Tongues as if of fire . . . came to rest on each one of them.
If you were one of the disciples who experienced that, you would never forget that day. There would be no question in your mind that you were anointed by holy spirit, especially if you also received the miraculous gift of speaking in a foreign language. But do all those who are anointed by holy spirit receive their anointing in the same spectacular manner as that first group of about 120 disciples did? No. The rest of those who were present in Jerusalem that day received their anointing at their baptism. There was no tongue as if of fire above their heads. Furthermore, not all anointed Christians receive their anointing at their baptism. The Samaritans received their anointing by holy spirit sometime after their baptism. On the other hand, in an exceptional instance, Cornelius and his household were anointed by holy spirit even before they were baptized.
Some years ago the concept of anointing was peculiar to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In recent decades, however, it seems that evangelicals have picked up on it —not surprisingly, claiming that all Christians are anointed, which is merely a variation of the ages-long false teaching that heaven is the only destination of all the saved.
But were all Christians in the first century anointed? No, they were not. The account in the 18th chapter of Acts tells of a Jewish man named Apollos, saying of him: “he was an eloquent man who was well-versed in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of Jehovah, and aglow with the spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things about Jesus, but he was acquainted only with the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, and when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him into their company and explained the way of God more accurately to him. Further, because he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brothers wrote to the disciples, urging them to receive him kindly. So when he got there, he greatly helped those who through God’s undeserved kindness had become believers; for publicly and with great intensity he thoroughly proved the Jews to be wrong, showing them from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”
Note that Apollos was “aglow with the spirit,” meaning he had God’s spirit, and he also knew the truth and taught it effectively. But he was only acquainted with the baptism of John; meaning, Apollos was not anointed, which is apparent by what is stated in the following 19th chapter. That account relates: “In the course of events, while Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland regions and came down to Ephesus. There he found some disciples and said to them: ‘Did you receive holy spirit when you became believers?’ They replied to him: ‘Why, we have never heard that there is a holy spirit.’ So he said: ‘In what, then, were you baptized?’ They said: ‘In John’s baptism.’ Paul said: ‘John baptized with the baptism in symbol of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they got baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the holy spirit came upon them, and they began speaking in foreign languages and prophesying. There were about 12 men in all.”
The 120 Jews who were anointed on the day of Pentecost were evidently all baptized in the baptism of John only. It was not necessary that they be baptized in Jesus’ name since they were all personally acquainted with him. However, after Pentecost it became necessary for Jewish believers to be baptized in the name of Jesus in order to receive the anointing spirit. Nevertheless, the point is, even those believers who had not been baptized in the name of Jesus and who were not anointed were considered believers and, as in the case of Apollos, were impelled by the spirit to preach and teach.
These accounts in Acts are there for a reason —providing scriptural support for the teaching that not all followers of Christ are anointed. Of course, Apollos and the other dozen were eventually anointed when they were baptized in the name of Jesus. But the fact remains that they were regarded as believers prior to their anointing. And in the case of Apollos, the account makes the point of showing that he was an active preacher and teacher without the anointing by the spirit.
John’s baptism parallels the baptism Jehovah’s Witnesses undergo. Apollos typifies the many of Jehovah’s Witnesses today who are preachers and teachers, who are also aglow with the spirit, but who do not consider themselves to be anointed. Whereas, those who are called into the Kingdom, while also baptized in symbol of repentance, are baptized by the holy spirit.