Acts 10:47
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
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(47) Can any man forbid water . . .—The question was an appeal to the voice of reason. Could the outward sign be refused, when thus the inward and spiritual grace had been so manifestly bestowed? Ordinarily, as in the case of the Samaritans (Acts 8:15-17), the gift of spiritual powers followed, by the subsequent act of laying on of hands, on the grace given in baptism. Now even that gift had been anticipated, and all that remained was the outward act of incorporation with the society which owned Christ as its Head. While the history thus bore its witness that the gifts of God may flow through other channels than the outward forms which Christ had appointed, it testified no less clearly that no spiritual gifts, however marvellous, superseded the necessity of obedience to the law of Christ which had appointed those outward forms. The exceptional gift was bestowed, in this instance, to remove the scruples which “those of the circumcision” might otherwise have felt as to admitting Gentiles, as such, to baptism; and having served that purpose, as a crucial instance, was never afterwards, so far as we know, repeated under like conditions.

Acts 10:47-48. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, &c. — Peter, yielding to the force of evidence, however contrary to his former prejudices, with great propriety asks this question. He does not say, They have the baptism of the Spirit, therefore they do not need baptism with water. But just the contrary: If they have received the Spirit, then baptize them with water. How easily is this question decided, if we will take the word of God for our guide! Either men have revived the Holy Ghost, or not. If they have not, Repent, saith God, and be baptized, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. If they have, if they are already baptized with the Holy Ghost, then who can forbid water? As none of the brethren that came with him pretended to object any thing against it, he commanded them to be baptized — Immediately; choosing to make use of the ministry of his brethren in performing that rite, rather than to do it with his own hands, that by this means the expression of their consent might be the more explicit; in the name of the Lord — Which implies the Father, who anointed him, and the Spirit, with which he was anointed to his office. But as these Gentiles had before believed in God the Father, and could not but now believe in the Holy Ghost, under whose powerful influence they were at this very time, there was the less need of taking notice, that they were baptized into the belief and profession of the sacred Three; though doubtless the apostles generally administered the ordinance in that very form which Christ himself had prescribed.

10:44-48 The Holy Ghost fell upon others after they were baptized, to confirm them in the faith; but upon these Gentiles before they were baptized, to show that God does not confine himself to outward signs. The Holy Ghost fell upon those who were neither circumcised nor baptized; it is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. They magnified God, and spake of Christ and the benefits of redemption. Whatever gift we are endued with, we ought to honour God with it. The believing Jews who were present, were astonished that the gift of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Gentiles also. By mistaken notions of things, we make difficult for ourselves as to the methods of Divine providence and grace. As they were undeniably baptized with the Holy Ghost, Peter concluded they were not to be refused the baptism of water, and the ordinance was administered. The argument is conclusive; can we deny the sign to those who have received the things signified? Those who have some acquaintance with Christ, cannot but desire more. Even those who have received the Holy Ghost, must see their need of daily learning more of the truth.Can any man forbid water ... - They have shown that they are favored in the same way as the Jewish converts. God has manifested himself to them as he did to the Jews on the day of Pentecost. Is it not clear, therefore, that they are entitled to the privilege of Christian baptism? The expression used here is one that would naturally refer to water as being brought; that is, to a small quantity; and would seem to imply that they were baptized, not by immersion, but by pouring or sprinkling. 47. which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we—and are thus, in all that is essential to salvation, on a level with ourselves. This question, as Acts 8:36, is without question, and denies that any can forbid water, that is, in order to baptize such as these. As if the apostle had argued thus: They that have the grace signified or promised, have a right unto the seal of the promise: but these Gentiles have the grace signified or promised in baptism; they had the inward part, and therefore the outward part could not be denied unto them. He that hath the inheritance, may claim the writings, wax, and parchment that belong unto it.

Can any man forbid water,.... The use of his river, or bath, or what conveniency he may have for baptizing persons: which shows, that it required a place of some quantity of water, sufficient for baptism by immersion, otherwise it would not be in the power of any man to hinder them having a little water, to be sprinkled or poured on the face: unless rather by water should be meant baptism itself; and then the sense is, who can forbid these persons the ordinance of baptism, or deny the administration of it to them? for such who have the Spirit of Christ, are openly Christ's, and therefore have a right to his ordinances; such, being enlightened by him, are able to see to the end of the ordinance; and to such only can it be of use, and they only can please God in it: nor should it be forbidden them; this is to withstand God, act contrary to the commission of Christ, and resist the Holy Ghost; no, not though Gentiles: converted Gentiles, have as good a right as any to this ordinance; descent from Abraham gives no right to it; there is no difference among men under the Gospel dispensation; Christ's commission reaches both to Jews and Gentiles; and there is but one baptism for both.

That these should not be baptized; though they are uncircumcised Gentiles:

which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we; the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit; though, no doubt also, they had received the Spirit, as a spirit of illumination and conviction, as a spirit of regeneration, sanctification, and conversion, and as a spirit of faith and adoption, and as a witness, earnest, and pledge of future glory: and receiving him supposes, that they were without him before, and that he is a gift of God's free grace unto them; and which is no other than the baptism of the Spirit, and is a necessary pre-requisite to water baptism; and they that have the one, are right subjects of the other; nor ought it to be denied them. From hence it appears that water baptism is an ordinance of Christ, to be continued under the Gospel dispensation; it was not only what was practised in the times of John and of Christ, but what was practised by the apostles after the ascension of Christ, in compliance with the commission he gave, which could have respect to no other baptism; since the apostles were not capable of baptizing with any other, not with the baptism of the Spirit: and it is certain from hence, and by other instances, that they did baptize in water; and from the apostle's question it seems, that it must be by immersion in water, as before observed; and from what follows it is clear, that such who are partakers of the Holy Spirit and his grace, are the proper subjects of it.

{9} Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

(9) Baptism does not sanctify or make those holy who receive it, but is an outward sign to the world of the profession of faith. (Ed.)

Acts 10:47-48. Can any one, then, withhold the water, in order that these be not baptized? The water is in this animated language conceived as the element offering itself for the baptism. So urgent now appeared the necessity for completing on the human side the divine work that had miraculously emerged. Bengel, moreover, well remarks: “Non dicit: jam habent Spiritum, ergo aqua carere possunt.” The conjunction of water and Spirit could not but obtain its necessary recognition.

τοῦ μὴ βαπτ. τούτ.] genitive according to the construction κωλύειν τινά τινος, and μή after verbs of hindering, as in Acts 14:18.

καθὼς καὶ ἡμεῖς] as also we, the recipients of the Spirit of Pentecost. This refers to the prominent and peculiar character of the enraptured speaking, by which the fact then occurring showed itself as of a similar kind to that which happened on Pentecost (Acts 11:15). But καθὼς καὶ ἡμεῖς cannot be held as a proof that by γλώσσαις λαλεῖν is to be understood a speaking in foreign languages (in opposition to Baumgarten, who thinks that he sees in our passage “the connecting link between the miracle of Pentecost and the speaking with tongues in the Corinthian church”), for it rather shows the essential identity of the Pentecostal event with the later speaking with tongues, and points back from the mouth of the apostle to the historical form of that event, when it had not yet been transformed by tradition into a speaking of languages.

προσέταξέ] The personal performance of baptism did not necessarily belong to the destined functions of the apostolic office. See on 1 Corinthians 1:17.

ἐν τῷ ὀνομ. τοῦ κυρ.] belongs to βαπτισθ., but leaves untouched the words with which the baptism was performed. As, namely, the name of Jesus Christ is the spiritual basis of the being baptized (see on Acts 2:38, comp. Acts 8:35 f.) and the end to which it refers (Acts 19:5), so it is also conceived as the entire holy sphere, in which it is accomplished, and out of which it cannot take place.

ἐπιμεῖναι] to remain. And he remained and had fellowship at table with them, Acts 11:3. So much the more surprising is his ὑπόκρισις at Antioch, Galatians 2:11 ff.

Acts 10:47. μήτι τὸ ὕ.… τοῦ μὴ βαπτισθῆναι, cf. Acts 14:18 : on construction, Burton, p. 159; so also in LXX and classical Greek, Blass, Gram., p. 230; Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 172 (1893).—οἵτινες, quippe qui, so Blass in this passage.—τὸ ὕδωρ: “the water” R.V., not simply “water” as A.V., as Bengel admirably says, “Non dicit: jam habent Spiritum, ergo aqua carere possunt”. In baptism both the water and the Spirit were required, Acts 11:16. The greater had been bestowed; could the lesser be withheld? See the striking passage in Moberly, Ministerial Priesthood, p. 108, on the fact that Cornelius and his companions, even after they had first received the presence of the Holy Ghost, were nevertheless ordered to be baptised.

47. Can any man forbid water, &c.] Though the gift of the Spirit has been made so apparent, yet St Peter does not omit the outward sign which Christ had ordained (Matthew 28:19) for the admission of members into His Church.

as well as we] Thus does he recognize that God had chosen Gentiles as well as Jews, and given the same grace to each.

Acts 10:47. Τὸ ὓδωρ, water) He uses the term water for baptism by ταπείνωσις (less expressed than is implied). When the greater thing has been given, that which is less is added by the giver, and is not despised by the receiver. He does not say, They now already have the Spirit; therefore they can do without the water. They are not circumcised, and yet they are baptized. Therefore the footing on which baptism stands is much higher; comp. ch. Acts 15:8-9, which passage shows they were not to be circumcised; and yet Peter considered that they ought to be baptized.—κωλῦσαι, forbid) ch. Acts 11:17.—τὶς, any one) either I or any of the brethren.

Προσέταξε, He commanded) He did not baptize with his own hands; there were others present to whom that office could be becomingly delegated; Acts 10:45. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:17, [Acts 10:15, “Lest any should say, I baptized in my own name.”]—Κυρίου, of the Lord) Christ Jesus.—ἐπιμεῖναι) to tarry longer,—ἡμέρας τινὰς, some days) Golden days.[65]

[65] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 2: Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (510–610). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Verse 47. - The water for water, A.V. They actually had the Spirit, which God himself supplied; could any one object to their having the water also, which was the part of the sacrament which it rested with man to supply, in order to complete the new birth (John 3:5)? Acts 10:47Water (τὸ ὕδωρ)

Note the article: the water; co-ordinating the water with the Spirit (see 1 John 5:8), and designating water as the recognized and customary element of baptism.

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