Did Paul really receive the Holy Spirit before his baptism?


I was just reading your answer to 1/24/2008's question about Paul receiving the spirit before he was baptized. 

I could be mistaken, but I have never 'gotten' from that passage that Paul received the Spirit before baptism.  Ananias told Paul that he would receive his sight and then be filled with the spirit.  Then, his sight was restored and he was baptized to wash away his sins.  Nothing about receiving the Spirit is said to have occurred between.  According to Acts 2:38, we receive the spirit at baptism.  I have understood this passage to be saying that Paul's sight was restored, and he was baptized to receive the Holy Spirit.

Just some food for thought . . . I'm learning quite a bit from your site.


"And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized" (Acts 9:17-18).

You are correct that Ananias' statement does not promise that the Holy Spirit would fill Paul immediately. We know that Peter had stated that all Christians were promised the gift of the Holy Spirit after their salvation. "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call"" (Acts 2:38-39). It would be logical to assume that Ananias equated being filled with the Holy Spirit with being baptized. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:13).

That all said, I cannot prove that Paul did not receive the Holy Spirit before his baptism. In other words, I cannot claim it is a necessary inference -- a likely inference but not a necessary one.

When answering the argument made, I decided that it would not make a difference in the end. To point it out would actually be a distraction. The person was arguing that receiving the Holy Spirit before baptism was proof that salvation can come before baptism. My counter was that the Spirit has come upon people who were not saved in the past. Some, such as Cornelius, were commanded to be baptized after receiving the Holy Spirit's gifts. Even if we accept that Paul received the Spirit before baptism, it remains that he was told to be baptized to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). Thus, all this serves is another piece of evidence that receiving the Spirit does not necessarily bring salvation to a person.