He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (ESV).
The Holy Spirit is the gift that God the Father promised his people (1:4-5). With Christ’s victory, a new ministry of the Holy Spirit was about to begin, only ten days after Jesus spoke these words. Clearly, the Spirit of God had come upon some of the people of God before Pentecost (Bezalel, Exodus 31:1-3; Othniel, Judges 3:10; Gideon, Judges 6:34; Jephthah, Judges 11:29; Samson, Judges 14:6; Azariah the prophet, 2 Chronicles 15:1; Ezekiel; Ezekiel 2:2; etc.). But this giving of the Holy Spirit would be of a different order. It would be his “coming”. Compare 1:8: “when the Spirit comes…” and John 7:37-39; 15:26; 16:13. Something of incredible significance was about to happen!
This new ministry is spoken of in another way: as a baptism. As they had been baptized (immersed or submerged) in water, so they would be immersed with the Holy Spirit. Jesus built on the teaching of his forerunner, John the Baptist (Luke 3:15-17). Christ would do the baptism by the Spirit. When John and Jesus talked about the Spirit, they obviously were not speaking about someone the people of God had not heard about. No one asked, “Who or what is the Spirit of God?” Why not? The Old Testament Scriptures have many references to the Holy Spirit.
Christ could not baptize with the Holy Spirit until something happened. He had to be glorified (John 7:37). What does that mean? Notice in Acts 1:3-5 quoted above, spoken before his ascension, the baptism with the Spirit was still a future event, though Christ had been raised from the dead. What needed to happen was Christ’s ascension, when he was exalted to the right hand of God. Then he could pour out the Spirit, because God had made him Lord (Acts 2:33-36). By the way, do not speak of “making Jesus Lord”. A Christian should never say such a thing! Jesus Christ is Lord of all (Romans 14:9; Philippians 2:9-11).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was an event in history, as much as the coming, crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. It was looked for and then it happened to the whole church that existed at that moment in history. All believers were together in one place, and all received the Spirit’s baptism (Acts 2:1-4). All those saved since that non-repeatable event of history also receive the Spirit when they repent (Acts 2:38-39).
All of this should cause God’s people to respond to God with great gratitude. God the Father planned for us to have a Divine Helper living in us during this new age. God the Son accomplished the work of redemption, in order that we might have the Spirit. God the Holy Spirit has come to be with us forever (Jn 14:16). Suppose I handed you the keys to one of the new luxury home, and said, “It’s yours; it’s totally paid for. Enjoy it.” How would you respond? Since Christ died, rose again, and ascended to the Father, he has given you many great gifts. How ought you respond to this gift, a greater gift than a luxury home—the gift of the Holy Spirit?
Grace and peace, David