Chapter 19: Acts 19: 1-41, Paul’s third missionary journey
Heavenly Father, we pray for ears to hear You and eyes to see You. We pray that You will direct our steps, answer our prayers, and speak to us through scriptures, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
V 1-3, 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus, and finding certain disciples, 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. 3 And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John’s baptism.
Paul started his third missionary journey. He traveled by land through Galatia, Asia Minor, and arrived at Ephesus, while Apollos was in Corinth. Paul stayed in Ephesus for 3 years. Ephesus was the guardian of the temple of Diana or Artemis, the patron goddess of women. According to Greek mythology, Diana was the daughter of Zeus or Jupiter. Besides paganism, Ephesus was also an active commercial centre.
Paul discovered that believers in Ephesus had not received the Holy Spirit because they were baptised by John the Baptist and were ignorant about the Holy Spirit.
VV 4-7, 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.5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve.
Paul laid hands upon 12 Ephesian believers and baptised them in the name of Jesus. They were filled by the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and prophesied.
VV 8-10, 8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 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 school of one Tyrannus. 10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
Paul preached and taught the kingdom of God in the local synagogue for three months, but the unbelieving Jews antagonised, persecuted, and harassed Paul. He left the synagogue and taught in the school of Tyrannus daily for 2 years. Jews and Gentiles from all over Asia Minor came and heard Paul preach the word of Jesus in the school of Tyrannus. Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians in Ephesus during his third missionary journey.
VV 11-12, 11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 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.
Paul was so anointed by the Holy Spirit that even his aprons and handkerchiefs had the power to heal the sick and deliver the demon-possessed.
VV 13-16, 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. 14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?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.
Jews who practiced sorcery invoked the name of Jesus in their exorcism trade but the demons answered back and said, they did not recognise them. Sceva was one of the Jewish priests who practiced sorcery and occultism. The seven sons of Sceva invoked the name of Jesus to exorcise the demonised. The demons did not submit to their commands and leaped onto them causing physical injuries and embarrassments.
VV 17-20, 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. 18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 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. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
Ephesus was a stronghold of occult worship, paganism, and sorcery. When what happened to the seven sons of Sceva became public knowledge, fear came upon the people. The name of the Lord was exalted and many believed in Him. The sorcerers got together and burnt all the occult books, which were valued at 50,000 pieces of silver. This may be equivalent to a few million dollars in today’s economy. The church continued to grow and the faith of the believers was strengthened.
VV 21-22, 21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 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 laid out his future traveling plans to Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and Rome. He sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia to collect an offering for the Jerusalem church, while he stayed back in Ephesus, 1 Cor 16:1.
1 Cor 16:1, ‘’Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also’’.
VV 23-27, 23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen. 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 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. 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.
In those days, Christians were called followers of the way. Demetrius a silversmith was upset over the loss of income when people converted to Christianity and stopped buying statues of Diana. Blaming Paul for his loss of income, he instigated all the silversmiths in Ephesus to oppose and attack Paul.
VV 28-31, 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.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. 30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 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.
The silversmiths were filled with anger saying “Great is Diana”. They started a mob in the city. They arrested Paul’s disciples Gaius and Aristarchus and threw them into the Roman amphitheater, a huge open-air complex with a seating capacity of 20,000. Paul wanted to go in to rescue Gaius and Aristarchus, but his companions feared for his safety and prevented him from entering the theatre.
VV 32-41, 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.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. 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. 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? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 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. 39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 40 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. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
The people in the mob were confused and did not know what was happening. Alexander was hand-picked by the crowd to make an address but when the people found out that he was a Jew, they started chanting “Great is Diana” for 2 hours. The town clerk came to the rescue and addressed the mob. He acknowledged the people’s belief that Ephesus was the guardian to the temple of Diana whose image fell from the sky God, Jupiter. According to Greek mythology, Jupiter or Zeus was the father of Diana. He said Paul’s followers did not rob temples or churches and did not blaspheme their goddess Diana. If Demetrius or any other silversmith were unhappy over their loss of income, they could take the matter to the court. After this, he dismissed the crowd.
The Risen Christ rebuked the Ephesians church for abandoning their first love for Him in Rev 2:4. Today, the ruins of Ephesus and the huge Roman amphitheater had been excavated.
Rev 2:4, “nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love.”
The sorcerers in Ephesus invoked the names of Jesus Christ in their exorcism trade but it backfired on them. The demons recognised Jesus and Paul but they did not recognise the sorcerers. Non-Christians should not invoke the name of Jesus in prayer because it will not work. Jesus will only answer your prayer if you have a personal relationship with Him and abide in His Word, John 15:7.
The Ephesians silversmiths openly attacked and mobbed Paul and his companions. Persecution is one of the marks of an apostle. Paul was openly persecuted by hostile Jews in Damascus, Jerusalem, Philippi, Thessalonica, Lystra, Pisidia Antioch, Corinth, and now Ephesus. Paul continued to preach the gospel faithfully. He did not throw in the towel. Have you ever suffered persecuting or hostilities from any non-Christians?
Evangelism is a spiritual war against principalities, powers, thrones, rulers, authorities, and spiritual wickedness in high places. Spiritual warfare is real. You need to go on your knees every day and put on the whole armour of God, Ephesians 6.
John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Heavenly Father, we pray that You will remain in us even as we remain in You and Your words. Fill us with the Holy Spirit and saturate us in Your words. Correct, convict, teach, educate, and train us in righteousness, in Jesus’ name, Amen.