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The Significance of Pentecost: A Study of Acts 2

Updated: May 9, 2023


This paper will demonstrate that the baptism of the Holy Spirit initiated at Pentecost, as detailed in Acts 2[1], marked the beginning of the church of Jesus Christ and established the ongoing, multicultural commission of each of its members. Particular aspects of this thesis will be defined and defended through exegesis, primarily rooted within Acts 2:1-4, which details both the concrete and metaphorical meanings of such phrases as baptism, other tongues, and fire (Matt 3:11), as well as academic extraction regarding the debates surrounding whether there are to be one or two baptisms, or what is applicably meant by “speaking in tongues.” The metaphorical support for the main thesis will be gleaned from parallel scriptural passages which exemplify the range of meaning within specific terminology associated with the Pentecost phenomenon and prophesy of Acts 2, such as sifting “like wheat,” the Great Commission and empowerment for ministry (Matt 28:19; Luke 22:31). The purpose of this study will not be to allegorically “define the undefinable” work of the supernatural Spirit of God within his church, but will be to explore and unite the literal and spiritual concepts demonstrated in the Pentecost event of Acts 2 with other patterns present in Scripture. Modern application regarding the concepts explored within this paper will focus on multicultural service within the Christian church via the continuing leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Trinitarian Pneumatology of Acts 2

As aforementioned, the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, initiated at Pentecost, marked the beginning of the church of Jesus Christ and established the ongoing, multicultural commission of each of its members (Acts 2). The unusual event of Pentecost in Acts 2, commonly known as “the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” is set within the unusual book, The Acts of the Apostles, which, according to Blomberg, is “…the only existing work inside or outside the canon of Scripture to describe this first generation of church history.”[2] Therefore, Acts may be viewed as the earliest model for the Christian church. Seemingly contrary to the book’s title, Peter is the only initially-appointed apostle of Christ of primary importance within this book.[3] Paul plays the other significant role. It is worth consideration that this apostolic distinction, from appointed (Peter by Christ) to anointed (Paul by the Spirit), adds to the meaning of Acts as a whole, providing an illustration that “apostle” may entail the broader scope of apostello within this book, or “one who is sent forth…entrusted with a foreign mission” (Matt 10:2; Acts 9:1-7).[4]

The unusual events in Acts present “unique problems in application” to which Blomberg offers the following:

One fundamental hermeneutical axiom in answering these questions [regarding application] is to distinguish consistent patterns of behavior from multiple contexts within the book (and within the rest of the New Testament more generally)…[T]he book of Acts appears in a unique position in the progress of God’s revelation to humanity. …Jesus’ first group of disciples [were transformed] from an exclusively Jewish sect centered in Jerusalem to what one generation later had become a predominantly Gentile movement scattered throughout the Roman Empire.[5]

The phenomenal and prophetical aspects present within Acts 2 provide for more “implication” than “application,” perhaps allowing for an element of freedom in individual interpretation and expression. Ethically, however, this interpretive freedom warrants comparison between the events of Pentecost and the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Therefore, in addition to Acts and New Testament patterns, this paper will also include comparisons to Old Testament contexts as referenced in Peter’s sermon regarding the proper interpretation of the spiritual events of Acts 2 (vs. 14-36). In essence, the Spirit’s activity, as recorded within the book of the earliest church, has ingeniously led that church into the remainder of the Word of God for interpretive guidance, thus making the Church of Christ biblically astute throughout the generations.

Proving the baptism of Acts 2 as the exact fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy, per Peter’s sermon, is beyond the scope of this paper,[6] however, to disallow any room for scriptural comparisons in order to extract meaning restricts Trinitarian pneumatology which, “…faces two primary tasks: an account of the Spirit’s mysterious personal being and…his immediate personal action” (Acts 2:14-36)[7] Clearly, the Holy Spirit mysteriously encountered those attending the Pentecost of Acts 2 and Peter resorted to prophetical and metaphorical interpretations in his public explanation of the event (Acts 2:14-36). Any appropriate study on the nature of the Holy Spirit will leave room for unanswered questions and, therefore, the opportunity for faith. Blomberg states, “Luke [the author of Acts] clearly sees the work of the early church as ‘Spirit-directed.’”[8] The name of the third person of the Trinity, Holy Spirit, is used primarily in the New Testament, and primarily by Luke, with the Acts of the Apostles notably having the highest saturation of this name. Therefore, this paper will approach the study of Acts 2 in similar fashion to Luke’s overall intention of Spirit-direction with reverence for the Spirit’s mysterious interruption of the Pentecost celebration of Acts 2, an event of thanksgiving to himself wherein he opened the door to enter and begin the church (Luke 13:23-27; Rev 3:20).[9]

One cannot express or realize a proper pneumatological evaluation of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” without granting the triune God both a contemporary and historical place to lead and govern the study simply because the baptism exemplified in Acts 2:1-4 was “poured out” by God, done in the name of Jesus, with the gift of the Holy Spirit to follow to each recipient (Matt 3:11; Acts 2:2-4, 17-18, 22-24, 33, 38). Acts 2 illustrates a Trinity event—not something impersonal, nor conjured or imagined by man. Herrick explains:

The term pneumatology comes from two Greek words…pneuma meaning “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit”…and logos meaning “word,” “matter,” or “thing.” [P]neumatology refers to the study of the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit…[which] includes…the personality.., deity.., and the work of the Spirit throughout Scripture. The personality (and therefore “personhood”) of the Holy Spirit has been denied by certain groups throughout the history of the church…some refer to it [him] as “God’s active force,” almost in a Gnostic sense of an emanation from the one, true God. Before we look at the biblical evidence, it is important to point out that there is no necessary connection in the Koine Greek between grammatical gender and personal gender so it is simply false to say that since the Greek noun pneuma is neuter, the spirt must be an “it.”[10]

This distinction is significant in that rendering the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” a triune event links Acts 2 with the remainder of Scripture; reinforces the credibility of Peter’s own reference to the Old Testament prophesy of both Joel and David; and adds to the universality and continuation of the aftereffects of the baptism presented until the Lord’s return (2 Tim 3:16; John 1:1; Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:5-13, 16-21, 34-36, 41; Acts 10). To depersonalize the event of Acts 2 (by referring to the Spirit as “it”) isolates the event from the remaining Word breathed of God, therefore, stripping metaphorical yet biblical patterns from spiritual and practical interpretation, which Peter, Paul and Jesus openly employed (2 Tim 3:16; Mark 10:38; Acts 2:14-36).[11] For example, a strict stance against Peter’s own metaphorical interpretation of the events at Pentecost (…this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…) also restricts faith in the continuation of the Holy Spirit’s work into the modern age by segregating his baptism to one day in time, or to a select few (2 Tim 3:16; Acts 2:14-36; Matt 28:19-20). Can God’s eternal Spirit be so limited (Gen 1:26; Matt 12:32; Mark 3:29, 13:11; John 3:34, 14:16-26, 16:7; 1 Pet 3:18)? This approach to the Pentecostal event of Acts 2 would be similar to insisting that God said, “Let there be light,” but interjecting a manmade cut-off date that is simply not available in the biblical text, nor in general revelation (Gen 1:3). There is still light present today, both spiritual and literal (divinity; sun), just as the Holy Spirit’s work continues within the church of Christ today (Gen 1:3; John 1:1-5; Heb 1:3). A cut-off date is absent from Acts 2, but continuation phraseology and behavioral patterns are present, such as the Gentile experience of Acts 10; Peter’s specific linkage of past and future prophesy; “in the last days,” being plural and purposely undefined; as well as the length of prophesy, “before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come,” being future tense and calculably unknown (Matt 28:19-20; 24:36; Acts 1:7-8; 2:16-18, 20-21, 33). Peter’s sermon strongly suggests the outpouring of the Spirit is to be continued until Christ’s second coming, as paralleled in the Great Commission’s “end of the age” pattern, in which the Holy Spirit is also personally included within Trinitarian baptism rites and “all the nations” are addressed as well (Acts 2:5, 14-36 & 10:44-48; Matt 28:16-20). Further, the manifestation of a rush of wind at Pentecost, followed by intelligible languages of Jews from “every nation under heaven,” as spoken by common Galileans, presents an amazing perplexity with no natural explanation; this testifies this baptism was not instigated by man (Acts 2:1-13). The result was three-thousand initial salvations and countless more as evidenced by the number of saved Christians on the earth today (Acts 2:41, 47; 10:44-48). Had the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred only twice in history—that is, with no individual, inner-workings of the Spirit within man, there would very likely be no current evidence of the Christian church or salvation present on the earth today (Acts 2, 10; Matt 3:11).

Pentecost: Significance of Languages

The Holy Spirit chose to initially baptize at the Pentecost celebrated in Acts 2 (Matt 3:11; Acts 1:5, 2:1-4). This event marked “the Festival of Weeks, a day-long agricultural festival…[which] celebrates the fruits of the harvest… The Spirit arrives…into a setting overflowing with sojourners…”[12] The text indicates the Jews present in Jerusalem were “devout” and “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). “Every nation under heaven” according to Albert Barnes is, “[a] general expression meaning all parts of the earth”[13] As previously established, the usage of metaphorical terminology is present within the context of Acts 2. There is a literal aspect of the listing of actual nations and a metaphorical aspect which details the “universal participation” divinely inferred upon the church (Acts 2:6-11, 20-21, 39).[14] This metaphorical aspect is significant in that: 1) it establishes the all-inclusive, or multicultural, nature of the church of Christ according to the character of God, and 2) it illustrates his continuation of will from the Old Testament until the return of Christ, i.e. “from every nation under heaven;” “all mankind;” “everyone;” “before the great and glorious day;” “until I make…” (Acts 2:5, 17, 18, 21, 28, 35). Blomberg states the significance of the celebration and diverse languages of Acts 2:

Pentecost completes the sequence of events that began with Christ’s death, included his resurrection and ascension, and now provides the opportunity for God to bestow his Spirit upon all his people. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon certain Israelites temporarily for special acts of power and service; now he will permanently live within all believers. …Moreover, though God confused the languages of earth’s inhabitants at the tower of Babel (Gen 11), here he begins to undo that confusion. [15]

The above illustrates that the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon “all…people” for “permanent” empowerment for acts of service, or ministry, and that cross-cultural communication is a process wherein God undoes former confusion.[16] The languages spoken on the day of Pentecost were intelligible and simply foreign (Acts 2:6-12).[17] Had Luke intended the glossolalia of 1 Corinthians 14:1-33, or “tongues only…understood through an interpreter,” he would not have gone to such great lengths to record the understandability and legitimacy of the languages on this day (Acts 2:6-12).[18] By crossing lingual and geographical barriers in a supernatural way, the passage clearly indicates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit enables multicultural communication and international participation, evidenced within Acts 2 and the movement of the Christian church on the earth today. McDevitt adds, “The Spirit is an inclusive entity and does not discriminate in choosing through whom [he] will act. …[This was a] full community with a wide variety of voices.”[19] Russell states:

Pentecost is the beginning of the universal proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ…The multiplicity of languages present…foreshadowed not only the universality of the message of the gospel, but also the universality of the messengers of the gospel…[Jesus’] dependence upon the Holy Spirit who encourages this universal ministry (Luke 4:1, 14) is our model…The Spirit promotes world evangelization now according to Christ’s desires…Luke always connects the “filling of the Holy Spirit” with the proclamation of the gospel in Acts…[20]

Egocentrism, or a refusal to be cross-culturally inclusive with the gospel message, is, according to Russell, equivalent to “quenching the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 5:19-20).[21] The outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, coupled with the manifestation of various languages, echoes the Great Commission’s multicultural command to make disciples of “all nations” (Acts 2:5-11; Matt 28:16-20; Acts 10).

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptismal event which occurred in Acts 2 (Jewish), and again in Acts 10 (Gentile), both unified and diversified the church of Christ, in that it was no longer to remain exclusive to the Jewish nation, but was meant for the inclusion of “all nations” as exemplified by two occurrences each including diverse languages (Acts 1:5, 17; Acts 10:47). The exegesis of this paper is primarily rooted in Acts 2:1-4:

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.

This baptism, or filling of the Spirit, is “foundational for Acts but is not referred to elsewhere in the New Testament [except in] John 20:22.”[22] It was predicted by John the Baptist to be done “with the Holy Spirit and fire,”[23] and implicated as significant and forthcoming by Jesus’ use of a future tense of the verb form of baptizo (Luke 3:16, 24:49; Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; John 1:33, 16:7; Acts 1:5).[24] According to Strong’s Concordance, the resulting “speaking in tongues” (glossa) is defined as:

[T]ongue, language, nation…used of flowing speech; (figuratively) speaking, inspired by God….The normative experience of the 120 believers received “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3) and miraculously spoke in other actual languages…[was] a sign repeated in Acts 10:46; 19:6—furnishing ample proof (three attestations) that the Lord had incorporated all believers into Christ’s mystical body (1 Cor 12:13).[25]

The significance of the symbolism of “tongues as of fire” in the passage unites the baptism of the Holy Ghost with both language (or speaking) and fire (purification; holiness; Old Testament symbol for divine judgment).[26] According to the aforementioned definition, speaking, or glossa, primarily refers to actual languages, as attested to in Acts 2:5-12, inspired by God. This suggests, in light of the Great Commission, this baptism enables each disciple of Christ to engage in a form of multicultural communication of the gospel, but with the additional endowment of inspiration, similar to that immediately exemplified within the context of Acts 2 (Peter’s 3,000 converts; vs. 14-41; Matt 28:16-20).

Roberts addresses some denominational differences regarding glossa: “Pentecostals and Charismatics believe that one who is baptized in the Holy Spirit will evidence this through speaking in other tongues. Non-charismatics or non-Pentecostals do not see this as a necessary sign…”[27] However, for the purposes of this paper, “speaking in tongues,” when evaluated within the context of Acts, may best be interpreted to mean that the spoken word in the art of gospel evangelism is inspired in a similar fashion as was the written word, though subpar (2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Cor 14:15; 2 Pet 1:21). In addition, the Acts 2 languages are understandable by select hearers, but unknown to the speaker (Acts 2:8). McDevitt expounds:

[E]veryone can relate to feeling as though one’s words never quite arrived at the intended destination. As such, many may appreciate the quieter, though equally remarkable, work of the Spirit in this text: opening the ears of those who hear…[28]

The unique detail of the speakers’ incomprehension illustrates dependence upon the Spirit for the correct utterance, and the advance preparation of the listener(s), in order to make a meaningful connection.

The primary meaning of the name Holy Spirit, or pneuma, is holy breath—something literally required to speak (breath) and, figuratively, needed to communicate the gospel reverently (holiness).[29] In 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul suggests to pray and sing both “with spirit” and “understanding” in order to be instructive and build the listener up (1 Cor 14:15-19). While Acts infers that glossa is completely legitimate language, it is a special communication granted by the Holy Spirit to be used in a way that he governs, which, in modern application, could include missions in a foreign country or simply inspirational preaching or teaching which reaches souls for Christ (Acts 10, 2:41; Matt 28:16-20).

The baptism which results in inspirational speaking (glossa) is accompanied with fire, or puros—a term often associated with transformational and purifying trials which brings the subject into a closer likeness with holiness, and therefore God.[30] This baptism, or baptizo, as drawn from the following passages, is attributed to the Holy Spirit rather than man: I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8); the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). Jesus confirms “baptism of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 1:5. Baptizo can mean, “to immerge; to wash; to make clean” or, “metaphorically, to overwhelm—with calamities.”[31] According to Roberts, the term can refer to a wide range of applications: to dye; drowning a man; sinking a ship; to destroy; to bring to the brink of destruction; to sink into sleep or drunkenness.[32] Mark 10:38 and Luke 12:50 relate the negativity of the event, equating it to distress. Roberts adds, “Paul’s use of βαπτίζω [baptizo] in the epistles is almost exclusively metaphorical…Just as dipping into dye changed the color of cloth, so being immersed into Christ identifies the believer with Christ.”[33] Roberts explains the “overwhelming” or metaphorical meaning of baptizo with fire as the Lord’s purification coming upon the multitudes, separating “wheat from chaff,” yet this author would add purification trial can come upon the individual prior to ministry.[34] In Luke 22:30-32, Jesus speaks of Satan sifting “all of you” like grain, yet states, “I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your own faith may not fail.” Such a dramatic and overwhelming type of spiritual baptism and fiery trial, as Oats describes, is “…a sovereign act of God, in which the Holy Spirit empower[s] individuals for a particular ministry at a specific time.”[35] The result of Jesus’ intersession during trial is repentance, “when you yourself have turned again,” and the command and ability to “strengthen and establish your brethren,” in a ministerial capacity (Luke 22:30-32). The Holy Spirit provides empowerment for missions, where the anointed is “clothed with power from on high” with “living water” flowing from within (Luke 24:49; John 7:38).

Modern Application

Present academic debate centers on whether there are to be one or two baptisms. In the Gentile version of Acts 10, Peter signifies “they have received the Holy Spirit,” and then he ordered “they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:44-48).[36] The baptizo term is only used for the latter ceremonial baptism—which would argue for strictly one Trinitarian, water baptism, similar to that commanded in the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20). Essentially, Peter’s (and Luke’s) careful handling of the term baptizo in Acts 10:44-48 decides the matter, ceremonially, upon one baptism. However, if one’s concept of baptism includes the “reception of the Spirit,” or the metaphorical definitions of baptizo previously discussed,[37] this same passage would suggest two distinct events or layered experiences, particularly if the recipient is passively awaiting supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to content with mental ascension only. With regard to the former, Keener offers a Pentecostal apology in interpreting Scripture:

Indeed, earlier Christian interpreters such as Origen, John Chrysostom, and Augustine insisted on the need for the Spirit’s help in understanding Scripture, in addition to the reader’s own diligence in study. Luther emphasized the need for interpreters to experience faith and the Spirit’s illumination, in addition to grammatical and historical exegesis. …J. B. Lightfoot…articulates well our need to engage the Spirit when hearing Scripture.[38]

Engaging the Spirit’s help in interpretation is not limited to the biblical text, but spans all of life experience for the believer, including those in the modern age. Russell explains the Acts 2 model for contemporary ministry:

Luke not only emphasizes Jesus’ inauguration of the new age—the age of the Holy Spirit, if you will—but he also seems to set forth Jesus as the archetype of the eschatological prophet. Jesus’ anointing with the Spirit for the purpose of preaching the gospel to the poor is the model for ministry in the new age he inaugurated.[39]

“Anointing of the Spirit,” similar to the terms baptism, manifestation, fulfillment, and so on, may be initially granted the convert at salvation, yet sought after in increasingly cognizant increments during spiritual growth and application in ministry. This may be considered an act of unveiling, or opening the eyes and ears to clearer realizations, or revelations, of God. It is a Divine/human partnership event throughout a lifetime, or a continual communication between the Creator and the created. Similar to Acts 2, the present members of the church are personally impacted by the ministry of the Holy Spirit regarding both scriptural interpretation and the orchestration of life experiences, and these combine into the art of homiletics and inspired evangelism (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27). Osborn states, “The Holy Spirit alone can empower the preacher so that his message…demonstrates the Spirit and the power of God.”[40] With the cross-cultural inclusion of the early church represented in Acts, and modern-day globalization and multicultural ministries, the same approach to welcoming the illumination of the Holy Spirit in the study of Scripture applies to the governance of speech when communicating the gospel message.

In Acts 10:44-48, the water baptism follows the infilling of the Holy Ghost and they are not definitively simultaneous—as if water baptism is the human responsibility, and the infilling is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility, and therefore, there exists a tension of relationship. Further, there is no distinction of an exact time frame between water baptism (repentance) and reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38, which indicates both experiential variation and Peter’s attestation that the Holy Spirit himself decides when he will “come upon” them. Paul makes a distinction between the water baptism administered by John the Baptist and baptism in the name of Christ, as Christ baptizes in the Spirit (Acts 19:1-5; Matt 3:11). Acts 8:16 makes yet another distinction between being baptized in the name of Christ, yet awaiting the falling of the Holy Spirit.[41] Regarding these distinctions, Blomberg suggests the following:

Luke introduces the expression, “being filled with the Spirit,” which for him is different from the baptism of the Spirit. Whereas a person is baptized only once, at conversion, he or she may be filled repeatedly, that is, empowered for bold witness or other divine service… Peter specifies two things his listeners must do (repent and be baptized) and makes two promises concerning what they will receive (forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit). We may speak of these four elements as the Pentecostal package because they are considered as a unit, here and throughout most of the New Testament.[42]

The Great Commission makes it clear that Christians are to be baptized “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and in addition, the disciples are to “teach…them to observe everything I have commanded you…” (Matt 28:16-20). With the name of the Holy Spirit specifically added to the baptismal rite, his reception is essentially spoken and prayed for, and a welcoming of the Holy Spirit is certainly part of “everything” Jesus commanded.

Some contemporary scholars would argue that the anointing, baptism, or falling of the Holy Spirit should not be expected, inferring that supernatural or miraculous phenomena are no longer present within the context of the modern age.[43] Rapp suggests that indwelling, along with regeneration and sealing, were present pneumatological characteristics within the Old Testament, but that baptizing was a Holy Spirit ministry initiated at Pentecost of Acts 2, and thusly, the “one specific ministry exclusive to the church [of Christ].”[44] If the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was a ministry already present in the Old Testament, and considered fully sufficient for the church, Jesus may have suggested merely praying to the Father for more “fullness” from within, rather than instructing the disciples to await the “power from on high.” Therefore, this author disagrees with Oats’ conclusion, that “no one should pray for [the filling of the Spirit] or seek it…[nor] seek the miraculous signs and wonders that sometimes accompanied the filling of the Spirit in the New Testament.”[45] This attitude would be contrary to baptizing in the Holy Spirit’s name, who is limitless, and would further refute passages wherein Jesus spoke of the personal ministry of the Spirit (John 14:26, 16:7). The belief in the present and active ministry of the Holy Spirit within the lives of believers is not to suggest there is to be a second baptism ceremonial rite, however, there is no passage within Scripture that denies one the ability to ask or pray for “more realization of the Spirit of God,” whether that reception is a “filling” or “fullness” of the Spirit.[46] If the Holy Spirit is called, “Helper” who will teach all things and bring the things Jesus said to remembrance, an ambassador called into ministry would be wise to pray and seek this assistance, relying on him continually (John 14:16, 15:26; Heb 13:6; Matt 7:7; Luke 12:11-12).

The difficulty with the discussion of one versus two baptisms is partially found within the definition of the word, “baptism.” As previously addressed, if the meaning of baptizo is the rite to be administered per the Great Commission, or Trinitarian water baptism, of “immersion” to ceremonially and prayerfully ask the Lord to “make [a soul] clean,” this author would agree there is to be one baptism. When the term baptizo is meant to include the metaphorical definitions of the Holy Spirit’s work (i.e. to overwhelm) or is considered to mean a gifting, further outpouring of his presence, enablement to fulfill a ministerial call or mission, “power from on high,” and so on, there is a limitless Spirit who monitors spiritual events and individual experiences. This form of a metaphorical “second” baptism would be initiated by the Spirit, and not man. The passages which somewhat unite, yet divide, water and spiritual baptism may simply imply reverence that the all-powerful God is in control of human experience. While this author agrees with Blomberg’s statement, “a person is baptized only once, at conversion, [and] he or she may be filled repeatedly, that is, empowered for bold witness or other divine service,”[47] this author disagrees with Robert’s conclusion that “…some sort of second blessing” is “not to be expected” simply due to the fact, he states, that there are “no further references to the ‘baptism with the Holy Spirit” after Acts.[48] However, Rapp offers, “…Peter calls the gift of the Spirit given to Cornelius a fulfillment of John the Baptist’s prophecy about the baptism of the Holy Spirit…[declaring] that it was the same thing that happened to the apostles.”[49] Further, it has been established that God “pours out” his Holy Spirit “on all mankind,” with no ending-date available within the text other than the second coming of Christ, the result of which is evidenced both within the narrative of Acts 2 and the Christian church today (i.e. salvations; universality; and lingual diversity).


This paper has demonstrated the significance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, initiated at Pentecost in Acts 2, in that it ushered in the universal Christian church and established the ministerial model for its ongoing, multicultural mission which continues today. The phenomena which presented on the day of Pentecost are, like the book of Acts, unique (i.e. tongues of fire) and open to a variety of interpretations, yet this paper has defended the thesis through exegetical and hermeneutical commentary based upon Trinitarian pneumatology; the significance of tongues; and proper definitions of baptism, which differentiate between ceremonial and metaphorical renderings. Modern-day application has been addressed in that illuminated communications of the gospel should include the expectation of being Spirit-led, which is appropriate to ask for in repeated infillings for empowerment of service, though one Trinitarian baptism is sufficient for ceremonial rites. Upon this baptism, the triune God is fully present yet the person experiences a continual revelatory process which is divinely orchestrated. Finally, this paper has attempted to link the supernatural phenomena presented in Acts 2 with the request of Jesus Christ to:

Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the son and of the Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days…to the close and consummation of the age (Matt 28:16-20).

The empowerment of the Holy Spirit, initiated during Pentecost of Acts 2, is necessary for the Christian church’s individual and collective multicultural ministry, in meeting the “go and make disciples of all nations” clause found within the Great Commission, which will continue until “the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come” (Matt 28:16-20; Luke 24:49; Acts 2:20).


Barnes, Albert. “Barnes Notes of the Bible.” Accessed April 27, 2018.

Blomberg, Craig L. From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2006.

Catholic Encyclopedia. “Apostles.” Accessed April, 27, 2018.

Conway, Colleen M. “The Deep Things of God: Trinitarian Pneumatology.” The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity (2012). Accessed April 28, 2018. http://www.oxfordhand e-30.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.

Herrick, Greg. “An Introduction to Christian Belief: A Layman’s Guide.” (2009). Accessed April 8, 2018.

Keener, Craig S. Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2016.

McDevitt, Jenny. “Acts 2:1-21.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 66, no. 1 (2012): 70-73. Accessed April 8, 2018.

New Oxford Annotated Bible. “Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.” Oxford Biblical Studies Online. Accessed April 8, 2018.

Oats, Larry R. “Filled with or Full of the Spirit: Acts and Ephesians.” Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal 1, no. 2 (2011): 197-222. Accessed April 8, 2018.

Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1991.

Rapp, Clifford. “A Doctrinal Study of Acts 2:14.” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 1, no. 1 (1995). Accessed April 8, 2018.

________. “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament Believers.” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 3, no. 2 (1997): 12-16. Accessed April 8, 2018.

Roberts, Dick. “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Conservative Theological Journal 8, no. 24 (2004): 229-244. Accessed April 8, 2018.

Russell, Walt. “The Anointing with the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts.” Trinity Journal 7, no. 1 (1986): 47-63. Accessed April 8, 2018.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. “The Significance of Pentecost.” Bibliotheca Sacra 112, no. 448 (1955): 330-339. Accessed April 8, 2018.

Strong’s Concordance. “4151 Pneuma.” Accessed April 28, 2018.

Strong’s Concordance/Helps Word Studies. “1100 Glossa.” Accessed April 28, 2018.

Strong’s Concordance/Helps Word Studies. “4442 Pur.” Accessed April 28, 2018.

Strong’s Concordance/Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. “907 Baptizo.” Accessed April 28, 2018.


[1] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (La Habra, CA: The Zondervan Corporation and the Lockman Foundation, 1987). Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified Bible (AMPC), Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

[2] Craig L. Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2006), 9.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Catholic Encyclopedia, “Apostles,”, accessed April, 27, 2018,


[5] Blomberg, Pentecost to Patmos, 10.

[6] Clifford Rapp, “A Doctrinal Study of Acts 2:14,” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 1, no. 1 (1995), accessed April 8, 2018,

[7] Colleen M. Conway, “The Deep Things of God: Trinitarian Pneumatology,” The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity (2012), accessed April 28, 2018,


[8] Blomberg, Pentecost to Patmos, 9.

[9] Ibid., 10.

[10] Greg Herrick, “An Introduction to Christian Belief: A Layman’s Guide,” (2009), accessed April 8, 2018,

[11] Dick Roberts, “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” Conservative Theological Journal 8, no. 24 (2004): 229-244, accessed April 8, 2018,

[12] Jenny McDevitt, “Acts 2:1-21,” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 66, no. 1 (2012): 70-73, accessed April 8, 2018,

[13] Albert Barnes, “Barnes Notes of the Bible,”, accessed April 27, 2018,

[14] New Oxford Annotated Bible, “Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles,” Oxford Biblical Studies Online, accessed April 8, 2018,

[15] Blomberg, Pentecost to Patmos, 25.

[16] Ibid.

[17] New Oxford, “Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.”

[18] McDevitt, “Acts 2:1-21,” 72.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Walt Russell, “The Anointing with the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts,” Trinity Journal 7, no. 1 (1986): 47-63, accessed April 8, 2018,

[21] Ibid.

[22] New Oxford, “Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.”

[23] Ibid.

[24] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, “The Significance of Pentecost,” Bibliotheca Sacra 112, no. 448 (1955): 330-339, accessed April 8, 2018,

[25]Strong’s Concordance/Helps Word Studies, “1100 Glossa,”, accessed April 28, 2018, Ibid.

[26] Blomberg, Pentecost to Patmos, 15.

[27] Roberts, “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

[28] McDevitt, “Acts 2:1-21,” 72.

[29] Strong’s Concordance, “4151 Pneuma,”, accessed April 28, 2018,

[30] Strong’s Concordance/Helps Word Studies, “4442 Pur,”, accessed April 28, 2018,

[31] Strong’s Concordance/Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “907 Baptizo,”, accessed April 28, 2018,

[32] Roberts, “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid., 240.

[35] Larry R. Oats, “Filled with or Full of the Spirit: Acts and Ephesians,” Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal 1, no. 2 (2011): 197-222, accessed April 8, 2018,

[36] Strong’s Concordance/Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “Baptizo.”

[37] Author’s Note: For the purposes of this paper, the term “baptized in the Holy Spirit” does not include indecipherable “speaking in tongues.”

[38] Craig S. Keener, Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2016), 35.

[39] Russell, “The Anointing with the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts.”

[40] Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1991).

[41] New Oxford, “Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.”

[42] Blomberg, Pentecost to Patmos, 27-28.

[43] Oats, “Filled with or Full of the Spirit: Acts and Ephesians,” 221.

[44] Clifford Rapp, “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament Believers,” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 3, no. 2 (1997): 12-16, accessed April 8, 2018,

[45] Oats, “Filled with or Full of the Spirit: Acts and Ephesians,” 221.

[46] Ibid., 221.

[47] Blomberg, Pentecost to Patmos, 27-28.

[48] Roberts, “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” 244.

[49] Rapp, “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament Believers.”

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