There is an increase in the number of those who believe that one’s baptism is acceptable to God so long as it is an immersion in order to please God. One’s understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning baptism and its necessity to receive remission of sins and salvation is no longer considered a hindrance to fellowship and life in Christ. This is a serious mistake, and today’s reading helps us to know this.
In Acts 18:24-28, we learn that Apollos was “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures… and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he only knew the baptism of John.” Apollos had brought a formerly valid but now invalid message to Ephesus. Receiving correction from Aquila and Priscilla, he had departed for Achaia with their endorsement. These events at the end of Acts 18 set the stage for what we see in today’s reading.
Coming afterward to Ephesus, Paul finds certain disciples and inquires of them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Their reply? “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Paul immediately recognizes a deficiency in their teaching and understanding. Note that he does not ask IF they had been baptized, but “into what were you baptized?” Learning it was John’s baptism, Paul gives them corrective and more complete teaching regarding the baptism of Jesus. Receiving this instruction, these men were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Why would these men be required to be immersed again? Because baptism is not a work of man, but a work commanded by God that requires a proper faith. The baptism of Jesus was administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19). It was commanded with a promise to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). The lack of knowledge of the Holy Spirit was an immediate red flag to Paul.
Finally, Mark 16:15-16 and Colossians 2:11-13 are clear that there is a requisite faith that precedes biblical baptism. Believing one is already saved prior to baptism is antithetical to Bible teaching, thus there cannot be an appropriate faith in the working of God when one submits to it. Long story short, one cannot be taught an incorrect gospel and have a proper faith to be scripturally baptized.