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Acts of the Apostles: 35 - Acts 18:12-19:5

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Acts of the Apostles

35 - Acts 18:12-19:5



Acts of the Apostles: 35 - Acts 18:12-19:5


In this class, we will discuss Acts 18:12-28 thru Acts 19:1-5 and examine the following: Paul is brought before Gallio, the proconsul, by the Jews who accuse him. However, Gallio refuses to get involved in their religious dispute. After this, Paul leaves Corinth and travels to several places, including Syria, Ephesus, and Caesarea, strengthening the believers along the way. He then arrives in Antioch, concluding his journey and spending some time there before moving on to his next missionary endeavors. Paul travels to Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the believers. In Ephesus, he encounters Apollos, a knowledgeable and eloquent speaker, who is instructed further in the ways of the Lord by Aquila and Priscilla.


[Darris McNeely] Okay. Welcome back to Acts. We're continuing on here in Chapter 18 with Paul's story in Corinth. I forgot to last time bring up a couple of slides just to show, this is the Corinth Canal pictures boat transiting that even in the modern world. This was in place during the time of Paul. It was cut back through this isthmus in the Roman period to cut the time between transiting into the Aegean Sea. And you can see that today, along with a lot of other archaeological ruins, this is what Corinth looks in part today. This is the judgment seat. We're going to talk about that in this particular class. This is what they call the Acrocorinth, the mountain over Corinth. I was there in 1971, and I don't know how much of it has changed and what other work has been done since then. But this is what is called the bema, B-E-M-A, the judgment seat. And as we get into this now here in a few minutes, this is where the actual literal spot where Paul is brought into before the Roman governor, Gallio, as the Jews stir up a problem against him here. And that's what it looks like. So, I'll keep that up on the board.

And let's go back into Chapter 18 of Acts. And let's pick this up now at verse 12, Paul has been teaching for, he has a total time of a year and a half teaching the word of God there. And then Luke focuses upon a scene. And this is going to be an important scene because it will establish a precedent for Paul's work and the work of the Church for this period of time within the Roman Empire. Keep in mind that this is the years 50 to 52 AD, that Paul is here. And we're introduced in verse 12 to a Gallio who was proconsul of Achaea. Now, Achaea is the region, just like Macedonia is the upper region where Berea, Thessalonica, and Philippi were. And I will tell you, you should be able to know where these regions are and where these cities that are mentioned, where they set on the Ignatian way up there and get this understanding there. So, Gallio is a proconsul of Achaea. And this is the area here where Corinth is. And I'll go back to this one particular map and at least to show, maybe this one here would show it. This is the area of Achaea, down here takes in Athens and Corinth. And Macedonia is up here.

He is the Roman proconsul. Now, we are at a point where this man is known from history. There are references to Gallio outside of the Book of Acts. And so we have him documented, and we have him documented to this very period of 50 to 52 as his time where he was serving in Corinth over this region as the duly appointed governor. And so he's an interesting individual here. We know that he was anti-Semitic, as were most Romans, and especially the elite, but that's going to kind of work in Paul's favor here at this time.

Acts 18:12 And so it says that “The Jews, with one accord, rose up against Paul. And brought him to the Judgment seat.”

This is the Judgment seat right here. It was in the Agora, the marketplace, city central, where all the shops and everything were. And it was quite an arcade. It was much more colorful than just a pile of rocks leads us to believe. There were buildings all around with probably two levels of buildings and columns. And throughout the center of the space, awnings would have been over stalls whereby you could buy food, goods, socks, blue jeans, leather coats, whatever you wanted. Think of going through Walmart, Sam's Club, but it's all outdoors. And things are piled up, and you got vendors at the spot. At the one end is this bema, this judgment seat. And it would have been a complex of offices where the affairs of the city were dealt with.

And so the Jews here come up with one accord. You know, it's an interesting phrase, one accord. It's used in the earlier chapters of Acts, one accord, to be talking about the Church. They were all with one accord, well, meaning that they were in agreement, they were all working together. And in that case, the Church was working together for the good of the mission, the unity of the faith. And then here the term is used in verse 12, one accord. But it's used to divide. You should think about that. You can take the name one accord and you can pretend that it's unifying but it doesn't always mean that that's the actual fruit of one's actions. One accord could also define an action of division, and that's what it does here. So, you want to be careful how you think about or how the term one accord is used. One accord should bring unity to the body of Christ, not division. Here the Jews were acting with one accord, but they were attacking the very work of God and they rose up against Paul.

Acts 18:13 “And they brought him to the judgment seat before the Romans, saying, ‘This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.’”

This is their charge. So, Luke includes here a very formal charge. And they bring him before Gallio.

Acts 18:14 “When Paul was about to open his mouth” to give his rebuttal.

The one-sentence description of the charge probably included a lot more. But this is the essence of it, that he persuades man to worship God contrary to the law. This is going to be the charge that kind of dogs Paul, and we'll see it again in Jerusalem later in the book. And he has to go into the temple at the behest of James to give sacrifice, to kind of quell the idea among Jews in the city of Jerusalem that he's teaching against the law of Moses and the Law. But further from the truth, Paul taught the Sabbath. We're going to see here soon, that he wants to get to Jerusalem for the feast, which is the spring feast, Passover and unleavened bread.

And 1 Corinthians 5, he writes back to the Church and he gives them instruction there and in the subsequent letter about keeping the Passover and the days of unleavened bread. So, Paul didn't teach against the law, specifically to this group here in Corinth. He showed them that circumcision now is of the heart, that you did not have to be circumcised to be a part of the Church. And he taught that Christ then is the fulfillment of this covenant, of the old covenant, and of the sacrifices and the rituals. And he taught them how to apply it, how to apply the law to the new covenant, which had all been settled in Jerusalem back in Chapter 15 at the council, Paul was there. He knew it all. He knew what was carried over, what was not. But it's a convenient charge. And again, sometimes those who use... People think that they are working with one accord for God can make statements that are just flat wrong and erroneous, okay? So, anybody should be very, very careful how they use the term one accord, that it doesn't always mean that they're working for God and working of God in that way.

Acts 18:14 “And so when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be the reason why I should bear with you.’”

Again, Gallio was an anti-Semite. He didn't like the Jews. Again, I said, just like the other most Romans, a lot of reasons. And understanding Roman anti-Semitism is a big key to understanding this period of the Church's expansion, and what's taking place. They couldn't figure out these people who wouldn't work on the seventh day, they got lazy on one day out of the week and wouldn't work. They didn't take part in the festivities and the worships of all the gods and goddesses of the Greco-Roman world. They wouldn't eat with them in those temples. And they were very insular. They stayed to themselves and they worshipped a god that had no image, there was no statue to Yahweh, to the God of Abraham. And even one of the Roman leaders back in the first century BC, Pompey, Pompey the Great, when he came into Jerusalem, he actually went into the holy of holies in the temple to see this godless space, he wanted to see for himself. It was a mystery to them how a people could build a temple but not have an image of their god in there.

But probably one of the biggest slaps in the face to a Roman that just grated on them all the time was that they didn't eat pig. And the Romans loved their pig. When I took Latin in high school, every year we'd have what we had they called a Latin banquet. And you dressed up in Togas and you went back for this banquet at night and you reclined when you ate. The room was set up in the Roman fashion of a dining room, which was where everybody kind of reclined. They called it a triclinium. It was a three-sided table, a triclinium. And you would lean on one side and you would eat with your fingers from the food that would be served in front of you. This was how they did it in any self-respecting Roman home. And I remember they had a pig roasted for our Latin banquet. They brought it in, and here's this pig with an apple in his mouth, and it had this crinkly looking wrinkled skin, as it did... The only time I've ever been at a banquet, and I wasn't in the Church then, so I had a piece of the roasted pig and ate that. And it didn't necessarily grab me that well. It wasn't all that enticing, but that was the centerpiece of the Latin banquet, because it was so important to the Latin and the Roman diet, and still is.

I mean, you look at prosciutto and Genoa salami, and all the Italian cured meats that are hanging in the stalls when you go to Italy and watch an Italian eating show and everything else, and it's just full of pork, pepperoni, and everything else. And it would taste good all dressed up like that with the spices and everything. I'll have my turkey pepperoni, thank you, and turkey sausage, and everything else. But that just grated on the Romans. And so when they see this Jew that was lazy on one day of the week that had this nameless, faceless, imageless god, and wouldn't eat like they did, this is how segregated they were from society. And the Romans, they didn't have a lot of patience with them. And Gallio is expressing that here.

Acts 18:14 He says, “If this were wrongdoing or crimes,” and he's speaking more along the Roman order, “Then I'd bear with you.” I'd listen to this out. “But if it's a question of words and names of your own law, I do not want to be a judge of such matters.”

He said, “You guys take care of your own business. I'm not interested in your law and adjudicating your law.” The Jews made a tactical mistake. He speaks contrary to the law. Well, that couldn't have been a worse presentation. But it works to the good of the Church, to Paul.

Acts 18:16 It says, “He drove them from the judgment seat.”

And so from this very spot, Gallio issued in an order and he basically dismissed them from in front of him. Next case, gavel down. Next case coming in. And so what happens, the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue. Now, this is a new ruler. Earlier, the ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, became a believer and was baptized back in verse 8. Now, they have another one. It's not like they have multiple rulers of the synagogue. There would have only been one ruler.

Acts 18:17 “So, they took him and they beat him before the judgment seat. The Greeks did. But Gallio took no notice of these things.”

Maybe he paused and just let it go on for a few minutes, maybe until the Greeks were done. Maybe after a while, he said, “Okay, enough, enough, and let him go.” But he didn't stop the beating from at least going on. He took no notice of these things. Now, here's the importance of this decision. This is a judicial judgment, a rendering by a Roman official, and it's profound. This vindicated Christianity and gave it a license to continue to operate it. This is now something unique for the Church. The Jews had certain liberties already granted by Roman areas, and they would be exempt from certain taxations and prescriptions. But this now is one where we have it specifically applied to the Church. It elevates the status of the Church.

If Gallio had accepted the Jewish charge, found Paul guilty, then any provincial governor, anywhere else throughout the empire where the Gospel was being preached, they would have had a precedent, a precedent. And Paul's ministry and others, Peter's, who was working in the upper area of Asia Minor, they would have been severely restricted. But now, for a period of time, it's going to go on for a decade or more, until, under Nero, there is then a direct persecution upon the Church that will lead to Paul and Peter being executed. There's relative freedom, and so this is a boom here for the Church that acts, in a positive way.

Acts 18:18 “Then, Paul still remained for a good while.” So, he stays, he's able to stay. He kind of has a certain freedom. Hands off. “And he took leave of the brethren then, and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him.” So, it does explicitly mention Priscilla and Aquila going. Now, here's an instance where Priscilla's name is put first, one of those. “But it says, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae, for he had taken a vow.”

Cenchreae, it's really a port from just down Corinth where Paul would have left. And so it says he had taken a vow. This is very likely a Nazarite vow that Paul had taken, and it's a practice under the Book of Numbers, where a person would let their hair grow. Remember, Samson was under a Nazarite vow, and certain other prohibitions were a part of that. And it was a temporary taken for a period of time. But once it was ended, then the hair would be cut. And according to the law, it had to be presented to God as part of along with a sacrifice.

And Paul is in his mind, he's on his way to Jerusalem, and that's where he's going to probably do all of this. And so it seems that for a period of time, while he's at Corinth, Paul, it seems likely had taken a Nazarite vow for God. Again, we're not told why. None of the details are here. It may have been that he just wanted to devote himself to God and this was an example of that. And he was thankful to God, he had carried it through. Maybe it started after the vision that came from God. Maybe it started before and God then, in a sense, sealed that with him but seems to have taken place for this period of time. And he's determined to return to Jerusalem to fulfill that vow offering, a burnt offering and sacrifice in the temple after a period of purification. So, that seems to be what is taking place here.

Acts 18:19 “As he sails on, he comes to Ephesus.”

So, what he does, he crosses over, and this particular blue line shows this. He crosses over the Aegean Sea and comes into Ephesus for the first time, at least the first time in Acts. We don't know if he ever went to Ephesus before, likely not. But he came to Ephesus. Now, Ephesus is a major port city. It's the capital of Asia and a significant place from which a significant work is going to be done. And we'll read about that in the next chapter. And he left them there, them being Priscilla and Aquila.

Acts 18:19 “But he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.”

So, here, again, he hasn't cut himself off from the Jews. He's now in a new city, and there's a Jewish synagogue and it would have been a large, no doubt, probably a large synagogue in terms of population that would have been there.

Acts 18:20-21 “And when they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent but took leave of them, saying, ‘I must, by all means, keep this coming feast in Jerusalem, but I will return again to you, God willing.’ And he sailed from Ephesus.”

So, Luke very tersely moves Paul through a brief encounter in Ephesus with the Jews and he's intent on coming to the feast. So, here you have an explicit reference in verse 21 to a feast day, and it's just the spring Passover. This is the year 53 AD, 53, when Paul would be in the spring on his way to Jerusalem. So, he picks up a ship, there's a major port in Ephesus. And he probably picks up...some feel that he picked up, got passage on, what would have been a pilgrim-type ship of other Jews on their way to Jerusalem. That's reasonable to assume that that's what was taking place here. But the point is he doesn't stay long here. Only a few days, perhaps only long enough to go into the Sabbath, maybe into the synagogue on one Sabbath. And this is his encounter. But he leaves Priscilla and Aquila there.

Now, these are fellow workers with him, disciples. We have no reference to the fact that Aquila is a minister. I'm not saying that he wasn't. We just don't have anything saying that he was. No instance of that. He's called fellow workers by Paul in other places. But Paul was intent on getting to the Passover, to Jerusalem. So, again, this shows Paul's teaching was not doing away with the holy days. And if it was to also fully complete that Nazareth vow, there's another reason for that. So, it says he sailed from Ephesus. So, he leaves Ephesus, and it takes him straight, Luke's account takes him straight down to Caesarea, Herod's resort by the sea, five-star Roman resort, and city right by the sea.

Acts 18:22 “He landed at Caesarea and had gone up when he had landed and gone up and greeted the Church.”

So, what he did is he went to Jerusalem and to go from Caesarea to Jerusalem, you go up, that's what was taking place. He goes up to Jerusalem, and then it says he went down to Antioch.

And so, again, he doesn't give us any details of what he did in Jerusalem. He kept the feast days, is what he did. And after they were over, he goes down to Antioch. And literally, geographically, on that route. This map has him going by land, which is reasonable to assume that that's what he did. He goes to Antioch. Remember, Antioch is kind of his own home base. This is where he and Barnabas worked for a year and from which he and Barnabas were sent out on the first and second tour, which is now completed. So, this completes the second, where we've completed the second missionary evangelizing trip of the apostle Paul here, at this point, when he leaves Ephesus, comes down to Caesarea, keeps the holy days, does whatever else he does, and then goes down to Antioch. And then verse 23, Luke just doesn't tell us anything about his time in Antioch.

Acts 18:23 It says that “He spent some time there,” several weeks, maybe a few months. “He departed, and he went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia, in order strengthening all the disciples.”

And so this is this then, is where brings us to the end of Chapter 18 with him going over Phrygia and Galatia. So, if you look at this particular map, and I don't have anything on the screen for this third trip at this point, he goes from Antioch into Phrygia and Galatia, that takes in this whole area through here, which is, remember the area that he's already evangelized on his first trip. And so he very likely, and this map has it drawn that he walks. It doesn't have him taking a ship from Seleucia over even to Tarsus. He could have maybe caught a ship over to Tarsus, his hometown, because Tarsus there was a navigable river from Tarsus down to the sea, but that's not mentioned. And it says that he went over in this way. And it's generally felt by the scholars that he went by land, which means he walked. And I can tell you, having been over this area, it wouldn't have been a Sunday stroll. To come up out of Antioch, moving north, you're going up a few thousand feet into the mountains. And you're walking through that and you come over to Tarsus, and then he turns north and he goes through, there's a region, the Taurus Mountain chain through here. He goes through an area called the Cilician Gates. And it's quite rugged, quite high.

And my point in saying all this, that preaching the gospel, taking care of the Churches in this way was tough. And I got that appreciation for that after driving through that, I was in an air-conditioned bus with Wi-Fi on the bus. I actually wrote a letter going through the Cilician Gates and sent it back here to the office because we had Wi-Fi on the bus and it picked up the Wi-Fi through a rather still remote area. And I could send a letter back here to the office. And I just was so thrilled, I said, “I'm writing this as I pass through the Cilician Gates.” That's real cool. How many people can write a letter saying, "I'm driving through the Cilician Gates?" Paul went through the Cilician Gates. Peter went through the Cilician Gates. Alexander the Great went through the Cilician Gates when he came down through this region on his campaign. It's a famous route from the ancient times and still today, but it's a modern, paved, four-lane highway that takes you through the Cilician Gates today. But Paul's walking that, and he's going back to Derbe. He's going back to Lystra, where he had been beaten and drug out for almost being dead. And Iconium, as he goes, he's making his way back to Ephesus.

And what he probably did is went to Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, went up to Antioch and Pisidia. And then, very likely in Chapter 19, it says he went through the upper regions. He probably took an upper route and came down through Sardis to Ephesus. Another possible way would have taken him through Laodicea and down the Maeander Valley and the Lycus River in the Maeander Valley. But the upper regions tend to give others a thought that he kind of went a shorter or what would have been a shorter route and went through the area of Sardis, Philadelphia, and then over to Ephesus. But in the meantime, there is something that takes place here as we deal with Paul and what is going on. Because in verse 24, it says...the scene kind of shifts back to what's taking place in Ephesus where Priscilla and Aquila, remember, have been left. So, let's go back, let's read verse 24, and see this other scene that is opening up.

Acts 18:23 It says, “A certain Jew named Apollos, born in Alexandria…”

Alexandria is Egypt. He was born down here in Egypt, right here in the Nile Delta at the city established by Alexander the Great. And he was a Jew. There was a very large Jewish population in Alexandria. Remember, the Septuagint version of the Old Testament? The Greek version of the Old Testament was translated in Alexandria by a group of Jews because the Jews were losing their knowledge of the Hebrew, the Aramaic. They spoke Greek. Alexandria was a Greek city, a significant Greek city. And so here comes someone out of that milieu here,

Acts 18:23 “Apollos, born in Alexandria, an eloquent man, mighty in the scriptures. He comes to Ephesus.”

He came to Ephesus. So, he makes his way up, for whatever reason, to Ephesus. But he is knowledgeable of the scriptures and he is eloquent and he doesn't get nervous when he speaks. You guys get nervous when you give your speeches in your classes around here? Really?

The most often asked thing that I get from people who are giving sermonettes or whatever is, you know, what's the biggest thing I need to know? Or how do you do it without getting nervous? And I say, “Just be prepared. That's it.” If I'm prepared, I'm not nervous unless people are staring darts at me and it's a hostile crowd, which generally it isn't in the Church, but be prepared, be prepared. And if you're prepared, then it's going to come. God's going to work through you. You won't be as nervous. Hopefully, a person can work that out, but you have to be prepared. You just can't get up with an idea or maybe a few words on a piece of paper. You've got to have thought it out, especially as you're learning how to speak and communicate. But this Apollos was pretty good at it, it seems.

Acts 18:25 “This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord.” And how is he instructed in the way of the Lord? Well, it goes on. It says, “He was fervent in spirit. He spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.”

And so it seems that he's mighty in the scriptures. And this is the Old Testament scriptures. Again, the gospels and Paul's writings, they haven't been produced yet, so it's the Old Testament scriptures. But he is able to teach accurately the things of the Lord, just as Jesus had done in his post-resurrection appearances to the disciples. And the disciples learned and knew how to do. They knew how to apply the Scriptures, as Jesus had, from the Old Testament to his birth, to his life, and to his suffering, to his death, from Isaiah, from all the scriptures in the Old Testament. And Apollos could do that. He had been taught that. But it says he knew only the baptism of John. Only the baptism of John.

Now, this is John the Baptist. You should know who this is. This is not John the Apostle. This is John the Baptist. That's the baptism he knew. Does that mean that he was baptized by a disciple of John down in Alexandria? Well, that's most likely deduction from that, from what is said, but that's what he knew. Now, he's an interesting person. You've read about him in 1 Corinthians. He's going to go over eventually. Let's go ahead in the story and see what happens here.

Acts 18:28 “Apollos began to speak boldly in the synagogue. Aquila and Priscilla heard him and they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

So, he wasn't quite accurate. He was accurate but mostly accurate. Not completely accurate would be what I would conclude from this. He needed some fine-tuning, he needed a few, some information. It says that he knew only the baptism of John, which we know is a baptism to repentance. Now, we're going to see, as we move into Chapter 19, Paul is going to encounter 12 other disciples there in Ephesus, 12 Jews, who also were baptized with John's baptism. But it was only John's baptism, so kind of hold that thought here. And we're not told anything about Aquila's or, I'm sorry, Apollos' baptism. It's just he knew only the baptism. Does that mean he was baptized by a disciple? That's the most likely one. Did he have hands laid upon him? It doesn't say that he did, but he was baptized.

Now, here's what happens. “They took him aside, Aquila and Priscilla, explained to him the way of God more accurately.” They, both Aquila and Priscilla. Now, that sets up an interesting situation, doesn't it? Here's a man and a woman teaching a man, eloquent in scriptures, powerful and mighty. And they're teaching him, a man and a woman, Priscilla and Aquila. They take him aside, all right? They didn't stand up in public and correct him, or challenge him, or anything like that. “Hey, can we talk? We've been listening to you. We've been with Paul for a year and a half, two years, at this point, whatever, we learned quite a bit. We could help you.” And they quietly do it. But it's both of them that do it. The scripture, the text says that they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately. He seems to take it. He says, “Thank you.” He appreciates the extra instruction.

Acts 18:27 “He desired to cross to Achaia. The brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him.” And so they sent him a letter. They sent a letter of introduction with him when he goes to Achaia, that's Corinth. That's where he goes. So, it's back across the water. “When he arrived in Corinth, he greatly helped those who believed through grace.”

So, again, God's working with him. He helps the Church in Corinth. Now, you read about, in Corinth, the divisions that set up that Paul later addresses. Some say I am of Paul, some Peter, some Apollos, some of Christ. So, there were divisions, ultimately, and those are the problems that he addresses. I'm not going to get into all of that.

Acts 18:28 It says, “He vigorously refuted the Jews, publicly showing from the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”

So, here's just a few verses that introduce us to Apollos from where he comes into the connection with Priscilla and Aquila, goes over to the Church at Corinth. And then the rest of it you pick up from the first letter to the Corinthians and what we know there. And Paul doesn't openly correct Apollos in his letter. Some feel that maybe when Paul went over there, because Paul does make another trip over there, according to his letters, that he may have talked with Apollos at that time. But we find no rupture, we find no hostility or nothing bad said about Apollos, only that some people gravitated toward him. And Paul doesn't even put that on Apollos. Obviously, a man who's eloquent in the scriptures, probably charismatic. Certain people liked his style. “Oh, I like his sermons.” Tell me when another one of his sermons is going to be posted on the web, they're saying over in Corinth. I want to know when this guy's speaking, which is what we do today, right?

And Facebook explodes with so-and-so's sermons. And so you got to be, you know, I'm making a point there. We all need to be careful. We need to sometimes just listen to the speaker we have right in front of us on that Sabbath. And if we've been praying that God inspires and the opening prayer asks God the Father to guide the service, inspire the teaching, and then all of a sudden we shut down after five minutes. Who are we? Where's our faith? And so, a lot of things to think about there as we live in our age where we can listen to 100 sermons a week if we want to and binge-listen to whoever and whatever. Sometimes we just don't listen to what's in front of us and listen to what God may be teaching us with where we are and with whom we need to work.

And so with that, in just a few short minutes, let's go over to Chapter 19. And I will kind of jump down to this encounter here.

Acts 19:1-2 “It happened while Apollos was at Corinth. Paul, having passed through the upper regions,” and I've talked about that. “He comes to Ephesus,” this would probably be the upper regions. “He comes down to Ephesus and finding some disciples, he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’”

Now, this passage puzzles some scholars, has for a long time. There's no mention of a Priscilla and Aquila. Paul comes in and he comes into Ephesus. And this is a picture of Ephesus here. And he finds some disciples. Well, what have Priscilla and Aquila been doing? Where are they? Luke doesn't say. It's like Paul's operating in a vacuum, but I don't think he is. And there's no reference now to Apollos. And he comes across a group of disciples and he said, “Have you heard about the Holy Spirit?” “No.”

Acts 19:3-5 “‘Into then what were you baptized?’ And so they said ‘into John's baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘well, John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance saying to the people they should believe on him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. And the men were about 12 in all.”

Here are 12 disciples that Paul encounters. No names, no frame of reference for them, and he begins to talk to them about the baptism. This comes right after what we've read about Apollos, the end of Chapter 18.

And this group, they had not heard of the Holy Spirit. They were baptized with John's, which we presume was what Apollos had. There's no mention of Apollos being re-baptized. He goes on into Corinth and becomes a preacher. But these 12 hear about it, and they say, when they heard it, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. We would refer to this today in our terminology in the Church of God as re-baptized. Luke just says baptized. They went through a baptismos, they went down in the water and they had hands laid upon them. This is in the context of Luke talking about the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is a bit... We have more information here than we had about the Ethiopian eunuch that was baptized. Philip going to Samaria and baptizing. And the many thousands who were baptized in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. And those they were baptized, there was a formula there. They accepted Christ, the only name under by which we must be saved. There's no mention of laying on of hands. Here we have this.

Now, when you were baptized, when I was baptized, and when I have baptized, I lay hands upon people. We do that. We understand that is by the means by which then symbolically God gives the Spirit. But baptism and the laying on of hands go together. And laying on of hands is later mentioned in Hebrews 6 as one of the fundamental teachings of Scripture, in verses 1 and 2 there. And so with this, as I said, scholars look at this and they're puzzled by it. And what do we conclude? Well, we conclude what we do. And what we do is based on the composite of what we see these baptismal episodes in the Book of Acts. You know, beginning in Matthew 28:19, we baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. And we understand that there is only one name under heaven by which we must be saved. And we understand the role of laying on of hands. We understand how it all works together. You know, that's been explained as we covered these doctrines and teachings.

And this is, in a sense, where the final piece of the package of baptism is brought out here upon these 12. Now, these are full-grown adults. They're sincere. They somehow come in contact with Paul. Where's, again, Priscilla and Aquila? We don't know. And this is different from how Apollos was treated. And they are baptized again a second time. The way I explain it to people, we only have to be baptized once if it's legitimate, if all the conditions are met of repentance and faith, acceptance of Christ, the laying on of hands and what that means, what repentance means, based upon a full knowledge of God's word, God's law, and to know what we have to repent of. These men were sincere. They found themselves still in the synagogue here, as he comes in contact with them here. These men form the basis of the Church. And as sincere as they were, they submitted to baptism and the laying on of hands. And that's important to understand that, I think, in any discussion of anyone, and I've always used it in discussing it with people who come to us, who have been baptized in other groups, other denominations. And again, sincerity is not what is being questioned, it's the biblical conditions of baptism that's important, and at the heart of it. And these individuals, these 12 were sincere, God-fearing men, and they went ahead and were baptized.

And I think that that should be something to look at for anyone. And I've advised this with people in teaching our ministry, new ministers as they go out, what this is all about, and how to approach this. These individuals were already keeping the Sabbath, and certainly the holy days, and they had a knowledge of repentance, but they weren't fully there. I have no more to add to the story of Apollos because we're not given enough information to comment on that, for me to comment on. There's no reference that he was baptized again and hands laid on him. We could draw plausible conclusions, but I won't take the time to do that here.

So, at any rate, that takes us into the story at Ephesus. And when we come back next week, we'll probably need the full two class periods, next two class periods to really flesh out the story in Ephesus, which is one of the pivotal chapters of the book of Acts. And you're not going to want to miss that and what that tells us for our mission today.