Pentecostal vs. Apostolic: What is the main difference?

As a pastor and a college professor, I hold weekly youth and adult theological classes. During our last weekly youth class, we discussed the origin of multiple denominations, and one of the students wanted to know whether there is a difference between Pentecostal and Apostolic. Based on experience, I have noted that understanding the difference between Pentecostal and Apostolic Christianity brings clarity in distinguishing theological and denominational perspectives within the broader Christian faith. Therefore, I figured a Pentecostal vs. Apostolic article would be crucial to my students and readers. So, what is their difference?

The main difference between Pentecostal and Apostolic is their belief in the trinity and their baptism practices. Most Pentecostal denominations believe in the trinitarian concept, which states that God is one but appears in three forms to perform different functions. Conversely, the Apostolic do not believe in the trinitarian concept and argue that God should only be considered one. Concerning baptism, the Pentecostals baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while Apostolic baptize in the name of Jesus Christ.

In this article, I will discuss the differences between Pentecostal and Apostolic. Also, I will discuss what each denomination believes in and some similarities. Read on to learn these and more.

Pentecostal vs. Apostolic: Difference in the definition

Pentecostal vs. Apostolic
Pentecostal vs. Apostolic. Image source: Pixabay

The term “Pentecostal” comes from the Greek word “Pentekost,” meaning fiftieth. It derives from the word “Pentecost,” which originates in the New Testament. Pentecost is when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles as described in Acts 2:1-4. The Pentecostal movement was formed in the early 20th century to recapture the apostles’ spiritual experiences as manifested during Pentecost.

The term Apostolic comes from the term Apostles, who were the disciples of Jesus Christ and formed the early church. Therefore, Apostolic means resembling and adhering to the apostles’ doctrine, teachings, and practices. Although the term has been in use since the beginning of the church, a denomination picked the name in the 20th century and started to use it as the name of their congregation.

What do Pentecostals believe in?

Pentecostals believe in the core doctrines of Christianity, such as the belief in the Holy Trinity-God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the authority of the Bible as the Word of God.

Their significant difference from other Christian denominations is the emphasis on the experience of the Holy Spirit and the practice of spiritual gifts. They believe in the Holy Spirit baptism and claim that it is the mark and seal that one has received salvation and is a child of God. Receiving the Holy Spirit is accompanied by speaking in tongues or other gifts of the Spirit.

They believe that Christians should continually foster a relationship with God and that the connection should be manifested through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They greatly emphasize and recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, and others.

What does the Apostolic believe in?

The Apostolic believe in the core Christianity doctrines and teachings with slight differences. Apostolic believe in the Oneness theology, also known as Modalism or Monarchianism. They believe God is one and reject the traditional Trinitarian doctrine that God is three distinct persons. They argue that God is one, and Jesus Christ is the complete embodiment of God.

Additionally, they believe that the name Jesus is the name that is given to man for salvation and hence should be used in baptism. They think that, like the apostles, baptism should be conducted in the name of Jesus Christ rather than the traditional Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They argue that the apostle only used the name Jesus Christ during baptism.

They also believe that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ is the only name by which a person is saved. Additionally, they emphasize water baptism for the remission of sins and the receiving of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Apart from water baptism, they believe that to be a child of God, one must be sealed through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Christians should receive and manifest gifts of the Holy Spirit, including healing, prophecy, interpreting tongues, speaking in tongues, and giving the word of knowledge, among others.

Difference between Pentecostal and Apostolic





The Pentecostal movement started in Topeka, Kansas, in the year 1901. It began in a prayer meeting in Charles Fox Parham’s Bethel Bible College after Agne Ozman received the gift of speaking in tongues

It started in 1913 when pastors who believed in the Oneness theology met at a conference in Arroyo Seco, California. The Oneness doctrine separated them from the larger Pentecostal movement.


They baptize through immersion in water and through the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

They baptize through immersion in water but emphasize that it should only be through the name of Jesus Christ as the apostles did.

Nature of God

They believe that God is one but appears in three distinct forms. That is, they believe in the trinitarian concept.

They reject the trinitarian concept and emphasize the oneness of God. They believe that Jesus is God in human form.

Holiness standards

They emphasize modest dressing, especially for women.

They emphasize modest dressing and forbid women to cut their hair or wear jewelry.

Gift of Tongues

They believe in speaking in tongues, but it is not a must for a person to do so even after receiving the Holy Spirit.

They believe that one must speak in tongues upon receiving the Holy Spirit.

Similarities between Pentecostal and Apostolic

Pentecostal vs. Apostolic
Similarities between Pentecostal and Apostolic. Image source: Pixabay

One of the major similarities is that they believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Particularly, they believe in the gift of speaking in tongues, which a couple of Christian denominations do not believe in or emphasize on. Apart from speaking in tongues, they believe that other gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing, prophecy, interpreting tongues, and giving the word of knowledge, among others, should accompany believers and be manifested in a Christian congregation.

They also believe in water baptism as a necessary step in salvation. They believe that baptism through immersion in water represents the death, burial, and resurrection of a believer just as Jesus Christ died, as recorded in Romans 6:3-4, which states that those who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death and were raised to the newness of life. They emphasize that the symbolism of baptism is a crucial aspect of salvation.

What do Pentecostals think about Apostolic?

The Pentecostals have a positive view of apostolic beliefs and practices because they share many beliefs and practices. They especially respect that the Apostolic strongly emphasizes the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that they hold the gifts of the Spirit in high regard.

They, however, feel that the emphasis of the Oneness theology is misguided and that there is nothing wrong in perceiving God as three entities, provided you understand Him as being one. They hold that the Bible has revealed God as three entities, so people should not deviate from the picture painted in the Bible.

Additionally, they find the emphasis on baptizing only through the name of Jesus Christ and disregarding the instructions given by Christ to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to be misleading. They feel that although it is not recorded that the apostles were baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they did not speak against such baptism.

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