“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men. And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”
Apollos came to Ephesus and there made contact with Aquila and Priscilla. There he learned Bible doctrine pertaining to the Church Age. Once he was truly prepared God moved him on to Corinth and as soon as he was out of Ephesus on his way to Corinth then God provided for the apostle Paul to come back to have a ministry in Ephesus. In this way everything dovetailed perfectly, God led each individual, and the apostle Paul arrived in Ephesus at exactly the right time.
Now we have the last of the Pentecost experiences which are described in the book of Acts. The original Pentecost was described in Acts 2 and indicates the beginning of the Church Age. However, in Acts 2 we have only Jews involved. Immediately this poses a question: Was the Church Age going to be like the previous dispensation, was it going to be simply the responsibility of the Jews? The answer to that is found in the Gentile Pentecost which comes up in Acts 9. The Gentiles have equal rights with believers who are Jews in the Church Age. In the meantime what about the people who are half-Jew and half Gentile? This was answered at the Pentecost which was at Samaria. One other question arises. What about people who are Old Testament saints who lived long enough to be part of the new dispensation? What was their status? This was answered by the fact that they became members of the body of Christ if they lived long enough to be part of the Church Age and this is answered by Acts 19:1-7.
Paul had a wonderful ministry in the city of Ephesus when he returned the second time. So much so that Ephesus became the center of Christianity instead of Antioch. Paul encountered some disciples of John the Baptist on his first day in Ephesus. These disciples were actually Old Testament saints. They were believers who had received Jesus Christ as Savior, but they were still living like it was the Dispensation of Israel. They had been saved before the dispensation changed and had lived long enough to be part of the new dispensation.
Paul determined that these men were believers but they knew nothing of the Church Age. Remember that the Church Age was a mystery in the Old Testament. So Paul asked them a question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit at the point where you believed?” With all New Testament saints the moment you believe in Christ you receive the Holy Spirit. But this was not true of Old Testament saints because they had already believed in Christ.
The doctrine of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to Old Testament saints is important at this point. The Holy Spirit did indwell a few of the Old Testament believers. In contrast to that, in the Church Age the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, starting at the point of salvation. A believer could receive the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times by asking for Him if God so desired. (II Kings 2:9-10; Luke 11:12)
The Holy Spirit was received after salvation in the dispensation of Israel and only for special jobs to fulfill the plan of God. The disciplinary removal of the Spirit is illustrated by the case of King Saul in I Samuel 16:14. It almost occurred in the case of David, so David in Psalm 51:11 when he was just about to lose the Spirit prayed, ‘Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Note that you do not pray this prayer today; it is an insult to God. You cannot lose the Holy Spirit. By sinning you can grieve or quench the Holy Spirit, but you cannot lose the Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer in the Church Age and cannot be removed. (Genesis 41:38; Exodus 28:3;31:3; Numbers 11:18, 27:18; Judges 3:10, 6:34, 13:25; 14:6,15:14; I Samuel 10:9,10)
Once the Church Age began every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit according to John 7:37-39. Giving the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer was based on Jesus Christ being seated at the right hand of the Father. So to all of the Old Testament saints the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Christ was not yet glorified. Once the Lord Jesus Christ was glorified then the Holy Spirit was given to all when they believed. (John 16:14) The purpose of the giving of the Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ on earth.
So Paul looked at these twelve men and asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit at the point where you believed?” Since they were saved before the Cross and therefore in a previous dispensation they would have to say no. They said no in their own honest way, they didn’t even know there was such a thing as the Holy Spirit. Paul immediately made an estimate of the situation and he knew exactly now what was wrong. These people were actually Old Testament saints and they had lived long enough now to become a part of the Church.
Paul said something that indicates the message of John the Baptist as far as the Gospel is concerned. When the Jewish Age was about to be interrupted this was one of the signs, a ritual baptism performed by John. The baptism used water. The candidate was a person who had believed in Jesus Christ. Having believed in Jesus Christ he was put into the water and this was an indication that he was identified with the kingdom of the Abrahamic covenant, the Palestinian covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the New covenant to Israel. This is a kingdom which has an eternal life clause. This person indicated that he was identified with that kingdom.
In verse 5 we have the doctrine of the baptism of the Spirit. “When they heard this they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.” “Into the name of the Lord Jesus” actually refers to the baptism of the Spirit. So we now have some Old Testament saints who have been brought up to date. This is the Old Testament saint Pentecost and this brings to a conclusion the four different Pentecosts which occur in the book of Acts. The book of Acts is actually the beginnings of the Church. In the beginnings of the Church we have four Pentecosts, each one proving a point of doctrine. There is the Jewish Pentecost of Acts chapter two proving that Jews are brought into union with Christ. There was the Samaritan Pentecost of Acts 8 in which it was demonstrated that those who are half Jew and half Gentile are also part of the Church. There was the Gentile Pentecost of Acts 10 in which it was demonstrated that Gentiles are part of the Church. Finally, there was the Old Testament saint Pentecost of Acts 19 which demonstrated that Old Testament believers became part of the Church if they were alive during the Church Age.
“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.” Paul was an apostle and had authority from God to act on God’s behalf at this time. The laying on of hands was used by God to impart the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to these Old Testament believers. These Old Testament believers were now identified as members of the body of Christ (the Church). In this transitional period from law to grace God used extraordinary means to accomplish something that would be automatic for believers after the Church was fully established.
The sign of their integration into the Church was the gift of tongues. The gift of tongues was a warning of the fifth cycle of discipline of Israel. (Isaiah 28:9-11) In this passage it is made very clear that the Jews could tell when their fifth cycle of discipline was approaching. When the fifth cycle was approaching there would be a period in which the Jews, who were responsible for disseminating the Gospel to all of the Gentiles, would evangelize them in Gentile languages in a miraculous way.
The principle of the fifth cycle of discipline is given in Leviticus 26. You have to understand the fifth cycle of discipline in order to understand the gift of tongues. The fifth cycle of discipline was that maximum discipline which came to the Jews when they were taken out of their land and scattered. For example, in 721 BC the Jews were under the fourth cycle of discipline which meant they were ruled by another power, Assyria and a short time by Egypt and finally by the Chaldeans. In 70 AD the Jews were under the fifth cycle of discipline and they are scattered again. This was the most disastrous fifth cycle of discipline to the Jews. This 70 AD fifth cycle had tremendous warnings and signs. The Church Age actually began in 30 AD which was forty years before the fifth cycle of discipline. The Jews had a period of forty years to get ready for the fifth cycle of discipline and, as a matter of fact, to get out of Judaism altogether by becoming members of the body of Christ.
In our day so-called speaking in tongues is one of the greatest manifestations of apostasy and has nothing to do with God, absolutely nothing. It is typically associated with psychological ecstatic desires which are often associated with demon activity. Speaking in tongues is not a bona fide spiritual phenomenon and is a ploy of Satan to confuse and distort the truth.
With the gift of tongues there were people speaking in foreign languages as in Acts 2. There we have a list of Gentile languages which were actually used to communicate the Gospel. Speaking in tongues was never speaking in an unknown language; it was speaking in a Gentile language that someone could understand. The bona fide gift of tongues was discontinued and removed in 70 AD. This is very clearly taught in the Greek by comparing I Corinthians 13:8 with 13:10 where we have the phrase “when the perfect has come.” It is often thought that “the perfect” here refers to Christ. However, this is impossible because “the perfect” is in the neuter gender and the neuter gender is never used for Christ. He is always spoken of in the masculine gender. “The perfect” refers to the Canon of Scripture. So this indicates that the completion of the Canon of Scripture eliminated all of the temporary gifts of apostleship, tongues, healing, and so on.
Speaking in tongues is perpetuated as a system of pseudo-spirituality among believers in the Church Age. These are usually believers who use emotion as their criterion or their norm. There are two special warnings about using emotions as your norm. You can use your emotion all you want to in the appreciation of the things of this life. But when you use emotions as the standard or the criterion for the Christian Way of Life then you are in serious trouble. (Romans 16:17.18)
“And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Paul now entered the synagogue. Speaking out boldly meant to speak with confidence. Paul knew Bible doctrine and when you know Bible doctrine the doctrine produces confidence. The only bona fide confidence in the Christian life is based on doctrine. (II Corinthians 5:6-8) Bible doctrine is the means of acquiring the highest virtue of the Christian life and it is the basis for confidence in the Christian life.
To speak evil here simply means to revile or to verbally abuse. The Way is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ as the way of salvation. When negative volition expressed itself Paul separated himself. He was only three months in the synagogue, now he will be nearly three years in a state of separation. And when he separated himself he went to the school of Tyrannus, a medical school and did his Bible teaching and preaching the Gospel there for over two years.
Asia was the Roman province. Ephesus was the capital. People from all over the Roman province came to hear Paul. They did not come to hear him during the three months when he was in the synagogue but once he got out of the synagogue and was no longer associated with religion in any way, then everyone came. He had the greatest ministry here of his entire life because people came to him. He was in a neutral spot, he was in the medical school, and there he taught daily where people came from all over the country to hear him.
Let’s not forget that Satan is not omnipresent, omniscient or omnipotent. Satan is not constantly by your side messing with your life. Most of the messing up is actually done by us when we are out of fellowship with God and operating on human viewpoint. Satan does not know your thoughts nor can he read your mind. And Satan is not all-powerful, though he is more powerful than you or me. The Word of God is very specific on how we are to handle Satan, his demons and his world system. We handle these with the knowledge and application of Bible doctrine (thinking divine viewpoint).