Baptism of the Spirit. There is much disagreement today over the baptism of the Spirit. Critical translations render 1 Cor. 12:13 as follows, “For also in the power of one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body”.
- Timing. The verb “are baptized” is in the aorist tense, which is an action usually in the past that is once for all. The best way to reflect that in English is to say, “We all have been baptized”. This indicates that the baptism of the Spirit occurred once, and has never and will never be repeated.
- Participants. The verse says “we all have been baptized”. This refers to all Christians in a universal sense, as Paul says “whether Jews or Greeks, whether bondmen or free”. See 1 Cor. 10:17 where Paul says, “for we all partake of that one loaf”, referring to the whole Church. You could argue that it is universal in extent, but individual in result, except for the next point: it formed many individuals into one collective body. Therefore, since it is a one-time event, and it was universal in nature, it must have taken place at the beginning of the Church; i.e. the Day of Pentecost. Even though no Gentiles were present at the time, the body, of which the Gentiles would later become a part, was baptized by the Spirit. The Lord made it clear in Acts 1:4-5 that the baptism with the Holy Ghost would happen “not many days hence.” It took place in Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost filled all the house where they were sitting. It happened once, and was consequently extended further to the Samaritans in Acts 8, and finally to the Gentles in Acts 10.
- Result. Paul says that the baptism of the Spirit is what formed, or incorporated, the “one body” of Christ. Now, is the one body of Christ somehow dissolved and reincorporated every time someone gets saved? No. Those newly saved are added to an already baptized body. A good example is that of a corporation. A person in 2018 could say about their company, “We incorporated in 1908”. Now, the speaker certainly was not born at the time of the incorporation, yet it is the same company that exists in 2018. He can say “we” on behalf of the company.
- Context. The context of this verse is important. Paul has been unfolding the unity of Spirit-led ministry. His next argument is that God used “one Spirit” to form “one body” of Christ. Certainly, Biblical ministry ought to be led of the Spirit, since the Spirit is who formed the body! Some will try to argue that the context is manifestations, and the baptism of the Spirit is the prerequisite for spiritual manifestations. This is an error of understanding the earlier part of the chapter. The emphasis is not on the gifts themselves, but on the unity of true ministry.
There are two leading views about this verse, both are wrong. The Pentecostal view is that after a person is saved, they get a filling of the Spirit, which enables them to use their sign gifts. The Evangelical view is that the baptism of the Spirit occurs when an individual is saved and sealed with the Spirit. The former view confuses the baptism of the Spirit with the “filling of the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), and the latter view confuses it with the “sealing of the Spirit” (Eph. 1:13). What does the scripture say? It says that the baptism of the Spirit is what formed the one body of Christ.