Accomplished in Two Sections
Concerning the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus said in 1:5, “John indeed baptized in water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” This was accomplished in two sections.
First all the Jewish believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Then all the Gentile believers were baptized in the house of Cornelius (10:44-47; 11:15-17).
In these two sections all genuine believers in Christ have been baptized in the Holy Spirit into one Body once for all universally (1 Cor. 12:13). Therefore, what happened on the day of Pentecost and in the house of Cornelius was the fulfillment of Acts 1:5.
Peter’s word in Acts 11 proves that what happened in the house of Cornelius was the second step in Christ’s baptizing His Body in the Holy Spirit once for all. Peter said, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as also on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized in water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit” (vv. 15-16).
Therefore, the record in Acts strongly indicates that only these two cases are considered the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In these two instances the Head Himself did something directly on His Body. There was no third party, no intermediary, between the Head and the Body.
Three Extraordinary Cases
The Samaritan Believers
As we read through the book of Acts, we see that Luke describes three extraordinary cases concerning the receiving of the Holy Spirit economically. The first case concerns the Samaritan believers.
In the eyes of the Jewish believers, the Samaritan believers were strange. Due to their background, the Jewish believers would have had difficulty recognizing the Samaritan believers. Therefore, in this extraordinary case the Head did something to indicate and confirm that He had accepted the Samaritan believers as members of His Body.
Hence, instead of doing something directly with respect to the economical Spirit, Christ the Head withheld the economical Spirit until two apostles, Peter and John, came from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay their hands on the Samaritan believers so that they might receive the Holy Spirit (8:14-17).
Only then did the economical Spirit fall upon them, and that was strong evidence that the Samaritan believers had been accepted as members of the Body. In this extraordinary case there was the need for the laying on of hands by a member of the Body of Christ.
Saul of Tarsus
The second extraordinary case was the case of Saul of Tarsus, who had been a leading persecutor of the followers of Jesus. …because Saul was such a persecutor and was saved directly by the Lord not through the preaching of any believer, no one would believe that he had become a member of the Body of Christ.
Thus, in his case there was the need of another member of the Body to lay his hands upon him so that the economical Spirit may come upon him. The extraordinary case of Saul required the laying on of hands by a member representing the Body.
The Believers in Ephesus
The last of the three extraordinary cases recorded in Acts is that of the believers in Ephesus (19:1-7). Regarding those believers, there was the need to make up the deficiency in the ministry of Apollos. His ministry lacked a complete revelation of God’s New Testament economy.
Because those believers had heard only the inadequate preaching of Apollos and knew only the baptism of John, they also needed the laying on of hands of a member of the Body in order to receive the economical Spirit. These three extraordinary cases recorded in the book of Acts reveal a particular need for the laying on of hands by a member of the Body.
Normal Cases of Receiving the Holy Spirit
In addition to the five cases of the believers on the day of Pentecost, the Samaritans, Saul of Tarsus, the house of Cornelius, and the believers in Ephesus, there are many other cases of conversions found throughout the book of Acts. In none of those cases is there any mention of the laying on of hands in order to receive the economical Spirit. The reason for this is that all those cases are normal.
However, certain of today’s Pentecostal teachings try to make every case an extraordinary case. But unlike the Samaritans, Saul of Tarsus, and the believers in Ephesus, we are not extraordinary cases that require the laying on of hands. Rather, in a normal way and by faith we participate in the baptism in the Holy Spirit that has been accomplished by the Head on the Body once for all.