Baptism of the Holy Spirit
by Frank Padilla, CFC Pastoral Center Director
Reprinted from Nov. - Dec., 1995 issue of Ugnayan Magazine
The Scriptural Citation...
The phrase "baptize with the holy Spirit" appears only six times in the Bible. John the Baptist says it once, but appearing in all four gospels (Mt 3 :11 , Mk 1:8, Lk 3 :16, Jn 1 :33). Jesus says it once (Acts l:5) and Peter quotes him (Acts 11:16). Thus, in effect, the phrase "baptize with the holy Spirit" is used only twice, once by John the Baptist and once by Jesus. We are not counting two other references to it (Mt 28:19 and 1 Cor 12:13).
This is amazing, considering the importance of baptism in the Spirit. But on the other hand, it was something not to be explained, but to be experienced. And when the disciples received the baptism in the Spirit on Pentecost, they knew it. It was a lifetransforming experience.
Is baptism in the Spirit different from water baptism?
Yes. Jesus himself distinguished the two baptisms (Acts 1:5). In Samaria, people experienced water baptism before and distinct from baptism in the Spirit (Acts 8:15-17) On the other hand, Cornelius and his household were baptized with water after they had received the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 10:44-48).
How about the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (for Catholics)?
In Baptism, we do receive the Spirit, and in fact this sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit". Thus there is no question that the Holy Spirit is conferred in Baptism. Thus there is a correct sense in which we can say that Baptism is baptism in the Spirit.
In addition, the other sacrament of Christian initiation, Confirmation, completes the grace conferred in Baptism. Confirmation binds a person more perfectly to the Church and enriches him/her with a special strength of the Holy Spirit, a strength to witness to Christ and to spread and defend the faith. This sounds very much like what happened to the disciples at Pentecost.
Thus, for the Church, baptism in the Holy Spirit happens in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.