A Question about John’s Baptism


Re: Acts 19:1-7. This has long been a concern for me. My Sunday School teacher teaches that water baptism is not relevant today.

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all. Acts 19:1-7

This is the scripture that I don’t understand. These people already believed in Jesus but they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until they were baptized in His name. Please explain.


To Repent means to change one’s mind about something, to turn away from it toward something else. Paul said that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, meaning that it symbolized a change of mind, turning away from relying on their own righteous works to save them toward relying on a Savior who would come to pay for their sins. It signified their preparation for the coming Messiah, not their salvation. By being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus they were confirming that they had accepted His death as payment in full for all their sins. Immediately the Holy Spirit came to dwell within them.

Today, water baptism is a confirmation that the person being baptized has accepted the Lord as his or her Savior. Apart from that it has no significance. In other words, baptism alone cannot save anyone, and it’s not even an essential part of the salvation experience. It’s simply a public declaration of a private conversion, an external physical act that confirms that an internal spiritual decision has been made.