The book of Acts is a history of the establishment and life of the early church. It is also a record of the first conversion accounts. Several of our studies in recent days have centered on the matter of baptism. Today’s blog continues this line of study but will be the last for a while, as the text moves on from specific conversion accounts to the work of Peter and Paul.
There are only two recorded incidents of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Joel (2:28-32) and promised by Jesus (Acts 1). The first is in Acts 2, where the apostles were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the ability to speak in other languages.
The other such pouring out of the Holy Spirit is found in today’s text regarding the household of Cornelius. In verse 44, while Peter is preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word, meaning Cornelius and his household. The result of this “falling” was the same as when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles in Acts 2, those recipients spoke in other languages and magnified God (cf Acts 2:4, 11; 10:45-46).
Neither of these outpourings was in any way connected to or indicative of the salvation status of the recipients. The apostles were already saved, but the Gentiles were not yet saved. We know this because in verse 48 Peter commanded the Gentiles to be baptized in the name of the Lord. This baptism brought to its recipients the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and salvation (Mark 16:16).
The Holy Spirit was given as a sign, but not a sign of salvation. In both cases, the Spirit was given as a sign to the Jews. Peter explained to the unbelieving Jews that the events of that day were not only a fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 2:16-21) but also a proclamation of the authority of Jesus (2:22-36).
In Acts 10, the Holy Spirit given to Gentiles to explain to Peter and the Jews present with him concerning the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Gospel system (Acts 10:34-35; 11:15-18).
Having accomplished His purpose of pouring out the Spirit on all flesh (Jew and Gentile), the baptism of the Holy Spirit was completed. There is now only one baptism, immersion in water to receive remission of sins (Eph 4:5; Acts 2:38).