6. The “Holy Spirit of the Promise” : the “Seal”, the “Betrothal ring”, and the “Chrism”.
But firstly let us examine some of the conditions under which the Baptism of the Holy Spirit appears in the Holy Bible:
"In Whom having also believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of the Promise, Who is a betrothal ring for our inheritance..." [Ephesians 1:13,14]
Naturally, this passage does not imply that the Holy Spirit is received only through faith, as asserted by certain Spirit-deprived Protestants; it is merely an inference to Baptism in water - as an act of faith, just like repentance (which, albeit equally necessary, is likewise not mentioned).
But, as we surely recall, both the above are mentioned by the Apostle Peter, in Acts 2:38,39.
Let us now look at some other passages from the Holy Bible, where this "Promise", apart from being referred to as "Betrothal ring" and "Seal", is also called the "Chrism".
"For the One who has secured you along with us in Christ - God - is the One who also sealed us and gave us the betrothal ring of the Spirit within our hearts.." [2 Corinthians 1:21,22.]
Given that the state of a reborn Christian is not yet permanent, this is the reason for the term "betrothal ring" and not "marriage". It is a trial period, until the day of marriage with the Lamb - Jesus Christ [Revelations 21:1,2]. Only then, if the person proves to be faithful to the end, will that "seal" - that "Chrism" - cease to be a "betrothal ring" and become permanent.
Let us also see what John the Apostle says about the "Chrism":
"You also have the Chrism from the Holy One..."
"...and the Chrism which you have received from Him remains in you, and you have no need for any man to teach you, but, being His Chrism, it teaches you about everything and is both true and is not a lie, and as it has taught you, you should abide in it..." [1 John 2: 20, 27]
What else could the apostle mean with the word "Chrism" except the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Who would be teaching the Christians? This can also be discerned in Christ's words, in the same apostle's Gospel:
"For the Comforter - the Holy Spirit - Whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will remind you of everything that I have told you." [John 14:26]
So, the Apostle John - like the Apostle Paul - also uses the same word for the seal of the Holy Spirit. The word "chrisma" [from the Greek root verb ÷ńßů (pron."chree-o")] means an "anointing"/"coating"/"smearing". Now why would this be involved in the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
To comprehend this, we must first see how the Holy Spirit was received during the time of the Apostles.
If we exclude the first descent of the Holy Spirit directly upon the Apostles themselves, all the others who wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit had to receive a "placing of the hands" upon them, by the Apostles. This is clearly evident, in Acts, 8:14-18:
"Having heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, the Apostles who were in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to them, who, going down there, prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. For it had never descended upon them - they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they would place their hands upon them and they would receive the Holy Spirit. Simon, when seeing that the Spirit is imparted by the placing of the hands of the apostles, offered them money..."
For the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, it was necessary for the apostles Peter and John to go to Samaria. Philip alone was not enough, even though he had the authority to perform a host of miracles. [Acts 8:6-7]. It is quite clear in the statement, that the Holy Spirit "THEN" (at that time) was imparted, "by the placing of the hands of the Apostles" [Acts 8:17].
Thus, on the day of the Pentecost, the Holy Spirit baptized 3000 faithful, in the presence of the apostles. [Acts 2:41]
Similarly, Paul received the Holy Spirit after the Lord had sent Ananias to him (who, according to the rest of sacred tradition, was one of the 70 apostles) in order to baptize him and to place his hands upon him [Acts 9:17-18].
(This is a sample of how the rest of sacred tradition supplements the blanks in the Holy Bible).
Cornelius, the first Gentile Christian, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the apostle Peter - himself being the only exception who received it before being baptized in water - a fact that would have convinced Peter to baptize him [Acts 10:44-48]
Finally, it was with the placing of Paul's hands that the 12 men of Ephesus also received the Holy Spirit [Acts 19:5-6].
But let us observe more closely the story that is described in Acts 8:14-19.
When the apostles needed to go down to Samaria to impart the Holy Spirit to the already baptized Samaritans, Simon asked to have that same authority, by paying to acquire it. But Peter said to him:
"Your silver, along with you, shall go into perdition, because you thought that God's gift could be acquired with money.." [Acts 8:20]
The reason he said this was because you had to be an apostle, in order to impart the Holy Spirit. But of great importance is verse 17:
"Then (=at that time) they would place their hands upon them, and they would receive the Holy Spirit".
We need to open a parenthesis here, with regard to the verb: "to place". The above verse was written on the basis of the Byzantine text - which is the most reliable, as it was delivered by the Church. Even though certain other critical texts (for example Nestle) use the past tense of the verb, ie: "they placed" (=sometime in the past, once), we can with certainty say that the original text had the form of the verb: "they would place" (=continuously and customarily). Why do we mention this? Because if the original text had the verb in that same (past) tense, then the verb that followed would have to be in the same tense, and read: "they received" (the Holy Spirit). In other words: "Then they placed their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Spirit." However, the second verb in the sentence is in the past continuous tense and we must consequently choose those texts that say "they would place", so that the meaning of the passage would be:
"Then (=at that time), they would place their hands upon them, and they would receive the Holy Spirit."
The correct expression of this passage gives us a most significant piece of information: that the baptizing with the Holy Spirit used to be performed in that manner, "then" (at that time) - which clearly implies that "at the time" Luke was writing those words in the Holy Bible, something had changed.
And indeed, it was a fact that something had changed when Luke was writing. As apparent in the narration that we are examining, problems already existed, inasmuch as the apostles were no longer sufficient in number to cater to the imparting of the Holy Spirit, given that the crowds of faithful continuously increased and were multiplying all across the land. This meant that the apostles had to continuously rush from one place to another to impart the Holy Spirit with the placing of their hands.
The view by certain Protestant groups who claim that the baptism by the Holy Spirit had ceased after the Pentecost and Cornelius is incorrect. If that were the case, then the words of the apostle Peter on the day of the Pentecost were lies:
"For the Promise is to you, and to your children, and to everyone afar, whomsoever the Lord our God may invite..." [Acts 2:39]
If the Promise of the Father had ceased to apply during Luke's time, then neither "the children" of those people nor "all those that God may invite" would have been able to receive it. The apostle Peter would have been a false prophet.
This would also imply that no-one else could be saved thereafter - from the time that the Promise of the Father would cease and up until today - because Jesus Christ had told Nicodemus:
"Truly, I am telling you that if someone is not reborn (out of water and Spirit), he shall not see the kingdom of God." [John 3:3 and 5]
In compliance with all the above, the Sacred Tradition of our Church clarifies for us that, as the apostles became scattered around the world, or were reposed in the Lord, someone had to undertake the ministry of hand-placing and imparting the Holy Spirit. Indeed, these were the first of the Presbyters (Elders) of the cities, who were named Bishops (Greek, "episkopos" = overseer).
Jesus Christ had bestowed a very important authority upon the apostles before departing:
"Verily I say to you: whatever you might bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you might unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven. Again I say to you, verily, that if two out of you should agree upon every matter that may be petitioned, it shall be granted to them by my Father in heaven.." [Matthew 19:18,19]
Thus, the apostles convened, and they also agreed amongst themselves: they took oil, they placed their hands upon it and they prayed. They asked the Lord to bestow the Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who would be "chrismated" (anointed-smeared) with that oil, with the placing of the hands by every local Bishop, or whoever the Bishops may authorize. Thus, the presence of each and every apostle was no longer necessary, so that when they finally fell asleep in the Lord one by one, the Church continued to impart the Holy Spirit "to all those whom the Lord invited, invites or will invite".
And that was what had already changed when Luke was writing then, "at the time". It is what the Church has named "The Sacrament of the Chrismation"
We can now also understand why the apostles Paul and John had referred to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as "the Chrism" (=the anointing) in their Epistles (verses: 2 Corinthians 1:21,22 - 1 John 2:20,27).
As already mentioned, "chrio" means to "anoint". This example we would further like to point out as an outstanding exemplar of the absolute agreement between the Holy Bible and the rest of the Sacred Tradition of the Church. Therefore, all those who believe that they have been reborn without chrismation and without the placing of hands by the apostles should seriously re-examine their views.
So far, we have seen that:
Article published in English on: 18-4-2010.
Last update: 18-4-2010.