Summary: Pentecost has a way of catching up with people.

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Acts 19:1-7


Apollos was well taught in the Scriptures, and he was “accurately” teaching the things concerning the Lord - but Apollos knew only the baptism of John. When Aquila and Priscilla perceived the deficiency in his teaching in Ephesus, they drew him aside, and expounded to him the way of God “more accurately” (Acts 18:24-26). Having accepted the correction, Apollos then went on to Corinth, and there he built upon the ministry which Paul had begun (1 Corinthians 3:6), showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 18:27-28).


Paul, meantime, made his way to Ephesus. There he found certain disciples who, as Apollos had been, were followers of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1). Paul confronted their deficiency with a pair of questions which have an almost catechetical ring to them:

Question 1: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit, having believed?”

Answer 1: “We did not even hear if the Holy Spirit is” (Acts 19:2).

It would be surprising if these “believers” were unaware of the many references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. What they evidently lacked was a working knowledge of the fact that we are now living in the age of the Spirit. Luke’s second volume shows the outworking of this continuation of the things “that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1) in terms of the promise: “you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).

Question 2: “Into what then were you baptised?”

Answer 2: “Into John’s baptism” (Acts 19:3).

John the Baptist himself had taught that he was the forerunner of a mightier One, who “shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16). So now Paul could clarify the distinction: John’s was a baptism of repentance, pointing to Jesus (Acts 19:4). Now that Jesus is come, those who believe in Jesus should be baptised “into” (in regard to) His name (Acts 19:5).

Like Apollos before them, these twelve believers were open to correction. After they were baptised, Paul laid his hands upon them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. At that moment Pentecost caught up with them, as manifested by the fact that they were speaking in tongues and prophesying (Acts 19:6-7).



Jesus told the original Apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them in order to be empowered for their ministry (Acts 1:8). It was “when the Day of Pentecost had fully come” that the three phenomena of a wind-like noise, fire-like tongues and coherent words in strange languages heralded the dawn of the age of the Spirit.

(2) THE SAMARITAN PENTECOST (Acts 8:5-8; Acts 8:14-17)

The evangelist Philip preached in Samaria, and the Apostles sent Peter and John to confirm those who had received the word and been baptised. These two Apostles laid their hands upon them, “and they received the Holy Ghost.”

(3) THE GENTILE PENTECOST (Acts 10:44-48)

When Peter preached to the household of Cornelius, the sovereign Holy Spirit “fell on all them which heard the word” DURING the Sermon, and these people “spoke with tongues, and magnified God.” In this instance, baptism was administered afterwards.


In this passage we see that Paul took it for granted that those who are baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus should have received the Holy Ghost: as it turned out, these “believers” had never received Christian baptism. So Christian baptism was administered first, to correct the deficiency. Then Paul “laid his hands upon them” and the Holy Spirit came upon them AFTERWARDS.

Whilst the Day of Pentecost itself is unique, let us give ourselves to pray for fresh manifestations of the power of the Holy Ghost. Let us fulfil our commission in proclaiming Jesus to be the Christ, and worshipping the name of our great God. Historically, as we see from this incident in Ephesus, Pentecost has a way of catching up with people.

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