Is the receiving of the Holy Spirit a subsequent event to salvation?

Why baptism of the Holy Spirit and conversion are separate events.
The baptizer is different.

(1 Cor 12:13 NIV)  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

“Scripture makes it clear there is an experience [at conversion] in which the Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), and there is the [subsequent] experience in which Christ baptizes believers in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). These cannot refer to the same experience since the agent who does the baptizing and the element into which the candidate is baptized are different in each case”

Non-Charismatics response

The words “by one Spirit” should be better translated “in one Spirit”. In other words, this verse is talking about baptism in the Holy Spirit and here it is clear that it is an event that happens at conversion. Because one is not saved until we are baptized “in the Spirit” into the body of Christ.

This translation has some basis.

(ASV)  For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit.

(Darby)  For also in the power of one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bondmen or free, and have all been given to drink of one Spirit.

(DRB)  For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free: and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink.

This translation also agrees with earlier teachings that it is Jesus and not the Holy Spirit who is the Baptizer.

(Mat 3:11 NIV)  “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Also Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16)

It also says that ALL believers have experienced this despite not everyone speaking in tongues in the church that Paul was addressing.

(1 Cor 12:29-30 NIV)  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? {30} Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret?

Even those who are saved are filled with the Spirit a second time

Jesus asked His disciples to ask for the Holy Spirit after they had been saved.

(Luke 11:13 NIV)  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

We know that a person cannot be saved if not for the work of the Holy Spirit and all Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit.

(1 Cor 12:3 NIV)  Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

(1 Cor 6:19 NIV)  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

(Rom 8:9 NIV)  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

We can therefore conclude that the experience of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was asking His disciples to ask for is something different from what every Christian would experience.

Therefore the Spirit already indwells all believers. Spirit baptism is an additional work of the already indwelling Holy Spirit.

Non-charismatic response

Jesus asked His disciples that they will receive the Holy Spirit later not because it is unique in that case that Jesus had not been glorified and the Holy Spirit had not been sent.

(John 7:38-39 NIV)  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” {39} By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Therefore in the normal case for a Christian born again after Pentecost, the two events would not be separate.

The experience of the new believers in the book of Acts.
The eleven disciples

The first incident in the Book of Acts of the baptism in the Holy Spirit occurring subsequent to salvation occurs in chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost. Many believe that the eleven disciples were converted even prior to Jesus’ death since He tells them that their “names are recorded in heaven” (NASB Luke 10:20) and “you are already clean” (NASB John 15:3). After His resurrection, Jesus tells his New Covenant disciples, who are just touched by the Holy Spirit in John 20:22, to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).

However, Acts 2 would really not provide support for subsequence since no one was “baptized with the Holy Spirit” prior to this time (Acts 1:4-5).

Disciples of John the Baptist

The fourth incident of a baptism in the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation occurs in Acts chapter 19 with twelve disciples in Ephesus, approximately twenty-five years after the Jerusalem Pentecost. These “disciples” in Acts 19:1 refer to the disciples of John the Baptist who had been baptized by John (Acts19:3). These disciples of John were believers who had been saved as John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 19:4) Paul’s question “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (NASB Acts 19:2) also implies that he regards the disciples as believers in Christ since the question literally reads in the Greek as “having believed, did you receive?” Since Paul knew that all believers have the “indwelling Spirit from the moment of their belief, conversion and regeneration (Ro. 8:9), his question refers to “the baptism in the Holy Spirit for power and ministry. The very question implies the possibility of believing in Christ without an accompanying reception baptism of the Holy Spirit. Notice that Paul did not know that they were believers way back from John the Baptist’s period. It was only after he had asked this question that the disciples informed Paul that they were people who had responded to John the Baptist’s call for repentance.

Non-charismatic response

Again, receiving the Holy Spirit was separate because these followers of John the Baptist became believers before Pentecost.

The Samaritans

The second incident of the baptism in the Holy Spirit occurring subsequent to salvation is in Acts chapter 8, where some Samaritans are saved under Philip’s ministry (Acts 8:5-8,12) and then baptized with the Holy Spirit several days later under the ministry of Peter and John (Acts 8:14-17). It is clear that these Samaritan men and women are converted “when they believed Philip preaching the good news,” and their faith is expressed by their baptism in water (NASB Acts 8:12). News reaches Peter and John in Jerusalem via a messenger from Samaria that many Samaritans “received the word of God,” thus Peter and John then journey from Jerusalem to Samaria to pray for the Samaritans to “receive the Holy Spirit, for He had not yet fallen upon any of them” (NASB Acts 8:14-16). The Holy Spirit is received by the Samaritans, and Simon sees or hears some physical evidence that the “Spirit was bestowed” (Acts 8:18). This experience occurs subsequent to their salvation.

Response of non-Charismatics

Why was there a delay in the Samaritans receiving the Holy Spirit after believing?

1)   Much hatred existed between Jews and Samaritans. If the Samaritans had received the Holy Spirit at the moment they believed, the terrible rift between Jews and Samaritans could have continued into the Christian church, as permanent disunity. Pentecost was made up of Jewish believers. If the Samaritans had started their own Christian group, the age-old rivalries could have continued.

2)   God wanted the Samaritans to understand the authenticating power and authority of the apostles, as channels of divine truth. The time gap was there to show the Samaritans that they were under apostolic authority.

3)   It showed the Jewish Christians that the Samaritans were in the same Church, had the same Christ, the same salvation, the same Holy Spirit, and the same acceptance by God.

This was not a Samaritan Pentecost, but a step of growth for the Church. God wanted everyone to know that there were not two churches, but only one. God wanted to reverse the hatred barriers right at the start. God wanted to establish the apostles’ authority outside Jewish society.

The Apostle Paul

The third incident of a baptism in the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation occurs in Acts chapter 9. Paul was converted on the road to Damascus by a personal vision of the resurrected Christ—Acts 9:3-9. He was baptized with the Holy Ghost under the ministry of Ananias three days later.

(Acts 9:17 NIV)  Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Response of non-Charismatics

Here, the non-Charismatics do not have a good reason why Paul did not receive the Holy Spirit at conversion.

Tongues are the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit

If it can be proven that tongues are the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, then it follows that since believers usually speak in tongues subsequent to their conversion, the baptism of the Holy Spirit has to be a subsequent event.

Read more about tongues.

Why baptism of the Holy Spirit and conversion are not separate events.
The experience of Cornelius’ household

(Acts 10:44-46 NIV)  While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. {45} The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. {46} For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,

Response of Charismatics

The subsequent nature of the coming of the Holy Spirit is identified by Peter in using the aorist participle in his likening the event to Pentecost: ‘God therefore gave them the same gift as he did to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Acts 11:17, italics added). Furthermore, Peter testifies at the Jerusalem Council that God bore witness to them [that they were believers], giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us [as believers].

Priority is still given to the Caesareans’ believing before the falling of the Holy Spirit, even if the latter follows immediately upon the other. In the case of Cornelius’ household, there is not a chronological separation between salvation and the baptism with the Holy Spirit; however, there is a logical subsequence that even if salvation and baptism in the Spirit are at the same moment, salvation (conversion, regeneration) precedes Spirit baptism”.

Teaching of Peter

(Acts 2:36-38 NIV)  “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” {37} When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” {38} Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Charismatic response

It is also possible that Acts 2:38 is referring to repentance and faith as pre-requisites for receiving the Holy Spirit but not an automatic experience.

In other words, if you want to receive the Holy Spirit, you must repent and believe first. Then only will you receive the Holy Spirit.

It could also be possible that two occasions of receiving the Holy Spirit is involved. One occurs at salvation, when the Holy Spirit dwells in you and seals your salvation (referred to in Acts 2:38) and another when the Holy Spirit fills you and empowers you in ministry (what Paul referred to in Acts 19:2).

The Bible commands us to be constantly filled by the Spirit

(Eph 5:18 NIV)  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

On the day of Pentecost the effect of such an experience was mistaken for drunkenness. Paul is arguing that a man can be filled with as his body may be filled with wine.

The theological implications of “be filled” (plerousthe) are crucial for a biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The imperative makes it clear that this is a command for all Christians. The present tense rules out any once-for-all reception of the Spirit but points to a continuous replenishment (literally, “go on being filled”). What this verse will not substantiate is the claim that after becoming a Christian, a single, additional, definitive filling is essential for completion. (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)

Charismatic response

Eph 5:18 is not talking about having to be literally filled with the Holy Spirit continuously. It is talking about always exhibiting the nature of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to the nature of drunkedness.

The word filled used here is used in many other instances in the Bible not to mean literally filling but rather to grow in characteristic of that thing.

(Luke 2:40 NIV)  And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

(John 3:29 NIV)  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.


After examining the evidence, I would be more inclined to conclude that salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit are not separate events. The most compelling facts are:

Cornelius’ household experienced both together.
Peter taught that the two events are together.