FALSE DOCTRINE: Holy Spirit Not Received At Baptism
Hey _____, I am not sure I ever answered your question specifically, sorry about that. You said:
“Chad, explain this. ’12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.’ They believed and were baptized into Christ but did not receive the Spirit until hands were laid on them. Same thing in Saul/Paul’s conversion.”
- First, as you would agree, when the book of Acts was written by God through Luke, it did not contain the chapter and verse numbers that we have in our Bibles today. Keep that in mind as we discuss this matter. The book of Acts starts out as follows:
Acts 1 (New American Standard Bible)
1The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
- Luke continues a little further in the text of Acts 1…
Acts 1 (New American Standard Bible)
9And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
- God then chooses Matthias to replace Judas as an apostle.
- Then we get to what we have labeled as ‘chapter 2’ in our Bible:
Acts 2 (New American Standard Bible)
1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
- I think you will agree that what is happening here is what Jesus said would happen in verses 4-5 in the last ‘chapter’: ‘wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” The day of Pentecost was clearly when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
5Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language…12And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”…14But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them…
- Peter says many things, but for the sake of this discussion, we will pick up in verse 36…
36″Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39″For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
- Notice that there were 3000 souls added to their number and there is no mention of anyone laying anyone’s hands on these 3000 souls. In fact, neither in the above text or anywhere else in the entire Bible does God command anyone to have hands laid upon them to be saved or to receive the Spirit or for that matter, for any other reason whatsoever. Yet, we do see the clear commands and promises of God that text:38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39″For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
- And although we don’t see any mention of these 3000 people having hands laid upon them, we do see that these 3000 souls were baptized.
- Luke says a little later in chapter 5…
Acts 5:32 (New American Standard Bible)
32″And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.
- Again where are we commanded to have someone lay hands on us? So how can we obey something we are not commanded to do? Yet, in Acts 5, verse 32, Luke says clearly, ‘and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him’.
- In Acts 6, Luke continues…
Acts 6 (New American Standard Bible)
1Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3″Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4″But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
- Truthfully, chapter 6 really should put an end to this entire discussion. Well, really, Acts 2 should have put an end to this discussion but chapter 6 really should nail the coffin of this issue shut. The apostles say to the people, ‘Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom…’ So one of the qualifications for those to be chosen were that they needed to be what? Full of the Spirit. So in response, they chose Stephen, ‘a man full of faith ***and of the Holy Spirit***, and the others. Now do you disagree that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit before the apostles laid their hands on him? Now, you may say, ‘We can only assume that they had already had hands laid upon them’. If you are intellectually honest, you should know that that just doesn’t make any sense. You would be saying that one ‘laying on of the hands’ is not enough! And even if you do say that, you still have to admit that there is a ‘laying on of the hands’ that gives the Holy Spirit in a different way than the ‘indwelling way’. Doesn’t it make some much more sense that when one gets baptized, one receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit per “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39″For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” and then the laying on the hands gave people extra miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit for the benefit of others?
- Then we get to Acts 8, the chapter you refer to in your question:
Acts 8:4-40 (New American Standard Bible)
4Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.
- So it appears that this is the first time that someone ever proclaimed Christ to the people in the city of Samaria. I think it is important to remember that the Samaritans were considered to be dogs by the Jewish people at this time.
6The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.
- Notice that Philip had the ability to perform outward miraculous signs which makes perfect sense in light of the fact that the apostles had previously laid their hands on him.
7For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8So there was much rejoicing in that city. 9Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.
- Here we notice that belief and being baptized were related. ‘Simon himself believed, and after being baptized’. In other words, when someone believed they would get baptized.
14Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21″You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22″Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23″For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” 24But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
- Your implied question, Ben, is, whether or not these newly baptized souls in the city of Samaria had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit before the Holy Spirit had fallen upon them after the laying on of the apostles hands.
- Here is a question to consider while contemplating this: Why do you think Luke felt the need to explain, ‘they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus’ after he said ‘For He had not yet fallen upon any of them’?
- In order to understand what is going on in the book of Acts, I think you would agree that you have to look at the entirety of the book. Also, this same ideas applies to the Bible in general. We can’t pick and choose one Scripture over another. Any interpretation we try to apply has to reasonably explain verses that clearly seem to go against whatever interpretation we are examining. In the case of your interpreting the book of Acts to mean that one does not receive the Spirit at baptism but only when someone gets hands laid upon them, has to unreasonably explain away other very important passages (and the clear commands and promises of God) in the same letter. The interpretation that one receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at baptism and people would receive the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit after the laying on of hands is in agreement with all the passages in the book of Acts. Not only this, but this interpretation also fits with the rest of the Bible.
- Quick note: I have had many debates with many people about many things and one thing that seems to be the case more often than not is that people in a debate usually don’t change their minds about the matter being debated no matter how strong a case the other side makes. So even though, to me, you should agree with me on this, I don’t think you will. I think this debate has a lot more to do with emotions than the facts and having a debate about emotions is obviously futile. So anyway, I don’t expect you to change your mind, I just wanted to answer your question for the sake of others who may be reading this. Thanks for the question.