The couple of posts we’ve been learning about 12 believers that Paul met in Ephesus. Right off the bat he noticed something was missing, so he prayed and, viola! The Holy Spirit came . . .
These twelve disciples were Jews. They sat under the teaching of Apollos and probably heard him in the synagogue. They lived in the Jewish community, and were regarded as a sect or group of Jews. Now they have become Christians, but their friends and those all around them are still Jews. Within this setting—if not actually in the synagogue then in the Jewish community—as they are now filled with the Holy Spirit they use the gift of tongues by which they praise God in languages they had never learned, and do so publicly and privately as a sign to unbelievers that God is at work.
Remember that Paul tells us in First Corinthians 14 that this is the answer to the prediction of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had said to the people of Israel in his day, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” That is, “When you see and hear men coming to you speaking with other tongues, then you will know that the hour has struck when God turns from Israel to the Gentile world. The gospel is now to go out to the Gentiles as well.” This was the sign, then, to the unbelieving Jews.
Along with the gift of tongues was also given the gift of prophesying. The simplest description I can give you is that the gift of prophesy is the ability to open and expound the Scriptures in power and truth. Yeah, yeah. I know there is more to it than that, but it would take a whole other teaching to explain it. The word prophet comes from two Greek words: pro phaino. Phaino means “to cause to shine” or “to make shine,” and pro means “before.” So giving a prophesy is standing before the Word of God and causing it to shine, to illuminate people’s lives with the power and truth of the Scriptures. That’s the way Peter uses it: “We have a more sure word of prophecy which shines as a light in a dark place,” (II Peter 1:19). These twelve new Christians of Ephesus began to prophesy as the Spirit illuminated their minds. The Spirit of God rose up within them and they began to speak with power. This immediately was a sign to Paul that they had moved into the full-orbed experience of the Christian life.
When these twelve people were filled, and the Holy Spirit came on them, it was demonstrated by the use of these gifts of the Spirit. So no one could ever again ask them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” There was a difference about their lives. They obviously were now filled with new power and strength. It started when they believed in Jesus. Then there was the release of the Holy Spirit.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts