On leaving Apollos at Corinth, Paul passed on his journey and came to Ephesus. Here he met a group of Disciples of John the Baptist and spoke with them. He asked them two very important questions,
1 Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
2 Into whom then were you baptized?
It is very important when meeting new people who seem to have believed to establish where they are at.
I remember going into prison one evening and met a group of four young men who were carrying Bibles and going to meet with the inmates. They had a joyful spirit and I asked them if they were believers. They responded, “we are born again Christians.” I said, “I am happy to hear this. How and when did you get born again?” He was born again when he was baptized into his church as a baby and keeps the sacraments. I just had a few minutes and told him what Jesus meant when He said, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7) He replied he had never heard this before.
There is much going under the name of Christian that is so different from what the Bible teaches.
Paul reveals that “John said to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is on Jesus Christ.” (Acts 19:4) It is amazing to see their response. They believed the message, and were baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus.
The time of John’s ministry was over and they were following something which was now obsolete. It is here where we see the distinction between John’s baptism and believer’s baptism which is the expression of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Holy Spirit received
Paul laid his hands on them which was a means of identification to what had taken place. There was nothing transmitted through Paul’s hands but the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues (different languages Acts 2:7-11). They also prophesied-another indication that the Holy Spirit had come to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews.
It is a good exercise for young believers to notice the emphasis that Paul has on the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Ephesians. He, in every chapter, reveals the person and work of the Holy Spirit and the various aspects of teaching so necessary for both them and us to know.
The Lord continued to work through Paul in miraculous ways by healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. There were certain exorcists Jews who sought to use Paul’s name to accomplish the same. In others however, even the evil spirit said, “Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you?” Then those seven sons of the Jewish priest, Sceva, were overpowered and fled naked from the house. This brought a reverential fear upon both Jews and Gentiles and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified!
Many who had practised magic brought their books and, at great cost to them, had a large bonfire. What is there in your library that is contrary to the word of God? Have a bonfire (in the right place and conditions) and keep what is worth reading.
The Word of the Lord grew and prevailed Acts 19:20. Paul stayed on for 2 years preaching the Lord Jesus to Jew and Gentile.
Wherever Paul went he was hounded by many enemies who opposed the preaching of the gospel. There were those at Ephesus who resented Paul not so much of what he preached but because of the powerful effects it had on those who believed.
Here a man called Demetrius, a silversmith, (making souvenirs of Diana) inspired others of like trades to cause a riot in the city. Their great cry which lasted for two hours caused tremendous confusion in that some had taken Paul’s companions into an theatre to accuse them. However the city clerk appeared and by calming the crowd he used his expertise wisdom to resolve the matter. He observed neither Paul or his companions robbed the temple or spoke blasphemy against their God.
When we speak the truth of the Word of God we need not attack those who worship differently. It is very disrespectful to criticize what others believe in a public way. Only the preaching of the truth can deliver them from their error. Paul’s oppressors were silenced and he moved on to go to Macedonia.