This is the last conversion experience of the Bible. Here we learn about some fellow followers of Jesus and why the disciples are baptized. Paul is in Ephesus at this time. Ephesus is a fantastic city of the day. They had massive libraries and stadiums. Ephesus was written about five times in the New Testament, and it’s thought that six other churches were planted from the church in Ephesus. Jesus also refers to Ephesus as the church that had lost its first love (Revelations 2:1-7). So let’s get into it!
We Meet More Disciples
Apollos left some disciples in Ephesus when he left (Acts 18:24-28), and now we get to see what they are up to as Paul visits them on his 3rd missionary journey.
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.”
Woah. That’s a lot already. Let’s first unpack the word disciples and see who were are talking about. The word Disciples is used 39 times in the New Testament, and it always refers to followers of Jesus or Christians. But these disciples do not have the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble calling someone a Disciple of Christ that isn’t filled with God’s Spirit, so what is going on here?
This is the only time the word Disciple doesn’t have a definite article in front of it. This might not be a big deal to you or me, but perhaps it was to Luke? Why would he leave it out? Maybe he is inferring that these disciples were more learners/followers of Jesus and not yet Christians. I’m not sure. But they don’t know anything about the Spirit of God. Let’s see what happens next.
What Baptism Did They Receive?
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.”
What is the difference between John’s and Jesus’ Baptism? The Holy Spirit. It looks like, from this passage, that a person can be baptized many times but only have one valid baptism. The other times – they are just getting wet.
Do you think one needs to know what they are doing before they are baptized? What does this scripture teach?
The Disciples Are Baptized
On hearing this, they argued with Paul. “No, I was baptized as a baby,” and “No, baptism is a work, and salvation is a gift,” and “I don’t need to be baptized again; I’m already saved.” And they went away condemned.
Wait, no… that’s what it says; however, I often hear those arguments within the religious community. What did a group of humble followers of Jesus do?
5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
Wow! They just obeyed the Words of God and were baptized. What is the difference between this experience and the Baptism of Cornelius? Laying of Hands. Laying of Hands was never associated with salvation/baptism, only the visible signs of the Holy Spirit.
The Laying Of Hands
Examples of Laying of Hands
- .Paul wanted to impart spiritual gifts to others
- Romans 1:11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—
- Paul gave Timothy instructions to use his gift.
- 2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you by laying on my hands.
Some questions that might surface after reading this passage are:
- Are the Spiritual Gifts around today?
- Once people learn the truth, is it okay to be baptized again?
- Why would someone need to be baptized two or maybe even three times?
Continue following Christ and learn toward him in all things!