Rebaptism Impossible! [Excerpt] – Acts 19: 1-7

Were any heretics ever rebaptized — at Acts 19:1-7?]

This is now the appropriate place to deal at length with the one and only passage of Scripture which some have thought permits, if not requires, the 'rebaptism' of converted heretics.  We refer, of course, to Acts 19:1-7.  At the very outset, we immediately give our own translation of this vital passage.

"Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus.  Then, finding certain disciples, he said to them: 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit, when you believed?'   However, they said to him: 'We have not so much as heard whether there is a holy spirit!'   So Paul said: 'Into what, then, were you baptized?'    And they replied: 'Into John's baptism!'

"Paul then said: 'It is indeed with a baptism of repentance that John really did baptize!  He said to the people that they should trust in the One coming after him' — that is, in [the Spirit-anointed] Christ!'

"Now when they heard this, they were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus [Christ]….  Paul laid his hands on them….  All the men were about twelve" in number.

Here, Iooanees men ebaptisen baptisma metanoias clearly means: "John really baptized — with a baptism of repentance!"   For here, ebaptisen baptisma is probably the Greek-language version of a Hebrew infinitive absolute — such as taabool taabal.  It would then mean: "John thoroughly baptized (with repentance)!"   As also stated, there is some evidence (in p38 & D and some other manuscripts) — for the reading: "they were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

So here, as the great seventeenth-century German-Swiss Reformed theologian Rev. Prof. Dr. John Wolleb(ius) rightly points out (while closely following the Frenchman John Calvin): "The Papists maintain that certain persons whom John had baptized, were rebaptized (Acts 19:1ff)." However, Wollebius himself then adds: "If they were 'rebaptized' by the apostle — it could only have been because previously they had been improperly 'baptized' by some imitators of John….  It ought not to be concluded from this text that they were ‘re’-baptized!"   Thus the Calvinist Wollebius (Compendium of Christian Theology, XXIII:1:xxi).