Understanding Acts | John’s Baptism | Acts 18.24-28 | movementministriesblog.com

by | Mar 17, 2023

“Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.” Acts 18.24-28

It’s impossible to read this passage in Acts without following up on Acts 19.1-7 which I will write about tomorrow. I’ve entitled this entry “John’s Baptism” because that’s the terminology used in both these passages describes Apollos faith. It’s not a judgmental call but a theological and spiritual one.

Apollos, as evidenced in Acts 19, has not received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He admits that he has only received John’s baptism, which is a baptism of repentance and water. Jesus’ baptism on the other hand, and being baptized into his name, is one that comes with a filling of the Holy Spirit and power. Jesus’ baptism doesn’t necessary come through water, but through belief, although water is the sign of the covenant we make this God indicating the cleansing of our souls. Apollos, like the Rev. John Wesley when he was preaching in Georgia, was a person full of faith but not full of the Holy Spirit. He knew the Scriptures but did not known the indwelling presence of the Lord.

To some this may seem like a confusing distinction, but for Scripture, it is crystal clear. When we repent, believe in the name of Jesus for our salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit. Some might say the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is different (bringing with it extraordinary gifts). But from my experience, it’s all one baptism but with different gifts. If we trust Christ by faith, we receive his Spirit who takes up residence within our bodies (1 Cor 6.9). We are sealed with that promise and give his Spirit as a deposit and a guarantee of our salvation.

Neither Apollos at this point, or the Rev. John Wesley during his missionary trip to Georgia, had the Holy Spirit. They were full of knowledge but without the power. They loved God but did not know the Spirit, thus, not fully knowing God and his Son Jesus Christ.

One source writes this regarding the Wesleys’ pre-conversation experience: “As Wesley’s spiritual state is the key to his whole career, an account of his conversion in the year of his return from Georgia may not be omitted. For ten years he had fought against sin, striven to fulfil the law of the Gospel, endeavored to manifest his righteousness; but he had not, he wrote, obtained freedom from sin, nor the witness of the Spirit, because he sought it, not by faith, but ” by the works of the law.” He had learned from the Moravians that true faith was inseparably connected with dominion over sin and constant peace proceeding from a sense of forgiveness, and that saving faith is given in a moment,” (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/john-wesley-before-after-conversion-joseph-moiba).

Apollos and Wesley were doing the work of the Lord without the power. They had only experienced the baptism of John the Baptizer but not that of Jesus accompanied with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I have seen ministers who preach without the power or authority. I have seen church leaders lead without knowing the Holy Spirit. It’s what comes out of their mouths, or the lack of, that allows me to discern a person who might be full of knowledge but not faith. Do we live according to the Scriptures? Is his word always on our lips? Do we speak about the things we have seen and heard? Does Jesus radiate our thoughts and intentions?

Perhaps you find yourself today, like I found myself at the age of 17, being a good church goer yet not experiencing the power of the Gospel through the presence of the Holy Spirit. That was me! Until, that is, I repented, confessed, believed and trusted Christ with my life. It was then his Holy Spirit came upon me, filled me, convicted me of sin, and gave me a gift (and gifts) of his presence. It was at that moment that he saved me, the summer of 1986, and he has never left me since.

“O Lord God, come Holy Spirit upon my brothers and sisters who read this word! If any are without the Spirit, let them invite you in saying ‘Come Holy Spirit, I trust you Jesus as Lord and Savior. I give you my heart and invite you into my life.’ Let them at this very moment find salvation in your name Lord God and trust what you did for us upon the Cross. I love you Lord and thank you for saving me. Sanctify me by your word. Fill me with your grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen