Dear Student of the Word,
My time in Africa is growing short, but there is always time to do some study in God's word. This week we take a look at Acts as Paul worked in Corinth and Ephesus, made a return trip to Jerusalem and then came back to Ephesus. Paul was a man on the go, but he was a man on a mission and he did not know how long he had before that mission would be complicated by Roman opposition. This week I wrote in part five of this seven-part study:
Study Twenty-Three, Part Five
19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 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." 3 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. 4 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."
19:1&2 – Paul now returned to Ephesus, as he had indicated he would do—if it was God’s will. He came upon some disciples and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. It is fascinating that Paul found these men (presumably) who had not received or heard of the Holy Spirit. Could God have orchestrated Paul’s steps in such a way as to bring his premier apostle to the Gentiles and these men? It is entirely possible and quite a testimony to God’s grace and care. He did not leave these men in their incomplete state, just as he didn’t leave Apollos in his. Instead, God saw their hunger for Him and satisfied their hunger with the full truth of the gospel.
"Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you — and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Mark 4:24-25).
These men had probably done the most with what they had heard and now God was giving them more. Have you been faithful with what you’ve heard? Are you walking out the truth that you know? If so, then be certain that God will give you more.
19:3 – Here is another example of those who had received John the Baptist’s teaching and baptism and had from that bore witness to Jesus being the Christ. That is quite a testimony to John’s ministry! John had been clear in his teaching that he was not the Christ, as some supposed. God had honored his witness and here were some disciples, probably 25 years later, who were still walking in the truth of John’s teaching—incomplete as it was.
19:4 – Paul explained that John’s baptism was one of repentance, which meant that the people were to turn from their sins toward God. As they did, they would come face to face with Jesus. Repentance literally means to turn around and walk in another direction. While repentance unto salvation is a once-and-for all act, repentance is a way of life for the believer. As God reveals to us attitudes and behaviors that are sinful, we are to turn from those attitudes and acts and walk in the newness of the life we have in Christ.
Do you have need to repent of some behavior or attitude? Don’t be proud and resist God’s grace. Ask God to forgive you and then by His grace, walk in another direction. You never outgrow your need to repent.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.
I NEED $350: If I receive another $350 before I leave Kenya on December 11, I can give two of our orphan ministries $1,000 each to buy food. Can you help me out? If you can, please do so through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Write and tell if me if you send a check and I will front the money until I get home. Thank you and God bless you!