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Bible Commentaries
Acts 19

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

While Apollos was at Corinth (εν τω τον Απολλω εινα εν Κορινθω). Favourite idiom with Luke, εν with the locative of the articular infinitive and the accusative of general reference (Luke 1:8; Luke 2:27, etc.).

Having passed through the upper country (διελθοντα τα ανωτερικα μερη). Second aorist active participle of διερχομα, accusative case agreeing with Παυλον, accusative of general reference with the infinitive ελθειν, idiomatic construction with εγενετο. The word for "upper" (ανωτερικα) is a late form for ανωτερα (Luke 14:10) and occurs in Hippocrates and Galen. It refers to the highlands (cf. Xenophon's Anabasis) and means that Paul did not travel the usual Roman road west by Colossae and Laodicea in the Lycus Valley, cities that he did not visit (Colossians 2:1). Instead he took the more direct road through the Cayster Valley to Ephesus. Codex Bezae says here that Paul wanted to go back to Jerusalem, but that the Holy Spirit bade him to go into Asia where he had been forbidden to go in the second tour (Acts 16:6). Whether the upper "parts" (μερη) here points to North Galatia is still a point of dispute among scholars. So he came again to Ephesus as he had promised to do (Acts 18:21). The province of Asia included the western part of Asia Minor. The Romans took this country B.C. 130. Finally the name was extended to the whole continent. It was a jewel in the Roman empire along with Africa and was a senatorial province. It was full of great cities like Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea (the seven churches of Acts 19:2; Acts 19:3), Colossae, Hierapolis, Apamea, to go no further. Hellenism had full sway here. Ephesus was the capital and chief city and was a richer and larger city than Corinth. It was located at the entrance to the valley of the Maeander to the east. Here was the power of Rome and the splendour of Greek culture and the full tide of oriental superstition and magic. The Temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the world. While in Ephesus some hold that Paul at this time wrote the Epistle to the Galatians after his recent visit there, some that he did it before his recent visit to Jerusalem. But it is still possible that he wrote it from Corinth just before writing to Rome, a point to discuss later.

Certain disciples (τινας μαθητας). Who were they? Apollos had already gone to Corinth. They show no connection with Priscilla and Aquila. Luke calls them "disciples" or "learners" (μαθητας) because they were evidently sincere though crude and ignorant. There is no reason at all for connecting these uninformed disciples of the Baptist with Apollos. They were floating followers of the Baptist who drifted into Ephesus and whom Paul found. Some of John's disciples clung to him till his death (John 3:22-25; Luke 7:19; Matthew 14:12). Some of them left Palestine without the further knowledge of Jesus that came after his death and some did not even know that, as turned out to be the case with the group in Ephesus.

Verse 2

Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? (ε πνευμα αγιον ελαβετε πιστευσαντεσ?). This use of Π in a direct question occurs in Acts 1:6, is not according to the old Greek idiom, but is common in the LXX and the N.T. as in Luke 13:23 which see (Robertson, Grammar, p. 916). Apparently Paul was suspicious of the looks or conduct of these professed disciples. The first aorist active participle πιστευσαντες is simultaneous with the second aorist active indicative ελαβετε and refers to the same event.

Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was (Αλλ' ουδε ε πνευμα αγιον εστιν ηκουσαμεν). The reply of these ignorant disciples is amazing. They probably refer to the time of their baptism and mean that, when baptized, they did not hear whether (ε in indirect question) the Holy Spirit was (εστιν retained as in John 7:39). Plain proof that they knew John's message poorly.

Verse 3

Into what (εις τ). More properly,

Unto what or

on what basis (Robertson, Grammar, p. 592). Clearly, Paul felt they had received a poor baptism with no knowledge of the Holy Spirit.

John's baptism (το Ιωανου βαπτισμα). Last mention of John the Baptist in the N.T. They had been dipped in other words, but they had not grasped the significance of the ordinance.

Verse 4

With the baptism of repentance (βαπτισμα μετανοιας). Cognate accusative with εβαπτισεν and the genitive μετανοιας describing the baptism as marked by (case of species or genus), not as conveying, repentance just as in Mark 1:4 and that was the work of the Holy Spirit. But John preached also the baptism of the Holy Spirit which the Messiah was to bring (Mark 1:7; Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16). If they did not know of the Holy Spirit, they had missed the point of John's baptism.

That they should believe on him that should come after him, that is on Jesus (εις τον ερχομενον μετ' αυτον ινα πιστευσωσιν, τουτ' εστιν εις τον Ιησουν). Note the emphatic prolepsis of εις τον ερχομενον μετ' αυτον before ινα πιστευσωσιν with which it is construed. This is John's identical phrase, "the one coming after me" as seen in Mark 1:7; Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:15. It is not clear that these "disciples" believed in a Messiah, least of all in Jesus. They were wholly unprepared for the baptism of John. Paul does not mean to say that John's baptism was inadequate, but he simply explains what John really taught and so what his baptism signified.

Verse 5

The name of the Lord Jesus (το ονομα τον κυριου Ιησου). Apollos was not rebaptized. The twelve apostles were not rebaptized. Jesus received no other baptism than that of John. The point here is simply that these twelve men were grossly ignorant of the meaning of John's baptism as regards repentance, the Messiahship of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Hence Paul had them baptized, not so much again, as really baptized this time, in the name or on the authority of the Lord Jesus as he had himself commanded (Matthew 28:19) and as was the universal apostolic custom. Proper understanding of "Jesus" involved all the rest including the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Luke does not give a formula, but simply explains that now these men had a proper object of faith (Jesus) and were now really baptized.

Verse 6

When Paul had laid his hands upon them (επιθεντος αυτοις του Παυλου χειρας). Genitive absolute of second aorist active participle of επιτιθημ. This act of laying on of the hands was done in Samaria by Peter and John (Acts 8:16) and in Damascus in the case of Paul (Acts 9:17) and was followed as here by the descent of the Holy Spirit in supernatural power.

They spake with tongues (ελαλουν γλωσσαις). Inchoative imperfect, began to speak with tongues as in Jerusalem at Pentecost and as in Caesarea before the baptism.

Prophesied (επροφητευον). Inchoative imperfect again, began to prophesy. The speaking with tongues and prophesying was external and indubitable proof that the Holy Spirit had come on these twelve uninformed disciples now fully won to the service of Jesus as Messiah. But this baptism in water did not "convey" the Holy Spirit nor forgiveness of sins. Paul was not a sacramentalist.

Verse 8

Spake boldly (επαρρησιαζετο). Imperfect middle, kept on at it for three months. Cf. same word in Acts 18:26.

Persuading (πειθων). Present active conative participle of πειθω, trying to persuade (Acts 28:23). Paul's idea of the Kingdom of God was the church of God which he (Jesus, God's Son) had purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28, calling Christ God). Nowhere else had Paul apparently been able to speak so long in the synagogue without interruption unless it was so at Corinth. These Jews were already interested (Acts 18:30).

Verse 9

But when some were hardened (ως δε τινες εσκληρυνοντο). Imperfect passive of σκληρυνω, causative like hiphil in Hebrew, to make hard (σκληρος) or rough or harsh (Matthew 25:24). In LXX and Hippocrates and Galen (in medical writings). In N.T. only here and Romans 9:18 and 4 times in Hebrews 3:8; Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 3:15; Hebrews 4:7; Hebrews 4:8 quoting and referring to Psalms 95:8 about hardening the heart like a gristle. The inevitable reaction against Paul went on even in Ephesus though slowly.

Disobedient (επειθουν). Imperfect again, showing the growing disbelief and disobedience (απειθης), both ideas as in Acts 14:2; Acts 17:5, first refusal to believe and then refusal to obey. Both σκληρυνω and απειθεω occur together, as here, in Ecclus. 30:12.

Speaking evil of the Way (κακολογουντες την οδον). Late verb from κακολογος (speaker of evil) for the old κακως λεγω. Already in Mark 7:10; Mark 9:39; Matthew 15:4. Now these Jews are aggressive opponents of Paul and seek to injure his influence with the crowd. Note "the Way" as in Acts 9:2 for Christianity.

He departed from them (αποστας απ' αυτων). Second aorist active participle of αφιστημ, made an "apostasy" (standing off, cleavage) as he did at Corinth (Acts 18:7, μεταβας, making a change).

Separated the disciples (αφωρισεν τους μαθητας). First aorist active indicative of αφοριζω, old verb to mark limits (horizon) as already in Acts 13:2. Paul himself was a spiritual Pharisee "separated" to Christ (Romans 1:1). The Jews regarded this withdrawal as apostasy, like separating the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:32). Paul now made a separate church as he had done at Thessalonica and Corinth.

In the school of Tyrannus (εν τη σχολη Τυραννου). Σχολη (our school) is an old word from σχειν (εχω) to hold on, leisure and then in later Greek (Plutarch, etc.) a place where there is leisure as here. Only this example in the N.T. This is the Greek notion of "school," the Jewish being that of "yoke" as in Matthew 11:29. The name Tyrannus (our tyrant) is a common one. It is an inscription in the Columbarium of the Empress Livia as that of a physician in the court. Furneaux suggests the possibility that a relative of this physician was lecturing on medicine in Ephesus and so as a friend of Luke, the physician, would be glad to help Paul about a place to preach. It was probably a public building or lecture hall with this name whether hired by Paul or loaned to him. The pagan sophists often spoke in such halls. The Codex Bezae adds "from the fifth hour to the tenth" as the time allotted Paul for his work in this hall, which is quite possible, from just before midday till the close of the afternoon (from before the noon meal till two hours before sunset) each day. Here Paul had great freedom and a great hearing. As the church grows there will be other places of meeting as the church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Corinthians 16:19).

Verse 10

For two years (επ ετη δυο). Note επ with accusative for extent of time as in verse Acts 19:8, επ μηνας τρεις and often. But in Acts 20:31 Paul said to the Ephesian elders at Miletus that he laboured with them for the space of "three years." That may be a general expression and there was probably a longer period after the "two years" in the school of Tyrannus besides the six months in the synagogue. Paul may have preached thereafter in the house of Aquila and Priscilla for some months, the "for a while" of verse Acts 19:22.

So that all they which dwelt in Asia heard (ωστε παντας τους κατοικουντας την Ασιαν ακουσα). Actual result with ωστε and the infinitive with accusative of general reference as is common (also verse Acts 19:11) in the Koine (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 999f.). Paul apparently remained in Ephesus, but the gospel spread all over the province even to the Lycus Valley including the rest of the seven churches of Revelation 1:11; Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:3. Demetrius in verse Acts 19:26 will confirm the tremendous influence of Paul's ministry in Ephesus on Asia. Forty years after this Pliny in his famous letter to Trajan from Bithynia will say of Christianity: "For the contagion of this superstition has not only spread through cities, but also through villages and country places." It was during these years in Ephesus that Paul was greatly disturbed over the troubles in the Corinthian Church. He apparently wrote a letter to them now lost to us (1 Corinthians 5:9), received messages from the household of Chloe, a letter from the church, special messengers, sent Timothy, then Titus, may have made a hurried trip himself, wrote our First Corinthians, was planning to go after the return of Titus to Troas where he was to meet him after Pentecost, when all of a sudden the uproar raised by Demetrius hurried Paul away sooner than he had planned. Meanwhile Apollos had returned from Corinth to Ephesus and refused to go back (1 Corinthians 16:12). Paul doubtless had helpers like Epaphras and Philemon who carried the message over the province of Asia, Tychicus, and Trophimus of Asia who were with him on the last visit to Jerusalem (verses Acts 19:22; Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4). Paul's message reached Greeks, not merely Hellenists and God-fearers, but some of the Greeks in the upper circles of life in Ephesus.

Verse 11

Special miracles (δυναμεις ου τας τυχουσας). "Powers not the ones that happen by chance," "not the ordinary ones," litotes for "the extraordinary." All "miracles" or "powers" (δυναμεις) are supernatural and out of the ordinary, but here God regularly wrought (εποιε), imperfect active) wonders beyond those familiar to the disciples and completely different from the deeds of the Jewish exorcists. This phrase is peculiar to Luke in the N.T. (also Acts 28:2), but it occurs in the classical Greek and in the Koine as in III Macc. 3:7 and in papyri and inscriptions (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 255). In Samaria Philip wrought miracles to deliver the people from the influence of Simon Magus. Here in Ephesus exorcists and other magicians had built an enormous vogue of a false spiritualism and Paul faces unseen forces of evil. His tremendous success led some people to superstitious practices thinking that there was power in Paul's person.

Verse 12

Handkerchiefs (σουδαρια). Latin word for συδορ (sweat). Used in Luke 19:20; John 11:44; John 20:7. In two papyri marriage-contracts this word occurs among the toilet articles in the dowry (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 223).

Aprons (σιμικινθια). Latin word also, semicinctilum (σεμι, χινγο). Only here in the N.T. Linen aprons used by servants or artisans (Martial XIV. 153). Paul did manual work at Ephesus (Acts 20:34) and so wore these aprons.

Departed (απαλλαλσεθα). Present passive infinitive with ωστε for actual result as in verse Acts 19:10. If one wonders how God could honour such superstitious faith, he should remember that there is no power in superstition or in magic, but in God. If God never honoured any faith save that entirely free from superstition, how about Christian people who are troubled over the number 13, over the moon, the rabbit's foot? The poor woman with an issue of blood touched the hem of Christ's garment and was healed (Luke 8:44-46) as others sought to do (Matthew 14:36). God condescends to meet us in our ignorance and weakness where he can reach us. Elisha had a notion that some of the power of Elijah resided in his mantle (2 Kings 2:13). Some even sought help from Peter's shadow (Acts 5:15).

Verse 13

Of the strolling Jews, exorcists (των περιερχομενων Ιουδαιων εξορκιστων). These exorcists travelled around (περ) from place to place like modern Gypsy fortune-tellers. The Jews were especially addicted to such practices with spells of sorcery connected with the name of Solomon (Josephus, Ant. VIII. 2.5). See also Tobit 8:1-3. Jesus alludes to those in Palestine (Matthew 12:27; Luke 11:19). The exorcists were originally those who administered an oath (from εξορκιζω, to exact an oath), then to use an oath as a spell or charm. Only instance here in the N.T. These men regarded Paul as one of their own number just as Simon Magus treated Simon Peter. Only here these exorcists paid Paul the compliment of imitation instead of offering money as Magus did.

To name over (ονομαζειν επ). They heard what Paul said and treated his words as a magic charm or spell to drive the evil spirits out.

I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth (Hορκιζω υμας τον Ιησουν ον Παυλος κηρυσσε). Note two accusatives with the verb of swearing (cf. Mark 5:7) as a causative verb (Robertson, Grammar, p. 483). The papyri furnish numerous instances of ορκιζω in such constructions (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 281). Note also the article with Jesus, "the Jesus," as if to identify the magic word to the demons with the addition "whom Paul preaches." They thought that success turned on the correct use of the magical formula. The Ephesian mysteries included Christianity, so they supposed.

Verse 14

Seven sons of Sceva (Σκευα επτα υιο). Who this Sceva was we do not know. If a high priest, he was highly connected in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 5:24). Some MSS. have ruler instead of priest. His name may be Latin in origin. Σκευα has Doric form of genitive. But that he had seven sons in this degraded business shows how Judaism had fared poorly in this superstitious city. Did they imagine there was special power in the number seven?

Verse 15

Jesus I know (τον Ιησουν γινωσκω). "The (whom you mention) Jesus I recognize (γινωσκω)" and "the (whom you mentioned) Paul I am acquainted with (τον Παυλον επισταμα)." Clear distinction between γινωσκω and επισταμα.

But who are ye? (υμεις δε τινες εστε?). But you, who are you? Emphatic prolepsis.

Verse 16

Leaped on them (εφαλομενος επ' αυτους). Second aorist (ingressive) middle participle of εφαλλομα, old verb to spring upon like a panther, here only in the N.T.

Mastered (κατακυριευσας). First aorist (effective) active participle of κατακυριευω, late verb from κατα and κυριος, to become lord or master of.

Both (αμφοτερων). Papyri examples exist where αμφοτερο means "all" or more than "two" (Robertson, Grammar, p. 745). So here αμφοτερο includes all seven. "Both" in old English was used for more than two.

So that (ωστε). Another example (verses Acts 19:10; Acts 19:11) of ωστε with the infinitive for result.

Naked (γυμνους). Probably with torn garments,

Wounded (τετραυματισμενους). Perfect passive participle of τραυματιζω, old verb to wound, from τραυμα (a wound). In the N.T. only here and Luke 20:12.

Verse 17

Was magnified (εμεγαλυνετο). Imperfect passive. To make great. It was a notable victory over the powers of evil in Ephesus.

Verse 18

Came (ηρχοντο). Imperfect middle, kept coming, one after another. Even some of the believers were secretly under the spell of these false spiritualists just as some Christians today cherish private contacts with so-called occult powers through mediums, seances, of which they are ashamed.

Confessing (εξομολογουμενο). It was time to make a clean breast of it all, to turn on the light, to unbosom their secret habits.

Declaring their deeds (αναγγελλοντες τας πραξεις αυτων). Judgment was beginning at the house of God. The dupes (professing believers, alas) of these jugglers or exorcists now had their eyes opened when they saw the utter defeat of the tricksters who had tried to use the name of Jesus without his power. The boomerang was tremendous. The black arts were now laid bare in their real character. Gentile converts had a struggle to shake off their corrupt environment.

Verse 19

Not a few of them that practised curious arts (ικανο των τα περιεργα πραξαντων). Considerable number of the performers or exorcists themselves who knew that they were humbugs were led to renounce their evil practices. The word περιεργα (curious) is an old word (περι, εργα) originally a piddler about trifles, a busybody (1 Timothy 5:13), then impertinent and magical things as here. Only two examples in the N.T. It is a technical term for magic as the papyri and inscriptions show. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 323) thinks that these books here burned were just like the Magic Papyri now recovered from Egypt.

Burned them in the sight of all (κατεκαιον ενωπιον παντων). Imperfect active of κατακαιω. It probably took a good while to do it, burned them completely (up, we say; down, the Greeks say, perfective use of κατα). These Magical Papyri or slips of parchment with symbols or magical sentences written on them called Εφεσια Γραμματα (Ephesian Letters). These Ephesian Letters were worn as amulets or charms.

They brought them together (συνενεγκαντες). Second aorist active participle of συνφερω. What a glorious conflagration it would be if in every city all the salacious, blasphemous, degrading books, pamphlets, magazines, and papers could be piled together and burned.

They counted (συνεψηφισαν). First aorist active indicative of συνψηφιζω, to reckon together. In LXX (Jeremiah 29:49). Only here in N.T. Συνκαταψηφιζω in Acts 1:26.

Fifty thousand pieces of silver (αργυριου μυριαδας πεντε). Five ten thousand (μυριαδας) pieces of silver. Ephesus was largely Greek and probably the silver pieces were Greek drachmae or the Latin denarius, probably about ten thousand dollars or two thousand English pounds.

Verse 20

Mightily (κατα κρατος). According to strength. Only here in N.T., common military term in Thucydides. Such proof of a change counted.

Grew and prevailed (ηυξανεν κα ισχυεν). Imperfect actives, kept growing and gaining strength. It was a day of triumph for Christ in Ephesus, this city of vast wealth and superstition. Ephesus for centuries will be one of the centres of Christian power. Timothy will come here and John the Apostle and Polycarp and Irenaeus.

Verse 21

Purposed in the spirit (εθετο εν τω πνευματ). Second aorist middle indicative for mental action and "spirit" expressed also. A new stage in Paul's career begins here, a new division of the Acts.

Passed through (διελθων). Word (διερχομα) used ten times in Acts (cf. Acts 19:1) of missionary journeys (Ramsay).

Macedonia and Achaia (την Μακεδονιαν κα Αχαιαν). This was the way that he actually went, but originally he had planned to go to Achaia (Corinth) and then to Macedonia, as he says in 2 Corinthians 1:15, but he had now changed that purpose, perhaps because of the bad news from Corinth. Already when he wrote I Corinthians he proposed to go first to Macedonia (1 Corinthians 16:5-7). He even hoped to spend the winter in Corinth "if the Lord permit" and to remain in Ephesus till Pentecost, neither of which things he did.

I must also see Rome (δε με κα Ρωμην ιδειν). This section of Acts begins with Rome in the horizon of Paul's plans and the book closes with Paul in Rome (Rackham). Here he feels the necessity of going as in Romans 1:15 he feels himself "debtor" to all including "those in Rome" (Romans 1:16). Paul had long desired to go to Rome (Romans 1:10), but had been frequently hindered (Romans 1:13), but he has definitely set his face to go to Rome and on to Spain (Romans 15:23-29). Paley calls sharp attention to this parallel between Acts 19:21 and Romans 1:10-15; Romans 15:23-29. Rome had a fascination for Paul as the home of Aquila and Priscilla and numerous other friends (Acts 19:16), but chiefly as the capital of the Roman Empire and a necessary goal in Paul's ambition to win it to Jesus Christ. His great work in Asia had stirred afresh in him the desire to do his part for Rome. He wrote to Rome from Corinth not long after this and in Jerusalem Jesus in vision will confirm the necessity (δε) that Paul see Rome (Acts 23:11).

Verse 22

Timothy and Erastus (Τιμοθεον κα Εραστον). Paul had sent Timothy to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17) and had requested kindly treatment of this young minister in his difficult task of placating the divided church (1 Corinthians 16:10-11) that he might return to Paul as he evidently had before Paul leaves Ephesus. He then despatched Titus to Corinth to finish what Timothy had not quite succeeded in doing with instructions to meet him in Troas. Now Timothy and Erastus (cf. Romans 16:23; 2 Timothy 4:20) go on to Macedonia to prepare the way for Paul who will come on later.

He himself stayed in Asia for a while (αυτος επεσχεν χρονον εις την Ασιαν). Literally, He himself had additional time in Asia. Second aorist active indicative of επεχω, old and common idiom, only here in the N.T. in this sense and the verb only in Luke and Paul. The reason for Paul's delay is given by him in 1 Corinthians 16:8, the great door wide open in Ephesus. Here again Luke and Paul supplement each other. Pentecost came towards the end of May and May was the month of the festival of Artemis (Diana) when great multitudes would come to Ephesus. But he did not remain till Pentecost as both Luke and Paul make plain.

Verse 23

No small stir (ταραχος ουκ ολιγος). Same phrase in Acts 12:18 and nowhere else in the N.T. Litotes.

Concerning the Way (περ της οδου). See this phrase for Christianity in Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9; Acts 24:22 which see, like the "Jesus Way" of the Indians. There had already been opposition and "stir" before this stage (cf. Acts 19:11-20). The fight with wild beasts in 1 Corinthians 15:32 (whatever it was) was before that Epistle was written and so before this new uproar. Paul as a Roman citizen could not be thrown to wild beasts, but he so pictured the violent opponents of Christ in Ephesus.

Verse 24

Demetrius, a silversmith (Δημητριος αργυροκοπος). The name is common enough and may or may not be the man mentioned in 3 John 1:12 who was also from the neighbourhood of Ephesus. There is on an inscription at Ephesus near the close of the century a Demetrius called νεοποιος Αρτεμιδος a temple warden of Artemis (Diana). Zoeckler suggests that Luke misunderstood this word νεοποιος and translated it into αργυροκοπος, a beater (κοπτω, to beat) of silver (αργυρος, silver), "which made silver shrines of Artemis" (ποιων ναους (αργυρους) Αρτεμιδος). It is true that no silver shrines of the temple have been found in Ephesus, but only numerous terra-cotta ones. Ramsay suggests that the silver ones would naturally be melted down. The date is too late anyhow to identify the Demetrius who was νεοποιος with the Demetrius αργυροκοπος who made little silver temples of Artemis, though B does not have the word αργυρους. The poor votaries would buy the terra-cotta ones, the rich the silver shrines (Ramsay, Paul the Traveller, p. 278). These small models of the temple with the statue of Artemis inside would be set up in the houses or even worn as amulets. It is a pity that the Revised Version renders Artemis here. Diana as the Ephesian Artemis is quite distinct from the Greek Artemis, the sister of Apollo, the Diana of the Romans. This temple, built in the 6th century B.C., was burnt by Herostratus Oct. 13 B.C. 356, the night when Alexander the Great was born. It was restored and was considered one of the seven wonders of the world. Artemis was worshipped as the goddess of fertility, like the Lydian Cybele, a figure with many breasts. The great festival in May would offer Demetrius a golden opportunity for the sale of the shrines.

Brought no little business (παρειχετο ουκ ολιγην εργασιαν). Imperfect middle, continued to bring (furnish, provide). The middle accents the part that Demetrius played as the leader of the guild of silversmiths, work for himself and for them.

Unto the craftsmen (ταις τεχνιταις). The artisans from τεχνη (craft, art). Trade guilds were common in the ancient world. Demetrius had probably organized this guild and provided the capital for the enterprise.

Verse 25

Whom he gathered together (ους συναθροισας). First aorist active participle of συναθροιζω, old verb to assemble together (αθροος, a crowd), in the N.T. only here and Acts 12:12.

With the workmen of like occupation (κα τους περ τα τοιαυτα εργατας). "And the workmen concerning such things," apparently those who made the marble and terra-cotta shrines who would also be affected in the same way. It was a gathering of the associated trades, not for a strike, for employer and employees met together, but in protest against the preaching of Paul.

We have our wealth (η ευπορια ημιν εστιν). The wealth is to us (dative of possession). This old word for wealth occurs here alone in the N.T. It is from ευ and πορος, easy to pass through, easy to accomplish, to be well off, wealthy, welfare, weal, well-being, rich. Demetrius appeals to this knowledge and self-interest of the artisans as the basis for their zeal for Artemis, piety for revenue.

Verse 26

At Ephesus (Εφεσου). Genitive of place as also with Ασιας (Asia). Cf. Robertson, Grammar, pp. 494f.

This Paul (ο Παυλος ουτος). Contemptuous use of ουτος.

Hath turned away (μετεστησεν). Changed, transposed. First aorist active indicative, did change. Tribute to Paul's powers as a preacher borne out by Luke's record in Acts 19:10. There may be an element of exaggeration on the part of Demetrius to incite the workmen to action, for the worship of Artemis was their wealth. Paul had cut the nerve of their business. There had long been a Jewish colony in Ephesus, but their protest against idolatry was as nothing compared with Paul's preaching (Furneaux).

Which are made with hands (ο δια χειρων γινομενο). Note the present tense, made from time to time. No doubt Paul had put the point sharply as in Athens (Acts 17:29). Isaiah (Isaiah 44:9-17) had pictured graphically the absurdity of worshipping stocks and stones, flatly forbidden by the Old Testament (Exodus 20:4; Psalms 135:15-18). The people identified their gods with the images of them and Demetrius reflects that point of view. He was jealous of the brand of gods turned out by his factory. The artisans would stand by him on this point. It was a reflection on their work.

Verse 27

This our trade (τουτο το μερος). Part, share, task, job, trade.

Come into disrepute (εις απελεγμον ελθειν). Not in the old writers, but in LXX and Koine. Literally, reputation, exposure, censure, rejection after examination, and so disrepute. Their business of making gods would lose caste as the liquor trade (still called the trade in England) has done in our day. They felt this keenly and so Demetrius names it first. They felt it in their pockets.

Of the great goddess Artemis (της μεγαλης θεας Αρτεμιδος). She was generally known as the Great (η Μεγαλη). An inscription found at Ephesus calls her "the greatest god" (η μεγιστη θεος). The priests were eunuchs and there were virgin priestesses and a lower order of slaves known as temple-sweepers (νεωκορο, verse Acts 19:35). They had wild orgiastic exercises that were disgraceful with their Corybantic processions and revelries.

Be made of no account (εις ουθεν λογισθηνα). Be reckoned as nothing, first aorist passive infinitive of λογιζομα and εις.

Should even be deposed of her magnificence (μελλειν τε κα καθαιρεισθα της μεγαλειοτητος αυτης). Note the present infinitive after μελλειν, ablative case (so best MSS.) after καθαιρεω, to take down, to depose, to deprive of. The word μεγαλειοτης occurs also in Luke 9:43 (the majesty of God) and in 2 Peter 1:16 of the transfiguration of Christ. It is already in the LXX and Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 363) thinks that the word runs parallel with terms used in the emperor-cult.

All Asia and the world ολη (η) Ασια κα (η) οικουμενη. See Acts 11:28 for same use of οικουμενη. An exaggeration, to be sure, but Pausanias says that no deity was more widely worshipped. Temples of Artemis have been found in Spain and Gaul. Multitudo errantium non efficit veritatem (Bengel). Even today heathenism has more followers than Christianity. To think that all this splendour was being set at naught by one man and a despised Jew at that!

Verse 28

They were filled with wrath (γενομενο πλερεις θυμου). Having become full of wrath.

Cried out (εκραζον). Inchoative imperfect, began to cry out and kept it up continuously. Reiteration was characteristic of the orgiastic exercises. The Codex Bezae adds after θυμου (wrath): Δραμοντες εις την αμφοδον (running into the street), which they certainly did after the speech of Demetrius.

Great is Artemis of the Ephesians (Μεγαλη η Αρτεμις Εφεσιων). D (Codex Bezae) omits η (the) and makes it read: "Great Artemis of the Ephesians." This was the usual cry of the votaries in their orgies as the inscriptions show, an ejaculatory outcry or prayer instead of an argument as the other MSS. have it. That is vivid and natural (Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 135ff.). Yet on this occasion the artisans were making an argumentative protest and plea against Paul. An inscription at Dionysopolis has "Great is Apollo."

Verse 29

With the confusion (της συγχυσεως). Genitive case after επλησθη. An old word, but in the N.T. only here, from verb συγχεω, to pour together like a flood (only in Acts in the N.T.). Vivid description of the inevitable riot that followed "the appearance of such a body in the crowded agora of an excitable city" (Rackham) "vociferating the city's watch-word."

They rushed (ωρμησαν). Ingressive aorist active indicative of ορμαω, old verb for impetuous dashing, a case of mob psychology (mob mind), with one accord (ομοθυμαδον as in Acts 1:14, etc.).

Into the theatre (εις το θεατρον). A place for seeing (θεαομα) spectacles, originally for dramatic representation (Thucydides, Herodotus), then for the spectators, then for the spectacle or show (1 Corinthians 4:9). The theatre (amphitheatre) at Ephesus can still be traced in the ruins (Wood, Ephesus) and shows that it was of enormous size capable of seating fifty-six thousand persons (some estimate it only 24,500). It was the place for large public gatherings of any sort out of doors like our football and baseball parks. In particular, gladiatorial shows were held in these theatres.

Having seized Gaius and Aristarchus men of Macedonia (συναρπασαντες Γαιον κα Αρισταρχον Μακεδονας). See Acts 6:12 for this same verb. They wanted some victims for this "gladiatorial" show. These two men were "Paul's companions in travel" (συνεκδημους Παυλου), together (συν) with Paul in being abroad, away from home or people (εκ-δημους, late word, in the N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 8:19). How the mob got hold of Gaius (Acts 20:4) and Aristarchus (Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24) we do not know whether by accidental recognition or by search after failure to get Paul. In Romans 16:4 Paul speaks of Priscilla and Aquila as those "who for my life laid down their own necks." Paul lived with them in Ephesus as in Corinth. It is possible that Demetrius led the mob to their house and that they refused to allow Paul to go or to be seized at the risk of their own lives. Paul himself may have been desperately ill at this time as we know was the case once during his stay in Ephesus when he felt the answer of death in himself (2 Corinthians 1:9) and when God rescued him. That may mean that, ill as he was, Paul wanted to go and face the mob in the theatre, knowing that it meant certain death.

Verse 30

And when Paul was minded to enter in unto the people (Παυλου δε βουλομενου εισελθειν εις τον δημον). Genitive absolute. Plainly Paul wanted to face the howling mob, whether it was the occasion pictured in 2 Corinthians 1:9 or not. "St. Paul was not the man to leave his comrades in the lurch" (Knowling).

Suffered him not (ουκ ειων αυτον). Imperfect of εαω, common verb to allow, what Gildersleeve called the negative imperfect (Robertson, Grammar, p. 885), denoting resistance to pressure. The more Paul insisted on going the more the disciples refused to agree to it and they won.

Verse 31

Certain also of the chief officers of Asia (τινες δε κα των Ασιαρχων). These "Asiarchs" were ten officers elected by cities in the province who celebrated at their own cost public games and festivals (Page). Each province had such a group of men chosen, as we now know from inscriptions, to supervise the funds connected with the worship of the emperor, to preside at games and festivals even when the temple services were to gods like Artemis. Only rich men could act, but the position was eagerly sought.

Being his friends (οντες αυτω φιλο). Evidently the Asiarchs had a high opinion of Paul and were unwilling for him to expose his life to a wild mob during the festival of Artemis. They were at least tolerant toward Paul and his preaching. "It was an Asiarch who at Smyrna resisted the cry of the populace to throw Polycarp to the lions" (Furneaux).

Besought him (παρεκαλουν αυτον). Imperfect active, showing that the messengers sent had to insist over Paul's protest. "Not to adventure himself " (μη δουνα εαυτον). It was a hazard, a rash adventure "to give himself" (second aorist active infinitive of διδωμ). Just this sense of "adventure" with the idiom occurs only here in the N.T., though in Polybius V., 14, 9. But the phrase itself Paul uses of Jesus who gave himself for our sins (Galatians 1:4; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14). It is not the first time that friends had rescued Paul from peril (Acts 9:25; Acts 9:30; Acts 17:10; Acts 17:14). The theatre was no place for Paul. It meant certain death.

Verse 32

Some therefore cried one thing and some another (αλλο μεν ουν αλλο τ εκραζον). This classical use of αλλος αλλο (Robertson, Grammar, p. 747) appears also in Acts 2:12; Acts 21:34. Literally, "others cried another thing." The imperfect shows the repetition (kept on crying) and confusion which is also distinctly stated.

For the assembly was in confusion (ην γαρ η εκκλησια συνκεχυμενη). The reason for the previous statement. Periphrastic past perfect passive of συγχεω, συγχυνω (-υννω), to pour together, to commingle as in verse Acts 19:29 (συγχυσεως). It was not an "assembly" (εκκλησια, εκ, καλεω, to call out), but a wholly irregular, disorganized mob in a state (perfect tense) of confusion. There was "a lawful assembly" (verse Acts 19:39), but this mob was not one. Luke shows his contempt for this mob (Furneaux).

Had come together (συνεληλυθεισαν). Past perfect active of συνερχομα. It was an assembly only in one sense. For some reason Demetrius who was responsible for the mob preferred now to keep in the background, though he was known to be the ring-leader of the gathering (verse Acts 19:38). It was just a mob that shouted because others did.

Verse 33

And they brought Alexander out of the crowd (εκ δε του οχλου συνεβιβασαν Αλεξανδρον). The correct text (Aleph A B) has this verb συνεβιβασαν (from συνβιβαζω, to put together) instead of προεβιβασαν (from προβιβαζω, to put forward). It is a graphic word, causal of βαινω, to go, and occurs in Acts 16:10; Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 4:16. Evidently some of the Jews grew afraid that the mob would turn on the Jews as well as on the Christians. Paul was a Jew and so was Aristarchus, one of the prisoners. The Jews were as strongly opposed to idolatry as were the Christians.

The Jews putting him forward (προβαλοντων αυτον των Ιουδαιων). Genitive absolute of the second aorist active participle of προβαλλω, old verb to push forward as leaves in the spring (Luke 21:30). In the N.T. only in these two passages. Alexandria had already disgraceful scenes of Jew-baiting and there was real peril now in Ephesus with this wild mob. So Alexander was pushed forward as the champion to defend the Jews to the excited mob. He may be the same Alexander the coppersmith who did Paul much evil (2 Timothy 4:14), against whom Paul will warn Timothy then in Ephesus. "The Jews were likely to deal in the copper and silver required for the shrines, so he may have had some trade connexion with the craftsmen which would give him influence" (Furneaux).

Beckoned with the hand (κατασεισας την χειρα). Old verb κατασειω, to shake down, here the hand, rapidly waving the hand up and down to get a hearing. In the N.T. elsewhere only in Acts 12:17; Acts 13:16; Acts 21:40 where "with the hand" (τη χειρ, instrumental case) is used instead of την χειρα (the accusative).

Would have made a defence unto the people (ηθελεν απολογεισθα τω δημω). Imperfect active, wanted to make a defence, tried to, started to, but apparently never got out a word. Απολογεισθα (present middle infinitive, direct middle, to defend oneself), regular word for formal apology, but in N.T. only by Luke and Paul (twice in Gospel, six times in Acts, and in Romans 2:15; 2 Corinthians 12:19).

Verse 34

When they perceived (επιγνοντες). Recognizing, coming to know fully and clearly (επι-), second aorist (ingressive) active participle of επιγινωσκω. The masculine plural is left as nominative absolute or πενδενς without a verb. The rioters saw at once that Alexander was (εστιν, present tense retained in indirect assertion) a Jew by his features.

An with one voice cried out (φωνη εγενετο μια εκ παντων κραζοντων). Anacoluthon or construction according to sense. Literally, "one voice arose from all crying." Κραζοντων agrees in case (ablative) with παντων, but Aleph A have κραζοντες. This loose construction is not uncommon (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 436f.). Now at last the crowd became unanimous (one voice) at the sight of a hated Jew about to defend their attacks on the worship of Artemis. The unanimity lasted "about the space of two hours" (οσε επ ωρας δυο), "as if for two hours." Their creed centred in this prolonged yell: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" with which the disturbance started (verse Acts 19:28).

Verse 35

The town-clerk (ο γραμματευς). Ephesus was a free city and elected its own officers and the recorder or secretary was the chief magistrate of the city, though the proconsul of the province of Asia resided there. This officer is not a mere secretary of another officer or like the copyists and students of the law among the Jews, but the most influential person in Ephesus who drafted decrees with the aid of the στρατηγο, had charge of the city's money, was the power in control of the assembly, and communicated directly with the proconsul. Inscriptions at Ephesus give frequently this very title for their chief officer and the papyri have it also. The precise function varied in different cities. His name appeared on the coin at Ephesus issued in his year of office.

Had quieted the multitude (καταστειλας τον οχλον). First aorist active participle of καταστελλω, to send down, arrange dress (Euripides), lower (Plutarch), restrain (papyrus example), only twice in the N.T. (here and verse Acts 19:36, be quiet), but in LXX and Josephus. He evidently took the rostrum and his very presence as the city's chief officer had a quieting effect on the billowy turmoil and a semblance of order came. He waited, however, till the hubbub had nearly exhausted itself (two hours) and did not speak till there was a chance to be heard.

Saith (φησιν). Historical present for vividness.

How that . Merely participle ουσαν and accusative πολιν in indirect discourse, no conjunction at all (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1040ff.), common idiom after γινωσκω, to know.

Temple-keeper (νεωκορον). Old word from νεως (ναοσ), temple, and κορεω, to sweep. Warden, verger, cleaner of the temple, a sacristan. So in Xenophon and Plato. Inscriptions so describe Ephesus as νεωκορον της Αρτεμιδος as Luke has it here and also applied to the imperial cultus which finally had several such temples in Ephesus. Other cities claimed the same honour of being νεωκορος, but it was the peculiar boast of Ephesus because of the great temple of Artemis. A coin of A.D. 65 describes Ephesus as νεωκορος. There are papyri examples of the term applied to individuals, one to Priene as νεωκορος of the temple in Ephesus (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary).

And of the image which fell down from Jupiter (κα του διοπετους). Supply αγαλμα (image), "the from heaven-fallen image." From Zeus (Διος) and πετω (πιπτω, πιπετω), to fall. Zeus (Jupiter) was considered lord of the sky or heaven and that is the idea in διοπετους here. The legend about a statue fallen from heaven occurs concerning the statue of Artemis at Tauris, Minerva at Athens, etc. Thus the recorder soothed the vanity (Rackham) of the crowd by appeal to the world-wide fame of Ephesus as sacristan of Artemis and of her heaven-fallen image.

Verse 36

Cannot be gainsaid (αναντιρητων ουν οντων). Genitive absolute with ουν (therefore). Undeniable (αν, αντι, ρητος), verbal adjective. Occasionally in late Greek (Polybius, etc.), only here in N.T., but adverb αναντιρητως in Acts 10:29. These legends were accepted as true and appeased the mob.

Ye ought (δεον εστιν). It is necessary. Periphrastic present indicative instead of δε like 1 Peter 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:13.

Be quiet (κατεσταλμενους). Perfect passive participle of καταστελλω (see verse Acts 19:35).

Rash (προπετες). Old adjective from προ and πετω, to fall forward, headlong, precipitate. In the N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 3:4, though common in the Koine. Better look before you leap.

Verse 37

Neither robbers of temples (ουτε ιεροσυλους). Common word in Greek writers from ιερον, temple, and συλαω, to rob, be guilty of sacrilege. The word is found also on inscriptions in Ephesus. The Jews were sometimes guilty of this crime (Romans 2:22), since the heathen temples often had vast treasures like banks. The ancients felt as strongly about temple-robbing as westerners used to feel about a horse-thief.

Nor blasphemers of our goddess (ουτε βλασφημουντας την θεον ημων). Nor those who blasphemed our goddess. That is to say, these men (Gaius and Aristarchus) as Christians had so conducted themselves (Colossians 4:5) that no charge could be placed against them either in act (temple-robbery) or word (blasphemy). They had done a rash thing since these men are innocent. Paul had used tact in Ephesus as in Athens in avoiding illegalities.

Verse 38

Have a matter against any one (εχουσιν προς τινα λογον). For this use of εχω λογον with προς see Matthew 5:32; Colossians 3:13. The town-clerk names Demetrius and the craftsmen (τεχνιτα) as the parties responsible for the riot.

The courts are open (αγοραιο αγοντα). Supply ημερα (days), court days are kept, or συνοδο, court-meetings are now going on, Vulgate conventus forenses aguntur. Old adjective from αγορα (forum) marketplace where trials were held. Cf. Acts 17:4. There were regular court days whether they were in session then or not.

And there are proconsuls (κα ανθυπατο εισιν). Asia was a senatorial province and so had proconsuls (general phrase) though only one at a time, "a rhetorical plural" (Lightfoot). Page quotes from an inscription of the age of Trajan on an aqueduct at Ephesus in which some of Luke's very words occur (νεωκοροσ, ανθυπατοσ, γραμματευσ, δημος).

Let them accuse one another (εγκαλειτωσαν αλληλοις). Present active imperative of εγκαλεω (εν, καλεω), old verb to call in one's case, to bring a charge against, with the dative. Luke uses the verb six times in Acts for judicial proceedings (Acts 19:38; Acts 19:40; Acts 23:28; Acts 23:29; Acts 26:2; Acts 26:7). The town-clerk makes a definite appeal to the mob for orderly legal procedure as opposed to mob violence in a matter where money and religious prejudice unite, a striking rebuke to so-called lynch-law proceedings in lands today where Christianity is supposed to prevail.

Verse 39

Anything about other matters (τ περαιτερω). Most MSS. here have τ περ ετερων, but B b Vulgate read τ περαιτερω as in Plato's Φαεδο. Several papyri examples of it also. It is comparative περαιτερος of περα, beyond. Note also επ in επιζητειτε. Charges of illegal conduct (Page) should be settled in the regular legal way. But, if you wish to go further and pass resolutions about the matter exciting you, "it shall be settled in the regular assembly" (εν τω εννομω εκκλησια). "In the lawful assembly," not by a mob like this. Wood (Ephesus) quotes an inscription there with this very phrase "at every lawful assembly" (κατα πασαν εννομον εκκλησιαν). The Roman officials alone could give the sanction for calling such a lawful or regular assembly. The verb επιλυω is an old one, but in the N.T. only here and Mark 4:34 (which see) where Jesus privately opened or disclosed the parables to the disciples. The papyri give examples of the verb in financial transactions as well as of the metaphorical sense. The solution will come in the lawful assembly, not in a riot like this. See also 2 Peter 1:20 where the substantive επιλυσις occurs for disclosure or revelation (prophecy).

Verse 40

For indeed we are in danger to be accused concerning this day's riot (κα γαρ κινδυνευομεν εγκαλεισθα στασεως περ της σημερον). The text is uncertain. The text of Westcott and Hort means "to be accused of insurrection concerning today's assembly." The peril was real. Κινδυνευομεν, from κινδυνος, danger, peril. Old verb, but in the N.T. only here and Luke 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:30.

There being no cause for it (μηδενος αιτιου υπαρχοντος). Genitive absolute with αιτιος, common adjective (cf. αιτια, cause) though in N.T. only here and Hebrews 5:9; Luke 23:4; Luke 23:14; Luke 23:22.

And as touching it (περ ου). "Concerning which." But what? No clear antecedent, only the general idea.

Give an account of this concourse (αποδουνα λογον περ της συστροφης ταυτης). Rationem reddere. They will have to explain matters to the proconsul. Συστροφη (from συν, together, στρεφω, to turn) is a late word for a conspiracy (Acts 23:12) and a disorderly riot as here (Polybius). In Acts 28:12 συστρεφω is used of gathering up a bundle of sticks and of men combining in Matthew 17:22. Seneca says that there was nothing on which the Romans looked with such jealousy as a tumultuous meeting.

Verse 41

Dismissed the assembly (απελυσεν την εκκλησιαν). The town-clerk thus gave a semblance of law and order to the mob by formally dismissing them, this much to protect them against the charge to which they were liable. This vivid, graphic picture given by Luke has all the earmarks of historical accuracy. Paul does not describe the incidents in his letters, was not in the theatre in fact, but Luke evidently obtained the details from one who was there. Aristarchus, we know, was with Luke in Caesarea and in Rome and could have supplied all the data necessary. Certainly both Gaius and Aristarchus were lively witnesses of these events since their own lives were involved.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 19". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/acts-19.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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