Acts 18:24-19:7 by Pastor Dan Walker
In this message, we look to the examples of Apollos and the Ephesian disciples in Acts 18-19 to understand Spirit baptism. We learn that Spirit baptism is not automatic at salvation, but is a separate and distinct experience. Discover how to be filled with the power of the Spirit.
Duration:36 mins 14 secs

Today, we are continuing our message series called “Power for Life.” If you missed either of the first two messages in the series. I would strongly encourage you to watch the videos, available on our website, YouTube and Facebook. The key verse for this message series and the book of Acts is:

Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

These were Jesus’ last words before He ascended back into heaven. I believe the Bible makes it clear that your primary purpose on this earth as a follower of Jesus is to be His witness.

One day, all believers will be in heaven. When we are in heaven, we will continue to worship God, we will have fellowship with other believers, we will continue to learn more about God and we will serve God. So four of the five biblical purposes for a believer will continue on in heaven. The only biblical purpose we can’t fulfill in heaven is that of being a witness, the purpose of evangelism. There will be no outreach in heaven as everyone will be saved. That is why the last words of Jesus commanded His followers to receive the Spirit’s power in order to fulfill their purpose of being a witness for Him.

Today, I’ve entitled the message “How to Receive Spirit Baptism.” If you’ve listened to the last two messages, you’ll remember that the power to be witnesses is released through Spirit baptism. Now, this power we are talking about is not an impersonal force, as in Star Wars. The power that you receive at Spirit baptism comes from the person of the Holy Spirit. When you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you allow the Spirit to take control of your life and body. The Spirit is no longer just living in the recesses of your heart. At Spirit baptism, the Spirit erupts through your life, your tongue and your mind. Jesus put it this way in ...

John 7:38-39 (ESV) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

According to Jesus, Spirit baptism results in the Spirit flowing out of a believer’s heart like rivers of living water. When a person is baptized with the Spirit, He enters into a supernatural partnership with the Spirit. God’s will for every person is for them to be saved, water baptized and Spirit baptized. After Acts 2, the Scripture assumes that every believer has received Spirit baptism and speaks in tongues. We ‘ll be talking a lot more about the importance of tongues next Sunday in my message “Gateway into the Supernatural.”

Today, I want to tell you the story of my encounter with the Holy Spirit. My father was a Baptist pastor, so I was raised as a Baptist. I was saved at age 4 and water baptized at age 9. As we learned last Sunday, Baptists don’t teach about or believe in Spirit baptism as described in Acts. So, I knew absolutely nothing about it.

When I was in college, I led a small group Bible study with another college girl. On a Christmas break one year, she went to visit some friends in Florida. When she came back to Iowa, she was different, she had changed. She had become a bolder witness, filled with more joy and had a much greater passion for the Word. Everyone in the Bible study group noticed. When we asked her what happened, she said that she had been baptized in the Holy Spirit at a church in Florida and now regularly spoke in tongues.

I was intrigued, but cautious at the same time. I had heard that Baptists taught tongues were of the devil. So, at the next Spring break, I and some other students from the Bible study took a trip to Florida with her to find out more. We attended the church where she had her experience with the Spirit. The week we were there they didn’t talk about the Spirit much, but I picked up a small booklet on Spirit baptism filled with Scripture references. Back in Iowa, I began to read that booklet and read through the book of Acts multiple times. I was amazed at all the things I had been missing about the power of the Spirit. I became thoroughly convinced that Spirit baptism was God’s will for every believer.

So, one day, I felt led to fast and I asked others in the Bible study to pray for me. I was alone in my room and I simply asked Jesus to baptize me with the Holy Spirit. I sensed the Spirit well up within me and I began to speak in tongues. I knew that everything was changing. I continued to pray in the Spirit daily and I had a new understanding of the Bible, which I loved to read. I was able to hear God speak to me in a way I never had before. I began to be used in the gift of prophesy in various Bible studies and praying for people to be healed. My relationship with the Holy Spirit was taken to a much deeper level.

Now years later, I am so grateful that God led me into being baptized with the Spirit. Yet, I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of the power God has. Spirit baptism is just the beginning of a supernatural life. This morning at the end of the service, I will be available to pray for those seeking Spirit baptism, which is for every believer.

Today, we are going to continue our study of the book of Acts to learn more about how to receive Spirit baptism.

Spirit baptism in the life of Apollos

The example of Apollos in Acts 18 is not normally cited as an example of Spirit baptism. However, when we look at the story of Apollos, followed by the story of the Ephesians in Acts 19, each incident informs the other. Of course, the chapter divisions in our Bibles were not in the original text, but were introduced in the 13th century. So, let’s learn more from Apollos. In order to be Spirit baptized …

You must be saved

Acts 18:24-25a (ESV) Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus …

This is our first introduction to Apollos. As a Jew, he had been trained in the Old Testament Scriptures. Someone had discipled or instructed him in the way of the Lord, he had been saved. Not only had Apollos been saved, but when he came to Ephesus, he began to teach others accurately about Jesus and as we’ll see others were saved. But for everything that Apollos knew, there were some things he didn’t understand correctly.

Be open to learning new things

Acts 18:25b-26 (ESV) … he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Apollos knew about and was teaching about Jesus’ ministry, His death and His resurrection. However, the only water baptism Apollos knew about was the baptism of John. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, that was offered to those who repented during the ministry of Jesus on earth. Jesus was baptized by John. After Jesus rose from the dead, He instructed believers to baptize new believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This was the true Christian baptism, not John’s baptism.

Today, many people think that water baptism is not important, nor are the details important. That is not true at all. Water baptism is very important, as are the biblical instructions for believer’s baptism by immersion. So, the teaching team of Priscilla and Aquila did not publicly correct him, but privately explained about true Christian baptism, in the name of the Lord Jesus. To his credit, Apollos was open learning new things about God and obeying God.

Be water and Spirit baptized

Acts 18:27-28 (ESV) And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

So, from what happened in the next episode that we’ll talk about next, it is clear that Apollos followed up on the teaching of Priscilla and Aquila and was water and Spirit baptized. Now, we see that his teaching was not just accurate, but it was powerful.


Why wasn’t Apollos Spirit baptized? Wrong teaching. This is still true for many today. Many churches teach that everyone is automatically spirit baptized at salvation. Others teach that spirit baptism and the gift of tongues are not for today. In order to overcome wrong teaching in your past, you must be open to learning new things from the Bible, just as Apollos was.

Some people find it hard to admit that their Christian life is deficient. Pride will keep a person from receiving Spirit baptism. Other people are afraid of what other people will think if they’re Spirit baptized. In order to grow in God, you’ve got to learn and experience new things in God.

Spirit baptism in the Ephesians

Now we’re going to move right into Acts 19, which takes place at Ephesus. Remember, Ephesus was where Apollos first taught and then experienced water and Spirit baptism.

Acts 19:1 (ESV) And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples.

Apollos next travelled to Corinth, while Paul came to Ephesus where he found some disciples or believers in Jesus. These believers were undoubtedly taught by Apollos before he was instructed more accurately by Priscilla and Aquila.

Spirit baptism in not automatic

Acts 19:2 (ESV) And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

Paul’s question to the Ephesian believers completely demolishes the doctrine that Spirit baptism is automatic for every believer at salvation. By asking the question, Paul clearly indicates that a person may receive Spirit baptism in close proximity to believing or they may not. The Ephesian disciples had believed but their answer was no, they had not even been taught about the Holy Spirit.

Proper water baptism is important

Acts 19:3-5 (ESV) And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Since the disciples had not been Spirit baptized, Paul next inquires about their water baptism. They had been taught by Apollos only about John’s baptism. Paul told them that the time for John’s baptism was over, now they needed to be water baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. So, these disciples as well, learned something new and followed through by being water baptized in Jesus’ name. What happened next?

Spirit baptism is evidenced by tongues

Acts 19:6-7 (ESV) And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

Of course, one thing was lacking. The disciples having been water baptized were not yet Spirit baptized. So, Paul prayed and laid his hands on them and they were Spirit baptized. Immediately they began both speaking in tongues and prophesying. Speaking in tongues is praying to God in a language you don’t know. Prophesying is allowing God to speak through you to others in a language you do know. Tongues is always seen as the evidence of Spirit baptism in Acts, where as prophesying is only seen on some occasions.


During this series, I’m asking you to do three things. First, pray and seek God for more of His power. If you haven’t been Spirit baptized, seek Him for that, just as I did years ago. Secondly, read through the book of Acts in January, just as I did. Third, read the teaching book Power for Life, just as I read accurate teaching in my quest. Finally, let’s go over some simple steps to receiving Spirit baptism.

Steps to receive Spirit baptism

There’s a lot more instruction in the book Power for Life, but here are the basics.

Focus on worshipping Jesus

Jesus is the one who baptizes in the Spirit. Worshipping and drawing near to Jesus is key to being Spirit baptized. Be sure that there is no unrepented sin in your life.

Allow someone Spirit baptized to pray for you

Sometimes, a person can be Spirit baptized by praying on their own, as happened with me. However, there is ample Scriptural precedent for having someone already Spirit baptized lay their hands on you and pray for you.

Ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit

Luke 11:13 (ESV) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In this little-known Scripture, Jesus instructs his children to ask God to give them the Holy Spirit, speaking of the good gift of Spirit baptism. Many people are not Spirit baptized because they’ve never asked for the gift.

Believe Jesus is baptizing you with the Spirit

Mark 11:24 (ESV) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

As with any prayer, you must pray in faith, believing that God is answering your prayer, in order for that prayer to be answered. Scripture teaches us that the gift of Spirit baptism is available to every believer. 

Begin to speak in tongues

Acts 2:4 (ESV) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In this verse, who began to speak in tongues, the disciples or the Spirit? The answer is the disciples began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them. As you submit your tongue to the Spirit and begin to speak, the Spirit will give you the unknown words and sound to speak. If you wait for the Spirit to pry open your mouth and speak through you with no effort of your own, it will never happen. You must begin to speak as the Spirit moves upon you in answer to prayer.

As you submit to the Spirit, you are filled with His power and are Spirit baptized. Next Sunday, we will show why Spirit baptism is just the beginning, it is the gateway into the supernatural.