Who are the “them” in Acts 2:41?


Since John’s baptism did not give people the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise that we read about in Acts 2:38-39, did the ones who received his baptism receive the gift and the promise if they lived into the New Testament?

Some in the church believe the "them" in Acts 2:41 includes the apostles and all who were baptized before Pentecost into John’s baptism.

I have told people in the past that the ones who received John’s baptism did not have to be baptized on the day of Pentecost since his baptism was preparing the way for Jesus, and I have believed his baptism placed them in the kingdom on that day since he was preparing the way, but as I started thinking I realized that his baptism did not give them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise, and it did not put them into Christ or unite them into His death, burial, and resurrection, so I was wondering about the other things such as the gift and the promise.


"So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).

You first need to realize there is no "them" in the Greek text. The pronoun was added by the King James translators and the New King James translators to make the reading flow better in English. Thus, the verse doesn't directly imply there was a pre-existing number.

Second, people forget that Jesus and his disciples baptized more people than John did prior to Jesus' death. "Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea and went away again into Galilee" (John 4:1-3). It would be these people who did not need to be baptized again since they were baptized into Christ.

In contrast, we find that those who only were baptized into John's baptism did need to be baptized again. "And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:3-5).

For details about the various baptisms mentioned in the New Testament, see Baptisms of the New Testament.

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