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Baptized in Holy Spirit

Updated on February 12, 2010

Many of today’s religious groups were founded upon various beliefs regarding baptism. This study allows the Scripture to speak for itself regarding the subject of baptism and will allow the readers to see for themselves the great accuracy of the Bible without the interpretational and doctrinal inconsistencies brought to the subject by man. Let us begin by examining the word “baptism,” and then continue by tracing the use of water in baptism from the Old Testament, as it related to the law, to the present.

To discover the true biblical meaning of “baptism,” we must search the Scriptures and observe its varied usages. Of course, “baptism” now is an English word; the Greek baptisma is directly transliterated into English. The root form of the word baptisma is bapto which means “to dip.” Bapto is also part of the word translated “dippeth,” embapto.

From this root bapto arise four words:

  1. Baptizo – to make things bapto, dipped.
  2. Baptismos– the act of dipping or washing which is the act of baptizing; this does not occur in any Church epistle; the four occurrences of this word are in Mark 7:4; 7:8; Hebrews 6:2; 9:10.
  3. Baptisma– the result of baptismos; it is used twenty-two times in the Bible: thirteen refer to John’s baptism, five to the Lord’s baptism, three are found in Paul’s epistles, and the last is in 1Peter. Baptisma is in Matthew 3:7; 20:22,23; 21:25; Mark 1:4; 10:38,39; 11:30; Luke 3:3; 7:29; 12:50; 20:4; Acts 1:22; 10:37; 13:24; 18:25; 19:3,4; Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12; 1Peter 3:21.
  4. Baptiste– the one who does the baptizing.

There are only a few instances where these words are not directly transliterated into English as “baptize,” but are instead translated as follows:

A) Bapto is translated “dip” in the only three places where it is used:

  • Luke 16:24: And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip [bapto] the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
  • John 13:26:Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped [bapto] it...
  • Revelation 19:13: And he was clothed with a vesture dipped [bapto] in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

B) Embapto is translated as follows in its only usages:

  • Matthew 26:23: And he answered and said, He that dippeth [embapto] his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
  • Mark 14:20: And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth [embapto] with me in the dish.
  • John 13:26: Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped [bapto] it. And when he had dipped [embapto] the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon [Bapto is used in both instances in John 13:26 in several critical Greek texts.]

C) Baptizo is consistently transliterated “baptize” except in three usages:

  • Mark 6:14: And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist [Baptize:This form of the word baptizo is the participle with the article. It is accurately translated “the one who baptizes.”] was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
  • Mark 7:4: And when they come from the market, except they wash [baptizo], they eat not ....
  • Luke 11:38: And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed [baptizo] before dinner.

In these last two usages the action is self-evident; when a Pharisee returned from the market, he washed himself before eating.

D) Of the four uses of baptismos it is only once translated “baptism” – Hebrews 6:2. In the other occurrences both the Authorized and Revised Versions are correct in rendering the word baptismos as “washing.” The references are quite clear because they refer to the ordinances of divine service which were carried on in the tabernacle:

  • Mark 7:4: And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing [baptismos] of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
  • Mark 7:8: For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing [baptismos] of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
  • Hebrews 9:10: Which stood [serving] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings [baptismos],and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation [rectification].

From every Biblical usage of the word “baptism,” we can only conclude that the root meaning and the basic thought in baptism is washing. Therefore, we should note three other words in the Greek which also mean “to wash”:

  1. Nipto– to wash a portion of one’s body. Matthew 15:2: Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
  2. Louo– to bathe or wash the entire body; from which we also get our word “ablution.” Hebrews 10:22: Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
  3. Pluno– to wash or rinse inanimate things; ordinarily this word is used in speaking of washing clothes. Revelation 7:14: And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

These three Greek words fully cover the subject of washing. The word “wash” is used in the definition of each one of the above words. Therefore, we must logically conclude that the verb baptizo has a meaning in common with all of these three aforementioned Greek words, yet must be distinct from each. A close study of each usage of baptizo reveals that baptizo does not denote the removal of bodily uncleanness or filth, but rather the removal of ceremonial uncleanness and is symbolic washing. The outward cleansing of the flesh by washing or baptism was to symbolize spiritual cleanliness. Entrance into the tabernacle was conditioned by baptism which meant the cleansing of the flesh at the laver by merely dipping to indicate ceremonial washing or cleansing. (See Exodus 30:18-24.)

Exactly what means were used outside the temple for washing? The Old Testament tells of the laver of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:17-21), the sea and the ten lavers of Solomon’s temple (1Kings 7:23-39) and the river of the temple (Ezekiel 47:1-12).

In the court of the tabernacle between the gate and the door stood two vessels – the altar and the laver (Exodus 40:29, 30). Considering the minute detail and exactness of the patterns shown to Moses regarding the tabernacle (Exodus 30:1—10), it is interesting to note that the laver of the tabernacle was not given dimensions or proportions but The Bible simply states what it was for – “to wash withal” (Exodus 30:18). The fact that the details are missing regarding the laver emphasizes the fact that it was not an integral part of the completed structure and that something better would come to replace it.

The temple of Solomon replaced the tabernacle. This temple of Solomon had no single laver between the entrance of the gate to the outer area and the door of the temple, but had instead the sea and the ten lavers, five on each side of the house (1Kings 7:23, 38, 39). The ten lavers were used to wash the offering and they were set on bases each having “four brasen wheels” (1Kings 7:30). Again the wheels indicate easy disposal; they could roll out of the way for something more permanent.

In the temple of Ezekiel, which is yet to come to pass in the future, the lavers and the sea will be removed and in their place, issuing from under the threshold of the house, will flow the river of living water (Ezekiel 47:1—5). Ezekiel’s temple will not have water, in containers, but a moving, living river, deepening as it flows (Ezekiel 47:3—5). Thus, in the course of God’s plan we see that the lavers are all alike until finally lost in the river of living water.

The ceremonial cleansing, called washing and baptism, applies specifically to Israel. The laver of the tabernacle, the sea and the ten lavers of Solomon’s temple, and the river of Ezekiel are all applicable to Israel – the first two under the Old Testament and the latter in the future when paradise is reestablished on earth. These two time periods (ages) which apply only to Israel are together Biblically called the kingdom period. The question thus becomes: What about baptism in the period of time between the law and the new paradise, between the time of Solomon’s temple and the river of Ezekiel?

The day of Pentecost, which was fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, founded a new age, or administration if you prefer. At that time another change came in relation to baptism regarding the Church. In order to see exactly what this change meant, let us begin ten days before Pentecost at the time of the ascension in Acts 1:

  • Acts 1:4, 5: And, being assembled together with them [the apostles], [Jesus Christ] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

By using the word “but” Jesus places water baptism and this new spiritual baptism in contrast to each other, not in addition to each other. In other words, with the coming of the greater (holy spirit), the lesser (water) came to an end. And as this record from the first chapter of Acts continues to unfold, we see in the second chapter that this replacement was initiated ten days later on the day of Pentecost, when the terms of the New Covenant first starting being revealed and accepted in lieu of the terms of the old (there is more information on this topic in the hub "The New Covenant").

At this point some might say, "But wait a second, didn't Jesus say in John 3:5, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”? Yes he did. But this is not a contradiction to what we have looked at so far. Jesus was not talking about baptism in John 3:5:

  • John 3:4-6: Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Jesus was replying directly to the wording of the question asked by Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a man thoroughly familiar with the terms of the Old Covenant (see verse 10), if he wanted to ask Jesus about baptism he was quite capable of doing so. Jesus lovingly listens to Nicodemus and responds accordingly; explaining that being born again of spirit is not the same as being born from your mother’s womb; clarifying to Nicodemus that he was talking about a spiritual birth, in addition to the physical birth. It was not available to get “born again” prior to the day of Pentecost, Jesus could only explain the new birth to Nicodemus in part; however, he did not insult Nicodemus for asking such a silly question, rather he responded to Nicodemus, tactfully answering his question with wisdom and love, simultaneously giving him assurance of what was to come. When the sack breaks the baby comes, "of water". What a beautiful record! What a wonderful Lord! This conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus then moves into Jesus telling Nicodemus in verses 16 and 17, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." The subject of baptism does not begin until verse 22 where the topic changes with the words "After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea, and there he tarried with them, and baptized".

Now there is another factor associated with the Greek word bapto (and its various forms) that we should be aware of at this point. These words are commonly used for describing “dipping” or “immersing” processes, such as dying cloths and pickling. When something is "baptized" or "dipped" it becomes associated with the qualities of what it was dipped in. For instance, what happens when you fully immerse a white robe in purple dye? That's right, it becomes a purple robe. What happens when you soak a cucumber in a pickling solution? That's right, it becomes a pickle. What happens when you immerse a sinner in holy spirit? Have you ever wondered why the Apostle Paul never refers to the born again ones as "sinners" (except when stated in the past tense as in Romans 5:8, "you were sinners")? He calls the Christians "saints", which means “holy ones”, not because of how they act, but because of who and what they truly are spiritually in the eyes of God. Yes, believe it or not, the results of Jesus' work at Calvary are a bigger deal to God than our flesh.

Not to get off topic, but let us also consider for a moment this question: Now that we have this new life, with this quality, or color if you will, of holiness from having been immersed into holy spirit, how do we live in it? (Onward Pickled Christians <grin>). When we believe on Jesus Christ we receive life with God because of Jesus Christ’s work. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not reveal this information. This is not their purpose. Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law of Moses. And Jesus completed the job. He died for the sins of the whole world. After three days and three nights God raised him from the dead. Then after 40 more days he was taken up into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us a record of these events. Each book gives us comparable details of Jesus’ walk as the promised messiah to collectively give us the full drama of his work. His work was to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34). The primary purpose of these four books is that people would believe that this Jesus was sent by God to accomplish the work as the promised Christ:

  • John 20:30-31: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Our new life in Christ is an incorporation of the RESULTS of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. But where can we find an elaboration of these RESULTS of what Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry accomplished? These RESULTS are expounded in our Pauline Epistles and in the writings of the other holy apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:3-5). For example, we see in Romans 6:3-4 that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection are events. These events produced eternal results to all who believe on Jesus Christ by our baptism into him. We are suppose to know that we were baptized (fully immersed) into Christ Jesus. This means that we are unified with him. As 1John 4:17b puts it; “As he is, so are we in this world.” This is a spiritual reality resultant of the physical event. It is stated spiritual truth. As seen in Romans 6, in effect, we died with him, we were also buried with him, and as Christ was raised from the dead, we are also able to walk in newness of life. Our unification with Christ is the result of his work. The gospel of Christ includes the events of his earthly ministry and the eternal results. As we walk in this gospel of Christ we are walking in Christ because Christ is the gospel. He is what the gospel is about.

Since our redemption is accomplished, the term “Christ” is not always referring to “the man”, but also to his work and its results. “Christ” is not the last name of our Lord, it is his title which is used many times in a spiritual sense, specifying and clarifying what he accomplished as the Christ ("Messiah" in the Hebrew dialect).

  • Colossians 2:6: As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

How can we walk in the man? Yet, we can walk in the accomplished work of the Christ. We can walk as righteous ones in Christ. This is because we are made righteous by Christ’s work. We are also sanctified in Christ. We are delivered through Christ from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God ’s dear Son. We can walk in all of the realities in Christ. This is what is referred to by “walking in Christ.”

  • Galatians 4:19:My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

Is Christ to be physically formed in us? Yet, the realities of the finished work of Christ can be formed in us. Our minds can be fashioned according to realities in Christ.

  • Ephesians 3:17: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;

The Bible was written in the Eastern cultures. In the East the “heart” refers to the command center of the mind (Proverbs 4:23, 23:7 and Jeremiah. 17:9). The “heart” directs who you are. You can easily see that “Christ” is NOT referring to the man here. Rather, that the realities in Christ would dwell/live in our minds.

This is how “Christ may dwell in your hearts.” Once we understand that “Christ” also refers to what he accomplished as the Christ, then the verses using the title “Christ” will reveal much greater truth.

  • 2Corinthians 5:16: Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

We are no longer to know Christ after (according to) the flesh. He is to be known spiritually through what his title refers to, and not according to his flesh as can be gleaned from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Paul is addressing the point that some knew Christ according to his flesh. But if we have known him this way, we are now to know him spiritually, by what he accomplished as the Christ. We are to think of him and everyone who is born again according to the new realities in Christ. Look at the next verse for clarification.“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation…” How can we be in Christ except we be in our new life in Christ, our redemptive realities? This is where “old things are passed away, new things have come”.

To walk in Christ is to walk in the gospel because Christ is the gospel (if this statement concerns you, please consider it in light of what is written in the first chapter of John). Christ is the reality of what God had planned from before the foundation of the world. There are several passages of Scripture consolidated in the hubs "The Christian's True Identity" and "Gospel Blessings" that can help us see these "In Christ" realities more clearly, please feel free to use those teachings however you see fit.

Please also bear in mind that I am not saying that the title “Christ” is always referring to him spiritually, i.e. representing the accomplished realities of the Christ. Many uses in the church epistles are referring to Christ as the anointed one who did the work for our redemption. See Romans 5:6-8 and 8:34-35 for example. The context tells us which usage applies, and it is always enlightening and interesting to note how the accomplished realities of Christ are proclaimed throughout our church epistles, sent by Paul the Apostle to us, the nations.

With these things in mind let us now consider a few more sticky points for those who consider water baptism to be a requirement for salvation and/or holiness:

  • Galatians 3:27, 28: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus

Being baptized into the body of Christ does not mean baptized with the old physical element of water, but with the new spiritual element of holy spirit. Jesus Christ has done the cleansing for us. Our part is to accept that his blood alone washes away our sin.

  • Revelation 1:5: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

The records of baptism in Acts, the book which records the events of Pentecost and immediately thereafter, the record of the first century church's transition from the Old Covenant into the New, do not teach the Old Covenant requirement of water baptism; thus to say there is water involved can only be private interpretation. In Acts 2:38 Peter baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In Acts 8:16 people were “baptized in name of Jesus Christ.” In Acts 9:18, “he [Paul] received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” And in Acts 19:5, “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

If we are to rightly divide “the word of truth” [2Timothy 2:15], we must allow the Bible to speak for itself and not read into it the theologies and doctrines of men. Nowadays whenever the word “baptize” is mentioned, water is immediately associated with it because of the influence of religious doctrines, but we have just seen by examination of the above verses of Scripture that water is never stated in reference to the new birth.

On the other hand, even though we have these accounts which so clearly show that water was no longer necessary after the day of Pentecost, there are other Scriptural accounts which imply the use of water in baptism which must be considered.

Peter speaks of water in Acts 10:

  • Acts 10:47: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

This is the same Peter who spoke in Acts 2:38. Why did he include water in Acts 10 when earlier he did not? In Acts 2:38 he did not have time to go to his office and prepare a sermon; he spoke by revelation and inspiration. But after the day of Pentecost, Peter was preaching in the synagogue and was still influenced by it. He simply reverted to his previous doctrine and added water. Peter himself clarifies this same account later in Acts 11:

  • Acts 11:16: Then remembered I [after I had ordered water baptism] the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

This record indicates he did not baptize the Cornelius household of believers in water.

In Acts 19 Paul asked certain Christians at Ephesus a question related to what Apollos had been teaching:

  • Acts 19:2, 3: Have ye received the Holy Ghost since [when] ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism [water]

Apollos had been in Ephesus teaching water baptism (the baptism of John, the baptism of the Old Covenant, of The Law) for some time, so God sends Paul to Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla (verse 19). Upon arrival to Ephesus, Paul heads to where Apollos had been teaching to help the people, Aquila and Priscilla find Apollos and help him understand the message of grace:

  • Acts 18:24-27: And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace.

Apollos obviously humbled himself to the grace of God and moved forward to help others do the same. But God's work of helping people make the transition from the Old Covenant to the New was not over yet...

  • Acts 21:20: Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law.

These people believed and therefore were saved; but they had not yet received the revelation given that explains the magnitude of the coming of the holy spirit on Pentecost, so these believers were still zealous for the law. The book of Acts records the transition between the Old Covenant and the New, the terms of the New Covenant were still being revealed. And one of the requirements of that law was to be water baptized. People are still zealous for the law, and to this day many Christians do not know and/or accept that which is addressed to them from Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians. Not once is water baptism ever mentioned in these epistles. Still very few people dare to believe God’s Word and act accordingly. Tradition is too comfortable a rut for most. However, praise be to God, Apollos did not stay in that rut.

To bring further light to the subject, let us look at a verse of Scripture which is often quoted during the ceremony of water baptism:

  • Matthew 28:19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

These words were spoken shortly before Jesus ascended into heaven; it gave last minute instructions. Now whatever Jesus said at that time surely would have been important enough for the apostles to remember. Yet in Acts 2:38, the first record after the original outpouring of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,” not “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” If the command in Matthew 28:19 were truly given, then ten days later Peter had already forgotten what Jesus had told him.

The phrase “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” is never carried out by the apostles or by anyone else in the early Church. In addition to these facts, Eusebius (340 A.D.), the first great Church historian, quoted from manuscripts which could not have had these words. He quoted Matthew 28:19 eighteen times without ever using these words. Justin Martyr (165 A.D.) and Aphraates of Nisbis (340 A.D.) quoted Matthew 28:19 on multiple occasions without these words. The difficulty is apparent.

In Acts 8:16, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In Acts 10:48, “And he [Peter] commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” And in Acts 19:5, “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The book of Acts never once mentions the apostle’s or anyone else ever carrying out the command given in Matthew 28:19- From this evidence it is unlikely the words “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” were included in the original God-breathed Word, but were later added.

To be baptized in someone’s name sets a person apart from the masses. When the children of Israel were baptized “in the cloud and in the sea” (1Corinthians 10:2), they were (1) sanctified, separated out from the Egyptians and (2) were identified in that baptism with Moses. The same pattern can be found today. When you are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, you are (1) sanctified, separated out from the unbelievers who are not saved, making you a member of the Church, and you are (2) identified with Christ and all the authority His Name represents, just as Israel was identified with Moses.

  • 1Corinthians 1:2: Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus...
  • Acts 26:18: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness [remission] of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
  • Romans 8:17: And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ...

So it can be seen that water baptism was indeed instituted by God, but only for Israel and the kingdom, and then for only a limited period of time.

Since the day of Pentecost every person who desires to be born again by God’s Spirit must believe on Jesus Christ. At that moment he is given something far greater than the benefits of water baptism: righteousness, justification, sanctification and redemption. To be born again is to become a new creation in Christ, filled with holy spirit, unified with Christ; whose completed work at Calvary reconciled us to God, presenting us to God perfectly clean from all sin. It is a spiritual baptism.

  • Romans 10:9, 10: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Since the day of Pentecost, we are indeed free from the law; and part of that law was water baptism. According to Galatians 5:1, we are to “Standfast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

There is nothing that can add to our completeness in Him. Jesus Christ paid it all and we are now perfectly equipped in Him for His service, for we are baptized with holy spirit in the name of Jesus Christ.

For better viewing and sound click "HQ" for high quality near the bottom right of this video. Or even better yet, click the video twice and then click "HQ" and the little square to the right of that to watch it in full screen high quality mode directly from YouTube.


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