John < Jesus


I love the imagery in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 about Christian ministry: Some of us plant and others water but God gives the growth. It is kind of the Lord to lead us to encounters with people who have already had gospel seeds planted. Maybe they have heard some biblical teaching, or have big questions about life, or know a believer who lives a compelling Christ-centered life. Then you come along and fill in the picture with the gospel of Jesus, and the Lord opens their hearts (as with Lydia in Acts 16:14).

  • Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was genuinely open to Jesus but lacked the full story of who Jesus is and what he came to do?


19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.There were about twelve men in all.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Were the people Paul encountered at Ephesus disciples of Jesus or disciples of John?
  2. What was the point of “John’s baptism”?
  3. Why had the Holy Spirit not yet come upon these disciples?
  4. Paul boldly asked about the spiritual life of these Ephesians then boldly told them about Jesus. Do you stand ready to do the same with people who have partial knowledge of the gospel?


John had said, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). These followers of John the Baptist had not yet realized that the baptism John spoke of had come (see Acts 2)! When Paul filled them in, they eagerly accepted the message and were baptized in the name of Jesus. They spoke in tongues and prophesied to verify that they had, indeed, received the Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I only had partial knowledge about Jesus for a long time and am so grateful God sent several people to me to fill in my inadequate views of Jesus. I am sure you can relate. Now it is our turn to do that for others!

  • Thank God for patiently teaching us and not giving up on us when we believed half-truths.
  • Ask the Lord for courage to ask penetrating questions and to boldly tell your friends about the real Jesus.