Acts 19

Listen to Acts 19

Paul in Ephesus

1 And it happened that while 1Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed 2through the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples.
2 And he said to them, 3"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, 4we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
3 And he said, 5"Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into 6John's baptism."
4 And Paul said, 7"John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people 8to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus."
5 On hearing this, 9they were baptized in[b] the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And 10when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and 11they began speaking in tongues and 12prophesying.
7 There were about twelve men in all.
8 And 13he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them 14about the kingdom of God.
9 15But when some became stubborn and 16continued in unbelief, speaking evil of 17the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.[c]
10 This continued for 18two years, so that 19all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

The Sons of Sceva

11 And 20God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,
12 21so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and 22the evil spirits came out of them.
13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish 23exorcists 24undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, 25"I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims."
14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.
15 But the evil spirit answered them, 26"Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?"
16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[d] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and 27the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.
18 Also many of those who were now believers came, 28confessing and divulging their practices.
19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.
20 So the word of the Lord 29continued to increase and prevail mightily.

A Riot at Ephesus

21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit 30to pass through 31Macedonia and Achaia and 32go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, 33I must also see Rome."
22 And having sent into Macedonia two of 34his helpers, 35Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia 36for a while.
23 About that time 37there arose no little disturbance concerning 38the Way.
24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, 39brought no little business to the craftsmen.
25 40These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth.
26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, 41saying that 42gods made with hands are not gods.
27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the 43great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship."
28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, 44"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and 45Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's 46companions in travel.
30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him.
31 And even some of the Asiarchs,[e] who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater.
32 47Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.
33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, 48motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd.
34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, 49"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, "Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from 50the sky?[f]
36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash.
37 For you have brought 51these men here who are neither 52sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.
38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are 53proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.
39 But if you seek anything further,[g] it shall be settled in the regular assembly.
40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion."
41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

Acts 19 Commentary

Chapter 19

Paul instructs the disciples of John at Ephesus. (1-7) He teaches there. (8-12) The Jewish exorcists disgraced. Some Ephesians burn their evil books. (13-20) The tumult at Ephesus. (21-31) The tumult appeased. (32-41)

Verses 1-7 Paul, at Ephesus, found some religious persons, who looked to Jesus as the Messiah. They had not been led to expect the miraculous powers of the Holy Ghost, nor were they informed that the gospel was especially the ministration of the Spirit. But they spake as ready to welcome the notice of it. Paul shows them that John never design that those he baptized should rest there, but told them that they should believe on Him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. They thankfully accepted the discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Ghost came upon them in a surprising, overpowering manner; they spake with tongues, and prophesied, as the apostles and the first Gentile coverts did. Though we do not now expect miraculous powers, yet all who profess to be disciples of Christ, should be called on to examine whether they have received the seal of the Holy Ghost, in his sanctifying influences, to the sincerity of their faith. Many seem not to have heard that there is a Holy Ghost, and many deem all that is spoken concerning his graces and comforts, to be delusion. Of such it may properly be inquired, "Unto what, then, were ye baptized?" for they evidently know not the meaning of that outward sign on which they place great dependence.

Verses 8-12 When arguments and persuasions only harden men in unbelief and blasphemy, we must separate ourselves and others from such unholy company. God was pleased to confirm the teaching of these holy men of old, that if their hearers believed them not, they might believe the works.

Verses 13-20 It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons to profess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the using of Christ's name, or his works, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us. Where there is true sorrow for sin, there will be free confession of sin to God in every prayer and to man whom we have offended, when the case requires it. Surely if the word of God prevailed among us, many lewd, infidel, and wicked books would be burned by their possessors. Will not these Ephesian converts rise up in judgement against professors, who traffic in such works for the sake of gain, or allow themselves to possess them? If we desire to be in earnest in the great work of salvation, every pursuit and enjoyment must be given up which hinders the effect of the gospel upon the mind, or loosens its hold upon the heart.

Verses 21-31 Persons who came from afar to pay their devotions at the temple of Ephesus, bought little silver shrines, or models of the temple, to carry home with them. See how craftsmen make advantage to themselves of people's superstition, and serve their worldly ends by it. Men are jealous for that by which they get their wealth; and many set themselves against the gospel of Christ, because it calls men from all unlawful crafts, however much wealth is to be gotten by them. There are persons who will stickle for what is most grossly absurd, unreasonable, and false; as this, that those are gods which are made with hands, if it has but worldly interest on its side. The whole city was full of confusion, the common and natural effect of zeal for false religion. Zeal for the honour of Christ, and love to the brethren, encourage zealous believers to venture into danger. Friends will often be raised up among those who are strangers to true religion, but have observed the honest and consistent behaviour of Christians.

Verses 32-41 The Jews came forward in this tumult. Those who are thus careful to distinguish themselves from the servants of Christ now, and are afraid of being taken for them, shall have their doom accordingly in the great day. One, having authority, at length stilled the noise. It is a very good rule at all times, both in private and public affairs, not to be hasty and rash in our motions, but to take time to consider; and always to keep our passions under check. We ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly; to do nothing in haste, of which we may repent at leisure. The regular methods of the law ought always to stop popular tumults, and in well-governed nations will do so. Most people stand in awe of men's judgments more than of the judgement of God. How well it were if we would thus quiet our disorderly appetites and passions, by considering the account we must shortly give to the Judge of heaven and earth! And see how the overruling providence of God keeps the public peace, by an unaccountable power over the spirits of men. Thus the world is kept in some order, and men are held back from devouring each other. We can scarcely look around but we see men act like Demetrius and the workmen. It is as safe to contend with wild beasts as with men enraged by party zeal and disappointed covetousness, who think that all arguments are answered, when they have shown that they grow rich by the practices which are opposed. Whatever side in religious disputes, or whatever name this spirit assumes, it is worldly, and should be discountenanced by all who regard truth and piety. And let us not be dismayed; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; he can still the rage of the people.

Cross References 53

  • 1. See Acts 18:24
  • 2. [Acts 18:23]
  • 3. [Acts 11:16, 17]
  • 4. [Acts 8:16; John 7:39]
  • 5. See Acts 8:16
  • 6. Acts 18:25; [Hebrews 6:2]; See Acts 13:24, 25
  • 7. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 8. John 1:7
  • 9. See Acts 8:12, 16
  • 10. See Acts 8:17
  • 11. Acts 10:46; See Mark 16:17
  • 12. See Acts 13:1
  • 13. See Acts 13:5
  • 14. Acts 1:3; Acts 28:23
  • 15. [Acts 13:45, 46; 1 Corinthians 16:9]
  • 16. See Acts 14:2
  • 17. ver. 23; See Acts 9:2
  • 18. [ver. 8; Acts 20:31]
  • 19. [2 Timothy 1:15]
  • 20. [Acts 5:15]; See Acts 5:12
  • 21. [See ver. 11 above]
  • 22. See Mark 16:17
  • 23. [Matthew 12:27; Luke 11:19]
  • 24. See Mark 9:38
  • 25. Matthew 26:63; Mark 5:7
  • 26. See James 2:19
  • 27. [2 Thessalonians 1:12]
  • 28. Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5; Romans 14:11; James 5:16
  • 29. Acts 6:7; Acts 12:24
  • 30. 1 Corinthians 16:5; [Acts 20:1]
  • 31. Romans 15:26; 1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8
  • 32. Acts 20:16, 22; Romans 15:25; 2 Corinthians 1:16; [1 Corinthians 16:3, 4]
  • 33. Romans 15:24, 28; [Acts 23:11; Romans 1:13]
  • 34. Colossians 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 13; [ver. 29; Acts 13:5]
  • 35. See Acts 16:1
  • 36. [1 Corinthians 16:8, 9]
  • 37. [2 Corinthians 1:8]
  • 38. ver. 9
  • 39. [Acts 16:16, 19]
  • 40. [See ver. 24 above]
  • 41. Acts 14:15; Acts 17:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4
  • 42. Deuteronomy 4:28; 2 Kings 19:18; Psalms 115:4; Isaiah 44:10-20; Jeremiah 10:3-6; Revelation 9:20
  • 43. [Acts 8:10]
  • 44. [See ver. 27 above]
  • 45. Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24
  • 46. 2 Corinthians 8:19; [ver. 22; Acts 20:34]
  • 47. Acts 21:34
  • 48. See Acts 12:17
  • 49. ver. 28
  • 50. [Acts 14:12]
  • 51. ver. 29
  • 52. Romans 2:22
  • 53. See Acts 13:7

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Greek upper (that is, highland)
  • [b]. Or into
  • [c]. Some manuscripts add from the fifth hour to the tenth (that is, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • [d]. Or both
  • [e]. That is, high-ranking officers of the province of Asia
  • [f]. The meaning of the Greek is uncertain
  • [g]. Some manuscripts seek about other matters

Acts 19 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.