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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Why Did the Apostle Paul Ask Certain Disciples If They Received the Holy Spirit upon Believing?

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Don Stewart

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In Acts 19 we find the Apostle Paul asking certain disciples,

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1).

The King James Version reads: Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? However, this is not the best translation of the Greek text which literally reads, Having believed did you receive the Holy Spirit? or Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?

Period Of Time?

Does this account indicate that there is a period of time between salvation and the reception of the Holy Spirit?

Again, when we understand the situation, we find that this is not the case. These disciples were followers of John the Baptist. Paul, noticing something lacking in their knowledge of Christ, asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed John's message. Had they been baptized into Christ, they would have been familiar with the Trinitarian baptismal formula.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Ignorant Of Holy Spirit

They confessed that they were ignorant of the Holy Spirit. These disciples had heard only John's message of the coming Messiah. They were ignorant of the fact of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus, the reason they had not received the Holy Spirit is that they were not Christians. When Paul then explained to them about the death and resurrection of Christ, they became believers and immediately received the Holy Spirit. So this was not a case of receiving the Holy Spirit after salvation but rather the reception of the Holy Spirit at salvation.

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