Did the Gentiles of Acts 10 really receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and if so, why did they receive it? Some have rejected the idea that Cornelius received Holy Spirit baptism on the grounds that he could not do what the apostles could do, and therefore, did not receive what the apostles received. Unquestionably, the outpouring of the Spirit upon Cornelius did not outfit him with apostolic power and authority. He was never promised that the Spirit would guide him into all truth, nor is there any indication that he could transmit miraculous power unto others by laying his hands upon them, something the apostles could do (Acts 8:18). However, this argument assumes that being baptized in the same element always requires being baptized for the same purpose. The fact of the matter is that there is a New Testament precedent for someone’s being baptized in the same element as others, but not for the same reason/purpose. For example, Jesus was baptized in the same element (water) as the Ethiopian eunuch, and yet for an entirely different purpose. Jesus was baptized in water to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:13-16); the eunuch was baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 8:35-40). Admitting that Jesus and the eunuch were baptized in the same element (water) does not necessitate the admission that they were baptized for the same purpose. This being so with Jesus and the eunuch, why would it be impossible for Cornelius to have been baptized in the same element (Holy Spirit) as the apostles, but for a totally different reason? In remembering the event at the household of Cornelius, and being asked to explain his actions to the Jews, Peter said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:15-17) In view of Peter’s statement, it is fair to ask, “Why would Peter have been reminded of the Lord’s teaching concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit if what happened at Cornelius’ house had nothing to do with the subject?” Moreover, why did Peter say of the Gentiles that “God gave them the same gift as He gave us” (Acts 11:17)? In verse 15, Peter compared what happened at the household of Cornelius with what had happened when the Spirit fell “upon us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). The apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Gospel age when the church began (Acts 2), and Peter affirms that the Spirit fell upon the Gentiles in the same manner. But the question of why Cornelius and his household were baptized in the Holy Spirit still remains unanswered. For the answer, we need look no further than Luke’s inspired record. Upon seeing the Holy Spirit fall upon the Gentiles, Peter (and his six Jewish brethren) were astonished. Peter immediately recognized the significance of this direct outpouring from Heaven. Therefore, he said, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord…” (Acts 10:47,48) Later, when he stood before the Jews to defend the propriety of his actions, Peter declared, “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17) In pouring out His Spirit directly upon the Gentiles, God removed all doubt as to their eligibility to enter His kingdom. Hence, the household of Cornelius received the baptism of the Holy Spirit for one central reason, namely, to show the Jews that God approved of Gentiles as eligible for membership in the body of Christ. It is crucial to observe that the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not to save the recipients from sin. This is true in the case of the apostles’ baptism in the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles did not save them, but proved that God was inviting them to be saved. Realizing that they needed salvation and that they were now eligible to receive it, Peter immediately thought of their need for water baptism (Acts 10:47-48). This same apostle Peter, speaking of water baptism, said that this “baptism” “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:21).