“and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’” (Acts 19:2)
Third missionary journey. Ephesus. Paul found a dozen “disciples” there, apparently established by a man named Apollos who by that time had gone on to Corinth. Paul had left Priscilla and Acquila in Ephesus, and they came across Apollos who was more of a disciple of John the Baptist and taught a baptism of repentance. He taught what he knew about Jesus, but he knew nothing of the Holy Spirit. So, they helped him navigate to the fuller view, and from there he went on to Corinth where he genuinely strengthened the church.
By the time Paul arrived back in Ephesus, Priscilla and Acquila had departed, and most likely they returned to Rome. So Paul searched until he found this group of disciples who knew only John’s baptism. It is not totally clear, but it seems that they believed they needed to be baptized. It does not seem that they believed fully in Jesus. They were more like the disciples of Jesus before the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost. Paul told them that John told the people they should believe in “the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” (verse 19:4) So, they believed in Jesus and were then baptized in His name. Then Paul asked them about the Holy Spirit. They had never even heard there was a Holy Spirit. So, he laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them as He did on the Day of Pentecost. They spoke in other languages and prophesied.
Paul expected that if these men had believed in Jesus that they received the Holy Spirit, because that is when believers receive the Spirit. When they seemed puzzled by his question, he then laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit then confirmed His presence through the sign that was given, both for their benefit and for Paul’s.
So, have you received the Holy Spirit? If you have believed in Jesus Christ, if you have united with Him and committed your life to Him, that you have already received the Holy Spirit. He dwells in you. The confirmation of the Spirit’s presence will be seen in the responses you then give to His truth.
Lord, We thank You for placing Your Holy Spirit within us, to guide us, teach us, strengthen us, and enable us to walk with You. In these moments today, please confirm the Presence of Your Spirit. Amen.