Last night during Bible study we got to the part in Acts 8 where Peter and John prayed for the Samaritans that they would receive the Holy Spirit. In verse 16 it says they “had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” and the Holy Spirit had not yet come to them.
Why didn’t the Samaritans get the Holy Spirit when they were baptized? The Holy Spirit would have given them faith, right?
Or did they receive the Holy Spirit but manifest in a different way than it had for the Jewish believers?
The Samaritans were considered by the Jews of the time to be “second class” citizens. It would have seemed to a lifelong dweller from Judah “impossible” that the Holy Spirit would have been poured out by God upon the Samaritans. The phrase ” the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them,” (Acts 8:16) is referring to a manifestation that could be seen by others proving the Samarians had received the exact same Holy Spirit the Apostles had at Pentecost.
The Samaritans as well as all others who were baptized “into Christ” received the gifts of faith and salvation which come with baptism. There is no biblical distinction between being baptized “into Christ” and being baptized into “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” or being baptized in the “Holy Spirit”. These are synonymous terms.
In Act 10:44-46, we see a similar situation where the Holy Spirit is given in a special way. Peter see the manifestation of tongues in the Gentiles to whom he his preaching to demonstrate without a doubt that God has come to these unlikely recipients.
Scripture tells us, “no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the power of the Holy Spirit.” in the case of both the Samaritans and the Gentiles in Acts this “receiving of the Holy Spirit is a manifestation that makes the gift of the Holy Spirit with the gift of faith visible and obvious to others.
Every time faith is granted by God it comes with it the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is true in the Old and New Testaments. The confession of faith is proof of the gift of the Spirit. The “Holy Spirit coming upon” someone in Scripture always refers to a manifestation of the spirit which is demonstrable to the world.