July 1, 2007
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
By A. Disciple
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the event described by Luke in Acts 2:1- 4.
I have stuck my neck out with this statement but please bear with me before the beheading. What follows is the statements justification and the identification of the true event. Here is a significant clue for you to ponder as you proceed: It's Paul again!
I do not discuss the baptism in fire except to say that the mention of fire is another statement of the separation at the Judgment as illustrated by the Lord in the Parable of the Weeds.
The relevant portions of the canonical gospels get at the truth. They also contain contradictions that beg an explanation. We will deal with one of these in particular. They begin with prophecies of the Baptism in the Spirit (and fire) by John the Baptist, and continue with the Resurrection of the Lord on the first day of the week (our Sunday). We will follow the New Testament Order, beginning with Matthew. We will not quote the entire passages -- only the relevant verses. I leave you to examine the relevance of the quotations. They are from the Faithful New Testament.
Survey of the Relevant Texts, Individually
I. John the Baptist and the Post Resurrection Events in Matthew
We begin here with the Testimony of John the Baptist concerning baptism in the Spirit and fire.
Mt.3:11 I on the one hand baptize you in water to repentance. But on the other hand the [one] coming after me is greater than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to touch. He himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, 12 whose threshing fork [is] in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean his threshing-floor, and he will gather his grain into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn in unquenchable fire.
We continue with the post-resurrection events. It was towards dawn of the first day of the week when Mary Magdalene (of Magdala, a town on the West coast of the Sea of Galilee) and "the other Mary" went to the tomb. Matthew tells us there had been an earthquake and an angel of the Lord rolled back the stone covering the door and sat upon it. The angel told them that he knew they were seeking Jesus and showed them the place in the tomb where he had lain. He then instructed them:
Mt.28:7 And quickly having gone, tell his disciples that he arose from the dead, and behold he goes before you to Galilee, there you will see him.
The excited women ran quickly to tell the disciples and immediately encountered the risen Lord, who repeated the message of the angel:
Mt.28:10 Be not fearing. Be going, tell my brothers, in order that they go forth to Galilee. There will they see me.
We are left to infer that the women told the disciples what the angel and the Lord had told them. We find, on continuing with Matthew, that the disciples (my brothers) did exactly as they were told by the women, relaying the dual instruction from Jesus and the angel:
Mt.28:16 But the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain Jesus designated [to] them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped before [him], but some doubted. 18 And having come Jesus spoke to them saying: All authority in heaven and on [the] earth has been given me. 19 Having gone therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And behold I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.
This simple sequence of events is characterized by the instructions to the disciples to go, go and go. Both the angel and Jesus, through the women, told them to go to Galilee. They went, there they saw the Lord Jesus as he promised them (Matthew 26:32) and there were told once again to go -- and make disciples of all nations. In Matthew, this was the only appearance to his disciples following his resurrection.
II. John the Baptist and the Post Resurrection Events in Mark
Mark provides a parallel statement by John on baptism:
Mark tells us that the Sabbath was past, that it was early on the first day of the week but the sun had risen. Marks "John the Baptist" makes no mention of the baptism with fire. He has three women going to the tomb and bringing spices so that they might anoint the body. He identifies the women as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. They also find the stone rolled back and Mark has them enter the tomb, where they discover a "young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe." Mark does not inform us, but we can infer from the description that this is an angel, as in Matthew. Then the young man tells them:
Mk.1:7: And he was preaching saying: [The one] mightier [than] me comes after me, of whom I am not sufficient having stooped down to loose the thong of his sandals. 8. I baptized you with water, but he himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
Mk.16:6 Do not be being alarmed, you seek Jesus the Nazarene the [one] having been crucified. He is risen, he is not here; behold the place where they laid him. 7 But be departing, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he goes before them into Galilee. There you will see him just as he said to you. 8 And having come out they fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment held them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
This gospel ends here with verse 8 in two of the oldest witnesses, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, that go back to the Fourth Century. It is a strange way to end a gospel, and some have theorized that a page is missing from the earliest codex because the women tell no one about the resurrection nor where to go (Galilee) to see the risen Lord. Some scribes have yielded to temptation and created their own ending to correct this seeming deficiency. The result, in one case, is what is generally called "The Longer Ending of Mark (vss. 9-20)," in another case, "The Shorter Ending of Mark," and there are yet other creative endings. This is not the place to discuss textual criticism, but there are many good reasons why none of the endings of which we have knowledge can be authentic. Nevertheless, almost all translations, including the Faithful New Testament, have The Longer Ending of Mark and most provide a note of explanation.
We are examining the instructions of the risen Lord given to his disciples as recorded in the gospels. Authentic Mark does not actually give them such instructions, but through the women we learn that, as in Matthew, the instruction to them is "Go." Again, as in Matthew, the instruction is to go to Galilee where they will see him "just as he said to you."
This phrase, "just as he said to you" is doubtless a reference to his statement to the disciples prior to his arrest and crucifixion that both Matthew (26:32) and Mark (14:27,28) record:
Mk.14:27 And Jesus says to them that: You will all be stumbled, because it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. 28 But after my resurrection I will go before you to Galilee.
Perhaps Mark simply considered it not necessary to continue to relate the post resurrection events, because he has already told them (and us) that the Lord had instructed the disciples to go to Galilee where they would see him. The sparse evidence from this evangelist therefore is to the effect that the disciples went to Galilee as he had instructed them, where he appeared to them but once. That is my conclusion and the evidence of Mark that I will use below. We do not have, in Mark, the details provided by Matthew, but it is essentially the same.
III. John the Baptist and the Post Resurrection Events in Luke
Luke includes the testimony of John the Baptist, much as the others:
Lk.3:16 John was answering saying to them: I on the one hand baptize you in water, but [one] stronger than me comes, of whom I am not worthy to loose the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, 17 of whom the winnowing fork in his hand will clean out his threshing floor, and he will gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn in fire inextinguishable.
Relevant to our topic is that Luke prophesies the baptism in the Holy Spirit in common with the other Synoptic gospels and the Fourth Gospel, as we will see below. But there is one contradictory statement in both Luke and Acts when compared with the others. Here is what I mean:
Lk.24:49 And behold I send out the good news of the father upon you. But you remain in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. 50 So he led them out to Bethany, and having lifted up his hands he blessed them. 51 And it came to pass when he was blessing them he withdrew from them. 52 And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and they were through everything in the temple blessing God.
Acts 1:4 and assembling with [them] he commanded them to not be departing from Jerusalem, but to await the father's promise which you heard from me; 5 because John on the one hand baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit after these not many days. 6 Indeed therefore, having gathered, they were asking him saying: Lord, do you restore in this time the kingdom to Israel? 7 He said to them, It is not yours to know [the] time or [the] season which the father has established by his own authority, 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. 9 And having said these [things], while they were watching he was taken up, and [a] cloud received him from their eyes.
Do you see the gross contradiction in Luke/Acts when compared with Matthew and Mark?
According to the former, they are to remain in Jerusalem until you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Matthew and Mark have them return to Galilee where they will see the Lord, but Luke/Acts is very specific: they are to remain in the city, and they do remain in the city of Jerusalem until Pentecost when, according to Luke, in Acts, they were baptized in the Holy Spirit as manifested by speaking in tongues. Luke has Simon (Peter) explaining what had taken place:
Acts 2:32 God resurrected this Jesus, of which we are all witnesses, 33 having been exalted therefore to the right [hand] of God, having received the promise of the Holy Spirit beside the father this [one] poured out what you also see and hear.
Luke furthermore has Simon (Peter) explain that this is according to the prophecy of Joel (3:1-5). But no one says this is according to the Word of Jesus! There is a good explanation: it is not according to the Word of Jesus, but contradicts the Word in every detail. I am not saying that the Pentecost event did not occur. If it did, Luke/Acts misrepresents it as the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which it is not.
If this is not the baptism in the Holy Spirit, what is?
We get a more complete account in the Fourth Gospel, written at least a generation after Luke (but prior to 150 AD) and after the Holy Spirit had brought the full revelation of the Word to the early disciples, as the Lord had promised. There we will get the answer to our question.
IV. John the Baptist and the Post Resurrection Events in the 4th Gospel
What is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
Again we have the testimony of the Baptist:
Jn.1:26 John answered them saying: I baptize in water. In your midst has stood what you do not know, 27 the [one] coming after me, of whom I am not worthy that I may loose the thong of his sandal. 28 These [things] came to pass in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 On the next day he sees Jesus coming toward him, and says: Behold the lamb of God, the [one] taking away the sin of the world. 30 This is the one concerning whom I said: [a] man comes after me that is become before me, because he was my foremost. 31 And I did not know him. But so that he be revealed to Israel, because of this I came baptizing in water. 32 And John witnessed, saying: I have seen the spirit coming down as [a] dove out of heaven, and [he] remained upon him. 33 And I did not know him, but the [one who] sent me to be baptizing in water, that [one] said to me: Upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining upon him, this is the [one] baptizing in [the] Holy Spirit.
The Fourth Gospel has a round-about way of doing it but finally preserves the testimony of the Baptist concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit in much the same words as found in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
When we compare the Post Resurrection appearances and Sayings, the Fourth Gospel departs significantly from Matthew, Mark and Luke but nevertheless contains common elements. Again, it is Mariam (Mary) the Magdalene (alone) who comes to the tomb early (while it was still dark) and discovers the stone has been rolled away from the door. She received no instructions but ran to Simon (Peter) and the "other disciple" and told them the the Lord had been taken away, "out of the tomb."
Then Simon and "the other disciple" run to the tomb, enter and confirm that the body of Jesus was missing. Then they return "to their homes." This must surely refer only to the home of "the other disciple" because we are informed elsewhere that Simon's home is in Capernaum, in Galilee.
Miriam (Magdalene?) has apparently returned to the tomb, and remains standing outside after the two disciples leave. She then looks in (as in Matthew and Mark?) She is weeping but sees "two angels" who ask her why she weeps. She responds but then turns about and sees Jesus standing. She does not recognize him, supposes him to be the gardener. After a brief exchange (he asks her why she weeps), he addresses her saying "Mary." She then recognizes him and he quickly instructs:
Jn.20:17 Be not touching me, for I am not yet gone up to the father. But be going to my brothers and tell them, I go up to my father and your father and my God and your God. 18 Mariam the Magdalene comes announcing to the disciples that: I have seen the Lord, and he said these [things] to her.
It is still early on the first day of the week and Mariam (Mary) has been told to go somewhere -- to tell my brothers that he is going somewhere -- that he is going to their Father (up to my father and your father). It is clear that the Apostles remain in Jerusalem, for on the evening of the same day (the first day of the Sabbaths) they, except for Thomas, are assembled behind a closed door (for fear of the Jews). Here is the record of his first appearance to the gathered disciples, though he has already appeared to Miriam and to the two, Simon and "the other disciple."
Jn.20:19 Jesus came and stood in their midst, and says to them: Peace to you. 20 And having said this he also showed his hands and side to them. The disciples therefore rejoiced having seen the Lord. 21 Jesus therefore said to them again: Peace to you. Just as the father sent me, I also send you. 22 And having said this, he breathed on [them] and says to them: Receive [the] Holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive, they have been forgiven to them; whose you retain, they have been retained.
These words of the Lord are significant for our subject (the Baptism of the Holy Spirit) and we will come back to them. First, let us continue the narrative. The others inform Thomas of the Lord's appearance, but he is adamant:
Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails and put my finger in the imprint of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Eight days pass and his disciples are "again inside" (the same house?). It is clear that they have remained near Jerusalem. This time Thomas is present when the Lord appears and removes his doubt. He "stood among them" and commanded Thomas:
Be bringing your finger here and behold my hands, and be bringing your hand and put it in my side, and do not become unbelieving, but believing.
Thomas immediately exclaims, "My Lord and my God!"
Something of significance has taken place in the interval between this and his earlier command to Miriam:
Be not touching me, for I am not yet gone up to the father. But be going to my brothers and tell them, I go up to my father and your father and my God and your God.
Do you see?
Miriam was not permitted to touch him because he had not gone up to the Father but now, eight days later, Thomas is commanded to do what requires touching him! Further, Miriam had been commanded to tell them:
I go up to my father and your father and my God and your God.
The Greek word here at I go up, is anabaino (ἀναβαίνω) and is the first person, present indicative active form of the verb, meaning that he is going up immediately. He does not say, "I will go up" or anything other than in the present tense. Therefore we must accept that, in this text if accurately reported by the evangelist, there is no delay in his going up to the Father after speaking to Miriam on the first day of the week, immediately following his resurrection. His subsequent encounter with Thomas, eight days later, can be explained by understanding that, during this period, he has both ascended to the Father and descended from the Father so that it became acceptable to touch him.
Having briefly surveyed the records from each of the four canonical gospels, we proceed in Part II to provide a more direct comparison of all four by presenting the relevant texts in parallel columns.
The Parallel Texts
A. The Prophecy of John the Baptist
Comparisons from the Four Gospels and Acts
(Note: Ignore verse divisions and sort sentences in each of the gospels according to the sequence in Matthew -- a, b, c, etc. and omit text unique to the one.)
B. Post Resurrection Events
We visit this phenomenon before presenting conclusions, because it is contributory to those conclusions. Here is a basic definition of glossolalia:
c : ecstatic usually unintelligible utterance usually accompanying religious excitation -- usually used in plural
The word is from glossai (tongues) and lalein (to speak).
Paul (I Cor. 12-15) and Luke (in the gospel and Acts above) are the only New Testament witnesses to this practice (speaking in tongues). It is significant that our Lord, whose Word is Truth, makes no mention of it. Paul spoke in tongues by his own testimony and he is the only New Testament writer that acknowledges having done so. Luke (Acts 10:44f) has Peter place himself among those that have received the Gift of the Holy Spirit, the evidence being that they heard them speaking in tongues (Acts 10:46). There is no evidence from the hand of Peter to this effect.
We should note that I Corinthians was written, by Paul, probably in the year 55 or 56. Luke wrote Acts probably in the period 75-80. The dates are speculative, but satisfy the requirements of the works. It is reasonable therefore to state that Paul is the first Christian to mention speaking in tongues, and the first individual on record to speak in tongues. Luke, his disciple, then speaks of it in Acts and interprets it as Paul had done -- as the gift (or baptism) of the Holy Spirit.
One of the most revealing facts about it is that speaking in tongues is not unique to Christians -- not now and not in the First Century. It was well known in the Greek Mystery religions both before and after the birth of the church and continues to be practiced to this day in some non Christian religions. It is in Paul and Luke that we see it attributed to the Holy Spirit. Go here for more information.
When our Lord first appeared to his disciples (except Thomas) they were in a room with the door shut. He then initiated the Baptism (John 20:22). So you may ask:
Does that mean Thomas did not ever receive it? Do you think it was a gift only for the ten?
This event was initiated at that time. It is an experience that, after the initial baptism, everyone who will receives it. Let us recall the Lord's teaching about the Holy Spirit.
Jn.16:7 But I tell you the truth, it profits you that I depart. For if I do not depart, the advocate does not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
12 I have yet many [things] to be telling you, but you are not now able to be bearing [them]. But when that [one] comes, the spirit of truth, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself, but as much as he hears will he speak, and the coming [things] will he disclose to you.
Jn.14:25 These [things] have I spoken while dwelling with you. But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, which the father will send in my name, that [one] will teach you everything and will remind you of everything which I spoke to you.
Now let us examine the equivalence of the Word with the Holy Spirit:
Jn.6:63 The spirit is the [one] making zoe-alive, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are zoe-life.
All men were so far from the Father and so very ignorant of the divine things that a certain sequence was essential to producing this Baptism. First, it was necessary that Truth enter into the race as a man, for men knew men and they would listen to another man if he performed signs and wonders. Therefore the Father sent Jesus to introduce men to the Word that is Spirit and Truth. He came, chose certain individuals to be the bearers of the first Light. It was an uncertain plan even so because his chosen ones, his Apostles, did not readily receive the Truth. The best that could be done with them was to prepare them for the Truth.
Having prepared the hearts of the few men that held to him, it next was essential that he experience a death and resurrection such that his Apostles would be suitably impressed and begin to think, perhaps, that the Truth had to do with more than affairs of this world, this life in the flesh.
Only after this was there any prospect that the men he was preparing would be able to receive the full Light of Divine Truth. Therefore, the Holy Spirit of Truth could not come, nor would He have been accepted, without these preparatory steps. Then the Lord ascended to the Father and descended (briefly) sending the Holy Spirit to confer on those he had prepared.
So prepared, the Apostles were enabled to receive the Holy spirit, and this event of eternal implications and significance was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, conferred on his Apostles as recorded in John 20:22.
Then, at last, began the final preparation of men to receive the fullness of eternal life through the Word, which is the Spirit of Truth. A few men were at last ready and qualified to be so enlightened, through whom others have also been enlightened, and all that enter into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Word of Life, become one -- an eternal unity -- in Him. So, finally we hear and understand the prayer of the Lord when he petitioned the Father, saying:
Jn.17:20 But not concerning these only do I ask, but also concerning those believing in me through their word, in order that they all be one, just as you, father, [are] in me and I in you, in order that they also be in us, in order that the world believe that you sent me.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit first conferred the Word of Truth on his Apostles, which was the initial event. Then, through their word, we and others also receive the Word of Truth, which is Spirit, and so receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as did the first disciples. The initial event required a special setting and a few persons specially prepared. Those persons have preserved the Word and all of the related events that, taken together, continue to convince -- not many -- but a few persons so that they become one with the Father, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit through this Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Eternal salvation has not failed!
We have surveyed the texts in the gospels and Acts that are relevant to the baptism in the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) and have presented you with the texts in parallel for your review so that you may easily draw your own conclusions. Here are mine.
1. Paul, the product of a Greek Culture and the mystery religions, had experienced glossolalia and observed it in others prior to becoming a Christian.
2. He continued to experience glossolalia thereafter (I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all. I Cor. 14:18)
3. He began to interpret it as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Cor.12:4f).
4. The similarity of his experiences with that of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost led to his interpreting that as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit prophesied by John the Baptist.
5. For this to occur, as Paul saw it, it was essential that the Apostles and others remain in Jerusalem until Pentecost, because that was the time when multitudes of Jews from every nation congregated there so that the prophecy of Joel 3:1-5 could be applied convincingly.
6. He taught his disciple, Luke, who than preserved it as such in his gospel and in Acts.
7. The event of Jn. 20:22 was and is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit prophesied by the Baptist.
8. The Baptism of Jn. 20:22 could have taken place anywhere -- Jerusalem or Galilee, therefore the Fourth Gospel makes no issue of location immediately after the Resurrection.
9. The Fourth Gospel properly ends with Chapter 20, but has the addition of Chapter 21, where we see the Lord meeting with the disciples in Galilee (Sea of Tiberius), as in the other gospels.
10 Jn. 20:22 is correctly identified as a baptism because the disciples were being immersed in the water of the Word and the Word in them as they imbibed the Lord's teaching.
Jn.4:10 If you had known the gift of God and who is the [one] saying to you: Give me [some] to drink, you would have asked him and he would have given to you zoe-living water.
Jn.14:10 Do you not believe that I [am] in the father and the father is in me? The words that I say to you [all]. I did not speak from myself, but the father dwelling in me does his works.
16 And I will ask the father and he will give you another advocate, in order that he be with you to eternity — 17 the spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it does not behold him nor know [him]. You know him, because he dwells with you and will be in you.
20. In that day you will know that I [am] in my father and you in me and I in you.
23. If anyone agape-loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will agape-love him, and we will come to him, and we will make our dwelling-place with him.
Jn.6:63 The spirit is the [one] making zoe-alive, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are zoe-life.
Who is responsible for misinterpreting the Pentecost event as the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Yes, it's Paul again!
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