While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" he asked them.
"No," they replied, "we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
— Acts 19:1-2 NLT
Nothing is more fundamental to the transformation of a lost sinner into a disciple of Jesus than the gift of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptizer had said that the Holy Spirit was the promised work of Jesus to purify and make people his own. So, if people didn't know about the Holy Spirit or hadn't received the Holy Spirit, they had not been born into God's family.* These believers had repented and had their sins forgiven in John's baptism (Mark 1:4; Acts 19:3), but they had not yet received the power of Christ alive inside of them in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The "normal" process of conversion in Acts involved a public confession of Jesus as Lord and Christ and baptism into water, while calling on the name of the Lord for salvation.** On several occasions, however, the Spirit didn't come immediately or even came before baptism.* These different occurrences were the Spirit guiding Jesus' disciples to include people in the family of Christ (Acts 1:8). The disciples of John in Ephesus were not yet Christians. They had not received the Spirit with their baptism. They didn't know about the Spirit. So, Paul had them baptized into water while calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 19:5; cf. Acts 22:16 and Romans 10:9-13). Then, Paul laid his hands on them, and Jesus sent them the Spirit in a demonstrable way, to prove they now belonged to Jesus' family (Acts 19:6).
O Father, forgive us for discounting the importance of the Holy Spirit in our birth into your family. Jesus, thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit when we confessed you as Savior and Christ, and as we called on your name as our Lord in baptism. Thank you for making each of us your child! In the name of Jesus, who saved us and poured out the Holy Spirit upon us, we thank you. Amen.