“And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.”
King James Version (KJV)
19:3 Into what were ye baptized - Into what dispensation? To the sealing of what doctrine? Into John's baptism - We were baptized by John and believe what he taught.
Ac 19:3 Unto what then were ye baptized? This question implies that the possession of the Holy Spirit is closely connected with a right baptism. Compare Ac 2:38. The only case in which the Spirit was received before baptism was that of Cornelius. For the reasons of this exception to the rule, see notes on Ac 10:44-47. The fact that these disciples "know nothing of the Holy Spirit being given" (Ac 19:2), showed that there was something wrong about their baptism. Unto John's baptism. While John's baptism differed from that commanded in Christ's commission (Mt 28:19), the apostles, the one hundred and twenty (Ac 1:15), and the "five hundred brethren" (1Co 15:6), as far as we know, received no other. We are to infer, therefore, that it was valid until Christ's baptism took its place. Why, then, were these disciples re-baptized? The only explanation is that their baptism took place after John's baptism had been superseded by that of Christ, or after the Savior had been crucified.