A Sweet Savor Contact Miscellaneous Audio Messages Penmen


Pike Co., Ark.
Oct. 17, 1870.

DEAR BROTHER: - If it is not asking too much, I wish you would give your views in regard to those disciples whom Paul found at Ephesus, Acts 19:1-7, whether they were baptized again with water?

Yours in hope of eternal life,
P.A. Lightsey.

REPLY. Our version of this subject seems somewhat obscure, and some have found it very difficult, from the reading, to determine with certainty whether Paul recognized the baptism of these twelve disciples as valid gospel baptism, or required them to be baptized again before he laid his hands on them when they received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Our present impression is that they were again baptized before Paul laid his hands upon them. It is certain that John’s baptism, in some important particulars, differed from that of the apostles’; not however in regard to the mode, or manner of its performance, nor in regard to its signification; for John immersed those whom he baptized in water, and in the ordinance set forth a death, burial and resurrection, as fully as it was signified when administered by the apostles, or other gospel administrators. And he administered it only to such as brought forth fruits meet for repentance. So that the example of Jesus, in his baptism by John, is a perfect pattern for all his saints, as to the ordinance and its figurative import. Yet John’s baptism was anterior to the setting up of the gospel kingdom, and to the accession of our Redeemer to his Mediatorial throne. He was himself under the law, until he had fulfilled all its jots and tittles. He, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, became obedient to the law, even unto death, and in his resurrection brought up with him, from under the law, the body of his church. When he was made flesh, he was made of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem his people, or members, from under the law, but when he had done and suffered all that was written of him in the law, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, he entered into his glory. Having, as it behooved him, suffered, died on the cross, and arose from the dead on the third day, that repentance and remission of sins should thenceforth be preached in his name; he assured his apostles that all power in heaven and in earth was now committed to his hands, and he bade them therefore to “go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” This they were to do in his name, that is by his authority, and in obedience to his command, as the LORD JESUS.

We observe, John did not baptize by his command, nor in his name, as the Lord Jesus; for he said, “This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before me. And I knew him not; but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” John 1:30-34.

John received his authority to preach and baptize from God, but not from Christ as the Messiah that was to come after him. And Paul said to the disciples at Ephesus, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people {to whom he preached,} that they should believe on him {Christ} which should come after him, {John} that is on Christ Jesus.” Thus Paul explained to the twelve disciples the peculiar nature and designs of John’s baptism. As in anticipation of the coming of him who should baptize with the Holy Ghost, the way of whom John was sent to prepare before him; and he required of those Jews to whom he administered baptism, that they should believe on him that was to come after him. John’s baptism unto repentance signified an abandonment of Judaism, as a ground of hope for justification before God, and a profession of faith in him that was to come. But after his coming in all the glory of his Father, and when he should ascend and sit upon the throne of his kingdom which his Father had appointed for him, baptism was no more to be administered in prospect of a Savior to come, or of a kingdom to be set up. John must decrease, but Jesus must increase. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” Isa. 9:7.

Those who were baptized to John’s baptism before the kingdom of Christ was organized, were baptized with the Holy Ghost at the day of Pentecost, or on being received into the gospel organization. Those baptized to John’s baptism were pledged to believe on him that was to come; those afterwards were baptized on profession of faith in him who had already come, having believed on him before they were baptized.

The twelve disciples whom Paul found at Ephesus, were not baptized by John, but to his baptism, by Apollos, a long time after the organization of the church, and inauguration of Christ as the King of Zion.

The only defect in the ministration of Apollos, of which we are informed, was that he knew only of John’s baptism, until Aquila and Priscilla instructed him in the way of the Lord more perfectly. He was eloquent and mighty in the scriptures, and he mightily convinced the Jews, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. If this defect on the part of Apollos could have been tolerated, there would have been no occasion for teaching him the way of the Lord more perfectly; but as it could not be sanctioned, it was necessary that those who had been irregularly baptized by him to John’s baptism, should be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Hence, from all these considerations, we conclude these twelve disciples were baptized again, and in the name of the Lord Jesus, before Paul laid his hands on them.

Although the command of Jesus was to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, yet as it is to be thus observed and administered now, under the gospel dispensation, by his special command, in recognition of his supreme authority, as the head over all things to his church, it must be in his name; that is, by his authority and command, that his duly authorized ministers are now required to baptize believers in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

John did not baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and therefore they who were baptized after his manner had not heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Neither did he baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus, but saying to the people that they should believe on him at a subsequent period. Paul said to these twelve, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him; that is, on Christ Jesus. When they {these twelve} heard this, {which Paul said to them, explanatory of John’s baptism} they {these twelve} were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” or in the way and manner which he had commanded that his disciples should be baptized; namely, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

We give the foregoing as our present understanding of the subject; we once held a different view; but on a close investigation, we are convinced that these disciples who had been irregularly baptized, probably by Apollos, were afterwards regularly baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, by Paul, or by some other duly authorized administrator.

Middletown, N.Y.
November 15, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe