Is baptism by water the way we are saved or is it by baptism of the Holy Spirit apart from water?


Acts 11:1-18 says:

11 Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, [a]those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3 saying, “You **went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began speaking [c]and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an [d]object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from [e]the sky; and it came right down to me, 6 and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it [f]I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the [g]crawling creatures and the birds of the [h]air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; *kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing [j]unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer [k]consider unholy.’ 10 This happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into [l]the sky. 11 And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them [m]without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he reported to us how he had seen the angel [n]standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; 14 and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized [o]with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could [p]stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they [q]quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

So my question is… How did the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit without being born again through baptism of water… How could they receive grace from the Spirit without being baptized by water FIRST???***


God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1257)
In other words, God has established water baptism as the ordinary means by which we receive saving grace but that doesn’t rule out God imparting saving grace, in an extraordinary manner, apart from water baptism.

It seems to me that God gave some charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his companions as a sign to Peter that they were sufficiently prepared to receive the sacrament of baptism and its saving grace. If Peter thought they had already received saving grace, water baptism would have been an empty gesture and entirely unnecessary. In the Old Testament, Balaam and Saul had the gift of prophesy and Balaam’s beast of burden had the gift of tongues but I wouldn’t number any of them among the saved simply because they manifested charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.


Thanks so much! That is just the kind of answer I was looking for. I checked everywhere online for an answer and couldn’t find one. Thank for your God given wisdom.


Hi Ima,

The graces of baptism and confirmation are free gifts of God. He gives them to whom he wants in the way he wants.




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