How would [Southern] Baptist (SBC) churches explain Acts 8:14–17 in the giving of the Holy Spirit after initial conversion or belief? It had always been my understanding that the argument was the Holy Spirit was given to each believer at the moment of faith.

Are we indwelt by the Spirit when we believe and if so why were the apostles needing to pray for them to receive Him?

Acts 8:14–17
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. ESV, © 2001

  • The whole point of cessationism is that it argues the 'sign gifts' ceased after the apostolic era. Continuationism says we can apply passages like the one you're asking about to us today, but the whole point of cessationism is that that was its own era.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 3:06
  • 1
    It seems I've completely muddled the question as I want to know WHY it was necessary for Peter and John to pray that they would receive the Holy Spirit and also how more conservative evangelical denominations explain the scripture. I assume the Pentacostal denominations would interpret it with the 2nd blessing. Feel free to edit the question
    – Tonyg
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 3:22
  • Acts 19:2-6 is also relevant: ... they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; and when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them ...
    – guest37
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


I would not say that this answer explains away what could be a "2nd blessing", but it is the interpretive basis for that conclusion. The answer lies in the hermeneutic "examples found in historic narrative are not necessarily normative for the Chruch". Simply stated, just because it happened once does not mean it's supposed to happen that way every time. The classic case of when this hermeneutic is ignored is the Appalachian Snake Handlers who think that because Paul was bit by a deadly viper, "however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm" (Acts 28:5) then all Believers should be able to do the same thing. Unfortunately there has been as many as 120 confirmed deaths from snakebite in this group of people.

So, by applying this hermeneutic, the reader must agree that certainly Peter and John had to pray for and lay hands on this group of believers before the Holy Spirit came upon them, but is there any other evidence, particularly in the epistles, that would lead to the conclusion that the receiving of the Holy Spirit is only (or even usually) accomplished this way?

When we examine the rest of the New Testament, there doesn't appear to be much to support that.

For example, Paul wrote a lot of letters to the Church, explaining a lot of theology and giving a lot of instruction on how things are to be done. There does not seem to be anything he wrote about a "2nd Blessing". However, he did write "Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him" (Rom 8:9). So evidently, if you belong to Jesus then you have the Holy Spirit.

I trust that I am accurately stating the cessationists take on it.

  • 1
    This answer would be improved if you could link Baptist teachings/theology to the point you are making. The question asks for the Baptist belief. Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 20:22
  • As @KorvinStarmast points out, the question is looking for answers from the perspective of Baptist theology, not necessarily from one's personal hermeneutic principles. Perhaps your interpretation is in concert with such theology (I suspect it is), but it doesn't quite answer the question directly.
    – guest37
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 20:37
  • 2
    As a former Bible Teacher in two Baptist denominations for 17-years I can testify that there is no "Baptist Theology" on this subject. Baptists are fiercely independent and you will find different opinions on this topic from church to church, seminary to seminary. I have two articles from Baptist teachers, one: "Why I am a Cessationist" and the other: "Why I Am Not a Cessationist." Most of the Baptists I know are Cessationists, but certainly not all, therefore my answer represented that viewpoint. I think you will offend many Baptists by saying "Baptists are Cessationists." Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 22:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .