Book Of Acts – Advance Study (Part 17)

1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve.

The Doctrine of the Holy Ghost & The Doctrine of Baptism: Paul arrives at the city of Ephesus where there was not yet a church, and finds some disciples of John the Baptist. Paul wanted to find out if these Gentile ‘believers’ had received the Holy Ghost yet… other Gentile groups had had this happen, so Paul was curious for this group.

One of the big questions here is ‘were these ‘disciples’ saved?

Paul seems to be implying here that they were indeed saved, for he used the phrase ‘since ye believed’. There is no reason here not to trust Paul’s judgment on the matter. Back then, in this transitional period, the Holy Ghost was delayed in being given in order to help the individual(s) know for a certain that this new ‘phenomena’ had indeed occurred (otherwise they might doubt it since nothing ‘objective’ necessarily happens when the Holy Ghost enters you). These disciples didn’t know if there even was any Holy Ghost! Can a person truly get saved if they don’t know anything about the Holy Ghost?!…

The other big question is, if they were indeed saved, was this baptism they had of John’s valid?

These were disciples of John; John the Baptist no doubt preached the truth concerning salvation: repentance and faith. But, apparently when these ‘disciples’ heard John (or about John), it was before John spoke of Jesus (i.e. before John’s proclamation just prior to Jesus’ baptism). Those being baptized well after this event knew about Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Prior to this, no-one really knew of either; Jesus Christ as Messiah or the receiving of the Holy Ghost. Were those baptisms prior to Jesus Christ’s revealing legitimate? If they were by John, then they were.

When Paul found out there lack of knowledge about the Holy Ghost, he proceeded to investigate their knowledge about Jesus Christ: ‘unto what then were ye baptized’? This is teaching basically “whose authority were you baptized unto, or by?” Their answer was “John’s”. Was “John’s baptism” of correct authority? Oh yes. Then why did Paul ‘re-baptize’ them?!…

It may have been that these ‘disciples’ were not necessarily disciples of John (and definitely not of Jesus, specifically)…it may have been some other ‘teacher’ of this ‘way’. Some may have been ‘renegade’ baptizers… on their own… on their own authority.

It doesn’t specifically state here that John baptized them; it just states that they were baptized ‘unto John’s baptism’. This may mean that they were baptized in the name of John!….

Paul further had to instruct them on what “John the Baptist’s baptism” was all about: it dealt with repentance. These disciples did not understand this; they were fairly messed up with their understanding of all this, which is very interesting in that it was still that first century and oh how error crept it on the issue of baptism. When they heard the truth about scriptural baptism, everything ‘clicked’ and they were happy to be baptized in the ‘name of the Lord Jesus’. The big problem with their baptism was not that they were not saved, but that they were baptized ‘unto’ the wrong individual (i.e. not Jesus)… it was unto John the Baptist. John did not die for them; the symbolism was all wrong here. Thus, the main issue at hand in this complicated passage was “whose name one was baptized unto” (‘name’ connotes authority, character, title, rank, etc.).

Certain Pentecostals (Oneness, IHPC) baptize only in the name of the Lord Jesus (a form of ‘modalism’). They believe that God is not Tri-Une but only one Personage and He shows Himself to mankind in basically three different ways; at this time it is in the form of Jesus Christ. Being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus here does not refer to ‘reciting the baptismal incantation’ with the correct words, but that Jesus Christ is what baptism is all about, what it pictures, who we are baptized into (i.e. His body, a church).

Once again, there is the laying on of hands to show this special event of the Holy Ghost indwelling them after salvation, during this transition. This does not necessarily mean that they just got saved, it just means that they had not received the Holy Ghost as yet. The tongues and prophesying were to accreditate this phenomena as from God. Otherwise, they would not necessarily believe that anything actually happened. We don’t need that today because we simply trust what the word of God says.

There were 4 occurrences like this in the NT: The first was on the day of Pentecost, involving the new Jewish believers; The second was in Acts 8 involving the new Samaritan believers (part Jew, part Gentile); The third was in Acts 10 involving Cornelius and his household, which were the new Gentile believers; and the fourth was here in Acts 19 involving ‘certain disciples’ of Ephesus (Roman?). Some try and use these instances to support the ‘Second Blessing’ experience; where a believer can be ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit’ and then speak in tongues

Furthermore, it may be that these were saints (believers in the coming Messiah) but they hadn’t heard specifically of Jesus Christ yet, nor of the possibility of the indwellment of the Holy Ghost. They were baptized prematurely; they didn’t have all the necessary information prior to being baptized. Maybe John did not baptize them, but they were simply baptized by someone in the manner that John was baptizing at that time.

Points to consider:

1. They might have been truly saved for Paul stated ‘Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?’

2. They were very uninformed about God and the Bible, for they didn’t even know if there was any ‘Holy Ghost’.

3. It appears that they were baptized by John, or at least by someone that was either associated with John, or was following John’s methodology in baptizing.

4. They hadn’t heard of Jesus Christ yet; they may have been O.T. believers, but were not yet born-again NT believers.

5. They were baptized again, this time in the name of the Lord Jesus; thus, their original baptism was not valid. It was not valid for at least 1 of 3 reasons: they were not yet saved, or they were saved but did not have the necessary truths understood at their baptism, or they were saved but the one who baptized them did not have correct authority.

8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

The Doctrine of Evangelism: Apparently, Paul went and preached in the synagogue every Sabbath day. Strategy in soulwinning may involve frequently going back to talk to the same people (for 3 months straight); disputing, and persuading. Paul was most likely involved with the first church plant there in Ephesus.

In evangelism, it might be wise to leave an area and go to a nearby place if things start getting ‘dangerous’ and/or ‘unfruitful’. When preaching at the synagogue proved to be too dangerous, Paul found a different venue (Tyrannus’ school). Who does evangelism via Paul’s methodology today?!

Just think if you (or at least your church) was able to reach a whole ‘continent’ in 2 years!!! People came from all over to hear Paul. Would to God they would come to us…but, if not, then we must go to them. This involves going beyond Omak/Okanogan. Paul was at a very popular school; what would be a popular venue today? Maybe having a free Bible College in the heart of Asia where all students are welcome and can attend for free!…

The Doctrine of Healing: Are the Charismatics and Catholics right in having special miraculous ‘prayer cloths’?! No. Why did God allow these clothing items to be used in the miracles here? It showed just how much faith the folks had. Also, God may have allowed this to happen to bring a stumbling block about; as we see today, the making of money over selling ‘blessed’ handkerchiefs, etc.. (Peter Popov and others….).

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

The Doctrine of Exorcism: Why did these vagabond Jews who were exorcists invoke the name of Jesus in their exorcism attempts? There was great envy of Paul’s powers and popularity by these Jewish priests. Are there ‘exorcists’ today? Catholics and Charismatics, mainly. Were those ‘exorcists’ able to cast out the devils by using the ‘in Jesus’ name’ formula? No, for they were not even saved, and exorcism was not done by simply following correct methodology… they needed the correct spiritual gift and the Holy Ghost. Are there legitimate exorcists today? No, for I believe that the sign gifts (including the casting out of devils) passed away 1900+ years ago. One can pray for someone to be delivered of a devil, but one can not command that a devil leave a person. With the sons of Sceva, the devils were controlling the situation, not the exorcists. This is the danger with so called exorcists today; they are deceived into thinking that they are in control, when really it is the devil(s).

This teaches that a person can have ‘superhuman’ strength if possessed by a devil. Thus, be careful ‘would-be’ devil-caster-outer! Better have more than 7 big guys there when you want to ‘cast out a devil’…. Better yet, don’t be talking to a devil; talk to God Almighty! Here is a clear warning that we should be fearful about dealing with devils (‘fear fell on them’).

The Doctrine of the Occult: It is amazing that many believed due to these sons of Sceva getting ransacked by a devil possessed man. God can use the devil’s highjinks to get people saved! Apparently, when you expose the devil for who he is, people respond by wanting him out of their lives. Do you have some items at home that need to be burned?!…. Don’t just ‘put it away in a box’, or give it to someone else (don’t ever do this), or place it in the trash can….burn the thing! It shows your utter hatred for it, and it totally gets rid of it once and for all. Getting sin out of your life, and out of the church members’ lives, will cause the word of God to grow in the area that you live in…and thus your church.

21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. 23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

The Doctrine of Paganism: Religion is ‘big business’…no small gain indeed! Just go into a ‘religious bookstore’. Are there any money making schemes involving pagan gods in America?… (Christ-mass and Easter, Catholic icons, New Age paraphernalia, etc.). What do you think about making financial ‘gain’ at selling ‘Christian’ related items?… I’m 100% against it. ‘Zondervans,, Majesty Music, aBeka’, Striving Together Ministries, Bible Baptist Publications, etc.… We’ve got ‘The Left Behind series’, Narnia, WWJD paraphernalia, ‘banners’, etc.. Making wealth off of God’s people…in the name of being a ‘spiritual blessing’ to them…! These Christian businesses do not want me, or others, to jeapardize their ‘craft’ by speaking against it. For, ye know that by this craft they have their wealth. Selling Bibles is a Billion dollar a year business. Aren’t we suppose to be giving them away?!… “Our craft” – I wonder how many pastors have their “craft”; meaning, their special ministry that is making them money on the side to supplement their salary or ‘support’.

They found a ‘crafty’ way to make money ‘in the ministry’.

When your preaching causes someone’s financial gain to be in danger of being set at nought, that’s when you will encounter severe persecution, indeed. The whole world, in general, was caught up in this Diana ‘goddess worship’; not much different from today with Mariolatry! How dare you say that Mary is not ‘divine’!…. You want to stir up trouble, go put down Mary in a Catholic nation. Or, try going into a Muslim country and preach against Allah, and that he is no god, but rather, a devil. I wonder how that would go for you?….

30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39 But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.