The Baptism of John and the Fiery Believer Apollos

Paul explained baptism to the unregenerate unitarians

Paul now explained,273 to those ignorant unitarians at Ephesus, the nature of the true Christian baptism which John himself had indeed administered.  According to Luke in the book of Acts, "then Paul said: 'John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, while saying to the people that they should believe in Him Who would come after him' : i.e., in Christ Jesus" the Spirit-anointed One.

"When they heard [and heeded] this, they were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus."   This could mean Paul was here simply saying that John himself274 had indeed baptized people into the Name of the then-coming Messiah — that is, the One Whom Paul here identifies as the Lord Jesus.  Or it could mean Paul himself now baptized the unitarians at Ephesus — into the Name of the Lord Jesus.  Either way, there is no re-baptism at Acts 19:5.   For that verse says "they were baptized" — not: 'they were re-baptized.'

The fact is, 'Johannine baptism' is Christian baptism!  Thus, specifically on this passage, nearly all Calvinist scholars.    Thus Calvin, Beza, the 1637 Dordt Dutch Bible, Wolleb(ius), Lightfoot, Cocceius, Marckius, De Moor, J.H. Heidegger, J.H. van der Palm, H. Heppe, Gravemeijer, and A. Kuyper Sr.274 etc.

The text could mean that Paul was here informing the unitarians at Ephesus about what John himself275 had really taught.   This would then show that those who had heeded John's preaching — John's preaching that they should believe in Jesus — were there and then baptized by John into the Name of the Lord Jesus.   In that case, after explaining this to the confused men in Ephesus, all that Paul then further did — after they heeded him — was 'waterlessly' to lay his hands upon those ex-heretics.

Alternatively, the above words — "when they heeded this, they were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus" — may instead be referring to what those ex-unitarians in Ephesus next did in relation to Paul.   This would mean that Paul himself then proceeded to give those ex-unitarians inter alia their first-ever triune water-baptism.

Perhaps Paul did not then give water-baptism to those men; on the other hand, it seems perhaps more likely that he did.275   Either way, however, the entire passage Acts 19:1-5 cannot properly be taken to mean that the trinitarian Paul re-baptized those ex-unitarians after they had heeded his teaching.  If Paul then indeed baptized them with water, that would have been the first and the only Christian baptism those previously ignorant unitarians ever received!

For Paul explained to the unitarians at Ephesus that "John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance/”   John did this, said Paul, “while saying to the people that they should believe in Him Who would come after him — that is, in Christ Jesus."  

Whichever way the passage is taken, it cannot righty be taken to imply baptismal regeneration.  Indeed, at whatever point in time that never-repeated water-baptism took place or was to take place in respect of the approximately twelve men mentioned in Acts 19:1-7 — it was not the same time at which their Christian faith commenced!

For any Christian water-baptism ever received by those ex-unitarians, would only have occurred after they had been regenerated by grace and through faith — and apparently as a result of Paul's preaching the Gospel to them.  Previously, it seems they had never truly been baptized by anyone.  If they then ever received Christian baptism at all — which indeed seems very likely — that could have occurred only after they heeded and obeyed the Gospel then preached to them by Paul.

That would then have been the first and the only Christian baptism those previously ignorant ex-unitarians had ever received.  More importantly, they had already been regenerated — before they would then have received that baptism.  Indeed, they were regenerated apparently while hearing the Gospel preached to them by Paul.  Acts 19:4.  They were therefore not regenerated by the Christian baptism itself, which would only be administrable to them at a somewhat different moment.  Acts 19:5.