Acts 19:1-7

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 12, 1998

Prayer for Childrenís Ministry


Paul had finished with his ministry in Corinth, and had sailed to Ephesus, where he dropped off his friends Aquila and Priscilla. Paul then sailed on to Caesarea, stopped at Jerusalem, then headed north to his home church in Antioch of Syria. Paul would then begin his third missionary trip as he left Antioch, visited the Galatian churches, and headed west towards Ephesus.

:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth

Last week we met a young educated preacher named Apollos. We first met him as he showed up in Ephesus. Apollos had only known about John the Baptistís ministry, and hadnít heard much if any of Jesus. When Aquila and Priscilla meet Apollos, they take him into their home and tell him the full, good news about Jesus Christ. Then Apollos sails to Corinth as Paul is about to arrive in Ephesus.

:1 Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus

upper coasts Ė this refers to the route Paul traveled to get from Galatia to Ephesus. Instead of taking the normal Roman road through Colossae and Laodicea in the Lycus Valley, he took the more direct road through the Cayster Valley to Ephesus.

Ephesus Ė the capital of the area known as Asia. It was one of the major seaports on the Aegean Sea, had a population of 300,000, and was home to the great temple of Diana (or, Artemis) which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

:1 and finding certain disciples

Because these guys seemed to have a similar amount of knowledge about Jesus that Apollos did (who knew "only the baptism of John", Acts 18:25), I think itís possible that these guys may have been disciples of Apollos before he had known more fully of Jesus Christ through Aquila and Priscilla.

:2 Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?

NAS, NIV Ė "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

Note: Somehow, Paul knows that these men are "believers".


The believer and the Holy Spirit

Is it possible to believe and not "receive the Holy Spirit"?

We need to understand the three types of relationship that the Holy Spirit has with people. These are characterized by three little words, prepositions, that describe our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

1. With

This is the relationship that the Holy Spirit has with all of us, whether we are believers or not. He is by our side. For those who are not believers, He is drawing them, convicting them. For those who are believers, He is by our side to comfort and encourage us.

2. In

This is what happens when we believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes inside to be a part of our lives.

(John 14:16-17 KJV) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; {17} Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Jesusí own disciples had the Holy Spirit come in to them before He ascended to heaven:

(John 20:22 KJV) And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

You cannot believe in Jesus and not have the Holy Spirit in to your life:

(Rom 8:9 KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

But I donít think this relationship is what Paul is talking about. The term "receive the Holy Spirit" can refer to both the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22) as well as the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15, 17).

3. Upon

This is what was missing. This is an additional relationship where the Holy Spirit comes "upon" a person to give them power to witness and live the Christian life. It is also called the "baptism of the Holy Spirit", the "filling of the Holy Spirit", the "promise of the Father", and the "gift of the Holy Spirit".

Acts 1:4-5 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. {5} For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The difference between the Holy Spirit being "in" you and "upon" you is like the difference between a glass of water being full, and a glass of water continually overflowing.

Instead of the Holy Spirit just being "in" the disciples, now Heís going to be overflowing their lives, giving them power to witness and live for Jesus.

This can happen at the time of salvation, as it did with Corneliusí house (Acts 10:44).

This can happen after salvation, as it did with the disciples (Acts 2:1-4), or with the Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17).

This can also happen over and over again in the same personís life, as the disciples were constantly being "re-filled":

(Acts 4:31 KJV) And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Itís not a matter of just "getting it" once. We need the filling of the Holy Spirit over and over and over again.


Is something missing?

Why did Paul ask this question? Was it somehow obvious to him that these men were lacking something?

If youíre not living a life filled with the Spirit, youíre living a life guided by the your sinful nature.

(Gal 5:16-23 NLT) So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. {17} The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. {18} But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law. {19} When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, {20} idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, {21} envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. {22} But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

Which group is the better portrait of your life? The flesh or the Spirit?

If you were to somehow run into the apostle Paul after church today and invite him out to lunch, would he say to you, "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?"

Iím not trying to give you more reasons to beat yourself up. Some of you can take things like this and just heap up added condemnation to the things you already condemn yourself over. Instead, my desire is to try and stir you up and make you thirsty for the things of God.

Our attitude shouldnít be, "Iím so rotten, Iíll never make it as a Christian". Instead, our attitude should be, "I want all that God has for me!"

Trust Him to work in your life.

When you go to a carwash, you leave the keys in the ignition. You have to trust the attendants not steal your car if you want it cleaned. You have to let go a little. Give Jesus the keys to your life. Leave them with Him. Let Him do the cleaning.

:2 We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost

or, "they said to him, "but neither did we hear whether the Holy Spirit is"

This could mean one of two things:

1) These men were incredibly bad disciples of John.

John the Baptist had talked about Jesus baptizing people in the Holy Spirit (Mat. 3:11), and in fact, it was at Johnís baptism of Jesus where Jesus had the Holy Spirit come upon him (Mat.3:16).

2) These men didnít realize that the Holy Spirit had been poured out as it had at Pentecost.

They had known of the promises of the Holy Spirit, but didnít realize they had already been fulfilled. They didnít realize that the ministry of the Holy Spirit had begun. I think this is what has happened.


Some people are missing it.

I know this may sound kind of haughty of me, but there are some people who are Christians, yet are missing out on much of what God has for them.

There are those who are in churches that tell them a little about Jesus, but very little. Their churches are more preoccupied with trying to solve the worldís social problems, than letting people know of Godís salvation.

There are those who are in churches that understand Godís salvation, but who have fallen into a trap of thinking that the Holy Spirit doesnít work the same today as He did in Paulís day. Theyíve been told that some of the gifts arenít for today, and as a result, these folks are kept back from some of what God may want to do in their lives. There will be a day when some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit will cease to operate, but it wonít happen until Jesus comes back. Until then, the Holy Spirit offers to you the same things He has always offered, power and gifts to live the Christian life.

:3 Unto what then were ye baptized? Ö Unto John's baptism


An incomplete ministry.

Whether these are disciples of Apollosí early ministry, or whether these just happen to be another group of Johnís disciples, the point is that something was missing.

These men are like guys trying to drive in an auto race, but the gas tank is empty.

If you have a desire to serve God, and are attempting to do so without the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, youíre missing the mark.

R.A. Torry wrote, "How many a Sunday school teacher has taught for months and years, and seen no real fruit from his labors, and then has learned the secret of intercession and by earnest pleading with God has seen his scholars brought one by one to Christ! How many a poor teacher has become a mighty man of God by casting away his confidence in his own ability and gifts and giving himself up to God to wait upon Him for the power that comes from on high! (R.A. Torrey, How to Pray, pg.21-22)

:4 the baptism of repentance Ö they should believe on him

Paul is saying that the thrust of Johnís ministry was for people to turn from their sins, be baptized, and to believe on the one that would come after him, namely Jesus. After John had baptized Jesus, he started pointing people to Jesus, telling them to follow Him. (John 1:35-37)

But the part that was missing from Johnís message was the part concerning what happened to Jesus.

John died before Jesus did.

Jesus didnít just come for people to follow Him. He came to die. He came to pay for their sins on the cross. He came to rise from the dead and to send the Holy Spirit.

:5 they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

These guys had been identifying themselves as disciples of John by having been baptized with his baptism. But now they choose to identify themselves with Jesus.


Do I need to get baptized in water again?

I know that many of you were raised by your parents in churches that baptized you as a baby. God bless your parents for desiring to raise you in the Lord. But baptism is to be a symbol of repentance from sin and turning to follow Jesus. Did you know you were doing that when you were baptized?

:6 Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them

Does someone have to lay hands on me for me to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes it happens this way. It did when Peter and John went to Samaria (Acts 8:17).

Sometimes it doesnít happen this way. Nobody laid hands on the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Nobody laid hands on the believers when they prayed and were re-filled (Acts 4:31). Nobody laid hands on the believers at Corneliusí house (Acts 10:44).

Does it have to be an apostle, or somebody really special to lay hands on me?

No. One of the believers in Damascus, Ananias, laid hands on Paul to be healed and baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17).

:6 and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Speaking in an unknown tongue or having a word from God donít always come every time a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, but sometimes it does.

One thing that definitely happens is that God will begin to give your life power.

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

It may not be immediately that you will see Godís power, but you will see it. It may be that after a week youíll look back and be amazed at what God has been doing.

I was sixteen when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a little prayer meeting connected to Melodyland. I really didnít have a clue what was happening to me at the time and I donít even know who it was that prayed for me. Though I did receive some gifts of the Spirit at that time, the biggest thing that happened was the radical change in my life from living for me, to living for Jesus. I was no longer a Christian 10% of the time, but 100% of the time.

:7 And all the men were about twelve.

Keep in mind, these werenít the only believers in Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla had been there for a while now. Apollos had already been preaching in the synagogue and was sent to Corinth by a group of believers. Itís just that these men are now added to the church in Ephesus.

Salvation / Communion / Baptism of the Holy Spirit