Original Research

Glossolalia, Spirit baptism and Pentecostals: Revisiting the book of Acts

Marius Nel
Theologia Viatorum | Vol 47, No 1 | a222 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v47i1.222 | © 2023 Marius Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 September 2023 | Published: 17 November 2023

About the author(s)

Marius Nel, Unit for Reformational Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The debate between cessationists and continuationists is one of the main differences between Protestants and Pentecostals. A central tenet of the discussion is whether the baptism of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by signs such as glossolalia as described by the book of Acts, still occurs today. Most Pentecostals hold that Spirit baptism is distinctive from conversion. The debate is reflected in an article that appeared in HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies by Stevanus. This contribution aimed to reflect on their conclusion that it does not occur, based on the exegesis of relevant passages in Acts, but that Spirit baptism and conversion refer to the same experience. It utilised the hermeneutical lenses of the critical-historical method and Pentecostals’ reading of the biblical text from their metanarrative of God’s ongoing dynamic involvement in the world. Pentecostals emphasise the significance and necessity of continuous authentic charismatic encounters with God to define any doctrine. The study found that a post-conversion experience of the Spirit was normative in Acts and theologically implicit in conversion. It concluded that the Spirit is involved in conversion apart from Spirit baptism, a separate experience empowering disciples for their mission, and the order in which the Spirit reveals divine power to believers does not follow a set pattern.

Contribution: The article contributes to a discourse that seldom reaches the academic scene in South Africa but forms a critical element in the difference between Protestant and Pentecostal hermeneutics.


Spirit baptism; glossolalia; continuationism; cessationism; Pentecostal hermeneutics; xenolalia; xenoglossy

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