Acts Chapter Nineteen
Read Acts 19:1-12
v1. “AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT, WHILE APOLLOS WAS
latter part of Acts chapter 18, Luke tells us about Paul going to
v.2 “He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.”
v.3 “And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.”
Paul, learning that they did not know what they should about Christ then asks what should be an obvious question. “UNTO WHAT THEN WERE HE BAPTIZED?” They had been baptized, but why, for what purpose? What does this tell us about baptism today? That we can be baptized for the wrong reasons, for the wrong purpose, not having been properly taught. Paul gives us a solution for this kind of problem.
v.4 “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
What was the purpose of John the Baptizer?
Luke 1:17 “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
John’s purpose was to “MAKE READY A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD”. He baptized for the remission of sins but did not baptize people into Jesus Christ.
v.5 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
When these men learned
the Word of God concerning Jesus Christ his Son; they were baptized again even
though they had been baptized with the baptism of John. We have no evidence that the apostles were
baptized again after Pentecost, we have
no evidence that anyone else who was baptized with John’s baptism was baptized
again though we could speculate that there were those present at Pentecost who
had been baptized by John the Baptizer.
Why are these people at
v.6-7 “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7And all the men were about twelve.”
Paul laid his hands upon them just as Peter and John had done for the Samaritans in Acts and that we find in other references. As a sign that these men have now been converted, accepted and received the necessary power to serve God properly they speak in tongues and prophesy.
This is something that does not happen today, simply because the need for it has passed. We now have the fully revealed scripture that everyone can read and special guidance is no longer required. Also; since the word of God has been confirmed once by these signs, it is not necessary to continue to confirm that this is God’s revealed will.
v8. “AND HE WENT INTO THE SYNAGOGUE,
AND SPAKE BOLDLY FOR THE SPACE OF THREE MONTHS, DISPUTING AND PERSUADING THE
THINGS CONCERNING THE
For three months Paul preaches and teaches in the synagogue trying to persuade these Ephesian Jews to accept Jesus Christ. This is his pattern.
In Thessalonica Paul reasoned with the Jews for three weeks or three sabbath days.
Acts 17:2 “AND PAUL, AS HIS MANNER WAS, WENT IN UNTO THEM, AND THREE SABBATH DAYS REASONED WITH THEM OUT OF THE SCRIPTURES.”
Acts 18:4 “AND HE REASONED IN THE SYNAGOGUE EVERY SABBATH, AND PERSUADED THE JEWS AND THE GREEKS.”
The reaction was about the same, wasn’t it?
v9. “BUT WHEN DIVERS WERE HARDENED, AND BELIEVED
NOT, BUT SPAKE EVIL OF THAT WAY BEFORE THE MULTITUDE, HE DEPARTED FROM THEM,
AND SEPARATED THE DISCIPLES, DISPUTING DAILY IN THE
evil of that way, what way? The same way
that Saul was going to
Acts 9:2 “AND DESIRED OF HIM LETTERS TO
It wasn’t unusual for Paul to be criticized and spoken evil of was it?
II Timothy “THIS THOU KNOWEST,
THAT ALL THEY WHICH ARE IN
But here the church is being evil spoken of as well. This is also a situation that is not unusual today; if we talking a group of people that are really the church that Jesus built. And this isn’t the only occasion that we find this occurring, for Peter tells us:
II Peter 2:2 “AND MANY SHALL FOLLOW THEIR PERNICIOUS WAYS; BY REASON OF WHOM THE WAY OF TRUTH SHALL BE EVIL SPOKEN OF.”
Paul does the only thing that he can do. He separates himself from those that would
not hear and teaches daily in a school that was owned by a man called
Tyrannus. This is sort of like our
v10. “AND THIS CONTINUED BY THE SPACE OF TWO
YEARS; SO THAT ALL THEY WHICH DWELT IN
years Paul continues in this region. The gospel is preached, not just in the
v11. “AND GOD WROUGHT SPECIAL MIRACLES BY THE HANDS OF PAUL.”
wrought, God can suspend His laws of nature and the power to do that is found
only in the members of the Godhead. History
tells us that
v12. “SO THAT FROM HIS BODY WERE BROUGHT UNTO THE SICK HANDKERCHIEFS OR APRONS, AND THE DISEASES DEPARTED FROM THEM, AND THE EVIL SPIRITS WENT OUT OF THEM.”
All they had to do was have a handkerchief that Paul had prepared, or an apron or some garment brought to the sick person or the one possessed with the evil spirit and it could be removed. False teachers have tried to imitate Paul in this in my lifetime, selling handkerchiefs, prayer clothes, etc. over radio and television. The healing that Paul did, including the removal of evil spirits from people who were affected by them, was greater that any of these magicians or sorcerers could perform. One of the reasons that special powers were given to the apostles was to confirm that they indeed came from God.
Read Acts 19:13-20
v.13 “ Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.”
Vagabond or in the ASV strolling Jews; those who traveled about from place to place and practiced sorcery or exorcism. Jesus was accused of the same kind of sorcery:
Luke “And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.”
Exorcism comes from the Greek “exorkizo” which means literally to “extract an oath”. So these Jews used an oath as a charm or spell. They thought that Paul was just another one like them who had found a new, more powerful way to do what they pretended to do.
v.14 “And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.”
History does not tell who Sceva was. Some think that he was a high priest others would translate the Greek as ruler rather than priest. This translation would indicate that he was at least a chief of one of the 24 courses of priests who served the temple in Jerusalem and my very well have been one of those to whom Jesus was speaking in Luke 11:19. These seven traveling exorcists are his sons.
v.15 “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”
These men attempt to remove an evil spirit from a man using the name of Jesus Christ, as perhaps they had seen Paul do. The response was I know Jesus Christ and I know Paul, who are you?
v.16 “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
This evil spirit not only speaks through the person that he controls but exercises physical control as well. He generates the strength to give these pretenders the thrashing of their lives. Greek scholars tell us that the word translated “NAKED” probably only means that their garments were torn, not that they were rendered completely naked, wounded means physical wounds.
v.17 “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”
This episode with the
sons of Sceva becomes known throughout
Acts -11 “Then fell she down straightway at his feet,
and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and,
v.18 “And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.”
This fear of the name
of Jesus Christ not only affected the sorcerers and idolaters in
v.19 “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”
Apparently some of
those converted in
They “BROUGHT THEIR BOOKS TOGETHER AND BURNED THEM BEFORE ALL.” These books were very valuable. They contained the incantations, recipes for love potions, formulas for casting out evil spirits and all manner of things these people needed to practice their magic. This burning was not only a confession of their past deeds but public and visible repentance as well. Luke records the extent of their sacrifice and the value of these books as 50 thousand pieces of silver. A piece of silver in this context is probably the Greek drachme, worth about 20 cents, but was a day’s wages.
v.20 “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”
These people now turned
their energy to the Word of God. The
full meaning of the word translated “MIGHTILY” means to prevail with
“overpowering force and strength, which nothing could resist.” It is similar to that we find in
Acts 6:7 “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples
“THE WORD OF GOD” grew
and gained strength, consequently there was a very large church at
Read Acts 19:21-41
v.21 “After these things were ended, Paul purposed
in the spirit, when he had passed through
The church is strong
and growing; the entire district has been covered with the Word of God, so now
Paul turns his attention to other regions where he has preached before. He has two purposes for his journey. One is to build up the churches that he has
planted, the second to collect for the needs of the poor saints at
v.22 “So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.”
Paul didn’t want to
v.23 “And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.”
Luke tells us that at this time that a major controversy arose about “THAT WAY”, the way of Jesus Christ. Paul writes the brethren about it as follows:
II Corinthians 1:8 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:”
v.24 “For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;”
The church and the word
of God has now gotten in the way of some very
successful businessmen in
v.25 “Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.”
So Demetrius starts to gather the forces needed to oppose Paul. He calls together the workmen of his trade and makes them aware of the danger to their means of wealth. In Roman times guilds or unions existed for most trades, much the same as we have union locals in many places today. It wasn’t hard to get them together, nor to persuade them that they had a problem.
v.26 “Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:”
Their problem is not
only found in the city of
Psalms 115:4-8 “THEIR IDOLS are SILVER AND GOLD, THE WORK OF MEN’S HANDS. THEY HAVE MOUTHS, BUT THEY SPEAK NOT: EYES HAVE THEY, BUT THEY SEE NOT: THEY HAVE EARS, BUT THEY HEAR NOT: NOSES HAVE THEY , BUT THEY SMELL NOT: THEY HAVE HANDS, BUT THEY HANDLE NOT: FEET HAVE THEY, BUT THEY WALK NOT: NEITHER SPEAK THEY THOUGH THEIR THROAT. THEY THAT MAKE THEM ARE LIKE UNTO THEM; so is EVERY ONE THAT TRUSTETH IN THEM.”
v.27 “So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.”
Demetrius follows the
practice of what we today find in politics and in most new media; spin
doctors. He presents his problem by the
best means to accomplish his purpose of stirring up opposition. Not only is their craft in danger but also
the temple of the great goddess of their city.
v.28 “And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”
Demetrius achieved his
purpose. The crowd rapidly becomes a mob
and starts to cry out in support of their god.
We might note here that they’re not talking about Diana the Greek
goddess who was represented as a fair and beautiful young woman but rather
another Diana, peculiar to the city of
v.29 “And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.”
This mob fomented by their financial losses and perhaps even lack of employment; takes up a chant and goes toward the place were Paul usually preached. The city is filled with confusion; they are in a frenzy and gather others like them along the way. They can’t find Paul but find Gaius and Aristarchus. Commentators tell us that this is not the Gaius that is mentioned in other scriptures but this is the Aristarchus from Thessalonica who was a companion of Paul. History tells us that this theatre seated about 25,000 people.
v.30 “And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.”
One thing that we can note is that Paul was no coward; neither would he hide behind other people. He tries to go into the theatre where this mob has brought his brethren but other disciples prevent him from doing so. The implication is that this restraint was probably physical.
v.31 “And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.”
Even those who were of the governing men of the province who knew Paul advised him not to enter this place were the mob had gathered. We’re told that there was a group of ten men whose job was to manage and keep order at the annual games and festival that was held to honor their goddess, Diana. This could be some of them or others whose job it was to help govern the province.
v.32 “Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.”
This mob of people was confused; most of them didn’t even know why they had come together. Some cried one thing, some another and generally created a tumult without understandable purpose.
v.33 “and they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.”
The Jews who opposed Paul are also there, taking advantage of the situation that has arisen. They put forward one of their number, a man named Alexander to speak for them and to try to move the mob toward one single purpose. Some believe that this is the same Alexander who was a coppersmith that Paul mentions in II Timothy as having “DID ME MUCH EVIL” and “GREATLY WITHSTOOD OUR WORDS.” We don’t know, of course, because the scripture doesn’t tell us but it’s a logical conclusion.
v.34 “But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”
But the other Ephesians recognized Alexander as a Jew and they would have no part of him being involved in their efforts. We’re told that this uproar continued for a space of two hours, the mob chanting and screaming out their praise for their idol god.
v.35 “And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?”
The city of
v.36 “Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.”
He presents this information as they believed it, as undeniable fact when we know that it is but nonsense. But in so doing he persuades them that they are doing something rash that will create more problems than it will solve.
v.37 “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”
Like the lynch mobs of the old west, they have brought these two men here who have done nothing to condemn them. He reminds the mob that they are neither blasphemers of Diana or robbers of churches and gives them some sound advice.
v.38 “Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.”
He tells them that
Demetrius and his guild or union is simply using them. If they have a legitimate complaint against
Paul and the Christians at
v.39 “But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.”
He also tells them that if they continue to think that they have a legitimate problem that they should being it to a lawful assembly and let the proper authorities deal with it.
v.40-41 “For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.”
It was a Roman law
which made it a capital crime to raise a riot.