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baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

What is the baptism of/by/with fire?

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baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

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What it Really Means to be BAPTIZED IN FIRE

This post is part of my current blog series called “Questions People Ask about the Holy Spirit” (# HSQuestions ). You are still welcome to  submit questions here . 

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Instead, I’m talking about what John the Baptist refers to. He says that Jesus “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire ” (Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16).

What does it mean to be baptized with fire?

(unlikely) option 1: fire = the spirit.

One might wish that being baptized with fire means the same as being baptized with the Spirit.

This might make sense since in the Old Testament fire sometimes was a symbol of God’s favorable presence (consider Moses at the burning bush, Exodus 3:2). Also, on the day of Pentecost, when people were baptized in the Spirit, “tongues of fire” rested on each of them (Acts 2:3).

(Unlikely) Option 2: Fire = Purification

In the Old Testament, fire sometimes symbolized God’s purification, much like fire is used to refine metals. For example, in Zechariah 13:8-9 the Lord said, “This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. … I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”

If this is what John the Baptist means, then being baptized with fire would refer to an event of being made more holy , like increasing in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

(More Likely) Option 3: Fire = Judgment

In the Old Testament, fire is sometimes used to refer to God’s judgment of Israel’s enemies. For example, Isaiah writes that “ your many enemies will become . . . like blown chaff. …The LORD Almighty will come with . . . flames of a devouring fire (29:5-6).

Similarly, in the New Testament in the Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist warns the Pharisees and Sadducees about “the coming wrath ” (3:7). He adds that “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (verse 10).

In the very next verse, John states that Jesus will baptize “with fire” (verse 11). And he immediately continues by adding that Jesus will burn “ up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (verse 12).

In this passage fire is only presented in a negative light .

The same thing is true for Luke 3:9-17, the only other place in the Bible that speaks of being baptized “with fire” (3:16).

If this doesn’t convince you, let me give you…

Three more reasons that being baptized with fire means receiving judgement:

1) Jesus never told the disciples they would be baptized in fire on the day of Pentecost . Rather, he only said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5).

2) Even though they both quote John the Baptist as saying that Jesus “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8, John 1:33), the gospels of Mark and John don’t mention being baptized with fire , and, likewise, they don’t mention anything about God’s judgment (unlike Luke and Matthew).

3) Even though Luke writes about being baptized with fire in his gospel, Luke never mentions it in the book of Acts (which he also wrote), and he also never says that anyone received the “fire” of the Spirit.

Baptism in the Spirit is great.

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In the meantime, please be careful that you “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  😉

Question: Have you heard any other explanations of what being “baptized with fire” means? Leave a comment below by clicking here .

You might also be interested in these posts:

  • Why do PENTECOSTALS care so much about SPIRIT BAPTISM?
  • Spirit Baptism in Current Pentecostal Theology: Part 2 – Amos Yong
  • PAOC Clergy on Tongues and Spirit Baptism: Changing Views

baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

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34 thoughts on “ what it really means to be baptized in fire ”.

Hi Andrew Great post! I heard Gordon Fee on an old video series give good clues as to what John the Baptist was referring to. John’s eschatological expectation was that when the Messiah came, the old age would break and the new age would dawn, the Messianic age, with final judgment! So, yes, fire = judgment, and John’s warnings make sense in the light of Fee’s explanation.

Wow! Many out out there hands out saying fire fire fire. Thanks Andrew for all your work.

Thanks for the encouragement, Mason.

Thanks for the input, Steve. Gordon Fee is a great scholar.

Thanks Andrew I have been trying to convince friends of this for some time. Occaisionally I succeed. Also Gordon Fee has been a great encouragment to me especially in my post-grad studies on 1 Cor

I think in Theological Terms the use of The words Holy Fire in misused.However, when this is said most imply Fire to mean Power impartation , Annointing,Extra ordinary Grace.Some use it in terms of Wild Fire..as in HS showing up creating manifestations..laughter, shaking, sudden burts of worship, healing, and group deliverance. I think it is fair to say the missuse of the words doesnt confuse God on their intent to Receive more of His Holy Spirit or enpowerment in ministry. Though i understand the suggestion to “Run Away” based off a truer understanding of the words. I do not think for a second that agreeing to this impsrtation will somehow bring a Judgemental Purifying fire upon those who say yes. My experience, when these words are used, is a great deal of refreshment, freedom, empowerment. Thoughts?

Thanks seerson finally some sound theology, yes fire can be purifying and a symbol of judgement, and yes, we will all stand before the Father and be judged, but Jesus is a our Saviour, he has taken the judgement upon himself and we are free from fear. That is a legally binding contract called justification. As the Holy Spirit sanctifies us through the blood of Christ, we are made new, yes he will burn out all that is no of himself in our lives, but that is nothing to be feared or run away from. Bring on the burning, our Father is not vindictive or someone who wants to bring fear and destruction upon His children, We don’t run away from him and his work in our lives, we run into the arms of a loving Father who wants only the best for his kids. Sorry Andrew I think you may have missed the whole point of the Cross

Hi Peter, Thanks for commenting. I actually agree with pretty much everything you have said (just not the last sentence :). You are making a general theological observation about general themes in scripture. By contract, I’m trying to say what was John the Baptist getting at in these two specific Bible passages. So yes, the “fire” of God can be a great thing for believers, but (for all the reasons I explained above), when John the Baptism (the only person who used this metaphor in the Bible) spoke of being baptized in fire, I don’t think that is what he meant. Thanks again for commenting.

Hi Andrew, I appreciate your writings and what your are doing, but wanted to comment on interpreting fire as judgment and mostly negative in reference to the Baptist’s statement, “He will baptize YOU with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Admittedly, this verse is not easy to interpret, but John does seem to be equating the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Fire.

Before commenting on that verse I wanted to draw attention to viewing fire in a positive light. The pillar of fire in Israel’s wilderness wandering, the chariots of fire that whisked Elijah away, the blazing torch of the smoking firepot that sealed the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 15:17), and the apocalyptic description of Jesus himself (Rev. 1:14). Along with the tongues of fire on Pentecost and the burning bush they all have one thing in common: God’s awesome presence.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is nothing if it is not an immersion into God’s presence. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to accomplish what the LAW could not do and that is make us holy. If he cannot burn out the dross, refine us and as the Spirit of holiness (Rms. 1:4) nothing can. He is the purifying agent who burns up the impurities in our lives in the great eschatological event called baptism in the Spirit.

Isaiah spoke of a day when the Lord would wash away the filth of Jerusalem “by a Spirit of judgment and a Spirit of fire” (Is. 4:4). When he did a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night would cover God’s cleansed people with a canopy of divine glory. Fire here associated with the Spirit cleanses moral filth and offers protection from the storms of life (vv. 5-6).

So, I think in the larger context of Scripture the baptism of the Spirit and fire is not speaking of two separate events–one for believers (baptism in Holy Spirit) and one for unbelievers (fire) but of one glorious experience that ushers us into the wonderful, glorious protective covering of God and his glory. This interpretation, I believe, is more in keeping with Paul’s argument about the glory of the New Covenant being more glorious (II Cor. 3:8) that the glory of the first where Moses experienced a trembling, smoking and lightning bolts shattering mountain it. When we have the Spirit we all with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory and are transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory (v16-17). He is God’s purifying agent.

Just a few thoughts.

Blessings, Bill Gibson

So do we remove “O Lord, Send the Fire Just Now” from the hymnal (for those who still have hymnals)?

Interestingly enough, I have seen they lyrics written differently: http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/O_Lord_Send_the_Power_Just_Now/

I’m not sure that this is necessary though. In the post, I’m trying to interpret what John the Baptist getting at in two specific Bible passages. By contrast, the “fire” of God can be a great thing for believers, but (for all the reasons I explained above), when John the Baptism (the only person who used this metaphor in the Bible) spoke of being baptized in fire, I don’t think that is what he meant.

The question of what he meant may rest on the question of who he was speaking to.

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I believe it means the fire of persecution.

Hi! I have received the Holy Ghost baptism which some would call the fire baptism. Maybe I can add a little bit to help with confusion:

Any time you come into contact with a spiritual being or angelic being, or have experienced a Kundalini rising, there will be some heat (or fire)

It is an amazing experience which I would never trade, and also a purification process. I have had a full veil removal and am anointed by the spirit. I also gained spiritual sight which really freaked me out as I could see entities which scared me a bit! There is no judgment with a baptism. It is a beautiful experience to feel so close to God. I was very blessed, after many lives of not having this. Yes it took me by surprise and yes he came like a thief!

You will grieve the spirit every day after and become so homesick that you won’t know what to do.

It’s incredible! There is a fire aspect to it but it is a beautiful, personal experience all should have. If you have not received the fire baptism you will not be able to go to heaven. You will not be pure enough to stand before Jehovah.

If you have received the Holy Spirit of the true God then we are happy for you. But it is disturbing what you say..”after many liveS’? Kundalini? nobody is going to heaven without it? not pure enough? jehova? (who’s that?- I can’t stress enough using names for God Almighty that we don’t know where are they coming from!) are you in the new age thing? Please be careful.

Jehovah is Gods name. look it up it’s in the old testament

Thanks for this Andrew! Very helpful for a Bible Study I’m leading. I googled the question and up came your trusted name. Hope you and your family are well!

Glad you found it helpful! All the best for your Bible study.

Thank you for this excellent article. I was saved out of the New Age Movement in 1993; prior to that, I had experienced a “kundalini awakening” at the ashram of a Hindu Yogi who was falsely teaching that his teachings and those of Jesus were the same. I have since been blessed to have been “filled with the Holy Spirit” and can testify that these two experiences are polar opposites. The “baptism by fire” that has been coming into churches since the mid 90’s through “impartation” (Rodney Howard Browne was the main catalyst, but Word of Faith Prosperity preacher Kenneth Hagin was also imparting this spirit while he was alive) is absolutely identical to, in every respect, and in some instances worse than, what I experienced during the “electrifying kundalini awakening” I had in 1984. You will always hear those who receive this baptism by fire (coming under the judgment) likening it to “Lightning” or “electricity” this is coming under the control of a satanic “force” that manifests lying signs and wonders, and is most assuredly NOT the same experience as being convicted of sin, repenting, and humbly surrendering one’s life to the control of the indwelling PERSON of the Holy Spirit.

Hi Andrew, please help answer this, I am a woman made in the image of a King, so I’m a king not a Princess or a queen…?

Like Sonship…

Therefore I carry the Kingdom within… Therefore demons cant touch me… They hate my fire but NO weapon formed against me shall! They bounce off me and are incinerated as my fire is hotter than their hell-fire.

Is this scriptural?

For 6 months I’ve had what feels like things jumping on my bed. ONLY when I lie down to slow.

I was misdiagnosed and put on beta blockersand anti anxiety meds. But nothing changed.

It pushed me more into praying in tongues and praise and worship.

I’m now thankfully off ALL the meds, bed sometimes still shakes, but I submit to God, dismiss the attack I.e. ignore and sleep soundlly…

I pray that you continue to submit your whole like to God in every way and that God gives you victory through this. All the best to you!

I think it speaks to when we stand before the Lord in heaven. We will all be refined. All our good works (crown) will remain and all the useless ones will burn off like dross and then, with what the fire did not consume, we will all lay our “crown” before Him knowing it is only because of Him we have anything at all to offer. Heaven is perfect and all of it’s occupants will be also. Nothing produced by Christ and our love for Him will be lost. Only what is useless and unnecessary. I base that off of the following bible verse. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15

Interesting suggestion. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

Also, notice that it says Jesus “will baptize you…… Jesus did not baptize anyone on earth. His baptism is by fire in heaven.

True, not while on earth. But he did after the ascension (Acts 1:5, 2:33).

Yea, it means the next level the refiners Fire a purification. A higher stage in Disciple Hood.

( I am from Germany, so sorry if my englisch is not perfect ) As a hungry believer I experienced the baptism with water of the holy spirit really early in my life. The baptism with fire came a bit later. I think thats because of a state of heart that needs to be there for it. For the baptism of fire i needed to humble myself and to surrender my life totally to Jesus. In this moment the holy spirit can enter in a total new way into my soul/spirit/heart, because i don’t hold anything back anymore. The body is the temple of the holy spirit and has to be holy and pure. Thats what happening while experiencing the baptism with fire, the holy spirit burns away every unclean/sinful thing and burns aways also obstacles which hold you back from having intimacy with god. He brings also deeper deliverance, healing and pures out his love in a new dimension and he gives an anointing through the fire. So there is really a lot what is happening through that fire. I experienced all of that and its indescribable awesome and life transforming. You can also feel the heat of that fire physically in a way, that it feels like every inch of your body is bowling (the flesh is dying) but it feels wonderful and is not a feeling of pain in a negativ sentence. After that process you feel refreshed, washed, christ minded, loved, happy and free. So you immediately see the fruits of the spirit. Its just awesome and I can recommend not to be afraid of that purification. Also the anointing part is really special. After i received the baptism with fire i could lay hands on other believers and the power god was flowing through me to the other person in a whole new powerful way, so that the person got healed and delivered faster than before. So its worth it to be hungry for it ! Now i know that the baptism with fire is needed for a powerful ministry which i will start in the coming years. God is so good !

See Jesus went into my heart then the Holy Spirit came. and i went to church to watch my friend be baptized it was like everything was trying to keep me from going, then when i got there i felt that fire inside, but I’ve been afraid of it cause i read post saying it’s bad and its Gods judgement. reading these post have helped so much.

What I believe being baptized with fire is like sandpaper smoothing out our rough edges. People sometimes cross our path and we learn patience. Sometimes learning patience you have to wait and wait. And so on and so forth. Yes fire burns, but so does sandpaper. Being baptized in water represents the old staying down and the new man emerges, but unfortunately we still have lots to learn. Better to learn willingly than not.

Hello I really go by many names. The first time I heard my full name that my mother gave me… at my birth was around my 12th grade graduation. I cried to know that I have the same name as one other. The one who raped my mom. I have is name on my forehead. But he never called me by it. He only called me (That One). But my mom would always call me( He Is). But I would love to tell you all about the bay that my life changed. I saw the blood of Jesus on my hands. And felt the burning conviction from within. This was soon after I was baptized with water… as a way of saying that I AM ready for the true baptism. A few days prior to this event… I spilled the beans and told on my self for everything I had done. Like vomit being spewed out. I had made myself ready. I shed my blood for him who did it for me. This is the day that God came for me. His bride.. and God stayed with me. I am the 3rd temple. The church… the house of the living God. The spirit of God of creation. Is alive in me. I stood foot on the mountain.hit me up

My comment is that is ti the baptism for of what job had passed though?

Being baptized by God into Christ.

I appreciate your commentary, however consider this. The fiery coals purged the sins of Isaiah and took away his sin. Also, I would be careful to pass over (even though you mentioned tongues of fire) tounges of fire so lightly. This was THE way, along with tounges, that God poured out His spirit upon mankind.

Isaiah 6;5-7 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips;Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”

Also, Jesus did not mention anything about tounges of fire, nor speaking tounges would be part of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But there was fire involved.

Best Regards

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3. Baptized with the Holy Spirit and Fire (Luke 3:15-18)

" 15  The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. 16  John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17  His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.' 18  And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them." (Luke 3:15-18)

Every year individuals are propelled from obscurity into the national limelight -- a hit song, an act of kindness or evil that is picked up by the press. Celebrities attract fawning hero-worshippers who can distort the celebrity's sense of who he is. Celebrities sometimes mistake the goodwill of their followers for reality. John the Baptist was an instant celebrity.

John's Submission to the Messiah (Luke 3:15-16)

In a culture that had Messiah on their mind, it was inevitable that people would wonder if the powerful desert prophet John the Baptist were the long-awaited Messiah himself. "Is he the Christ?" the crowds inquired.

The word "Christ" is a transliteration of the Greek word christos , meaning "the Anointed One, the Messiah." The word "messiah" is a transliteration of the Hebrew word māshîaḥ .

"Christ" is not Jesus' last name. It is a title that means "Messiah."

To his credit, nowhere does John the Baptist try to cling to his public following. John's Gospel tells us that the Baptist even pointed his own disciples to Jesus (John 1:35-37), and accepted Jesus' eclipsing role with graciousness.

John the Baptist refers to the Messiah as "One more powerful than I" (3:16b). "More powerful" (NIV) and "mightier" (KJV) translate the comparative form of the Greek adjective ischyros , "strong, mighty, powerful" in physical strength, or mental or spiritual power." 36 This is similar to the expression in John's Gospel,

"He must become greater ( auxanō ); I must become less ( elattoō )." (John 3:30)

 Self-exalting ego doesn't motivate John. Being faithful to the "word of God" (3:2) that came to him does.

John illustrates this submission to the Messiah with his statement about sandals: "the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." (3:16c) Jewish servants were not required to perform the menial duty of unfastening their master's sandals, only non-Jewish slaves. 37 But John says that he isn't even as worthy as a foreign slave to perform this service. He isn't in the same league as the Messiah. But the most striking comparison John makes between his ministry and the Messiah's is in terms of baptism.

Water Baptism (Luke 3:16a)

John had been known as "the Baptist." Baptism set him apart from other prophets in the past, and other reformers in his own day. But even in terms of baptism, John says, the Messiah exceeds him.

Our word "baptize" is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizō , which means "dip, immerse, submerge, baptize." 38 It's important to understand this basic meaning, regardless of our own church's practice of baptism, or how much water our church may use. John was baptizing in the Jordan River, and probably assisted penitents by either dipping them into the water himself (or perhaps by assisting them to dip themselves). Jesus did not annul this form of water baptism but continued it, having his own disciples baptize believers in his name (see Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:22, 26; 4:1-2; Acts 2:38, 41).

The Early Church understood water baptism much as John the Baptist did, representing God's cleansing and the washing away of our sins (Acts 22:16). It is a baptism of repentance still, since by submitting to Christian baptism, a person either tacitly or explicitly acknowledges his need for cleansing, and therefore his sins that demand forgiveness and cleansing. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter told his convicted hearers,

"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

These words tie repentance to baptism just as John the Baptist had done (Luke 3:3).

The point of comparison between John the Baptist and the Messiah is in the medium in which or with which 39 the baptism takes place. John immerses his disciples in water, while the Messiah will immerse his followers in the Holy Spirit.

Spirit Baptism (Luke 3:16d)

The biggest question in this passage is what it means to "baptize in the Holy Spirit." Church doctrines aside, the basic meaning is to immerse or dip a person in the Holy Spirit. To flood a person with the Holy Spirit. Water is just a symbol of cleansing. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is the actual agent of cleansing and empowerment.

To study the meaning a bit further, let's look at two closely-related passages written by Luke, one at the end of Luke, the other early in Acts:

"I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed ( enduō ) with power ( dunamis ) from on high." (Luke 24:49)

"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water ( hydati ), but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit ( en pneumati hagio ).... But you will receive power ( dunamis ) when the Holy Spirit comes on ( epechomai ) you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:4, 5, 8; see 11:15-16)

Examine some of the words with me as we expand our understanding a bit:

  • "Clothe (KJV 'endue') with power." The verb is Greek enduō , "dress, clothe" 40 This may be similar to the analogy of baptism, the idea of covering completely with. The word translated "power" is Greek dunamis , from which we get our word "dynamite." To cover with power. What a thought!
  • "Receive power." The verb here is the extremely common Greek word lambanō , "to receive." The emphasis is not on voluntary acceptance here, but upon possessing it. Tag. You're "it." It's your turn. What would you do if you were given a package of high explosives or a grant of limitless hydroelectric power from a dam high in the mountains? Think what you could do with it! You've received power.
  • "Come upon." The Greek verb is eperchomai , a compound word that means "come over or upon." It can refer to unpleasant happenings or to an enemy attack. But here it used of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples. 41 The word suggests something out of our control that happens to us. Spirit baptism is wholly in God's power and at his time and pleasure.
  • "Pour out." The Spirit is "poured out" upon believers (Acts 2:17-18, 2:33, 10:45). Similar to the water baptism analogy, in pouring, the water is in a vessel above the believer and is saturating the believer with the Holy Spirit.

The "baptism of the Holy Spirit" involves being covered with, immersed in, empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the very basis of our life in Christ and our connection to God. Jesus floods us with the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful thought and promise! (You can explore this in greater detail in my essay, "Spirit Baptism, the New Birth, and Speaking in Tongues," found in the Appendix) 42

Fire Baptism (Luke 3:16e-17)

 Luke's Gospel connects the baptism of the Holy Spirit with a baptism of fire. John the Baptist says:

"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (3:16d-17)

The process of preparing grain involved (1) threshing, that is, crushing, beating or thrashing the grain heads in order to loosen the grain kernels from the surrounding stems and husks; and (2) winnowing, using a kind of wooden pitch fork (a winnowing fork) to throw the threshed grain heads into the breeze, so the lighter chaff will blow downwind, and the heavier grain kernels will fall back to the ground, separating the two. The floor would be "cleared" by threshing and then winnowing all the grain heads until the chaff and grain had been completely separated. The grain was then gathered into baskets and stored in the barn, but the remaining stems and husks piled together and set ablaze.

Look with me at a couple of interesting words. The verb translated "clear" (NIV) or "purge" (KJV) is Greek diakathairō , "clean out, cleanse thoroughly." 43 The idea of thoroughness and complete cleaning is contained in this compound verb. The second interesting word translated the "unquenchable" is Greek asbestos , a mineral supposed by the ancients to be inextinguishable when set on fire. 44 John the Baptist isn't talking about just regular fire here that would burn itself out when the chaff is consumed, but a kind of eternal, unquenchable fire.

So what is this fire baptism? There are three possibilities:

  • A figure of purification of sin as the Holy Spirit does his cleansing work in us as part of the process of sanctification. Indeed, the Spirit's cleansing in us is sometimes painful, but nothing in the context suggests that this is what John had in mind.
  • A symbol of the tongues of fire that appeared over the heads of the 120 disciples in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3). This, too, is a stretch for John the Baptist. In the Pentecost passage, the fire probably represents the Shekinah glory of God rather than fires of purification.
  • A prophecy of the eschatological separation of the righteous from the unrighteous, and judgment by the Messiah at the end of the age. This fits contemporary expectations of the Messiah, as well as the words "cleanse thoroughly" and "unquenchable fire" contained in the passage. Jesus' parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:30, 41-42) includes this kind of analogy of separation and final judgment. Remember Henry Alford's well-known Thanksgiving Hymn, "Come Ye Thankful People, Come," verse 3?

"For the Lord our God shall come, And shall take His harvest home. From His field shall in that day All offenses purge away; Give His angels charge at last In the fire the tares to cast, But the fruitful ears to store In His garner evermore."

So John is prophesying of Jesus that he will (1) flood his followers with the Holy Spirit, and (2) judge the unrighteous at the End of the Age.

When Christ returns, he will come in judgment. The first time he came in mercy, but when he returns at the End of the Age it will be with final, terrible judgment. What should disciples learn from this? First, we need to get off the fence and determine whose side we're on. We need to learn a healthy fear of God. Sometimes people talk about Jesus as if he's their buddy. Jesus is no one's buddy. Peter learned quickly that even those close to him cannot presume upon his will without meriting a sharp rebuke (Matthew 16:23). He is our Friend, but not our buddy. He is always our Master.

Second, we need to consider our friends and loved ones, and pray for their salvation. Jesus will surely come in terrible judgment, and unless people repent of their sins, they will perish and experience eternal punishment. There is the exhilarating promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but the sobering warning of judgment for those who do not welcome the Messiah.

Have You Been Baptized?

This passage urges some personal reflection. Have you acknowledged Jesus' power and authority over you as John the Baptist did? Have you been baptized? Have you repented of your sins and submitted yourself to public Christian baptism? If not, why don't you talk with your pastor about it this week? We are disciples! We are not going to put off until a later time the lessons about which Christ is dealing with us now!

Have you been immersed in the Holy Spirit? If you've repented of your sins and asked Christ to be your Master, then He responds with the gift of the Holy Spirit and the resulting new birth. What's going on in your life? Are you swimming in the Spirit or just sipping occasionally? Are you spiritually dry? Do you long for God with a deep thirst? The Messiah wants you flooded with his Spirit, and anything less isn't enough. Open up your heart to him as we pray together.

Lord, I want to be your disciple. Like John, I acknowledge you as my Messiah and Master. You're more powerful than I, and I am unworthy in myself even to provide you menial service. But you have washed me, and I am clean. Thank you. You have poured out your Holy Spirit and I am learning to drink fully. Immerse me afresh this week in your Spirit. I acknowledge the terrible judgment that you will bring to this world when you come. Help me to be ready. Help my friends and loved ones to be ready, too. O Great Baptizer, in Your name, I pray. Amen.

"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Luke 3:16)

Click on the link below to discuss on the forum one or more of the questions that follow -- your choice. https://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1918-3-johns-baptism/

  • Isn't John the Baptist's humble statement, "the thongs of whose sandals I am unworthy to untie," a bit overstated? Are we unworthy to serve Christ? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • What does John's comparison of water baptism to Spirit baptism tell us about what Spirit baptism means?
  • What does it mean to be "Spirit-filled"? How would our lives be different if we were truly filled and flooded with the Holy Spirit?
  • We may be afraid of "fire-of-judgment" kind of language, but what should our response be to warnings of terrible judgment?
  • How good a change-motivator is the warning of future judgment? What other motivators might people respond to in addition to this? Or better than this?

Abbreviations and References

[35] Arkeō , BAGD 107.

[36] Ischuros , BAGD 383.

[37] Marshall, Luke, p.146. He cites a number of Rabbinical sources for this.

[38] G.R. Beasley-Murray, "Baptism, Wash," NIDNTT 1:143-150. Beasley-Murray explains, "In secular Greek baptō means (a) dip, (b) dip into a die, and so die, and (c) draw (water). Baptizō is an intensive form of baptō and means (a) dip, and (b) cause to perish (as by drowning a man or sinking a ship" (p. 144). 

[39] The first phrase hydati ("in water") uses the "instrumental dative" case, while the second phrase, en pneumati hagio ("in the Holy Spirit") uses the preposition en ("in") in an instrumental sense.

[40] Endyō , BAGD 264. The KJV translation "endue" means both "put on, don" as well as "provide, endow," and is often confused with the word "endow," though "endow" comes from a different root that means "gift, dower" ( Merriam-Webster ).

[41] Eperchomai , BAGD 285.

[42] Note: Two helpful books that discuss some of these matters in detail are G.R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1962); and James D.G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit (SCM Press Ltd., 1970). The latter book is pretty technical.

[43] Diakathairō , BAGD 183, Thayer 137. Diakathairō is a compound word formed from dia- "thoroughly" + kathairō, "'to cleanse,' properly from filth, impurity, etc." (Thayer 312).

[44] Merriam-Webster , p. 66.

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What Is the Baptism of Fire and Is it Even Biblical?

  • Dale Chamberlain Christianity.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Jul 24, 2020

What Is the Baptism of Fire and Is it Even Biblical?

The phrase “baptism by fire” is often used to describe a difficult transition. It might be used to describe a new soldier enduring boot camp, a person who just got a promotion or who has recently changed professions or organizations, or even a guardian caring for the multiple children of a loved one.

Like many commonly used phrases, we will often use it without realizing where it comes from or what it originally meant. And that’s okay. But what does “baptism of fire” actually mean, and where does that phrase come from? Is it a biblical concept, and if so, what is its significance?

Here’s a closer look at the phrase, what it means, and how it’s come to be used in casual settings.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SDenisov

wood carving of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus Baptism of Fire

Baptism of Fire in the Bible

We don’t really see this phrase “baptism of fire” appear in the New Testament apart from one event in the days leading up to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, when John the Baptizer was out baptizing new followers. As he called the people back to faith in God , John spoke about another that would come, whose ministry would be greater than his own.

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, ‘I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ – Luke 3:15-17

A question that often arises from John’s words is whether “fire” and “the Holy Spirit” are describing two different baptisms that Jesus would bring, or if John is simply using two words to describe the same thing. To answer this question, it’s helpful to look at the record of John’s words in the other gospel accounts.

These same words of John are also recorded in Matthew 3:11-12 pretty much verbatim. But in Mark 1:8 , John is recorded as saying that the Messiah would baptize them with the Holy Spirit, leaving out a mention of fire. This seems to indicate that John simply used “fire” as a descriptor of the Holy Spirit. Since Mark’s gospel is much shorter, he likely didn’t add the word “fire” to his account to keep the account short while describing the same idea.

So John the Baptizer’s point is that while he’s baptizing the people with water as an outward sign of their repentance and faith in God, Jesus would come with a baptism of the Holy Spirit—meaning that he would literally immerse  his followers into the Spirit of God himself.

And once his followers were immersed by the Holy Spirit, this would be the determining factor between eternal salvation or eternal judgment. Holy Spirit baptism is the winnowing fork, separating the wheat and the chaff. So while water baptism is important, baptism of the Holy Spirit is the true marker of saving faith.

But when John the Baptizer said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit, what did this actually look like?

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man resting head on praying hands on open bible light streaming above Baptism of Fire and Holy Spirit

What Baptism of the Holy Spirit Means

We get our first glimpse of Holy Spirit baptism on the day of Pentecost , after Jesus had ascended into heaven and all his followers were gathered together.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. – Acts 2:1-4

When the Holy Spirit first falls on the disciples, he appears as a tongue of fire that rests on each of them. And in that moment, they are granted power, authority, and special giftings that they use to spread the message of Jesus.

While Pentecost was an extraordinary circumstance, anyone who comes to faith in Jesus is baptized in the Holy Spirit, and they receive spiritual gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12:4 ). These gifts are meant to be used to serve the mission of Jesus through the Church.

The Holy Spirit is also the one who empowers life transformation. The apostle Paul tells us that if we walk with the Spirit, then we will bear the fruit of the Spirit—namely love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control ( Galatians 5:22-23 ).

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fire sparking upward Baptism of Fire

Is There a 'Second Baptism?'

In more charismatic circles of the Church, certain Christian leaders often speak of a second baptism —which is typically when you receive the spiritual gift of tongues. This second baptism has less to do with your salvation and more with exercising charismatic gifts like tongues, their interpretation, or prophecy.

Considerable debate exists among believers about whether these gifts of the Holy Spirit are still operative in the Church. Cessationists contend that the proper use of these gifts ended with the first generation of the church, led by the apostles. Continuationists, on the other hand, argue that every spiritual gift continues to be operative in the church today. Faithful, Bible-believing followers of Jesus land on either side of this debate.

However, there is little biblical support for the idea that you need to be immersed by the Holy Spirit a second time before you can access all  of your gifts. Since you are in Christ  from the moment of your salvation, every operative gift is available to you from that moment on.

How The Phrase 'Baptism by Fire' Is Commonly Used

You may be wondering, based on this understanding of the phrase, how “baptism by fire” came to be used to describe a difficult initiation into a new situation, whether it’s basic training for the military or a fast transition into new job responsibilities. Ironically, using the phrase in those instances is actually a misquote of a different biblical idea— trial by fire , which we find in 1 Peter.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7

Peter’s point is that the difficult trials and hardships of our lives are like a fire that tests the genuineness of gold and that burns out any impurities in the metal. Though we don’t enjoy the fire, it serves to sharpen our faith and accelerate our maturity. This is likely the idea that’s intended when someone casually uses the phrase “baptism of fire.” It’s just a slight misquote of the original phrase “trial by fire.”

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friends holding hands on hilltop at sunrise arms up in praise Baptism of Fire

3 Ways You Can Know You’re in Step with the Holy Spirit

As soon as you put your trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your life. He is always with you, and his power is always available to you. Here are 3 ways you know you are tapping into the supernatural power that Jesus has given to you through the presence of his Spirit.

1.  You are growing in love.  One of the key markers of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life is the way that you love others. This is one of the last things that Jesus told his disciples before going to the cross .

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35

The world will know that we follow Jesus not by how we vote or how many Sundays out of the year we attend church. The world will know about Jesus by the way we show his love.

2.  You are becoming more like Jesus.  Another key aspect of walking in the Spirit is that your life will begin to look more and more like Jesus. You will begin to step away from things like bitterness, jealousy, greed, lust, and anger. You’ll step toward things like love, kindness, generosity, justice, and purity. And that’s because following Jesus revolutionizes everything about your life.

Paul puts it this way:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

3. You are living with purpose.  We all want to live with purpose. In fact, it’s a desire that God has put within you. David puts it this way in one of his psalms:

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. – Psalm 57:2

The thing about walking with the Spirit is that he gives your life so much meaning and purpose. He fulfills his purpose in you. He causes you to become the person you were always meant to be. You fulfill your purpose when you use your unique passions, gifts, and skills to love and serve others in the name of Jesus. And that’s exactly the work that the Holy Spirit will do within you if you walk with him and listen to his voice.

And that’s what it means to be baptized with Holy Spirit fire.

Recommended for You:

The Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit

Does Someone Have to Pray in Tongues to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit?

What Are Pentecost and Shavuot? 10 Things Christians Should Know

Baptism: What Is It? Meaning and Definition

What Does ‘Worship in Spirit and Truth’ Really Mean?

What Is Speaking in Tongues? Is it Biblical and Still Relevant Today?

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baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

What is the baptism of the Spirit?

What does it mean that Jesus will “baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire?”

What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Matthew 3:11.

John the Baptist baptized unto the forgiveness of sins, but also proclaimed that Jesus would come with a baptism that would be far more extensive and deep.  “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Matthew 3:11.

What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The baptism of the Spirit is an “immersion of the Spirit.” When you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you will receive strength, power and boldness from God to accomplish your work and overcome sin in your own life.

You know when you have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The disciple s at  Pentecost  also knew. They had probably already imagined beforehand what the experience of being baptized with the Holy Spirit would be like. And you, dear reader, who have not yet been baptized with the Spirit, but have a real longing for it, are probably also wondering what it is like. The experience can be expressed in many ways. But many people who have been baptized with the Spirit will be able to relate to what I write here:

Your life is changed at one stroke. God's power often passes through your body like a powerful current and fills you with an infinite joy and happiness. The disciples were so filled with joy that the people thought they were drunk with new wine.

Some people have so much grace that they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit immediately after they repent, and sometimes even get the gift of tongues. However, this is not necessarily the case for all who repent. Some people must go through a “dry period” before they are baptized with the Spirit. But of course there is no set timetable for when you get this blessed baptism of the Spirit.

It is a common misconception among many Christians that you have not been baptized with the Holy Spirit if you haven’t received the gift of tongues. This gift often comes later, and many only receive it after a revival has broken out, and yet others receive completely different gifts.

Read also:  What are spiritual gifts?

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Why do I need the Holy Spirit?

If you feel that your life is dry and heavy, pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Because you really need it if you have a strong desire to overcome envy, anger etc. It is written in the Scriptures that the Spirit is given to those who obey Him. It’s no good waiting to be baptized with the Holy Spirit while relaxing and sinning as when you were unconverted. No, read in the Bible, even if it seems dry, and resist the lust to become angry and irritated, for example. One day you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit! You, who were bound by fear of man , become bold, just as Peter was on the day of Pentecost. A brand new day dawns. The dry Bible verses suddenly become alive for you by the Spirit's revelation, and you can get help from God's Word when you come into difficult situations. Why? Because you have been baptized with the Spirit.

Read more in the article:  Why do I need the Holy Spirit?

But it is not the intention that we stop completely at that great experience of being baptized with the Holy Spirit, and never move on. The power we have been given by the baptism of the Spirit, which has made us so happy, is to be used to do the good so that we can be God's coworkers on earth.

Jesus wanted to baptize us with both the Holy Spirit and fire. As we follow the Spirit's workings, we must suffer, and that was what Jesus meant by the fire. It is the suffering that follows when we do the good. Just as when the disciples were instructed to make disciples of all nations. This meant that they had to leave their comfort zone and start to journey, often to places they didn’t want to go to – and that involved tribulation (fire). They were not permitted to remain seated quietly with memories of what they had experienced on the day of Pentecost. No, off to the many tasks that awaited! Exactly the same applies to us who are alive now, and have received the Spirit’s power within us.

And even though we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, we constantly need a new fullness. Even though you have been filled with the Holy Spirit, you can easily be caught up by the world we live in and can lose something of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. That’s why one of the Scripture’s exhortations is:  “Be filled with the Spirit .”  Ephesians 5:18. And that’s what will happen when we earnestly pray to be filled anew, and practice what we read in the Bible.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Baptism of the Holy Spirit: What It Means & How We Get It Wrong

baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

The baptism of the Holy Spirit has been a subject of debate and much discussion among Christians over the years. What exactly does it mean to be baptized in the Spirit? Is it a distinct event that occurs after conversion, as some maintain, or an integral part of salvation universally experienced by all believers? And what is its significance redemptive-historically, particularly as it finds expression at Pentecost (Acts 2)?

In this article, we’ll seek to answer the question, “What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?” by examining the biblical evidence, analyzing various interpretations, and attending to its theological significance.

Where does the Bible talk about the “baptism of the Spirit”?

The New Testament uses the language of “baptism in [or ‘with’] the Spirit” seven times. Four of the references come from the lips of John the Baptist, and one each comes from Jesus, Peter, and Paul, respectively:

Chart featuring the different time baptism of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament

All four of the Gospel accounts record John the Baptist’s prediction, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire ” (Luke 3:16; cf. Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; John 1:33).

The next two occurrences of this language come to us in the book of Acts. In Acts 1:5 (cf. Luke 24:49), Jesus looks forward to the fulfillment of this promise at Pentecost (Acts 2:1–36). And in Acts 11:16, Peter looks back on its fulfillment, now extended to Gentiles (Acts 10:44–48; 11:15–18).

Although not using the exact language, given their similarity to these other passages that present Spirit baptism, the following narratives in Acts also seem to depict this phenomenon: the reception of the Spirit among the Samaritans (Acts 8:14–17) and the disciples of John in Ephesus (Acts 19:1–7).

Finally, the last occurrence of explicit Spirit-baptism language comes to us in 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, where Paul draws out some of the theological implications of this phenomenon.

What does “baptism of the Spirit” mean?

Six of the New Testament’s seven occurrences of Spirit baptism all use the exact same language, speaking of baptism “in” or “with” the Holy Spirit. 1 In each of these constructions, Jesus is the agent , the one who performs the baptism, and the Spirit is the medium (or “element”) into which recipients are baptized. John the Baptist’s water baptism forms a comparison, making this all the more clear: as John ( agent ) baptized with water ( medium ), so Jesus will baptize folks with (or into ) the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16). This corresponds with the explanation Peter gives at Pentecost, in which he also designates Christ as the agent of this baptism: “Having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he [Christ] has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33).

In contrast, however, 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks of Spirit baptism in a slightly different way. It’s mildly ambiguous: Does it designate the Spirit as the medium of this baptism once again (“in” or “with the Spirit”), or does it indicate agency (“by the Spirit”), naming the Spirit as the one who conducts this baptism? The preposition can have either function depending on the context. And English translations are split, with ESV, NRSV, NET translating it as “in” or “with,” suggesting the Spirit again is the medium into which recipients are baptized (with Christ as its presumed agent once again), and the KJV, NASB, CSB, NIV, and NLT using “by,” making the Spirit the actual agent of this baptism.

Those who argue for the latter sometimes draw theological implications from this distinction. Sinclair Ferguson explains,

It has frequently been argued that Paul is speaking here about a Spirit-baptism distinct from the Spirit-baptism prophesied by John and Jesus and experienced at Pentecost. In the latter baptism, Christ is the baptizer and the Spirit is the element; in this baptism, the Spirit is the baptizer and the body of Christ is the object into which we are baptized. 2

In my judgment, it’s far more probable that 1 Corinthians 12:13 simply refers to the same Spirit baptism seen elsewhere, with en pneumati once again functioning “locatively,” designating the Spirit as the medium (or location or sphere) of this baptism. The following reasons support this conclusion:

1. The language in each passage that refers to a baptism connected to the Spirit remains essentially unchanged in each instance, 4 with Christ clearly the baptizer in every other case

Given the infrequency—and even peculiarity—of this language, it’s far more natural to assume that what is being described in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is the same phenomenon described elsewhere.

2. Paul uses two parallels clauses in 1 Corinthians 12:13 to describe believers’ initiation in the Spirit

Not only does he say we are baptized in one Spirit, but we are also made to drink one Spirit. Now if the Spirit serves as the object in the latter statement (the Spirit is what believers drink), then most likely he is the object, and not the agent, in the former statement—what believers are baptized into, not the one doing the baptism).

3. As James Dunn observes, “In the NT [this construction] 5 never designates the one who performs the baptism; on the contrary, it always indicates the element in which the baptisand is immersed (or with which he is deluged)—except, of course, when it is part of a fuller phrase.” 6

So in summary, as Peter explained (Act 2:33), Christ sent the Spirit at Pentecost , thus making Christ the one who performs this baptism in that Spirit. Consistent in each instance then, Jesus is the baptizer and the Spirit is the medium (or element) with which believers are baptized.

Pastors, Write Deeper Sermons in Less Time

But what exactly is baptism with the Spirit? What exactly are we talking about when we speak of “baptism in the Spirit”?

The language of “baptism” provides an analogy. Graham Cole explains,

But what is meant by “baptize” in the expression “baptize … with the Holy Spirit”? The term has a range of possible meanings including, “to dip,” “to bathe,” or “to wash (by immersing),” or metaphorically, “to deluge with” or “to overwhelm.” … [T]he expression is metaphorical. [John] the Baptist sees some analogy between his rite and the work of the coming one. His medium is water but the coming one’s medium will be the Holy Spirit. 7

In other words, as John baptized people with water, so now Christ baptizes, but the “element” with which he baptizes is the Holy Spirit. And as we follow the book of Acts, this baptism with the Spirit is equated with receiving the Holy Spirit (see Peter’s description in Acts 2:38, “You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”). The baptism with the Holy Spirit then is, quite simply, that initial reception of the Spirit from Christ.

I suspect the language of “baptism” intentionally corresponds to descriptions elsewhere of Christ “pouring out” the Spirit (e.g., Acts 2:33; 10:45). Both terms employ water metaphorically to refer to the distribution and reception of the Spirit.

Elsewhere in the New Testament, we learn that Spirit baptism is the means by which believers are incorporated into Christ and made part of his body (1 Cor 12:12–13). Via the presence of his Spirit, we are united to Christ and experience all the saving benefits found in him (e.g., 1 Cor 1:30; Phil 3:9).

Christ’s gift of the Spirit to permanently indwell his followers marks a significant redemptive-historical shift (Acts 2:33; John 7:39). As Susanne Calhoun explains,

[John] the Baptist’s prophecy signals a profound transition from the Spirit occasionally anointing and filling rare individuals under the old covenant to the widespread gift of the Spirit for God’s people under the new covenant.” 8

Fulfillment

Dispensationalism holds that God has two distinct redemptive programs for Israel and the church, respectively, consisting of certain promises for Israel and others for the church. To preserve this distinction, more traditional and classical dispensationalists maintain that the baptism of the Spirit is uniquely a possession of the church (in distinction from Israel), and thus nowhere promised to Israel in the Old Testament. For instance, the late dispensational theologian, Charles Ryrie , states,

No Old Testament prediction of the baptism [of the Spirit] exists, and our Lord said it would happen for the first time when the Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5). 9

Again, the underlying rationale (or hermeneutic) is the Israel/church distinction. He explains,

[Spirit Baptism] was first predicted not in any Old Testament passage but by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:11 and parallels). … This distinctive ministry served a particular purpose—adding people to the body of Christ—and since the body of Christ is distinctive to this age, then the baptizing work of the Spirit also would be. 10

But this directly contradicts Peter’s explanation of the events of Pentecost (Acts 2). Having ascended into heaven as the reigning Davidic king (Acts 2:22–36), Christ pours out the Holy Spirit on his people (Acts 2:33, cf. 2:1–4). This outpouring of the Spirit manifests in the recipients speaking various unlearned languages (often translated “tongues”; Acts 2:4–13). Elsewhere in Acts, this reception of the Spirit at Pentecost is explicitly referred to as a baptism with the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:4–5; 11:15–17). And, as Peter explains (contrary to Ryrie and other dispensationalists), this Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit fulfills Old Testament expectations.

In answer to the crowds’ question, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12)—that is, what just happened; and why are these folks speaking all sorts of languages they don’t know?—Peter quotes Joel 2:28–32 (Acts 2:14–21). He concludes, this outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost is what Joel prophesied (Acts 2:16). In other words, the church, this new community of Jesus followers, is the eschatological (end-time) Israel on whom God has now poured out his end-time Spirit, as predicted by prophets like Joel and others (e.g., Ezek 36:26–27; 37:1–14).

And this Spirit-filled, end-time Israel will not be confined to Jews only. As the narrative of Acts progresses and the gospel spreads to new regions, this same outpouring of the Spirit occurs among Samaritans (Acts 8:1–25) and Gentiles as well (Acts 10:1–11:18; cf. Eph 2:11–22; Gal 3:13–14, 28–29).

The case of Cornelius (Acts 10:1–11:18) is particularly insightful in demonstrating this. In God’s providence, once again it’s Peter who witnesses these events and provides an explanation. This time the Spirit comes upon Cornelius, a Gentile and God-fearing centurion (Acts 10:44–47). The narrative—both Luke’s description of the event (Acts 10:44–47) and Peter’s report of it (Acts 11:15–18)—intentionally uses language that connects and compares this incident to the initial outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). For instance, identical language is used to describe the Spirit’s arrival: outpouring (Acts 2:17, 18, 33; 10:45); in both accounts, the Spirit’s reception is referred to as a “baptism” (Acts 1:5; 11:16) or “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38; 10:45); in both cases, the Spirit’s newly arrived presence manifests in the recipients speaking unlearned languages (Acts 2:1–13; 10:46). Peter’s commentary makes the connection explicit (all emphasis is added): “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have ” (Acts 10:47); “the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning, ” i.e., at Pentecost (Acts 11:15); “God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 11:17; see also Peter’s speech in Acts 15:7–11).

Peter’s point is that the same gift of the Spirit that was given at Pentecost—fulfilling Old Testament prophecies like Joel 2—has now been extended to Gentiles as well (and Samaritans too, we might add; Acts 8:1–25). Pentecost, we might say, has “hit the road”; it’s gone mobile, with Acts 8 and Acts 10 being something like a “Samaritan Pentecost” and “Gentile Pentecost,” respectively. These events signal the entry of the gospel into Samaritan and Gentile worlds, reflecting the book’s programmatic statement in Acts 1:8.

Second Blessing?

However, in 1 Corinthians, Paul asserts that every believer has been baptized in the Spirit: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13). In fact, Paul’s entire argument depends on this fact, for he argues for the unity of believers as one body based on their unity in all sharing in the same Spirit. So commentator Anthony Thistleton explains,

Any theology that might imply that this one baptism in 13a in which believers were baptized by [or in] one Spirit might mark off some postconversion experience or status enjoyed only by some Christians attacks and undermines Paul’s entire argument and emphasis. 15

Thus, nowhere does the New Testament command believers to seek or receive the baptism of the Spirit. 17 Nor can tongues-speaking be its necessary evidence, for as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, not all speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30; see also vv. 4–11) despite all having been baptized in the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). As Craig Blomberg aptly concludes,

[N]othing is said about the Corinthians having any two-stage experience. If the entire church had been baptized in the Spirit, including the large number of “carnal” Christians Paul elsewhere rebukes (1 Cor. 3:1–4), then clearly Spirit-baptism cannot guarantee a certain level of Christian maturity or holiness. And if no one spiritual gift was held by all Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 12:29–30), then neither may Spirit-baptism be uniformly equated with the reception of any particular gift of the Spirit. 18

What then of passages like Acts 2:1–4, 8:14–17, and 19:1–7 in which the Holy Spirit is received by those who are already believers or disciples?

Regarding Acts 19:1–7, most likely these disciples of John the Baptist were not yet believers in Jesus, as indicated by the fact that Paul proceeds to tell them about Jesus and then baptizes them in his name. If this is the case, then Acts 19:1–7 does not refer to actual believers who received the Holy Spirit subsequent to conversion. But even if these were genuine believers, the circumstances in which these individuals found themselves were without question unique and unrepeatable. The peculiarity of the whole ordeal finds its explanation in the fact that these disciples found themselves caught “between the times.” Like Washington Irving’s fictional character Rip Van Winkle who wakes up from a twenty-year nap having missed the American Revolutionary War, these disciples looked to John but had missed the arrival of Jesus to whom John was pointing.

The reason the apostles receive the Spirit in Acts 2:1–4 following their conversion is that they became believers in Jesus prior to the era in which this new ministry of the Holy Spirit began. As Sinclair Ferguson expounds, we ought not to conclude

that the disciples’ experience is paradigmatic for the church, for the obvious reason that they, uniquely, span the period of transition from old to new covenant faith. Their experience is epoch-crossing, and consequently atypical and non-paradigmatic. 19

Importantly, Pentecost must be understood as a unique redemptive-historical event. Richard Gaffin elaborates,

“Pentecost—along with Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension—is an essential part in the once-for-all event-complex in the history of redemption that forms the culmination of his saving work. The events in Luke-Acts related to Pentecost have their primary significance in terms of the once-for-all accomplishment of salvation, not its ongoing application. Pentecost belongs to the historia salutis , not the ordo salutis . The significance of Pentecost, then, is not first of all experiential but epochal. Pentecost, as we have seen, does not provide the model or pattern for Holy Spirit baptism understood as a ‘second blessing’ in addition to salvation by faith, to be sought by all believers but experienced only by some believers in distinction from others. As a climactic event in the history of redemption, Pentecost is constitutive for the church as a whole and so is the basis and has a bearing on the experience of the Spirit of not just some but everyone in the church, of not only some but everyone united to Christ by faith and in that union baptized with the Spirit.” 21

In other words, just as the death and resurrection of Christ were one-time events, never to be repeated, so too was Pentecost. We should therefore no more expect Pentecost to be repeated than we expect Christ to be re-crucified and once again raised from the dead. That’s because Pentecost—and I include here its Samaritan (Acts 8) and Gentiles expansions (Acts 10)—belongs to that sequence of once-and-for-all events whereby Christ accomplished redemption and ushered in a new era of salvation history. Pentecost is a constitutive element of the saving work of Christ, following his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension (see Acts 2:33). This side of Pentecost, we partake in what it accomplished. But we should no more think of this along the lines of a repetition of Pentecost any more than we should think of our participation with Christ in his death and resurrection (e.g., Rom 6:1–14) as the recurring of those events.

The baptism of the Spirit is Christ’s bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon every believer at the moment of his or her salvation. By this baptism, we are united to Christ, made members of his body, and thereby experience all the blessings of salvation which are to be found in him. Apart from those uniquely redemptive-historical cases in the book of Acts, baptism in the Spirit is neither separated from conversion nor is tongues-speaking its necessary sign. At Pentecost Christ first pours out the Spirit upon his church, fulfilling the Old Testament hopes that God would pour out his Spirit upon Israel in the latter days.

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  • These use the Greek preposition εν ( en ).
  • Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit , ed. Gerald Bray (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996,) 88.
  • Interestingly, mid-Acts (or ultra-) dispensationalism, unrelated to Pentecostalism, also appeals to this distinction between a baptism with (or in ) the Spirit (such as in Acts) from a baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13. As Ryrie explains, they do this in “to support their teaching of two churches within the Acts period. The Petrine church, or Jewish church, existed from Pentecost to Paul, and the body church from Paul on. The Jewish church received power by the baptism in the Spirit, and the Pauline, or body, church is formed by the baptism by the Spirit.” Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 420.
  • As Chad Brand notes, the only difference in Paul’s construction in 1 Cor 12:13 is “the addition of the word ‘one’ [Spirit] and the past tense” and use of “the passive voice, but that is to be expected with the subject shifting from ‘He’ [Jesus] to ‘we’ [Christians].” Chad Brand et al., eds., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 170.
  • That is, en with baptizein .
  • James D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-Examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in Relation to Pentecostalism Today , 2nd ed. (Norwich: Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd, 2010), 128. Pentecostal exegete Gordon Fee agrees: “Nowhere else does this dative with the verb ‘baptize’ imply agency (i.e., that the Spirit does the baptizing); rather, it always refers to the element ‘in which’ one is baptized.” The First Epistle to the Corinthians , ed. Ned B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, Gordon D. Fee, and Joel B. Green, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 671.
  • Graham A. Cole, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit , ed. John S. Feinberg (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 182.
  • Susanne Calhoun, “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” in Lexham Survey of Theology , eds. Mark Ward, Jessica Parks, Brannon Ellis, and Todd Hains (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).
  • Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 418.
  • Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 417.
  • Pentecostals are most notable for this sort of theology. However, they are not alone. J. I. Packer explains: “The idea that the apostolic experience of Acts 2 ( cf. 4:31) is a paradigmatic model and a personal necessity for all Christians has appeared within pietistic Protestantism in various forms. 1. John Fletcher (1729–85), Wesley’s designated successor, and some later Reformed teachers too, spoke of repeatable baptisms of the Spirit, meaning intensifyings of assurance and enhanced enablings for holy living and powerful ministry. 2. Charles Finney, D. L. Moody (1837–1899), R. A. Torrey (1856–1928), Andrew Murray, A. B. Simpson (1844–1919) and others echoed this, but assimilated it in different ways to the Wesleyan idea of a single ‘second-blessing’ experience that lifts one’s life to a permanently new level. 3. Pentecostals and charismatics generally see Spirit-baptism in this Wesleyan way, relating it to the full reception or release of the Spirit in one’s personal being, in assurance, emotional exuberance, glossolalia, inward liberty to speak for Christ, and the blossoming of all kinds of gifts for ministry, including (so it is often claimed) prophetic and healing gifts. Tongues are often made the touchstone of Spirit-baptism (see Gifts of the Spirit).” J. I. Packer, “Baptism in the Spirit,” in New Dictionary of Theology , eds. Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 73.
  • Article 7: “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit” in “ Assemblies of God 16 Fundamental Truths ,” accessed May 5, 2023.
  • Article 8: “The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” in “ Assemblies of God 16 Fundamental Truths ,” accessed May 5, 2023.
  • Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text , New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), 997–98.
  • Chad Brand, “Baptism With/in the Holy Spirit,” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 170.
  • Spirit baptism should not be confused with the “filling” of the Spirit, which throughout the New Testament does occur after conversion and is something believers are commanded to do (e.g., Eph 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit”). To be “filled” with the Spirit means to be under the controlling influence of and empowered by the Spirit (e.g., Luke 1:15, 41, 67; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 7:55; 9:17; 13:9). For example, in Ephesians 5:18 Paul contrasts being filled with the Spirit (i.e., being under the influence of the Spirit) with being under the influence of intoxicating drink. The “filling” that’s in view in these texts is not quantitative, as if believers somehow lack part of the Spirit and need more of him, but qualitative—his presence exerts a controlling influence.
  • Craig L. Blomberg, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology , electronic ed., Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996).
  • Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit , ed. Gerald Bray (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 80.
  • “What of the matter of tongues as initial evidence of Spirit baptism? At Pentecost and at the house of Cornelius, the Spirit-baptized believers spoke in tongues, but this was to show that both Jews and Gentiles alike had received the promised gift of the Spirit. Nowhere in Scripture are believers told that tongues is the evidence of Spirit baptism outside of these initial moments in salvation history.” Chad Brand at al., eds. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 170.
  • Richard B. Gaffin Jr., In the Fullness of Time: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Acts and Paul (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022), 155. So, too, Ferguson: “[Pentecost] is not primarily to be interpreted existentially and pneumatologically, but eschatologically and Christologically. By its very nature it shares in the decisive once-for-all character of the entire Christ-event (Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension). … Pentecost is not ‘repeated’ any more than the death or resurrection of Christ is a repeatable event.” Ferguson, Holy Spirit , 82, 86.

baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

Kirk Miller

Kirk E. Miller (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is a pastor at CrossWay Community Church in Milwaukee, WI. He is host of the Church Theology podcast. You can follow him at kirkmillerblog.com.

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What It Means to Be Baptized in the Holy Spirit

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The baptism in the Holy Spirit is understood to be a second baptism , "in fire" or "power," spoken of by Jesus in Acts 1:8:

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (NIV)

Specifically, it refers to the experience of believers on the Day of Pentecost described in the book of Acts . On this day, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and tongues of fire rested on their heads: 

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4, NIV)

The following verses provide evidence that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a distinct and separate experience from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that occurs at salvation: John 7:37-39; Acts 2:37-38; Acts 8:15-16; Acts 10:44-47.

Baptism in Fire

John the Baptist said in Matthew 11:11: "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Pentecostal Christians like those in the Assemblies of God denomination believe the baptism in the Holy Spirit is evidenced by speaking in tongues . The power to exercise the gifts of the spirit, they claim, comes initially when a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, a distinct experience from conversion and water baptism .

Other denominations that believe in Holy Spirit baptism are Church of God, Full-Gospel churches, Pentecostal Oneness churches, Calvary Chapels , Foursquare Gospel Churches, and many others.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The gifts of the Holy Spirit that accompany the baptism in the Holy Spirit as seen in the first century believers ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28) include signs and wonders such as the message of wisdom, the message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues.

These gifts are given to God's people by the Holy Spirit for "the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:11 says the gifts are given according to God's sovereign will ("as he determines"). Ephesians 4:12 tells us these gifts are given to prepare God's people for service and for building up the body of Christ.

Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

For one of the best descriptions of what it means to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, check out this teaching by John Piper, found at Desiring God: " How to Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit ."

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What Is Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Its Meaning and Importance in Scripture

What Is Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Its Meaning and Importance in Scripture

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Dr. Roger Barrier describes the biblical doctrine of the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" as the following:

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion ( 1 Corinthians 12:13 ; 6:19). It is not necessarily accompanied by the gift of speaking in tongues. It would be fair to say that most Christians do not speak in tongues when they receive Christ.

The word, “baptism” means to “dip in” or to “immerse” For example, in the "Odyssey", Odysseus escaped from the Cyclops by sticking (the Greek word is “baptized”) a stake into his eye. Odysseus did not sprinkle it in. He immersed it deeply. In the Bible “baptize” never means “to sprinkle” as some teach today. When we receive Christ, we are immersed (“baptized”) fully by the Holy Spirit into Christ and into the family of God (for example, read Romans 6:1-10 ).

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is received by simple faith in Christ.  The Baptism follows automatically, positioning us in Christ and cementing us securely into the family of God. Paul taught these “position in Christ” concepts in Colossians 2:12 .

Peter also enunciated them in 1 John 4:15 . The baptism of the Spirit refers to the new Believer’s incorporation into the body of Christ by a spiritual-organic union effected by the Holy Spirit. Peter declared the same in his sermon in Acts 2:28 . The new Christian is now "in Christ".

The Baptism in the Spirit is permanent and is bestowed at conversion. It is not to be repeated ( Acts 2:38 ). There is no Scripture text urging believers today to seek for the Spirit's Baptism.

The point is that it is not possible to receive what we already have!

On the other hand, what the Bible does urge us to seek and receive is the filling of the Holy Spirit. The key verse here is Ephesians 5:18 : "Do not get drunk on wine … Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” The term “be filled” is often translated in Greek as “keep on being filled” with the Spirit. It is a continual present tense.

From this, we deduce that the filling of the Spirit is not permanent, but is to be repeated again and again. As a drunk is saturated and under the direct influence of alcohol, so we are to live saturated and under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit.

When Does the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" Occur in the Life of a Believer?

Christianity.com: When does the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occur? from christianitydotcom2 on GodTube .

Transcribed from the video above, Sam Storms talks about when the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs in the life of a Christian:

Yeah, that's a very good question which, unfortunately, as you know, has divided Evangelicals from Pentecostals. I personally believe that spirit baptism happens at the point of conversion for all Christians. 

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I think when you're born again , you put your faith in Christ, Jesus immerses you in the Holy Spirit and you receive the fullness of the spirits' presence. He indwells you from that point on forever. That I think is what the New Testaments talking about when it uses the language of baptism in the spirit. 

Now I also believe that there is biblical justification for what we call post-conversion encounters with the spirit. So some Christians would simply want to call this the filling of the spirit or some might want to call it an anointing of the spirit. Philippians 1 , Paul talks about the provision of the spirit. I'm thinking of Galatians 3 and 1 Thessalonians 4 , Paul talks about God continually giving the spirit. 

So I would want to stand with my Pentecostal charismatic brothers and sisters and say, "You're right. There are multiple encounters with the spirit of God after we get saved throughout the course of our Christian life. Maybe through the impartation of a spiritual gift or empowerment for evangelism or deepened intimacy with Christ. 

But let's not call those spirit baptism." And I want to agree with my Evangelical brother and sisters and say, "You're right, spirit baptism happens for every Christian at the moment of their conversion. But let's not lose sight of the fact that there are multiple post conversion encounters and experiences with the spirit of God."

Let me just give a quick illustration that might help. I use this example in the Chapter. It's like if you have a headache and you said, "Sam, do you have some Tylenol?" I say, "Yeah." And I pull out and I give you a little bottle and you take a couple of pills and your headache goes away. 

And then later I discover that what I really gave you was Aspirin, and I said, "You know what? I got to apologize, I called this Tylenol. In fact, it was Aspirin." And your response is, "I don't care what you call it, it worked. It had medicinal power and my headache's gone." 

So my point is this, the question is, "Did you have a real experience with the spirit of God? Did you have an encounter that was life-changing and is it justified in scripture?" That's the issue. Whether you call it spirit baptism or I call it spirit filling, really, in the final analysis, does it matter? 

The question is, "Did we really have an encounter with the spirit of God that is biblically warranted and actually results in a transformed life?" And I think if Christians can embrace that, maybe some of this division between the Pentecostal charismatics and Evangelicals would begin to go away. 

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Don Stewart :: Does the Holy Spirit Baptize the Believer with Fire?

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Does the Holy Spirit Baptize the Believer with Fire?

The Holy Spirit and Us – Question 10

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit baptizes people “with fire.” In referring to the coming appearance of Jesus the Messiah, John the Baptist gave the following words.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire ( Matthew 3:11 NKJV ).

Does this mean the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer with fire for the purpose of purification? Or does it mean He will baptize the unbeliever with the fire of judgment? What exactly is the “baptism with fire?” Who receives it? Is it something good for them or bad?

Option 1: This Promise Refers to Believers

Some see this “baptism of fire” as a promise which refers to believers only. They link it to the baptism with the Holy Spirit which was something which only believers experienced. On the Day of Pentecost, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit baptized the believers with the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised. A few days before this, Jesus repeated the promise that John the Baptist had earlier made.

John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit ( Acts 1:5 NLT ).

He promised these disciples that the Holy Spirit would baptize them in short period of time.

Several days later Jesus’ promise was fulfilled. We read of what happened in the Book of Acts. It says.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them ( Acts 2:1-3 NRSV).

The baptism with the Holy Spirit, along with the accompanying fire, occurred on the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, it is a past historical act.

Were the Tongues of Fire the Fulfillment?

Are the tongues of fire the fulfillment of this prophecy? On the Day of Pentecost the tongues were said to have been “like” fire. There is no reference, however, to the “fire” of the Holy Spirit on this particular day.

Option 2: It Speaks of Judgment on Unbelievers

Another interpretation has this prophecy as referring to unbelievers. It is a reference to judgment for their sin. Indeed, in the Old Testament, fire spoke of purifying the faithful and damnation for the wicked. We read of this in Malachi where it says the following.

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness ( Malachi 3:2 , 3 NRSV).

The fire of judgment will be a work of the Holy Spirit upon those who do not believe. In other words, it is something to be avoided.

Another statement of John the Baptist seems to confirm this. The Bible records John response to a question of his identity.

John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” ( Luke 3:16 , 17 NASB ).

Here John speaks of burning the chaff with fire. The fire, in this case, is a reference of judgment on the unbeliever.

The Issue Stated

The issue is this. Does “with fire “furthers describes Holy Spirit baptism, or does it describe a different aspect of baptism altogether?

Option 1: They Refer to the Same Thing

If spirit and fire refer to the same thing, they both may describe judgment or blessing. Many scholars believe that John preached only a message of judgment and both phrases refer to judgment. Therefore the Holy Spirit is understood to be a destroying wind that works together with fire. The wind blows away the chaff.

Others believe that both phrases refer to the blessing experienced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The fire refers to the tongues of fire that were exhibited.

The problem with this view is that fire in the following verse clearly refers to judgment.

Option 2: There Is a Twofold Baptism

Because of this, many see a twofold baptism–one for the righteous (the Holy Spirit) and the other for the unrighteous (fire). It may be better to see these as one baptism. This baptism is experienced as either a judgment or a blessing. The fire will destroy the wicked but will purify the believer.

In sum, there is baptism of fire of which the Bible speaks of may be a reference to the work of the Holy Spirit in purifying as well as in judging the unbeliever.

Summary – Question 10 Does the Holy Spirit Baptize the Believer with Fire?

John the Baptist, in his prediction of the coming Messiah, said He will “baptize with fire.” There is disagreement as to whether this occurs with believers or unbelievers or perhaps both. Is the baptism of fire something desired or something to be dreaded?

Those who think it occurs with believers see it as referring to a refining process. Indeed, fire is used symbolically in Scripture as that which cleanses us from our sins. Thus, a baptism with fire would be a reference to the believer being cleansed from his or her sins.

On the other hand, there are those who think this prediction has unbelievers in mind. This is supported in the next verse where John uses the analogy of unbelievers being like chaff which will be burned in unquenchable fire. Indeed, Scripture says that unbelievers will eventually spend eternity in a “lake of fire.”

There is the possibility that it may be a reference to both refining and judgment. Fire will be used to purify the believers while it will also be used to punish the unbelievers. Therefore, the baptism of fire may be something which all people experience in one form or another.

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Old Testament

New testament.

Matthew 3:11-17 New International Version

11  “I baptize you with [ a ] water for repentance. ( A ) But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with [ b ] the Holy Spirit ( B ) and fire. ( C ) 12  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” ( D )

The Baptism of Jesus ( E )

13  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. ( F ) 14  But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15  Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16  As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, ( G ) and he saw the Spirit of God ( H ) descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17  And a voice from heaven ( I ) said, “This is my Son, ( J ) whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” ( K )

  • Matthew 3:11 Or in

Cross references

  • Matthew 3:11 : ver 6; S Mk 1:4
  • Matthew 3:11 : S Mk 1:8
  • Matthew 3:11 : Isa 4:4; Ac 2:3, 4
  • Matthew 3:12 : Mt 13:30; S 25:41
  • Matthew 3:13 : 3:13-17pp — Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21, 22; Jn 1:31-34
  • Matthew 3:13 : S Mt 3:1; S Mk 1:4
  • Matthew 3:16 : Eze 1:1; Jn 1:51; Ac 7:56; 10:11; Rev 4:1; 19:11
  • Matthew 3:16 : Isa 11:2; 42:1
  • Matthew 3:17 : Dt 4:12; Mt 17:5; Jn 12:28
  • Matthew 3:17 : Ps 2:7; Ac 13:33; Heb 1:1-5; 5:5; 2Pe 1:17, 18
  • Matthew 3:17 : Isa 42:1; Mt 12:18; 17:5; Mk 1:11; 9:7; Lk 3:22; 9:35; 2Pe 1:17

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

NIV Reverse Interlinear Bible: English to Hebrew and English to Greek. Copyright © 2019 by Zondervan.

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Baptism by Fire

May 15, 2016 Pentecost First Reading: Acts 2:1-11 http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051516-pentecost-day.cfm

When we hear Jesus encourage his disciples to go evangelize, often we get discouraged. We reflect on our weakness, our failures, our many unsuccessful attempts to proclaim the word. We fear being rejected, ignored, or persecuted. Sometimes our words fall on deaf ears. When we experience the power of God’s love and want to share it with others, our efforts are frequently frustrated. In today’s celebration of Pentecost, however, God offers us a reality far greater than our own attempts. He offers us the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim his message of good news and invite others to share in the victory of Jesus.

Pentecost was a Jewish feast before it became a Christian one. It was celebrated fifty days or seven weeks after the feast of Passover and was called the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot (Hebrew for “weeks”). Similarly, Christians celebrate Pentecost fifty days after Easter. The word “Pentecost” simply means “fiftieth.” The Jewish feast entailed special grain offerings and animal sacrifices tied to the grain harvest (Lev 23:15-22). The feast also came to commemorate the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai and Jewish men would come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast together. That is why Acts tells us that Jews from every nation had come to Jerusalem for the feast.

A Fiery Prayer Meeting

While Acts 2:1 only tells us that “all” were together in “one place,” we can extrapolate from 1:12-14 that the one place is the upper room and the people present are the apostles, the women disciples of Jesus, and Mary the mother of Jesus. Traditional icons of Pentecost show Mary in the middle of the apostles when the fire from heaven descends. The disciples encountered the Father in all their prayer and Scripture reading. They had come to know the Son as he walked the earth, but now they are visited by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Previously, the Holy Spirit was manifested as a dove (Mark 1:10), but now he comes as a “rushing violent wind” (my translation) and as fire. The sign of wind matches the words for spirit in Hebrew ( ruah ) and Greek ( pneuma ), which can be translated as “breath, wind, or spirit.” Jesus even teaches that “the wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Wind is a deliciously approprite symbol for the Holy Spirit who empowers, impels, inspires, and yet cannot be restricted or captured.

The tongues of fire, which came to rest on the disciples, are the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s prophecy about Jesus, that he would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt 3:11 RSV). Frequently, fire serves as a powerful metaphor for God’s working in the soul. Fire is strong, destructive, beautiful, terrifying, and mysterious. These connotations explain the description of God as a “devouring fire” (Deut 4:24) and his appearance to Moses in the burning bush story. Now, at Pentecost, God reveals himself in the sign of heavenly fire to pour out his power on his disciples so that they might become true witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Speaking in Tongues

While on a few occasions early in Luke’s gospel an individual is filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:41; 1:67), now a large group of people are all filled. The sign which accompanies their being filled with the Holy Spirit is speaking in “other tongues,” that is, languages which they do not understand. Notably, this sign repeatedly comes with the Holy Spirit’s descent (Acts 10:46; 19:6). In addition, the apostles preach to the crowds in their own language, but are heard by the crowds in many different languages. (Stories from the lives of the saints like St. Anthony and St. Vincent Ferrer show that this preaching gift was not a one-time event but continues in the life of the Church.)  These two manifestations of tongues seem to be the two sides of the same coin. Some interpreters see in the second manifestation an undoing of the Tower of Babel episode. In that story, the Lord introduced language confusion to divide man, but now he brings miraculous language understanding to unite him in the reception of the gospel.

The gospel message is the key. Here God comes in power, not to show off and merely impress people, but to convince them of the truth and relevance of the gospel. The gospel, the good news of the kingdom of God is the key. God wants us to hear and receive the message far more than we could ever even desire it. He wants us more than we want him. And in this truth, we can see how and why God offers these powerful signs on the day of Pentecost. He wants to offer all of those men who have come to Jerusalem to worship him an invitation to a deeper relationship, a new covenant, richly fulfilled in the death and resurrection of his Son. It is a message that demans an immediate response.

The Spirit comes to “convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). His power is far more effective in convicting hearts, changing minds, turning lives upside down with love than our arguments, efforts, programs and words will ever be. The apostles offer themselves as willing conduits of the fiery power of God and many hearts are opened to the gospel by the Spirit’s power. Human words and arguments are not enough. But when people encounter the power of God and the person of Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, their hearts can come aflame with love.

image: haak78 / Shutterstock.com

Tagged as: holy spirit , Pentecost , Unpacking the Old Testament

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By Dr. Mark Giszczak

Mark Giszczak (“geese-check”) was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. He studied philosophy and theology at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, MI and Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute of Denver, CO. He recently received his Ph. D. in Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America. He currently teaches courses in Scripture at the Augustine Institute, where he has been on faculty since 2010. Dr. Giszczak has participated in many evangelization projects and is the author of the CatholicBibleStudent.com blog. He has written introductions to every book of the Bible that are hosted at CatholicNewsAgency.com . Dr. Giszczak, his wife and their daughter, live in Colorado where they enjoy camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.

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IMAGES

  1. What it Really Means to be BAPTIZED IN FIRE

    baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

  2. HE WILL BAPTIZE YOU WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

    baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

  3. The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit And Fire

    baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

  4. Baptized With Fire

    baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

  5. Jesus Will Baptize You With the Holy Spirit and Fire

    baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

  6. What Does It Mean to be “Baptized With Fire?” Matthew 3:11 Explained

    baptize with holy spirit and fire meaning

VIDEO

  1. Holy spirit Fire anointing Sunday worship

  2. Holy Spirit Fire! The Word of God! #jesus #bible

  3. Holy Spirit Fire Anointing Ministry

  4. HE WILL BAPTIZE YOU WITH HOLY SPIRIT !

COMMENTS

  1. What is the baptism of/by/with fire?

    Some believe that the baptism with fire refers to the Holy Spirit's office as the energizer of the believer's service, and the purifier of evil within, because of the exhortation "Do not quench the Spirit" found in 1Thessalonians 5:19. The command to the believer is to not put out the Spirit's fire by suppressing His ministry.

  2. Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire

    (Hebrews 13:20.) Enemies of the cross of Christ try to retain the power of the resurrection, while at the same time rejecting the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. This is exactly where people go astray. The Holy Spirit and fire, power and pain: these are inseparable. God never allows them to be separated.

  3. What it Really Means to be BAPTIZED IN FIRE

    If this is what John the Baptist means, then being baptized with fire would refer to an event of being made more holy, like increasing in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). (More Likely) Option 3: Fire = Judgment In the Old Testament, fire is sometimes used to refer to God's judgment of Israel's enemies.

  4. 3. Baptized with the Holy Spirit and Fire (Luke 3:15-18)

    It is a title that means "Messiah." To his credit, nowhere does John the Baptist try to cling to his public following. John's Gospel tells us that the Baptist even pointed his own disciples to Jesus (John 1:35-37), and accepted Jesus' eclipsing role with graciousness. John the Baptist refers to the Messiah as "One more powerful than I" (3:16b).

  5. What does it mean to be baptized "with fire"? Matthew 3:11

    4,351 1 17 53 The fire of affliction and persecution (for Christ's sake). The fire of the vehement life of the Spirit of Holiness (seven lamps of fire before the throne). A fire without, from that which is adverse to Christ. A fire within from that which is of his Holy Presence. - Nigel J Jun 11, 2020 at 22:05 Add a comment 2 Answers Sorted by: 1

  6. What Is the Baptism of Fire and is it Biblical?

    The phrase "baptism by fire" is often used to describe a difficult transition. It might be used to describe a new soldier enduring boot camp, a person who just got a promotion or who has...

  7. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Matthew 3:11.

    "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Matthew 3:11. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? The baptism of the Spirit is an "immersion of the Spirit." When you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you will receive strength, power and boldness from God to accomplish your work and overcome sin in your own life.

  8. What does Matthew 3:11 mean?

    KJV I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Follow Us: © Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved. www.BibleRef.com | Sitemap | Books of the Bible | Passages

  9. Baptism of the Holy Spirit: What It Means & How We Get It Wrong

    The baptism of the Spirit is Christ's bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon every believer at the moment of his or her salvation. By this baptism, we are united to Christ, made members of his body, and thereby experience all the blessings of salvation which are to be found in him. Apart from those uniquely redemptive-historical cases in the book ...

  10. What It Means to Be Baptized in the Holy Spirit

    The baptism in the Holy Spirit is understood to be a second baptism, "in fire" or "power," spoken of by Jesus in Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (NIV)

  11. What Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

    First, Luke describes the first baptism of the Spirit as being filled. He uses the filling language in Acts 2:4. He says, "Wait for this baptism" ( Acts 1:4-5 ), and then when he describes it in 2:4, he says, "They were filled with the Holy Spirit.". For him, these are overlapping realities, fullness and baptism.

  12. Baptism of Fire?

    Water baptism. Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Baptism of fire. This is why many years later, the author of Hebrews lists "baptisms" (plural) as one of the foundational doctrines of the Church of God (Hebrews 6:2). The word baptize comes from a Greek word that means "to immerse." John was immersing people in the water of the Jordan River.

  13. Luke 3:16 John answered all of them: "I baptize you with water, but One

    He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. New Living Translation John answered their questions by saying, "I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I'm not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

  14. What is the meaning of the phrase "baptism by fire"?

    The phrase "Baptism by Fire" has many different meanings ranging from 1) someone's learning how to do something "the hard way," to 2) someone's being filled with the Holy Spirit, and to 3) the Mormon viewpoint that it refers to someone's receiving the Holy Spirit.

  15. Matthew 3:11 I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will

    Verse 11. - (Cf, especially John 1:27; Acts 13:25; also Acts 19:4.)After our ver. 10 St. Luke inserts details of the various kinds of fruit that repentance ought to produce, suggested by the questions of different portions of the Baptist's audience; and then, with an explanatory note that John's words were due to a misconception having arisen that he was himself the Messiah, he adds what we ...

  16. You Will Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit

    "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." So Jesus is saying here in Acts 1:5, "This is going to happen in just a few days — you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

  17. What Is Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Its Meaning and ...

    The baptism of the Spirit refers to the new Believer's incorporation into the body of Christ by a spiritual-organic union effected by the Holy Spirit. Peter declared the same in his sermon in Acts 2:28. The new Christian is now "in Christ". The Baptism in the Spirit is permanent and is bestowed at conversion.

  18. Does the Holy Spirit Baptize the Believer with Fire?

    The Bible says that the Holy Spirit baptizes people "with fire." In referring to the coming appearance of Jesus the Messiah, John the Baptist gave the following words. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.

  19. This Is He Who Baptizes with the Holy Spirit

    John 1:33: "I myself did not know him, but [God] who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'" That's our focus today — what is meant by Jesus's baptizing with the Holy Spirit. Why did John make this part of his message?

  20. Matthew 3:11-17 NIV

    He will baptize you with[ b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." The Baptism of Jesus

  21. Baptism by Fire

    The tongues of fire, which came to rest on the disciples, are the fulfillment of John the Baptist's prophecy about Jesus, that he would "baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matt 3:11 RSV). Frequently, fire serves as a powerful metaphor for God's working in the soul. Fire is strong, destructive, beautiful, terrifying, and ...