You wrote that those who received John's baptism probably didn't get baptized again. So how then did they get the indwelling or seal of the Holy Spirit? Did John's baptism confer the Holy Spirit on the people, too? This seems unlikely, given what is s written in Acts 19, which I interpret to mean that the disciples Paul meets in Ephesus were baptized by John (for repentance under the Old Covenant, and so were saved under the Old Covenant), but had not received the Spirit. Also, do you think that, if the NT writers had known about the confusion Satan would stir up regarding baptism and salvation, they would have written the N.T. any differently? -- Brian Caserto (Ithaca, New York)

About the confusion over salvation, we should remember that the N.T. writers did not necessarily know they were writing the New Testament. They were simply responding to needs, by writing letters, gospels, etc. I believe the N.T. is written just the way the Holy Spirit intended.

About John's baptism, the Bible simply doesn't say when those so immersed received the Spirit. The seal is Spirit itself, and the phrase "receiving the seal" in the Patristic writers means being baptized. The indwelling, I presume, took place when these persons came to faith in Christ. Yet we should remember that this exceptional situation obtained only for a few years. After a generation (or less?), John's previous followers would have made the transition, and those who falsely believed they understood John (viz. the disciples in Acts 19) were treated as though they had never been baptized at all.

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