Today, our devotion continues with the celebration of Pentecost, and we read about Acts 8 in an excerpt from The Big Book of New Testament Questions and Answers.
Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.
God promises to come to us in His Word and Sacrament. In our Baptism, we see this promise at work as the triune name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is placed upon us. The Word of God in and with the water rescues us from sin, death, and the devil, giving us eternal life and welcoming us into God’s family.
God promises to come to us in His Word and Sacraments, and in our Baptism, we see this promise at work as His triune name is placed upon us.
[Acts] 8:14–16 How can there be a Baptism without the Holy Spirit? Can only the apostles baptize?
Baptism is essentially a life immersed in the Word of God, which is inspired by God, and therefore the Holy Spirit is always present with it (Jn 6:63; 1Th 2:13; 2Tm 3:16). The ceremony of Baptism in which water is added to the Word is given in order to provide physical confirmation of the application of the promises of God to a particular individual (2Co 1:21–22; Eph 1:13; 1Pt 3:21). The “falling” or “coming” of the Holy Spirit upon people happens in extraordinary circumstances, where indisputable evidence is needed for the fact that the grace of God saves all and saves immediately through the Word. This “falling” or “coming” of the Holy Spirit comes by the laying on of the apostles’ hands and usually manifests itself by speaking in different languages, as was the case on Pentecost (Ac 2:1–21; 15:1–10). The Holy Spirit is there all the way through, providing greater levels of physical evidence as required to authenticate the truth of the Gospel. . . .
8:17 How is it that people were baptized and believed but hadn’t received the Holy Spirit?
First, remember that the purpose of miraculous signs and wonders is to provide evidence that the apostles speak with authority from God, that the Word of God is powerful, that God’s grace is communicated through that Word immediately and for all. Any time the truth and grace of God is challenged, God provides evidence that overcomes that opposition. You may note that Philip understands that the grace of God is for all, as he eagerly takes it to Samaria and to an Ethiopian and to a region along the coast that was part of Philistia (Azotus). Peter and John came to confirm the truth of God’s gracious redemption of all people by granting a sign among the Samaritan believers. Second, notice that Luke is careful to say that the Holy Spirit had “not yet fallen” (v. 16) on them, and then how the Holy Spirit came upon them through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at His Baptism as a witness to the reality that already existed (Lk 3:22). The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles at Pentecost as a witness to the authority Christ had given to them (Ac 2:1–21). The Holy Spirit is always present with the Word (Jn 6:63). Everywhere there are people present who oppose the Gospel, you will find the laying on of the apostles’ hands that brings this special manifestation of the Holy Spirit (“falling on them”) as evidence that cannot be disputed (Ac 10:44–47; 15:8–9; 19:6).
Devotional reading is from The Big Book of New Testament Questions and Answers, pages 317–18 © 2015 Michael Eschelbach. Published by Concordia Publishing House.
Holy Spirit, God of love,
Who our night dost brighten,
Poured on us from heav’n above,
Now our faith enlighten.
In Thy light we gather here;
Show us that Christ’s promise clear
Is Amen forever.
Jesus, our ascended Lord,
Oh, fulfill Thy gracious Word:
Bless us with Thy favor! Amen.
Hymn text is from The Lutheran Hymnal 230.