1 Corinthians 12:12-13 Baptism in the Holy Spirit or Filling? YES!

July 3, 2022 Speaker: Chris Jessee Series: Dear Church - Paul's Letters To The Church In Corinth

Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, Romans 8:15–17, Galatians 3:27–28, Ephesians 5:48

1 Corinthians 12:12–13 - [12] For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. [13] For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Right out of the gate this morning, in verse 12 we have this reminder: Paul’s point in writing to the church in Corinth was primarily two-fold - Unity within the church & Purity of the church as a representative of the body of Christ.

We are made one in Christ who is one with the Father and Spirit. We’ll focus more this next week on the unity through diversity that we’re called to in the church and the metaphor of ‘body’. 

Do not depersonalize the Holy Spirit. For in so doing, you rob the third person of the trinity of his power for a Godly life.

Do not be a disembodied representation of Christ to a watching world. For in so doing, you rob the cross of its power to bring people together through their common need for a savior.

Don’t misunderstand - just because a metaphor or analogy is used in scripture, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t concrete truths they reveal to us.

This morning I want to focus on a question that has long been raised about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Are we to be baptized in the Spirit or are we to be filled with the Spirit? I’d like to simply answer: YES!

Now, there are many more questions than this that we could get into this morning but I want to step back from those to simply look to scripture for what it plainly says to us: 

I must admit this morning, these two verses are quite the humbling task to approach - because there’s a bit of an irony contained therein. 

There are many who would see this text as an affirmation of a separate ‘Baptism in the Spirit’ that happens following salvation. Others read here an experience of Baptism in/of the Spirit at the time of conversion.  

The irony is this: Paul’s point in writing this passage is the unity and purity of the church… but divisions over this subject have caused more than a few churches to split. May that not be our experience here

Let’s look to God’s Word together to see what clarity we can gain from understanding what it reveals to us.

[13a] For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body 

This is the central text for Spirit baptism. The 3rd person in the trinity is named throughout scripture as the Holy Spirit.

Spirit, or any of the other phrases used in scripture to describe him (breath, spirit, water, fire, wind), shouldn’t keep us from thinking of him as a person within the trinity.

ILLUS: Meeting the other night - jumped past the point of Baptism in the Spirit, second blessing, subsequence, etc. (what would be known as tertiary issues in theology) - jumped to the point: Who the Holy Spirit is and why he matters in the life of the believer

In Corinth, there would have been many idols, or gods, beings or deities who would have had an element of presence or power - Paul here draws our attention to our like-no-other-‘one Spirit’ in the same way he does in writing to the church in other Pauline Epistles (e.g. Ephesians 2:18) 

Consider with me now 4 aspects of how scripture reveals the Spirit to us:

  1. Scripture affirms that the Holy Spirit has the qualities of a personal being.
  •     Mind (knowledge)
  •     Emotions (feelings) 
  •     Will (choices/plans) 
  1. Scripture shows us how the Holy Spirit performs all the functions of a personal being.
  •   He talks 
  •     He testifies
  •     He can be sinned against
  •     He can be lied to 
  •     He can be tested/tempted
  •     He can be insulted
  •     He enters into relationships with other persons
  •     He encourages
  •     He strengthens
  •     He teaches
  1. We understand from reading scripture that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person
  •     What is said of God is said of the Spirit
  •     The Holy Spirit is identified with Yahweh
  •     The activity of God = the activity of the Holy Spirit 
  •     “God said” = “the Spirit said”
  •     We are the “temple of God because the Holy Spirit dwells in us”
  1. Not only is the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person - he has a distinct Purpose
  •     Power - the God-given ability to do what God wants us to do and what, apart from the Spirit, we otherwise could not do.

Power for hope

Power for miracles

Power for prayer

Power for praise

Power for preaching

  •     Performance - the impartation and energizing of spiritual gifts
  •     Purity - the Spirit sanctifies our motives and actions and delivers us from the power and pollution of sin; the Spirit cultivates His fruit in our lives
  •     Presentation - of the truth, in the sense of making us aware of spiritual things: revelation, interpretation, illumination
  •     Presence - the Holy Spirit makes known to us and in us the person of Jesus; He mediates the presence and power of Christ in our hearts; His role is to throw a floodlight, as it were, on the person of Christ1

We say it like this in our Affirmations of Faith:

We believe that the Holy Spirit is fully God, eternally one with the Father and Son. The primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit also convicts unbelievers of their need for Christ and imparts spiritual life through regeneration (the new birth). 

The Spirit indwells, sanctifies, leads, illumines and graciously empowers for godly living and service all that come to faith in Christ. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ baptizes believers in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fills, empowers, and anoints believers for ministry and witness.2

I share these things with you about the Holy Spirit, as a person to take away what may be holding some back from fully realizing who he is to you and why he has been provided for you: namely, doubt and fear.

  • Doubt of our need for a divine helper or his ability to enable our walk with Christ as our Savior.
  • Fear that he will overwhelm us, or we won’t understand properly, or experience rightly, we don’t know what he’ll ask us to do or reveal to or about us.
  • Let’s recall Romans 8:15–17 - [15] For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [16] The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,

Doubt and Fear aren’t things that Jesus is afraid of but he meets us in those very times of need. They’re also the reason that Christ gives us his Holy Spirit.

The analogy with water baptism helps us understand - Just as John immersed people in the water and saturated them with water, so Jesus will immerse people in and saturate them with the Holy Spirit.

After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

John helps us understand that the Holy Spirit doesn’t baptize anyone. 

It is Jesus who baptizes you and I “in” or “with” the Holy Spirit.

How many Christians are baptized in the Holy Spirit? Paul says clearly in v.13 – “For in one Spirit we were ALL baptized into one body . . . and ALL were made to drink of one Spirit.” - this is similar to the language that Paul uses in v.6 – “and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”

This leads us to understand the next part of the passage:

[13b] Jews or Greeks, slaves or free

In a parallel passage from Galatians we read:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.(Galatians 3:27-28)

The reason I share this is the Spirit’s work, is because this was a radical departure from the culture of the day - where power was understood in levels, trade or position. 

The church, as a unified body in Christ would have equal access and equal empowerment by the same spirit.

[13c] - and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Let’s leave the mixing of metaphors for a moment (earlier in this verse we’re told it’s baptism, now Paul says we’re to drink).

What this verse points us to is a call, as we see throughout the New Testament to be regularly experiencing an encounter with the Holy Spirit that would be known as Being Filled or ‘filling’

Back again to our Affirmations of Faith on the Spiritual Gifts as a church:

While the Holy Spirit at conversion indwells all genuine believers, the New Testament indicates the importance of an ongoing, empowering work of the Spirit in the life of a believer. The Holy Spirit desires to fill each believer continually with increased power for Christian life and witness, and believers should seek this filling as a regular and recognizable blessing for the Christian life.

Allow me, just for a moment, to point our attention to Ephesians 5:18

[18] And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

This phrase ‘be filled’ is what is known as a present imperative - it is a command to me and to you today.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the seemingly mixed metaphors in this verse: Baptism and Filling.

I think scripture shows us life, as a follower of Christ - A life of abundance, utterly saturated, continually experiencing the covenantal blessing of the presence of the Holy Spirit by being filled. 

Much like baptism, though, this is something we not only desire, but outwardly and humbly submit ourselves to, earnestly desire and seek after.

the Spirit does not simply inaugurate the new age and then disappear; rather, he characterizes the new age. - Carson, D. A.. Showing the Spirit3

Our “saturation” with the Spirit results in our participation in the body of Christ, the Church. 

The Holy Spirit’s “saturation” leads to our “maturation”. 

We look different than the world around us as those immersed in his presence.  

The things that we bring into our lives are changed because we’re seeking to glorify God with our bodies and the things that we watch, listen to, know, “imagine.

The things that we are filled with through the filling of the Spirit pour out of us to God’s Glory as spiritual fruitfulness, ways that we talk to and about our brothers and sisters, the men and women that we interact with and the testimony that we share draws people in to what is filling us as they see the stark difference in what may be shallow or empty lives.

Paul’s reference to the Holy Spirit as one that we would drink in might bring to mind the OT imagery of the promised age to come in which the land and its people have the Spirit poured out on them:

“until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest” (Isa. 32:15).

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (Isa. 44:3).

“And I will not hide my face any more from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 39:29).

Greater than the prophet Isaiah or Ezekial, or even Paul. We hear Jesus tell his very disciples, and thus, you and me today, about the one that he would send.

John 16:4–15 - [4] But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

The Work of the Holy Spirit
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. [5] But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ [6] But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. [7] Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. [8] And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: [9] concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; [10] concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; [11] concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

[12] “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. [13] When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. [14] He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [15] All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

we share great blessings through the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Here, the one who is the very centerpiece of History and the centerpiece of our faith, tells us that our walking with the Holy Spirit is more advantageous than walking with Jesus himself. 

If I were to return us to the conference room table the other night - it was said this way: ​​John 16 shows us that walking with the Holy Spirit is more advantageous than walking with Christ Himself! (walking with the Spirit is the language that we see in the book of Galatians) 

So church, let me ask you this morning - when were you last filled with the Holy Spirit? 

Does the testimony of your life exhibit a ‘saturation’ of his indwelling presence?

Have your best efforts come up shy of any real goal or even sustainability?


I ask because some here may have neglected him, and some have depersonalized him.

Some of you have just assumed that you can get along well-enough in your Christian life under your own power, 

  • your own ingenuity, 
    • your own wisdom, 
      • your own brilliance, 
        • without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Some of you because of your unrepentant sin have grieved him, as Paul says in Ephesians 4.

some of you because of your resistance to spiritual gifts, have quenched his fire, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5. 

What you may need this morning is for the Spirit to energize your heart, to set on fire your affections for Jesus -and- for one another, yet again. 

Some need him to come and enlighten your mind -as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1- that you might see yet again, in a new and fresh way, the beauty of your calling in Christ.

Some of you need him to come and just shine a light in your heart on the beauty of the cross and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Paul says in 1 Corinthians that you were made to drink of him, and some of you've gotten dry, and you don't remember what being filled was like

Here’s what’s true for you and me: Today you can dip your cup into the presence -and- the power of the Spirit and drink once more to the satisfaction of your soul, to the empowering of your life. 

Holy Spirit, fill us, we pray!


  1. Adapted from Sam Storms' article 'The Person of the Holy Spirit'
  2. https://www.metrolife.org/affirmations-of-faith
  3. Carson, D. A.. Showing the Spirit

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