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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : What is the Baptism of Fire

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Joined: 2008/5/3
Posts: 435

 What is the Baptism of Fire

"Repeat in your heart often, "baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire, fire, fire!" All the unction, and weeping, and travailing comes through the baptism of fire, and I say to you and say to myself, purged and cleansed and filled, with renewed spiritual power." -- Smith Wigglesworth


"Twice we have found the double expression used, "He shall baptize
you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire." Three times we have seen the
last expression omitted. Why this difference? John is addressing a
promiscuous company in both Matthew and Luke. Some are repentant,
waiting for Messiah; others are proud, haughty, hypocrites, and
unbelievers, Some are humbly baptized in water, as signifying the
death their sins deserve. Others evade the baptism, or would undergo
it while unrepentant. John says in effect: Whether you are baptized by
me or not, you shall all be baptized by the coming mighty One, either
by the Holy Spirit, or in fire! He will make a separation between the
true and the false. Every corrupt tree will come down and be hurled
into the fire - baptized in the fire of judgment.

The wheat will be gathered into the garner: they will be the Spirit-
baptized ones. The chaff will be cast into the fire: this will be their
baptism of wrath.

In the accounts given by Mark, John, and in the Acts, there are no
unbelievers introduced. Both John and Jesus are speaking only to
disciples. To them they say nothing of the baptism of fire. There is
no judgment - no wrath to come - for them to fear. They receive the
promise of the baptism of the Spirit only, and this was fulfilled at
Pentecost." -- Harry A. Ironside


"John who is preparing the people to receive the Messiah is juxtaposing believers with unbelievers. John says that Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (believers) and fire (non- believers). It does NOT mean the Holy Spirit and fire or the Holy Spirit that is the fire. John explains what is meant as he continues, saying that Jesus will gather His wheat into the barn BUT burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire, (which Jesus later describes as a fire that is never quenched Mk.9:43-). So the Bible does teach of a baptism of fire, only it is for unbelievers." -- LetUsReason Ministries


"Jesus did not include the words baptized "with fire" when he was speaking to his disciples. That is because the baptism with fire that John the Baptist mentioned (in Matt 3:11 and Luke 3:16) ONLY pertains to the unsaved. Jesus will baptize the UNSAVED with fire.

John the Baptist was speaking BOTH to believers and to unbelievers in the crowds that followed him when he said that Jesus would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. (Holy Ghost for believers, and fire for unbelievers)

Pentecostals should take note of this when calling for the Lord to send Fire upon them and when following evangelists who scream FIRE, FIRE, FIRE upon themselves and their followers. The request of Pentecostals/Charismatics to be baptized with fire is a request to be cast into the Lake of Fire at the second death." -- Berean Research Institute

 2017/8/24 4:08Profile

Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 949
Johannesburg, South Africa

 Re: What is the Baptism of Fire

Thanks for posting this, it is food for further study

Quote"The request of Pentecostals/Charismatics to be baptized with fire is a request to be cast into the Lake of Fire at the second death." -- "

I am pretty sure they are not calling for the above, but rather for cleansing, purifying fire as per their understanding.



 2017/8/24 9:34Profile

Joined: 2010/7/9
Posts: 295
Canton, Michigan


William, I agree that many who call for fire are not calling for the baptism of hell fire.

But as a spirit filled believer, I have to agree with a-servant regarding the context of the scriptures posted that the baptism of fire is the fire of judgement.

I have thought much on the topic of fire and like you said a purifying fire does indeed refine in the sense it is burning off impurities in our life, spirit, and soul.

I had a brother who passed away in 2011 and he had been ill for some time and he had always confessed that he wanted to be cremated. I never engaged him on the topic until shortly before his death and I told him that I would not do that.

He got angry and could not believe i would challenge his wishes. My response was that fire is something equated with judgement and that his body was to be preserved and cared for whole to await the reuniting of his spirit and his resurrected body.

The second thing I told him was about how fire or refining fire was used by God to burn off sin in our lives to purify and make us holy.

After that, he never said another word on the topic.

Just sharing my understanding on the subject. I will say as a spirit filled believer there are many many things that I differ on with mainstream charismatics.

For example when they (charismatics that I do not agree with) do call for fire, fire, fire it does not set well in my spirit as I believe they are self professing judgement on their own lives.

As I have said in the past, I believe one of the markers of a false charismatic is one who teaches that Jesus died spiritually. They claim that his physical death was not enough to redeem mankind but that he had to suffer the fires of hell and be the first man born again (their definition of the First begotten from the dead).

So pretty much all of the charismatics I consider suspect all teach this heresy and other jesus.

In the many debates that have taken place as of late on the topic of being baptized in the Holy Spirit one cannot help but see the sweet tender and gentle spirit that was evident in the responses to those who oppose the experience. Truly teachers, apt to teach.

A good thread/topic for those of us who have the genuine experience would maybe be where we disagree and not bear witness with the counterfeit charismatics.

I will say that Smith Wigglesworth absolutely does not fall in line with the charismatics I disagree with. The quote posted may be accurate but this is where I would agree with your summation that he was calling for a refining fire to purify and not judge.

David Fella

 2017/8/24 12:30Profile

Joined: 2011/8/14
Posts: 1089

 Re: What is the Baptism of Fire


I am thinking,that baptism of fire is the fire that the Lord puts within our hearts,at that time to burn up the gross, from the pure gold.
And too, set our hearts ablaze for Him.

*I have thought lately of this song:
"Light The Fire In My Heart Again"

Another one I love,hope it blesses someone

 2017/8/24 17:24Profile


••• My response was that fire is something equated with judgement and that his body was to be preserved and cared for whole to await the reuniting of his spirit and his resurrected body.•••

David do you have a chapter and verse on that? What about those martyred saints who were burned at the stake for their faith in Christ? Or what about those dear saints who burn up in a house or a car fire?

I might add what about those saints whose bodies so horribly mutilated in a car accident. Or perhaps they are crushed under a building during an earthquake.

Be curious to know what your scripture support is for such a view that a believer cannot be cremated.

Bro Blaine

 2017/8/24 17:36

Joined: 2008/5/3
Posts: 435


I actually never thought about it before reading the Harry Ironside
book. And even then I had to read it 3-4 times and check the Bible
to understand that the context supports only one position.

Before that I would had to believe Wigglesworth, or one of many
people that all read Matthew 3:11 without looking at what follows:

Matthew 3:12  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly
purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner;
but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

There is the fire it refers to.

That's what happens when we get brainwashed with contemporary
teachings that are based on some people's dogma, but not scripture.

That phrase "catch the fire" is very clever, it's satanic truth hidden
in plain sight, just like the greeting "hello" - what either means
"hell - ohhh!" or "hell - low ".

So the quote by Berean Research Institute is correct,
when the understanding is wrong, what we ask for is wrong,
and Wigglesworth is partially correct in his quote that the
weeping (and gnashing of teeth) comes through the baptism of fire.

 2017/8/24 20:38Profile

Joined: 2010/7/9
Posts: 295
Canton, Michigan


“David do you have a chapter and verse on that?”

No I don’t believe the bible specifically says a person should not be cremated per say, It is more of a personal conviction based on the care that was taken with those who had died like Jesus for example. Great care was taken in anointing and wrapping His body and my personal belief has to do with the fact that one day our bodies will be raised up in the resurrection and reunited with our spirit.

It does not mean that God cannot gather those who die by fire or are eaten alive, etc. God can do anything He wants.

“What about those martyred saints who were burned at the stake for their faith in Christ?.....”

Like I said, God can gather our remains from whatever state our bodies are in when we die. But I believe that the fire used to burn the saints was a fire of judgement, NOT Gods judgement, but man’s judgement.

The original topic of the thread however was based on the scriptures that were provided regarding a baptism of fire and I believe they clearly teach of the eternal fire of judgement when you look at the text.

While there are things fire is good for such as keeping warm, cooking, and light these forms of fire are not eternal. If Christians choose to be cremated, that is their own personal choice but a choice I do not feel comfortable with.

Hope this helps to clarify my position.

David Fella

 2017/8/24 22:55Profile

Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 949
Johannesburg, South Africa

 Re: Baptism of fire...

We must not assume that the “fire” John the Baptist spoke of refers to judgement, although it may.

Remember Pentecost? The Spirit…the wind…fire separating upon each person….speaking in tongues and prophecying?

If you have the time, read the comments below:

Question: "What are cloven tongues?"

Answer: When people hear of “cloven tongues,” they almost immediately think of Acts 2:3. As the Holy Spirit filled the 120 disciples in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, “there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (KJV). Other translations refer to “divided tongues as of fire” (ESV) or “tongues as of fire distributing themselves” (NASB).

The word cloven means “divided” or “separated.” The picture is of something like a large fire appearing in the room then dividing into “tongues” that rested momentarily upon each person in the room. Luke is careful to say that this was not actual fire, only “what seemed to be . . . fire” (Acts 2:3). The dividing of the “fire” into small, tongue-shaped flames signifies several things: John the Baptist’s prophecy of Jesus’ baptizing people “with the Holy Spirit and fire” was possibly being fulfilled (see Matthew 3:11), there is one Spirit who gives many gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12:11), there was a great variety of languages that the disciples were being enabled to speak (see Acts 2:6–11), and the disciples were being granted “fiery” eloquence to preach the gospel to all nations (see Acts 4:13).

Before His ascension, Jesus had told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to stay there and “wait for the gift my Father promised. . . . In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4–5). The gift of God came with an audible sign—the sound like a “rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2, KJV)—and with a visible sign—the “cloven tongues like as of fire” (verse 3, KJV). The Lord was true to His word, and the followers of Christ were changed forever. The presence of God Himself had come to indwell us, and the world was turned upside down (Acts 17:6).


Tongues of Fire and the Fullness of God
• Resource by
John Piper

• Scripture: Acts 2:1–13 Topic: The Holy Spirit
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Par'thians and Medes and E'lamites and residents of Mesopota'mia, Judea and Cappado'cia, Pontus and Asia, Phyrg'ia and Pamphyl'ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre'ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."
In recent weeks the argument I have developed goes like this:
 PREMISE 1: The power promised by Jesus in Acts 1:8 and Luke 24:49 is an extraordinary power. The experience promised is beyond the power of the Spirit in new birth and gradual sanctification. This is plain, I think, from the terms ("clothing with power" or "the Spirit's coming upon"), and from the effects of the power seen when it comes in the book of Acts (as here in Acts 2), and from the fact that the disciples were already born again before Pentecost (Luke 10:20; John 15:3).
 PREMISE 2: This promise that the disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8) and that they would be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49) was a promise given to sustain the completion of world evangelization, and all the ministry that supports it. The context of both texts makes that plain. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses . . . to the end of the earth."
 PREMISE 3: The task of world evangelization is not yet complete.
 CONCLUSION: Therefore the promise of this extraordinary power to sustain and carry forth the work is still valid.
The Lessons of History Supporting Our Conclusion
The lessons of history give a strong support for this—namely, that crucial breakthroughs for the gospel have come because of periodic extraordinary outpourings of the Spirit. Jonathan Edwards, the leader of the Great Awakening 200 years ago in this country, put it like this:
From the fall of man to our day, the work of redemption in its effect has mainly been carried on by remarkable [i.e., extraordinary] communications of the Spirit of God. Though there [is] a more constant influence of God's Spirit always in some degree attending his ordinances, yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work, always have been by remarkable effusions [i.e., outpourings], at special seasons of mercy. (A History of Redemption, Works, vol. 1, p. 539)
In other words, from time to time, God has moved in extraordinary ways in the history of the Christian movement. He has poured out his Spirit in fresh, new, uncustomary, dramatic ways. These times have been called times of revival or awakening or reformation.
Pentecost was the first of these great outpourings on the Christian church, and until the task of world evangelization is completed, I believe it is our duty to pray for fresh seasons of the extraordinary outpouring of God's Spirit—to awaken and empower the church and to penetrate the final frontiers of world evangelization.
So I come to our text this morning with no mere academic interest in some distant, unrepeatable event. I come with the persuasion that we have much to gain for our day of widespread deadness and powerlessness from the Spirit's work at Pentecost.
Let's begin in verse 1 of Acts 2 with the word "Pentecost": "When the day of Pentecost had come . . . " Why did Jesus choose Pentecost as the day when he would pour out the Spirit on the disciples? There are two possible reasons, which are really one when you stop to think about it.
1. On this Jewish holiday there would be a lot of pilgrims in Jerusalem from across the known world. It was one of the three Jewish feasts that called for a pilgrimage to the Holy City. It got its name, Pentecost (fiftieth), from the fact that it took place 50 days after Passover.
2. It was a feast of harvest. That's what it is called in Exodus 23:16 (cf.Deuteronomy 16:10). In other words there was a beautiful symbolic significance: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in extraordinary power was meant for witness and world evangelization. And what is this but a great harvest in the field of the world. And that is exactly what happened—3,000 people were harvested for God and given eternal life on the day of Pentecost, the feast of harvest.
It's a shame that the term "Pentecostal power" has for many people become more associated with speaking in tongues than with the harvest of world evangelization. I'll come back to the miracle of tongues in a few minutes, but just be sure at this point that you see the main focus: it is a feast of harvest in Jerusalem, and on this very day, Jesus pours out the Spirit in extraordinary power and 3,000 people are harvested from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God.
Move now with me to verse 2 and notice the word "suddenly": "And suddenly a sound came from heaven." I focus on this word to drive home the point that the Holy Spirit is free and sovereign and not bound to anyone's timing or technique for how to get his power. We are to bank on his daily, indwelling presence and grace, walk in the obedience of this faith, and pray day and night for the outpouring of power from on high. But we cannot make the Spirit come. When he comes, he comes suddenly. He will never become anyone's bellhop. He loves and he serves. But he keeps his own hours. He knows what is best for us.
In the summer of 1871 two women of Dwight L. Moody's congregation felt an unusual burden to pray for Moody "that the Lord would give him the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire." Moody would see them praying in the front row of his church and he was irritated. But soon he gave in and in September began to pray with them every Friday afternoon. He felt like his ministry was becoming a sounding brass with little power. On November 24, 1871, Moody's church building was destroyed in the great Chicago fire. He went to New York to seek financial help. Day and night he would walk the streets desperate for the touch of God's power in his life. Then suddenly,
One day, in the city of New York—oh, what a day!—I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name . . . I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of his love that I had to ask him to stay his hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world—it would be small dust in the balance. (W. R. Moody, The Life of D. L. Moody, New York: 1900, p. 149)
He prayed and he obeyed and he waited. But he did not make the Spirit come. He came suddenly. And when he came, notice that the effect was Pentecostal—not this time in the experience of tongues, but in the harvest. When the Spirit comes in power, he comes suddenly—on his own terms and in his own time—and he comes for harvesting.
Wind and Fire
Next, notice the wind and the fire in verses 2 and 3: "And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them." At times the Holy Spirit makes himself known with visible, audible, touchable manifestations. In the Old Testament there was the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. At Jesus' baptism there was the dove. In Acts 4 the building shakes. In chapter 6 Stephen's face was like the face of an angel. In chapter 16 there is an earthquake. At times the Spirit stoops to give us visible, audible, touchable demonstrations of his presence and power.
Why he does this for some and not others, and at some times and not other times is part of his sovereign wisdom. He is not fire. He is not wind. He is not a dove. He is not a warm glow. So he will not use these manifestations in a way that allows us to confuse him with them. He is free. But when he pleases, there may be fire and there may be sound.
The Experience of John White
John White, the psychiatrist and missionary and author, tells us of his experience of the Spirit's manifestation:
On one occasion it was as I prayed with the elders and deacons in my home. I had tried to teach them what worship was . . . We then turned to prayer. Perhaps partly to be a model to them I began to express worship, conscious of the poverty of my words. Then suddenly [note the word!] I saw in front of me a column of flame of about two feet in width. It seemed to arise from beneath the floor and to pass through the ceiling of the room. I knew—without being told—knew by some infallible kind of knowing that transcended the use of my intellect, that I was in the presence of the God of holiness. In stunned amazement I watched a rising column of flames in our own living room, while my brothers remained with their heads quietly bowed and their eyes closed . . .
I felt that I was in the presence of reality and that my brothers were asleep. For years afterward I never spoke of the incident. The others who were present could not have perceived the blend of stark terror and joy that threatened to sweep me away. How could I live and see what I saw? Garbled words of love and of worship tumbled out of my mouth as I struggled to hang on to my self-control. I was no longer trying to worship; worship was undoing me, pulling me apart. And to be pulled apart was both terrifying and full of glory. (When the Spirit Comes with Power, p. 87–88)
From Knowing to Experiencing
This is what happened, it seems, to the disciples in Acts 2 when they saw tongues of fire and heard the violent wind. It filled them with an overwhelming sense of the presence of God. Until that moment we can imagine them praying (Acts 1:14) and reciting to each other the 23rd Psalm and saying, "Though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me," and rejoicing that God was with them—he was right there in that very room. How did they know it? The Bible told them so. Just the way we know so many wonderful things: "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
Then suddenly something happens that utterly transforms their knowledge of God's presence into the experience of God's presence. They see fire on each other's heads and they hear a loud wind. And they are filled not merely with a deductive certainty of God's present reality based on Psalm 23, but with an experiential certainty based on the extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The fire begins to burn in their hearts (Luke 24:32) and in their mouths ("tongues of fire"), and the sound of the wind surrounds them and envelops them with the tokens of God's power. And they are simply overwhelmed with the greatness of God. And it begins to spill out in praise. Like John White, they are almost undone by worship—so much so that some people say they are drunk (v. 13).
Overflowing with Worship and Praise
The reason I say they are overflowing with worship and praise is because of verse 11: "We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." Luke calls this the fullness of the Holy Spirit in verse 4: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Being filled with the Holy Spirit here is being overwhelmed with the greatness of God. The literal translation of verse 11 is that they were speaking "the greatnesses of God." Since the Spirit was giving them utterance, and since the utterance was of God's greatness, I take the fullness of the Spirit to mean that the Spirit's experience of the greatness of God becomes our experience of the greatness of God.
The flames on their heads had set fire to the knowledge of God, and turned it into passion. And the violence and loudness of the wind had drowned out all the puny voices of doubt and uncertainty. And so every remnant of timidity and hesitancy and weakness is swallowed up in the experience of God's greatness. And a tremendous boldness and courage and zeal was unleashed as they gave witness to the greatness of God.
The Essence of the Fullness They Received
That's the essence of the fullness (or the baptism in 1:4–5) that they received—an overwhelming experience of the greatness of God and a spilling over in courageous, passionate praise and witness. I don't say the miracle of speaking in other languages is at the heart of the experience because the Spirit fell on the church again in Acts 4:31 and the house was shaken and the fullness came and the passion and boldness was there, but there were no new tongues. Nor were there wind and fire. In other words, God seems to give whatever manifestations he pleases at different times. They are not the essence.
The speaking in tongues in Acts has a very definite roll to play. It's directly connected to the presence of people from all the nations who need to understand the great things the disciples were saying. In other words the miracle of tongues was a demonstration of God's sovereign power, and it showed that this power promised in Acts 1:8 really was intended to advance the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth. It was a token that God means for all peoples to understand his greatness and that he is willing to do miracles to make his glory known among the nations.
Amazement and Perplexity
That leaves just one last observation from the text. And it turns out to be a caution to us. In verse 12 the demonstration of God's power in the miracle of tongues causes amazement and perplexity among everyone. "And all were amazed and perplexed." But the perplexity gave way to two very different responses. Some seriously asked, "What does this mean?" Others (in verse 13) mocked and leaped to a naturalistic explanation: "They are filled with new wine."
This is the caution: whenever revival comes—whenever the Holy Spirit is poured out in extraordinary power—this division happens in the Christian community. Some genuinely inquire as to what this is, and test all things, and hold fast to what is good. Others stand outside and mock and write off the enthusiasm as merely human, "They are filled with new wine."
There are some signs today that we are in the first stages of a genuine, widespread awakening. Not the least of which is the undying desire and prayer in the hearts of so many of us at Bethlehem that God would rend the heavens and come down and revive his church and empower us for the final thrust of world evangelization. If this is true, what we need very much is discerning, expectant, open hearts that say, "What indeed is this?" and then listen for a biblical answer.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Reading the Bible Supernaturally.


 2017/8/25 3:05Profile

Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 949
Johannesburg, South Africa

 Re: Baptism of fire...

Further commentary...very precise

Barnes' Notes on the Bible
And there appeared unto them - There were seen by them, or they saw. The fire was first seen by them in the room before it rested in the form of tongues on the heads of the disciples. Perhaps the fire appeared at first as scintillations or coruscations, until it became fixed on their heads.
Tongues - γλῶσσαι glōssai. The word "tongue" occurs often in the Scriptures to denote the member which is the instrument of taste and speech, and also to denote "language" or "speech" itself. It is also used, as with us, to denote what in shape resembles the tongue. Thus, Joshua 7:21, Joshua 7:24 (in Hebrew), "a tongue of gold," that is, a wedge of gold; Joshua 15:5; Joshua 18:19; Isaiah 11:15, "The tongue of the sea," that is, a bay or gulf. Thus also we say "a tongue of land." The phrase "tongue of fire" occurs once, and once only, in the Old Testament Isaiah 5:24, "Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble (Hebrew: tongue of fire), and the flame consumeth," etc. In this place the name tongue is given from the resemblance of a pointed flame to the human tongue. Anything long, narrow, and tending to a point is thus in the Hebrew called "a tongue." The word here means, therefore, "slender and pointed appearances" of flame, perhaps at first moving irregularly around the room.

cloven - Divided, separated - διαμεριζόμεναι diamerizomenai - from the verb διαμερίζω diamerizō, "to divide, or distribute into parts." Matthew 27:35, "they parted his garments"; Luke 22:17, "Take this (the cup) and divide it among yourselves." Probably the common opinion is, that these tongues or flames were, each one of them split, or forked, or cloven. But this is not the meaning of the expression. The idea is that they were separated or divided one from another; it was not one great flame, but was broken up, or cloven into many parts, and probably these parts were moving without order in the room. In the Syriac it is, "And there appeared unto them tongues which divided themselves like fire, and sat upon each of them." The old Ethiopic version reads it, "And fire, as it were, appeared to them and sat on them."

And it sat upon each of them - Or "rested," in the form of a lambent or gentle flame, upon the head of each one. This showed that the prodigy was directed to them, and was a very significant emblem of the promised descent of the Holy Spirit. After the rushing sound and the appearance of the flames, they could not doubt that here was some remarkable interposition of God. The appearance of fire, or flame, has always been regarded as a most striking emblem of the Divinity. Thus, Exodus 3:2-3, God is said to have manifested himself to Moses in a bush which was burning, yet not consumed. Thus, Exodus 19:16-20, God descended on Mount Sinai in the midst of thunders, and lightnings, and smoke, and fire, striking emblems of his presence and power. See also Genesis 15:17. Thus, Deuteronomy 4:24, God is said to be "a consuming fire." Compare Hebrews 12:29. See Ezekiel 1:4; Psalm 18:12-14. The Classic reader will also instantly recall the beautiful description in Virgil (Aeneid, b. 2:680-691). Other instances of a similar prodigy are also recorded in profane writers (Pliny, H. N., 2:37; Livy, 1:39). These appearances to the apostles were emblematic, doubtless:

(1) Of the promised Holy Spirit, as a Spirit of purity and of power. The prediction of John the Immerser, "He shall baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire" Matthew 3:11 would probably be recalled at once to their memory.

(2) The unique appearance, that of tongues, was an emblem of the diversity of languages which they were about to be able to utter. Any form of fire would have denoted the presence and power of God; but a form was adopted expressive of "what was to occur." Thus, "any divine appearance" or "manifestation" at the baptism of Jesus might have denoted the presence and approbation of God; but the form chosen was that of a dove descending - expressive of the mild and gentle virtues with which he was to be imbued. So in Ezekiel 1:4, any form of flame might have denoted the presence of God; but the appearance actually chosen was one that was strikingly emblematical of his providence. In the same way, the appearance here symbolized their special endowments for entering on their great work - the ability to speak with new tongues.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. cloven tongues, like as of fire, &c.—"disparted tongues," that is, tongue-shaped, flame-like appearances, rising from a common center or root, and resting upon each of that large company:—beautiful visible symbol of the burning energy of the Spirit now descending in all His plenitude upon the Church, and about to pour itself through every tongue, and over every tribe of men under heaven!
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Cloven tongs; to signify the variety of languages which the apostles should be enabled to speak, to qualify them to preach the gospel unto all nations, and to remove the obstacle which the confusion of tongues caused.

Like as of fire; which represented,

1. The light that the apostles should impart;

2. The fervent heat and zeal which they should be endowed with;

3. The gospel’s spreading in the world, and carrying all before it, prevailing over all errors;

4. The purity and holiness which they and all that preach the gospel ought to appear withal.

And it sat upon each of them; remained, as far as was necessary for the founding of the Christian religion; and was not, as the gift of prophecy, bestowed only occasionally, as on Nathan, Samuel.


 2017/8/25 3:19Profile

Joined: 2008/5/3
Posts: 435


When you've looked at the recent eclipse of the sun
it appeared as the "black hole sun" - for a moment

but it wasn't. There is no black hole sun. It just appeared that way.

"As of fire" appearance has nothing to do with fire.

Besides Acts was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit,
we are talking about something different here.

 2017/8/25 4:03Profile

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