What Enables Us to Be Baptized and Filled with the Holy Spirit?
Being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit is something different than receiving the Holy Spirit. For example, the first disciples did not receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Instead, John 20:22 points out that they received the Holy Spirit on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Then later on the day of Pentecost they “were filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Bible teaches that every person receives the Holy Spirit when they become a Christian by repenting of their sins, accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for paying the penalty for their sins, and by making a commitment to live their life for God. The following verses make it clear that this is true: John 7:37-39, John 14:16-17, Galatians 3:14, and Ephesians 1:13.
Being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit is something that can happen after a person becomes a Christian. And we know that God wants this to happen for every Christian because in Ephesians 5:18 we are commanded to continually “be filled with the Spirit.” The Bible indicates that three main things enable this to happen in a person’s life: truly desiring and asking for the Holy Spirit, humility, and obedience to God.
In Luke 11:13 Jesus says, “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 need to truly desire and ask for more of the Holy Spirit to be in our life.
In Acts 5:32 it says, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
The importance of humility and obedience to God in order to have the maximum amount of God’s Spirit in our life can be seen in the life of Moses and Jesus.
In Numbers 12:3 we read, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Then in Numbers 12:6-8 we read, “When there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD.” The one person who was “more humble than anyone on the face of the earth” is also the only person in the Bible who is described as speaking with God “face to face.” Moses experienced so much of God’s Spirit in his life, far beyond what happens to a Christian who is baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, that Exodus 34:29-35 and 2 Corinthians 3:7-8 say that after he would meet with God that his face would radiate the glory of God because he had so much of God’s Spirit within him. It is not a coincident that Moses experienced this as the person who was “more humble than anyone on the face of the earth.” Also, when Moses’ life is examined, we see that he was also extremely obedient to God. So his humility and obedience to God enabled him to be the only person in the Bible who is described as experiencing God “face to face” and experiencing so much of God and his Spirit in his life that afterward he radiated the glory and presence of God from out of his face.
When looking at what needs to happen in order to be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, another good place to look is at the life of Jesus. And again we see that the key to receiving more of the Holy Spirit in our life is our humility and obedience to God. Moses was the most humble person who ever lived until Jesus came to us because Jesus was the most humble person who ever has or ever will live on the earth. Jesus humbled Himself more than any person has or ever will because He gave up the most from being God Himself to becoming a single human cell at His incarnation. He didn’t come to us humbly as a human adult with all of our limitations. Instead, He completely humbled Himself and came to us as a single human fetus cell that could not think, see, hear, move, talk, or do anything else. Yes, Jesus humbled Himself more than any person ever has or ever will.
Jesus was also the most obedient person who ever has or ever will live on the earth. In John 8:29, Jesus said, “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Jesus always did what pleased God who sent Him to us. And in John 14:30-31, Jesus said, “I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” Jesus did exactly what his Father commanded Him to do including going to the cross to die there to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus also said this in John 12:49-50, “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” We see here that whatever Jesus said was just what the Father commanded and told Him to say.
This complete humility and obedience of Jesus is summarized in Philippians 2:5-8. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Since Jesus had already done these things, or God his Father knew that He would in the future, what happened at Jesus’ baptism? We read in Luke 3:21-22, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.” And what was the result of this? We read in Luke 4:1 that immediately after this that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan . . . .” We also can read in John 3:34 that God gave Jesus “the Spirit without limit” and in Acts 10:38 that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.” So the person who was the most humble and obedient who ever lived also had the Holy Spirit descend “on him in bodily form,” was “full of the Holy Spirit,” had “the Spirit without limit,” and was anointed “with the Holy Spirit and power” by God.
The importance of humility giving us more of God’s Spirit and its opposite of pride giving us less of God’s Spirit is also put forth in Proverbs 3:34 and 1 Peter 5:5 along with other places in the Bible. And just like obedience gives us more of God’s Spirit, its opposites of sin and disobedience gives us less as shown in Deuteronomy 31:18, Isaiah 59:1-2, Ezekiel 39:23, and Micah 3:4 among other places in the Bible.
Therefore, we have seen that the Bible shows that desiring and asking for the Holy Spirit, humility, and obedience to God are three main things that enable us to be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit while its opposites will cause this not to happen.
Something else that enables us to have more of God’s Spirit in our life is reading and studying God’s word in the Bible. This is because it shows us how we can obey God more with our life. So if we put into practice what we learn, then this will take place for us. Some other things that enable us to have more of God’s Spirit in our life are spending time in prayer, including listening to the Lord, worshipping the Lord in Spirit and truth as Jesus told us to do in John 4:23-24, taking communion or the Eucharist, and spending time with other Christians.
What Happens after We Are Baptized and Are Filled with the Holy Spirit?
Acts 1:4-8, 2:1-4, and 2:17-18 are key scriptures for understanding being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. Here Jesus is quoted saying, “[Y]ou will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” in 1:5 and “[You] will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; . . . .” in 1:8. When this actually happens on the day of Pentecost in chapter 2, it says in verse 4 that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit . . . .” And when Peter explained this to the crowd on that day, he quoted the prophecy of Joel in Acts 2: 17-18 that, “ ‘ “God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” and “I will pour out my Spirit in those days, . . . .” ’ ” Since being “baptized with the Holy Spirit,” and receiving power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and being “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and “I [God] will pour out my Spirit” all describe one, single event, then these are synonyms that are referring to the same thing. Therefore, being baptized with the Holy Spirit can also be described as receiving power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, being filled with the Holy Spirit, or having God’s Spirit poured into you. Taking this as our guideline for when we are baptized or are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can then look at all of the scriptures in the Bible for when this happens and/or what happens after any of these four things takes place, including in the Old Testament. Although being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit are something for Christians now, the Holy Spirit was also available and active under the old covenant in the Old Testament as will be seen in some of the examples listed below.
Since the following scriptures may contain an incomplete verse and have been removed from their contexts in the Bible, it is up to you to make the final determination if they will properly accomplish the purpose for which you are going to use them. Scriptures that are listed below that are incomplete will have an asterisk after their references.
If you copy and paste a selection of scripture below into Microsoft Word that has the word LORD in it and then highlight that scripture and change the size of the font for it, then you will also have to do one of the following two things in order for the letters ORD to be smaller capitals than the letter L. Manually change the letters ORD to a smaller size by highlighting them and changing their font to a smaller size than the rest of the scripture selection. Or make the letters Small caps by: 1) Deleting them. 2) Retyping them as ord and highlighting them. 3) Going to the Font area on the Home tab and clicking on the small arrow in its lower right corner. 4) On the Font tab in the next window, checking the box next to Small caps.
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— Exodus 31:1–3
30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— Exodus 35:30–31
24 So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again. Numbers 11:24–25
5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Judges 14:5–6
19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him [Samson]. Judges 14:19a*
14 The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him [Samson]. Judges 15:14b
6 “The Spirit of the LORD will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 1 Samuel 10:6, 10
6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 1 Samuel 11:6
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. 1 Samuel 16:13a*
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 11:1-3a*
3 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 44:3
29 “I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” Ezekiel 39:29
28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28–29
8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. Micah 3:8
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. Matthew 3:16
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:4, 7–8
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Mark 1:9–10
13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.” Luke 1:13–15
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:39–41
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: Luke 1:67
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Luke 3:15–16
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Luke 3:21–22, 4:1
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Luke 4:1
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. Luke 4:14
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:16–19
49 “I [Jesus] am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” John 1:32–34
34 For the one whom God has sent [the Son] speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. John 3:34
4 On one occasion, while he [Jesus] was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 8 “[Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 4–5, 8*
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1–4
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’ ” Acts 2:14–18
33 “Exalted to the right hand of God, he [Jesus] has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” Acts 2:33
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!” Acts 4:8
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31
3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Acts 6:3–8
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:54–56
17 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.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. Acts 9:17–19
37 “You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Acts 10:37–38
44 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 Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Acts 10:44–46a*
15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:15–17
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Acts 11:22–24
9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?” Acts 13:9–10
52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52
6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all. Acts 19:6–7
3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:3–4
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:17–19
4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 1 Corinthians 2:4
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:13
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. Galatians 4:22–23, 29a*
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16–19
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5a*
Other Scriptures to Consider
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit [or Spirit] of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses. Deuteronomy 34:9
6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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!” Luke 11:11–13
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ ” John 3:3–7
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 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. John 7:37-39
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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38–39
32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:32
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14–17
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7