Paul came to the city of Ephesus and encountered a strange situation. He found some disciples, the text records (Acts 19:1). However, he asked them some questions that he assumed they would be able to answer. He asked them about the Holy Spirit and they did not know anything about the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).
This struck the apostle as odd since Christians in the first century should have been aware of the Holy Spirit. Paul was in Ephesus nearly 25 years after the Pentecost following Christ’s ascension and the establishment of the church (Acts 2:38). Therefore, Paul asked them about their baptism and they had only been acquainted with the baptism of John the Baptist, who had been long dead.
John the baptizer preached a message of repentance in preparation for the Messianic kingdom (Matthew 3:2). However, after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, the apostles preached a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, acknowledging the kingdom of God having been established.
“But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike,” (Acts 8:12).
The proper New Testament baptism is that which is in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter said, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38). In Ephesus, they only knew the baptism of John. They had not known the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, accompanied by the gift of the Holy Spirit. They did not know the proper baptism.
Many people today claim to be believers in Jesus Christ have been baptized in some way. Yet, have they submitted to the proper baptism? Perhaps they were immersed in water in a denominational church. Many denominations believe baptism is not necessary to be saved. They are adamant that a person is saved at the point of faith, and faith alone, without water baptism. Other people have been sprinkled, or having water poured over them. Some might have been “dedicated” to the Lord as a baby, but never chose by faith to be baptized.
Paul baptized the Ephesians because they had not known the proper baptism. They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5) and he imparted to them the Holy Spirit. There is only one baptism that is effective today. It’s not the baptism of denominational teaching; it’s the baptism of the New Testament. That baptism is by faith in Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:37), it is intimately associated with repentance and turning from sin (Acts 2:38), and it is in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:47-48).
When a person is baptized, they are added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:41, 47). Will you be baptized today so you may have your sins forgiven and become a member of the Lord’s church?
by Sean P. Cavender