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Acts 19:1-10 by Robert Dean
Want to know more about baptism? Listen to this lesson to learn the difference between wet and dry baptisms and about the one baptism that occurs for every believer at the moment of salvation. See how this baptism is the great equalizer, ensuring that gender, economic, and ethnic distinctions have no spiritual significance as we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. See how this enables us to live a new life in Christ and how water baptism is an affirmation that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ.
Series:Acts (2010)
Duration:59 mins 40 secs

Baptism by Means of the Holy Spirit
Acts 19:1-10

There has been a lot of confusion over the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the last 110-115 years since the beginning of what has become known as the Pentecostal movement. The Pentecostal inherited part of its confusion from a preceding movement in American evangelicalism known as the holiness movement, which really had its roots in Wesleyan theology or Methodism going back to roughly the 1800s. They were both built on the idea that there is one work of grace at salvation when you are justified and then there is a second work of grace that comes after salvation and that is when you are sanctified. They would identify that second work of grace as the baptism by the Holy Spirit, and one of the things that they would do is go to the book of Acts and point out that on the day of Pentecost there were believers who were saved and later on got the Holy Spirit. Then they would go to Acts chapter eight and the Samaritans who believed and later received the Holy Spirit. Cornelius the Gentile in Acts chapter ten believed and received the Holy Spirit, but they sort of ignored that. Then we come to Acts chapter nineteen where we have Old Testament believers who received the Holy Spirit later. So they had this pattern from Acts which they thought established a precedence, not recognizing that this is a transition period and there is a reason why these things happened as they did.

We find that Paul discovers these disciples and he in his conversation realizes that there is something that seems to be missing. So he asks them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Actually the participle that is translated there is an aorist participle for pisteuo, and the aorist participle can take place at the same time as the verb, but usually it is before the action of the verb. So it would have the idea of, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit after you believed, or when you believed." It could be either way. But the point is, they had not even heard about the Holy Spirit. So obviously there was a deficit in their spiritual experience. They had not entered into the church age, because that which distinguishes the church age believer, the Christian, is, according to Romans 6:3 this thing called the baptism by the Holy Spirit.

What in the world is that? When does it happen? How does it happen? How many times does it happen?      

Acts 19:3 NASB "And he said, 'Into what then were you baptized?' And they said, 'Into John's baptism.'" The Greek preposition eis [into] is very important here because it indicates a final state. We will see this because John the Baptist uses it to indicates the final state at the baptism—into repentance (final state). It is "into Christ" for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is important to recognize those prepositions. 

Acts 19:4 NASB "Paul said, 'John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.'" John the Baptist's message was, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." If one repented to signify their repentance, their new state of being a repentant, they would be baptized by John the Baptist in water through immersion, which identified them with John's message of the coming kingdom. This is crucial. Notice that when Paul talks to the synagogue in verse 8 it says he was "reasoning and persuading {them} about the kingdom of God." The kingdom of God is the messianic kingdom that has been postponed. The kingdom of God was what was offered by John and by Jesus and by Jesus' disciples but rejected by the people in the Jewish leadership so that it was postponed to the future. They need to understand this. One of the reasons Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience was to help them understand why this kingdom was postponed: that it was offered and postponed but will come about when Jesus Christ returns at the Second Advent. He will establish that kingdom. John's baptism was related to that particular message. 

Acts 19:5 NASB "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." We have seen that there are eight different baptisms in the New Testament. The command of Matthew 28, the great commission, to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit has never been rescinded, so it is still operative for every believer in the church age because it is a picture of what transpires in the spiritual realm at the instant of salvation. What transpires in the spiritual realm is this identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism means to be immersed in something but it signified or represented an identification of one thing with something else. John's baptism represented the identification of the penitent believer with the kingdom of God. Jesus' baptism is the identification of Jesus with the plan of God for His three years of ministry on the earth. The believer's water baptism is a picture of the spiritual baptism or identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is really a focus on one central passage (there are numerous passages that teach it), 1 Corinthians 12:13. There are three key passages: 1 Corinthians 12:13; Matthew 3:11; Galatians 3:27, 28. 

1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."

We have to understand a little problem in interpreting this verse initially. It has to do with grammar and poor translation, a poor understanding of both Greek and English, in bringing about this translation. He is talking about all of us. Remember, he is talking to the Corinthian Christians who were among the most reprobate Christians on the planet. But Paul says of them, "We were all made to drink of one Spirit." In other words, this baptism isn't related to your behavior, it is related to an act of God that occurs for every single believer that happens at the instant of salvation. He says, "We were all baptized into one body."

Obviously this isn't talking about water baptism because he is not saying, we were all baptized into one water, or in one river or one lake; he says into one body. That is referring to the body of Christ. And that idea of baptism is what it signifies, and that is identification. This is related to immersion but it is a symbolic immersion into the body of Christ, identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection so that we are all in one body at that point.

As Galatians 3:27 points out, this eradicates the spiritual significance of three areas of life. NASB "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." This is true for every believer; we have put on Christ. We are a new identity; we are now in Christ. [28] "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." He is talking to an audience that is made up of ethnic Jews and ethnic Gentiles. Has that been eradicated physically? No. But in the Old Testament if you were a Gentile you could only enter so far into the temple or tabernacle in the worship of God. Your racial identity kept you at a distance. Only Jews could enter into the holy place and into the courtyard of the tabernacle, into the closer areas of worship. But in Christ those distinctions no longer matter, we all have equal access to God the Father through the death of Christ on the cross.

Paul says there is neither slave nor free man. Again an economic distinction because in the Old Testament a slave could only go so far. A slave could not enter into the inner area of the temple, he would have to stay further away with the Gentiles. And then the third category was, "there is neither male nor female." In the second temple the outer courtyard was called the courtyard of the women. Jewish women could get closer than the Gentiles but they couldn't get as close as a Jewish male. So gender, economic status and racial status limited access to God in ritual worship of the temple in the Old Testament.

Paul is saying that because of the baptism by the Holy Spirit these are no longer issues spiritually. He is not saying there is no longer a difference between men or women or slaves or free. Onesimus was a slave and Paul sent him back to Philemon saying to let him go if you want to but receive him back as a fellow brother in Christ. He still recognized that these were physical distinctions but they didn't have spiritual significance anymore.

We see here that baptism is "into Christ." That is the goal in Spirit baptism. "For by one Spirit we were baptized into [eis] one body…" What is that body? We are now in the body of Christ. 

In 1 Corinthians 12:13 there is another important phrase. Grammar is important because it really represents the skeletal structure of thought in any sort of writing. Grammar says a lot about what a person means. At the beginning we read, "For by one Spirit." There are a lot of people who have read that in English and thought that that meant that the Spirit was the one who did the baptizing. If all we had was the English that would be a fair conclusion. But that is not right because the phrase in the Greek with the preposition en doesn't indicate the one who does the baptizing, it indicates the instrument used to bring about this new identification. We have the phrase en pneumati. We were all baptized—the aorist tense is a past tense, it simply means that something that happened in the past. It is a passive voice, meaning that somebody does it to us; we don't do it ourselves. We receive the action of the verb. We were baptized into one body.

The reason for pointing this out is that in every one of these baptisms that we look at there are two or three of these elements. There is going to be an en clause, you are going to have an eis clause. The en clause indicates the instrument used; the eis clause indicates the end game or the result, and then there is going to be a verb and someone who performs the action of the verb.

Here is the problem, the phrase "For by one Spirit." It looks like the Spirit is the one who does it. It is the phrase en pneumati. It should be translated "by means of." The Spirit is the instrument. When John the Baptist was talking about Jesus he says in the last couple of lines, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." But notice, the Greek is the same in Matthew 3:11 and in 1 Corinthians 12:13. But the English is different. In one place it is by the Spirit; in the other place it is with the Spirit.

What happened back in the 1800s was that some people within the Methodist holiness tradition read that and said we have two different baptisms. They said the reason we are having a problem is our spiritual life is because we have one baptism but we don't have the other baptism. They based it on a misunderstanding of the English translation. They looked at a "with" and a "by" and said we have two different baptisms here, not knowing the Greek which had the same phrase underlying both. It was just that in the KJV one person had translated the Gospel passages, another person had translated the Corinthian passage, and the person who translated the Corinthian passage preferred the translation "by" whereas the person who translated the Matthew passage preferred the translation "with." It came out looking as if there were two different baptisms.

So Pentecostal theology ended up with two baptisms of the Holy Spirit, one with the Holy Spirit at salvation and one by the Holy Spirit after salvation. The problem is some non-Charismatics also picked up on that to some degree and didn't quite clarify the distinction between the two.       

The "into one body" is in the accusative case, which indicates the goal and purpose of this new identification.  

Basic English. John hit the ball with the bat. What is the action in that sentence? The first thing you ask is, where is the verb? "Hit".  Who performs the action of the verb? John. John is the grammatical subject who performs the action. He hits the ball and he uses the bat to hit the ball. So the bat becomes the instrument, the means by which action is carried out. So the verb is hit. It is an active voice, which means that the grammatical subject, John, performs the action of the verb. The ball is the object that receives the action when John hits the ball, and the means is expressed by the preposition in English "with."

If we were to flip the sentence from an active sentence (John hit the ball) to a passive sentence we would have to say: The ball was hit by John.  The ball is now the grammatical subject of the sentence. The ball receives the action of the verb, hit. It was hit. We don't have a statement here of who performs the action. The ball is the grammatical subject, "was hit" is the verb, and "by the bat" is still the instrument.

 In English if we are going to introduce the performer of the action we usually indicate that with the preposition "by". This is what gives us this sentence: The ball was hit by John. John performs the action. But if we have the sentence, "The Christian was baptized by the Spirit", it looks in English like the Spirit is the one doing the baptizing. In English the code word to indicate the performer of the action in a passive voice construction is the preposition "by". So we see the word "by" and we think that is the one that performs the action. He switched places in the sentence because we went to a passive verb. But in Greek there is a different code word.

"The ball was hit by John with/by the bat." The subject is the ball, the verb is "was hit", "by John" indicates the agent of the action, and then there is the means which is "by the bat." In Greek the one who performs the action in a passive voice construction—the code word is the preposition hupo. It is not en. en represents the means that is used. So when we read, "The Christian was baptized by the Spirit," if the Spirit is the one who does the action it would be a different preposition. It would be the preposition hupo, not en. en always represents the instrument, and that would be the bat, or in the case of believers' water baptism it would be the water—baptized by the water.

What we see in the New Testament is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is first prophesied by John the Baptist at the incarnation. He says, "He who is coming after … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." The verb is "baptize". Who performs that action? Jesus, not the Holy Spirit. What does He use to perform the action? The Holy Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul is emphasizing the role of the Spirit; he is not emphasizing the role of Christ, so Christ isn't mentioned.

In John 3:11 we have to understand the original situation to understand the rest of it. John said, "I baptize you with water"—I am using water to identify you with your state of repentance. Then he said, "He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." "With the Holy Spirit" is en pneumati. That is parallel to water. Just as John used water to identify the believer with the new state Jesus is going to use the Holy Spirit to identify the believer with the new state.

What did water symbolize? Cleansing. What does the Holy Spirit do at the instant of salvation? He cleanses us. Titus 3:5 NASB "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." Notice the imagery is very much the same: positional cleansing, absolute cleansing that take place at the moment of salvation.

The means that John used in baptism was water; the new state was repentance. Parallel to that Jesus uses the Holy Spirit, and in the future at the end of the Tribulation He will use fire.

Jesus said: Acts 1:5 NASB "for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with [by means of] the Holy Spirit not many days from now." He doesn't say who will do the baptizing. That is assumed already because John the Baptist already told them. "He who is coming after me … will baptize you with [by means of] the Holy Spirit."

1 Corinthians 10:2 fits the same pattern. All the Jews who were crossing the Red Sea were baptized. " … and all were baptized into Moses …" That is the new state, identification with Moses. "… in [by means of] the cloud and in the sea." The new state when they come out the other side of the Red Sea is that they are now free, are a new people of God, and are identified with Moses.

So in 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul says, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…" So we are in a new state. We are a unified body in Christ. So how does this work? Jesus Christ uses the Holy Spirit. Just as John used water Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to identify us with Himself. That is what Romans 6:3 says, "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? … [4] … so we too might walk in newness of life." The focal point of the baptism by the Holy Spirit is that it breaks the power of the sin nature. It doesn't remove the sin nature, it breaks the power of the sin nature. What happens after the cross is that every believer has the ability to live apart from the sin nature to follow and walk by the Holy Spirit, and not yield to the demands of the sin nature. Nobody prior to the cross could ever do that. They didn't have the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. But you and I do, and this makes for a radical difference because we no longer have to obey the sin nature.

Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to identify the person with Himself in His death, burial and resurrection and to place us into Christ. This is an extremely abstract doctrine. How many people really have a handle on what this is like? We don't. God gives us a visual training aid, and every time anybody becomes a Christian they go through this visual training aid because it reminds the rest of us of what happened so dramatically at the beginning of our Christian experience—the power of the sin nature was broken. But nobody ever teaches it like that. Somehow they think it is going to get you more grades or get you saved or that it physically washes away your sins—all kinds of things that have muddied the water.

Satan has been so good at distorting this doctrine because if you don't understand this doctrine you are not going to get very far in your Christian life. Because you don't understand how powerful this act was at the beginning of your salvation. This is why Paul says in Romans 6:11 NASB "… Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin." This is what water baptism is all about, not because it washes away sin, not because there is some mystical magic power in the water; but because it teaches in a very physical, concrete way a spiritual reality related to our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

Baptism was a command that Jesus stated for every believer and it has never been rescinded. We need to be reminded of this otherwise we become awfully lax in our spiritual life. We begin to take it for granted. We take grace for granted, confession of sin for granted, etc. It is also related to the principle of Ephesians 4:4, 5, being one in the body of Christ. It unifies us. This is the real foundation for true Christian unity. In Ephesians the unity is the unity of the faith: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." People who don't agree have rejected parts of the faith. We may not like everything that the Bible tells us we are supposed to believe. We may not understand it all but the Bible makes it clear that this is a unified faith and we are to believe it. We don't come along with our razor blade and say we don't like some verse so we are going to cut it out. It is a unity of the faith and it is based on one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ; one faith, one solid body of doctrine; and one baptism—not believer's baptism here, it is the unity that is based on the baptism of God the Holy Spirit. That is the baptism that unifies the church because it is what we all have in common. We have been identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

One of the implications of Galatians 3:23-25 in terms of the baptism by the Holy Spirit is no longer due to distinctions of race, gender, economic or social aspects applied to our relationship with God. This is not saying that everybody is reduced to the same level but it elevates everyone to a higher level than anyone had in the Old Testament. That is why it is said that John the Baptist was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets but he is less than any of us. He is greatest because he saw the Messiah and they never saw the Messiah.

So the baptism of the Holy Spirit provides us with a retroactive identification, i.e. it happens now, the day you believe. It retroactively identifies us with Christ on the cross, and it is the basis for our victory over the sin nature in Romans 6:3-5.

So we define it this way. The baptism by means of the Holy Spirit is the work of Christ whereby at the moment of faith alone in Christ alone Christ uses the Holy Spirit (after regeneration) to identify the believer with his own death, burial and resurrection so that the believer becomes a new creature in Christ where the sin nature is now dead. It is still there and still active but its power is broken; that is what it means by dead.

Things are changing in Acts. The things that are going on aren't normative. It is a transition from one period to the next and it really represents the early apostolic period. In Acts chapter two the disciples are already believers. They repent, they receive the Holy Spirit, and then they speak in tongues. That is the order. In Acts chapter eight with the Samaritans, they believe the gospel, then they are baptized by water, then they receive the Holy Spirit; but there is no mention of tongues at all. In Acts chapter ten with Cornelius and the Gentiles there is belief, then there is the baptism by the Holy Spirit, and they speak in tongues, and then there is water baptism. In Acts 19 they believed, then re-baptized in water, and then baptized by the Holy Spirit and they speak in tongues. It is the last time the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues is mentioned in the book of Acts.

What happened after that is the next three verses.

Acts 19:6 NASB "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they {began} speaking with tongues and prophesying… [8] And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading {them} about the kingdom of God." , again a participle, and it How did he speak boldly? By reasoning, which is the Greek verb dialegomai indicating rational explanation, not dialogue. It appeals to the intellect. He is reasoning, presenting a case from the only Scriptures they had at the time, the Old Testament. And he is going through point by point all of the messianic prophecies and showing how these were fulfilled by Jesus. It is logical, rigorous, a tight theological, exegetical case for why Jesus is the Messiah.

Then he doesn't just leave it at that. He says there is an action plan here. There is something you have to do with this. You have to be convinced that this is true and the result of that is you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and you trust in Him for your salvation. The second verb "persuading" is the Greek peitho, again a participle, and it is the idea of persuading or convincing something that something is true. It is an appeal to the will. Reasoning is an appeal to the intellect; peitho is an appeal to the will. Give them the information they need to believe and then appeal to the will to believe it.    

The next verse actually shows just the opposite. Acts 19:9 NASB "But when some were becoming hardened …" After three months. It is a process. These are imperfect verbs, and the imperfect verb is continuous action in past time. So this took place over a period of time. They gradually resisted the message. The word for "hardened" is the idea of being more and more resistant. This is a Greek word usually used to translated one of the Hebrew words in Exodus that comes across as hardening. The only place those words are translated as hardening is in Exodus. The rest of the time they have to do with encouraging, strengthening on one direction or another. This is the word skleruno. It is an imperfect middle voice. The middle voice is important because it means the subject (the one who performs the action) does it to himself. The middle voice is reflexive. They hardened themselves. God is not reaching down and tweaking their volition and saying they are locking into negative because He is going to decide who is going to get saved and who is not. It doesn't work that way. They hardened themselves. They kept listening to the gospel and became more and more resistant. They chose to reject his arguments; they chose to not be convinced. So skleruno has to do with resistance intellectually to his arguments. 

"But when some were becoming hardened …" Then some versions have "and did not believe." It is not really "believed" because the verb there is apeitho—they were not persuadable. They resisted; they would not be persuaded of the truth. The result is that they began to slander "the way", another term they used to describe Christianity. "… speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. [10] This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks."