The Holy Spirit In Acts 19

Q. Can you help me with Scripture that says the Holy Spirit comes into a person’s life/heart the moment they genuinely profess faith in Christ? Why did the 12 men of Acts 19:1-7, who Paul called brethren, not even know about the Holy Spirit?

A. There are three things about this event that have people confused. First, in the original language these 12 are called disciples (students) not brethren. It’s not clear what their spiritual status was when Paul first met them.

Second, they had received John’s baptism which was a baptism of repentance to prepare them for the coming Messiah. John’s ministry was to get people to change their mind (repent) about their need for a Savior and prepare them for His arrival. That’s not the same as helping them accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Third, there’s a difference between receiving the Holy Spirit, which happens to all of us at the moment of belief (Ephes. 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 1:21-22, etc) and the Holy Spirit coming upon us in power as He did with the apostles at Pentecost. Remember, they had “received” the Holy Spirit 50 days earlier in the upper room (John 20:22) but Jesus told them the Holy Spirit would also “come upon” them in power (Acts 1:8). He sometimes comes upon believers with a manifestation of power to serve a specific purpose, as was the case in both Acts 2 and Acts 19 . We know this because the special phrase”come upon” is used in both places.

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