Acts 19

1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the province and arrived in Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" "We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit," they answered.
3 "Well, then, what kind of baptism did you receive?" Paul asked. "The baptism of John," they answered.
4 Paul said, "The baptism of John was for those who turned from their sins; and he told the people of Israel to believe in the one who was coming after him - that is, in Jesus." 1
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 Paul placed his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them; they spoke in strange tongues and also proclaimed God's message.
7 They were about twelve men in all.
8 Paul went into the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly with the people, holding discussions with them and trying to convince them about the Kingdom of God.
9 But some of them were stubborn and would not believe, and before the whole group they said evil things about the Way of the Lord. So Paul left them and took the believers with him, and every day he held discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
10 This went on for two years, so that all the people who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the word of the Lord.
11 God was performing unusual miracles through Paul.
12 Even handkerchiefs and aprons he had used were taken to the sick, and their diseases were driven away, and the evil spirits would go out of them.
13 Some Jews who traveled around and drove out evil spirits also tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to do this. They said to the evil spirits, "I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches."
14 Seven brothers, who were the sons of a Jewish High Priest named Sceva, were doing this.
15 But the evil spirit said to them, "I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you - who are you?"
16 The man who had the evil spirit in him attacked them with such violence that he overpowered them all. They ran away from his house, wounded and with their clothes torn off.
17 All the Jews and Gentiles who lived in Ephesus heard about this; they were all filled with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was given greater honor.
18 Many of the believers came, publicly admitting and revealing what they had done.
19 Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in public. They added up the price of the books, and the total came to fifty thousand silver coins.
20 In this powerful way the word of the Lord kept spreading and growing stronger.
21 After these things had happened, Paul made up his mind to travel through Macedonia and Achaia and go on to Jerusalem. "After I go there," he said, "I must also see Rome."
22 So he sent Timothy and Erastus, two of his helpers, to Macedonia, while he spent more time in the province of Asia.
23 It was at this time that there was serious trouble in Ephesus because of the Way of the Lord.
24 A certain silversmith named Demetrius made silver models of the temple of the goddess Artemis, and his business brought a great deal of profit to the workers.
25 So he called them all together with others whose work was like theirs and said to them, "Men, you know that our prosperity comes from this work.
26 Now, you can see and hear for yourselves what this fellow Paul is doing. He says that hand-made gods are not gods at all, and he has succeeded in convincing many people, both here in Ephesus and in nearly the whole province of Asia.
27 There is the danger, then, that this business of ours will get a bad name. Not only that, but there is also the danger that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will come to mean nothing and that her greatness will be destroyed - the goddess worshiped by everyone in Asia and in all the world!"
28 As the crowd heard these words, they became furious and started shouting, "Great is Artemis of Ephesus!"
29 The uproar spread throughout the whole city. The mob grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus, two Macedonians who were traveling with Paul, and rushed with them to the theater.
30 Paul himself wanted to go before the crowd, but the believers would not let him.
31 Some of the provincial authorities, who were his friends, also sent him a message begging him not to show himself in the theater.
32 Meanwhile the whole meeting was in an uproar: some people were shouting one thing, others were shouting something else, because most of them did not even know why they had come together.
33 Some of the people concluded that Alexander was responsible, since the Jews made him go up to the front. Then Alexander motioned with his hand for the people to be silent, and he tried to make a speech of defense.
34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted together the same thing for two hours: "Great is Artemis of Ephesus!"
35 At last the city clerk was able to calm the crowd. "Fellow Ephesians!" he said. "Everyone knows that the city of Ephesus is the keeper of the temple of the great Artemis and of the sacred stone that fell down from heaven.
36 Nobody can deny these things. So then, you must calm down and not do anything reckless.
37 You have brought these men here even though they have not robbed temples or said evil things about our goddess.
38 If Demetrius and his workers have an accusation against anyone, we have the authorities and the regular days for court; charges can be made there.
39 But if there is something more that you want, it will have to be settled in a legal meeting of citizens.
40 For after what has happened today, there is the danger that we will be accused of a riot. There is no excuse for all this uproar, and we would not be able to give a good reason for it."
41 After saying this, he dismissed the meeting.

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 1

  • 1. 19.4Matthew 3.11;Mark 1.4, 7, 8;Luke 3.4, 16;John 1.26, 27.

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. [Some manuscripts add] from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  • [b]. silver coins: [A silver coin was the daily wage of a rural worker (see Mt 20.2).]
  • [c]. In this . . . Lord; [or] And so, by the power of the Lord, the message.
  • [d]. Paul made up his mind; [or] Paul, led by the Spirit, decided.

Acts 19 Commentaries