What is Spirit-Baptism?

5. Immediately after that birthday of the Church Visible, Peter urged enquirers to "repent" (metanoeesate) and to "be baptized" (baptistheetoo) — both aorist imperatives with ongoing significance. At the very same time, he also urged them then to expect to receive forthwith and to "keep on receiving" –leempsesthe, future-continuous indicative — the gift of the Holy Spirit. Cf. Eph. 5:18f. Thus, the sequence metanoeesate baptistheetoo leempsesthe is here but the rapid opening up of just one parcel! As the Presbyterian Professor Rev. F.D. Bruner indicates in his doctoral dissertation: "Our text [Acts 2:38-39] teaches us that since the occurrence of Pentecost, Christian baptism becomes the locus of the Spirit's reception in response to the Spirit's pressure in preaching. Henceforth, baptism is Pentecost." A Theology of the Holy Spirit (London: Hodder & Stoughton), 1970, p. 168.

6. In Acts 8:12f, the 'first-fruits' of the Non-Hebrew or rather Half-Hebrew Samaritans (said that they) believed. Consequently, they "were baptized" by Philip. Yet God still (for a very good reason) withheld the immediate 'falling' of His Spirit upon them — until the apostles could come as witnesses to effect this themselves (8:14-18). Even that 'Spirit-falling' is not stated to be a Spirit-baptism; indeed, the latter already seems to have been given them at their recent water-baptism (8:12). Unusually, 'not yet [oudepoo] had the Holy Spirit fallen on any of them' (8:16). "The meaning," writes Bruner (op. cit., p. 177), "is this: The Spirit is to come with baptism; but this coming had 'not yet occurred. The relation of baptism to the Spirit — the 'not yet' indicates — is the relation of cohesion." It pleased God here surprisingly to delay the Spirit's falling on the Samaritans. Thus the apostles themselves could first arrive there and become thoroughly convinced that such converts too indeed belonged inside the Church Visible! Perhaps the Samaritans, too, miraculously uttered foreign languages? At any rate, water-baptism underlies not only Acts 8:18 but also the somewhat similar 19:6 and Heb. 6:2.

7. It is just possible that in Acts 8:27-39 something similar happened at the water-baptism of the 'first-fruit' convert from the Hamites. Cf. Gen. 10:1,6f & Ps. 87:4. "A man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians…, had come to Jerusalem for to worship…. They went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip." Here, the Western Text has: "Philip baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon the eunuch" etc. Cf. Bruce op. cit. at Acts 8:39.

8. In Acts 10 & 11, we have the water-baptism etc. of the 'first-fruits' of the Japthethites [cf. Gen. 10:1f & I Pet. 3:20f]. Note that at Acts 10:37f, Peter tells the household of Cornelius: “That Word, I say, you know — which was published throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth [at His water-baptism!] with the Holy Spirit and with power." Peter could here say "you know" to the household of Cornelius. For Peter saw they were already regenerate before the apostle had arrived there (10:2-4f). Thus

Calvin's Commentary on Acts at 10:2-4,22,25,44.

9. At 10:44, while Peter was still speaking these words, "the Holy Spirit fell on all of them (epesen). Then, 10:45, the Hebrew Christians there, witnessing this, were astonished –because the gift of the Holy Ghost had been poured out (ekkechutai) also on the Gentiles. "For" [10:46] the Hebrew Christians "kept on hearing" (eekouon) the Gentiles "continuing to speak in languages and continuing to magnify God" (lalountoon and megalunontoon).

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