Biblical Evidence For the Sacrament of Confirmation

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin presenting his godson Colin to Bishop James Sartain of Little Rock, for Confirmation

[ source ]

Some of the passages below were drawn from "Where Is Confirmation in the Bible?" -- in the bestselling New Catholic Answer Bible, by Dr. Paul Thigpen. I've added many more, presently. I'm co-author of the "apologetic inserts" in that Bible, but Paul wrote this particular one. I had compiled a number of Bible passages in the original Catholic Answer Bible (I was sole author of those inserts). The latter is now available for as low as $2.34, used, at amazon. The newer version is bit more! The first version, alas, never mentioned my name as author: talk about humility . . . All passages are RSV.

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The Holy Spirit's Descent Upon Persons / "Received" / "Poured Out"

Wisdom 9:17 Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?

Matthew 3:16
 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; (cf. Isaiah 11:2: "And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him")

Luke 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Luke 3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, . . .

Luke 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
John 1:33 . . . `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, . . .

John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . .

Acts 2:1-3 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.

Acts 2:15-18 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: `And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I willpour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

Acts 2:33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:32 . . . the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

Acts 8:14-16 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Sama'ria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 10:44-45,47 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. . . . "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"

Acts 11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.

Acts 15:8 And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us;

Acts 19:2 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

Romans 5:5 . . . God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been givento us.

1 Thessalonians 4:8 . . . God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Baptism With the Holy Spirit

Matthew 3:11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Mark 1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Luke 3:16 . . . he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

John 1:33 . . . this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'

Acts 1:5 
for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, `John baptized with water, but you shall bebaptized with the Holy Spirit.'

Being "Filled" With the Holy Spirit

Luke 1:15 he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.

Luke 1:41 . . . Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:67 
And his father Zechari'ah was filled with the Holy Spirit,

Luke 4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, . . .

Acts 2:4 
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . .

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, . . .

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Acts 6:5 . . . Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit . . .

Acts 7:55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

Acts 11:24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. . . .

Acts 13:9 But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, . . .

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 . . . be filled with the Spirit,

(see also: Ex 31:3, 35:31; Mic 3:8; Sir 48:12)


Laying on of Hands Associated with the Coming of the Holy Spirit

Acts 8:17-20 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!

Acts 9:17 So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Acts 13:2-4 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for meBarnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleu'cia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them;

1 Timothy 4:14 (?) Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.

2 Timothy 1:6 (?) Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;

"Sealed" With the Holy Spirit

2 Corinthians 1:22 he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Ephesians 1:13-14
 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Anointing With Oil For a Sacred Purpose or to Receive the Holy Spirit

Exodus 28:41 And you shall put them upon Aaron your brother, and upon his sons with him, and shall anointthem and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

Leviticus 16:32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father's place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments;

1 Samuel 10:1
 Then Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said, "Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel?

1 Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me . . .

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor

Acts 10:38 . . . God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power . . .

(See 170 more passages with "anoint" or "anointed": Part One / Part Two)

Holy Spirit Received Through the Channel of Authoritative Persons 

The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) was presided over by Peter, the leader of the Church and first pope.

Acts 4:31 The apostles Peter and John testified and prayed and then the Holy Spirit was received by many.

Acts 8:17 The apostles Peter and John laid hands on people and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:44-47 / 11:15 Peter is speaking when the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:2-4 Paul and Barnabas are sent out by the Holy Spirit (a notion similar to Confirmation) after having hands laid on them by "prophets and teachers" in the "church at Antioch".

Acts 19:6 The Apostle Paul lays hands on some Ephesians and they receive the Holy Spirit.

The bishops are the successors of the apostles, by apostolic succession.


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Thus, we see that all essential elements of the Catholic Sacrament of Confirmation, are present in Holy Scripture, and quite explicitly so:

1) The Holy Spirit can "descend" upon persons.

2) The Holy Spirit can be "given" as a "gift" to persons by God the Father.

3) The Holy Spirit can be "received" by persons.

4) The Holy Spirit can be "poured out" to persons.

5) The Holy Spirit can "fall on" persons.

6) A person can be "baptized" with the Holy Spirit.

7) A person can be "filled" by the Holy Spirit.

8) A person can "receive" or be "filled with" the Holy Spirit by means of the human
instrumentality of laying on of hands.

9) A person can be "sealed for the day of redemption" by the Holy Spirit, as a "guarantee of our inheritance."

10) A person can be anointed with oil in order to be commissioned or set apart or consecrated.

11) A person can be anointed with oil in order for the "Spirit of the Lord" to come "mightily upon" them.

12) Authoritative persons (popes, apostles, prophets) preside over this giving and receiving of the Holy Spirit.

13) And these authoritative persons in the Church do this by the laying on of hands (Peter, John, Paul).

14) And they do this by anointing with oil (Samuel and David).

15) We know from other evidences in Scripture that bishops are the successors of the apostles.

For the related notion of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, see many passages compiled in my paper, Orthodox Catholic Christology: A Theological Primer (middle section).

See also, Catechism of the Catholic Church: # 698, 900, 941, 1121, 1285-1321, 1546, 2472.

See also the related paper: Martin Luther's Opinion of (the Catholic Sacrament of) Confirmation.