For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
–1 Corinthians 12:13 NIV
Although the word “baptism” is used in the first part of the verse above, it does not refer to water baptism or the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It simply means that the Holy Spirit immerses us into, or makes us a part of, the one Body of Christ, the Church (see also Galatians 3:28).
In the last part of the verse, however, “drinking” of the Spirit does refer to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some commentary will help to differentiate between these two experiences:
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body (at conversion)—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and (some time later) we were all given the one Spirit to drink (the baptism in the Holy Spirit).
–1 Corinthians 12:13 NIV (parenthetical phrases my addition)
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is for those who have accepted Christ as Savior—those who are spiritually regenerated (see Titus 3:4-6). All of the Corinthians were first converted and then baptized in the Holy Spirit, which is referred to as drinking of the Spirit.
Unfortunately, this cannot be said of most Christians today. Many are saved, but not all have gone on to drink of the Spirit’s fullness.
Jesus told the woman at the well, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14a NASB). This was a foreshadowing of Pentecost, for later, Jesus equated thirst and drinking with the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
–John 7:37–39 NIV
Notice in verses 38 and 39 that “drinking” of the Spirit is available to those who believe in Him. And these believers would not receive the Spirit until after Jesus was “glorified.”
This glorification is what Jesus prayed about in John 17:5: “glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (NIV).
We know this glorification took place after His ascension, when Jesus sat down at the Father’s right hand. Ten days after this, the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost.
So the Spirit being given after Jesus’ glorification refers to the Pentecostal outpouring. Drinking of the Spirit in John 7:37–39 means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Paul also compared drinking with being filled with the Spirit:
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
–Ephesians 5:18 KJV
You get drunk by drinking (but don’t!). Likewise, you get filled with the Spirit by drinking.
So far, we have been dealing with contrasts. But there is a similarity between salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit are both symbolized in the New Testament by immersion.
At salvation, the Holy Spirit regenerates the repentant sinner. That is also when the Holy Spirit immerses him into the Body of Christ, making him a member of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13a). But with the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Jesus immerses believers in the Holy Spirit to empower them (see John 1:33). When believers are immersed in the Spirit, they drink and are filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4).
Have you drunk of the Spirit’s fullness? Are you thirsty? Ask Jesus to baptize you in the Holy Spirit: “If you … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13 NIV).