on Acts 19 :5
When they heard this, etc. - As there is no evidence in the New Testament of persons being rebaptized, unless this be one, many criticisms have been hazarded to prove that these persons were not rebaptized. I see no need of this. To be a Christian, a man must be baptized in the Christian faith: these persons had not been baptized into that faith, and therefore were not Christians: they felt this, and were immediately baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. This is a plain case; but let one instance be produced of a person being rebaptized, who had before been baptized in the name of the holy Trinity, or even in the name of Jesus alone. In my view, it is an awful thing to iterate baptism when it had been before essentially performed: by "essentially performed," I mean, administered by sprinkling, washing, or plunging, by or in water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, being invoked at the time. Whoever has had this has the essence of baptism, as far as that can be conferred by man; and it matters not at what period of his life he has had it; it is a substantial baptism, and by it the person has been fully consecrated to the holy and blessed Trinity; and there should not be an iteration of this consecration on any account whatever. It is totally contrary to the canon law; it is contrary to the decisions of the best divines; it is contrary to the practice of the purest ages of the Church of God; it is contrary to the New Testament, and tends to bring this sacred ordinance into disrepute.
on Acts 19 :5
When they heard this - When they heard what Paul had said respecting the nature of John's baptism.
They were baptized ... - As there is no other instance in the New Testament of any persons having been rebaptized, it has been made a question by some critics whether it was done here; and they have supposed that all this is the narrative of Luke respecting what took place under the ministry of John: to wit, that he told them to believe on Christ Jesus, and then baptized them in his name. But this is a most forced construction; and it is evident that these persons were rebaptized by the direction of Paul. For:
(1) This is the obvious interpretation of the passage - what would strike all persons as correct, unless there were some previous theory to support.
(2) it was not a matter of fact that John baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. His was the baptism of repentance; and there is not the slightest evidence that he ever used the name of Jesus in the form of baptism.
(3) if it be the sense of the passage that John baptized them in the name of Jesus, then this verse is a mere repetition of Acts . Acts 19:4; a tautology of which the sacred writers would not be guilty.
(4) it is evident that the persons on whom Paul laid his hands Acts . Acts 19:6, and those who were baptized, were the same. But these were the persons who heard Acts . Acts 19:5 what was said. The narrative is continuous, all parts of it cohering together as relating to a transaction that occurred at the same time. If the obvious interpretation of the passage be the true one, it follows that the baptism of John was not strictly Christian baptism. It was the baptism of repentance; a baptism designed to prepare the way for the introduction of the kingdom of the Messiah. It will not follow, however, from this that Christian baptism is now ever to be repeated. For this there is no warrant in the New Testament. There is no command to repeat it, as in the case of the Lord's Supper; and the nature and design of the ordinance evidently supposes that it is to be performed but once. The disciples of John were rebaptized, not because baptism is designed to be repeated, but because they never had been, in fact, baptized in the manner prescribed by the Lord Jesus.
In the name of the Lord Jesus - See the notes on Acts 2:38.
on Acts 19 :5
19:5 And hearing this, they were baptized - By some other. Paul only laid his hands upon them. They were baptized - They were baptized twice; but not with the same baptism. John did not administer that baptism which Christ afterward commanded, that is, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.