Did 120 Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4?
by Carl A. Allen
I have been told, by many preachers of the United Pentecostal persuasion, and many others, that the 120 in Acts 1:15 received the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit!" All one has to do is look at the context of Acts 1-6 and he can see clearly that the 120 did not receive the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit."
In Acts 1:2 the word Apostles is used and the "them" in Acts 1:3 refers to the apostles. So, also, is the pronoun "you" found in Acts 1:4. It is said to the apostles, Acts 1:5, "for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence." This promise is made to the apostles — it is a promise and not a command, Acts 1:4.
Acts 1:3 says, "to whom he showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God." There were fifty days from the Feast of the Unleavened Bread to the Day of Pentecost, ( Leviticus 23:15-16). If he spent forty (40) days, Acts 1:3, with the disciples, this would mean that there were ten (10) days after he ascended to heaven, Acts 1:9-11, until the day of Pentecost; for the text says he ascended on the fortieth day, Acts 1:3. It was during this time, the ten days, that the apostles returned to Jerusalem and selected one in the place of Judas, Acts 1:12-23.
At this meeting one is selected in the place of Judas, Acts 1:26, there were about 120 people present at that meeting and witnessed the selection of one in the place of Judas. But after this is done there is still time left, during the ten days, till the day of Pentecost. This is the reason for the first verse of Acts 2 being worded as it is.
"And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place," Acts 2:1. "And when the day of Pentecost was now come," shows there was a period of time before the day of Pentecost. Now, we have another meeting and this meeting is for the purpose of the "Holy Spirit being given."
In this meeting we have the words, "they," Acts 2:1-2,4, and "them," Acts 2:3-4, used. When a pronoun is used we must take a look at the preceding noun. The preceding noun is found in Acts 1:26 and it is "apostles." So, the "they," and the "them," has reference to the apostles which is named in Acts 1:26 and the pronouns follow in Acts 2:1-4 with the words, "they," and "them."
In addition to this information one is compelled to note that a statement is made in Acts 2:1-4, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." The ones that were filled with the Holy Spirit were the ones who "spoke in other tongues." I cannot but notice that in Acts 2:14 Peter "standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and "spake" forth unto them." The ones that "spake" were the ones who were filled with "Holy Spirit," v. 4 and the ones that "spake" were the "eleven," (Peter would make twelve): So it was the twelve that "spake" in tongues and it was the twelve that "spake" after the Holy Spirit was given; so we conclude that it was the twelve that received the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit."
It is interesting to note that what was taught was called "the apostles teaching." The teaching came from the "apostles," because they were the ones who received the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:26 and were the ones who were speaking, Acts 2:4 and the ones who were speaking was Peter with the eleven, Acts 2:14. Because of the word being delivered through the apostles, what they taught is called, "the apostles' doctrine," Acts 2:42.
The apostles are referred to as the "Galileans," Acts 2:7. So, the Galileans spoke to the men of "Judea," Acts 2:14 and the apostles spoke to the men "Israel," Acts 2:22,36. One will observe that it is the apostles who take the lead at the beginning of the Gospel of Christ being preached. It is "Peter standing up with the eleven," (Acts 2:14). When the people on the day of Pentecost heard the words of the men speaking, this is what they said, "Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Please observe that the text says they said this to the apostles! If there were "120 people" who received it, where is the statement that expresses their receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The apostles continued to take the lead form the church's beginning. They performed miracles, Acts 3. It is stated that "by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch," (Acts 5:12). Those that were being persecuted were the "apostles," (Acts 5:40). When there was a need to select certain ones to take care of the widows who were being neglected, it is the "twelve" who called the multitude together (Acts 6:2). So, all of the emphasis is placed on the "twelve" until you have a man designated as Stephen beginning to preach the Gospel in Acts 6:8.
Now, we are back to the "apostles' doctrine," noted in Acts 2:42. The roughly 120 people are not included because they did not receive the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," given in Acts 2:1-4. Now, there may be those who claim the 120 receive the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," but this my friends cannot be proved from the New Testament! Only the apostles were baptized with the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4 and that is what the New Testament affirms.