What is the difference between being “filled” with the Holy Ghost, and being “baptized” by the Holy Ghost?


Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. My question is about “filling with the Holy Ghost”. I have came to a conclusion that “filling with the Holy Ghost” and “baptism of the Holy Ghost” are two separate events. It seems that “baptism of the holy ghost” happens when a person becomes a believer and is accepted into the family of God. baptism of the holy ghost” occurs for the power to perform God’s service ie; gifts, etc. Everyone is “baptized with the holy ghost” but perhaps NOT everyone is “filled with the holy ghost”. I believe that possible God does the filling for those who desire service, or those that he puts in service. Does any of this make sense?


Just like with any words or phrases in the Bible, we have to carefully consider the context. What makes that especially important in regard to this, is that many of these references are seen early in the New Testament; and in the Book of Acts, which is a Book of transition.

The specific phrase “filled with the Holy Ghost” appears eight times in the New Testament.

Luke 1:13-16 says, “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and HE SHALL BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”

No one can be saved while he is yet in the womb, because a baby is unable to realize that he is a sinner in need of a Savior at that point. So in this instance, we have a person who is not yet saved (but under what we call the “age of accountability,” that is, unable to yet understand anything about sin and salvation), and is being filled with the Holy Ghost.

At this point, we need to define what being “filled with the Holy Ghost” means. We can find that in Ephesians 5:17-21, which says, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And BE NOT DRUNK WITH WINE, wherein is excess; but BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

You will notice that we are commanded to NOT be drunk with wine, but to be FILLED with the Holy Sprit. If you are filled with wine, then you are drunk. If you are filled with wine, then you are no longer in control of yourself — the liquor is in control. God FORBIDS the Christian to be controlled by liquor, but God COMMANDS the Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That means that God commands us to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.

How can you tell when people are drunk? They WALK differently. The liquor is in control of their minds and reflexes, and you can tell it by the wobbling way that they walk. They TALK differently. Their speech is slurred, and they may also use more profanity when they are drunk.

Many Charismatics claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then act drunk, as if to prove that they are Spirit-filled. They stagger around the platform acting drunk. They drive around hitting things, just like a drunk person would. It clearly shows that they are in error, because the Bible clearly says NOT to be drunk with wine, but to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit. There is to be a CLEAR CONTRAST between the Spirit-filled Christian, and the person who is drunk with alcohol.

The Christian’s WALK is to be different. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Ephesians 5:8-11 says, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” If we, as Christians, walk around staggering like drunks, then we are not going to appear as children of light to anyone. They will just think that we are like the rest of the world, walking according to the flesh, and getting drunk.

The Christian’s TALK is to be different. Our talk is to be honest and pure (Who would put much stock in what a drunk person says? Who is surprised when a drunk person swears?). Colossians 3:8-10 says, “But now ye also PUT OFF ALL THESE; anger, wrath, malice, BLASPHEMY, FILTHY COMMUNICATION out of your mouth. LIE NOT one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” The Christian’s talk should NOT be slurred and unclear like the drunkard’s, but CLEAR. I Corinthians 14:7-9 says, “And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.”

Being filled with the Holy Ghost is THE OPPOSITE of going around ACTING DRUNK. Bring filled with the Holy Spirit is being UNDER THE CONTROL of the HOLY SPIRIT. It is a life that is DIRECTLY CONTRASTED with being controlled by ALCOHOL.

The next passages support that definition of being filled with the Holy Ghost; that it is a person who is under the control of the Holy Ghost, and acting accordingly.

Luke 1:39-42 says, “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and ELISABETH WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

Luke 1:62-69 says, “And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father ZACHARIAS WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.”

Acts 2:1-4 says, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Acts 2:7-10 says, “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then PETER, FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”

Acts 4:31 says, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

Acts 9:17-20 says, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, AND BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”

Acts 13:8-11 says, “But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then SAUL, (who also is called Paul,) FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.”

The phrase “baptized with the Holy Ghost” appears twice in the New Testament.

Acts 1:4,5 says, “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but YE SHALL BE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST not many days hence.”

Acts 11:13-18 says, “And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And AS I BEGAN TO SPEAK, THE HOLY GHOST FELL ON THEM, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but YE SHALL BE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

The first reference above is part of the transition that we see in the Book of Acts. As Jesus foretold in John 14:16,17, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth WITH you, and shall be IN you.” The Holy Spirit was WITH the believers, but when Jesus left His earthly ministry, the Holy Spirit would be IN believers. There would no longer be temples make with hands, but believers would now be the “temples.” I Corinthians 3:16,17 says, “Know ye not that YE ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD, and that THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELLETH IN YOU? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

Since the church is now started, every believer is now baptized into the body of Christ at the moment of salvation. I Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

So, yes, every believer is BAPTIZED by the Holy Ghost into the body of Christ, but only those who yield their lives to the Holy Spirit’s control are FILLED with the Holy Spirit. The BAPTISM happens only once at the moment of salvation, but the FILLING is not necessarily continuous, because it depends upon whether we are willing to let the Holy Spirit control us moment by moment.