19:1-7 Paul, at Ephesus, found some religious persons, who looked to Jesus as the Messiah. They had not been led to expect the miraculous powers of the Holy Ghost, nor were they informed that the gospel was especially the ministration of the Spirit. But they spake as ready to welcome the notice of it. Paul shows them that John never design that those he baptized should rest there, but told them that they should believe on Him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. They thankfully accepted the discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Ghost came upon them in a surprising, overpowering manner; they spake with tongues, and prophesied, as the apostles and the first Gentile coverts did. Though we do not now expect miraculous powers, yet all who profess to be disciples of Christ, should be called on to examine whether they have received the seal of the Holy Ghost, in his sanctifying influences, to the sincerity of their faith. Many seem not to have heard that there is a Holy Ghost, and many deem all that is spoken concerning his graces and comforts, to be delusion. Of such it may properly be inquired, Unto what, then, were ye baptized? for they evidently know not the meaning of that outward sign on which they place great dependence.
2. Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?—rather, "Received ye the Holy Ghost when ye believed?" implying, certainly, that the one did not of necessity carry the other along with it (see on Ac 8:14-17). Why this question was asked, we cannot tell; but it was probably in consequence of something that passed between them from which the apostle was led to suspect the imperfection of their light.
We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost—This cannot be the meaning, since the personality and office of the Holy Ghost, in connection with Christ, formed an especial subject of the Baptist's teaching. Literally, the words are, "We did not even hear whether the Holy Ghost was (given)"; meaning, at the time of their baptism. That the word "given" is the right supplement, as in Joh 7:39, seems plain from the nature of the case.