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Bible Commentaries
Acts 19

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples

1. Here Luke does a "meanwhile back at the ranch" type of dual events taking place at the same time. While Apollos is being taught and admonished at Corinth - Paul comes to Ephesus.

2. Paul and Apollos have traded places.

3. Paul is now on the third of his missionary journeys. He traveled the territory of his first trip. He re-visited them on the second journey. Now he quickly passes through and comes to Ephesus.

4. The "upper regions" includes the regions of Galatia, Phrygia, and Bithynia.

Verse 2

2 he said to them, " Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? " So they said to him, " We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit. "

1. Paul finds some disciples at Ephesus. They are converts of Apollos before he arrives at Corinth and his teaching corrected.

2. Paul asks about their reception of the Holy Spirit. They had not heard about the Holy Spirit. To Paul, this was a clue that something was not right with their baptism.

Verse 3

3 And he said to them, " Into what then were you baptized? " So they said, " Into John ' s baptism. "

1. Paul asks about the intent, purpose and faith in which they were baptized.

2. There are three essentials for baptism. a) the subject, a believer; b) the mode, immersion; c) the purpose, forgiveness of sins. [See my notes at verse 5.]

3. There response was to discuss "John's baptism" which preceded Christ and was intended to prepare for the coming Messiah.

Verse 4

4 Then Paul said, " John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. "

1. Paul points out a major flaw in their faith, and thus, their baptism. John the Baptizer was sent to prepare the way for Christ. Once Jesus came, John was to diminish.

2. John's baptism was:

1. A burial in water ( Mat_3:11 ; Joh_3:23

2. For the remission of sins ( Mar_1:4 ; Luk_3:3 )

3. Preceded by faith that the Messiah was coming

3. Now, some years AFTER the coming, death and resurrection of the Messiah, Apollos is still preaching that people should get ready for His coming.

4. The problem was one of the direction of their faith. They were looking FORWARD to a coming Messiah. The Messiah has ALREADY come. They needed a faith that looked BACK to the accomplished fact.

Verse 5

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

1. This is an example of "re-baptism." Baptism, valid, scriptural baptism, is a one time event. It was not an act to be repeated over and over again.

2. However, when any of the three essentials for a valid, scriptural baptism are missing, then - one has not been baptized.

3. The person may have done something that they called baptism.

4. Paul is not concerned about what someone might "call" baptism. Paul is concerned if their action met the essentials for it to be a valid, scriptural baptism as God has commanded.

5. The following outline sets out the three essentials for a valid baptism.

Must I be baptized again?

I often am asked this question. It comes in many forms. I have been asked, "I was baptized as an infant in _____ church. Must I be baptized again?" Or I have has people ask, "I was baptized at age 25 into _____ church. Must I be baptized again?" There are three important questions that you must answer about your previous baptism.

1. What was done? (Mode - immersion)

1. In the New Testament - Baptism - is immersion.

2. It is a burial in water - Rom_6:4 ; Col_2:12

3. If your previous baptism was sprinkling or pouring - then it was not the baptism commanded in the Bible.

2. When was it done? (Subject - repentant believer)

1. By this question I am asking were you an infant, a young child, a teenager, or an adult?

2. In the New Testament - baptism is for those who:

1. Believe - Act_8:37

2. Repent of their sins - Act_2:38

3. Confess their faith in Jesus - Rom_10:9-10

3. These requirements mean that the person ready to be baptized must be mature enough to:

1. Know that they are lost, a sinner.

2. Reach a point of faith that Jesus died for our sins.

3. Make a decision to follow Christ.

4. To express what they believe about Jesus orally in front of others.

4. If your previous baptism was done BEFORE you were able to have faith and confess that faith with your mouth - your baptism was not what the Bible commands.

3. Why were you baptized? (Purpose - forgiveness of sins)

1. The purpose of baptism is also important.

2. Here are some passages that teach the purpose of baptism:

1. Act_2:38 - for remission of sins

2. Act_22:16 - wash away sins

3. 1Pe_3:21 - to be saved

4. Rom_6:4 - to walk in a new life

5. Act_10:48 - commanded

6. Mar_16:16 - to be saved

3. In many denominations baptism is for the purpose of:

1. Joining the church.

2. Showing that you are already saved.

3. An outward symbol what has already taken place in the heart.

4. If the purpose of your baptism was anything other than seeking salvation (forgiveness of sins) then your baptism was not the what the Bible teaches as the correct purpose.

Conclusion : If your baptism was not what the New Testament commands - You need to be baptized. You need to buried in water, based on your confession of faith, for the purpose of forgiveness of sins.

Verse 6

6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

1. Paul laid hands on them. This was the means used by the apostles to distribute the spiritual gifts for Christians in the early church.

2. Proof of this is their ability to speak languages they had not learned or studied.

Verse 7

7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

1. Apollos had done some work at Ephesus.

2. He had baptized 12 men before moving on to Corinth.

3. While his teaching was wrong - his zeal and desire to spread the message was his driving force.

Verse 8

8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.

1. Paul now has the start of a good work.

2. He remains in Ephesus for three months.

3. He is reasoning. This word includes - discussion, thinking, challenging, reason. Paul was causing them to "think outside the box" on many matters.

4. He is persuading. Paul is also urging them to take some action, to obey the gospel, to respond in faith and be baptized.

Verse 9

9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

1. Some resisted. They refused to believe and obey the gospel.

2. They began the usual objections about "the way."

3. This word refers to a course of conduct, a way of thinking and acting. Paul was preaching, not just baptism, but a whole new course of conduct. Baptism is the beginning of a new life. Baptism is when we are born again ( Joh_3:5 )and are raised to walk in a new life. ( Rom_6:3-4 ) We become a new creation. ( 2Co_5:17 )

4. Paul began, what might be considered, the first school of preaching. He started teaching at the school of Tyrannus. This was a daily teaching opportunity to teach, train, and prepare others for the work of evangelism.

Verse 10

10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

1. Paul continued teaching at the school for two years. He was a year and a half at Corinth on his second journey. Paul remains in Ephesus for a total of three years. ( Act_20:31 )

2. Ephesus served as a hub and center of activity. All who live in Asia (the area of the seven churches of Asia in Rev_2:1-29 ; Rev_3:1-22 ; Rev_4:1-11 ) have had the opportunity to hear the word.

3. Paul is still teaching Jews. He is also reaching many non-Jews (Greeks, Gentiles).

Verse 11

11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,

1. Through Paul, many miracles were done.

2. Special or unusual - refers to the fact that the miracles Paul was doing were unique and were beyond dispute. All who saw them, knew them to be genuine.

Verse 12

12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

1. Paul was so much in demand for help with the sick that some tried all kinds of things. They would bring a garment from the sick person, seeking Paul to heal the person that wore this item.

2. TODAY - There are many charlatans that twist this passage as means to take in money. They send out the "prayer cloth" and request a donation.

3. Paul did not ask for donations. He did not send out the garments.

Verse 13

13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, " We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches. "

1. There were still many Jewish men who were exorcists. See Mat_7:21 (cast out demons in Your name) and Mat_12:27 (By whom do your sons cast them out?)

2. While they were still Jews, not converted to Christianity, they called upon the Lord Jesus. They were invoking the power of Jesus to overcome the evil spirits.

3. They were also including the name of Paul.

Verse 14

14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.

1. We now meet the seven sons of Sceva. Sceva is a priest. He is called a chief priest. This is not the same as a "high" priest. But in this city, he seems to be the one that organized and assigned work to all the priests.

2. The sons of Sceva were among those casting out demons by the name of Jesus and Paul.

Verse 15

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, " Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? "

1. The evil spirits respond. They recognize the power of Jesus and the name of Jesus. They also know of Paul, his teaching and miracles, including casting out demons.

2. But these demons don't recognize are acknowledge any power in the sons of Sceva.

3. Some have suggested that these men were "name droppers." They seem to be using whatever name they believe might exert over these evil spirits some power, fear, or reason to leave.

Verse 16

16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

1. The evil spirit possessing this man was real.

2. The exorcists were fake.

3. The spirits left the possessed man. They leaped, overpowered, and prevailed over the sons of Sceva. Now these fake exorcists are naked, wounded and fleeing in shame and embarrassment.

Verse 17

17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

1. This event became the talk of the town. Everyone seemed to hear about the fakes and the genuine.

2. The result was two-fold:

1. Fear - All the "fakers" were put on notice. Try pulling stunts like this and it will backfire and you will end up - possessed, exposed and embarrassed.

2. Jesus magnified - Jesus quickly becomes known as real, as opposed to the Jewish fakes. The name of Jesus rises in popularity and respect.

Verse 18

18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.

1. Now many believers realized that they had not fully left behind their pagan beliefs.

2. They came confessing their sins. They openly told of the sins and wickedness of their life.

3. Implied is that they repented and sought forgiveness.

Verse 19

19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.

1. Part of the cleansing process was to rid themselves of the books and other things that they now rejected.

2. Sometimes we understand the wrong of some action, but we hang on to some reminders and mementos of the past.

Verse 20

20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

1. Word spread rapidly. The church was growing quickly.

2. The church was becoming strong. It was strong and getting stronger. The Greek word here means to be strong, able to overcome, to be robust, sound in health.

3. The church was showing its strength. It was becoming a powerful force that could not be ignored.

Verse 21

21 When these things were accomplished, 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. "

1. Now Paul has a plan to spread the gospel even deeper into Europe. His ultimate goal - Rome.

2. He wants to leave Ephesus and travel to Macedonia, Greece.

3. He then desires to return to Jerusalem and eventually carry the gospel to Rome.

Verse 22

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.

1. He sent Erastus and Timothy to check on the churches in Macedonia.

2. Paul remained in Ephesus and Asia.

Verse 23

23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.

1. A great commotion - The KJV says, "no small stir". This is Luke's usual manner to state the opposite. "Not a few" actually means that many were converted.

2. The Way - Paul used this phrase when he was persecuting Christians. ( Act_9:2 ; Act_22:4 ) Now, he is preaching this way.

Verse 24

24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen.

1. Ephesus was the "headquarters" for the goddess Diana. There was, not only a large temple dedicated to her, but there was a whole industry around Diana.

2. There were candle makers, silversmiths, coppersmiths, priests, book and pamphlet makers, and other workers who were part of the temple care, operation and upkeep.

3. This temple was one of the seven wonders of the world at this time. It was the Taj Mahal of Ephesus.

4. The silversmiths made statues of Diana. They also made miniatures of the temple. These were great souvenirs for tourists.

5. This whole industry was in jeopardy if many were converted to Christianity. They would not buy the books, candles, and figurines. They saw Christianity hitting their bottom line and their very livelihood was at stake.

Verse 25

25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: " Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade.

1. Here is the first attempt to organize the workers. All those with a common interest in the issues are called together to discuss the situation.

2. "We have our prosperity by this trade." This is our means us support. This is the substance of our survival.

Verse 26

26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands.

1. Christianity has not just had impact on Ephesus, but on the whole area. Almost all of Asia has heard and turned from idols to Christ.

2. It is all Paul's fault. It is human nature. When something goes wrong, we look for someone to blame. It must be someone's fault. Paul is selected as the person responsible for this turn of fortunes.

3. Paul is preaching a god that is not made with hands. No idols. No miniature temples. No tourists. No income. This is a serious matter.

Verse 27

27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship. "

1. It is broader than just the silversmiths. As many abandon their pagan worship, the temple will fall into disrepute. It will lose its glamor as a world wonder. It will drop off the list of tourist attractions.

2. And, by the way, Diana will be despised. She will not be worshiped as she has been. She will not have any major impact on worship around the world, especially in the area of Asia.

3. Did you notice? Diana was the LEAST of their concerns.

1. First - their income was being lost

2. Second - the tourists will not keep coming

3. Third - and Diana will not be respected

Verse 28

28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, " Great is Diana of the Ephesians! "

1. The silversmiths are full of anger. Now, they decide to honor the goddess that is the source of their income.

2. The cry out, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." This small group begins to spread the word and the whole city becomes aware.

Verse 29

29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul ' s travel companions.

1. Confusion leads to a mass hysteria. The people begin to rush toward the large theater.

1. There are two theaters in Ephesus. The smaller one will seat about 7,000. It is in the upper part of town, an area called the Upper Agora.

2. The large one will seat about 25,000. This large theater is down near the harbor and not far from the school of Tyrannus where Paul taught. It is built like the end zone of a large football stadium. It is built into the side of a hill with stone seats and walkways.

2. They grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus. There is a Gaius from Derbe. ( Act_20:4 ) There is a Gaius in Corinth. ( 1Co_1:14 ) Neither seem to the one mentioned here.

3. This Gaius is mentioned as Paul's host in Rom_16:23 .

4. Aristarchus is also mentioned by Paul as a fellow prisoner. ( Col_4:10 )

5. Both are mentioned as companions who are traveling with Paul.

Verse 30

30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him.

1. Paul was ready to face the mob and try to calm the situation.

2. The disciples saw the great danger involved in being trapped in this theater with a mob of 20,000 or more angry people.

Verse 31

31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater.

1. Paul had made friends with some high government officials. It does not appear that they were converts, but were at least had some sympathy for Paul and his work.

2. These government officials agreed with the disciples. They also urged Paul to stay away from the theater.

Verse 32

32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.

1. There is mass hysteria. Here is an angry mob. They are ready to do something. But, they have no idea what they are angry about.

2. Some are crying one thing (angry about one issue) and others have another chant (a different issue over which they are angry).

3. A telling statement - Most of them did not know why they had come together.

Verse 33

33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people.

1. Alexander is taken from the crowd. The Jews in the crowd shove him out to be the example.

2. Alexander is ready to explain. He tried to quite the crowd so he can be heard.

3. The word "defense" here does not mean that he is accused and needs to defend himself. The word means to give an account, to explain.

4. He was not going to explain Christianity. He was going to explain the position of the Jews. See the next verse.

Verse 34

34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, " Great is Diana of the Ephesians! "

1. Learning he was a Jew - they did not want to listen to him.

2. For the next two hours - the crowd is praising Diana of the Ephesians.

Verse 35

35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: " Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus?

1. Now a city official seeks to control the mob. He quiets the crowd.

2. Everyone knows about Diana. Just ask anyone. Ephesus is the city of Diana and guardian of the temple.

3. Adam Clarke writes, "The original image of the Ephesian Diana was supposed to have descended from heaven; which intimates that it was so old that no person knew either its maker or the time in which it was formed, and it was the interest of the priests to persuade the people that this image had been sent to them as a present from Jupiter himself."

4. B. W. Johnson comments, " It was a common superstition that some hideous image worshiped in a heathen temple had fallen from heaven. Some of them were meteoric stones, of others the origin was unknown, and the delusion was in part due to the deception of the priests. The Palladium of Troy, the Diana of Tauris, and the Pallas of Athena were all said to have fallen."

Verse 36

36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly.

1. All of these things are widely known and can not be denied by any thinking person. They are common knowledge.

2. So, what is all the commotion about? Why are you afraid of losing what has been here for so long? Can one man come along and take it all away in a short time?

3. Don't get too riled up. Keep calm. Think this through. Don't act rashly.

Verse 37

37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess.

1. These men have not broken any laws.

2. They have not robbed the temple.

3. They have not even blasphemed Diana.

Verse 38

38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.

1. If there is a valid legal claim against the Christians - we have courts for that purpose. File your claim and it will be heard in the proper forum. This mob is not the proper place for a trial.

2. There is a proper way to handle disputes. This is not the way. Make charges. Ask a judge to hear the case. This is the proper way to handle these matters.

Verse 39

39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly.

1. This may not be a legal matter, something the courts should hear. It may fall into the category of a complaint that the city council should hear.

2. Any complaint can be heard at the next called, regular meeting of the city council.

3. NOTE : The Greek word here is "ekklesia" - most often translated "church" in the New Testament. The word means a called out assembly. It is a gathering of people, calling them out of their homes, to meet at some scheduled place. In most places the word refers to the gathering together of Christians for worship. In talking about the communion, Paul said that "we come together as a church" in 1Co_11:18 . It is a regular, called assembly. Here the word is used of a city council meeting. They meet regularly. If you have a complaint, come the next called, planned, regular meeting of the council. That is the proper forum, not a mob action.

Verse 40

40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today ' s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering. "

1. Why this uproar? We are a civilized society. We must act in a mature manner.

2. There is now reason for this mob gathering (not ekklesia).

Verse 41

41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

1. He dismissed the assembly (the Greek word, ekklesia is used here).

2. It is time to go home and think about your actions.

3. This is not the time, the place or the manner to handle these disputes.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 19". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-19.html. 2021.
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