Acts 18:23-19:7 – March 19, 2023
Acts 18:12-17. This was a big deal for if Gallio had accepted the Jewish charge and found Paul guilty of the alleged offense, provincial governors everywhere would have had a precedent, and the Christian ministry would have been severely restricted.
Acts 18:23. We don’t know how much time Paul spent back at his home congregation in Syrian Antioch. Luke gives us the sense of an immediate move on to Paul’s next missionary journey, so he did not stay long.
Paul’s emphasis on this trip was the strengthening of all the believers, he returned to all the churches previously founded on earlier missionary trips. Churches in Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch.
Acts 18:24-26a. While Paul was working in Galatia and Phrygia, a Jew named Apollos from Alexandria came to Ephesus. He was a noteworthy man. Alexandria’s population was over 600,000 and a third was Jewish. It was the second most important city in the Romans Empire aside from Rome itself. It was famous for its extensive library.
Acts 18:26b-28. Remember Aquila and Priscilla? They were tentmakers like Paul and he met them in Corinth (Acts 18:3). They had traveled with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus where Paul left them as he went to on to to Caesarea, Jerusalem, and Antioch (Acts 18:18-22).
Also, because he was such an eloquent speaker as was Cephas, a divisive spirit arose in in Corinth about who baptized who (we can see this in 1 Corinthians 1:12-16 which caused Paul to write in v17,17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. Some take this to mean baptism was not necessary, but that was not its purpose. Its purpose was to stop the divisiveness over who baptized who.
Acts 19:1-2. Paul was finally back in Ephesus where he had stopped on his return trip from Corinth on his second missionary journey. Now he returns, arriving in Ephesus from the region of Phrygia [Fre gee ah] as he had promised in back in Acts 18:21.
Near Ephesus was a temple of Artemis, a Greek goddess known as Diana to the Romans. Oddly, her name Artemis was given to the character Artemis Gordon, a secret service agent in the TV series, the Wild Wild West.
The question Paul asked, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when] you believed? will show in verse 3, that Paul saw believing, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit as part of the same transaction.
Acts 19:3-4. John’s baptism was one of repentance, not necessarily faith unto salvation. John’s message pointed to Jesus but did not end in salvation.
Here in chapter 19 is evidence that for Paul, belief in Jesus is made effective and vital by obedience into baptism.
Acts 19:5-7. Having been completely prepared by their response to the preaching of John the Baptist, they were ready to embrace Jesus fully, and were baptized in the name of Jesus.
Only after they were baptized, Paul… laid hands on them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and received His gifts.
“Were these 12 Ephesian disciples actually Christians before this remarkable filling of the Holy Spirit, or not?” It is difficult to say with certainty if they were already Christians or not, but one can say with certainty that Paul perceived they lacked something of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
It is fair for each Christian today to consider if someone were to look at their own life, would they notice a conspicuous absence of the Person and power of the Holy Spirit?
Bottom Line: It is best to be baptized as Jesus commanded, but even more importantly that your life shows the presence of the Holy Spirit in how you live your life. Baptism and a stated belief mean nothing if they were not from the heart, truly meant.