Is it Paul or Luke that is speaking in Acts 19:5?

ἀκούσαντες δὲ ἐβαπτίσθησαν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ. [Acts 19:5, SBL Edition]

John Gill would say it's Paul:

these are the words of the Apostle Paul, giving an account of John's baptism, and of the success of his ministry, showing, that his baptism was administered in the name of the Lord Jesus; and not the words of Luke the Evangelist, recording what followed upon his account of John's baptism; for then he would have made mention of the apostle's name, as he does in the next verse [John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary, Acts 19:5]

However, most translations only put quotation marks around verse 4, indicating that Paul stopped speaking after that. So does the greek allow for John Gills interpretation of the verse?

  • I think v5 and v6 are part of the same thought. NA28 has a period in v5, but UBS5 has a comma. Nov 6 '17 at 17:22

I have been greatly influenced in my life by the writings of William Huntington 1745 - 1813. He followed John Gill in some things for he was not educated and knew only the English bible, the KJV. When he needed assistance in the original, Gill was one of those to whom he leaned and whom he quoted as 'the learned'.

But in some things, Huntington was misled by Gill, led astray by Gill's classical aptitude. And I think that this is another instance of it, myself. The original, yes, could be construed, grammatically, in the way he is suggesting; but it makes no sense at all.

John's baptism was not the same as the baptism with which the apostles baptised. John's baptism was the last act that Israelites performed as a figure of that which was to come - the New Testament. The baptism of John is a matter of repentance unto the unburdening of sins, Matthew 3:2 and other places.

John makes clear the ministry of John Baptist in John 1:35,36 where John stands and Jesus walks and the disciples must leave John and follow Jesus, for John can only take them so far.

The apostles - not John - were to baptise in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19. This was something new.

And in this passage it is clear that Luke records the matter of some who had only received John's baptism and had not yet received the Holy Spirit nor the baptism into the body of Christ.

The Received Text records v6 as :

ακουσαντες δε εβαπτισθεσαν εις το ονομα του κυριον ιεσου

and, yes, that could be viewed as ambiguous, but not doctrinally, given what we already know of the baptism of John. John's baptism was only ever stated to be unto repentance; never in the name of the Lord Jesus, which, in any case is a title only given to him after ascension.

It is abundantly clear, doctrinally and in context, I believe, that Paul spoke to these disciples at Ephesus, then baptised them and then laid hands upon them.

I do not know enough of John Gill and his doctrine to be able to say why he says what he says, but, to me, it is simply not acceptable.

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