The reader is told that a leader is chosen who is "fully of the Spirit and wisdom" and "full of faith" (Acts 6:3,5). The first book of Acts shows the disciples looking at external qualities for a good leader and are thus unable to come to a decision; they end up asking God to make the decision for them. It is only after the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit that they are able to find others who are "full of the Spirit." This shows that before being filled with the Holy Spirit, one is not able to see who else is filled with it. One doesn't know God or things of God until they have the Spirit in them.
The Greatest Works of the Holy Spirit in Acts
There are five distinct circumstances in the book of Acts in which there is a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto believers: Acts 2:1-4; 4:28-31, 8:15-17; 10:44; and 19:6. The first, Acts 2:1-4 is when the Holy Spirit comes to the disciples with sounds from heaven -- violent, rushing wind. It fills the entire house in which they are sitting. Tongues of fire rest on each one of them and they are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in foreign tongues. The second distinct outpouring of the Holy Spirit is found in 4:28-31 when the disciples are speaking the word of God and the Holy Spirit comes to them and fills them. Acts 8:15-17 reports Peter and John going to Samaria as they had heard that they accepted Jesus. Peter and John prayed that they receive the Holy Spirit. They had been baptized in the name of Lord Jesus, but they had never been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. So John and Peter lay their hands on them and they receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:44, the Holy Spirit falls upon the house of Cornelius and Peter sees this as a case of baptism with the Holy Spirit. Lastly, in Acts 19:6 Paul finds some disciples and asks them if they received the Holy Spirit. They said that had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit. Paul then asks them into what were they baptized and they say "Into John's baptism." They disciples are then baptized as Paul lay his hands on them and the Holy Spirit comes over them. They begin speaking in tongues and prophesying.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
The baptism of the Spirit is a different type of baptism depicted in the book of Acts. The first, as noted in the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit aforementioned, happens in Acts 2:1-4 on Pentecost. This first baptism of the disciples in the book of Acts is an interesting one because all twelve (now with Matthias not Judas) were baptized before (by John or one of the other apostles), so they all were in possession of the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. This baptism therefore does not imply that the Holy Spirit wasn't already with them. Because Jesus, God and Holy Spirit are often used interchangeably in the book of Acts, one has to assume that the disciples were already with the Holy Spirit; however, the baptism in Acts 2:1-4 does have quite a few signs that the reader is supposed to pay attention to (for example, the speaking in foreign tongues). This means that the disciples will be able to do as Jesus asked and go on to be witnesses for him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to all the ends of the earth.
In Samaria, Acts 8, there is another baptism with the Holy Spirit. This baptism in Samaria is important because John and Peter hear that they have been baptized with water, which they take as good news, and thus they go to Samaria to baptize with the Holy Spirit. In this act one can see that there is a major distinction between a water and a Holy Spirit baptism. Secondly, the reader sees how Simon responds to the apostles laying their hands on them. Simon actually ends up offering them money, but this does not go over well. The next thing that occurs is a controversy about false desires for the gifts that the Holy Spirit possesses.
Acts 10 is also important when it comes to baptism because it shows how the Holy Spirit wants to bring the sacrament of baptism (water baptism) to the Gentiles. At the house of Cornelius the Holy Spirit falls on the people even before they are baptized with water, which surprises the Jewish believers. "And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles" (Acts 10:45). Luke is thus showing the reader how the Word of God could win over the Gentiles (Fitzmyer 59).
Acts 10 is an important one because it shows how the Holy Spirit was working so that there was not a division between people (i.e. between Jews and Christians). The Holy Spirit wants to show the Jews that there is room for everyone in God's kingdom. He also wants to show that one finds salvation because of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Marshall 1980, 103).
The baptism in Acts 19:1-7 is the final time that the reader hears of baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts and it is when Paul goes to Ephesus. One sees that the baptism of John wasn't enough and the Ephesians had to be baptized by an apostle (in this case Paul) to receive the Holy Spirit, which they did.
The book of acts offers the reader a history of the early church with a focus on how people can become empowered by the Holy Spirit. Acts shows the reader how the Holy Spirit can teach, guide, and empower. Therefore one can see that the chief focus in the book of Acts is the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit can change people. It is also concluded that Acts was created to not just show how people can change when overcome by the Holy Spirit, but it was also created to show how Jesus won over even the Gentiles.
The reader of Acts sees the great ways in which the Holy Spirit can work and this can be seen in the five distinct "outpourings" with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. What the entire gospel tells the reader is that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are, in fact, a trifecta working to carry out God's word. However, it is the Holy Spirit that guides the entire book of Acts (Johnson 1992, 14).
DL Bock, Acts (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (Baker Academic, 2007).
FF Bruce & GD Fee, the Book of Acts (Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing; Rev Sub-Edition, 1988).
Joseph a. Fitzmyer, the Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Anchor Bible, 1998).