JOHN’S DISCIPLES BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST (ACTS 19:1-7). At Ephesus, Paul met about twelve men who were disciples of John the Baptist, who were like Apollos before he came to a full understanding of the Gospel (18:24-28). “Disciples” indicates they were students or learners. Their experience and knowledge were inadequate for salvation. They were not saved since John’s baptism was no longer valid. In other words, they had received an outdated message (Christ is coming) and had received an outdated baptism (the baptism unto repentance). They were sincere, as was Apollos, but they were sincerely wrong.
Paul detected something missing in their lives—the Holy Spirit! Why did Paul ask about their baptism? In the early church, there is a definite relationship between water baptism and the Holy Spirit. For Paul, the decisive test of real Christianity is possession of the Holy Spirit.
Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14-16).
In addition, Paul spoke of the Spirit’s baptism as an act by which the believer at new birth becomes a member of Christ’s body, the church:
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink (1 Corinthians 12:13)
John the Baptist’s disciples believed the Gospel and they were baptized into the name of the Lord. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Speaking in tongues was not a “second blessing.” This is the last time tongues are given as a proof of salvation in the Scriptures. This miracle was proof that Paul was equal to the other apostles and therefore God’s servant for establishing the church.