January 22, 2021 – Friday
Acts 19:1-5 NIV
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Looking at the first two verses above we first find Paul has returned to Ephesus as he had promised to do if it was God’s will in Acts 18:21. Then he asked some disciples, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? What an odd question to my way of thinking. I don’t know of anyone that meets a fellow believer and asks, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Frankly, I doubt this was his way of greeting people of the faith.
So, what caused Paul to ask such a question? We don’t know. Ellicott’s Commentary offers the following conjecture, The most natural explanation is that St. Paul noticed in them, as they attended the meetings of the Church, a want of spiritual gifts, perhaps, also, a want of the peace and joy and brightness that showed itself in others. In other words, something was manifestly lacking for their spiritual completeness. We see this lack of peace, joy, and brightness in some believers yet today indicating an absence of something. Perhaps, today, this is caused by a difficulty in accepting one has been truly and fully forgiven of all sins. In such cases we might look to the scripture where Paul says (Romans 15:13), May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit to remind us of the joy and peace we should have.
Turning back to our verses for today, after Paul’s question, the following exchange took place when they answered, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. Paul then asked his next question, Then what baptism did you receive? Their reply was John’s baptism. Paul explained, John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Then, He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. And we are told, On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Clearly John’s baptism was one of repentance for John told Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:8 they were expected to Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Paul went further, when he told them to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible adds, Paul preached faith in Christ, as well as repentance towards God; and made the one as well as the other a necessary prerequisite unto baptism; which shows, that his baptism and Christian baptism are the same as they relate to repentance. Thus, having been prepared by their response to the preaching of John the Baptist, they embraced Jesus fully, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The next verse tells us Paul then laid hand on them and the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Such was always accompanied by joy and peace and here would indicate these believers now had joy and peace with their faith.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – Through this episode in Paul’s life we learn that a true faith in what Christ did on the cross should bring us peace and joy when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. – In Jesus name. Amen.