Two Baptisms: Which Is Which?

There is a most pertinent biblical record that clearly delineates between the old water baptism that most Christians think about and practice, and the new holy spirit baptism that God speaks of and elaborates upon in the Church Epistles. [1]

Acts 18:24-28
(24) Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
(25) He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John [the baptism in water unto repentance].
(26) He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately [i.e., that “the way of God” was no longer the “baptism of John”].
(27) When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.
(28) For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

I have highlighted a couple of key phrases to show why the above verses are so important in regard to the record that immediately follows them in Acts 19. Apollos knew only the baptism of John. Does that not imply that there was something more, like maybe a greater baptism? What did Priscilla and Aquila share with Apollos when they “explained to him the way of God more adequately”? Could it have been the knowledge of that greater baptism?

Acts 19:1-6
(1) While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus [where Apollos had just been teaching “only the baptism” of John]. There he found some disciples
(2) and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit [holy spirit].” [2]
(3) So Paul asked them, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
(4) Paul said, “John’s baptism [into water] was [note the past tense] a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
(5) On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
(6) When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit [holy spirit] came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

In Acts 18, we see that it was Paul who had taught Priscilla and Aquila what they in turn taught Apollos – that because of what Jesus Christ accomplished, there is a greater and more powerful baptism available than the old water baptism John the Baptist had preached. In fact, as Paul states in the above verses, and as we will see in Scripture later on, it was John himself who said that water baptism was only a symbolic foreshadowing of the greater holy spirit baptism that Jesus would implement.

In Acts 19:1 and following (above), when Paul met the Ephesian disciples, he wanted to confirm that they had been born again and had thus received the gift of holy spirit, so he asked them about it. They said, “Huh?” It is possible that Paul may then have elaborated about the finished work of Jesus Christ that he later set forth in the Church Epistles. In any case, when they heard what Paul taught them, it says that they were “baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.” The word “into” is an excellent translation that some other versions, including the King James Version, do not have. Does it say that they were baptized into water? No. The element into which they were “immersed” was the name of Jesus Christ. [3] That is, at the moment of their new birth, they were saturated with all that the name of Jesus Christ represents. Unfortunately, because of what they have been taught, water is what most Christians think about when they read this record. Why? That’s what we want to find out, so let us see what the Word of God says about this matter.


[1] In the original, God-breathed Scriptures, there was no delineation between capital letters and small letters. That means that every capital letter was added by a translator. In English, the meaning of some words is not changed by capitalizing them, such as “dog,” but other words are radically changed, such as “mark.” It goes from being a spot on the wall to being a person named “Mark.” So it is with the words “holy spirit” in the Bible. The “Holy Spirit” is one of many names or titles for God, the Father of Jesus Christ and the Creator of all things, the only true God. But “holy spirit” is the gift of God’s divine nature and power that every person receives at the moment of his new birth. Only the context determines whether or not “holy spirit” should be capitalized, and the majority of Bible translators have failed to properly make the distinction between the Giver (God) and the gift (His nature). This has caused no end of confusion among Christians. For a thorough exposition of this subject, see our book, The Gift of Holy Spirit: The Power to be Like Christ.
[2] “The Holy Spirit” should be rendered “holy spirit,” because there is no article “the” in the Greek text, and it is referring to the gift from God, His divine nature that Jesus Christ deposits into the heart of each person at the moment of his new birth. The “Holy Spirit” refers to God Himself, the Giver.
[3] In the culture and custom of biblical times, one’s “name” represented all the power and resources behind it. This is similar to our modern times when a policeman says, “Stop in the name of the law.” He is backed up by all the power and authority of that local government.

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  1. I’d love to discuss this more with you. The Lord has revealed some powerful stuff regarding the connection with Lukewarm Christians and Hot Believers. He gave me one witness in John 3:3-8…and second in the Disciples water baptism and then 3.5 years later Pentecost (baptism of the “holy spirit”). This story in Acts (and the way He led me to your site) is the third witness.

  2. Am I so exorburant to learn the true baptism being explained truly, that is immersion into the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I affirm and it is the way to enternity.

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