In Acts 8, why wasn't the indwelling Spirit given to the Samaritans at their baptism? Why did the apostles have to lay hands on them for them to receive the Spirit? Also, in Acts 10, Peter said that the Caesareans had received the Spirit just as the apostles had at Pentecost. Does he mean the same outpouring, or that they received the indwelling of the Spirit? --Anthony Cicco

I would encourage you to read what I have written in The Spirit (2005). Your questions are addressed in some depth. You will also find other relevant articles at this website.

To give you a more compact answer at this time, the Samaritans (in my view) did receive the indwelling at baptism, though not any outward sign. This was an historical boundary: the inclusion of the Samaritans in the covenant, long ago cut off (2 Kings 17) and viewed with suspicion. God was making it perfectly clear, in a visible and dramatic manner, that he had accepted them. The sign was necessary.

As for the Caesareans of Acts 10, they equally needed an outward confirmation. They were the first purely Gentile audience an apostle addressed. Again, a moment of historic import. Modern people tend to read the passage and think about the experience itself. ("That's cool! I'd like that to happen to me.") But the reason these passages are in the Bible is not so that we may emulate a similar experience, but to make it clear that salvation was no longer only Jew-accessible.

As for Peter's comparison of the Caesarean outpouring with the Pentecostal event, he is referring to the outward manifestation of the Spirit. I believe the apostles had already received the Holy Spirit: they were saved before Pentecost, nor is there any evidence that they were (re-)baptized at that time.

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