Baptized, Filled, Received
When describing the receipt of the Spirit, Acts applies several Greek verbs, including “baptize,” “receive,” “filled,” “given,” and “came upon.” But do they refer to different experiences of aspects of the gift, or does each refer to the same event? In other words, do “baptized with” and “received” refer to the same experience common to all believers?
In the book’s opening paragraph, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be “BAPTIZED in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.” They will “receive power” when the “Holy Spirit COMES UPON” them.
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In this literary context, Christ’s prediction is fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the 120 disciples are “all FILLED with the Holy Spirit” and speak in tongues - (Acts 1:5-8, 2:4).
Peter explains that this experience is in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that “in the last days, I will POUR OUT my Spirit on all flesh. At the end of his sermon, he exhorts the crowd of Jewish pilgrims to repent and “RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Thus, in the first two chapters of Acts, five different verbs are applied to the same experience of receiving the Holy Spirit - (Acts 2:17, 2:38).
In Samaria, Peter and John arrive from Jerusalem to pray for the new converts to “RECEIVE the Holy Spirit.” This is necessary since the gift has not yet “FALLEN UPON any of them.” Observing this, Simon the magician concludes that through the “laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit is GIVEN.” – (Acts 8:15-19).
After his Damascus Road encounter with the Risen Christ, Ananias was sent to pray for Paul. Upon his arrival, he laid hands on him and prayed for Paul to “BE FILLED with the Holy Spirit” - (Acts 9:17).
In Caesarea, at the house of Cornelius, the Spirit “FELL ON” the Gentiles. The Jewish men present with Peter were astonished since on the “Gentiles also was POURED OUT the gift of the Spirit.” Peter described it as the very same gift that the original 120 disciples received on the Day of Pentecost - the Gentiles had “RECEIVED” the same gift and in the same manner as Jewish believers, thus, confirming their acceptance by God – (Acts 10:44-48).
When Peter recounted these events to the church in Jerusalem, he reiterated that the “Holy Spirit FELL ON them even as on us at the beginning.” This was in fulfillment of the Lord’s declaration prior to his ascension that “John baptized with water, but you will be BAPTIZED in the Holy Spirit.” God had “GIVEN” the Gentiles the “like gift” – (Acts 11:15-17).
And in Ephesus, Paul laid hands on twelve disciples of John the Baptist and the Spirit “CAME ON them,” In this case, they “spoke in tongues and prophesied” - (Acts 19:3-7).
Regardless of which Greek verb is used, in each case, it refers to the same experience of receiving the Holy Spirit as prophesied by John the Baptism and granted to the church by Jesus after his ascension and enthronement – (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5).