As part of Paulâ€™s letter to Titus and in his admonitions concerning â€œthings that become sound doctrineâ€ he gave advice and godly instruction on how all Christians are to act and as to the character they should exhibit. In chapter two and verses seven and eight is this statement: â€œâ€¦in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.â€ (Titus 2: 7, 8)
I had said that I would comment on baptism of the Holy Spirit in the ensuing essays, and so with this second effort, I will commence by noting a strong and yet altogether non-scriptural argument concerning who it was that was being addressed when baptism of the Holy Sprit was mentioned in Gods book, and then who were the identified recipients of that particular form of baptism. The argument may not be based on scripture, but that does not mean that it is not based on reason and that it does not ride on a solid foundation of rules of order.
The phrases identifying or indicating baptism of the Holy Spirit appear only four times in the gospels (once each in Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and in John 1:33) and then just twice in the book of Acts (in 1:5 and 11:15, 16). That listing accounts for every mention of this type of baptism in the Word of God.
The first three are the accounts I commented on in the first essay. They are also mentioned some below. The next two (John’s and the first mention in Acts) have to do with the apostles and the charge given them by Christ to remain in Jerusalem until they had been baptized by the Spirit. The last is the occasion of the conversions at the home of the centurion Cornelius. If that was not concise enough, perhaps it should be noted that there is no mention of a crowd, that the multitude on the first Pentecost following Christs ascension is not mentioned as a recipient to baptism of the Holy Spirit, nor are any of the listed converts in any of the other conversions recorded in Acts, excepting Cornelius and his family and household as noted here.
As such, only a relative few souls were ever identified as having come under a baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God.
But, someone will doubtless say that ALL would be filled with the Holy Spirit; and the prophesy of John the Baptist was that ALL would be baptized with the Holy Spirit as had (they believe) also been stated by the prophet Joel. For John had said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Yet as Dr. T. W. Brents had long ago noted, while remaining in compliance with the fair rules bound on any written language and while staying within the boundaries of interpretation, no one can reasonably argue that the pronoun you in the last phrase (“he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit”) should include any more persons than the pronoun you does in the first phrase (“I indeed baptize you with water”).
If we allow for the use of reasonable and accepted grammatical rules (as Brents suggested), pronouns then must agree with the nouns they are modified by in gender, place, and number. Therefore, how can any more be identified with the second pronoun than had already been identified by the first?
Further, Brents also mentioned the standard rule that with second person pronouns, in written communications, that the persons identified by the pronouns may be absent from the speaker, but in listed discourse, or when quoted and in speech, these same must be present with the speaker. This rule is yet found in my college rules of writing text as is the other mentioned here. So then Johns recipients of this baptism mentioned were present and were being addressed in the remarks the day the remarks were made. The same argument can be made of every use listed above where baptism of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the scriptures – that the intended audience to the remarks was present while they were being made. The passages were prophetic promises made to a particular and present group when the things said were said.
Dr. Brents concluded his argument on this point by noting “When, therefore, we connect these passages together we see not how it is possible to look beyond the day of Pentecost for the complete fulfillment of the promise of the Father made through John (and then also later of Christ – RAV) concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” (From The Gospel Plan of Salvation, Brents, T. W. Guardian of Truth Foundation, Bowling Green – pg 461).
Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh has said, “Words mean something.” All literature and history bears record that this is true, and that speech, writing and script is and has always been guided by reasonable rules of composition and order.
Ill continue the examination of baptism and in particular baptism of the Holy Spirit in my next posting.