T 1.8 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 8, The Spirit Baptism Mandate, John Baptized With Water, But You Will Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit

Of all the Christian traditions water baptism seems one of the longest enduring and most rooted.  In fact, it reaches so far back that reconciling it to some of what happened in the book of Acts with all of the outpouring of spirit appears hard to reconcile due to a number of confusing elements which we will look at in this article including the water baptisms done by Phillip and Apollos.

I was baptized as an infant at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Later I watched as my younger brothers and sister were baptized, the last being when I was nine years old.  It was a beautiful ceremony and a big deal. Everyone was dressed up in their best. There was the solemn ceremony gathered around the baptismal font, and then afterward there was a party to celebrate the event. There were pictures and the aunts and uncles came and we had cake and ice cream.

Later in Catholic grade and high schools, the significance of this baptism in water was instructed.  It was a core belief and references to dying and being raised with Christ as well as the example of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist were reinforced to the point that I remember them decades later.  In later years still, in talking with adults after they were water baptized in Christian churches, I have felt the deep-felt emotion and conviction that they felt in going through this rite.

Baptism was ingrained in me as a rite, a sacrament, that involved ceremonial washing with water that represented the action of the Spirit washing the person, cleansing them of their sin.  As a sacrament, I believed at that time that the act of baptism imparted this grace. Not only that, but baptism was done similarly in all the non-Catholic churches that I knew of at the time. Yes, there were those who argued believer’s baptism over infant baptism, but baptism in water was a rite in every church I was aware of at that time and had been, I had been taught, since the apostles. It is one of the longest traditions in the church.

Baptism of the Spirit, as I remember, was mentioned in my Catholic training but only in reference to how this sacrament imparted the grace to being washed spiritually. The outpouring on the day of Pentecost was declared as the fulfillment of the prophecy that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and it was only to the apostles and later once to the Gentiles. It wasn’t until after I left Catholicism that I started learning more about baptism including that it does have some confusing elements. But I did learn about how spirit baptism involved receiving the power of the holy spirit in a person’s life and not just to apostles and prophets. When I first starting hearing about people actually being baptized in the spirit in our day and time it was eye-opening, even shocking, and I have to admit, a little scary. The idea of this spirit baptism was powerful, and I wanted to know more. Nevertheless, Christian baptism has always had some confusing elements that are not clear in the text.

One thing that is confusing is the word baptize itself. The word baptize is what is called a transliteration, a word that has been converted from another language. Transliterations are made by converting the letters in the word into another alphabet, The Greek word baptizo became baptize in English. Why transliterate a word instead of just translating it?

Baptizo simply means to wash, immerse, or dip. One story why baptizo was transliterated rather than translated wash or dip is that the translators were afraid of offending King James who had been sprinkled instead of dipped. Another is that the translators felt translating baptismos as washing diminishes the significance of the event. However, that would be private interpretation. Did you know that there are places where forms of the word baptizo are translated wash in scripture? Yes, it’s not always translated baptize because it obviously just means wash from the context.

They don’t eat when they come from the marketplace unless they bathe themselves, and there are many other things, which they have received to hold to: washings of cups, pitchers, bronze vessels, and couches.) (Mar 7:4 WEB)

In the above verse the word bathe is baptizo, and the word washings is baptismos. Another example is the word washing a few verses later.

“For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” (Mar 7:8 WEB)

The word washing above has the root word baptismos. How ridiculous it would be to translate it the baptism of pitchers and cups! It just means washing. You see that, right? Baptize means to wash. Yes, it has in its root the meaning of dipping or immersing, but it obviously means wash. Baptisms in water are ceremonial washings. Baptisms in the spirit are spiritual washings. Transliterating baptizo into baptize instead of just translating it as wash has caused a lot of confusion.

Believers being washed or cleansed is a concept the scriptures teach. Most people are familiar with the term, cleansed by the blood of the lamb. Jesus Christ’s blood cleanses from all sin.  That’s what it says in the epistle of 1 John.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (1Jn 1:7 WEB)

This cleansing is good enough to allow us to enter the holy place.

Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, (Heb 10:19 WEB)

So, translating baptizo as wash makes perfect sense. When we accept Christ, we are washed from sin by the Spirit.  That’s what this verse in 1 Corinthians says.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. (1Co 12:13 WEB)

This verse uses the analogy of washing in water and drinking water to describe the action and reception of the Spirit.  Analogies “directly illustrate similar relationships between two pairs of words, often for the purpose of logical argument”. [1]  Analogies can be different kinds.  In this case common experiences, washing with and drinking water are used to illustrate the reception and action of the spirit.  People are washed spiritually like they are washed with water.  People receive the spirit like they receive water when they drink water.  In this case, in fact, the word water is nowhere in the text but it is so common it is understood.  If you want to understand how spirit is received and how it washes then just look at how water is received and how water washes, that’s why the analogy is used.

Remember too that the things in the Old Covenant are forerunners of the things in the New Covenant.  The use of water in the Old Covenant is the forerunner to the use of Spirit in the New Covenant.  John washed people with water, but Jesus washes people with spirit.

This next verse talks about how the Law, the old covenant, was a shadow, a forerunner, of what Christ would bring.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  (Heb 10:1 KJV)

Things in the old covenant were forerunners to the new covenant.

So, 1 Cor 12:13 above is talking about the spirit baptism, the baptism of the church age, the spiritual washing that happens when new believers receive, drink in, holy spirit.  Yes, there is the implied analogy to water washing and drinking, but there is absolutely no water in that verse. It’s all spirit. Again, the use of terms washing and drinking that are often used with water are there to make it easier to understand. Like the word drink in the verse above, it means believers drink in the Spirit like we drink water, not that there is actually water involved. This verse is really all about the spirit baptism that John and Jesus prophesied about.

We are all washed in one Spirit into one body! That is what 1 Cor 12:13 says, that is what it means! Drinking in the spirit, washed spiritually by that same spirit as we drink it in, that’s the new birth, that’s being saved, that’s being restored, that’s being made alive again, resurrected from being a descendant of Adam and Eve who died spiritually on the day they sinned in the Garden of Eden, into a person who once again can communicate with the Father because of the powerful sacrifice of God’s only begotten son which made our redemption available! That is what this spirit washing, this spiritual regeneration is all about. That is baptized in spirit.

Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4 WEB)

in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (Col 2:11-13 WEB)

Soak it in, it’s awesome!  Unlike the water baptism of the old covenant, the spirit baptism does the stuff the water baptism represented!

We are to follow the apostles’ traditions.  The apostles’ tradition includes both the beliefs and the practices of the Apostles.  The letters of the Apostles are the best place to see what they taught, the doctrine.  The Acts of the Apostles are the best place to see what was practiced.

So far, we have been looking at the doctrine in the epistles about baptism.  Next, we will look at water baptism with John and the Old Testament. Then we will look at the book of Acts to see what was practiced in regards to baptism.

Of course, John the Baptist did not invent baptism. Original Christianity, of course, started in Judaism where the Law prescribed numerous ablutions (ceremonial washings) that required washing and/or sprinkling in certain occasions. For example,

Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “You shall also make a basin of brass, and its base of brass, in which to wash. You shall put it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in it. When they go into the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water, that they not die; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to Yahweh. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they not die: and it shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.” (Exo 30:17-21 WEB)

The above is just one example of a ritual cleansing with water from the Law. Ritual washings were part of Judaism. While not in the Law, the Jews did have a ritual immersion, a baptism service if you will, for spiritual purity.1

The baptism of John was a water ritual, a calling to repentance and undergoing the water washing to symbolize the spiritual cleansing that would become reality with Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.  John’s water baptism was the forerunner to Jesus’ spiritual baptism.

In those days, John the Baptizer came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.” Now John himself wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Then people from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mat 3:1-6 WEB)

John’s ministry was to lead the way for people to receive the Savior. He helped prepare their hearts to hear the Savior’s message. Part of his ministry included ceremonial water washing, being immersed in water, and coming up cleansed. He prophesied that his baptism was going to be replaced with the true spiritual washing that only Jesus Christ could provide.

John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

There are three people in the Gospels and Acts who prophesy or reference this particular truth above, here’s the first:

As the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he was the Christ, John answered them all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, (Luk 3:15-16 WEB)

This is the setting where John first prophesied this great truth. There were people all about questioning him whether he was the Christ. He said he wasn’t, but then he told all of these regular people that Jesus would baptize them in the Holy Spirit. The prophecy of Holy Spirit Baptism was never just to the apostles, it was to everyone. Everyone at that point meant all Jews. And it is given as a replacement. Whereas John baptized with water, Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. In other words, water out, Spirit in. Holy Spirit baptism would replace water baptism. That’s what the prophecy says. That’s what it means.

Now, wait a minute! What about Matthew 28:19. Matthew 28:19 absolutely sets the stage for water baptism administered by disciples, doesn’t it?

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Mat 28:18-20 WEB)

Numerous sources today lock onto this verse for not only the Trinitarian formula but also the fact that it mandates human baptizers seemingly baptizing in water.

Tradition calls this the Great Commission. And traditionally it forms the basis for water baptism as the rule from the time of Jesus. One author put it like this:

“This command has been handed down as a word of the risen one… This commission sets those who have been sent by the Lord unto a movement that pervades space and time.2

However, this verse is an anomaly in that it is never carried out in either Acts or the Epistles! No one in the scriptures is ever baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, only in the name of Jesus Christ! (See Original Christianity Did Everything in the Name of Jesus [Christ]) Note that just the baptizing in the Trinitarian formula is anomalous, the making disciples element is carried out.  Furthermore, while there are no scripture texts that show Matthew 28:19 differently, there are early church father references to the verse without the “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit clause. And last, but not least, there are numerous mainline denominational sources that admit that Matthew 28:19, as written, was changed in the early centuries to promote the newly developed church doctrine of the trinity. See T1.4 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 4, They did Everything in the Name of Jesus Christ. This is even acknowledged in some bibles. For example, the New American Bible, a Catholic bible has a note on Matthew 28:19 reads “the baptismal formula reflects the church’s gradual understanding of God as three Persons.” 3 In other words, it was changed to reflect doctrine developed in the early centuries AD.

Look at Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible. That translation of Matthew 28:19 has “(baptizing the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,)” in parenthesis because those words are suspect.

When you remove the “(baptizing the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,)” clause that Young’s literal translation of the bible declares as suspect you have Matthew 28:19 that reads:

And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, ‘Given to me is all authority in heaven and on earth; having gone, then, disciple all the nations, and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.’

That leads to the conclusion that the original form of Matthew 28:19 has nothing to do with baptism at all. At the very least it makes Matt 28:19 suspect and not the bedrock of baptismal doctrine that tradition has claimed it to be.

But a true bedrock verse on baptism is “John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit” There is no controversy about it and it was carried out in scripture.

Now I have books in my library, bible dictionaries, systematic theologies, books dedicated to Baptism where they avoid that prophecy, dance around it, relegate it to the apostles on Pentecost, or relegate Spirit baptism to a second baptism that some people receive. However, there is some acknowledgment that how spirit baptism works is not fully understood. For example,

“The New Testament reports concerning the fundamental operation of the spirit vary considerably. According to acts 2:1-13 God imparted the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Jesus, while according to John 20 it was the Risen One who gave the Spirit. These reports cannot be harmonized by saying that the effective impartation of the spirit in John 20:22 was merely the promise of a future outpouring of the Spirit, or that it meant nothing more than a special charisma for the office of the apostles. These reports do bear witness that the Holy Spirit was in special measure imparted after Jesus’s death and resurrection and without water baptism.”4

Schlink in the above citation admits that modern baptismal theology has holes and further admits to baptisms of the spirit without water baptism in the book of Acts. Do you see that? The book of Acts recounts baptisms of the Spirit without water baptism. There was no water at Pentecost. The baptism there was the pouring out of Spirit and it was evidenced by the speaking in tongues and with the phenomenal tongues like fire sitting on them. There is no water in that. When Peter began speaking to Cornelius household the spirit poured out on them and they began speaking in tongues. Initially, he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ but then we read he remembered that what Jesus said about how John baptized with water but we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. They were baptized in the Spirit without water and it took Peter a while to realize it. There was no water involved when they began speaking in tongues. They were baptized in the spirit without water. Even conservative theologians admit that there are baptisms like the event of Pentecost and others where there was no water, just spirit, and that is one of the things that Schlink says above.

The prophecy that spirit baptism would be poured out wasn’t given just to the apostles. And it didn’t need to be accompanied by water baptism. When you just read the prophecy, it was prophesied for everyone. The prophecy simply says that John’s water baptism was replaced by Jesus’ Spirit baptism. It doesn’t say that spirit baptism would be added to water baptism. It says water is replaced by spirit in baptism.

That’s not what tradition tells us, though. So, we have to decide whether we are going to believe religious tradition or the prophecy. Remember what Jesus told the pharisees about their traditions.

The Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands?” He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ “For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He said to them, “Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban, that is to say, given to God”;’ then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother, making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this.” (Mar 7:5-13 WEB)

Jesus said that these men were teaching the commandments of men as the commandments of God, and in the process, they made the word of God of no effect! The traditions of the Jews that Jesus is talking about were very old and very respected. Likewise, for us, if we decide to follow tradition, no matter how old or respected, rather than the word of God, we make the word of God void (of no effect).

As believers, we are charged to follow the traditions of the apostles.

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

Following the spirit baptism mandate is part of the apostles’ tradition that we are to follow.

Jesus also prophesied the Spirit Baptism mandate.

Being assembled together with them, he commanded them, “Don’t depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which you heard from me. For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Act 1:4-5 WEB)

This prophecy further defines that this will happen for the apostles “not many days from now”. Now, this verse does identify the outpouring on the day of Pentecost as being baptized in the Holy Spirit. But, as we shall see, the outpouring on the house of Cornelius shows that the outpouring was not unique to Pentecost or the apostles. On that day Peter just began speaking to these Gentiles and out flowed the Holy Spirit.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. They of the circumcision who believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other languages and magnifying God. (Act 10:44-46 WEB)

Here we have a number of things. One, that people other than the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Second, the way they knew they received the holy spirit is because they heard them speak in tongues. The third point follows in the next verses, but this is another wrench in the works, Peter then commanded them to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ.

Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just like us.” He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay some days. (Act 10:46-48 WEB)

The above verse has also helped form the basis for water baptism as the standard for the church age. And, if it stood alone, it would be a legitimate point. If there wasn’t anything more on the incident, it might be enough to be conclusive. But there is more. In Acts 11 Peter recounted the record at Jerusalem because the circumcision faction was upset that Peter ate with these men. Peter recounted how he began speaking and the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles. This time in his recollection he doesn’t bring up commanding them to be baptized in water. Rather he says this:

I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ (Act 11:16 WEB) (words of Peter)

Now we have the third person referring to the Spirit Baptism mandate, Peter. And he is recalling it when he is recalling what happened with the Gentiles. And Peter recounts that these Gentiles were baptized in the Spirit. Even if they were baptized in water later, which I think the way it is presented nullifies that, they were baptized in the spirit and there was no water there, they just began speaking in tongues!

While we are here let’s take a good look at what Peter said in Acts 10:47. He asked if anyone can forbid water (the word baptize is not in that phrase in Greek). If water was assumed in baptism why would he ask that question? The answer is that water was discussed to clarify which agent was to be used in washing (baptism).

How do you clean without water you may ask? My dad had pans that we were warned were never to be washed with water.  He “washed” them with salt. One was a cast iron skillet and another was a steel egg pan. He poured a good amount of salt on them, spread it around, let them sit for a while and wiped the salt off.   In different times and parts of the world sand is and has been used to clean without water.  “From at least the sixteenth century, one of the cleaning agents found in nearly every household in England was sand”[2] In a lot of houses sand would be spread on the floor weekly and swept clean on Sunday. Ed Stafford takes a sand bath in the desert in a youtube video.[3] Hamsters in the wild bathe in sand.[4] Water has never been the only thing that you can clean with.

The question “Who would forbid water” also indicates some confusion and debate about water baptism versus spirit baptism at Peter’s level in original Christianity. In Acts 8 Peter was part of the team that was sent in after Phillip baptized some people and they hadn’t manifested Holy Spirit. Later in Acts 8 we are told Phillip is baptizing in water (another wrench in the works) which establishes how Phillip was baptizing. So, as a result of Phillip baptizing in water, the apostles had to be sent in. That’s an indication that there is a problem with water baptism after Pentecost.

We know the Samaritans manifested in Acts 8 after Peter and John laid hands on them because Simon saw that the holy spirit was given. The only way someone sees holy spirit is through a manifestation of the spirit. Acts 8 was a scenario where water baptism was part of the issue that the apostles Peter and John had to address to fulfill the Spirit baptism mandate. Acts 8 is full of issues that center around baptism, baptizing in water, receiving the holy spirit and so on.

The answer to who can forbid water is in Acts 11:16 where Peter answers his own question. He said he remembered that Jesus said that John washed (baptized) in water but we would be washed (baptized) in spirit. The reality of truly being washed spiritually (which he knew by seeing their receiving the holy spirit) supersedes the water washing that John practiced. John’s calling people to repent and undergo this washing rite was the forerunner to the true spiritual washing that Jesus made available. Peter understood now. He had just commanded them to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ. He remembered Jesus saying that John baptized in water, but we would be baptized in spirit. Peter understood that Cornelius’ household had been baptized in spirit.

Now, so far, we have seen that spirit baptism was to the apostles, and to Gentile house of Cornelius, and we are not done. We have just talked about Acts 8 where Peter and John were sent to minister to the Samaritans and there we saw that it was problematic that they were baptized, probably in water because that is what Phillip knew, and they had to rectify the situation. People were baptized by Phillip, there was no evidence of holy spirit, and it had to be corrected!

The Spirit baptism mandate prophecy wasn’t mentioned here, but it was carried out.

Next, let’s look at Acts 18 and 19.

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus. He was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the way of God more accurately. When he had determined to pass over into Achaia, the brothers encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he had come, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he powerfully refuted the Jews, publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Act 18:24-28 WEB)

Here a man, not an apostle that we know of, ministered in Ephesus, proficiently professing the scriptures. He spoke boldly about the Way (a term for people following Christ) and people believed. Then Apollos baptized them, but it was only John’s baptism. And how does the Spirit baptism mandate go; John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Apollos baptized them in water. Priscilla and Aquila were better instructed believers and when they saw what was going on, they instructed him more accurately, in other words, about Jesus’ baptism in spirit.

We read what happened next to those believers in Ephesus at the beginning of the next chapter.

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said to him, “No, we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” He said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied. (Act 19:1-6 WEB)

Nothing happened to correct the situation with the believers in Ephesus who were water baptized until Paul came and saw what was going on. Now, Apollos had baptized these people with John’s baptism. Paul explained that John’s water baptism was one of repentance, and that they should believe in the one who would come after John, which is Jesus.

So, the text reads that Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus Christ. And it says when Paul had laid his hands on them the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Now I have read more than one source that says that the above paragraph is two separate actions, they were water baptized first, and then they were spirit baptized second.

There is nothing in that record that requires that interpretation. It is common to have multiple descriptive sentences about one activity. For example, Jimmy went up to the plate to bat. When he took his swing, he connected and hit a home run. We understand that is not two batting activities. It is just one at bat.

I am saying that what Paul did was the one baptism that we read about in Ephesians chapter 4 where it says:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all. (Eph 4:4-6 WEB)

There is only one baptism according to this verse. In Acts 19, part of Paul’s process of baptizing them, in this case, was to lay hands on them.  If you have a water baptism first, and then sometime later you have a spirit baptism you have two baptisms which contradicts this verse.  This is why the epistles are better than the book of Acts to determine doctrine.

The one baptism is when you are washed spiritually accepting the blood of Jesus in sacrifice for your sins, and making Jesus your Lord. That’s the baptism. Now as part of that baptism, like we saw with the apostles at Pentecost, like we saw with Cornelius, people who received that baptism manifested spirit like it says above, speaking in tongues, prophesying. If they didn’t see the spirit, then the apostles laid hands on the baptized which remedied the situation, and the newly baptized manifested spirit. By looking at these records we see that the norm was for the spirit to be made known to the world, called manifestations. For example, Simon in Acts chapter eight saw the spirit being manifested. Well, what did he see? Do you think that he saw ethereal spirits dancing around? The word of God says that the way the holy spirit is made known in our world is through nine manifestations. The word manifest itself means to make known. Light in a lightbulb is a manifestation of electricity. You can’t see the electricity but you know it’s there because it’s causing the lightbulb to produce light. Electricity is made known, exhibited, expressed, in the form of light in a lightbulb.  Manifesting spirit is what the apostles looked for when people were baptized.

Simon himself also believed. Being baptized, he continued with Philip. Seeing signs and great miracles occurring, he was amazed. (Act 8:13 WEB)

Simon saw Phillip doing miracles and signs. After Peter and John ministered to the others Simon saw manifestations again.

The way you know that there is holy spirit is by seeing speaking in tongues, interpretation, prophecy, miracles, things whereby you know that something supernatural is happening. You can’t actually see the Holy Spirit, but you can see someone speaking in tongues, prophesying, performing a miracle, and so forth. That’s what Simon saw. That’s what the apostles were looking for when someone received the Lord. That’s how they knew they drank in the spirit.

Now there are verses that talk about water in the New Testament but they are there to show how water was the forerunner to spirit baptism.

who before were disobedient, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, while the ship was being built. In it, few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you—not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1Pe 3:20-21 WEB)

These verses say that Noah being saved by water is a symbol of baptism, not that Christian baptism is water baptism. Water baptism has always been a symbol of the true baptism that Jesus brings, true cleansing and restoration spiritually.

Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (1Co 10:1-2 WEB)

These verses are obviously symbolic because while it says they were baptized in the sea they were also baptized (immersed) in the cloud. This only points to the symbolic nature of these baptisms.

that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without defect. (Eph 5:26-27 WEB)

The word washing above is not baptism. This verse is about how Christ cleanses the body of Christ with the word of God which is a spiritual cleansing and the example is how garments (in water) are washed until they have neither spots nor wrinkles. That’s an earthly example of how the body of Christ will be presented by Christ, and again shows how spiritual washing is explained using the analogy of washing in water.

All of the New Testament verses with water are symbolic and none are teaching that the baptism of the church age is water baptism. But it can just as easily be said that while these verses do not teach the baptism of the church age is water, they do illustrate that the water baptism done previously represented what was happening going to happen spiritually in the future.

John the Baptist, Jesus himself, and Peter all referenced the prophecy that John’s baptism with water would be replaced by Jesus’ baptism with the holy spirit.   I mean, people, is that what those verses say or not?  Yes, it is!

With changes soon after the passing of the apostles, the practice of baptism of the spirit appears to be mostly lost although it appeared to spring up periodically throughout the ages.  Water baptism tradition centered around the trinitarian formula is seen relatively soon after the passing of the apostles or at least that is what the documents that were allowed to survive show.  Those developments will be discussed in future discussions of post-apostolic traditions.

But, for now, as this is a website dedicated to the discovery of original Christianity and its traditions, it has been demonstrated that the standard of John baptizing with water being replaced by Jesus baptizing with spirit was a primary focus of original Christianity.  And, despite the strong water baptism tradition, as we are still charged to follow the apostles’ traditions, we are still charged to follow the spirit in promoting the baptism of the spirit to all.

In the future, we shall look at the prophecies that after the apostles passed there would be people from both without and within the church that teach traditions contrary to the Apostles doctrines and how is how some of the great truths of the apostles were lost.

1Origins of Baptism by Robert R. Cargill, https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/tools/video-gallery/o/origins-of-baptism

2The Doctrine of Baptism, Edmund Schlink, translated by Herbert J. A. Bouman, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis 1972, p. 9

3The New American Bible, Catholic Book Publishing, 1970, New York, footnote to Matthew 28:19

4The Doctrine of Baptism, P. 25

5Ibid, p.26

[1] https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-analogy#what-is-an-example-of-an-analogy

[2] Sand:   A Regency Cleaning Agent? https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/sand-a-regency-cleaning-agent/


[4] https://hamsterguru.com/hamster-sand-bath/

last edited 7/15/21

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