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.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
Points of Interest
- “No, we have not even heart that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Within the context of this passage, we find that Paul runs into 12 men who call themselves disciples and yet have an incomplete picture of Jesus. They know something for sure, but there are clear and important gaps in what they know. Paul seems to sense this as he meets them – perhaps thanks to the discernment of the Holy Spirit even – and immediately begins to ask questions. This is encouraging in many ways! For one, it’s never too late to get more information. But it’s also worth asking of ourselves, “What are my holes where my faith is concerned?”
- “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.”
It can be a bit overwhelming to think about spiritual things as if there are multiple compartments that we need to know about. But Paul sort of does this. The message that John had preached was repentance. But John knew that Jesus was still coming and that Jesus had something even more powerful to pass on to us.
- When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
Placing hands on someone is not a hard and fast rule for “how to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” But a lot of people have found that there is something powerful about the notion of the transfer of spiritual power from one person to another, almost like what we can do with electricity. When holding hands, electricity can pass from one person to the next to the next. Obviously, if a person is uncomfortable with being touched, we should always respect that boundary. But there are many passages in the Bible where people touch a shoulder or the palms of hands or the area in need of healing as a way of sharing spiritual power.
- “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”
It’s worth noticing that these are extraordinary miracles, meaning they are unusual. It’s not the usual sort of thing that people were experiencing. But! Jesus had promised his disciples that they would do even greater things than he had been doing. This seems to be case and point. Even in the absence of a physical person to lay hands on another person, the transfer of spiritual power was available through faith and prayers that had been prayed in advance. And the handkerchiefs and aprons seemed to be symbolic of that. This isn’t to say that we have to now pray over aprons and handkerchiefs as a formulaic way of passing the Holy Spirit on. But it does seem that God is willing to work through all kinds of means and in spite of our limitations.
Taking it Home
One of our 40 Days Special Prayers is to daily ask the Holy Spirit to fill us. Regardless of whether or not you’ve kept up with this prayer, take some time right now to ask the Holy Spirit to fill you. In the spirit of high faith, ask for more of some particular gift – discernment, faith, praying a prayer language, wisdom, healing. Be bold in your ask. God wants good things for you.
For your “at least one”
Gaps in our knowledge base is a familiar story. Pray for any gaps your “at least one” may have spiritually. Bless them to be able to know and experience the goodness of God.
For our church
Pray for our church to be a place that embraces a wide array of ways to connect with the Holy Spirit and for an ability for each of us to enjoy connecting in the context of such diversity.