reveals it to his creatures progressively. . . . The sense of any text is adequate for its fulfillment referents. That is, knowing the sense of a promise should put one in a position to recognize a fulfillment. The relationship between prediction and fulfillment is not arbitrary. This is rooted in the belief that God has intended his word as a revelation, something that could not be true if there was no linguistic relationship between promise and fulfillment. . . .
[T]ye unity of the two Testaments does not require the uniformity of the two Testaments. Unity does not preclude diversity. The two Testaments may be unified just as certainly through discontinuity as through continuity. Both continuity and discontinuity are a part of the unity of the biblical revelation. There is both continuity and discontinuity between Israel and the church; and, if I understand Scripture correctly, there will be both continuity and discontinuity in the future between the church and Israel. (pgs. 126-128, Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship between the Old and New Testaments : Essays in honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., ed. J. S. Feinberg. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988).
Feinberg’s comments on the r$DcD;b_lD;k, the “all flesh,” of Joel 2:28, are valid. Note the complete list of references: Genesis 6:12–13, 17, 19; 7:16, 21; 8:17; 9:11, 15–17; Leviticus 17:14; Numbers 16:22; 18:15; 27:16; Deuteronomy 5:26; Job 12:10; 34:15; Psalm 65:3; 136:25; 145:21; Isaiah 40:5; 49:26; 66:16, 23–24; Jeremiah 12:12; 25:31; 32:27; 45:5; Ezekiel 21:4, 9–10; Daniel 4:9; Joel 3:1; Zechariah 2:17. See also pgs. 96-98, The Uses of the Old Testament in the New, Walter Kaiser. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985.
The noun du/namiß is usually translated power (77x out of 120 uses); mighty work (11x) is the second most common rendering. The word is translated miracle in Mark 9:39; Acts 2:22; 8:13; 19:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28-29; Galatians 3:5; Hebrews 2:4. When du/namiß is used of miracles, it emphasizes the power or capability involved. While the word is employed in senses where the performance of a miracle is not in view, in every such case a particular act is not under consideration (Matthew 6:13; 22:29; 24:29–30; 25:15; 26:64; Mark 9:1; 12:24; 13:25–26; 14:62; Luke 21:26–27; 22:69; Romans 1:20; 8:38; 1 Corinthians 14:11; 15:24; 15:56; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 4:7; 6:7; 8:3; 12:9; Ephesians 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 6:5; 7:16; 11:34; 1 Peter 3:22; 2 Peter 2:11; Rev 1:16; 3:8; 4:11; 5:12; 7:12; 11:17; 12:10; 15:8; 17:13; 18:3; 19:1). When a particular act is specified with du/namiß, the act in question is always miraculous—non-miraculous works are never clearly identified with du/namiß. Thus, the word is regularly used of the performance of miraculous acts (Matthew 7:22; 11:20, 21, 23; 13:54, 58; 14:2; Mark 6:2, 5, 14; 9:39; Luke 10:13; 19:37; Acts 2:22; 8:13; 19:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28-29; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 2:4), and in other uses the word is clearly associated and related to the performance of miracles (Mark 5:30; Luke 1:17 (a legitimate instance, despite John 10:41, where shmei√on, not du/namiß, is employed; John led many to miraculous regeneration—he led many to turn from disobedience to wisdom so that Israel could be prepared for the Lord, as Elijah also had done; cf. 1 Kings 18:39. John’s work of bringing many to regeneration through his preaching as a prophet was a miracle as du/namiß, but not as shmei√on.); 1:35; 4:14; 4:36; 5:17; 6:19; 8:46; 9:1; 10:13, 19; 24:49; Acts 1:8; 3:12; 4:7, 33; 6:8; 8:10; 10:38; Romans 1:4, 16; 9:17; 15:13; 15:19; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 24; 2:4–5; 4:19–20; 5:4; 6:14; 12:10; 15:43; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 1:19; 3:7; 3:16, 20; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:11, 29; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:7–8; 3:5; Hebrews 1:3; 11:11; 1 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 1:3, 16; Revelation 13:2). The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ed. Kittel, pg. 230, vol. 7) notes that “in the plural du/nameiß even became a technical term for ‘miracles’ in the NT,” an affirmation supported by the evidence (Matthew 7:22; 11:20–21, 23; 13:54, 58; 14:2; Mark 6:2, 14; Luke 10:13; 19:37; 21:26; Acts 2:22; 8:13; 19:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28–29; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:5; Hebrews 2:4; 6:5—the sole exceptions are instances where does not refer to acts at all, Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:25; Luke 21:26; Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22). The best argument against du/namiß referring specifically to the miraculous would be the class of texts where the word is employed in association with Christian salvation, a category which is inclusive of sanctification and of the bestowal of spiritual gifts (Romans 1:16; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Ephesians 1:19; 3:7, 16, 20; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:11, 29; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:7, 8; 3:5; 1 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 1:3). However, it is better to conclude from the existence of this category that regeneration is a miraculous work of Divine power, and the Spirit’s power in progressively eradicating indwelling sin in Christians, producing spiritual fruit, and performing other works associated with salvation is a similar work of Divine power, rather than a priori concluding that Christian salvation is non-miraculous, and from this a priori establishing a category, otherwise not clearly attested in the New Testament, where du/namiß refers to non-miraculous actions. The identification of salvation with the miraculous is clearly supported elsewhere in Scripture with texts that indicate that personal regeneration is in the same category as a work of Divine power with the transformation, the cosmic regeneration, involved in establishing the Millenial earth (Matthew 19:28; Titus 3:5; paliggenesi÷a) or the fact that both bringing into being a universe and bringing into being a clean heart are works of creation (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 51:10; a∂r;Db). See endnote 52.
The giving of the Spirit to all the covenant community in Joel 2:28-32, which produced prophecy, is comparable to Numbers 11:24-29; in the Pentateuch Jehovah “took of the spirit that was upon [Moses] . . . and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit was upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.” When Joshua wanted to forbid this prophesying, Moses said, “[W]ould God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” Moses’ prayer is answered in the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, when all the Lord’s people have His Spirit and therefore prophesy. Consider also the typological aspect to Moses as a type of Christ when the seventy received the Spirit after the Lord “took of the spirit that was upon [Moses]” and gave it to them, as Christ received the Spirit from the Father and gave Him to the church (John 3:34; Acts 2:33).
In relation to the only really significant objection to a pre-Pentecost foundation of the church, the question of how the assembly could begin before the official inauguration of the New Covenant with the death of Christ, Dr. Ron Tottingham writes, “[The objectors ask how] could you have a ‘new program’ (church) until you have the shedding of the ‘the blood of the covenant,’ of He who is the Life and Head of a ‘new and living’ institution? . . . Hebrews 9:14-18 . . . What is the answer which those . . . would give . . who would hold that Christ established the first Church during His personal ministry upon earth[?] . . . The New Testament Church [was not] ‘of force’ [Hebrews 9:17] until after the Resurrection. Even Christ still went to the temple [during His earthly ministry]. . . . Hebrews nine only states that the covenant of the Levitical ordinances lasted until the true Blood of Christ was shed. . . . The New Testament Church could not be ready for service at its ‘baptism’ at Pentecost unless it was built, or ‘framed,’ prior. Who ever heard of moving into a house [cf. 1 Peter 2:5] (the Holy Spirit moved upon and into the church at Pentecost) without a floor, frame, and more? . . . How then could the church begin before the New Covenant began? By being built [by] the Master Himself during His own personal ministry upon the earth. Then when he died as Testator of the New Covenant, His church of the New Testament (covenant) was ready and waiting to be ‘baptized’ [with] the Holy Spirit and begin [its] ordained service” (The Door-Step Evangel, 24:2 (March-April 2008) pgs. 1ff. (pub. Empire Baptist Temple/Great Plains Baptist Divinity School, Sioux Falls, SD)).
The alleged support for a distinction between John’s baptism and Christian baptism in Acts 19:1-7 is invalid. The individuals of Acts 19 were spurious “converts,” not real disciples of John the Baptist. They did not believe in the Trinity, and so were unsaved (John 17:3), for they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit (19:2), although John preached about Him (Matthew 3:11). Their spurious discipleship is indicated by the fact that the plural word “disciples,” mathetai, is nonarticular in 19:1—unlike every single one of the 25 other references in the book of Acts to the word (1:15; 6:1-2, 7; 9:1, 19, 26, 38; 11:26, 29; 14:20, 22, 28; 15:10; 18:23, 27; 19:1, 9, 30; 20:7, 30; 21:4, 16). Paul does not tell these “disciples” that John’s baptism has passed away and Christian baptism has now been inaugurated; he tells them what John the Baptist really said (19:4), upon which they believed John’s message as expounded by Paul and submitted themselves to baptism (19:5-7). Note that a truly born-again man with John’s baptism is not “rebaptized” in the immediately preceding context (18:24-28), simply instructed in the further developments of truth (for the fact that the gospel dispensation began with John does not mean that everything about God’s new method of dealing with people was instantly perfectly developed). Acts 18:24-9:7 supports, not undermines, the fact that Christian baptism is John’s baptism.
The natural association in Matthew 3:11 explains the presence of the view that the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire refers to the single event of Pentecost in the patristic period. “Moreover, Christ is said to baptize with fire: because in the form of flaming tongues He poured forth on His holy disciples the grace of the Spirit: as the Lord Himself says, John truly baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, not many days hence” (John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, IV:9). Lampe mentions texts where Origin, Cyril of Alexandria, Maximus Confessor, and Didymus of Alexandria interpret as identical the baptism of the Spirit and fire (ba¿ptisma, IX, Patristic Greek Lexicon, ed. G. W. Lampe).
Of course, this is not the only view found in the significant doctrinal and practical diversity of extant patristic writers. Basil, On the Spirit, 15:36, refers the baptism of fire to the eschatological judgment of believers, alluding to 1 Corinthians 3:13, a view also expressed as a possibility by John of Damascus following the quotation from IV:9 of An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith above. Unfortunately, this patristic view of fire baptism as eschatological instead of Pentecostal may be a reference to the developing doctrine of purgatory; compare Gregory Nazianzen, Orations 39:19. Taking a different view, Eusebius, following Origen, refers to martyrdom as baptism by fire (Church History, 6:4:3; cf. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity, 2:27). While a comprehensive analysis of all extant patristic literature was not undertaken, neither the works represented in the Church Fathers: Translations of The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, nor in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. Philip Schaff, series I & II, (elec. acc. Accordance Bible Software; orig. elec. text in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library) give any evidence for the view that fire baptism was reserved for those who did not receive Spirit baptism, and thus that the baptism of fire was specifically the damnation of the lost, nor does Lampe indicate the existence of such a view in the patristic period (cf. ba¿ptisma, IX, Patristic Greek Lexicon, ed. G. W. Lampe).
As the view that the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost took place at Pentecost is extant in the patristic period, so in the medieval period Anabaptists affirmed that just as water baptism “can pertain to none but the intelligent and believing,” so “the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost . . . was administered to the apostles by God Himself from heaven, [and] this did not at all relate to infants, seeing that all who were thus baptized, spake with tongues and magnified God. Acts 2:3, 4” (pg. 234, The Martyr’s Mirror, Thieleman J. Van Braght. 2nd Eng. ed. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999).
The shape [of the Spirit] that appeared was that of a dove, but the substance itself, I judge, was of a fiery nature, an ethereal substance, shaped into the form or resemblance of a dove. It had the shape of a dove, but not the appearance of feathers, colors, or the like. This also rendered the appearance the more visible, conspicuous, heavenly, and glorious. And the Holy Ghost is often compared to fire, because he was of old typified or represented thereby; for on the first solemn offering of sacrifices there came fire from the Lord for the kindling of them. Hence Theodotion of old rendered hOÎwh◊y, Genesis 4:4, “The LORD had respect unto Abel, and to his offering,” by ‘Enepu/risen oJ qeo/ß, “God fired the offering of Abel;” sent down fire that kindled his sacrifice as a token of his acceptance.
However, it is certain that at the first erection of the altar in the wilderness, upon the first sacrifices, “fire came out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat; which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces,” Leviticus 9:24. And the fire kindled hereby was to be perpetuated on the altar, so that none was ever to be used in sacrifice but what was traduced from it. For a neglect of this intimation of the mind of God were Nadab and Abihu consumed, Leviticus 10:1, 2. So was it also upon the dedication of the altar in the temple of Solomon: “Fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices,” 2 Chronicles 7:1; and a fire thence kindled was always kept burning on the altar. And in like manner God bare testimony to the ministry of Elijah, 1 Kings 18:38, 39. God by all these signified that no sacrifices were accepted with him where faith was not kindled in the heart of the offerer by the Holy Ghost, represented by the fire that kindled the sacrifices on the altar. And in answer hereunto is our Lord Jesus Christ said to offer himself “through the eternal Spirit,” Hebrews 9:14. It was, therefore, most probably a fiery appearance [of the dove] that was made. And in the next bodily shape which he assumed it is expressly said that it was fiery: Acts 2:3, “There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire;” which was the visible token of the coming of the Holy Ghost upon them. And he chose, then, that figure of tongues to denote the assistance which, by the miraculous gift of speaking with divers tongues, together with wisdom and utterance, he furnished them withal for the publication of the gospel. And thus, also, the Lord Christ is said to “baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” Matthew 3:11. Not two things are intended, but the latter words, “and with fire,” are added e˙xhghtikwvß, and the expression is e˚n dia\ duoivn, — with the Holy Ghost, who is a spiritual, divine, eternal fire. So God absolutely is said to be a “consuming fire,” Hebrews 12:29, Deuteronomy 4:24. And as in these words, “He shall baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” there is a prospect unto what came to pass afterward, when the apostles received the Holy Ghost with a visible pledge of fiery tongues, so there seems to be a retrospect, by way of allusion unto what is recorded, Isaiah 6:6, 7; for a living or “fiery coal from the altar,” where the fire represented the Holy Ghost, or his work and grace, having touched the lips of his prophet, his sin was taken away, both as to the guilt and filth of it. And this is the work of the Holy Ghost, who not only sanctifieth us, but, by ingenerating faith in us, and the application of the promise unto us, is the cause and means of our justification also, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:4-7, whereby our sins on both accounts are taken away. So also his efficacy in other places is compared unto fire and burning: Isaiah 4:4, 5, “When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” He is compared both to fire and water, with respect unto the same cleansing virtue in both. So also Malachi 3:2. Hence, as this is expressed by “the Holy Ghost and fire” in two evangelists, Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16; so in the other two there is mention only of the “Holy Ghost,” Mark 1:8, John 1:33, the same thing being intended (pgs. 98-100, Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit, elec. acc. Christian Library Series vol. 9, John Owen Collection. Rio, WI: AGES Digital Software, 2005).
Isaiah 4:4: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. o¢ti e˙kplunei√ ku/rioß to\n rJu/pon tw◊n ui˚w◊n kai« tw◊n qugate÷rwn Siwn kai« to\ ai–ma e˙kkaqariei√ e˙k me÷sou aujtw◊n e˙n pneu/mati kri÷sewß kai« pneu/mati kau/sewß.
Ezekiel 11:24: And the Spirit took me up, and brought me to the land of the Chaldeans, to the captivity, in a vision by the Spirit of God: and I went up after the vision which I saw. kai« aÓne÷labe÷n me pneuvma kai« h¡gage÷n me ei˙ß ghvn Caldai÷wn ei˙ß th\n ai˙cmalwsi÷an e˙n oJra¿sei e˙n pneu/mati qeouv kai« aÓne÷bhn aÓpo\ thvß oJra¿sewß h∞ß ei•don.
Ezekiel 37:1: And the hand of the Lord came upon me, and the Lord brought me forth by the Spirit, and set me in the midst of the plain, and it was full of human bones. kai« e˙ge÷neto e˙p∆ e˙me« cei«r kuri÷ou kai« e˙xh/gage÷n me e˙n pneu/mati ku/rioß kai« e¶qhke÷n me e˙n me÷swˆ touv pedi÷ou kai« touvto h™n mesto\n ojste÷wn aÓnqrwpi÷nwn.
Micah 3:8: But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. e˙a»n mh\ e˙gw» e˙mplh/sw i˙scu\n e˙n pneu/mati kuri÷ou kai« kri÷matoß kai« dunastei÷aß touv aÓpaggei√lai tw◊ˆ Iakwb aÓsebei÷aß aujtouv kai« tw◊ˆ Israhl amarti÷aß aujtouv.
Zechariah 1:6: But do ye receive my words and mine ordinances, all that I command by my Spirit to my servants the prophets, who lived in the days of your fathers; and they answered and said, As the Lord Almighty determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our practices, so has he done to us. plh\n tou\ß lo/gouß mou kai« ta» no/mima¿ mou de÷cesqe o¢sa e˙gw» e˙nte÷llomai e˙n pneu/mati÷ mou toi√ß dou/loiß mou toi√ß profh/taiß oi≠ katela¿bosan tou\ß pate÷raß uJmw◊n kai« aÓpekri÷qhsan kai« ei•pan kaqw»ß parate÷taktai ku/rioß pantokra¿twr touv poihvsai kata» ta»ß oJdou\ß uJmw◊n kai« kata» ta» e˙pithdeu/mata uJmw◊n ou¢twß e˙poi÷hsen uJmi√n.
Zechariah 4:6: And he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the Lord to Zorobabel, saying, not by mighty power, nor by strength, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord Almighty. kai« aÓpekri÷qh kai« ei•pen pro/ß me le÷gwn ou∞toß oJ lo/goß kuri÷ou pro\ß Zorobabel le÷gwn oujk e˙n duna¿mei mega¿lhØ oujde« e˙n i˙scu/i aÓll∆ h· e˙n pneu/mati÷ mou le÷gei ku/rioß pantokra¿twr.
Zechariah 7:12: And they made their heart disobedient, so as not to hearken to my law, and the words which the Lord Almighty sent forth by his Spirit by the former prophets: so there was great wrath from the Lord Almighty. kai« th\n kardi÷an aujtw◊n e¶taxan aÓpeiqhv touv mh\ ei˙sakou/ein touv no/mou mou kai« tou\ß lo/gouß ou§ß e˙xape÷steilen ku/rioß pantokra¿twr e˙n pneu/mati aujtouv e˙n cersi«n tw◊n profhtw◊n tw◊n e¶mprosqen kai« e˙ge÷neto ojrgh\ mega¿lh para» kuri÷ou pantokra¿toroß.
(Note: English renderings above come either from the 1851 translation of the LXX by Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton or from the KJV. Note also Solomon 17:37 in the Apocrypha, kai« oujk aÓsqenh/sei e˙n tai√ß hJme÷raiß aujtouv e˙pi« qew◊ˆ aujtouv o¢ti oJ qeo\ß kateirga¿sato aujto\n dunato\n e˙n pneu/mati aJgi÷wˆ kai« sofo\n e˙n boulhvØ sune÷sewß meta» i˙scu/oß kai« dikaiosu/nhß).
Judges 9:52: And Abimelech drew near to the tower, and they besieged it; and Abimelech drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. kai« h™lqen Abimelec eºwß touv pu/rgou kai« e˙xepole÷mhsan aujto/n kai« h¡ggisen Abimelec eºwß thvß qu/raß touv pu/rgou e˙mprhvsai aujto\n e˙n puri÷.
1 Kings 16:18: And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died. kai« e˙genh/qh wß ei•den Zambri o¢ti prokatei÷lhmptai aujtouv hJ po/liß kai« ei˙sporeu/etai ei˙ß a‡ntron touv oi¶kou touv basile÷wß kai« e˙nepu/risen e˙p∆ aujto\n to\n oi•kon touv basile÷wß e˙n puri« kai« aÓpe÷qanen.
The complete list of references is: Exodus 12:10; 19:18; 32:20; 34:13; Leviticus 4:12; 6:23; 7:17, 19; 8:32; 13:52, 55, 57; 16:27; 19:6; 20:14; Numbers 31:10, 23; Deuteronomy 1:33; 9:21; 12:31; 13:17; 18:10; Joshua 7:15; 8:19, 28; 11:6, 9, 11; 16:10; Judges 1:8; 9:49, 52; 12:1; 14:15; 15:6; 20:48; 1 Samuel 30:1, 3, 14; 2 Samuel 14:30-31; 23:7; 1 Kings 16:18; 18:24, 36-37; 2 Kings 8:12; 16:3; 17:17, 31; 21:6; 23:10; 1 Chronicles 14:12; 21:26; 2 Chronicles 33:6; 35:13; 36:19; Nehemiah 1:3; 2:3; Psalm 45:10; 73:7; 139:11; Amos 4:10; 7:4; Micah 1:7; Nahum 2:4; Habakkuk 2:13; Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8; Zechariah 9:4; Isaiah 10:17; 44:16, 19; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 21:10; 28:32; 30:18; 36:22; 39:29; 41:2, 22; 44:8, 10; 45:17-18; 50:13; 52:13; Ezekiel 5:2, 4; 21:36-37; 22:21, 31; 36:5; 38:19; 1 Esdras 1:52; 1 Maccabees 1:56; 5:5, 35, 44; 11:61; 16:10; 4 Maccabees 9:22; 18:12 Sirach 2:5; 8:10; 45:19; Solomon 12:4; Baruch 1:2.
Now when John the Baptist says, ‘I baptize you in water,’ that is a literal baptism, ‘but Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Ghost,’ that is a figurative use of the word. The Holy Ghost is not a liquid element, but you may use the word figuratively; when they are in the house, and the sound that indicates His presence fills that house, and they themselves are filled with the Spirit, permeated throughout by the indwelling Spirit of God, figuratively you say that is a baptism in the Holy Ghost. That figurative use of the word is one of the commonest known to the Greek classics. I could cite you a hundred instances of it. So that the baptism in water, that is the literal; the other, that is the figurative. And because the literal is a burial, a sinking out of sight, so an overwhelming influence may figuratively be said to be a baptism in that influence.” (pgs. 42-43, The Three Baptisms, B. H. Carroll, elec. acc. in the AGES Christian Library Series, Vol. 11, B. H. Carroll Collection. Rio, WI: 2006).
Some paedobaptists argue that baptidzo can signify pouring because the Spirit’s being poured out is allegedly a synonym with Spirit baptism, thus equating pouring and baptism. This argument has severe problems. If the Holy Ghost’s being “poured out” or “shed forth” on men (e˙kce÷w, Acts 2:17-18, 33; 10:45) demonstrates that baptidzo means pour, then the references, in association with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, to the Spirit “coming upon” (e˙pe÷rcomai, Acts 1:8) people, “falling” on them (e˙pipi÷ptw, Acts 8:16; 10:44; 11:15-17), “coming” upon them (e¶rcomai. . . e˙pi÷, 19:6), and being “received” (lamba¿nw, Acts 10:47; 19:2) by them would prove that baptidzo also means come upon, fall, receive, and come—the word would be a veritable nose of wax which could be twisted any which way at will, and would mean so much that it meant nothing at all. The Scriptural distinction in prepositions, where the Spirit falls “upon” (e˙pi÷) and is poured “out” (e˙k) while baptism/immersion is en (e˙n) water and the Spirit, but one is never “baptized out” or “baptized upon,” for example, would also be neglected. Finally, the Spirit’s being poured out from heaven is synonymous with His being sent by the ascended Christ after He sat down at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; John 15:26; 16:7). The Spirit’s being poured out or sent from heaven had, as its result on earth, the church’s receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. That is, the result of the heavenly sending or pouring out was the earthly baptism or immersion. The baptism is not a synonym of the sending or pouring, but a consequence of it. To attempt to invalidate the simple fact of the Greek language that baptidzo means immerse, and never pour or sprinkle, by confusing the terms that are employed in association with Spirit baptism, is entirely invalid. For conclusive evidence that to baptize means to immerse, see pgs. 386-444, “Christian Baptism,” in Principles and Practices for Baptist Churches, Edward T. Hiscox (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, orig. pub. 1894); pgs. 18-167, Baptism in its Mode and Subjects, Alexander Carson, (5th rev. ed., Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society, 1860; elec. acc. http://books.google.com).
If nonarticularity for the Holy Spirit refers not to His Person, but merely to power or works from Him, one wonders if nonarticularity in references to the Greek Path/r such as “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9), “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:26), “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34), “the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30), “Holy Father” (John 17:11), “one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:6), and “the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11) denote not the Person of God the Father, but merely power from or works done by Him; or if the nonarticular ui˚o/ß in “O Lord, thou Son of David” (Matthew 15:22), “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32), “the Son of man” (John 5:27), and many similar verses do not refer to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, but only to power or works from Him.
One should also note the convincing parallels where articularity and nonarticularity for Pneuvma ›Agion are clearly shown to refer to the same events and actions on pgs. 68-70, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Dunn. His conclusion is correct: “Where pneuvma a‚gion confronts us in the NT it never designates a charismatic endowment without the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit himself.”
be baptized (3rd person singular aorist imperative)
every one (nominative singular adjective)
in (epi) the name of Jesus Christ
for/on account of (cf. Matthew 3:11) (eis) the remission of sins
ye shall receive (2nd person future indicative) . . . the Holy Ghost
Both the command to repent and the promise of receipt of the Holy Spirit are in the second person (i.e. e, “Repent [ye]” and “ye shall receive”). The command to be baptized is third person singular, as is the adjective “every one” (hekastos, a partitive genitive, indicating the group from which each person was derived.). Peter commands the whole crowd to repent and promises those who turn from sin to Christ the gift of the Holy Ghost. While the call to baptism was only for the “every one of you” that had already repented, the “be baptized every one of you” section of the verse is parenthetical to the command to repent and its associated promise of the Spirit. Parenthetical statements, including those parallel in structure to Acts 2:38, are found throughout Scripture. Ephesians 4:26-27 is an example:
Be ye angry (2nd person plural imperative)
and sin not (2nd person plural imperative)
[do] not . . . let go down (3rd person singular imperative)the sun (nominative singular noun)
upon your wrath
neither give place (2nd person plural imperative)
to the devil
The connection in Acts 2:38 between the receipt of the Holy Spirit and repentance, rather than baptism, overthrows attempts to find baptismal regeneration in the verse.
Ephesians 5:23: o¢ti oJ aÓnh/r e˙sti kefalh\ thvß gunaiko/ß, wJß kai« oJ Cristo\ß kefalh\ thvß e˙kklhsi÷aß, kai« aujto/ß e˙sti swth\r touv sw¿matoß. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body,
1Corinthians 11:3: qe÷lw de« uJma◊ß ei˙de÷nai, o¢ti panto\ß aÓndro\ß hJ kefalh\ oJ Cristo/ß e˙sti: kefalh\ de« gunaiko/ß, oJ aÓnh/r: kefalh\ de« Cristouv, oJ Qeo/ß. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
The singular nouns “the husband” “the wife” “the woman” “the man” imply zero about a universal, invisible husband, wife, woman, or man. Absolutely nothing affirms the existence of a universal church in the phrase “Christ is the head of the church.” The Lord Jesus is the head of every particular local, visible congregation.
Note also 2 Kings 10:6, LXX:
kai« e¶grayen pro\ß aujtou\ß bibli÷on deu/teron le÷gwn ei˙ e˙moi« uJmei√ß kai« thvß fwnhvß mou uJmei√ß ei˙sakou/ete la¿bete th\n kefalh\n aÓndrw◊n tw◊n ui˚w◊n touv kuri÷ou uJmw◊n kai« e˙ne÷gkate pro/ß me wJß hJ w‚ra au¡rion ei˙ß Iezrael kai« oi˚ ui˚oi« touv basile÷wß h™san e˚bdomh/konta a‡ndreß ou∞toi aJdroi« thvß po/lewß e˙xe÷trefon aujtou/ß And Ju wrote them a second letter, saying, If ye are for me, and hearken to my voice, take the heads [Gk. singular, “head”] of the men your master’s sons, and bring them to me at this time to-morrow in Jezrael. Now the sons of the king were seventy men; these great men of the city brought them up. (Brenton’s LXX translation—also below).
Nothing at all is implied about anything universal or invisible with the singular. Each son had his own particular head (until he lost it!). “the head of the sons” is teaches nothing other than that each son had his own head. So “Christ is the head of the church” teaches that Christ is the head of each particular church. Compare 2 Kings 10:8, where the plural is used:
kai« h™lqen oJ a‡ggeloß kai« aÓph/ggeilen le÷gwn h¡negkan ta»ß kefala»ß tw◊n ui˚w◊n touv basile÷wß kai« ei•pen qe÷te aujta»ß bounou\ß du/o para» th\n qu/ran thvß pu/lhß ei˙ß prwi÷. And a messenger came and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay them in two heaps by the door of the gate until the morning.
Psalm 139:10, LXX (Eng. 140:9):
hJ kefalh\ touv kuklw¿matoß aujtw◊n ko/poß tw◊n ceile÷wn aujtw◊n kalu/yei aujtou/ß. As for the head of them that compass me, the mischief of their lips shall cover them.
Note that both the Greek translated “them that compass” and “the head” are both singular nouns, just as in “Christ is the head of the church.” Each particular head of each particular enemy surrounding David would be judged.
Lamentations 2:15, LXX:
e˙kro/thsan e˙pi« se« cei√raß pa¿nteß oi˚ paraporeuo/menoi oJdo/n e˙su/risan kai« e˙ki÷nhsan th\n kefalh\n aujtw◊n e˙pi« th\n qugate÷ra Ierousalhm h™ au¢th hJ po/liß h§n e˙rouvsin ste÷fanoß do/xhß eujfrosu/nh pa¿shß thvß ghvß. All that go by the way have clapped their hands at thee; they have hissed and shaken their head at the daughter of Jerusalem. Is this the city, they say, the crown of joy of all the earth?
Note that the plurality, the “all” shake the singular “head.” There was no universal, invisible head or universal, invisible person opposing Jerusalem. Each person shook his own particular head at Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 1:22, LXX:
kai« oJmoi÷wma uJpe«r kefalhvß aujtoi√ß tw◊n zw¿ˆwn wJsei« stere÷wma wJß o¢rasiß krusta¿llou e˙ktetame÷non e˙pi« tw◊n pteru/gwn aujtw◊n e˙pa¿nwqen. And the likeness over the heads [Gk. singular] of the living creatures was as a firmament, as the appearance of crystal, spread out over their wings above.
“The head of the living creatures” meant that each particular living creature had its own particular head.
Ezekiel 10:1, LXX:
kai« ei•don kai« i˙dou\ e˙pa¿nw touv sterew¿matoß touv uJpe«r kefalhvß tw◊n ceroubin wJß li÷qoß sapfei÷rou oJmoi÷wma qro/nou e˙p∆ aujtw◊n. And the likeness over the heads [Gk. singular] of the living creatures was as a firmament, as the appearance of crystal, spread out over their wings above.
“The head of the living creatures,” again, means each living creature had its own particular head.
Josephus, Antiquities 4:112 (22.214.171.124)
Kai« oJ me«n tauvta touv qeouv keleu/santoß h¢kei pro\ß Ba¿lakon dexame÷nou de« aujto\n touv basile÷wß e˙kprepw◊ß hjxi÷ou proacqei«ß e˙pi÷ ti tw◊n ojrw◊n ske÷yasqai pw◊ß to\ tw◊n ÔEbrai÷wn e¶coi strato/pedon Ba¿lakoß d∆ aujto\ß aÓfiknei√tai to\n ma¿ntin su\n basilikhØv qerapei÷aˆ filoti÷mwß aÓgo/menoß ei˙ß o¡roß o¢per uJpe«r kefalhvß aujtw◊n e¶keito touv stratope÷dou stadi÷ouß aÓpe÷con e˚xh/konta. When God had given him this charge, he came to Balak; and when the king had entertained him in a magnificent manner, he desired him to go to one of the mountains to take a view of the state of the camp of the Hebrews. Balak himself also came to the mountain, and brought the prophet along with him, with a royal attendance. This mountain lay over their heads [Gk. singular], and was distant sixty furlongs from the camp.
The singular mountain was over each person, each of whom had his own particular head.
Gospel of Peter 10:40:
kai« tw◊n me«n du/o th\n kefalh\n cwrouvsan me÷cri touv oujranouv, touv de« ceiragwgoume÷nou uJp∆ aujtw◊n uJperbai÷nousan tou\ß oujranou/ß. [A]nd the heads [Gk. singular] of the two reaching to heaven, but that of him who was led by them by the hand overpassing the heavens.
Each particular individual here had his own particular head.
Philo, Allegorical Interpretation 1:71:
w‚sper ou™n kefalh\ me«n prw◊ton touv zwˆ¿ou kai« aÓnwta¿tw me÷roß e˙sti÷, For as the head is the principle and uppermost part of the animal,
Each singular animal had its own singular head. There was no universal head of a universal, invisible animal.
Philo, On The Life of Moses 2:290:
qauma¿sia me«n ou™n tauvta: qaumasiw¿taton de« kai« to\ te÷loß tw◊n i˚erw◊n gramma¿twn, o§ kaqa¿per e˙n twˆ◊ zwˆ¿wˆ kefalh\ thvß o¢lhß nomoqesi÷aß e˙sti÷n. These things, therefore, are wonderful; and most wonderful of all is the end of his sacred writings, which is to the whole book of the law what the head is to an animal.
Likewise here, each animal had its own head.
Philo, On Rewards and Punishments 125:
tauvta d∆ aÓllhgorei√tai tropikw◊ß e˙xenecqe÷nta: kaqa¿per ga»r e˙n zwˆ¿wˆ kefalh\ me«n prw◊ton kai« a‡riston, oujra» d∆ u¢staton kai« faulo/taton, ouj me÷roß sunekplhrouvn to\n tw◊n melw◊n aÓriqmo/n, aÓlla» so/bhsiß tw◊n e˙pipotwme÷nwn, to\n aujto\n tro/pon kefalh\n me«n touv aÓnqrwpei÷ou ge÷nouß e¶sesqai÷ fhsi to\n spoudai√on ei¶te a‡ndra ei¶te lao/n, tou\ß de« a‡llouß a‚pantaß oi–on me÷rh sw¿matoß yucou/mena tai√ß e˙n kefalhØv kai« uJpera¿nw duna¿mesin. But all these statements are uttered in a metaphorical form, and contain an allegorical meaning. For as in an animal the head is the first and best part, and the tail the last and worst part, or rather no part at all, inasmuch as it does not complete the number of the limbs, being only a broom to sweep away what flies against it; so in the same manner what is said here is that the virtuous man shall be the head of the human race whether he be a single man or a whole people. And that all others, being as it were parts of the body, are only vivified by the powers existing in the head and superior portions of the body.
This very interesting reference by Philo shows that, as in a single animal there is a single head, so “the virtuous man,” a generic noun, not one particular man named X, is “the head of the human race,” and this is whether he “be a single man or the whole people.” The others are as “parts of the body,” are only “vivified” because of “the head” that is “the virtous man.” The parallel to Christ as the head of the church is very clear. Nobody would think of saying that there is literally one universal, invisible virtuous man, nor that there is one universal, invisible body of people, since Philo’s point is that whether one speaks of a single man, or a group of any size, in both situations the [generic] virtuous man is the [generic] head.
Ephesians 5:23 is the capstone of the very small number of New Testmant texts that advocates of a universal church position believe provide support for their doctrine. However, the passage teaches nothing of the kind. It simply affirms that Christ is the head of every particular church, just as each particular husband is the head of his particular wife. There are no verses in the Bible where the noun ekklesia, church/assembly/congregation, refers to all believers as an already existing group.
Thucydides 2:22: – “Pericles, seeing them angry at the present state of things… did not call them to an assembly (ecclesia) or any other meeting.”
Demosthenes 378, 24: – “When after this the assembly (ecclesia) adjourned, they came together and planned … For the future still being uncertain, meetings and speeches of all sorts took place in the marketplace. They were afraid that an assembly (ecclesia) would be summoned suddenly, etc.” Compare the distinction here between a lawfully assembled business body and a mere gathering together of the people in unofficial capacity, with the town-clerk’s statement in Acts 19:35, 40.
Now some instances of the particular ecclesia of the several Greek states –
Thucydides 1,87: – “Having said such things, he himself, since he was ephor, put the question to vote in the assembly (ecclesia) of the Spartans.”
Thucydides 1,139: – “And the Athenians having made a house (or called an assembly, ecclesia) freely exchanged their sentiments.”
Aristophanes Act 169: – “But I forbid you calling an assembly (ecclesia) for the Thracians about pay.”
Thucydides 6.8: – “And the Athenians having convened an assembly (ecclesia) … voted, etc.”
Thucydides 6,2: – “And the Syracusans having buried their dead, summoned an assembly (ecclesia).”
This historical reading concerning the business assemblies of the several petty but independent, self-governing Greek states, with their lawful conference, their free speech. Their decision by vote, whether of Spartans, Thracians, Syracusans or Athenians, sounds much like the proceedings of particular and independent Baptist churches today (Ecclesia, B. H. Carroll, pgs. 35-36).
Thus, the uses of the word in the LXX and other pre-Christian works supports the evidence from the instances of e˙kklhsi÷a in New Testament itself that the word always signifies a particular, visible assembly. “[A]n inductive study of all the ecclesia passages [in the LXX demonstrates] that in the Septuagint it never means ‘all Israel whether assembled or unassembled, but that in every instance it means a gathering together, and assembly. . . . [T]he New Testament writers neither coined this word nor employed it in an unusual sense. The apostles and early Christians . . . wrote in Greek to a Greek-speaking world, and used Greek words as a Greek-speaking people would understand them. . . . [I]t is a fiction that ecclesia was used in [the New Testament in] any new, special sense. The object of Christ’s ecclesia, and terms of membership in it, were indeed different from those of the classic or Septuagint ecclesia. But the word itself retains its ordinary meaning. . . . [In contrast to ecclesia], the word panegyros [was employed to designate] a general, festive assembly of all the Greek states. This general assembly was not for war but peace . . . not for business but pleasure—a time of peace, and joy, and glory. In the happy Greek conceit all the heavenly beings were supposed to be present [at the panegyros]. How felicitiously does [Paul] adapt himself to the Greek use of the word [in Hebrews 12:23], and glorify it by application to the final heavenly state. . . . [Thus, there] is a general assembly . . . [in heaven where] warfare is over and rest has come [designated by panegyros, but never by ecclesia].” (pgs. 34-36, Ecclesia, Carroll).
An influence from the common comparison of the polis with the human body (the body politic. . . is hard to dispute. . . . In view of 1 Cor 10:16–17, an allusion to the community as expressing the corporate unity in the Lord’s Supper can hardly be excluded. . . . [T]he actual experience of community, of common participation (koinwni÷a) [is emphasized]. This again is used of the Eucharist in 1 Cor 10:16, but the more typically Pauline thought is of the shared experience of the Spirit (2 Cor 13:13/14; Phil 2:1) as effecting the unity of the church, the oneness of the body (1 Cor 12:12–13; Eph 4:3, 7–13). . . . [This] fits fully into the strongly charismatic emphasis of the immediate context: the simple fact is that Paul uses the body of Christ as an ecclesiological concept only in connection with charisms (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; also Eph 4); the Christian community as the body of Christ exists for him only as the charismatic community[; that is,] . . . [o]nly in this context of the effects and gifts of grace does the apostle utilize the ancient world’s figure of the one body and the variety of its members[.] . . . [T]he body imagery is actually an expression of the consciousness of community and oneness experienced by the first Christians as they met “in Christ.” . . . oi˚ polloi÷ is the same Semitism as in 5:19, meaning “all.” Here it refers to all the recipients, “all you” (v 3), with whom Paul identifies—the all of any worshiping community. That is to say, as explicitly in 1 Cor 12 (Rom 12:5 is closely parallel to 1 Cor 12:27), so here, “the body” has in view the local Christian congregation[.] (Comment on Romans 12:4-5, pgs. 723-724, Romans 9-16, James D. G. Dunn, vol. 38B, Word Biblical Commentary. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1988; elec. acc. Accordance Bible Software.)
The use of “we” for Paul alone in Romans 1:5, in the context of grace and spiritual gifts, specifically apostleship, should also be taken into consideration in the analysis of the “we” concerning grace and spiritual gifts in Romans 12:4-8. Romans 12:4-5, interpreted with classical grammatical-historical exegesis, provides no support whatever to the doctrine of a universal, invisible body of Christ.
Let it also be briefly mentioned that it is indisputable that the so-called “Apostles’ Creed” was not written by the apostles, and its present form, with its profession of faith in a “catholic church,” is a development of the era after the union of proto-Popery with the Roman state. The “Apostles’ Creed” developed from the Old Roman Creed, which simply affirmed faith in the “holy church.” It was “in the late fourth century that catholic began to appear in [various] Western creeds” (pg. 385, Early Christian Creeds, J. N. D. Kelly. London: Longman, 1972. 3rd ed.), in large part to contrast the Roman church with dissident movements including the “heretical” Anabaptists of the age among the Donatists and Novatians. The earliest physical evidence for the Apostles’ Creed itself is contained in the tract De singulis libris canonicis written by the monk Priminius between A. D. 710-724. Both Pope Leo the Great (d. 461) and Gregory the Great (d. 604) appear to have been ignorant of the Creed, and among scholars “very few will be likely to deny that [the received version of the Apostles’ Creed] is to be sought somewhere north of the Alps at some date in the late sixth or seventh century” (pg. 398, 410, 421, Early Christian Creeds, ibid.).
Note that the only reference to oJ bapti÷zwn in the apostolic patristic writings is impossible to interpret as a repeated or continuing action—the articular participle refers to an individual who is going to baptize one other person. (Didache 7:4: “And before the baptism, let the one baptizing [oJ bapti÷zwn, present participle] and the one who is to be baptized [oJ baptizo/menoß, present participle] fast, as well as any others who are able. Also, you must instruct the one who is to be baptized [to\n baptizo/menon, present participle] to fast for one or two days beforehand.” Both the one baptizing and the one being baptized only act one time, not repeatedly. Compare the present infinitive to\ bapti÷zesqai in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypo 46 for the single act of ritual bathing after ritual defilement.
Even if one wished to dispute the classification of oJ bapti÷zwn in John 1:33 as employed for vividness, and likewise rejected a classification of the present as gnomic, since it is obvious on the historic Baptist, UCD, and PCP positions that Spirit baptism did not take place before Pentecost, an argument built upon the present tense in John 1:33 would prove too much—it would lead to the conclusion that Christ, before Pentecost, was already baptizing with the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the fact that Christ will baptize believing Israel with the Holy Ghost in the Tribulation period, as recorded in Joel 2:28-32, could have been excluded from the verse had an aorist been employed, not to mention the several records of the Spirit’s coming in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19. Certainly no ground against the historic Baptist view, or in favor of either the UCD or PCP position, is gained by the oJ bapti÷zwn of John 1:33.
One notes as well the naturalness of the aorist tense for the verbs e˙bapti÷sqhmen and e˙poti÷sqhmen as references in the text to baptism and the Supper (contra, e. g., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelien (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), which argues in its note on 1 Corinthians 12:13 that present tense verbs would be expected if baptism and the Supper were under consideration). Each member of the church at Corinth had only been baptized once, so the use of tenses common for durative action, such as the present or the imperfect, would not well fit the verse. The parallelism between the two ordinances makes the use of the same tense for both verbs expected, so a requisite requirement of an aorist e˙bapti÷sqhmen would lead one to expect the aorist for e˙poti÷sqhmen. Furthermore, the summary nature of the presentation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 expects aorist tense verbs. The emphasis is not upon the repetition (or lack thereof) of the acts of baptism and communion, but upon the simple fact that the members of the church shared in unifying fellowship around these ordinances derived from the Holy Spirit.
Second, in 1 Corinthians 12:13 poti÷zw is an aorist passive indicative verb. There are no passive forms of pi÷nw in the New Testament—the verb appears in the active voice 71 times, and in the middle 4 times (Matthew 20:23; Mark 10:39; Luke 17:8; Revelation 14:10), and the middle possesses a genuine middle sense, not a passive one (while some might argue that some or all of the middle references are deponent, that would, in any case, make the sense equivalent to the active, not to the passive). The NT middle voice references are also universally in the future tense. One notices a similar extreme paucity of passive pi÷nw forms in the LXX—the verb appears there in the active 206 times, 61 times in the middle (all future again and at least some deponent), and only three times in the passive voice (Leviticus 11:34; Sirach 31:28, 29), in each case a present passive. The apostolic patristic writers employed pi÷nw seven times in the active, once in the (future) middle, and never in the passive. Various works of the Apologists Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Theophilus of Antioch (as found in the respective modules for Accordance Bible software; so for all the studies in this endnote; it should be noted that the classifications in Accordance have been accepted, so that middle/passive forms recorded as middles or as passives have here been reckoned as such) contain thirteen uses pi÷nw of in the active, four uses in the middle, and no uses in the passive.
Various Apocryphal Gospel texts (as found in Accordance) employ the verb in the active nine times, and never in the middle or passive. Josephus employs pi÷nw in the active voice thirty-seven times, never in the middle, and only once in the passive, a present infinitive. Philo employs the verb forty-nine times in the active voice, six times in the middle (always a future middle), and only once in the passive (an aorist passive participle). The pseudepigrapha employ pi÷nw forty-five times in the active, fifteen times in the middle, and never in the passive. Thus, the passive voice of pi÷nw is absent from the inspired Greek text and extremely rare in related Koiné Greek literature, while the aorist passive, as employed for poti÷zw in 1 Corinthians 12:13, is not found in any range of literature examined, excluding a single participial text in Philo. No aorist passive indicatives were found in any text. Thus, one could conclude that the constraints of the Koiné usage impelled Paul to employ poti÷zw to express the aorist passive idea he wished, since such a tense and voice for pi÷nw were not a live option.
While poti÷zw occurs in the passive voice only in 1 Corinthians 12:13 in the New Testament (the other fourteen references possessing the active voice) the verb is found in the LXX in the passive twice, in the present and future tenses (Genesis 13:10; Ezekiel 32:6), and sixty-three times in the active voice. In the apostolic patristic writers, two active voice forms, four middle, and one passive, an aorist, (Shepherd 68:9) are found. The Apologists examined above employ poti÷zw in the active seven times, the middle once, and the passive not at all. Nor does Josephus employ the verb at all. Philo uses it in the active thirty-three times, the middle seven times, and the passive twice, both aorists (Alleg 2:86; Post (Cain) 151). The pseudepigrapha employ the word in the active six times and the passive (an aorist) once (Abraham 19:16).
A consideration of these data points toward the idea that the passive voice of poti÷zw was much more in live play than the passive of pi÷nw in the Koiné milieu. Thus, it appears possible that poti÷zw would have been the verb of choice for Paul when he wanted to express a passive concept, and especially an aorist passive idea.
A third and considerably simpler further consideration lies in the parallel with the aorist passive e˙bapti÷sqhmen. As passivity, not active agency, is expressed in the verb for the church ordinance of baptism, so it is reasonable to see Paul maintain parallel passive, rather than active agency in the reference to the second church ordinance. In the same wy that the Corinthians, led by the Holy Spirit, “were baptized,” so they “were given to drink” of the cup in the Supper. An active voice reference to the church members drinking would violate the parallelism, and once one was shut up to the passive voice, the sense of “were made to drink” expressed by poti÷zw would be more natural than a use of pi÷nw as simply “drink.” Furthermore, as discussed in the text, since He who “made [the Corinthians] to drink” in the Supper was that same Spirit who led them to the waters of baptism, the use of poti÷zw to emphasize the unifying Spirit’s active work in the Supper provided Paul another argument to exhort the church, divided as it was specifically over the practice of the Supper (11:17-34) while it boasted in its pneumatic gifts, to unity.
These considerations eliminate the force of the objection to viewing the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a references to something other than the Supper from the use of pi÷nw, rather than poti÷zw, in the passage.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For (gar) ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For (gar) as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for (gar) ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gar appears three times in v. 26-28. Henry Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978, reprint ed.) states as a use of the word, “When in successive statements gar is repeated twice or thrice, or even four or five times . . . one and the same thought is confirmed by as many arguments, each having its own force, as there are repetitions of the particle” (cf. BDAG, “[G]ar . . . is sometimes repeated . . . to introduce several arguments for the same assertion”). Thus, when gar is found in consecutive verses, the word does not have to indicate that successive arguments each give the reason for their immediate predecessor. If gar in the passage fits the quoted use, then “ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” confirms that “after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” and “as many of you as have been baptized” also confirms that believers are no longer under the schoolmaster, rather than proving that they are somehow only saved by faith after baptism.
A Pauline allusion to the toga virilis ceremony—which is suggested by Paul’s references to the paidagogos (“schoolmaster,” 3:24) and to “tutors and governors” (4:2) in the section from 3:19-4:7—is consistent with this view of the successive gar particles in 3:24ff. At “the time appointed of the father” (4:2), which at different periods of Greco-Roman culture and in accordance with the view of the father varied from fourteen to twenty, a youth would pass from his state as a child to a new position as an adult, at which point he would be free from the paidagogos or “schoolmaster.” This change was represented by a ceremony in which the dress of the adult, the toga virilis, was assumed by the youth as a representation of his new position. Although one reached the accepted age of adulthood before the toga virilis ceremony took place, it formally and outwardly represented the transition. Paul teaches that one must first be adopted as a son of God by faith (v. 26) and then publicly announce this new state through baptism (v. 27). Similarly, “youths with the [newly acquired] toga of manhood [the toga virilis] were introduced publicly as citizens . . . [although the] rite itself did not confer Roman citizenship but only proclaimed and registered the Roman citizenship into which the boy had already been born” (pg. 258, “Coming of Age and Putting on Christ: The Toga Virilis Ceremony, Its Paraenesis, and Paul’s Interpretation of Baptism in Galatians,” J. Albert Harrill. Novum Testamentum XLIV, 252-277). When “justified by faith” one is free from the “schoolmaster” of the law (v. 24-26), but this transition is formally and outwardly represented by baptism. Both the gar of v. 26 and of v. 27 illustrate that “after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (v. 25). Believers are free from the schoolmaster because they are the children of God by faith (v. 26), and they are free from the schoolmaster because, as the toga virilis ceremony represented the transition from immaturity under a schoolmaster to maturity, they have put on Christ in baptism (v. 27). Since both the gar of v. 26 and of v. 27 prove the point made in v. 25, the assertion by advocates of baptismal regeneration that “for” in v. 27 gives the cause of v. 26, so that one is only a child of God upon being baptized, is incorrect. For more on the toga virilis and related issues, in addition to the work by Harrill already cited, see The Significance of Clothing Imagery in the Pauline Corpus, Chong-hun Kim (New York, NY: T&T Clark, 2004), pgs. 92-95; “Coming of Age in Rome: The History and Social Significance of Assuming the Toga Virilis,” F. Dolansky (M. A. thesis, University of Victoria, Canada, 1999); The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990) on Galatians 3-4; “The Pedagogical Nature of the Law in Galatians 3:19-4:7,” Richard N. Longenecker, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25:1 (Mark 1982), pgs. 53-61. Tertullian alludes to the toga virilis ceremony as acceptable and non-idolatrous in his On Idolatry, chapter 16 (Note also Augustine, City of God 4:11). In any case, the idea of Galatians 3:27 as a “metaphor . . . of putting on a uniform . . . [is accepted by various writers and is] an early instance of an idea common in later baptismal theology” (pg. 56, The Seal of the Spirit, G. W. H. Lampe (London: S. P. C. K., 1967, 2nd ed.).
The only potentially reasonable attempt at proof in the entirety of Scripture for the affirmation that spiritual circumcision is baptism would be the assertion that the participle “buried with” (suntaphentes) in Colossians 2:12 is dependent upon the verb “ye are circumcised” (perietmethete) in Colossians 2:11. However, the passage does not definitively equate the two actions or make them identical. The fact that two things are related—as are receiving a new heart in spiritual circumcision and the outward testimony or picture of regeneration in baptism—does not establish an identify between the two. Suntaphentes could be an example of an aorist participle of subsequent action (cf. 132, 142-146, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek, Earnest Burton. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1923-1925; pg. 614 n. 2, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace), or Paul could be viewing the perietmethete and suntaphentes as simple snapshot actions that took place in the past and are closely associated, so that, although the (possibly telic) participle could be considered as loosely temporally simultaneous with the verb gramatically, none the less the simple snapshot nature of the aorist tense could allow for an earlier spiritual circumcision followed by an outward testimony to that fact in baptism (cf. Acts 25:13 and the relationship of the participle “salute/greet,” aspasamenoi, to the verb “came,” katentesan, or 1 Peter 3:18 and the relation of the participle “made alive,” zoapoiethes, to the verb “suffered,” epathe; also 1 Timothy 1:12; Acts 10:3; 11:13). In context, Paul proves that believers are complete in Christ (2:10). They are spiritually circumcized (2:11) and baptized as the outward evidence of regeneration (2:12), forgiven (2:13-14) and free from legal ordinances (2:14-15). Since they are complete in Christ and are identified with Him (2:10-15), they are not to return to Jewish ceremonialism (2:16ff.). Believers are spiritually united to Christ and spiritually circumcized before they are symbolically buried and raised with Christ in baptism. Paul’s argument does not require either baptismal regeneration or the equation of spiritual circumcision and baptism in Colossians 2.
Furthermore, those who are buried with Christ in baptism in Colossians 2:12 are believers, people who have already had their sins forgiven, not infants who are supposedly baptized as an alleged counterpart to circumcision in Israel. They are people who have already have faith, as Colossians 2:12 itself affirms. They had received Christ (v. 6) and had all their trespasses forgiven (v. 13), and Paul rejoiced in their steadfast faith (v. 5). Paul longed to see them “that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding” (v. 2). Infants would not have their hearts knit together in love and have the riches of the full assurance of understanding if Paul came to see them. They do not even know their right hands from their left (Jonah 4:11)—how could they have “the full assurance of understanding” concerning the deep truths of the gospel? Those baptized in Colossians 2:12 were old enough to choose to celebrate Jewish holy days and feast days or to refrain from doing so. They were not to allow anyone to judge them based on their choice (v. 16). They were also to refuse to listen to the beguiling words of false teachers (v. 4, 18). The commands of Colossians chapter two are ridiculous if applied to infants. Colossians 2:12 speaks of those who have already been spiritually circumcised, who have already become believers, being immersed in baptism. It gives no support at all to infant baptism, nor does it establish any equivalence between the Jewish ceremony of circumcision and the church ordinance of believer’s immersion.
Furthermore, history does not support an argument for infant baptism from circumcision. “There is a silence in the early patristic references to infant baptism concerning the analogy between circumcision and baptism. . . . [N]ot until the mid-third century that this analogy first occurs as an argument for infant baptism. Furthermore, the citing of Colossians 2:11-12 does not occur in this connection until the mid-fourth century” (“Colossians 2:11-12: The Circumcision/Baptism Analogy, and Infant Baptism,” J. P. T. Hunt. Tyndale Bulletin 41.2 (1990) 227-244).
The New Testament, using Abraham as the Christian’s pattern (Romans 4:23-25), also states that circumcision was a “seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised” (4:11). Thus, even if circumcision were equivalent to baptism, faith would be a prerequisite, and baptism would not be the means of attaining justification, but only a token of a previously received “righteousness of faith.” (See Romans 4:1-25.) A parallel between circumcision given to all the physical seed of Abraham and baptism given to the spiritual seed of Abraham would restrict baptism to believers, since “they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).
The use of the word “seal” (sphragis) in Romans 4:11—for the already justified and already believing Abraham—by no means supports the Reformed sacramental notion that infant baptism is a vehicle conveying saving grace and that through baptism grace is “conferred by the Holy Ghost” upon the elect (Westminster Confession of Faith, Article 28). Since Romans 4:11 is the only verse in Scripture that could with any plausibility be used to support the Reformed view, its advocates argue from this text that circumcision is a “seal” of grace, that their sacrament of infant baptism is equivalent to circumcision, and that, therefore, infant baptism seals or conveys grace to their infants. This argument breaks down at many points. First, the verse does not say that circumcision was a seal of grace to Jewish male infants. While circumcision was a “sign” by nature, it is not affirmed to have been a “seal” to all, but only personally to believing Abraham, who received it when he had already been justified by faith. A recognition of this distinction in Romans 4:11 explains the Old Testament use of the word sign or token (Hebrew ‘oth) in connection with circumcision (Genesis 17:11) but the complete absence of references in the Old Testament to the ceremony as a “seal.” Second, the New Testament does not equate circumcision with baptism or state that the latter replaces the former. Third, the Biblical immersion of believers has nothing to do with the ceremonial application of water to infants that Catholics and Protestants claim is baptism. Fourth, a seal is a visible mark or impression evidencing the authority of the one who authorizes the seal to the genuineness or correctness of whatever is witnessed to by its presence. However, baptism does not leave a visible mark upon those who receive it, and it is not administered to single individuals by Divine authority—the authority given the church to administer baptism is general (Matthew 28:18-20). No man can put marks upon the elect of God which shall authoritatively certify that they are His, and neither baptism nor the Lord’s Supper authenticate one’s personal election to himself or to others; such authentication is given to the regenerate individual himself by the presence of true faith and the manifestation of that faith in a changed life, as taught in 1 John (cf. 5:13). Unlike the ordinance of baptism, the “seal” of circumcision given to Abraham was indeed a visible mark and was applied to the individual man Abraham by direct Divine authority. Circumcision was a seal to Abraham, but to nobody else. Finally, when advocates of Reformed theology and other Protestants speak of baptism as a “seal” or vehicle of grace, they use the word in a sense entirely absent in Scripture. None of the appearances of the word “seal” (sphragis) in the New Testament indicate that grace is conveyed through a “seal” (Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Timothy 2:19; Revelation 5:1-2, 5, 9; 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 7:2; 8:1; 9:4). Those who think that infant baptism was the instrument of their receiving forgiveness, those who think that they received the sacrament as confirmation and evidence that they were already regenerated in the womb, and those who think they had water applied to them in infancy as evidence that they were certain to be regenerated in the future unless they consciously rejected the “sacrament” and its efficacy are underneath a terrible spiritual delusion. They will certainly be damned unless they recognize that their unbiblical religious ceremony did nothing beneficial for them, admit they are still lost, and then repent and believe the gospel.
Indeed, baptism is not even a “sign” in the sense regularly employed in Reformed theology. The ordinance is indeed a sign of what Christ did and suffered, but it is not a “sign” promising that any saving work will be done in the one who receives it—yet it is in this latter sense that the Reformed generally speak of the ordinance as a “sign.”
[ccvi] Of course, Christ Himself was in His pre-Pentecost church, so a member of the Godhead dwelt in her, although the Holy Spirit had not made the church His special temple as yet.