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Paul Receives the Spirit at his Baptism

There were two things Ananias was to do when he traveled to meet Paul. He was sent that Paul might regain his sight, and that Paul might be filled with the Holy Spirit.

What ends up happening is really interesting. Paul instantly regains his sight. Then he rises and is baptized (9:18).

So Ananias is sent to heal his sight and to see him  filled with the Spirit. In clear paralellism, Luke says he regains his sight and is baptized. This puts an unmistakable link between Paul’s water baptism with his reception of the Holy Spirit.

If there is any doubt, Luke uses that word immediately again in the very next passage. That word isn’t as common in Luke as it is in Mark, so it is interesting that he used it twice in such close proximity. And, what is Paul doing? He is preaching Jesus in the synagogues, amazing people, and confounding the Jewish people who would try to refute him. Luke’s account does at least look a bit like Luke 4:14-15 when he speaks of Jesus traveling through the region being glorified by all after his baptism and temptation.

So, according to Luke’s account, it seems clear that he is linking Paul’s reception of the Holy Spirit with his water baptism. I think it would be foolish to read this any other way. Ananias came to heal Paul’s sight and that he might be filled with the Spirit. Paul’s sight is healed, he is baptized, and he leaves in power to do the things that Jesus did after the Spirit descended on him in baptism. Immediately after his baptism, the man who had previously ravaged the Church is defending the Way to those who would oppose him.

This is what happens as we receive the Holy Spirit. Praise God for this radical transformation.


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