Twelve Disciples in Ephesus

Text: Acts 19:1-10

When Paul came to Ephesus, he found twelve men that would be part of the beginning of the church in that city. There are some lessons we can learn from this account – we will consider a few of them here.

Disciples of John

  • When we first read “disciples,” we might assume these were disciples of Christ – Paul may have assumed this as well, but they were not; they were disciples of John the Baptist
  • John’s mission – to prepare the way for Christ (Matthew 3:1-3; cf. Isaiah 40:3)
  • They were waiting for the Messiah that John spoke about – so they, like Apollos (Acts 18:24-25), had not yet heard that Jesus, the Messiah, had come; therefore, they were not part of the kingdom (Acts 2:41, 47) and thought the kingdom was still “at hand” (Matthew 3:2)

Receiving the Holy Spirit

  • Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit – different from the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38); he was talking about the miraculous gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
  • Not all disciples received such gifts – this is why he asked the question; the saints in Rome had not received such gifts (Romans 1:11); these could only come through the laying on of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:14-17)
  • The purpose of these gifts – to confirm the word (Hebrews 2:3-4) and to help establish the early church (Romans 1:11)
  • Why these gifts do not exist today – no apostles to impart the gifts (Acts 8:18-21); they are not needed because God’s revelation is complete (1 Corinthians 13:8-11)

John’s Baptism

  • John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance – valid at one time, but no longer
  • Now the need is for people to be “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5) – for forgiveness and salvation (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21); to put one into the church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:41, 47); how we call on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21); it is the “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) through which God works to save us (Colossians 2:11-13)
  • What if one has been baptized with another baptism? – these disciples were baptized into John’s baptism (Acts 19:3); many today have been baptized into a denomination’s baptism; what must be done is be baptized into the “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), the baptism of Christ

They Continued with Paul

  • After converting these twelve men, Paul preached regularly in the synagogue (Acts 19:8)
  • He did this until opposition arose (Acts 19:9) – the gospel brings opposition (2 Timothy 3:12)
  • Paul relocated and the disciples followed (Acts 19:9) – they were committed enough to the truth to continue in it even in the face of public opposition; we must have the same commitment (Revelation 2:10)


  • Important lessons we must learn from these twelve disciples
  • Main point – love the truth enough that we will accept it, obey it, and suffer for it
  • If we do not love the truth, we cannot be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
  • Let us be like these twelve disciples – follow Christ, no matter what changes are required of us

When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on the Gospel, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Road Trip.