Question: I have always been taught that a person should only get baptized once.
Acts 19:4-5 seems to report an instance in which disciples were baptized twice (first by John, and later by Paul).
Am I reading this correctly?
Answered by Francis Turretin:
Acts 19:4-5 does not prove that the Ephesian disciples, who had John’s baptism, were rebaptized by Paul. For the words “when they heard they were baptized” (akousantes de ebaptisthesan, v. 5) are not the words of Luke narrating what followed Paul’s discourse to them, but rather a confirmation the Pauline oration to those Ephesians, by which he teaches that those who had received baptism from John, had been baptized in the name of Christ and so had no need of a new baptism.
Thus Paul is introduced saying, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him [akousantes de for hoi de akousantes]; now they who heard him (to wit, John) were baptized in the name of Jesus” (viz., by John himself).
Therefore this discourse of Paul instructed those to whom it is directed concerning the baptism which they had received, while in no way does it teach that they were rebaptized.
Thus it is evident that the passage can be explained best from the force of the particles men and de, which, although they are often expletives and are used alone, still they never occur together in a composition without being adversatives.
Unless, then, we wish to pull to pieces the discourse of Paul, we ought to confess that the words akousantes de are not the words of Luke, but of Paul addressing the Ephesians themselves. Luke continues the words of Paul in v. 6 and connects it with vv. 3 and 4 by the conjunction (viz., narrating that Paul, it being heard that they had been baptized by John, laid his hands upon them, as in Acts 8:14, 17).
Source (emphasis added): Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Volume 3, page 402