19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior [cf. Acts 18:23] and arrived at Ephesus [cf. Acts 18:21; temple of Greek goddess Artemis (Diana) located there; Paul stayed in Ephesus about three years and wrote 1 Cor. from there]. There he found some disciples [about twelve of them as per v. 7; John the Baptist’s followers were called disciples (Matt. 11:2; Jn. 1:35); these disciples were likely followers of John the Baptist, but not of Jesus]
After the account of Apollos, Luke continued the story of Paul’s third missionary journey. Starting in Antioch (Acts 18:22), Paul traveled through the interior regions of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples along the way (Acts 18:23). Paul eventually arrived in Ephesus, a city located on the west coast of Asia Minor.
On his previous visit to Ephesus, the Jews had asked him to stay a little longer. Unable to do so, Paul told them that he would try to return (Acts 18:21). Paul kept his promise and returned to Ephesus where he found some disciples. These twelve disciples (see Acts 19:7) were most likely followers of John the Baptist, but not of Jesus.
19:2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit [the Spirit imparts life (Jn. 3:5); no salvation apart from the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9,16); we receive Holy Spirit when we believe on Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:13)] when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Paul asked these twelve Ephesian men if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Jesus taught that the Spirit is the one who imparts life (John 3:5). There is no salvation apart from the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9,16). We receive the Holy Spirit when we believe on Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:13).
These men replied that they had not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. As disciples of John the Baptist they most likely knew that there was a Holy Spirit. However, they were unaware that the Spirit had been poured out at Pentecost.
Like Apollos, these men had an incomplete understanding of the message and ministry of Jesus and needed further instruction. Asking questions, as Paul did, of people open to the gospel will help us know how completely they understand Christianity and how we can help them.
19:3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism [“a baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4) that anticipated the coming of Christ who would baptize “with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8)],” they replied.
These men only knew of John’s baptism, nothing more. John’s baptism was “a baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4) that anticipated the coming of Christ who would baptize “with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8). While John’s baptism looked ahead, Christian baptism looked back on Christ’s finished work on the cross and His resurrection. These men had been baptized but did not understand the significance of the act.
19:4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance [did not produce repentance but instead was characterized by repentance]. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him [John’s baptism looked forward to the coming Messiah], that is, in Jesus.”
Paul explained that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance or a repentance kind of baptism. This baptism did not produce repentance but rather was characterized by repentance from sin. As the forerunner of the Messiah, John told those he baptized that they should believe in the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus. These men had received John’s baptism but had failed to believe in Jesus and to recognize Him as the promised Messiah.
19:5 On hearing this [Paul’s explanation], they were baptized [Christian baptism looks back to Christ’s finished work on the cross and His resurrection; the only instance of rebaptism in the NT] into the name of the Lord Jesus.
Paul’s explanation included information about baptism and, most likely, other information about the life and ministry of Jesus that Luke did not record. On hearing this, the men responded by being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. This is the only instance of rebaptism found in the New Testament.
These baptisms were probably performed by someone other than Paul (see 1 Cor. 1:14-17). Paul helped these Ephesian men understand the difference between John’s baptism and Christian baptism. When we discover areas where people have an incomplete understanding of the gospel, we can help teach them what they need to know.
19:6 When Paul placed his hands on them [laying on of hands following baptism only mentioned here in Acts], the Holy Spirit came on them [just as He had on those at Pentecost (Acts 2) and in Cornelius’ household (Acts 10:45-47)], and [note outward demonstrations of the Spirit’s coming…] they spoke in tongues [the last recorded instance of speaking in tongues in Acts] and prophesied.
Following their baptism, Paul laid hands on the new Ephesian converts. The Holy Spirit came on these 12 men just as He had on those at Pentecost (Acts 2) and in Cornelius’ household (Acts 10:45-47). And, they began to speak with other languages and to prophesy—both outward demonstrations of the Spirit’s coming.
The Book of Acts as well as the New Testament always relates salvation and the coming of the Spirit, but neither consistently relates salvation with the laying on of hands or speaking in tongues. Verse 6 records the final instance of speaking in tongues in the book of Acts.
19:7 There were about twelve men in all.
19:8 Paul entered the synagogue [Paul had met a receptive group of Jews at this same synagogue at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19-21)] and spoke boldly there for three months [suggests that the Ephesian Jews were open to Paul’s witness], arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
After his encounter with John’s disciples, Paul followed his customary pattern and went to the local synagogue. Paul had met a receptive group of Jews at this same synagogue at the end of his second missionary journey. These men had urged Paul to stay longer with them. Unable to do so, Paul had pledged to return to them if God provided an opportunity (see Acts 18:19-21). Now, about a year later, Paul returned to the synagogue in Ephesus and spoke there over a period of three months. This lengthy stay suggests that the Ephesian Jews were open to Paul’s witness and wanted to talk about the things related to the kingdom of God.
19:9 But some of them became obstinate [opposition did not take the form of physical persecution at this time; they hardened their hearts]; they refused to believe [the gospel] and publicly maligned [insulted, spoke evil of] the Way [cf. Acts 9:2; 19:23; 24:14]. So Paul left them. He took the disciples [the Jews who had become Christians] with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus [“The Tyrant”].
After three months of discussion and debate, some of the Jews still refused to believe. Their opposition to Paul and the gospel took the form of verbal rather than physical persecution at this time. Those who stubbornly refused to believe the gospel publicly slandered the Way, a term that refers to the early Christian movement (see Acts 9:2).
Paul and the disciples, or Jews who had become Christians, left the synagogue and found a new location for sharing the gospel—the lecture hall of Tyrannus. There, Paul had the freedom to speak with those who wanted to know more about the gospel.
19:10 This went on for two years [“daily” as per v. 9], so that all [indicates that the gospel message spread beyond Ephesus] the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
Paul taught daily at the lecture hall for two years, a testimony to his eagerness to tell others about Jesus (see Rom. 1:14-15). Spiritually hungry Jews and Greeks from throughout the province of Asia who were open to but had an incomplete understanding of the gospel traveled to Ephesus to hear Paul speak.
Many of these became believers and carried the gospel back to their own towns and cities. As a result of Paul’s daily initiative in sharing the gospel, many people heard the word of the Lord. Each of us know individuals who are open to the gospel but with an incomplete understanding of it. Like Paul, we must take advantage of opportunities to help them.
Note: Being seeker-sensitive.
S = Be sensitive to those who are seeking to know more about God or have spiritual concerns.
E = Encourage those who have an incomplete understanding of Christianity to ask questions.
E = Help others to examine the Scriptures for answers to their questions.
K = Become knowledgeable about what others believe.
E = Be patient as you explain to others the exclusive claims of Christ.
R = The gospel travels best along lines of relationships, so be a friend to others.
S = Help others understand how they can find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
19:11 God did extraordinary [not common; unusual] miracles [Gr. dunameis: mighty works or powerful deeds; confirmed the truth of Paul’s preaching and created opportunities for witnessing] [two types of miracles indicated: 1- direct healings through Paul] through [Jesus healed by His own authority; apostles always healed through divine authority, in the name of Jesus] Paul,
19:12 [2 – indirect healings through the application of Paul’s personal items] so that even [emphasizes extent of miracles] handkerchiefs [sweat rag: worn around the head and used to wipe the sweat off] and aprons [worn by working men; perhaps Paul’s apron worn in his tent-making] that had touched him [Paul; cf. Mark 5:27-34; 6:56; some believed in the healing effect of Peter’s shadow (cf. Acts 5:15)] were taken to the sick, and their illnesses [physical healing] were cured [released] and the evil spirits [spiritual healing] left them.
19:13 Some Jews [exorcists] who went around [itinerant Jewish charlatans] driving out evil spirits tried [attempted] to invoke [as a magical phrase] the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say [in an abracadabra sort of way], “In the name of Jesus [it takes more than terminology to do a divine work], whom Paul [not “we”] preaches, I command [adjure, charge] you to come out.”
19:14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief [high] priest [alleged, no record of his service exists], were doing this [probably for profit].
19:15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know [cf. Jas. 2:19], and I know about Paul [may indicate respect for Paul], but who are you?”
19:16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped [to spring upon like a panther] on them and overpowered [to become master of, to subdue; exorcists underestimated the power of evil] them all [seven men]. He gave them such a beating [to wound] that they ran out [to flee, to escape] of the house naked and bleeding [total humiliation].
19:17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear [reverential fear], and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high [to make large, to magnify] honor.
19:18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.
19:19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
19:20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
19:21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.”
19:22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.
19:23 About that time there arose a great disturbance [riot; standing for righteousness often leads to opposition] about the Way [Christianity; what happened was not simply against Paul personally].
19:24 A silversmith named Demetrius [wealthy and influential, probably head of guild of silversmiths], who made silver shrines [perhaps small shrines (models, statuettes) representing the goddess Artemis sitting in a niche with her lions beside her; used for souvenirs, household idols, gifts, perhaps worn as charms] of Artemis [Diana among the Romans; worshiped as the goddess of fertility in man, beast and nature; patron goddess of the city of Ephesus; temple dedicated to her worship located in Ephesus; visiting pilgrims brought much income to Ephesus], brought in [furnished, supplied] no little [a lucrative trade] business for the craftsmen [artisan].
19:25 He called [organized] them [the whole trade] together [in a protest], along with the workmen in related trades, and said [concerned about the threat to their livelihood created by the preaching and progress of the gospel]: “Men, you know we receive a good income [wealth, affluence] from this business [Demetrius was more dedicated to preserving his income than in religion; money was real motivation behind his actions].
19:26 And you see and hear how this [used to express contempt] fellow Paul has convinced and led astray [to change; to pervert] large numbers of people here in Ephesus and [additionally] in practically the whole province of Asia. He says [preaches] that man-made gods [idols; cf. Acts 17:29 re: Paul’s comments in Athens] are no gods at all [preaching of the gospel threatened the validity of this pagan religion].
19:27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name [resulting in a loss of income], but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited [fall into disrepute; rejection after examination], and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”
19:28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
19:29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.
19:30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.
19:31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.
19:32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.
19:33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people.
19:34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
19:35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?
19:36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash.
19:37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.
19:38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges.
19:39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.
19:40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.”
19:41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.