For by one Spirit

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free and we have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV) (NKJV)

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (NIV)

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  (RSV) (NASV) (ESV) (HCSB)

So, how does this go?

This passage states that we are all baptized by the Holy Spirit. And no one should even bother to dispute that. But, the central question is – what exactly does it mean?

Many take this to mean that the gifts of the power of the Holy Spirit come along with this baptism and our drinking of the Spirit. That it is a physical and personal immersion in the Holy Spirit. Some take it to mean that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is commensurate with our baptism in water and adds, or may be accompanied with signs and wonders. Some say you only need the first and can dispense with the latter.

All of this indicates that it is the Holy Spirit performing this baptism, and that it, in some way, also equates with becoming a member of the body of Christ. For the translation says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” Regardless of what you may believe of these various explanations, you cannot escape that particular conclusion. 

There are several more translations to which we may appeal; but apparently there are only about three actual English variations for 1 Corinthians 12:13.

I must define this, if I am to make any sense of things (and if I am to be a serious student of scripture), and be able to find harmony in this statement of Paul’s and with all of the other remarks made of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I already know that there are only two occurrences listed of an outpouring or immersion by the Holy Spirit in the NT, and that with this remark by Paul, references to baptism by the Holy Spirit are limited to an additional four other occurrences. Then, I must have harmony between them all; else God is the author of confusion. And he specifically states that he is not.

That must lead me to the notion that Paul is speaking of those two occurrences here as he wrote to the Corinthians. That is the only way I can have harmony; or God is out there offering different immersions for different cases. But the apostles state that it is not true. And so, it must be that as Paul refers to these things here that he states that the Holy Spirit was not different as it was poured out upon both Jews and later non Jews, but was the same one Spirit. And that through this outpouring “all nations” have access to God through the body of Christ. We each partake of – “are made to drink” – of the same Spirit, and are by freely taking on the gift of God, able to find ourselves part of the body of Christ. There is really only one choice.

Therefore, Paul is not insisting on some overwhelming of Spiritual gifts, and another baptism, but rather is noting that all people whether Jew or Gentile now have access to Christ, and if obedient and following the instructions, are to be found in his body; if we will only but partake of the blessing that has been given to all.