Baptized in the Spirit: What Does It Mean?

All the key words are here, spelled out in simple English.

This list reveals the activity of the third person of the Trinity. His Spirit empowers us to worship Jesus Christ and God the Father and to live godly lives in the image of his Son.

Let’s look at the words that describe this biblical truth. Please apply the reality behind them to your life. Don’t leave them as mere words.

Key words

1.. Verb pimplēmi, which means “fills”: Luke 1:15 (John); 1:41 (Elizabeth); 1:67 (Zechariah); Acts 2:4 (the 120 disciples); 4:8 (Peter); 4:31 (disciples); 9:17 (Paul); 13:9 (Paul).

2.. Adjective plērēs, which means “full” or “filled”: Luke 4:1 (Jesus); Acts 6:3 and 5 (seven deacons), 6:8 (Stephen); 7:55 (Stephen); 11:24 (Barnabas).

3.. Verb plērō, which means “fills” or “fulfills”: Acts 2:2 (house); Acts 13:52 (disciples); Eph. 5:18 (Ephesian Christians).

4.. Verb oikeō, which means “lives” or “dwells”: 1 Cor. 3:16 (The Spirit lives in God’s church); Eph. 2:22 (God make his church his dwelling place by his Spirit)

5.. Verb oikeō, which means “lives” or “dwells”; after Pentecost: 1 Cor. 3:16: The Spirit lives in God’s church; Eph. 2:22: God make his church his dwelling place by his Spirit.

6.. Verb menō means that the Spirit “remains,” “abides” or “stays” with you (John 1:32; 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:13).

7.. Verb lambanō, which has many meanings, like “takes,” “takes hold of,” or “grasps,” but in the context of the Spirit, it is best to translate it as “receive” or “accept”: John 7:39 (The Spirit was about to be received by believers); John 14:17 (the world cannot receive him, implying his disciples can); John 20:22 (disciples); Acts 1:8 (the disciples will receiver power through Sprit); Acts 2:33 (exalted Jesus received promise [Spirit] of Father and then poured Spirit out); Acts 2:38 (Jews hearing Peter at Pentecost); Acts 8:15-17 and 19 (Samaritans); Acts 10:47 (Cornelius and his household); Acts 19:2 (Ephesian believers); Rom. 8:15 (Christians received Spirit of sonship); 1 Cor. 2:12 cf. 2 Cor 11:4 (Corinthians have not received spirit of the world but the Spirit); Gal. 3:2 (Galatian Christians).

8.. Verb ekcheō (pronounced ek-kheh-o), which means “pours out”: Acts 2:17 (the Spirit poured out on all flesh); 2:18 (same as 17); 2:23: (same); 10:45 (on Cornelius and his household); Rom. 5:5: (God’s love poured out by Spirit on Christians).

9.. Verb chrio, which means “anoints”: Luke 4:18, quoting Is. 61:1-2 (Spirit anointing Jesus); Acts 10:38 (God anointed Jesus with Spirit); he anointed us, set his seal of ownership, and put his Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor. 1:21-22).

10.. Verb pempō, which means “sends”: John 14:26 (The Father sends the Spirit); John 15:26 (Jesus sends the Spirit who proceeds from Father).

11.. Verb exapostellō, which means “sends” or “sends out,” or “sends forth”: Gal. 4:6 (God sent forth the Spirit of his Son to Galatians).

12.. Preposition epi, which means “upon,” and combined with verb “be”: Luke 2:25 (The Spirit was upon Simeon); Luke 4:18, quoting Is. 61:1-2 (Spirit was upon Jesus).

13.. Verb epipiptō, which means “falls upon” or “comes upon” (the prefix epi– usually means “upon”): Acts 8:16 (Samaritans); 10:44 (Cornelius and his household); 11:37 (Peter reporting Spirit falling Cornelius and household).

14.. Verb katabainō, “descends” or “comes down”: Matt. 3:16 // Mark 1:10 // Luke 3:22 // John 1:32-33 (Spirit descending on Jesus).

.15. Verb erchomai, which means “comes” or “goes”: John 16:13 (Spirit of truth will come); Acts 19:6 (Paul laid hands on Ephesians and Spirit came on them).

16.. Verb eperchomai, which means “comes upon” (the prefix epi– usually means “upon”): Luke 1:35 (The Spirit comes up Mary to conceive Jesus); Acts 1:8 (The Spirit comes on disciples)

17.. Verb ekporeuomai, which means “goes out” or “proceeds”: John 15:25 Jesus sends the Spirit who goes out from the Father

18.. Verb tithēmi, which means “puts” or “places”: Matt. 12:18, quoting Is. 42:1-4 (God puts his Spirit on Jesus).

19.. Verb didōmi, which means “gives”: John 1:34 (The Father gives the Spirit without measure); Acts 8:16 (Spirit was given by laying on hands); Acts 15:8 (Peter reporting to council God giving Spirit to Cornelius and household); 1 Thess. 4:8: (God has given his Spirit to us).

20.. Verb baptizō, which means to “immerses” or “plunges” or “dips”: Matt. 3:11 // Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26 (crowds); Acts 1:5 (on 120); Acts 11:16 (Peter repeating what John and Jesus said); 1 Cor. 12:13 (Spirit baptized Corinthian church into one body). When the rich man was in Hades, he asked Lazarus to dip his finger in water to refresh him. The Greek word for dip is baptō. So what does baptism mean? John the Baptist’s water baptism was immersion. He could have been called John the Dipper. The Spirit immersed spirit and soul, and even their bodies (Rom 8:11), just as water immersed John’s candidates. The main point is that Jesus is the Baptizer (Matt. 3:11; Mar 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26). One could also say he is the “Filler” or “he who fills” or “Immerser” or “he who immerses” with the Spirit. The body too, since the Spirit inspiring them to speak affected (but not forced) the physical tongue.

Now, are “tongues” the necessary sign of being baptized in the Spirit? Bible interpreters disagree about this. When they disagree so strenuously because the key verses can be interpreted in various ways, that is a sign that we are asking the wrong question.

Here is a clearer way–let’s hope!

The gift of Spirit-inspired languages is God-ordained. He wants his people to pray the perfect prayer and worship him with the mind of the Spirit. Therefore, he extends his gift to anyone who will take it. His hand is open and on it is this gift he invented. They can receive it at any time and in any place, whether at the initial baptism in the Spirit or multiple infillings or long afterwards. But if his people reject his offer of his gift—it is an offer that they can refuse!—then he will not compel them to accept it. It seems sad, however, that they would slap it away, out of his hand.

See my posts:

The Purpose and Importance of Spiritual Languages

Questions and Answers about Spirit-Inspired Languages

Should We Call It ‘Tongues’?

Conclusion

The epistles and entire book of Acts is very charismatic, and the Spirit is behind it all. (The four Gospels are also very charismatic, but they focus on Christ’s anointing, which he extends to his church in Acts and the epistles.) For example, in the book of Acts, in 11:24 Barnabas is said to be full of the Holy Spirit and faith. It is inconceivable that he would not have his prayer language, as an associate of Saul / Paul, who stated the fact that he prays in the Spirit more than all the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:18). To that point, Saul was said to receive the Spirit, but Luke does not mention anything about Spirit-inspired languages (Acts 9:17). Luke does not need to mention the fullness or baptism of the Spirit including prayer languages in every verse that talks about this fullness. It would be like Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, intervening to tell his readers on every other page, “Don’t forget! We’re on a whaling ship!” The author assumes the readers know this from the context—from the entire book of Acts. The same goes for the epistles.

How do these truths help me grow in Christ?

I urge people everywhere to accept the fulness of the Spirit. If they receive their prayer language then and there, great! But they can receive it years later, if they want. But they must come with hungry hearts and an open mind. They must not come to God’s wonderful offer with over-intellectualizing mental blocks or an attitude that says, “Oh yeah? Let’s just wait and see!” Or “Maybe, maybe not!” Or “I have my preconceived ideas, and I’m prejudiced against it!” Or “My previous pastor taught against it, and it will take a lot for me to accept it!”

No, all God’s gifts are received when people are hungry and genuinely reach out for it. Analogous example: people receive salvation through hunger and faith. And so it is with the gift of Spirit-inspired prayer languages. You actually need this gift to boost and empower your Christian life. Seek him for this gift, with a hungry and humble and open heart and mind. He will be glad to give it.

Luke 11:11-13:

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13, NIV)

SOURCES

Works Cited

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