What is the "baptism of the Holy Spirit"?

The Bible talks about water baptism (being immersed in water to symbolize the death of our old self and being raised to new life). But what does it mean when it talks about baptism of the Holy Spirit? Does this refer to speaking in tongues?


Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention that Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit (Matthew:3:11; Mark:1:8; Luke:3:16). This is a symbolic way to represent Christ's giving the Holy Spirit to Christians.

Pentecostal religions teach that the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" enables recipients to "speak in tongues," because of the unique events on the Day of Pentecost of Acts 2. But what many churches call "speaking in tongues" today is nothing like what the Bible records in the books of Acts and Corinthians. The miracle that occurred on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 31 (Acts:2:4-8) was one of communication—apparently, in this case, not so much in the speaking, as in the hearing. The Greek word translated "tongues" is glossa and means "languages." The miracle of "speaking in tongues" simply meant that every member of the audience could hear in his or her native tongue (language), regardless of what language the apostles spoke.

Also, some in the early Church, particularly in Corinth, had the supernatural ability to speak in different languages. In that case, speakers were able to use a language that their audience could understand. It would be like speaking Spanish to a Spanish-speaking audience or French to a French-speaking audience. Some members in Corinth were proud of their ability to "speak in tongues," having lost sight of the fact that they should always use their spiritual gifts to serve others. Paul wrote chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians specifically to deal with this problem.

Paul reminded the Christians in Corinth that speaking different languages was of no real value if an audience could not understand the words. He admonished them to concentrate more on understandable communication than on their linguistic abilities.

All biblical examples stand in stark contrast to the type of "speaking in tongues" done today, in which the speaker utters unintelligible speech. Paul and John warn Christians not be taken in by spiritual-appearing phenomena, indicating that demon spirits sometimes imitate spiritual gifts in an attempt to confuse people (1 Timothy:4:1; 1 John:4:1).

For more insight, please check out our link A Closer Look at Speaking in Tongues .


sharpergirl's picture

Is The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ? After His ascension did Jesus send His Spirit as the Comforter to take His place in the earth for all believers to have His power to cast out demons, heal the sick and to perform miracles at the time of Pentecost

Lena VanAusdle

Lena VanAusdle's picture

"The Holy Spirit, rather than being a distinct person, is spoken of in the Bible as being God's divine power. The Anchor Bible Dictionary, in its article on the Holy Spirit, describes it as "[t]he manifestation of divine presence and power perceptible especially in prophetic inspiration" (Vol. 3, Doubleday, New York, 1992, p. 260).
Scripture refers to the Holy Spirit as the power of God (Zechariah:4:6; Micah:3:8). Paul told Timothy that it is the "spirit of ... power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy:1:7, emphasis added throughout).
Luke:4:14 records that Jesus Christ began His ministry "in the power of the Spirit." Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus told them, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you ..." (Acts:1:8).
Peter relates how "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him " (Acts:10:38). The Holy Spirit is here associated with the power by which God was with Him -the power through which Jesus Christ performed mighty miracles during His earthly, physical ministry. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God's power actively working in His servants."

It is not just to perform miracles, but to give us help to do the things that God asks us to do (obey and love Him). a really great (full) explanation can be found here: http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/just-what-holy-spirit/

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