By Larry Ray Hafley


From Texas: “Did the Holy Spirit fall on the twelve only or on all the one hundred and twenty of Acts 1 and 2?”


The answer to this query is of no mean moment. Pentecostal Holiness groups of every hue and dye appeal to Acts 1 and 2 as proof that Holy Spirit baptism is for believers today. They commence their contention by assuming that all the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit. From this springboard they leap to the conclusion that all disciples, all believers, in all ages were promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This baptism is often referred to as “the Pentecostal experience” by those of the modern day Pentecostal movement, though not by the New Testament. Thus, by showing that only the apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Pentecostal theory is smitten at the root.

The Promise Was Made Only To The Apostles

In John chapters 14-16, Jesus promised the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to certain ones. These were the apostles (Cf. Jn. 13:1; Matt. 26:20). “But when the Comforter is come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (Jn. 15:26, 27). Note that these ones to whom the Spirit was promised were to “bear witness.” These were individuals who “have been with me from the beginning.” Does that include anyone today? In Luke 24:46-49, Jesus said the apostles were “witnesses” who were to “tarry . . . in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” These witnesses are the apostles who were empowered by the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them.

Further, Acts 1:1-8 presents the promise of Holy Spirit baptism as being made to the apostles and to no one else. The text says Jesus “gave commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.” It was the apostles “to whom . . . he showed himself alive.” He was “seen of them” (the apostles). Jesus was assembled “together with them” (the apostles), and “commanded them (the apostles) that they (the apostles) should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye (apostles) have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye (apostles) shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they (the apostles) were come together, they (the apostles) asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them (the apostles), It is not for you (apostles) to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye (apostles) shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you (apostles): and ye (apostles) shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:1-8). The extent of Holy Spirit baptism in Acts 2 can be no greater than the promise of it in Acts 1. The promise was made to the apostles, so the reception was limited to the apostles.

Acts 1:1-8: is frequently misapplied by Pentecostal sects. They use it to show that Holy Spirit baptism is for believers today. They say they are guided by the Spirit of God. But how could the Holy Spirit lead them to contradict what the Spirit said in the New Testament? Either they or Luke is not guided by the Spirit in their claims. Who will say they are right, but Luke is wrong in the book of Acts?

Proofs From Acts 2

In Acts 2, every indication is that only the apostles were “filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

First, the pronoun “they” in verse one refers to the apostles in Acts 1:26.

Second, the multitude marveled “saying one to another, Behold are not all these which speak Galileans” (Vs. 7)? It is highly unlikely that all the nearly 120 disciples mentioned in Acts 1:15 were Galileans, but the apostles are specifically referred to as “men of Galilee” (Acts 1:11). Those who spoke in tongues were those who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Those who spoke in the languages were Galileans. The apostles were “men of Galilee.” So, the apostles were the ones who received Holy Spirit baptism.

Third, the mockers in the multitude “said, These men are full of new wine.” The 120 disciples included women (Acts 1:14, 15). The apostles were all men. The tongues speakers were “men.”

Fourth, the denial of drunkenness was made with respect to the apostles. Peter stood up with the other apostles and said, “These are not drunken as ye suppose” (V. 15). Since the denial was made concerning the apostles, the charge must have been made against them, not the 120. Only the tongues talkers were reproached and ridiculed, i.e., the apostles. Why not accuse all the disciples of drunkenness if all had received Holy Spirit baptism?

Fifth, Peter appealed to “witnesses” (V. 32). It was the apostles who were selected witnesses (Jn. 15:26, 27; Lk. 24:48; Acts 1:8, 22; 10:41).

Sixth, when the audience responded in remorse, they “said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do” (V. 37)? But why just ask the apostles if all the disciples were speaking as the Spirit gave them utterance?

Seventh, the obedient believers “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (V. 42). Why is it styled “the apostles’ doctrine” if the 120 disciples also delivered the teaching? The implication is that only the apostles spoke; they were the ones being guided into all truth.

Eighth, “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (V. 43). Why just the apostles? Compare Acts 4:33–“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection.” “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people” (Acts 5:11). It is not until Acts 6:8 that we find anyone but an apostle working miracles, and then it was after the hands of the apostles were laid on him (Acts 6:6). This is more than a little coincidental if all disciples received Holy Spirit baptism in Acts 2. Again, the compelling inferential evidence is that only the apostles received Holy Spirit baptism in Acts 2.

A Final Thought

Just suppose the above facts could be erased. Suppose the apostles and the 120 disciples received Holy Spirit baptism. What would that prove? It would not prove that Holy Spirit baptism is for believers today. This is the pleading of the present day Pentecostal party. To grant them that all the disciples in Acts 1:14, 15 were baptized in the Holy Spirit would still not erect their doctrine which says that such an “experience” is for believers today, for there is “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).

Truth Magazine XIX: 47, pp. 739-742
October 9, 1975