Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 29, 1964

Baptism Of The Holy Spirit - - - Only Two Cases?

Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr.

The subject of the Holy Spirit is one that is interesting and fraught with many difficulties. It always has been and undoubtedly will be. It has always been of particular interest to me. And it seems from the many articles that I read lately that others are indicating interest in the subject.

Most of us have grown up hearing the teaching of older preachers about the different measures of the Holy Spirit. There seems to be little doubt but what the Bible teaches that 'the Spirit comes upon people in different degrees and that he thus may limit his administration. It even seems that what we may classify as a particular measure of the Holy Spirit will not give to the recipient all the power that the same measure might give to another or to others. A case in point in what we speak of as the "baptismal measure" of the Holy Spirit. This measure of the Holy Spirit was promised to the apostles by Christ. There are numerous places where this promise is given. The apostles received this measure of the Spirit on the Pentecost of Acts 2 as all students know. Another instance of the baptismal measure of the Spirit is recorded in Acts 10. In this instance it is the household of Cornelius that received the Spirit. In Acts 11 Peter refers to the promise of Jesus in Matthew 3:11 which mentions the baptism of the Holy Spirit and refers to that which Cornelius received as the "like-gift" that the apostles received. (Acts 11:17,18). There is little doubt then that this was a baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit. However, there is also no doubt but that the purpose of this gift was different than the purpose when given to the apostles. The Spirit came upon this household to show the apostles end the Jews that the Gentiles were to be accepted into the household of faith. (Acts 11:17-18). It did enable the household of Cornelius to do wondrous things such as speaking in tongues. (Act 10:46).

Now, have we been correct in our statement over the years that the instances in Acts 2 and Acts 10 are the only two times that anyone was ever baptized with the Holy Spirit? Or, have we perhaps overlooked some other instance which might well have been baptism of the Holy Spirit? I personally feel that we have overlooked one very important one. It is the instance that is recorded in Acts 9:17. Here we have Saul being filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul later became known as the apostle Paul and he was not one bit inferior to the most eminent apostle. Not only was Paul not inferior but he performed the signs of an apostle among the Corinthians. "Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles." (II Corinthians 12:11-12; New American Standard Bible.

The apostle Paul was also able to impart by the laying on of hands miraculous gifts, an act that only an apostle could accomplish. (Acts 19:6) It would seem from the reading of Romans 1:11 that Paul wished to go to Rome for the purpose of imparting to them spiritual gifts, an act that only an apostle could perform. I am not here trying to prove the apostleship of Paul, but to impress upon the mind of the reader that Paul did everything that an apostle did. He did this because he was an apostle. But the power to do it came from the Holy Spirit just as in the case of all the other apostles. And what measure of the Spirit was given to all the other apostles to enable them to perform these particular feats? It was the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit, One particular act that was exclusively the property of those who had received this measure of the Spirit was that of imparting spiritual gifts to others by the laying on of hands. Only an apostle could do this. Paul could do it. Paul was an apostle. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit. What measure of the Spirit did he receive? Not the laying on of hands measure for those who received this measure were not able to pass on spiritual gifts. So what is left? Paul must have received the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit. He either received the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit or a new and different measure of the Spirit must be created for Paul.

In the light of the above it seems to me that it might be well for us all to reconsider our past statements that there are only two instances of baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. If this is true, and I do not think that it is, then what measure did Paul receive?

Perhaps this is one of those ideals that we have heard and picked up and preached without giving it serious study. I know that I was guilty of this myself. 22567 De Soto St. Colton, California