When you believe in Jesus Christ, is the Holy Spirit living inside you? Is the Ephesians 1:13 passage actual, or is speaking tongues evidence of Him living inside a Christian?
Growing up in the church and after my conversion, I believed that the Holy Spirit – the third person of the Trinity – was living inside of me upon my confession of faith. I heard many Pastors and Christians cite Ephesians 1:13 as evidence of that fact, so I believed He indwelt within me. Throughout my time after my actual salvation in 2008, things didn’t seem to add up, and it wasn’t until I did a deep dive into Scripture, as well as experienced the actual baptism of the Holy Spirit, that I fully understood what the passage in Ephesians (as well as other verses) meant.
I want to lay the foundation of this article before I proceed. This post will not talk about the gift of tongues/interpretation of tongues, nor its appropriate use within a congregation as stated in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14. This post will only speak about whether or not the Holy Spirit is within a Christian upon belief in Jesus Christ, and speaking in tongues is a sign that follows the second baptism.
In short, when you take Jesus as your Savior & Lord, you DO NOT have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. To be sure, you are saved, but the indwelling of the Spirit is a separate thing. To fully understand this, let’s get into the Bible.
What the Scriptures tell us
“On,” not “In.”
The Holy Spirit has been present since before the beginning. We can read about Him in the first chapter of Genesis 1:1-2. The Spirit came upon certain judges, warriors, and prophets in a way that gave them extraordinary power: for example, Joshua (Num. 27:18), Othniel (Judg. 3:10), Gideon (6:34), Samson (13:25; 14:6), and Saul (1 Sam. 10:9, 10). However, the Spirit later departed from Saul because of his disobedience (16:14). In whatever way He was present on individuals, the Holy Spirit continuously resided “on” a person in the Old Testament, even in the 4 Gospel accounts, even on Jesus (John 1:32-33). It wasn’t until Pentecost (Acts 2:4) that we read the first instance where individuals were “filled.”
Jesus told His Disciples they would be “indwelt.”
The first direct conversation about the Holy Spirit from Jesus occurred in John 14:
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” ~John 14:15-18
Notice the bold spot? The Holy Spirit was dwelling “ON” the disciples at that time (…for He lives WITH you…). Jesus promised that at a future date, the Spirit would be “IN” them (…and will be IN you…). It’s essential to understand this distinction as it will be important later in this article.
Jesus also goes on to say:
“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. On that day, you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and [manifest Myself to him.” ~John 14:19-21
Again, we see another distinction where the “location” of the Holy Spirit would reside (…and I in you…). Jesus also made a statement about who He was (…and I in you…). If we believe that the Holy Spirit is God, Jesus also stated that He is God and the Holy Spirit…but I digress.
Speaking in tongues – a sign.
This evidence and gift are so often misunderstood within the church. I didn’t fully understand it until after my baptism of the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues IS a sign of the indwelling of the Spirit. Scripture tells of this several times, and we will go over each one, leading to the misunderstood Ephesians 1:13 passage.
The Gospel of Mark
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” ~Mark 16:17-18
Notice that Jesus’ last words about the Great Commission were that anyone who believed in Jesus (…those who believe…) would speak in tongues? To be sure, the disciples were probably wondering what this would look like, but they would soon find out at Pentecost. Tongues are a sign still today of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Tongues (“glossa” – G1100) is not a foreign language such as we know it (Spanish, French, Italian, etc.), but a language of the Spirit. This will be explained below.
The “big day” – Pentecost
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, like a rushing mighty wind, filling the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” ~Acts 2:1-4
We all know this part and agree, but this is a benchmark instance where the disciples with Jesus in the upper room before His crucifixion understood what Jesus meant in Mark’s passage. They were all indwelt by the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The Holy Spirit was not “ON” them but “IN” them at this time. This sign would later become a recognizable sign that would follow anyone who believed in Jesus and became followers of Him (Christians).
Many within the church believe that tongues mean a foreign language. In other words, the disciples – after the baptism – spoke the languages of the earth in Acts 2:1-4. This is not possible as the time of the gathering and the time of speaking (about the 3rd hour of the day – Acts 2:15) did not allow the time needed to “switch languages.” All the crowd heard it would have compromised hundreds, if not thousands, of languages & dialects. How could that have happened in the allotted time if the disciples had to start and stop the Gospel from speaking every language? Acts 2:5-12 plainly states that they heard it all at once, so the multi-language explanation is false.
The household of Cornelius
God set the stage between Peter and Cornelius through a shared vision/message (Acts 10:3-7, 9-15). Peter came into the household where Cornelius’ family was gathered. Upon hearing the words of Peter, the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles.
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had also been poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” ~Acts 10:44-47
So, Peter and the other disciples in the household of Cornelius were all a part of the experience of being baptized by the Holy Spirit – to be indwelt by Him. They knew that a sign of speaking in tongues would be experienced by those who had the Holy Spirit INSIDE of them (…just as we have…). This instance would later be told to the rest of the Christians in Acts 11:1-18. It’s important to note that when Peter told the other Apostles and brethren in Judea this story, they were all in agreement that the “benchmark experience” they had during Pentecost (Acts 11:16-17) was a legitimate sign, and they glorified it (Acts 11:18).
Apollos, Paul, the 12 believers, and the Ephesians 1:13 connection
In Acts, we read that Paul met Aquila and his wife Priscilla during one of his missionary trips. They were believers and had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (more on that later). Paul stayed with them for a while since he and Aquila were tentmakers. After Paul departs, Aquila and Priscilla meet Apollos. Apollos was a mighty preacher of the Gospel but was not adequately versed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit but knew only the baptism of repentance from John (Acts 18:25). Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside and taught him more accurately (Acts 18:26).
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road.
Apollos preached at Ephesus (Acts 18:24) when Aquila and Priscilla heard and instructed him. Now Paul – as was customary – in coming back from a trip, most likely stayed with the married couple. During Paul’s stay, Aquila and Priscilla most likely told him about Apollos, his fervent speaking of the things of the Lord (Acts 18:25), and most likely about instructing him in the second baptism of the Holy Spirit. My speculation is based upon the next chapter (Acts 19:1-6) and why Paul immediately asked a strange question:
“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” ~Acts 19:1-6
Paul most likely made a return trip to Ephesus to “re-instruct” the disciples that were there (…came to Ephesus…). These were not disciples of John the Baptist, but of Jesus Christ (…when you believed…). Paul continued to ask about their baptism experience (…into what then were you baptized…) and found out (…into John’s baptism…) that they needed the second baptism. Afterward, the 12 disciples at Ephesus spoke in tongues and prophesied.
The process and context
Understanding proper Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) and how different books, chapters, and verses paint a clear picture when the appropriate context is added. Reading all these passages alone will give us what we are hearing from the pulpit and the pews – that you have the Holy Spirit upon belief in Jesus, but this is not the case. While Grace saves you through Faith, the Holy Spirit is not in you until you have the second baptism, which is evidenced through the sign of speaking in tongues. The Ephesians 1:13 passage Christians quote to support the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon belief is not supported by the Word. The congregation at Ephesus had dealings with Paul, hence his letter to them. That church would have had the 12 men that experienced the second baptism within their community. When you put all this together, the Ephesians would have understood the process from unbelief to the second baptism as follows:
- Believe in the Gospel
- Water baptism
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- Speaking in tongues
Being “sealed by the Holy Spirit” was an understanding of the final act of the indwelt Holy Spirit. Paul did not need to write about the process that the Ephesians knew all too well. When you couple this passage with all the quotes above, a clear picture is seen – the Holy Spirit will be “ON” each disciple of Christ until the second baptism, at which He will be “IN” each disciple, which is evidenced by the speaking of tongues.
My second baptism happened years after my conversion. This is not unusual today, as many powerful believers who have done mighty works in the name of Jesus have experienced this “delay.”
…but it did happen and happened just as the scripture said.
I can honestly tell the difference between those who have the Holy Spirit and those who don’t. This was the difference I experienced. There is a boldness in their ministry and evident fruits (Galatians 5:22-23), and I experienced that as well. You can imitate it – and many have done that – but you can’t keep it up. Power, wisdom, insight, knowledge, and so many other gifts/fruit come from the Holy Spirit being inside of a true believer. You can’t do what God wants you to do without effective results unless the Holy Spirit lives within you.
I’ll go ahead and say one last thing; many churches want to see growth, and this will not occur until the whole congregation embraces the Holy Spirit and does not quench Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It’s happened to so many believers and churches that it makes my heart ache. Churches that refuse the second baptism – and yes, you can refuse Him – are powerless congregations that cling to their legalism. They are substantial statues that have no living water within their members.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. Ask for the gift of baptism from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:7-12). Open the door (Revelation 3:20), and don’t rush Him out simply because you don’t want to look foolish.