PAUL'S THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY -Have You Received the Holy Ghost Since You Believed?
This is a very Scriptural question. Paul asked—“Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” If people automatically receive the baptism in the Holy Ghost at new birth, why would Paul have asked such a question? Obviously, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from new birth. That these men were Christians certainly is inferred by Luke since he calls them “disciples,” a term heuses uniquely of believers. Paul's question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?” strongly implies that he regarded them as true believers in Christ, and yet they had not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Paul also learned that they needed to be rebaptized in water.
“And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” Some translations add the word “given,” which might show the real intention of their answer. The tenor of their words may have been something like this: “We have not even heard whether the Holy Ghost has been given.” Since they had been baptized with John's baptism, conceivably they knew that John had spoken of a coming baptism in the Holy Spirit. Yet these men, twenty-five years after Pentecost still did not know that the Holy Spirit was given. Paul was seeking to strengthen all disciples everywhere. Therefore when he learned that they were completely ignorant about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he proceeded to ask them about their baptism in water. This shows the importance the early Church and the apostles placed on water baptism.
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