Acts Chapter 19 Part 2
Acts Chapter 19 (Part 2)
Acts 19:1-7 (Part 2)
Wednesday Evening 10/22/03
Acts 19:1-7 1 And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples, 2 and he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 And there were in all about twelve men. NASB
Last week we began to look at Acts chapter 19. By way of review, remember that the events of chapter 19 take place during Paul’s third missionary journey. As I did last week, let me show you one more time a map which charts Paul’s journey. Remember, chapter 19 opens with Paul traveling through the upper country to Ephesus, while Apollos was on his way to Corinth.
The outline we are following for verses 2-6 is Paul’s Examination in verses 2-3, Paul’s Explanation in verse 4, The Disciples’ Conversion in verse 5 and The Disciples’ Confirmation in verse 6. Last week we began to look at:
Acts 19:1-3 1 And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples, 2 and he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Remember, Paul “found some disciples” at Ephesus and the first thing that he wanted to do was to examine these disciples regarding the genuineness of their faith. To do this he asked them “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” As we saw last week, the evidence that Paul looked for in order to determine whether or not these disciples were genuine Christians was whether or not they had received the Holy Spirit. Again, as we said last week, the mark and guarantee of true believers is that they have the Holy Spirit. If you have the Spirit you are a disciple of Christ if you don’t, you are not.
Of course this immediately makes us want to ask ourselves the same question. Did we receive the Holy Spirit when we believed? Only a yes answer means we are a true disciple of Christ. Last week we noted 3 ways we can know that we have received the Holy Spirit. Let’s briefly review those. First we said we can know we have the Holy Spirit because of:
– An inward testimony.
Galatians 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Expound).
– A changed life.
Romans 8:12-14 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Expound).
– New insight and understanding into the things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-12 9 but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God. (Expound).
By these evidences we can know that we have received the Holy Spirit which is the mark and guarantee of our Salvation. One point I didn’t make last week is that when we do see these evidences in our lives this gives us reason for great comfort, assurance and joy. By seeing the Spirit in us we prove to ourselves that we are truly disciples of Christ and recipients of all of the promised blessings concomitant to salvation. (Expound – what a joy, what assurance, what comfort, what a faith builder).
Ephesians 1:13-14 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
One other point of review is that when Paul asked the disciples if they had received the Spirit they answered, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
As I demonstrated last week, these disciples were not saying that they were unaware that the Holy Spirit existed. As disciples of John the Baptist this would be inconceivable because the Spirit played such a big role in John’s ministry and teaching. What this is obviously a reference to is that these disciples were as yet unaware of Pentecost. As Old Testament saints, they surely new of the Holy Spirit, what they weren’t aware of, as is confirmed by the fact that they were still only disciples of John the Baptist, is of the out pouring of the Holy Spirit prophesied in Joel and fulfilled at Pentecost. This brings us then to Paul’s next question in:
Acts 19:3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” NASB
After determining that the disciples at Ephesus were not disciples of Christ, Paul continues his examination by asking, “Into what then were you baptized?” I believe that the purpose of this question is to determine exactly who these disciples were. If they were not disciples of Jesus, Paul wanted to know whose disciples they were so that he would know better how to instruct them. The essence of baptism is identification. So, when Paul asked “into what were you baptized?” he was asking, “With whom are you identified?” The application for us is that the more we know about someone’s belief system the better we will be able to witness to them. (Expound – for example, we witness to Mormons differently than Moslems, etc.).
So, Paul asks the disciples at Ephesus into what they were baptized and they answered “Into John’s baptism.” These disciples identified themselves as disciples of John the Baptist. They were Old Testament saints who needed to hear the Gospel of Christ. They had heard John and believed him, but they had incomplete information. They had not heard the whole story; they had not yet heard the Gospel. When it comes to the things of God it is important that we have the whole counsel of God. Partial or incomplete knowledge is not good enough. As the Prophet said, Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. This brings us to verse 4 where we see:
Acts 19:4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” NASB
Paul recognized that the disciples at Ephesus had incomplete knowledge and so he instructs them further by explaining John’s message more fully.
These disciples at Ephesus were religious but had stopped short of believing in the very One to whom John himself pointed the way. Paul understood that this was a deadly mistake. Close is not good enough when it comes to the Gospel so Paul explains to these disciples what the New Testament teaches throughout, that salvation is in Christ and Christ alone. In this pluralistic society in which we live it is important that we be able to defend the exclusivity of Christianity. Note these Scriptures which support the truth that Salvation is in Christ alone.
Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the Lord; And there is no savior besides Me.
Mark 16:16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 10:1 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.
John 10:9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
John 14:6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.
Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
1 Corinthians 3:11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 2:2-3 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.
Hebrews 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
1 John 5:11-12 11 And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
Separately one might be able to make an argument against one of these verses taken individually. However, taken together, these verses make an iron clad irrefutable case that salvation is in Christ alone.
You may be wondering why I am belaboring this point. You may be thinking that “everybody” believes this. But that is not the case. As I stated earlier, we live in a pluralistic society where the prevailing opinion is that basically any religion or belief system will save you as long as you are sincere. This is not only true in the world but in much of the Church today, even the evangelical Church. We must be prepared to defend the exclusivity of Christianity. (Expound and note that it will become increasingly more costly to defend this doctrine).
So, in Acts 19:4, Paul recognizes that the disciples in Ephesus are religious, and even devout, but he also knows that they have not believed in Christ so he explains the gospel to them and as a result in verse 5 we see:
The Disciples’ Conversion
Acts 19:5 And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Paul proclaimed the Gospel of Christ to these disciples of John, and they believed. This is evidenced by the statement that they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. As I mentioned earlier, baptism has to do with identification. Where as before these disciples were identified only with John, now they are identified with Christ.
Note also that this verse begins with the statement And when they heard this. The ‘this’ refers to the gospel of Christ. We must always remember that the simple presentation of the gospel is the power of God for salvation. Romans 1:16-17 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
We need to have confidence in the Gospel. When we have the opportunity to share with lost people or when we create the opportunity to share with lost people, we must be careful not to stray from the message of the Gospel of Christ. I believe it is perfectly ok to be creative in generating opportunities to share the Gospel. But it is never ok to be creative with the Gospel message. It is the Gospel that saves; we do not have to get cute with the message. We just need to trust in the power of the Gospel. One way we show that we are ashamed of the gospel is by trying to win people through some means other than the straight forward proclamation of the truth of the Gospel. (Expound).
So, Paul shares the truth about Jesus with the disciples in Ephesus and when they heard it they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. While clearly, baptism does not save, the New Testament pattern is that whenever anyone genuinely believed in Christ they wanted to be baptized and they were baptized. Note these examples:
Acts 2:38,41 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
Acts 8:35-38 35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Acts 9:17-18 17 And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized;
Acts 18:8 And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.
These are just a few of many more examples I could site. I believe that the New Testament makes it clear that when a person repents and believes, baptism is to be the public proclamation of that conversion event. In other words, I believe that the New Testament teaches that Baptism is one’s public profession of faith. Baptism is the first way that we confess Christ before men. And remember if we are not willing to confess Christ before men then He will not confess us before the Father.
Matthew 10:32-33 32 “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
Those who are unwilling to identify with Christ through baptism have not genuinely believed. (Expound). So, while baptism does not contribute to our salvation, it is an integral part of conversion.