Do we receive the Holy Spirit after baptism?

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By BibleAsk Team


Understanding the relationship between baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit is a significant topic within Christian theology. The Bible sheds light on this topic.

Baptism and the Holy Spirit in Scripture

Baptism as a Symbolic Act

Baptism is commonly understood as a symbolic act of initiation into the Christian faith. It symbolizes repentance, forgiveness of sins, and new life in Christ.

Acts 2:38 (NKJV): “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

This verse highlights the connection between repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Spirit. It suggests that baptism is accompanied by the promise of receiving the Holy Spirit as a gift.

Receiving the Holy Spirit

The New Testament presents various instances where individuals receive the Holy Spirit, sometimes in connection with baptism and other times as a separate event.

Acts 8:14-17 (NKJV): “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

This passage illustrates a distinct experience where believers in Samaria, who had been baptized, received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by the apostles.

Baptism into Christ

Baptism is often associated with being united with Christ, which includes sharing in His death, burial, and resurrection, as well as receiving the Holy Spirit.

Romans 6:3-4 (NKJV): “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

This passage emphasizes the spiritual union with Christ through baptism, symbolizing death to sin and resurrection to new life, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Views on the Timing of Receiving the Holy Spirit

Immediate Reception

Some interpretations suggest that individuals receive the Holy Spirit immediately upon believing and being baptized, viewing it as a simultaneous experience.

Acts 2:41 (NKJV): “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

This verse suggests that those who believed and were baptized were added to the early church, implying an immediate reception of the Holy Spirit.

Subsequent Reception

Other interpretations maintain that receiving the Holy Spirit may occur as a separate event subsequent to baptism, often through prayer or the laying on of hands.

Acts 19:1-6 (NKJV): “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”

In this passage, Paul encounters disciples who had been baptized with John’s baptism but had not received the Holy Spirit. After they were baptized in the name of Jesus and Paul laid hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit.

Before and After Baptism

The Bible teaches that Christians receive the Holy Spirit before and after baptism. Before experiencing the fullness of the Spirit, a person receives a portion of that Spirit to prepare him to come to the Lord and repent of the old life. Later on, the Holy Spirit comes in the life of individuals in degrees according to their need. At the day of Pentecost, Peter preached his sermon saying,

Acts 2:38 (NKJV): “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the [a]remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Here, we can see that the Holy Spirit worked first on the people’s hearts before their baptism because they were “cut to the heart” and as they were prepared for repentance, at baptism, they received a fuller measure of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus our perfect example did have a limitless supply of the Holy Spirit but God’s Spirit came down on Him in a special way at His baptism. “And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove” (Mark 1:10).

Likewise, the apostles had the Holy Spirit before the Day of Pentecost because Jesus empowered them and sent them out to preach and heal all through the nation. However, they received a special fullness of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, which is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, at the time of Pentecost. John the Baptist prophesied about this event “I indeed baptize you with water … but there is One coming after me who is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).

As we surrender our bodies to God (1 Corinthians 6:19), we receive daily measures of His Spirit. The Lord is eager to bless His children with the overflow of His Spirit if they are willing to receive. For “God does not give the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34, NKJV).

Conclusion

The relationship between baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit is addressed in the Word of God. The Bible teaches that Christians receive the Holy Spirit before and after baptism. Before experiencing the fullness of the Spirit, a person receives a portion of that Spirit to prepare him to come to the Lord and repent of the old life. And later on, the Holy Spirit comes in the life of individuals in degrees according to their need.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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