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Paul’s Third Journey
Part III

Acts 19:1-7 
Overcoming Ignorance

By chapter and verse we are right on the heels of chapter 18 but teaching wise we are a little further removed from Aquila and Priscilla teaching Apollos, and Paul stopping in Ephesus after his time in Corinth. So, you may want to go back and refresh your memory about the events since Paul left Corinth in chapter 18 as we move into Acts chapter 19.

The compound Koine Greek word for ignorance is agnoeo. It has the prefix alpha combined with the word noeo, from nous, which means mind.

Cambridge Dictionary says of ignorance: “lack of knowledge, understanding, or information about something.”1

Merriam-Webster Dictionary says of ignorance: “the state or fact of being ignorant: lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.” 2

In Koine Greek agnoeo means to not understand because you have not considered the knowledge you received.

Helps Word-studies says of noeo; “noiéō (from noús, "mind") properly, to apply mental effort needed to reach "bottom-line" conclusions.” 3 

The Greek word noeo means to consider, to put forth the mental effort to begin to comprehend the knowledge you just received. Remember what I have said in the past, God expects your mind to be engaged when you read His Word, or study His Word, or hear His Word taught.

2 Timothy 2:7
Consider [noeo] what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding [sunesis – a running together] in all things.

The Greeks used this word, sunesis, when speaking of two rivers flowing together to make a new and mightier river. For the Christian it is saying spiritual truths will flow together providing the individual with greater insight and understanding. Sunesis is like connecting the dots to reveal the whole picture. Do you remember those games from when you were a child?

Noeo, or consider, is in the present tense meaning you are to do this each time you read, study, or hear God’s Word taught. It is also in the imperative mood making this a command.

Publilius Syrus  lived from 85 to 43 B.C. He was from Antioch in Syria but taken to Rome as a slave. He once wrote, “In knowing nothing, life is most delightful.”4 Later, in 1768, Thomas Gray wrote “An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” Perhaps not the most inviting of titles however, in this poem he wrote the line, “Oh! Can it be that ignorance is bliss?”

Since those days in the 18th century the phrase “ignorance is bliss” has been repeated countless times. However accurate this phrase may be when applied to worldly matters, it is completely erroneous when applied to spiritual matters.

Spiritual ignorance is a curse for a Christian.
Spiritual ignorance can make you forfeit your God given peace.
Spiritual ignorance can disconnect you from your God given power.
Spiritual ignorance can steal your intimate time with your Heavenly Father.
Spiritual ignorance is not bliss for a Christian; it is hell on earth throughout their years.

But how do we overcome spiritual ignorance?

We consider, ponder, or think logically and spiritually about what we have heard, read, or studied. We compare spiritual things to other spiritual things. We begin our learning process by considering. Then allow the Lord, who is the Head of the Body, to direct us in connecting those dots. So that, more of God’s view, God’s picture comes into focus.

We are not quite done considering ignorance yet, so, we will come back to this topic. For now, let’s begin Acts chapter 19.

Acts 19:1
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

Acts 19:1
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples
Holman Christian Standard Bible

Paul, coming from Galatia arrives in Ephesus. The word “coasts” was not a particularly good translation. Paul had told some, who he had previously met in Ephesus, that he would return if God was willing. God must be willing because Paul is back. 

Overall, Paul will spend the next three years holding forth God’s Word in Ephesus. Considering the whole of the Apostle Paul’s ministry, this stay in Ephesus will be the longest he stays in any one location.

Acts 20:31
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul makes this statement to the leadership of Ephesus when he is meeting with them at Miletus on his way to Jerusalem in the Spring of 58 A.D. However, it was in the Spring of 53 A.D. when Paul briefly stopped in Ephesus after leaving Corinth. Now, probably a year later, Paul has returned to Ephesus to teach the Word of God.

The word translated “finding” in Acts 19:1 is not clear enough to show us how Paul found these disciples.

Acts 19:2
He said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 

Since Paul was only in Ephesus briefly, a year before this, why would he think they knew anything about God’s gift of holy spirit? Well, remember when Paul stopped in Ephesus after leaving Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla were staying in Ephesus. It was they who instructed Apollos more perfectly. Perhaps Paul was thinking they had been witnessing God’s Word.

 Perhaps Paul was simply using this question to open a door to speak about holy spirit? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...we do not know exactly why Paul asked the question because God does not say in these verses. Continuing with that question will side track our study of God's Word and never produce a godly answer. You can guess, you can assume, but you will not KNOW a clear cut answer. 

Verse one told us they were disciples, but it did not tell us to whom or what they were discipled.

Acts 19:3
And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John's baptism.

Now we know, from the context, to whom they are discipled.

Acts 19:4-5
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Now, recall what Paul said about baptism to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:17
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

He was not sent to baptize, but to preach. That is exactly what Paul is doing in these verses. Peter and the other eleven were sent to baptize with God’s gift of holy spirit. John came with the baptism of repentance, saying they should confess their sins. But John’s witness went beyond confession of sin and water baptism.

Matthew 3:11
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Luke 3:16
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Paul taught them what John said, believe on him, Jesus, who would come after John. Paul preached unto them Jesus. Then as they believed, God created His gift of holy spirit within them. Paul preached and God created. God identified each person who believed with the accomplishments of Christ.

Where these men in Ephesus the disciples of John through Apollos? Possibly. He was in Ephesus after Paul briefly passed through the area. It was here that Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside and instructed him more fully. But honestly, we cannot answer that question about these disciples.

Having questions about what you are reading in God’s Word is great. As I just said, God expects your mind to be engaged while you are reading His Word. But the key is to receive your answers from God’s Word. 

We do not invent answers. Too many have done that already.
We do not make guesses. Too many have done that already.
We do not go on our feelings. Too many have done that already.
We do not move with tradition that Christianity has immortalized from outside of God’s Word.

We continue to look for an answer to a question in the words of God. 
We listen for our Lord to show us the sunesis
If no answer is seen, the correct answer is “I don’t know.”

I do not know how these men became the disciples of John the Baptist way out here in Ephesus. But I now know they are adopted children of God and joint heirs with Christ as they believed what Paul was preaching.

Why didn’t Aquila and Priscilla work with those who believed what Apollos taught? Perhaps a better question is, how could they identify who listening to Apollos believed his words?

Acts 19:6-7
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.

After Paul ministered to them, with the laying on of his hands, they received God’s gift of holy spirit and manifested speaking in tongues, and they manifested prophesy. Here we see an example of the manifestation of God’s gift of holy spirit in the Administration of Grace. But the operation of the manifestation of God’s gift of holy spirit is very misunderstood today, like it was in the city of Corinth.

Let’s look at it.

1 Corinthians 12:1
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

The word “gifts” is not in any Greek text. The Greek word for spiritual is pneumatikos and means spiritual things, or things of the spirit, or spiritual matters. Pneumatikos is used 26 times in the Bible and the word gifts is added here and in 1 Corinthians 14:1. In both instances it should have been translated spiritual things or spiritual matters. In both places the word “gifts” is an unnecessary and an incorrect addition. 

1 Corinthians 12:1
Now concerning what comes from the Spirit: brothers, I do not want you to be unaware.
Holman Christian Standard Bible

1 Corinthians 12:1
And concerning the spiritual things, brethren, I do not wish you to be ignorant.
Young’s Literal Translation

God does not want us ignorant of spiritual matters or spiritual things. The manifestation of God’s gift of holy spirit is a spiritual matter. 

It is simply logical. God has created within you a spiritual nature! Therefore, He wants you to be knowledgeable, He wants you to be sharp concerning spiritual matters. It is now who you are, you are now a spiritual being. Your Heavenly Father wants you to understand who He has made you to be in Christ. God has created His nature in you so you could KNOW His Will and His heart!

1 Corinthians 14:5a
I would that ye all spake with tongues…

The Greek word for ignorant in 1 Corinthians 12:1 is agnoeo, we considered this a few minutes ago in the opening. Now consider also who Paul is addressing, the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. They were identified as walking like carnal Christians. 

What is a carnal Christian?

The Greek word is sarkikos which in turn comes from the root word sarx which means flesh. A carnal Christian is one who walks according to the flesh, according to what the world has taught him rather than walking in the spirit. A carnal Christian walks by the words of men rather than the words of God.

What does that mean? 

It means it is a Christian that continues to use the standard of the world as his standard. 

How do I feel about this? What are my senses telling me to do? What is our current societal “enlightenment”? Either through a lack of knowledge, or a failure to consider the knowledge he has received, the spirit is pushed to the side as the Christian walks in worldly knowledge and worldly wisdom. This is a carnal Christian. He is seated in the heavens, but his mind is locked into the world.

If an instructed Christian walked up to an uninstructed Christian and declared, “I am as righteous as God.” The response would go something like this, both hands of the uninstructed would come up toward the face area with the index finger extended on both hands. As the hands came close together the index fingers would form into the shape of a cross and be thrust toward you, the instructed Christian, as though the uninstructed sought protection from the Devil himself.

Many would think you were the Devil incarnate for such a statement. 

Blasphemy! Blasphemy! They would yell! 

Yet, that is what God’s Word says about every Christian. You are righteous! Not because of your works, not because of your personal goodness or holiness, but because of God’s grace, and mercy, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. For a Christian to not know nor understand how righteous he is today, is spiritual ignorance and that is not blissful. 

God does not want His children to be spiritually ignorant, lacking spiritual understanding.

God has created holy spirit within each person who has believed Him. 
God has made us spiritual men, and women, and children.

When we are ignorant, false gods lead us.

Not me! I do not worship idols! I am not a pagan!

1 Corinthians 12:2
Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

They are dumb because they are made of wood, stone, plastic, and other inert materials that lack the capacity to hear or speak. We are led to these idols and then by these idols. The chains that hold us to things elevating themselves above God, must be broken. Things that hinder our view of God and hamper our walk with God must be removed. We will see this before we leave the city of Ephesus.

Verse two is what happens when we are ignorant of spiritual matters. When we lack the knowledge or fail to understand the knowledge, the Adversary, through the world, tricks us into taking dead-end side trips, paths of no profit.

What is most important to you? 

That which is most important to you is what will lead you. No one can decide that for another, we each make that decision for our own life. It looked like the brothers of Joseph had determined the direction of his life, but it was Joseph who set his own priorities and not his brothers. Pilate thought he had the power of life and death over Jesus, but it was Jesus who made the decision to do the will of God.

Everyone has a hierarchy of values. They are the personal goals and priorities we have set for our own lives. You have work, family, friends, perhaps a mate, desire for children, the list could go on and on. This is your hierarchy of values, your priorities. Somewhere in this list is your relationship with God.

You determine who will lead you, you determine what will lead you, you determine the course of you. It is not outside forces, it is not unseen pressures, it is not those with worldly power, consider Hebrews chapter 11.

In your hierarchy of values, the value you place on each item determines your hierarchy.
What is most important to you?   

Verse three shows us yet another trick of the Adversary.

1 Corinthians 12:3
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

The one speaking in tongues does not know the language he is speaking. Therefore, he does not know what he is saying.

1 Corinthians 14:2
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

Due to a predetermined theological view point this verse is translated and interpreted poorly. The phrase “he that” is the Greek word hoHo is better translated "that one" in this verse, “for that one speaking in a tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God…” 

Then the next word is “for.” It is the Greek word gar, and it is going to make a statement about what was just said. This ties the later part of the sentence to the first part of the sentence in a unique way. It demands we carry forward the one who is speaking in a tongue, he is the one who does not understand. The word “understandeth” is the Koine Greek word is akouo and it means to hear, to have the ability to hear. But in this verse, it is used as a figure of speech, idioma, which is a peculiar usage of words or phrases. Here it means the one speaking can hear the voice, but not understand what is being said.6  The word “him” after understands is in no text and should be deleted.

The entire verse is about the one who is speaking. He is speaking to God and not men. He does not understand what he is saying. He is speaking divine secrets. How then does he speak? 

How does the one speaking in tongues, know what to say or how to say it? The spirit, God, gives the spirit within the believer, what to say.  (Acts 2:4)

Why is Acts 19 different than Acts 2 and 10? Because they were one-time events, first to Judaism and then to the Gentiles that they had received. It was a confirmation to others of the reception of holy spirit. That is why in both events the tongues were in languages that were understood by the hearers. Other than these two events speaking in tongues is never mentioned again for those under the ministry of the twelve apostles, not in Acts 2 through 12, nor in any of the general epistles of Hebrews through Revelation.

In Acts 19 it is not a confirmation to others, therefore there is no mention of anyone understanding the speaking in tongues. However, it is a confirmation to and for the individual doing the speaking. He now knows he has a new spiritual nature created within him.

First Corinthians 14:2 is saying the one speaking in tongues does not understand what he is saying, but he is speaking to God, and he is speaking divine secrets.

Help Word-studies when speaking of the word “no” in verse 14:2 had this to say, “oudeís (from /ou "no, not" and /heís, "one") properly, not one; no one, nothing. is a powerful negating conjunction. It rules out by definition, i.e. "shuts the door" objectively and leaves no exceptions.” 

The one speaking in tongues absolutely does not know what he is saying. If he did, if it is a known language to the one speaking, then it is not speaking in tongues.

Now back to 1 Corinthians chapter 12:3.

Since the one speaking in tongues does not know what he is saying, the Adversary started his own rumor mill that when someone spoke in tongues, they were really cursing Jesus. If they are not armed with the words of God written or spoken by the Apostle Paul, then that person could fall for this lie. I know you also thought of John chapter 8 for the Adversary is a liar and the father of it.

2 Corinthians 2:11
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Something else God does not want His children to be ignorant about is how the Adversary operates. It is important to not be ignorant [agnoeo] of his  devices [noema].

The end of 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, “: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” Do you want to know for sure that you have made Jesus your Lord, speak by the spirit, which is to speak in tongues. Not confirmation for others, but confirmation from God to the individual. 

Notice, it does not say, if you fail to speak in tongues, you have not made Jesus Lord. Many have made Jesus Lord and have never been taught accurately about speaking in tongues. Jesus is still their Lord, and they are still identified in Christ, and God still works within them, but they lose the benefits of speaking in tongues.

What does God have to say, in His Word, about speaking in tongues? What profit or benefit is there for the individual believer to speaking in tongues?

I want every one of my children to speak in tongues…1 Corinthians 14:5
Speaking in tongues is speaking to God………………1 Corinthians 14:2
Speaking in tongues is speaking divine secrets…..….1 Corinthians 14:2
Speaking in tongues edifies the person speaking……1 Corinthians 14:4
Speaking in tongues says thank you to God…….…...1 Corinthians 14:17
Speaking in tongues confirms you are God’s child…..1 Corinthians 12:3
Speaking in tongues is perfect prayer………………... Romans 8:26

There are so many confusing or completely wrong teachings concerning speaking in tongues. Error and confusion. There is error and confusion because we are not paying attention to what God is saying in His Word. I do not care what some man said seventeen hundred years ago, or sixteen hundred years ago. What is God saying in His Word today?

Do you want to speak in tongues?
Do you want the benefits of speaking in tongues?
All you need is the right knowledge.

How to speak in tongues

God has given the manifestation of holy spirit to each of us for our benefit. 
How important is speaking in tongues to the individual believer?

Go back again and read over the list of the benefits of speaking in tongues. Ponder and consider each aspect carefully. Then, consider the life of the Apostle Paul. Look at the impact of his life, how much did he speak in tongues? How great of an impact can you have in life? 

1 Corinthians 14:18
I thank my God; I speak with tongues more than ye all.

Paul spent eighteen months teaching and preaching in the city of Corinth. How many in Corinth believed God’s Word?

Acts 18:9-10
Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

How many people did God have in Corinth? Much! How many is much? I do not know, but over the next year and a half many believed (Acts 18:8), and Paul spoke in tongues more than all of them combined.

1 Corinthians 4:16-17
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers [mimetes = imitators] of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

Imitate the Apostle Paul and speak in tongues much! 

Enjoy the benefits and increase your impact.

1. IGNORANCE | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary
2. Ignorance Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster
3. Strong's Greek: 3539. νοιέω (noeó) -- to perceive, think (
4. Publilius Syrus Biography - 1st century BC Syrian-born Latin writer | Pantheon
5. ignorance is bliss’: meaning and origin – word histories
6. Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, pgs.,819, 829 E.E. Bullinger
7. Strong's Greek: 3762. οὐδείς, no one, none (

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A Journey through the Book of Acts