What is the difference between baptism of the Holy Spirit and receiving the Holy Spirit (or being filled with the Holy Spirit)? Do these two mean the same? I am open to the different views given by the denominations that exist today.

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    Interesting question. I was questioning the premise until I actually started to look into answering it and found: desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/…
    – wax eagle
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 13:11
  • Being filled with the Holy Spirit as in Ephesians 5:18 is often seen as a 'gradual continuous thing', where as Baptized is a 'sudden drenching thing'. However as Narnian said, when asked if you have received the sudden thing it may be asked 'have you received the Holy Spirit?' These terms differ widely depending on which school of thought, even I get confused. This post explores the same question from a different angle. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/9120/…
    – Mike
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 10:30
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    Views of these two ideas vary among Christians, so this question needs to be narrowed to a particular tradition of Christianity. Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


Note: The answers here will really depend on your doctrinal perspective.

The word baptism is not a translation from the Greek, but a transliteration. The word was used when describing the dying of fabrics. The fabric was plunged into the dye and then changed forever as the dye stayed with the fabric.

So, baptism of the Holy Spirit seems to either refer to us being plunged into the Spirit or the Spirit being plunged into us. Receiving the Holy Spirit, then, would seem to be pretty similar, or perhaps the result of baptism by the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps we could say that in baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit.

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    Good answer and note about doctrinal perspectives. Being Baptist, I consider baptismal an outward expression of inner faith. However I could probably write a blog or short story about the symbolism of the baptismal ritual.
    – user1054
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 14:54

There was a time when the disciples followed the Lord Jesus without the benefit of the Holy Spirit. They followed out of faith alone believing in His promises. It is the most basic form of faith.

John 7:37-39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. (38) "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" (39) But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Yet all that changed one day. When Jesus was resurrected and glorified their relationship changed. As He appeared to them breathed (just as His father had done to Adam) the breath of life, that is the abundant life, the eternal life, that is in the Holy Spirit.

John 20:22-23 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

They were granted His great authority because now they were united with Him in the Holy Spirit. Conversion had occurred as they were united with Him. But there was more to come. Before His ascension he told them that there was a power to come.

Luke 24:48-49 "You are witnesses of these things. (49) "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

Acts 1:4-5 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; (5) for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

They followed in obedience His instructions until the day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. (2) And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance."

Those who had already received the Holy Spirit were now baptized in the Holy Spirit that brought about a unique spiritual power. The followers now with great boldness and a distinctive power began to prophesy to those in Jerusalem. Each person hearing it in their own language.

The explanation was supplied by Spirit filled Peter.

Acts 2:14-18 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. (15) "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; (16) but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: (17) 'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says, 'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; (18) EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy.

The receiving and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are therefore two different yet very related events.

The receiving of the Holy Spirit by a believer unites them with Christ in a supernatural way. That relationship never to be broken because it was created by the Lord. It places in the believer's life everything that is necessary for them to serve the Lord such as faith, spiritual gifts, communication through prayer, understanding of God's Word, etc. But it does not unleash the spiritual power.

Spiritual power comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is the spark that ignites the fire of ministry to the world. An example would be the car that you drive. As it sits in your driveway ready to do everything that is necessary for it to operate with power is present. Fuel, electricity, oil, engine, everything that is necessary for it run as it should. But until the key is placed in the ignition and turned on, is that power unleashed. Turning the switch allows the potential that is already there to come to life. It is like the tongues of fire at Pentecost to a car that is already to go.

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    This is a good answer. +1. I took the liberty to edit it and format it in a more effective way. You can easily edit it back yourself, or click edit to see how I used markdown to format it. Welcome to the site. See the faq and tour pages to learn what we are all about here. I look forward to seeing you more.
    – user3961
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 23:03

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