When do you think John the Baptist was taken into prison in relationship to Jesus' ministry? It seems like one account says that after Jesus got back from the wilderness, John was taken immediately to prison. However, we know that John pointed the disciples to Jesus when he told them that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Also, speaking of John, I have always been under the impression that his was the baptism of repentance, while Jesus was the baptism of remission of sins. However, if in fact that is true, why in two other accounts does it specify that John was baptizing for the forgiveness of sins? Could be that in the account in Acts 19 these Ephesians were already saved, yet hadn't received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? -- Bob Bertalot (Portland, Oregon)

Second question first. I think you are right. It does not appear the Ephesian disciples had received the Spirit. After all, they did not even know about the Spirit, even though they should have, as this was part of John's message. (Check all the accounts, in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1!) They had received John's baptism but even then it was defective. Since I have dealt with this passage previously at the website, as well as in The Spirit, let's move on to your first question.

As we read the gospels, we need to take into account that events are telescoped. They have been edited, and include events of theological significance to the evangelist who recorded them. However brief the interlude between John's sending his disciples to Jesus (John 1) and his imprisonment--and there is reason to believe it was not very long--there is no necessary contradiction here. If you have not yet read it, I would urge you to study Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. This invaluable book will help tremendously. In fact, I recommend it to every student of the Bible, past the introductory level.

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