The Holy Spirit's Ongoing Ministry
After having spent some time in Athens, Paul went to a city called Corinth. There too, opposition arose against him, and that may have caused him to wonder whether or not he should stay on in that city. The Lord must have been aware of his anxiety, as we can learn from Acts 18:9-10
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
Even the mighty apostle Paul could sometimes be taken over by fear, as might have happened in this situation, so God came to reassure him to not be afraid, and to continue his ministry in that city, for God was going to protect him. These words so strengthened Paul that he continued his teaching and preaching ministry in Corinth for another one-and-a-half years. However, he eventually left and travelled to various other places. One of these places was Ephesus. While there he met some believers, as we can read in Acts 19:1-6 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 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.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 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.” On hearing this, they were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Paul asked these believers a very interesting question; he asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Why would he ask such a question? No doubt his was because he sensed something was lacking, and wanted to find out what exactly that was. His question had been the right one, for it revealed that they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit. As Paul continued questioning them, he learned that they had only received John’s Baptism, which was a baptism performed by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. We can read of John’s baptism in Matthew 3:11
I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
These believers did not yet know that the One John had spoken of, the Lord Jesus, had already come, had already died on the cross for their sins, had already been raised back to life and had gone back to heaven, from where He had sent the Holy Spirit to earth to reside within believers, and to empower them for their God-given task. No doubt Paul then explained the gospel message in all its fullness to them, whereafter he baptised them in the name of the Lord. Furthermore, he prayed for them to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and consequently they spoke in tongues and prophesied, as a sign that Jesus had indeed baptised them with the Holy Spirit. Paul would have recognised that this baptism was a genuine baptism, for their experience would have been like his own experience when a believer named Ananias had come to pray for him in Damascus some years ago, as we can read in Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul (or Paul), he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Paul stayed on at Ephesus for another two years preaching and teaching. His ministry had a very powerful effect on the people, but not everyone was pleased with this so, consequently, great opposition arose as well.
1. After having spent some time in Athens, what other city did Paul go to?
2. Did opposition arise against Paul when he was in Corinth?
3. May the opposition have caused Paul to wonder whether or not he should stay in Corinth?
4. Would the Lord have been aware of Paul’s anxiety in Corinth?
4a. According to Acts 18:9-10, how did the Lord speak to Paul in Corinth?
4b. According to Acts 18:9-10, did the Lord want Paul to stop speaking in Corinth?
4c. According to Acts 18:9-10, what did the Lord promise Paul in Cortinth?
4d. According to Acts 18:9-10, why did the Lord want Paul to continue speaking in Corinth?
5. Why did the Lord come to reassure Paul in Corinth?
6. Did the words that God spoke to Paul in Corinth strengthen him?
7. Which other city did Paul eventually travel to?
8a. According to Acts 19:1-6, who did Paul find in Ephesus?
8b. According to Acts 19:1-6, what question did Paul ask these disciples in Ephesus?
8c. According to Acts 19:1-6, had these disciples in Ephesus heard of the Holy Spirit?
8d. According to Acts 19:1-6, what question did Paul ask these disciples in Ephesus next?
8e. According to Acts 19:1-6, what was the reply of these disciples in Ephesus?
8f. According to Acts 19:1-6, what did Paul explain to these disciples in Ephesus about John’s baptism?
8g. According to Acts 19:1-6, what happened next to these disciples in Ephesus?
8h. According to Acts 19:1-6, what did Paul do after these disciples in Ephesus had been baptised in the name of Jesus?
8i. According to Acts 19:1-6, Who came on these disciples in Ephesus after Paul had laid his hands on these disciples?
8j. According to Acts 19:1-6, what were the signs that the Holy Spirit had come on these disciples in Ephesus?
9. Why did Paul ask these disciples in Ephesus if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed?
10. Was Paul’s question to these disciples in Ephesus the right one?
11. Where can we read of John’s Baptism?
12. Did these disciples in Ephesus know what the Lord Jesus had already done for them?
13. What would Paul have done to help these disciples in Ephesus?
14. How would Paul have recognised that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit of these disciples in Ephesus had been a genuine experience?
15. According to Acts 9:17, who had laid his hands on Paul (Saul) for Paul (Saul) to be filled with the Spirit or to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit?
16. How long did Paul stay in Ephesus?
17. What did Paul do during that time in Ephesus?
18. Was everyone in Ephesus pleased with Paul’s ministry there?