on Acts 19 :2
Have ye received the Holy Ghost - It is likely that these were Asiatic Jews, who, having been at Jerusalem about twenty-six years before this, had heard the preaching of John, and received his baptism, believing in the coming Christ, whom John had proclaimed; but it appears that till this time they had got no farther instruction in the Christian religion. Paul, perceiving this, asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed? For it was the common privilege of the disciples of Christ to receive, not only the ordinary graces, but also the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit; and thus the disciples of Christ differed from those of John, and of all others. John baptized with water; Jesus baptized with the Holy Ghost. And to this day the genuine disciples of Christ are distinguished from all false religionists, and from nominal Christians, by being made partakers of this Spirit, which enlightens their minds, and convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment; quickens their souls, witnesses to their conscience that they are the children of God, and purifies their hearts. Those who have not received these blessings from the Holy Spirit, whatever their profession may be, know nothing better than John's baptism: good, excellent in its kind, but ineffectual to the salvation of those who live under the meridian of Christianity.
We have not so much as heard whether, etc. - That is, they had not heard that there were particular gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit to be received. They could not mean that they had not heard of the Holy Spirit; for John, in his baptism, announced Christ as about to baptize with the Holy Ghost, Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; but they simply meant that they had not heard that this Spirit, in his gifts, had been given to or received by any one.
on Acts 19 :2
Have ye received the Holy Spirit? - Have ye received the extraordinary effusions and miraculous influences of the Holy Spirit? Paul would not doubt that, if they had "believed," they had received the ordinary converting influences of the Holy Spirit - for it was one of his favorite doctrines that the Holy Spirit renews the heart. But, besides this, the miraculous influences of the Spirit were conferred on many societies of believers. The power of speaking with tongues, or of working miracles, was imparted as an evidence of the presence of God, and of their acceptance with him, Acts 10:45-46; 1 Corinthians 14. It was natural for Paul to ask whether this evidence of the divine favor has been granted to them.
Since ye believed - Since you embraced the doctrine of John that the Messiah was soon to come.
We have not so much as heard ... - This seems to be a very strange answer. Yet we are to remember:
(1) That these were mere disciples of John's doctrine, and that his preaching related particularly to the Messiah, and not to the Holy Spirit.
(2) it does not even appear that they had heard that the Messiah had come, or had heard of Jesus of Nazareth, Acts . Acts 19:4-5.
(3) it is not remarkable, therefore, that they had no clear conceptions of the character and operations of the Holy Spirit. Yet,
(4) They were just in that state of mind that they were willing to embrace the doctrine when it was proclaimed to them, thus showing that they were really under the influence of the Holy Spirit. God may often produce important changes in the hearts and lives of sinners, even where they have no clear and systematic views of religious doctrines. In all such cases, however, there will be a readiness of heart to embrace the truth where it is made known.
on Acts 19 :2
19:2 Have ye received the Holy Ghost? - The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, as well as his sanctifying graces? We have not so much as heard - Whether there be any such gifts.