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God’s Word for You

Acts 1:4-5 baptized with the Holy Spirit

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 8, 2019

4 While he was eating with them he commanded them, “Do not let yourselves be drawn away from Jerusalem, but wait for what the Father promised, which you heard from me.

It seems likely that Jesus met with his disciples many times during the forty days before his resurrection. The “partial” list of twelve appearances does not take into account these verses at all, which might not be connected to verses 6-9. Verse 6 is phrased in such a way that it could be a continuation of 4-5, or a separate incident.

“Do not let yourselves be drawn away” (from Jerusalem) is a way of understanding the present middle-passive infinitive χωρίζεσθαι. The phrase might be awkwardly long, but it expresses the idea of the disciples having a say in some summons that might keep them from participating in Pentecost. Stay here, Jesus is saying, and receive what will be given to you. This is a rare occasion when the giving of a miracle seems dependent on a location, but it would be better to say that remaining there is simply a way of showing a willingness to conform to the will of the Savior.

5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in just a few days.”

This is a verse that needs to be explained carefully, since it is misunderstood and misapplied by a great many Christians. Let’s touch on four points:

1, Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not a “better” baptism than water baptism. The Holy Spirit is active in every baptism which is authorized and commanded by God. Ordinary or water baptism is linked to the Holy Spirit’s working by Jesus, who told Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). And Paul said, “[God] saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). It is a gross mistake to belittle baptism with water as if it is inferior to Spirit-baptism or invalid. Baptism saves (1 Peter 3:21), and if someone wants to argue with Jesus (and Paul, Luke, and Peter) on this point, let him remember Proverbs 30:6, “He will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

2, The clear meaning of “baptized with the Holy Spirit” is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, not the sign that accompanied it. This outpouring enabled the gospel to be proclaimed, the gospel of the forgiveness of sins through the cross of Jesus: “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified,” Peter said, “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

3, The outpouring of the Holy Spirit does not involve an ecstatic state. This would be reading something into the text that is not there. Also, it is wrong to assume that anyone who receives the Holy Spirit will (certainly) speak in tongues or be able to perform miraculous healing. More, it would be adding to the text. Let me quote Werner Franzmann: “Some of the charismatics even confuse the disciples’ ability to speak in foreign languages with another kind of speaking in tongues mentioned in the New Testament. This was the expression of one’s religious feelings and convictions in a kind of speech that was not recognizable as any existing language. If those who heard someone speak in this kind of tongue wanted to benefit from what was said, they had to have an interpreter to tell them what the speaker had said (1 Corinthians 14:2-5)” (Bible History Commentary: New Testament Volume 2, p. 1072).

4, What is offered in baptism is the forgiveness of sin, new life (that is, the ability to obey God and please him in this lifetime) and salvation, which is the resurrection from the dead and eternal life in heaven. What is offered in the baptism or outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the ability to communicate the gospel more effectively, but it does not create a new, better class of Christians or Christian ministers, as if the church could be divided into “haves” and “have nots.” Paul’s words ring out: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). No. We have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), and one resurrection to everlasting life. Do not let anyone deceive you into thinking that there is some unspoken, subtle or underlying message in the Bible that you just don’t know about. You know Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and that is the message we preach. That is the message of forgiveness, faith, and eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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