Acts 19:1-7 (NIV)
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
Paul returned to Ephesus, catching up again with Aquila and Priscilla. While he was working with the Church there, he found a dozen men whom he sensed had not yet received the Holy Spirit.
It turned out that these were converts from Apollos’ early ministry. They had received salvation by believing in Jesus, but since Apollos didn’t know about the Holy Spirit fully, he couldn’t teach it to his disciples (Acts 18:25). So, they had only been baptized with John’s baptism for repentance. That was enough to enter the kingdom, but not enough to be able to receive all that the kingdom offers and to live in it powerfully and successfully.
The good news is that the fix was simple: the men were rebaptized, this time in the name of Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. As a clear sign of the difference, the men were enabled to speak in other languages and to prophecy, to speak God’s words clearly and boldly.
Often in the early Church, as well as in the church since then, steps get missed with people, so holes exist in their knowledge or understanding. But, as Paul understood, the solution is not to shake one’s head or get frustrated. The solution is simply to back up, give the information, fill the hole, and then we will be able to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, thank You for this insight. All too often we decry the state of the Church today and the immaturity of our people, but we don’t want to stop our forward movement or reschedule our plans in order to bring everyone up to speed. But it is clear from this that (1) the fixes will take less time than we fear, and (2) the results will enable us to move forward much more rapidly on the whole. Help us to move forward with this model, so that we can all move forward together. Amen.
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