Acts 19:1-10 – What’s Up With All These Baptisms?
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 19:1-10
The title is drawn from the 2 baptisms encountered in today’s text.
Specifically, we will explore the Baptism of John and the Baptism of Jesus.
1) A DIVINELY ORDAINED ENCOUNTER
Verse 2 – And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Verse 3 – And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Paul, through God’s direction and divine appointment, encountered these 12 men.
In the course of their conversation, they must have hinted at a similar faith to Paul’s.
So Paul, in an effort to get to the heart of the matter, asked them some telling questions.
The Preacher’s Commentary magnifies Paul’s logic and line of questioning as follows:
What happened to you when you were baptized?
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you confessed your belief in the Messiah and repented with a water baptism?
Their answers reveal that they responded in faith to John the Baptist’s call for repentance for remission of their sins.
However, their answers also revealed that they did not know the whole story – Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
More than likely, they were gone during Christ’s ministry, death, burial and resurrection.
Summary of Point 1:
Paul, out of love, sought to determine exactly where these men were spiritually.
What he found was that these men were in a curious position regarding their salvation a transitional state – OT saints.
And to understand the transitional state they were in, we must understand a few things.
POI – Apollos was in a similar state of transition when he met Priscilla and Aquila.
Acts 18:25 – He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
This means, of course that he did not know the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
2) JOHN’S BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE
To understand how these men found themselves in this peculiar transitional state, we first need to understand what was John’s Baptism of Repentance.
We will first look at Baptism and then look at Repentance.
The Baptism in the Baptism of Repentance:
Baptizo is to immerse or submerge in water.
It is not a sprinkling and is not to be confused with the similar word bapto.
James Boice, a great commentator on Scripture, says the following:
The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptized’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptized shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!
The question is what pickles us (spiritually speaking) – the faith that leads us to baptism, the baptism or something else?
Like any good pickling process, there are a number of ingredients needed.
And this leads us to one of them, the repentance in John’s Baptism of Repentance.
The Repentance in the Baptism of Repentance:
Repentance is one of those ingredients.
And John the Baptists baptism was all about repentance (among other things).
Mark 1:4-5 – John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Acts 13:23-24 – Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
What is Repentance?
Metanoia means a change of mind which results in a change of life.
And of course we are all familiar with the “turn around” and “change direction” definitions
These definitions sound like anybody can repent by sheer determination, will power or even out of fear.
And if you are talking about repenting from bad habits or behavior – drugs, drinking, overeating, not enough time with the kids, etc. – this is of course true.
We see this in the world all the time – change we can believe in!
And this is why I believe all of these definitions fall miserably short of a definition for repentance.
Like Biblical Unity and Biblical Humility, we need to learn what Biblical Repentance is.
What is Biblical Repentance?
Romans 2:4 – Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 – I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Acts 5:31 – He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 11:18 – When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Hebrew 12:16-17 – that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
If you are on your throne, there is no room for repentance and Esau is a case study of this fact.
It is clear from the verses above that Biblical Repentance is characterized by the following:
Biblical Repentance is an experience that one is brought to because of God’s kindness.
Biblical Repentance is an experience only obtained in a state of Godly Sorrow.
This Godly Sorrow is the will of God.
Biblical Repentance leads to salvation (look at the 12 in today’s text)
Biblical Repentance is not “being sorry”, “regret”, or “guilt because you got caught”, etc.
Biblical Repentance is granted by God.
Biblical Repentance cannot be granted to the proud, even if they seek demonstrably via action or tears.
Isaiah 6:5-7 – And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah gives us a great example of Biblical Repentance.
In God’s kindness and grace, he showed Isaiah his glory.
The result is that Isaiah quickly recognized who he was and how he stood before a Holy God.
And in this act of confession and repentance, God took his guilt away.
An observation for us concerning repentance:
Do you ever dream of being a better Christian?
Do you sin and then imagine yourself doing better next time?
And as you imagine how victorious you can be over this or that, do you then determine or intend that you will do these better things next time?
But inevitably, the next time comes around and we fall short of our glorious intentions and imaginings.
And then we are only left with shame and regret – NOT REPENTANCE.
Sadly, our imaginings, intentions and regrets are not repentance.
At best they may be hoping for repentance.
The only way to break this cycle is to get off the throne and let God have his way with us.
Only he can produce within us the Godly Sorrow that will lead us to Biblical Repentance and make pickles!
John’s Baptism Looking Forward to Christ:
Verse 4 – And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.
John’s Baptism of Repentance was similar to Paul’s OT Gospel sermon in Acts 13, his sermon at Lystra and his Mar’s Hill Sermon.
Just as Paul’s sermons demonstrated how his listeners’ experiences pointed to Christ, John’s Baptism of Repentance was pointing to a completion and fulfillment in Christ.
So Paul, with these words, underscores 3 important things.
First, John in his Baptism of Repentance, taught that Jesus the Messiah was the point of his ministry not the baptism.
Matthew 3:11 – “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Acts 13:25 (from Paul’s OT Gospel sermon) And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’
Second, this Jesus has come, was crucified and rose from the dead.
Third, this Jesus, the Messiah, left us a gift.
Paul was revealing the final ingredients needed to complete the pickling process of these 12 men.
With this, we arrive at the Baptism of Jesus.
Summary of Point 2:
John’s baptism of repentance was an experience of a person who, through God’s power, was convicted of his sin, then in faith obeyed John’s call to ceremonially wash the sin away through water baptism and walk in faith.
Biblical Repentance is possible to us because of what God does not what we do.
The 12 had participated in this experience – faith, repentance and baptism.
They were no longer cucumbers because of their faith and God-fueled repentance.
However, they also were not yet pickles because they were still missing 2 crucial ingredients in the pickling process.
So this was their curious state alluded to earlier – being pickled but not yet pickles (Christians).
And they were in this state because since their Baptism of Repentance the J-Bomb had been dropped.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
3) THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
Verse 5 – On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Pentecost – the Holy Spirit Seals
Acts 1:5 – for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Acts 2:38 – And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 11:16 – And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
The Baptism of Jesus is a Water Baptism, Baptism of Repentance and a Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is best described by Paul in Ephesians 1:13-14:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
And so the 12, on hearing this news from Paul and believing in Jesus, were fully pickled.
In Christ, the Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles and now OT saints were ushered into Christ’s church – J. Mac.
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
As Piper points out, we should know we have been baptized in the Spirit not just because we know doctrine, but because we have a experiential relationship with the Spirit of God!
Summary of Point 3:
So we find these 12 men in a weird state of transition.
But we take heart that the God that led them to repentance would lead them to Jesus and a baptism of the Holy Spirit.
For surely what God started he would finish.
Philippians 1:6 – 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
We can be encouraged that those who have responded in faith to God’s revelation will also encounter someone who will reveal the truth of Jesus Christ.
And this brings us back to the title of Point 1 – God was going to complete his work and used Paul to do it.