Catechized with a gun to your head – ACTS 19:1-8

I am sure that at some stage you have heard people call the members of the charismatic renewal, ‘crack-matics’. What is not clearly comprehended should not be glibly condemned. While this rather unfortunate term has been used very flippantly it exposes the fact that many Catholics and those who use such derogatory terms have no idea that what they criticize so callously is really their own ignorance.  The first charismatics were Peter and the apostles at Pentecost and that number of ‘grace filled people’ kept increasing as we read the Acts of the Apostles.

Where are we in our study of the Acts? Paul is on his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23-21:16). The text of the Acts immediately introduced us to Apollos of Alexandria, already a Christian, who was preaching in Ephesus (18:24-28). We are told that Apollos’ knowledge of the faith was inadequate, and it fell to Priscilla and Aquila to explain “the way of God to him more accurately” (18:26). One of the things lacking in his understanding was a fuller view of baptism, for “he knew only the baptism of John” (18:25). Through fraternal correction Apollos was re-evangelized and now heads off to Corinth on mission.

Paul now arrives in Ephesus, and encounters a group of ‘disciples’, twelve of them, who like Apollos, had an inadequate understanding of baptism. They had never heard of the Holy Spirit, and they had been baptized “into John’s baptism” (19:3).

Paul has to explain to them that John’s baptism was a “baptism of repentance” anticipating the coming of the Messiah. Subsequently, Paul baptizes them into “the name of the Lord Jesus” and lays hands upon them. The Holy Spirit comes upon them, and they speak in tongues and prophesy.

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