23 June. Acts 19:1-7

23 June. The Ephesians are filled with the Holy Spirit

"While Apollos [who had been teaching the believers in Ephesus] was in Corinth, Paul was visiting some places on the way to Ephesus."

"There [at Ephesus] he found some followers and asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' They said, 'We have never even heard of a Holy Spirit.'"

"So he [Paul] asked, 'What kind of baptism did you have?' They said, 'It was the [water] baptism that John taught.'"

"Paul said, 'John's baptism was a baptism of changed hearts and lives. He told people to believe in the One who would come after him, and that one is Jesus.'"

"When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. They began speaking different languages and prophesying. There were about twelve people in this group."

          (Acts 19:1-7)

 

 

When Apollos left Ephesus for Achaia (southern Greece) to teach the new believers in Corinth (see the map), Paul moved on through the Roman province of Asia to stay with his old friends Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus (see 2 on the map).

We learnt yesterday (from Acts 18:24-28) that when Apollos had first arrived in Ephesus, he "was a good speaker who knew the [Jewish] Scriptures well", but "the only baptism Apollos knew was the [water] baptism that John taught." Unfortunately, until Aquila and Priscilla helped him to understand the baptism in the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised (see John 1:32-33), he gave some of the new believers inadequate and unhelpful teaching about Christian baptism.

So when Paul arrived in Ephesus in 53AD, he quickly discovered that a group of twelve new believers had been taught about John’s baptism by Apollos (see Acts 18:24-26) but hadn’t yet received Jesus's baptism - the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

This sounds like the church in the UK in the 1950s and 60s. As children and young people at that time, many of us attended churches that practised water baptism ('John's baptism') but had never heard of Jesus's baptism in the Holy Spirit!

Indeed, some evangelical churches preached that Jesus's baptism in the Holy Spirit was a thing that died out two thousand years ago; and they certainly didn't expect a new Christian to receive the Biblical 'gifts of the Holy Spirit' (including supernatural wisdom, spiritual knowledge, amazing faith, the gift of healing, the power to do miracles, the ability to prophesy, the ability to discern good and evil spirits, the ability to speak in spiritual languages or to interpret these languages) that were the hallmark of believers in the early church (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

So Paul prayed with these twelve new believers and, immediately, they were all filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Luke tells us they spoke in different ‘tongues’ (inspired languages) and prophesied. We're not told at that point in Luke's narrative whether they received any of the other 'gifts of the Holy Spirit'. but reading Paul's letter to the Ephesian believers, written about 7 years later (in c.60AD), we can safely assume that they did (see Ephesians 1:15-23).

The map shows Paul's journey to Ephesus and his subsequent travels that are now often referred to as 'Paul's third missionary journey'.

You can discover more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit promised to believers in the Bible @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/14-pauls…/spiritual-gifts/


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