Relevant Verses: Acts 18-20
Leading Question: The Christian church speaks quite a bit about baptism. Acts takes that word “baptism” and forces us to use the plural “baptisms”. So, how many types of baptism are there in Acts?
1. These chapters in Acts record the events surrounding Paul’s third missionary journey. The geographic focus of this journey is Ephesus, where Paul spends about three and a half years.
What would life in Ephesus have been like at this time in history?
2. While in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquilla interact with Apollos, who “knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25). Later, Paul meets “some disciples” (Acts 19:1-7) who had received “John’s baptism” but hadn’t even heard that there was a Holy Spirit! Paul baptized them “into the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). Then, he placed his hands on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
So, back to the leading question! How many types of baptism are there in the book of Acts? Can they be combined into one?
What does each one signify?
When they are performed separately, do they always come in the same order? (Hint: the answer is no!) What is the lesson for us today from all this?
It seems that, on multiple occasions in Acts, the Holy Spirit comes upon a person in connection with the laying on of hands. Have you received the Holy Spirit? Have you ever had “hands laid on you” in this spiritual sense? Should we practice this more often in our church?
3. Paul’s preaching in Ephesus was buttressed by miracles of healing.
Why does it seem that we hear about miracles in other parts of the world, but so seldom in North America? Is that a fair characterization?
Acts 19:11 refers to “extraordinary miracles.” What would be the difference between ordinary and extraordinary miracles?
According to Acts 19:12, even material that had touched Paul could be used to bring healing to others. Are you comfortable with this? Does this seem too much like a magic show?
While in Ephesus there is also the incredible story of seven sons of Sceva, the Jewish chief priest, who were apparently exorcizing demons “in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches” (19:13). What lessons should we learn from this story? Is demonic harassment an issue in our church today? Who would we go to if we needed deliverance from demons?
4. After leaving Ephesus, Acts records Paul’s journey through Macedonian and Greece. In Troas, Paul preaches Eutychus into such a deep sleep that he falls from a window and dies. Reread the story carefully, and note the elements of humor that Luke, the author, includes. Also, based on Luke’s account, would you say that Paul was an interesting speaker?