7. Gods Plan of Salvation as Exemplified in Acts 19
by Dave Brown
In the first six lessons we have covered the Lord's commands and all of the detailed cases of conversions. However, there is one more incident in the book of Acts that we feel will be of interest to you. It is in Acts 18:24-19:7.
Act 17 covers Paul's journey and preaching to/at Athens. From there he went to Corinth and established the church there, as recorded in Acts 18:1-17. He converted Priscilla and Acquilla there and they went with him as he traveled to Ephesus; he left them at Ephesus. The events in the rest of Acts 18 involve Priscilla, Acquilla and an eloquent preacher named Appolos at Ephesus. Appolos was baptized by John the Baptist, but was never baptized by the authority (in the name) of Jesus Christ. It is very important to realize that when the bible states that something is done "in the name" of someone, it is talking about it being done by their authority.
Acts 19 involves Paul with some who also seem to be under this same influence (i.e., they had the idea that the baptism of John was adequate). Notice that the only problem with Apollos' teaching was that he was “knowing only the baptism of John.” This would not seem to be something that most people would find to be a problem today. However, Luke found it worthy of documenting, and Prisilla and Acquilla felt it necessary to “expound unto him the way of the Lord more accurately” (Acts 18:26). They did not try to make a show of Apollos, but rather "they took him unto them" and privately explained the truth to him. As soon as he learned the truth he obeyed it, as is indicated by Acts 18:27-18.
To further reinforce this, Luke chose to follow these events with Paul interacting with some disciples in Ephesus when he arrived in Ephesus after establishing all the disciples in Galatia, and Phrygia (Act 18:23; 19:1). Apollos was at Corinth at this time, but it appears that some had been influenced by his teaching that John the Baptist's baptism was sufficient. Consider the first 7 verses of Acts 19.
Acts 19:1-7: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they (said) unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was (given). And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And they were in all about twelve men."
Notice the following:
- The term "receive the Holy Spirit" is an interesting one, and it is used in various ways in the New Testament. Here from the context we see that Paul was inquiring regarding a reception of the Holy Spirit that would enable them to possess miraculous spiritual gifts.
- We saw in Acts 8 that it was "through the laying on of the apostles’ hands that the Holy Spirit was given" (Acts 8:18), so Paul (as an apostle) would be qualified and authorized to lay his hands on them and impart to them spiritual gifts. The very question infers that some Christians had received such gifts and others had not, as is also taught in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14, three chapters that deal with spiritual gifts in considerable detail.
- In Acts 19:3 Paul inquires further and finds out that they have not been baptized by the authority of Jesus – only by John the Baptist. This is not sufficient, and we see their immediate response to learning the truth in verse 5. They are baptized once again, but this time by the authority of Jesus Christ and in submission to his commands.
- After they are baptized, Paul lays his hands on them and imparts to them spiritual gifts. This is further proof that the baptism that they were commanded was baptism in water and not baptism in the Holy Spirit. It does not say that they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, as we saw it did state explicitly when the gospel was preached to the first Jews in Act 2 (see Acts 1:4-5), and when the gospel was preached to the first Gentiles (see Acts 11:15-17). We never see a situation where the laying on of the apostles hands to impart the ability of spiritual gifts is ever call a baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The final lesson in this series is an outline of all of the conversions in the book of Acts, including the most detailed ones that we have already covered. This is an excellent outline so that you can continue your study of God's plan of salvation. There is nothing in the bible more important than God's Plan of Salvation, and all should be eager to learn about it and conform our lives to it.
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Go on to Lesson 8