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Matthew's gospel ends with the Great Commission of Jesus to baptize "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28.18-20).

However, in the Book of Acts, the Apostle Peter performs baptism in the name of Jesus Christ only (Acts 2:38, 10:4819:5).

Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit apparently followed Peter's one-name baptism in Acts 2:38 anyway, although Acts 8:14-17 suggests that being baptized in the name of Christ does not automatically lead to receiving the Holy Spirit.  And Acts 10:45-48 suggests, conversely, that the Holy Spirit can descend on believers even before being baptized in the name of Christ alone.

I'd welcome some insight on how all this can be harmonized. 

Baptism in one-name (Jesus' name) only; or, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Holy Trinity)?

Does it matter?  Why or why not?

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14). 

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Two kinds of baptism listed in Scripture in the Book of Acts:

Acts 1:5 speaks of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:16 and Acts 10:47 speak of water baptism with Acts 10 giving a picture of being baptized in the Holy Spirit before water baptism.. Thus, which baptism is Peter speaking of? He just experienced being baptized with the Holy Spirit, so is he reiterating what he just experienced or calling them to water baptism in Acts 2:38. In Acts 2:41 we find that about 3000 were added to their number that day and they were baptized. The Scripture does not give a clear answer as to whether it is water or Spirit baptism, but just the logistics of it would make you wonder. How long would it take to baptize in water 3000 people? Even if the 120 all baptized someone it would be about 30 each. If the 12 did it we are talking 250 each.


Two kinds of receiving of the Holy Spirit listed:

Without going into too much detail I will mention that there are those (including me) that view the regeneration event (receiving the Holy Spirit as a deposit and being marked by Him unto salvation) as being different from being filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 (Pentecost) is a unique event because something happens that had not happened before, nor could it have until now based on God’s timeline. Peter was indwelt by the Holy Spirit back in John 20:22 and is not filled with the Holy Spirit until Pentecost. Even though Pentecost is unique it still depicts a difference between receiving (John 20:22) and being filled (Acts 2:4). Acts 8:14-17 depicts a group who had accepted God’s Word. We have to believe this is more than just an intellectual ascent. The apostles laid hands on them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The next few verses make it clear that this filling was evident in their lives as Simon saw the difference and wanted that power. In Acts 10 we find Cornelius had a faith in God that preceded his hearing of God’s Word. Yet he needed clarity and God sent him Peter. Cornelius’ change demonstrates a filling, but that follows salvation. He received Christ (without a particular prayer, at least as recorded in Scripture) in such a way that it even surprised Peter. From my perspective the two events were almost simultaneous, indwelt (converted) and filled, in this case.


In Jesus name.

A good starting place is thinking about what is meant by baptizing in a name or names. In salvation are we saved by the literal name or by the one behind the name? My faith is in the Son of God, the Christ, Jesus. All three represent the same person who saves and goes beyond the title. If we apply the same logic to “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and “Jesus name” we find that it is the God (Godhead) behind the name that matters. Jesus says in John 10:30 “I and the Father are one” and in John 14:9 “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Thus, for me it is not a matter of protocol, but having a faith that goes beyond the name to the living God that is represented by the name. In the Trinity the oneness is central for there is only one God …


Lord Bless,



Thank you for that clear and Biblically-grounded response to each of the questions I raised about New Testament baptism.  I particularly liked your phrasing here: "In salvation, are we saved by the literal name or by the one behind the name?" 

Faith, hope and love,



I am glad it helped and you are welcome.

Lord Bless,


LT I got a little lost here.  You  pointed out two ways to receive the Holy Spirit. Wouldn't it make more sense to say filled is without water and received is with water? The reason I ask is, when I have called to God in my hours of great need I felt him come into me right from head to my toes. I call these being filled with the Holy Spirit. This may seem trivial but just wondering. Thanks


Thanks for asking Wouldn't it make more sense to say filled is without water and received is with water?

My response is no. The reason it is no is because one receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at salvation (regeneration, new birth). One is later (could be almost immediately at salvation or separated by a large amount of time) is filled with the Holy Spirit. Two separate events and neither instance requires water baptism which too is a separate event.

Hope that helps, but please feel free to inquire further.

BTW ... no question is trivial if it is a question one truly desires an answer for :-)

Lord Bless,




What does the filling of the Spirit look like? What does it feel like?

I understand that we are sanctified by the indwelling of the Spirit, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, but we don't always measure up to it. In Corinthians, despite being called sanctified they were also rebuked for still being "infants" and in many places I read about a process of change and of taking off the old self, putting on the new self, getting rid of sins like lying, and renouncing them and being renewed in a process (Col 3:5-10). Can any of these things happen without the filling of the Spirit? How will you know that you are filled?


To be clear whether one is indwelt or indwelt and filled they both are children of God. Unlike the teachings of some there is no second class child. What we find is there are those who are walking in their strength and those who have been empowered by the Holy Spirit. The idea of being filled is not really about more presence, but a surrender to Him that releases Him (for a lack of better terminology) to work through us. Most, IMO, are unaware of the power of God available to work in us and through us and are satisfied simply with salvatin, or unaware of the potential that is available. Again, this power of God by His Spirit is not for a show, but for God's glory as He uses us to accomplish His purposes. The difference in one's growth who is indwelt compared to filled is basically the difference between one being malnourished and fully supplied. Both will grow, but one is stunted and can at times be viewed as anemic. So, yes these things can happen because at new birth we are transformed (regenerated), but there is a whole lot more available than only our new birth.

Tozer believed that no one could be filled and not know it. I am not sure. I lean that way, but reserve the right to believe there can be exceptions.

Lord Bless,



That point has been confusing -- when I hear "going in own strength" I equate it with self righteousness, doing own works, not walking in His strength and working the works of God.

There must be evidence then that plainly shows one is filled for one to know it without any doubts.

Not self-righteousness. Totally different. It is one seeking to glorify God, but using walking only in their humanity. Here will be a really power analogy, but hope it makes the point. If you remember the mopeds from days gone by they were both peddle and motor operated. If someone gave you the moped and you peddle everywhere because no one mentioned that the motor actually could be turned on you could use the moped to get from point A to point B, but required you peddling your heart out. Then one day you figure out this motor thing and start it up. All of a sudden you no longer peddle much or for very long. The motor is doing most of the work. All the time you were peddling you were riding a moped and when you cranked it up you were still riding a moped.  Life as a child of God has a similar path. You can be saved and require your strength to serve the Lord to the bet of your ability or you can be empowered by Him to serve the same Lord.

I cannot give a list of evidence. The best I can do is similar to Tozer's point ... you know you know. You have experienced the difference. You know what is was to walk in your strength and no know what it is like to rely on His strength.

Lord Bless,


I have equated walking in one's humanity with walking in the flesh and some say walking in the flesh means spiritually dead but living in the spirit is being born again and spiritually alive. The background I've had in doctrine and teaching since I moved away from my parents' home never included the teaching of being filled, just being given the gift of the Holy Spirit at salvation and submitting to water baptism. My parents attended a holiness church and the second work of grace was taught there. But I never experienced what I saw others experiencing there who were receiving it.

Understood. There are those who only see the two positions and others, like myself, that see 3 in Scripture.

Lord Bless,


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