Baptism of John / Trinitarian Baptism

2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”


I’ve just been reading Acts 18.24-19.7 (see 19)

As a baptist, I wanted John’s baptism to be synonymous with Christian Baptism.  So I tried to read this passage as if it was played out like this:

Paul: Into what were you baptized?

People: Into the Christian water baptism started by John.

Paul: You need the “Spirit Baptism!”  Let me pray for you with laying on of hands….

Obviously, this isn’t what he says or what chapter 18.24ff indicates.

Paul: Into what were you baptized?

People: Into the Jewish national repentance water baptism performed by John.

Paul: You haven’t yet identified with the church, the people of the name of Jesus, the people of the Spirit; you need the “Christian Baptism!”  Let me baptize you in the name of Jesus….

I think that is more like it.  One of the main points is that in Acts 18-19, Luke tells us two stories that indicate VERY CLEARLY that the Baptism of John was NOT the same as Christian or Trititarian Formula Baptism.

John’s Baptism was an intentionally offensive statement about the dirtiness of Israel.

When will the Messiah bring us victory over the Gentiles?  The Restoration of Kingdom to Israel?

This coming Kingdom, always anticipated by the disciples (Mk 10.35-45, Mt 20.20-28), and still on their minds after the resurrection (Ac 1.6), is a key to NT interpretation.

So what was preventing the Kindom’s arrival? Different answers:

The Pharisees said, the problem is other Jews – we must fix them.

The Essenes said, the problem is other Jews – we must flee them and let him save us.

John said, the Kingdom is upon us, time to admit that WE OURSELVES are the problem.  So he assembled people at the Jordan to make a public spectacle and mockery of Israel’s dirt.  And the declaration was personal, not at others, but at “ourselves.”

While Christian Baptism does say this about me, John’s work was a one time eschatological, pre-kingdom preparation to say the kingdom must come on God’s terms not on the laurels of self-righteous hijackers of the system – the Pharisees, especially.

—–

Spirit Baptism:

Two problem theologies come out of this passage –

Pentecostalism – all Christians receive the Spirit after Baptism as a second blessing, and when they do, they will speak in tongues.

Orthodox “Chrismation – the Coming of the Spirit is through laying on of hands not normatively immediate to faith on its own.

Chrismation was later separated from Baptism in the West, which developed the practice of Confirmation to give the Spirit in the Roman Church.

I expect that the “when Paul laid hands on them” it actually means “in the action of the baptism,”  but it could be a prayer separately.  What do you think?

Another main issue to add in is that in Romans 8, Paul says that (at least by the time of the writing of Romans), all believers HAD the spirit by default:

9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

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