Daily Word

Theological caution | Acts 19:1-7

1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”

5 On hearing this, they were baptized in[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

Acts 19:1-7 (ESV) 中文

3rd Missionary trip

Paul has set out on the 3rd missionary journey. He again left from Antioch for the areas he went to previously. Why? We’re told in Acts 18:23, “strengthening all the disciples” – similar to what he did on the start of the 2nd journey. While he is there, Apollos comes on the scene. He’s another spiritual leader, who teaches in Ephesus, gets gently corrected, then is sent over to Corinth.

Apollos’ disciples?

So while Apollos is in Corinth, Paul arrives in Ephesus. He finds some believers who, like Apollos yesterday, only knew of the Baptism of John. In addition, they didn’t know about the Holy Spirit. It’s possible Apollos taught  this group of disciples before being corrected by Aquila and Priscilla about Jesus’ baptism and then heading to Corinth.

They were probably not believers yet, but OT saints who received John’s baptism since 1) salvation is by repentance and faith in Christ’s work, 2) every believer is filled with the Spirit. Paul fills in their theological gaps, baptizes them then lays hands on them and they receive the Holy Spirit. As a demonstration of the Spirit coming on them, they speak in tongues and prophecy (proclaim God’s word boldly).

Theological caution

What is the point of this testimony? They heard about Jesus’ baptism and the Spirit, got baptized and received the Spirit. It is not necessarily the format or means. There are some United Pentecostal Churches that abuse this verse (and Acts 2:28) saying you must be baptized in the name of Jesus only (not Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and everyone will receive the Spirit and speak in tongues. 

It’s not likely that these disciples were part of the main church in Ephesus since Paul, with Priscilla and Aquila (who were still in Ephesus), had started it and would have preached baptism in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 


  • As with the previous post, we need to be Bereans and check closely what we are taught. Read the link above for additional doctrinal errors in the UPC…and avoid this teaching.
  • “Have ye then received the Spirit since you believed? Beloved, are you now receiving the Spirit? Are you living under his divine influence? Are you filled with his power? Put the question personally. I am afraid some professors [of Christ] will have to admit that they hardly know whether there be any Holy Ghost; and others will have to confess that though they have enjoyed a little of his saving work, yet they do not know much of his ennobling and sanctifying influence.” (Spurgeon.org)
Warning sign. Image from pxfuel.com

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