Is There a Difference Between Receiving the Spirit and Being Baptized in the Spirit?

Jason Dulle


Right now I am studying the New Testament, and I am confused about whether the the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the the Filling of the Holy Spirit are the same or two differnt things. The reason I ask is that I've always understood them to be the same, but in some Study Bibles (The Nelson King James Study Bible for example) it distinguishes them as two different things. Is there any evidence to show whether this is true or not.



I would say that your present understanding is correct, and that Nelson’s Study Bible has incorporated into its notes, a non-Biblical teaching. Generally speaking, it is the Charismatic movement that has introduced the idea of a distinction between receiving the Spirit (meaning without tongues) and being baptized in the Spirit (meaning with tongues). Such a distinction is not derived from the Biblical data. The Biblical descriptions identify receiving the Spirit to be the same as being baptized in the Spirit. Notice the following exchange of Biblical terminology:

In Acts 1:8-"Holy Ghost is come upon you," Acts 2:4-"filled with the Holy Ghost," Acts 2:17-"pour out … Spirit," Acts 2:33-"received the promise of the Holy Ghost," Acts 2:38-"gift of the Holy Ghost." All of these terms refer to the save event, and are referring to the experience as evidenced by tongues. It is never said that they were baptized with the Spirit, which those who hold to a distinction of infillings claim tongues are. It says that they received the promised Spirit.

In Acts 8:15-"receive the Holy Ghost," verse 16-"fallen upon … them," verse 20-"gift of God." All of these refer to the same event. Notice the exchange of terminology.

In Acts 10:44, referring to the conversion of Cornelius' household--"Holy Ghost fell on," verse 45-"poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost," verse 47-"received the Holy Ghost." These all refer to the same event. When Peter explained to the apostles what happened, he said that Cornelius was "baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:16). Cornelius spoke in tongues. This is referred to both as receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized with the Holy Spirit. How can that be if receiving the Spirit is without tongues and occurs at faith/conversion?

The Biblical authors did not distinguish between two types of receiving the Spirit. If indeed there is a true distinction, we could not derive such a belief from the Biblical data. Based on the data just presented, we must conclude that the Bible makes no distinction between receiving the Spirit (without tongues) and being baptized in the Spirit (with tongues), and thus that there is no real distinction. There are not two different infillings. The only other option is to believe that we know there is a true distinction, but the Bible is silent on the issue. Extra-biblical teachings are quite dangerous, however.

The two infillings doctrine is an attempt to hold on to tongues as a genuine work of God, but still be able to say that everyone who has not spoken in tongues has indeed received the Spirit. The Biblical data demonstrates that tongues accompanied the initial infilling of the Spirit when people believed. Whenever evidence is given as to what occurred when someone received the Spirit, tongues is always the evidence. We cannot have the best of both worlds.

Email IBS | Statement of Faith | Home | Browse by Author | Q & A
Links | Virtual Classroom | Copyright | Submitting Articles | Search