Acts 19 Commentary

Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission


Click chart to enlarge

Considering the fact that Acts 13 is such a strategic chapter in regard to world evangelism, take a moment and study Irving Jensen's chart at top of the page (click it to enlarge it which is what I have to do at age 72!). Notice the bold vertical line (|) at the end of Acts 12 and beginning of Acts 13 which Jensen estimates to be about year 47 (it could be a short time prior). Note the horizontal description of "Church" - Church Established in the first 13 years from Acts 1 through Acts 7, then the Church Scattered between Acts 8 through Acts 12, which occurred over a period of about 14 years (and remember all dates and times are at best approximations because Luke gives only a few events that allow us to give specific dates, such as the death of Herod in A D 44 in Acts 12:23) and lastly, beginning in Acts 13 (and until the end of this age), the Church Extended, this extension being the primarily the fruit of Paul's Three Missionary Journeys which"upset the world!" (Acts 17:6) Now, you have a good grasp of the chronological context of Acts 13. And as they say in the restaurant when your delicious meal is served "Enjoy!" The three missionary journeys are summarized below (this note will be repeated in subsequent chapters). Click links for the maps of each journey.

Paul's First Missionary Journey Acts 13:4-14:28
Paul's Second Missionary Journey Acts 15:36-18:22
Paul's Third Missionary Journey Acts 18:23-21:26
  • Maps in table above are from the Holman Bible Atlas (digital bookHardcover/Paperback version) copyrighted © 1998 B&H Publishing Group, used by permission, all rights reserved. This is one of the best resources for Bible maps as the maps also include helpful short descriptions of the events portrayed on the maps. Please do not download for use on another website. Thank you.
  • Here is a map with all three journeys on one map.


  1. Antioch Acts 13:1-3
  2. Seleucia Acts 13:4
  3. Salamis on Cyprus Acts 13:5
  4. Paphos on Cyprus Acts 13:6-12
  5. Perga in Pamphylia Acts 13:13
  6. Pisidian Antioch Acts 13:14-50
  7. Iconium Acts 13:51
  8. Lystra Acts 14:6-20
  9. Derbe Acts 14:20
  10. Lystra Acts 14:21
  11. Iconium Acts 14:21
  12. Pisidian Antioch Acts 14:21
  13. Pamphylia Acts 14:24
  14. Perga Acts 14:25
  15. Attalia Acts 14:25
  16. Antioch Acts 14:26 
  1. Antioch Acts 15:36-40
  2. Syria Acts 15:41
  3. Cilicia Acts 15:41
  4. Derbe Acts 16:1
  5. Lystra Acts 16:1-5
  6. Phrygia/Galatia Acts 16:6
  7. Mysia Acts 16:7
  8. Troas Acts 16:8-10
  9. Samothrace Acts 16:11
  10. Neapolis Acts 16:11
  11. Philippi Acts 16:12
  12. Amphipolis Acts 17:1
  13. Apollonia Acts 17:1
  14. Thessalonica Acts 17:1-9
  15. Berea Acts 17:10-14
  16. Athens Acts 17:15-34
  17. Corinth Acts 18:1-17
  18. Cenchreae  Acts 18:18
  19. Ephesus Acts 18:19
  20. Caesarea  Acts 18:22
  21. Jerusalem Acts 18:22
  22. Antioch Acts 18:22
  1. Antioch Acts 18:23
  2. Phrygia/Galatia Acts 18:23-28
  3. Ephesus Acts 19:1-41
  4. Macedonia Acts 20:1
  5. Greece Acts 20:2
  6. Macedonia Acts 20:3-5
  7. Philippi Acts 20:6
  8. Troas Acts 20:6-12
  9. Assos Acts 20:13
  10. Mitylene Acts 20:14
  11. Samos Acts 20:15
  12. Miletus Acts 20:15-38
  13. Cos Acts 21:1
  14. Rhodes Acts 21:1
  15. Patara Acts 21:1
  16. Tyre Acts 21:3-6
  17. Ptolemais Acts 21:7
  18. Caesarea Acts 21:8-14

Charles Swindoll points out that "When we study the journeys of Paul in the book of Acts, we’re not just reading the travel log of a man; we’re observing the redemptive plan of God unfolding as He promised. Through the ministry of Saul of Tarsus, God’s mission to reclaim His creation from the death grip of evil would move to its next stage. The plan of this mission was outlined in the Lord’s promise at His ascension, where He said,

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses...

  1. In Jerusalem [Stage 1: Acts 2–7],
  2. and in all Judea and Samaria [Stage 2: Acts 8–12],
  3. and even to the remotest part of the earth [Stage 3: Acts 13–‍28].” (Acts 1:8+)

John Hannah's Outline for Third Missionary Journey

  • The third missionary journey of Paul  (Acts 18:23-21:16)
    1. The ministry in Galatia and Phrygia  (Acts 18:23)
    2. The ministry in Ephesus  (Acts 18:24-19:41)
      1. Instruction of Apollos  (Acts 18:24-28)
      2. Instruction of some of John's followers  (Acts 19:1-7)
      3. Instruction of the Ephesians  (Acts 19:8-20)
      4. Instructions concerning his plans  (Acts 19:21-22)
      5. The riots in Ephesus  (Acts 19:23-41)
    3. The ministry in Macedonia and Achaia  (Acts 20:1-5)
    4. The ministry in Troas  (Acts 20:6-12)
    5. The ministry in Miletus  (Acts 20:13-38)
      1. His journey to Miletus  (Acts 20:13-16)
      2. His message to the Ephesian elders  (Acts 20:17-35)
        1. Concerning his ministry  (Acts 20:17-27)
        2. Concerning the church  (Acts 20:28-35)
      3. His farewell to the Ephesians  (Acts 20:36-38)
    6. The  ministry at Tyre  (Acts 21:1-6)
      1. His journey to Tyre  (Acts 21:1-3)
      2. His ministry in Tyre  (Acts 21:4-6)
    7. The ministry in Caesarea  (Acts 21:7-16)
      1. Agabus' prediction  (Acts 21:7-12)
      2. Paul's reply  (Acts 21:13-14)
      3. The journey toward Jerusalem  (Acts 21:15-16)
  • The journey of Paul to Rome  (Acts 21:17-28:31)
    1. His witness in Jerusalem  (Acts 21:17-23:35)
      1. Paul's report to the elders  (Acts 21:17-26)
      2. Paul's arrest  (Acts 21:27-36)
      3. Paul's defense  (Acts 21:37-23:10)
        1. His first defense  (Acts 21:37-22:23)
          1. The background  (Acts 21:37-40)
          2. The content  (Acts 22:1-21)
          3. The result  (Acts 22:22-23)
        2. His second defense  (Acts 22:24-23:10)
          1. The background  (Acts 22:24-29)
          2. The council  (Acts 22:30)
          3. The content  (Acts 23:1-9)
          4. The conflict  (Acts 23:10)
      4. Paul's deliverance  (Acts 23:11-35)
        1. The encouragement  (Acts 23:11)
        2. The plot  (Acts 23:12-16)
        3. The counterplot  (Acts 23:17-24)
        4. The letter to Felix  (Acts 23:25-30)
        5. The deliverance to Felix  (Acts 23:31-35)
    2. His witness in Caesarea  (Acts 24:1-26:32)
      1. Paul's defense before Felix  (Acts 24:1-27)
        1. The setting  (Acts 24:1)
        2. The accusations of Tertullus  (Acts 24:2-9)
        3. The reply of Paul  (Acts 24:10-21)
        4. The consequences  (Acts 24:22-27)
      2. Paul's defense before Festus  (Acts 25:1-12)
        1. The setting  (Acts 25:1-5)
        2. The trial  (Acts 25:6-11)
        3. The result  (Acts 25:12)
      3. Paul's defense before Agrippa  (Acts 25:13-26:32)
        1. The arrival of Agrippa  (Acts 25:13)
        2. Festus' presentation of Paul's case  (Acts 25:14-22)
        3. Festus' presentation of Paul  (Acts 25:23-27)
        4. Paul's defense before Agrippa  (Acts 26:1-23)
        5. Paul's answer to Festus  (Acts 26:24-26)
        6. Paul's interaction with Agrippa  (Acts 26:27-29)
        7. The conclusion  (Acts 26:30-32)
    3. His witness on the way to Rome  (Acts 27:1-28:15)
      1. His witness aboard ship  (Acts 27:1-44)
      2. His witness on Malta  (Acts 28:1-15)
        1. Paul's miraculous preservation  (Acts 28:1-6)
        2. Paul's healing of Publius' father  (Acts 28:7-10)
        3. Paul's continued journey toward Rome  (Acts 28:11-15)
    4. His witness in Rome  (Acts 28:16-31)
      1. The occasion for his witness  (Acts 28:16-22)
      2. The content of his witness  (Acts 28:23-28)
      3. The result of his witness  (Acts 28:29)
      4. The summary of Paul's witness in Rome  (Acts 28:30-31)
  • Hannah's Bible Outlines - Recommended Resource

Acts 19:1 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples.

KJV Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

Click to enlarge - from the Holman Bible Atlas (digital bookHardcover
copyright © 1998 B&H Publishing Group,
Used by permission, all rights reserved.
This is one of the best resources for Bible maps. 
Please do not reproduce this map on any other webpage.


This journey began in Acts 18:23 and extends through Acts 21:26, making it by far the longest narrative of Paul's three missionary journeys.  Acts 18:23+ describes Paul's journey after leaving Antioch "And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, (click map above) strengthening all the disciples.

It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth (see picture and description of the city) - So in the interlude Luke recorded in Acts 18:24-28+, Paul was beginning his third missionary journey which would in fact have as one of his destinations the city of Ephesus the city to which Apollos had come and had met Priscilla and Aquila. 

Paul passed through the upper country - "The inland regions." (NET). The Greek word for upper (anoterikos) is used only here and  means "upper, higher; of the inland regions of a mountainous country interior." (Friberg) Thayer say anoterikos refers to "the part of Asia Minor more remote from the Mediterranean, farther east." Zodhiates adds that anoterikos means "higher up in the country, further in the inland parts of Asia Minor or more distant from the sea referring to the districts of Phrygia and Galatia." 

Robertson adds that anoterikos "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 (Col. 2:1). Instead he took the more direct road through the Cayster Valley to Ephesus."

Gilbrant on anoterikos Its use here in Acts 19:1 may indicate that Paul, rather than take the indirect trade route to Ephesus via the valley of the Meander river (the low country), took the more direct route over the hills, reaching Ephesus from the north (Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament, 5:384).

Passed through (1330)(dierchomai from dia = through + erchomai = come, go) means to go through, to pass through, to move through an area ("When they had gone through the whole island" = Acts 13:6+).

All of Luke's frequent uses of dierchomai in Acts -

Acts 8:4; Acts 8:40; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:38; Acts 10:38; Acts 11:19; Acts 12:10; Acts 13:6; Acts 13:14; Acts 14:24; Acts 15:3; Acts 15:41; Acts 16:6; Acts 17:23; Acts 18:23; Acts 18:27; Acts 19:1; Acts 19:21; Acts 20:2; Acts 20:25; 

And came to Ephesus (2181) See description of Ephesos. This was the fulfillment of his earlier promise " taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus." (Acts 18:21+)

A T Robertson - 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 Rev. 2 and Rev 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 (or Diana)(see picture) was one of the seven wonders of the world (ED: It was 239 x 418 feet some 4x the size of the Parthenon in Athens!) 

And found (heurisko) some disciples - Who did Paul find in Ephesus? He found about 12 disciples (Acts 19:7) of John the Baptist (Acts 19:3). Luke is not referring to Apollos for during Paul's journey to Ephesus, Apollos had sailed over to Corinth, where he "powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ." (Acts 18:27-28+) Priscilla and Aquila were most likely still in Ephesus for Paul writes to the Corinthians that "Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house (in Ephesus)." (1 Cor 16:19).

The question arises as to what Luke meant by using the term disciples? He normally used this of believers and in fact he says in Acts 19:4 Luke records John was "telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” So were they Christians? It is difficult to be definitive. We know that certainly by Acts 19:6 they were true believers, disciples of Jesus!

Swindoll writes these disciples were "Christians-in-waiting—Jews who had responded positively to John the Baptist’s ministry but who had not yet received a complete articulation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. They had only partial information and had not received the Holy Spirit." (Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary – Acts)

Polhill on these disciples Evidently they were not at this point strictly Christian disciples but rather disciples of John the Baptist. (New American Commentary – Volume 26: Acts)

Robertson on some disciples - They show no connection with Priscilla and Aquila. Luke calls them “disciples” or “learners” (mathetes) 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 (Jn 3:22–25; Lk 7:19; Mt. 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.

Luke had used the term disciples to describe followers of John the Baptist

“The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.”used the term disciples (Luke 5:33+)

The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19 Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” 20 When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” (Luke 7:18-20+).

Furthermore the name disciples was used in other contexts - For example the disciples of the Pharisees (Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33), the disciples of John the Baptist (Matt. 9:14; 11:2; Luke 5:33; 7:18-19; 11:1; John 1:35; 3:25) and finally disciples of Jesus Christ were not even saved as they proved when they departed from following Him (see John 6:66). 

John MacArthur - Those who insist they were already Christians use this passage as a proof text for their view that receiving the Holy Spirit is a subsequent, postsalvation, or ‘second blessing,’ experience. Such an interpretation, however, is untenable. First, it commits the methodological error of failing to consider the transitional nature of Acts, which means that the experiences and phenomena described in Acts are not normative for today. Second, this is a faulty interpretation because it commits the comparative scriptural error. Other texts make obvious that this passage cannot be used to teach that some Christians today may not have the Holy Spirit. That would declare unequivocally that ever Christian receives the Spirit at salvation, and define those without the Spirit as unsaved. (Acts Commentary)

CITY OF EPHESUS - ILLUSTRATION OF THE SUBTLE CORRUPTING EFFECT OF SIN: What happened to the great city of Ephesus? Often mentioned in the New Testament, it was one of the cultural and commercial centers of its day. Located at the mouth of the Cayster River, it was noted for its bustling harbors, its broad avenues, its gymnasiums, its baths, its huge amphitheater, and especially its magnificent Temple of Diana.

What happened to bring about its gradual decline until its harbor was no longer crowded with ships and the city was no longer a flourishing metropolis? Was it smitten by plagues, destroyed by enemies, or demolished by earthquakes? No, silt was the reason for its downfall—silent and non-violent silt. Over the years, fine sedimentary particles slowly filled up the harbor, separating the city from the economic life of the sea traders. Little evil practices, little acts of disobedience may seem harmless. (Song 2:15) But let the silt of sin gradually accumulate, and we will find ourselves far from God. Life will become a spiritual ruin. In the book of Hebrews we are warned of the danger of “the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13+). James said that the attractive pleasures of sin are really a mask covering death (Jas 1:15+).God forbid that we let the "silt of sin" accumulate in our lives!

Christian, walk carefully, danger is near!
On in your journey with trembling and fear;
Snares from without and temptations within 
Seek to entice you once more into sin.

Little sins add up to big trouble.

Longenecker has an additional note on the harbor at Ephesus - Ephesus relied upon two important assets for its wealth and vitality. The first was its position as a center of trade, linking the Greco-Roman world with the rich hinterland of western Asia Minor. But because of excessive lumbering, charcoal burning, and overgrazing the land, topsoils slipped into streams, streams were turned into marshes, and storm waters raced to the sea laden with silt that choked the river's mouth. The Pergamum kings promoted the maintenance of the harbor facilities at Ephesus, and Rome followed suit. But it was a losing battle against the unchecked erosion of the hinterland. In Paul's day, the zenith of Ephesus's commercial power was long since past. Deepening economic decline had cast a shadow over the city. Efforts were repeatedly made to improve the harbor (in A.D. 65 a large-scale attempt was undertaken), but they either failed or provided only temporary relief. Domitian at the end of the first century A.D. was the last ruler to attempt to repair the harbor's facilities and enlarge its dwindling capacities. Today the mouth of the Cayster River is so choked with silt that the ancient harbor works of Ephesus sit back behind a swamp, some seven miles from the sea. (Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 9: John and Acts) (See note on reconstruction of the ancient harbor - article in 2017)

Charles Swindoll gives us some excellent background on the city of Ephesus - EPHESUS, THE MOTHER OF COMMERCE IN ASIA

Ephesus was a city built of marble. Marble paved the streets, lined the foundations, supported the monuments, and channeled rainwater to the sea. Even the public toilets were constructed from polished marble. The city gleamed with white iridescence, as if to say to the world, “This city will shine forever.” And of all the cities in the Roman Empire, Ephesus would have been one of the most difficult places in which to establish an orderly church. The city of Corinth struggled with rampant immorality, and that enemy was easy to spot. But a church in Ephesus also had to be on guard against two insidious killers of congregations: enticing prosperity and distracting philosophy.

This port city sat alongside the Aegean Sea at the mouth of the Cayster River and near the intersection of two important mountain passes. Ephesus, therefore, commanded a strategic position offering access in all directions from the sea, making the city an unusually busy and affluent economic hub for the Roman province of Asia. Materials and knowledge flowed into the city from all over the world, feeding its voracious appetite for more wealth and new ideas.

Ephesus was renowned for its paganism—as many as fifty different gods and goddesses were worshiped there. None, however, challenged the economic and mystical power of the towering temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Worship of the “earth mother” had become a huge attraction, combining tourism and sensual idolatry with such success that it fueled the city’s core economy, even without its already burgeoning import/export trade. City officials set aside one month of every year to honor the goddess with a grand celebration, during which all work ceased. The stadium hosted athletic games, the theater produced plays, the odeum held concerts, and people flocked from every corner of Asia and beyond to make offerings in the sacred grove, the mythical birthplace of Artemis. Worship of the goddess brought such enormous sums of money into the temple that it became an important banking institution, perhaps the first of its kind in Asia. Moreover, the city of Ephesus became a sanctuary for debtors, a place of refuge for anyone seeking to avoid a creditor’s demands.

If the lure of money and magic didn’t create enough chaos, the city of Ephesus also attracted schools of philosophy. Around 500 BC, Heraclitus, a Greek noble of Ephesus, taught that the universe operates according to a unified ordering principle, which he called the logos, that is, “the word.” Later philosophers built upon this theory, claiming that all the laws of physics, mathematics, reason, and even morality can be traced back to an impersonal divine mind. By the time of Paul, Ephesus had become a veritable cauldron of competing philosophies and a celebrated repository of texts on Greek philosophy.

Despite all its temptations and challenges, Ephesus was a perfect location for Paul’s base of operations in Asia because “roads from Ephesus radiated in every direction along the coast and through the interior of the province.” To ensure that the church would remain morally clean, doctrinally pure, and spiritually vibrant, Paul spent more time in Ephesus than in any other Gentile city. Moreover, he nurtured the congregation from afar, sending envoys to check on its members’ well-being, writing at least one letter, and—perhaps most significant of all—placing them in the hands of his beloved disciple Timothy. (Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary – Acts)

Acts 19:2  He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."

KJV Acts 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

At the outset the reader needs to understand that this account is very difficult to interpret and commentators disagree as discussed below so it is best to avoid dogmatism.

He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" - This question is somewhat enigmatic, given that we know Acts is a transitional book. However, based on Paul's statement in Romans it is difficult to say that these individuals were truly born again. Paul wrote

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Ro 8:9)

To be sure Paul wrote this after the book of Acts, but it certainly would seem to support the premise that these "disciples" were not yet genuine believers. 

Phillips has an interesting way to explain Paul's question - These dozen Ephesian converts of John knew little or nothing about the gift of the Holy Spirit, about His baptism and indwelling, or about His sealing ministry or the fact that He is the earnest of our inheritance. They had not been made partakers of the sovereign acts of God that are all part of a genuine Christian experience. Consequently they knew nothing, either, of the Holy Spirit's filling and anointing, subsequent acts of God that depend upon the believer's cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Thus these men were believers in Christ, to the best of their knowledge of Him, but they were not yet Christians. (Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary)

John MacArthur interprets the response of John's disciples as confirming "to the apostle that they were not yet Christians. That they were unacquainted with the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost showed that they were in fact Old Testament saints."  (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Acts)

David Williams says that Paul's "criterion for what distinguished the Christian is significant. So, too, is the way in which his question is framed. It implies that the Holy Spirit is received at a definite point in time and that that time is the moment of initial belief (the aorist participle, pisteusantes, being construed here as coincidental with the verb, elabete = "receive"). The same thought is expressed, for example, in Eph 1:13: "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit" (cf. Acts 11:17). No space of time is envisaged between the two events; nor is the possibility entertained of believing without also receiving the "seal of the Spirit." (New International Biblical Commentary: Acts)

John Phillips comments on how some have misapplied this passage - The popular but false teaching in some quarters is that believers must ask God to give them the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit is one of the benefits sovereignly and eternally bestowed upon a believer at the moment of conversion. Romans 8:9 says, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Either one has the Holy Spirit, in which case he belongs to Christ and is saved, or else one does not have the Holy Spirit, in which case he is not saved. It is wrong to ask God to give us something He has already given to us. The baptism of the Spirit and the gift of the Spirit are inter-related. The baptism puts me in Christ (cf 1 Cor 12:13); the gift puts Christ in me. The one makes me a member of His mystical Body; the other makes my material body the Holy Spirit's Temple. It is equally wrong to ask God to give me more of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Person, and one cannot receive a person by installments. When you accepted Christ as Savior, God gave you the gift of His Holy Spirit. You received that marvelous Person into your life. The Christian life is largely the process of finding out more and more the vastness of the wisdom, the love and the power of the amazing Person who has come to share His life with those who trust Christ as Savior. (Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary)

We have all of the Holy Spirit we will ever receive the moment we are saved. For the rest of our sojourn on earth, it will be about the Holy Spirit having more and more of me, as I learn to die to self and rely more and more on the fullness of the Spirit. This will be our lifelong "project" and at its core is the essence of progressive sanctification or growth in Christ-likeness (cf 2 Cor 3:18). 

And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." - Now this is an interesting statement because John the Baptist himself had taught "“As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Lk 3:16+, see also Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; cf. John 1:32-33) Clearly they had not been at the Feast of Pentecost and thus had not heard that the Spirit had been poured on the believers in Jerusalem! 

Steven ColeBut since they were disciples of John the Baptist, and since John clearly taught that the Messiah would baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit (Lu 3:16), probably they meant that they had not heard that the Holy Spirit had been given in the sense that John had predicted.

NET Note - Apparently these disciples were unaware of the provision of the Spirit that is represented in baptism. The language sounds like they did not know about a Holy Spirit, but this seems to be only linguistic shorthand for not knowing about the Spirit's presence ( Luke 3:15–18). The situation is parallel to that of Apollos. Apollos and these disciples represent those who "complete" their transition to messianic faith as Jews. 

Jack Arnold introduces his sermon on Acts 19 -  Every Christian has, or will, come into contact with so-called charismatic Christians who teach that it is possible to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation at one point of one’s Christian experience and then, at a later point in one's Christian experience, it is possible to receive the Holy Spirit for sanctification.  The people who hold this kind of theology are called Pentecostals, Holiness or Charismatics.  They claim that sometime after initial salvation one must have an experience with the Holy Spirit to have power to live the Christian life.  This experience after conversion is sometimes referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the second blessing or the second work of grace, and for most, this experience is accompanied by the manifestation of the charismatic gifts with special emphasis upon the speaking in tongues, which for them are unknown, heavenly languages of praise to God.  They believe that this second experience with the Holy Spirit comes when one is fully surrendered and totally yielded to God. It is grossly unfair on my part to try to classify charismatics, for they range all the way from snake handlers to the most dignified and cultured Christians.  Among charismatics themselves, there is a wide difference of opinion as to what the Bible teaches on this encounter with the Holy Spirit and the speaking in tongues.  Some think that one must speak in tongues to evidence salvation, for it is tongues that proves one has the Holy Spirit. Still others would not go so far but they would say that speaking in tongues is necessary to evidence one is truly Spirit-filled. Still others, who are more biblical, see tongues as just one of the spiritual gifts in the church and some have the gift of tongues and some do not.  Charismatics, as a whole, are very difficult to talk to once they have had the so-called tongues experience, for once one has experienced something subjectively, it is difficult to be objective. What we must do with our charismatic brethren is to bring their experience of tongues and their theology surrounding this experience to the touchstone of Scripture.  Charismatics, for the most parts are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our task is not to berate, mock or shun them but to love them and help to examine the Scriptures on tongues so as to get biblical perspective on this subject. Once a charismatic sees what the Bible teaches, then his fanaticism over tongues will leave (even though he may not give up the use of the gift as he understands it) and he will become balanced, more biblical, and more loving and understanding towards the rest of the body of Christ who have not experienced what he thinks is the biblical gift of tongues. (Saved But Lacking - Acts 19:1-7)

Acts 19:3  And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism."

KJV Acts 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" - "Then what baptism did you experience?" (NLT)

And they said, "Into John's baptism." - This simply affirms that they were disciples of John the Baptist, which is fascinating for John had been beheaded almost 25 years earlier.  As an aside this is the last mention of John the Baptist in the NT. John's baptism was one of preparation for Jesus' coming as Bock describes in more detail below. They had progressed no further than the ministry of John the Baptist. In that sense they were similar to Apollos for Luke had recorded he was "acquainted only with the baptism of John." (Acts 18:25+). 

Swindoll Like Apollos, they had responded to the repentance invitation of John the Baptizer (Acts 19:3), and they anticipated the Messiah as John had indicated; but while Apollos had been instructed in “the Way” (Acts 18:25; cf. Acts 9:2), these people knew nothing about Jesus Christ. Whereas Apollos was “teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25) and then was instructed “more accurately” (Acts 18:26), Paul introduced Christ to these disciples for the first time. (Ibid)

Darrell Bock on John's baptism - John’s baptism is unique to him and is grounded in his prophetic office. It is a call to commitment and includes a recognition that God is coming. It is neither the washing of a separated covenant community (Qumran) nor an initiatory rite (Gentile proselytes). Unlike traditional Judaism, it is not a religious act related to bringing sacrifices. Rather, it is an affirmation, a washing that looks with hope for God’s (Ed: Messiah's) coming and lives in light of one’s relationship to Him (regarding this future looking and living see Bock's note below on meaning of forgiveness of sins associated with John's baptism as recorded in Luke 3:3+). This attitude is much like the NT emphasis on a life of faith. (Baker Exegetical Commentary - Luke).

So John’s baptism is a prophetic eschatological washing; that is, it is a baptism of promise that looks to the greater baptism of the Spirit (Schürmann 1969: 158–60). It points forward to the cleansing that comes to those who respond to Messiah’s offer with faith. This association of Spirit and cleansing was mentioned in the OT (Ezek. 36:25–27+; Zech. 13:1+).......In short, John’s baptism was a step on the way to the Promised One’s forgiveness. The repentance in view here will not only make one alter the way one lives, but also will cause one to see “the Mightier One to come” as the promise of God. To submit to this baptism is to confess one’s commitment to this perspective. This is the essence of John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (See Bock's complete note from the Baker Exegetical Commentary-Luke)

Baptized (907)(baptizo  from bapto = cover wholly with a fluid; stain or dip as with dye; used of the smith tempering the red-hot steel, used of dyeing the hair; of a ship that "dipped" = sank) has a literal and a figurative meaning in the NT. The literal meaning is to submerge, to dip or immerse as in water. 

Baptism (908)(baptisma from bapto = dip as in dye to color) is the result of the act of dipping, plunging, immersing, washing. something or someone. The suffix -ma indicates the result of dipping or sinking or baptizing while baptismos is the act of baptizing.

Question: "What was the meaning and importance of the baptism of John the Baptist?"

Though today the word baptism generally evokes thoughts of identifying with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, baptism did not begin with Christians. For years before Christ, the Jews had used baptism in ritual cleansing ceremonies of Gentile proselytes. John the Baptist took baptism and applied it to the Jews themselves—it wasn’t just the Gentiles who needed cleansing. Many believed John’s message and were baptized by him (Matthew 3:5–6). The baptisms John performed had a specific purpose. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist mentions the purpose of his baptisms: “I baptize you with water for repentance.” Paul affirms this in Acts 19:4: “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” John’s baptism had to do with repentance—it was a symbolic representation of changing one’s mind and going a new direction. “Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matthew 3:6). Being baptized by John demonstrated a recognition of one’s sin, a desire for spiritual cleansing, and a commitment to follow God’s law in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival. There were some, like the Pharisees, who came to the Jordan to observe John’s ministry but who had no desire to step into the water themselves. John rebuked them sternly: “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance’” (Matthew 3:7–8). Even the religious leaders needed to repent of their sin, although they saw no need of it.

Christian baptism today also symbolizes repentance, cleansing, and commitment, but Jesus has given it a different emphasis. Christian baptism is a mark of one’s identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is representative of a cleansing that is complete and a commitment that is the natural response of one who has been made new. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross completely washes away our sins, and we are raised to new life empowered by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Romans 6:1–11). With John’s baptism, a person repented of sin and was therefore ready to place his faith in Jesus Christ. John’s baptism foreshadowed what Jesus would accomplish, much as the Old Testament sacrificial system didJohn prepared the way for Christ by calling people to acknowledge their sin and their need for salvation. His baptism was a purification ceremony meant to ready the peoples’ hearts to receive their Savior. (from, a trustworthy site for sound doctrine)

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Acts 19:4  Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus."

KJV Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance - As noted above John's baptism was as a forerunner to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. John's "baptism" was like an index finger pointing to the coming of Messiah. Luke records that John was "To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins." (Lk 1:77+).

Telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus - Apparently these "about 12" men believed on Jesus at some point in time, possibly after hearing Paul's words, but one cannot be dogmatic. In any event Paul's subsequent action of baptizing them indicates that he accepted them as genuine born again believers. 

Acts 19:5  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus

KJV Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus -  Notice that Paul did not tell them how to receive the Holy Spirit. Their baptism recalls Peter's first charge to the Jews at Pentecost to "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." It also parallels the account of the Samaritans "when they (Samaritans) believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike." (Acts 8:12) And as described in Acts 19:6 these 12 had a similar experience with the Holy Spirit, giving tangible evidence that they had indeed received the Spirit, just as 

MacArthur says that "had these twelve already believed in Jesus Christ, they would have been baptized into His name." (Ibid)

Toussaint - This is the only place in the New Testament that refers to anyone being rebaptized. Quite clearly, John's ministry was anticipatory; Christ is the fulfillment of all things. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Robertson on in the name of the Lord Jesus 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.

Acts 19:6  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying

KJV Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them - Compare the similar evidence of reception of the Holy Spirit when (1) the Samaritans believed (read Acts 8:15-17+, especially "Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.") and (2) when the Gentiles in Cornelius' household believed (read Acts 11:15-18+)

There were also spiritual results associated with Ananias laying his hands on Saul (Paul) at his conversion...

So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; (Acts 9:17-18+)

Marshall on laid hands upon - It seems more likely that the laying on of hands should be understood as a special act of fellowship, incorporating the people concerned into the fellowship of the church. This was necessary in the case of the Samaritan converts in chapter 8 to make it quite clear that they were accepted fully into the Jewish church centred on Jerusalem; and it was necessary in the present instance to make it clear to these members of a semi-Christian group that they were now becoming part of the universal church. The fact that the story demonstrates that Paul had the same authority as Peter and John to convey the gift of the Spirit is probably merely a secondary motif. The effect of the baptism w as to produce ‘charismatic’ manifestations of the Spirit (Acts 2:4, 17f+.; Acts 10.46+). It is clear from the other stories of conversion in Acts that such manifestations took place spasmodically and were not the general rule (Acts 8:17+; Acts 8:39+; Acts 13:52+; Acts 16:34+); in the present case some unusual gift was perhaps needed to convince this group of ‘semi-Christians’ that they were now fully members of Christ’s church. (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Acts)

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And they began speaking with tongues and prophesying - This was verification that they had received the Holy Spirit.

A T Robertson on prophesying 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

As Kent Hughes says "This was a mini-Pentecost. We see the Pentecost experience four times in the book of Acts: to Jewish believers in Jerusalem, to the Samaritans through Philip, to the Gentiles by Peter, and here to dispersed Jews through Paul." (Preaching the Word - Acts)

Stanley Toussaint The subject of tongues in Acts confirms Paul's statement that tongues "are a sign... for unbelievers" (cf.1 Cor. 14:22). The purpose of tongues was to overcome unbelief. It should also be noted that the reception of the Holy Spirit in Acts does not follow any set pattern. He came into believers before baptism (Acts 10:44), at the time of or after baptism (Acts 8:12-16; 19:6), and by the laying on of apostolic hands (Acts 8:17; 19:6). Yet Paul declared (Ro 8:9) that anyone without the Holy Spirit is not a Christian. Quite obviously the transitional Book of Acts is not to be used as a doctrinal source on how to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. comments on tongues, 1 Cor. 13:8-14:25). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Passage Tongues-Speakers Audience Related to Salvation Purpose
Acts 2:1-4

The 12 Apostles and others


Unsaved Jews

After salvation

To validate (for Jews) the fulfillment of Joel 2

Acts 10:44-47

Gentiles (Cornelius and his household)

Saved Jews (Peter and others) who doubted God's plan

The same time as salvation

To validate (for Jews) God's acceptance of Gentiles

Acts 19:1-7

About 12 Old Testament believers

Jews who needed confirmation of the message

The same time as salvation

To validate (for Jews) Paul's message

Source: Stanley Toussaint - BKC

Acts 19:7  There were in all about twelve men

There were in all about twelve men - It seems strange that Luke a doctor is not exact, saying there were 12. 

MacArthur comments that "These twelve men, like Paul and Apollos before them, illustrate the transitional nature of Acts. The church, which had embraced Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans, now gathered in the last group: Old Testament saints. And the same miraculous gifts were present, so that all would know what was said of the Gentiles in Acts 11:17-18. So all the groups were gathered in. And in each case apostles were present to verify that all received the same Holy Spirit in the same way. That having been completed, Paul could write to the Ephesians, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:4-5). From then on, the Holy Spirit would come to every heart at salvation, as the epistles teach.

Toussaint The reference to 12 men does not imply, as some have suggested, that the church is the new Israel. (BKC)

Acts 19:8  And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God

KJV Acts 19:8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

NET  Acts 19:8 So Paul entered the synagogue and spoke out fearlessly for three months, addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God.


Every kingdom has a king, so ultimately Paul was proclaiming Jesus the King of the Jews (Mt 2:2, Mt 27:11, 37, Lk 23:38+). 

And he entered the synagogue (sunagoge) - Paul's pattern for proclamation of Christ crucified was to the Jew first (Ro 1:16). It is interesting in view of subsequent antagonism (Acts 19:9), that this was presumably the same synagogue in which he had reasoned (dialegomai) with the Jews in Acts 18:19+, the Jews asking him "to stay for a longer time." So to some degree, they were "open" given the fact that Paul stayed 3 months. Now it looks like many in the synagogue feel that 3 months is long enough! 

And continued speaking out boldly for three months - Speaking out boldly is a clear indication that Paul continued to be filled with Holy Spirit (cf Acts 4:31+, cf Acts 4:13+ where confidence = parrhesia and to the very end - Acts 28:31+). The imperfect tense pictures Paul speaking out boldly this over and over, again and again. He was not shy about the Gospel! And three months in a synagogue without a riot is something of a record for Paul! 

Speaking out boldly (3955)(parrhesiazomai from parrhesia = freedom or frankness in speaking or confident in spirit and demeanor <> pas = all + rhesis = speech) means literally all speech and conveys the idea idea of freedom to say all and thus to speak freely, openly, boldly, fearlessly, without constraint. The Greeks used this word for speaking in a democratic assembly. It means to be bold and courageous in one's speech reflecting an attitude of openness that comes from freedom and lack of fear even in the face of opposition (see next verse!) The same verb is used in Acts 18:26+ describing Apollos "he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue," which I find fascinating as Apollos did not yet understand that the Spirit of Christ had come.

Reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God - Both verbs in the present tense indicating he was continually reasoning and persuading the Jews about the Kingdom of God, as Jesus had done declaring "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mk 1:15). And of course Jesus' classic words to the Jewish teacher Nicodemus about how to enter the Kingdom...

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.(John 3:3-5)

Reasoning (discussing, dialoguing) (1256)(dialegomai from diá = denoting transition or separation + légo = speak; English = dialogue; noun derived = dialektos = speaking a specific language of a country) means to engage in an interchange of speech. It means to think different things with oneself, to mingle thought with thought and so to ponder or revolve in one's mind. To reason as one might do using thoughtful arguments to persuade another. To carry on a reasoned discussion as Paul did with the Jews (interestingly each time in the synagogue) in Thessalonica (Acts 17:2), in Athens (Acts 17:17), In Corinth (Acts 18:4) and in Ephesus (Acts 18:19). Some sources even consider dialegomai to be a technical term for Paul's teaching in the synagogues. Dialegomai is used repeatedly to describe Paul's "modus operandi" in presenting the Gospel - Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 18:19; Acts 19:8; Acts 19:9; Acts 20:7; Acts 20:9; Acts 24:12; Acts 24:25

Persuade (present tense - continually)(3982)(peitho) in this context conveys the sense that Paul was seeking to bring his Jewish audience to come to a settled persuasion concerning the fact that Jesus was the Messiah Who had brought full and final atonement for the sins of any of his hearers who would believe in His death, burial and resurrection. Paul was seeking to convince them to put their confidence in Jesus. 

Attempting to persuade the Jews was Paul's modus operandi until the very end of his life, explaining why he could honestly say "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;" (2 Ti 4:7+). And so in his quarters in Rome he kept seeking to persuade...

When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade (peitho) them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded (peitho)  by the things spoken, but others would not believe (NOTE THAT PERSUADED IN THIS CONTEXT = BELIEF).... 30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.(Acts 28:23, 24, 30, 31+)

Peitho in Acts -

Acts 5:36; Acts 5:37; Acts 5:40; Acts 12:20; Acts 13:43; Acts 14:19; Acts 17:4; Acts 18:4; Acts 19:8; Acts 19:26; Acts 21:14; Acts 23:21; Acts 26:26; Acts 26:28; Acts 27:11; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:24

Kingdom (932)(basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion.

Kingdom of God - 66x in 65v in the NT 

Matt. 12:28; Matt. 19:24; Matt. 21:31; Matt. 21:43; Mk. 1:15; Mk. 4:11; Mk. 4:26; Mk. 4:30; Mk. 9:1; Mk. 9:47; Mk. 10:14; Mk. 10:15; Mk. 10:23; Mk. 10:24; Mk. 10:25; Mk. 12:34; Mk. 14:25; Mk. 15:43; Lk. 4:43; Lk. 6:20; Lk. 7:28; Lk. 8:1; Lk. 8:10; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:27; Lk. 9:60; Lk. 9:62; Lk. 10:9; Lk. 10:11; Lk. 11:20; Lk. 13:18; Lk. 13:20; Lk. 13:28; Lk. 13:29; Lk. 14:15; Lk. 16:16; Lk. 17:20; Lk. 17:21; Lk. 18:16; Lk. 18:17; Lk. 18:24; Lk. 18:25; Lk. 18:29; Lk. 19:11; Lk. 21:31; Lk. 22:16; Lk. 22:18; Lk. 23:51; Jn. 3:3; Jn. 3:5; Acts 1:3; Acts 8:12; Acts 14:22; Acts 19:8; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:31; Rom. 14:17; 1 Co. 4:20; 1 Co. 6:9; 1 Co. 6:10; 1 Co. 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Col. 4:11; 2 Thess. 1:5

MacArthur comments on kingdom of GodPreaching the kingdom of God encompasses more than the eschatological thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth (ED: See my note below). To teach the kingdom of God is to teach the things concerning Christ and salvation (cf. Acts 28:31) and righteousness (Rom. 14:17). It is to teach how to enter the sphere of salvation and live there in communion with God. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Acts)

Jesus will one day return as King of kings to set up His Messianic Kingdom for 1000 years. In some of Jesus' last words on earth He thought the Kingdom such an important topic for His 11 disciples to grasp that He was "speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3+). In fact they were so thrilled with His teaching on the Kingdom that they ask "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority." (Acts 1:6-7+) Notice that Jesus did not deny He was going to restore the Kingdom, but that clearly now was not the time for that question. 

NET Note on Kingdom of God - To talk about Jesus as the Christ who has come is to talk about the kingdom of God. This is yet another summary of the message like that in Acts 18:28+

  1. Damascus
  2. Jerusalem
  3. Salamis
  4. Pisidian Antioch
  5. Iconium
  6. Philippi
  7. Thessalonica
  8. Berea
  9. Athens
  10. Corinth
  11. Ephesus
  12. Rome
  1. Acts 9:20+
  2. Acts 9:28-29+
  3. Acts 13:5+
  4. Acts 13:14+
  5. Acts 14:1+
  6. Acts 16:13+
  7. Acts 17:1-2+
  8. Acts 17:10+
  9. Acts 17:16-17+
  10. Acts 18:1-4+
  11. Acts 18:19; 19:8+
  12. Acts 28:17+

Acts 19:9  But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus

KJV Acts 19:9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

A Physical Picture of the Spiritual Problem of the Jews


But when - Term of contrast. The "honeymoon" was over so to speak! Paul's peerless proclamation demolished any and all Jewish arguments and/or refutations. So the contrast marks a "change of direction" so to speak. The attitude had been we wish to hear more to we wish to hear NO more! Intellectually, they undoubtedly understood what Paul was saying about Jesus, but like those who crucified Him, their hearts were hard and unwilling to welcome Him as their Savior and Lord. How often when I am sharing the Gospel and I come to Jesus as the ONLY way to Heaven, and you can see them sometimes literally back away from you! Others start to look at their watch and say it is time to go. And so Paul had clearly struck that nerve with the Jews loyally bound to their legalistic understanding of how a man becomes righteous. And it was time for him to go! 

Some were becoming hardened and disobedient - Both verbs are in the imperfect tense indicating every time Paul would bring forth his reasonable, persuasive Gospel dialogue, the Jews would respond with hardening and disobedience. Thus it was a process occuring over the 3 months he was in the Synagogue. The same sun that melts wax hardens clay. The problem is not with the sun, but with the receptivity of the agent it is acting upon."

As an aside remember that hardening of the heart ages more people than does hardening of the arteries! 

The same sun that melts the ice (or wax), hardens the clay. 

D L Moody - DO you know that the gospel of Jesus Christ proves either a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death? You sometimes hear people say: “We will go and hear this man preach. If it does us no good, it will do us no harm.” Don’t you believe it! Every time one hears the gospel and rejects it, the hardening process goes on. The same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay. The sermon that would have moved to action a few years ago makes no impression now. There is not a true minister of the gospel who will not say that the hardest people to reach are those who have been impressed, and whose impressions have worn away. It is a good deal easier to commit a sin the second time than it was to commit it the first time, but it is a good deal harder to repent the second time than the first.

Vance Havner - The same sun that melts ice also hardens clay and the Gospel either humbles or hardens the human heart, so a preacher should be prepared to expect both.

Were becoming hardened (4645)(skleruno from skleros = dry, hard, rough) means to make dry, stiff then hard. In passive voice as in this passage, skleruno means to be hardened, to grow calloused, to reach a point when one stubbornly refuses to change their attitude, in this case their attitude to the Messiah! And so figuratively these Jews were becoming unyielding, obstinate and stubborn. Skleruno was a medical technical term (Hippocrates) in Greek writings describing something becoming hardened. Our English word hardening of the arteries is related to this Greek word and is called arteriosclerosis which is a serious, potentially fatal affliction, especially when it affects the coronary arteries, including the left anterior descending which is nicknamed the "artery of sudden death!" So here in the Jewish synagogue in Ephesus these Jews were not in great peril, for literal hardening leads only to temporal physical death, but spiritual hardening leads to eternal spiritual death and damnation of one's soul!

The writer of Hebrews uses skleruno to repeatedly warn his Jewish readers "Do not harden your hearts" (Heb. 3:8+; Heb. 3:15+; Heb. 4:7+) The writer also explains that sin has a hardening effect and so they are to "encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened (skleruno) by the deceitfulness (apate) of sin." (Heb. 3:13+)

Skleruno - 6v - Acts 19:9; Ro 9:18; Heb. 3:8; Heb. 3:13; Heb. 3:15; Heb. 4:7

Robertson on hardened imperfect passive of sklērunō, causative like hiphil in Hebrew, to make hard (sklēros) 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, 13, 15; Hebrews 4:7-8 quoting and referring to Psalm 95:8 about hardening the heart like a gristle. The inevitable reaction against Paul (ED: REALLY AGAINST HIS GOSPEL) went on even in Ephesus though slowly.

MacArthur on the hardening effect of rejecting truth - When the truth is rejected repeatedly, it hardens the heart, and the message of salvation becomes an "aroma from death to death" (2 Cor. 2:16). Their refusing to repent and believe the gospel is classified as being disobedient, since belief is a divine command (Acts 17:30; cf. Mark 1:15  where Jesus declared that “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (present imperative) and believe (present imperative) in the Gospel.”). (Ibid)

And disobedient (544)(apeitheo from a = without + peítho = persuade) literally describes one who refuses to be persuaded and who disbelieves willfully and perversely. In studying apeitheo it is important to understand that "the stem peith- (pith-, poith-) has the basic meaning of trust (cf. Latin fido, fides). Apeitheo means not to allow oneself to be persuaded; not to comply with and to refuse or withhold belief in this case, in Jesus as Messiah, in the Gospel, the good news of salvation offered in Christ. Apeitheo speaks of a stubborn, stiff-necked attitude. It speaks of disbelief manifesting itself in disobedience. It is opposed to pisteuo (used in Acts 19:2, 4, 19), the verb translated "believe".

Robertson adds that like becoming hardened this verb is "imperfect again (ED: Some sources say it is present tense), showing the growing disbelief and disobedience (apeithēs), both ideas as in Acts 14:2+; Acts 17:5+, first refusal to believe and then refusal to obey. Both sklērunō and apeitheō occur together, as here, in Ecclus. 30:12.


The reaction by Paul's Jewish adversaries is a clear example of slander where words are falsely spoken with the intent to damage the reputation of another. 

Speaking evil of the Way before the people - Speaking evil is in the present tense indicating that these hardened Jews were continually vilifying those who had placed their faith in Jesus and not just before other Jews but to all the people of Ephesus! The heart attitudes of these Jews spewed forth out of their mouths, just as Jesus declared that "out of the heart come evil (poneros = actively hurtful in effect or influence) thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders (blasphemia - the word kakologeo is a synonym of blasphemeo)." (Mt 15:19).

The way (ten hodon) - In the NT Luke alone uses the term Way as another name for believers in Jesus. While he does not explain the derivation one cannot help but suggest that this name has some association with Jesus own self-designation as "the Way" adding that "no one comes to the Father but through" Him, the Way. (John 14:6). There is only one Way, one Name (Acts 4:12). In John 10:7 Jesus used a related metaphor said "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep." In the Sermon on the Mount  Jesus called men to enter the narrow gate and walk the narrow way declaring "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.(Mt 7:13-14+). Here are other uses of Luke's unique designation of Christians as "the Way"...

Acts 9:2  and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Acts 19:9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people....

Acts 19:23 About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.

Acts 22:4 “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons,

Acts 24:14 “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets;

Acts 24:22 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.”

ESV Study Bible note on the way - meaning either the way of salvation (Acts 16:17; cf. Jesus’ teachings in Matt. 7:14; John 14:6) or the true way of life in relation to God (cf. Acts 18:25-26; cf. Ps. 1:1, 6; 27:11).

“THIS IS THE WAY; WALK YE IN IT” (Isa. 30:21).

Christ has not come to show us the way, nor has He come only to make the way, but to be the Way. He is the Way.

1. He is the New and living Way, Heb. 10:19.
2. He is the Way through suffering, Heb. 10:19, 20.
3. He is the Way to the Father, Eph. 2:18.
4. He is the Way into Salvation, John 10:9.
5. He is the Way into the Holiest, Heb. 9:8.
6. He is the Way consecrated for us, Heb. 10:20.
7. He is the only Way, John 14:6.

         Walking in the Way with Jesus

              While walking in the way with Jesus,
         Secure from ev’ry start the blows,
         I’m kept in perfect peace from all my foes.
         While walking in the way with Jesus.

              While walking in the way with Jesus,
         I bid farewell to all my fears;
         A bow of promise glows above my tears,
         While walking in the way with Jesus. 

               While walking in the way with Jesus,
         I hear His “Come to me and rest,”
         And, looking unto Him, my soul is blest
         While walking in the way with Jesus.

             While walking in the way with Jesus,
         I see my heav’nly home afar;
         I see the pearly gates for me ajar,
         While walking in the way with Jesus.

Robertson on speaking evil Now these Jews are aggressive opponents of Paul and seek to injure his influence with the crowd.

Speaking evil (2551)(kakologeo from kakos = evil + lego = to speak) means literally to speak evil of, to curse (e.g., of parents in Mt 15:4, Mk 7:10). Kakologeo means tio use unjustified and abusive language against someone. Kakologeo is used  in Mark 9:39 in regard to someone who was casting out demons. Louw-Nida says kakologeo means to revile or "to insult in a particularly strong and unjustified manner." The derivative word katalogos was a "slanderer." Hellenistically, kakologeo means to imprecate evil on, to curse someone (Lxx - Pr. 20:20; Ezek 22:7; Ex 22:28).

Kakologeo - 4x - Mt 15:4; Mk. 7:10; Mk. 9:39; Acts 19:9. 5x in the Septuagint - Ex. 21:17; Ex. 22:28; 1 Sa 3:13; Pr 20:20 ("He who curses his father or his mother"); Ezek. 22:7; 

He withdrew from them and took away the disciples - In a sense Paul "excommunicated" himself from the Jewish synagogue. He severed ties and removed himself and his disciples from their presence. The implication is that during his 3 months of reasoning in the synagogue, some had been convinced and believed in Christ thus becoming His disciples (mathetes). 

Jack Arnold - This raises the whole question of when does one separate from a denomination or church?  Separation is necessary when an organization goes liberal in theology and will no longer listen to the truth.  Paul’s example gives three principles to apply before leaving a local church or denomination.  First, Paul stayed in the synagogue and evangelized for Christ until the Jews became violent in their opposition.  Second, when Paul could no longer stay in the synagogue because it was affecting his attitude and the lives of other Christians, he withdrew.  Third, Paul did not wait for the synagogue to expel him, but separated himself and the Christians from apostasy or false teaching.  Notice Paul did not separate himself over traditions, ritual, opinions, philosophy of ministry, petty differences, but over doctrinal error and opposition to the truth of Jesus Christ as revealed to him by Christ Himself. (Sermon)


He stood off from the Jews, making a cleavage so to speak, much as he had done at Corinth (Acts 18:7 but a different verb metabaino). 

Withdrew (868)(aphistemi from apo = separation of one thing from another + histemi = stand and is the root of our English = apostasy) literally means to stand off from means to withdraw, to remove oneself from. To withdraw from a place, an association or a relationship. In some context it means to apostatize so one might make play on words that Paul apostasized from the apostates! 

Took away is a picture of Paul marking limits (cf "horizon") around his disciples much as hand the Holy Spirit who said in Acts 13:2+ "Set apart (aphorizo in aorist imperative) for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Robertson comments that "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."

Took away (873)(aphorizo  from apó = off from, apart + horizo = mark out the limit) means to mark off the boundaries, to appoint, set one apart for some purpose. It is used of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked (Mt 13:49; 25:32) (which in a sense is what transpired here in Ephesus for the Jews that were left were hardened and wicked!); of the separation of the disciples from the world (Lk 6:22). The central idea is “to limit by setting apart from the rest,” hence, to distinguish from others in some specific way. It is interesting that this same word is used by Paul to describe himself as set apart by God from his mother's womb (Gal 1:15+) and set apart for the Gospel of God (Ro 1:1+). 

Reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus (his name means "tyrant"! It was a common name at that time!) - You can't keep a good man down. Paul just did the "Gospel two-step" and moved to a new location. Just as he had reasoned in the synagogue now he reasoned (see above for same verb dialegomai) continually (present tense) in the school of Tyrannus. The NET Note calls it "the lecture hall of Tyrannus."

Longenecker on Tyrannus This was probably the hall of a local philosopher named Tyrannus ("Tyrant") or one rented out to traveling philosophers by a landlord of that name. Since it is difficult (except in certain bleak moments of parenthood) to think of any parent naming his or her child "Tyrant," the name must have been a nickname given by the man's students or tenants. (Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 9: John and Acts)

School (4981)(schole) means leisure, rest, freedom from labor and business, vacation and came to mean a building where teachers and students met for study and discussion. The pagan sophists often spoke in such halls. Vine has "leisure," then, "that for which leisure was employed, a disputation, lecture;" hence, by metonymy, "the place where lectures are delivered, a school." Robertson adds that schole "is the Greek notion of "school," the Jewish being that of "yoke" as in Matthew 11:29+." 

Gilbrant on schole This interesting noun is used in the writings of Pindar (Fifth Century B.C.) to mean “leisure” (Bauer). In the classical world scholē could also mean “lecture, discussion” (Liddell-Scott). The meaning “school, lecture hall” appears to be attested as early as Aristotle (Fourth Century B.C.). In three occurrences in the Septuagint (only 3 uses) scholē means “leisure” (Genesis 33:14; Proverbs 28:19; Sirach 38:24).

Arnold has an interesting note on the school of Tyrannus "The Western Manuscript adds the words, “From the fifth to the tenth hour.”  Paul and his disciples rented the School of Tyrannus from 11:00 o’clock in the morning to 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon.  Why?  In the ancient world, the working hours were from about 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and then they took a five hour break for a siesta and leisure time.  Work resumed after 4:00 p.m. and continued until about 10:00 p.m.  The point is that Paul and his Christian disciples gave up precious sleeping time and relaxation time to meet, study the Word and witness to anyone who wanted to hear about Jesus Christ.  Notice that they were willing to sacrifice time to further the kingdom of Christ." (Sermon)

MacArthur agrees that "Paul did not go off duty at 4:00 p.m. but continued ministering well into the evening hours (Acts 20:31), no doubt instructing from house to house Paul maintained this grueling schedule for two years." (Ibid)

Barclay One Greek manuscript adds a touch which sounds like the additional detail an eyewitness might bring. It says that Paul taught in that hall from 11 am to 4 pm. Almost certainly, that is when Paul would teach. Until 11 am and after 4 pm, Tyrannus would need the hall himself. In the Ionian cities, all work stopped at 11 am and did not begin again until the late afternoon because of the heat. We are told that there would actually be more people sound asleep in Ephesus at 1 pm than at 1 am. What Paul must have done was to work all morning and all evening at his trade and to teach in the midday hours. It shows us two things—the eagerness of Paul to teach and the eagerness of the Christians to learn. The only time they had was when others rested in the heat of the day—and they seized that time. It may well put many of us to shame for complaining that things are inconvenient at times. (The New Daily Study Bible – The Acts of the Apostles)

Toussaint adds that "One Greek manuscript adds that the school was available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when most people would have their noon meal and an afternoon "siesta." This tradition is probably correct. The rest of each day Paul worked with his own hands (Acts 20:34)." (BKC)

Lexham Bible Dictionary on The Way -  One of the primary terms used in the book of Acts to describe the early Jesus movement (e.g., Acts 9:2). Earlier followers of the Jesus movement are also described as “the disciples” (hoi mathētai; e.g., Acts 11:26), “the church” hē ekklēsia; e.g., Gal 1:13; 1 Cor 1:2), and “Christians” (Christianos; e.g., Acts 11:26; 26:28; compare 1 Pet 4:16).

Origin of the Term - The origin of the term “the Way” (e.g., Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22) as an early name for the Jesus community is not fully clear, although there is parallel usage to define a community. For example, the term “the Way” is used in Qumran literature (1QS IX, 17; compare VIII, 14 and IX, 19–20), and there is comparable usage in philosophical texts (e.g., Lucian, Menippus 4; Epict. Diatr. 1.4.29). In Qumran literature, the term designates the mode of Jewish life lived by the community at Qumran, involving strict observance of the Mosaic law (Fitzmyer, Acts of the Apostles, 424). These sectarians are thought to have chosen the way (of truth and righteousness) and to be part of Isaiah’s highway in the wilderness (Isa 40:3; Keener, Acts 2:1627; compare Mark 1:3). Transposed to the account in Acts—to the early Jewish sect soon to be labeled Christianity (Acts 11:26)—the use of “the Way” may to some extent be taken as referring to the mode of Christian life and morals (compare Did. 1.2, 4.14, 5.1; Barn. 5.4, 11.7, 19.1–2, 12; 20.1; Herm. 35.2), which resonates as well with central scriptural themes (compare, e.g., Exod 18:20; Deut 9:16; Prov 12:28; Keener, Acts 2:1626). It seems that “the Way” is used in Acts because of the claim of Jesus’ followers that they had found “the way” through Christ. Keener observes that this is “the distinctive element by which they defined themselves as heirs to the way of truth and righteousness as distinct from others” (Keener, Acts 2:1627). “The Way” is also applied in Christ-related, exclusivist terms (compare John 14:6), meaning Christ is viewed as the only “way” who demands exclusive loyalty; this proclamation and the faith-based and self-sacrificial lifestyle it demanded became a marker for the early church of identity and membership.

The Way as More than a Sect - The term “the Way” is partly explained in Acts 24:14 (“the Way, which they [outsiders] call a sect”), where Paul seems to reject the interpretation of “the Way” as just another form of Judaism or as a Jewish sect (hairesis, hairesis) like Pharisaism or Essenism (Fitzmyer, Acts of the Apostles, 735). Instead, it seems that Paul sees “the Way” as its own viewpoint. Although irony is not explicitly thematized in Acts 9, the account of Saul’s relation to “the Way” (on his way to Damascus) makes ironic use of hodos-language: “Saul traveled on the way against the Way, yet he was stopped on the way to join the Way” (Bock, Theology, 307; see Acts 9:17, 27). Some five to seven years before Paul’s conversion to “the Way,” the earliest Christian community had begun with the calling of the first disciples to follow Jesus (Hengel, “Eye-witness memory,” 75). It is this group that Paul ultimately joins.

Acts 19:10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

KJV Acts 19:10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.


This took place for two years - That is Paul reasoned concerning Jesus for 2 years in the school of Tyrannus. In Acts 20:31 were learn that Paul was in Ephesus for "a period of three years."  Dating is difficult and not necessarily definitive, but with that caveat the time is about 52-55 AD. Most agree that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians near the end of his time at Ephesus (cf Acts 19:22).

So that (hoste) -  term of purpose. For what purpose did Paul remain in Ephesus? Clearly to assure that the Word of the Lord would spread throughout Asia, which would be modern western Turkey (See map). 

Vincent on Asia - Not the Asiatic continent nor Asia Minor. In the time of the apostles the term was commonly understood of the proconsular province of Asia, (see red highlight area on map) principally of the kingdom of Pergamus left by Attalus III. to the Romans, and including Lydia, Mysia, Caria, and at times parts of Phrygia. The name Asia Minor did not come into use until the fourth century of our era.

All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord - While it is not likely Paul himself spoke to those all over Asia, recall that he had trained disciples of Jesus, and it is almost certain that they in turn spread the Gospel and planted churches. Those churches include the church at Colossae and Hierapolis (cf Col 4:13-16) as well as the seven churches addressed by Jesus in the Revelation (see map - Rev 2:1-7+ = Ephesus, Rev 2:8-11+ = Smyrna; Rev 2:12-17+ = Pergamum; Rev 2:18-29+ = Thyatira; Rev 3:1-6+ = Sardis; Rev 3:7-13+ = Philadelphia; Rev 3:14-22+ = Laodicea).  

THOUGHT - This passage is surely an excellent illustration of Paul's pattern for making disciples as he explained to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2+ "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of  many witnesses, entrust (aorist imperative = "Just Do It!" paratithemi = a commercial technical term for giving something to someone in trust for safekeeping, in this case THE TREASURE OF THE GOSPEL! It is also in middle voice which speaks of personal involvement in making disciples) these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Paul trained men who entrusted the treasure of the Gospel to other to faithful, trustworthy men, so that those who were reproduced (disciples) would themselves become reproducers (faithful men - more disciples). This was Paul's secret of his "Asia permeating" ministry and this principle still applies but sadly the Great Commission has largely become the Great Omission if many if not most evangelical churches, which is sad for this reflects disobedience to Jesus' last command to "Make Disciples." (Mt 28:19+). I pray your church is an excellent to this generalization and that you have an active, intentional program of men and women who are themselves disciples and who filled with the Spirit and the Word are making disciples who will be reproducers, for the glory of the Lamb. Amen. 

Both Jews and Greeks - Notice that although Paul left the Jewish Synagogue, this time he did not make a categorical statement such as "From now on I am turning to the Gentiles." (e.g., Acts 13:46+, Acts 18:6+) And so we see both Jews and Greeks heard the Word. Paul had trained his disciples well and they were obedient to the pattern in Romans 1:16+ that "the the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

Robertson on all who lived in Asia heard -  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 Rev 1:11; Rev. 2; Rev. 3. Demetrius in 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 (map) 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 Cor. 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 Cor. 16:12).  Paul's message reached Greeks, not merely Hellenists and God-fearers, but some of the Greeks in the upper circles of life in Ephesus.

Acts 19:11  God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,

KJV Acts 19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

NICNT God accomplished mighty works of no ordinary character through Paul.


Willaim Larkin sets the background - The private side of paganism in the ancient world was the attempt to manipulate spiritual forces via magical incantations, ritual acts and paraphernalia in order to ward off evil and bring well-being. Ephesus was a city most hospitable to magicians, sorcerers and charlatans of all sorts. Attached to the statue of Artemis, the city's chief goddess, were certain symbols, ta Ephesia grammata, which had been turned into a magical formula (Plutarch Moralia 706E; 85B; Arnold 1989:15-16). In a divine initiative, God weds extraordinary miracles with the spread of the Word of the Lord throughout Asia, a territory that Satan had firmly and manifestly in his grasp. We have met such strategic "power advances" before in Acts: in Jerusalem and its Judean environs, Samaria, and Macedonia (Acts 5:16; Acts 8:7; Acts 16:16-18). Now, at the climax of Paul's efforts as a missionary free to move about as he will, Luke presents another. These evidences of the presence of the reign of God (Acts 19:8) in liberating wholeness occur through a unique means. (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Acts)

God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul - "Powers not the ones that happen by chance," "not the ordinary ones," litotes for "the extraordinary." (Robertson) Paul was the human instrument that carried out the miracles but it was God Who was actually performing them. These miracles opened the door for the Gospel in a city steeped in practice of the occult. These miracles also confirmed that God's Spirit was working in and through Paul. It is likely that the people in Ephesus regarded Paul as having superhuman power to heal, and it is a testimony to the humility of Paul that he did not seek recognition. Success in the spiritual realm is a test to all of us as the writer of Proverbs warns...

The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, And a man is tested by the praise accorded him. (Pr 27:21)

THOUGHT - Dear pastor, teacher, elder, etc, are you being tempted to take a share of the glory for some supernatural effects others witness? Don't do it!

Toussaint As seen many times in Acts, miracles confirmed the work of the apostles (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6, 13; 14:3; 15:12; cf. 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4). (BKC)

Kistemaker points out that "Besides teaching the gospel openly and performing healing miracles, Paul also taught the Good News from house to house (Acts 20:20). Addressing both Jews and Greeks, he admonished them to repent, to turn to God, and to have faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles)

Arnold - The Ephesians were very superstitious and deeply involved in the occult.  Satan and demons had performed many miracles in that city, so God now had to perform special miracles through Paul.  They were unusual miracles performed to authenticate Paul's message of Christ.(Sermon)

Longenecker The particle te and the adverbial use of kai in the Greek sentence indicate that Luke had in mind two types of "extraordinary miracles": (1) direct healings through the laying on of Paul's hands (note the phrase dia ton cheiron Paulou, "through the hands of Paul," which NIV does not pick up), and (2) indirect healings through the application of Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons. (Ibid)

Comparing the cloths to Moses’ rod, Ray Stedman says "There was nothing magic about the rod itself; it was the symbol of something about Moses which God honored. So these sweatbands and trade aprons were symbols of the honest, dignified labor of the apostle, his labor of love and humility of heart, his servant-character which manifested and released the power of God. God means to teach by this that it is through a man whose heart is so utterly committed that he is ready to invest hard, diligent labor in making the gospel available, willing to stoop to a lowly trade, that the power of God is released."

Extraordinary (5177)(tugchano/tynchano) is a verb (used in this passage as an adjective) which means to hit as a target, especially with an arrow and so to reach a mark or object (to attain). In the present passage tugchano means to happen anywhere and at any time and thus "common." In our passage it is modified by the Greek negative (ou) and means uncommon, special. The full phrase is "dunameis te ou tas tuchousas" literally miracles not the common, thus "extraordinary miracles." One wonders what "ordinary" miracles were? 

Vincent (ou tas tuchousas) - A peculiar expression. Lit., not usual or common, such as one might fall in with frequently.

Miracles (1411)(dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) describes power to achieve. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way (power, might, strength, ability, capability), the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. is translated miracle/miraculous in about 22 of the over 116 uses. 

Robertson"miracles" or "powers" (dunameis) are supernatural and out of the ordinary, but here God regularly wrought (epoiei), 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 Koiné as in 3 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.
Word Pictures in the New Testament.

Larkin comments that "The skeptic and the mimic will immediately draw the wrong conclusions about these happenings: either they did not occur, or they should be copied. Neither response is the intention of Luke or the rest of biblical teaching (Stott 1990:306). Paul, by his own testimony, was a miracleworker; this was part of his credentials as an apostle (Rom 15:19; 2 Cor 12:12; Gal 3:5). These healings did occur, but to imitate them—as some media evangelists have been wont to do with "prayer cloths" or other "prayed-over" trinkets sent through the mail—is to reduce miracle to magic, or impersonal manipulation (contrast Lk 8:43-48). Following James's instructions is still the best way to call on the Lord for healing (Jas 5:14-15). (Ibid)

Steven Cole draws some modern parallels - As you are no doubt aware, many evangelicals claim that we should often be experiencing the kinds of signs and wonders that we read about in our text. Since the early 20th century, the Pentecostals made such claims, but not many took them seriously. But in the late 1970’s, John Wimber and the Vineyard churches that he spawned began claiming that miracles should be the ordinary experience of the church. Jesus said that His followers would do greater works than He Himself did (Jn 14:12). Wimber asserted that the main reason that we do not see such works of power is our skeptical Western mindset.

Along with Peter Wagner and Charles Kraft, in 1982 Wimber began teaching a course at Fuller Seminary, MC510, popularly called, “Signs and Wonders.” Hundreds of students took the course, which ran until 1986, when the seminary halted the class and appointed a task force to evaluate the material from biblical, theological, scientific, and pastoral perspectives (published as Ministry and the Miraculous, ed. by Lewis Smedes [Fuller Seminary], 1987 - see review of this book; 50 pages of book available online - has 5 of 7 chapters but NOT chapter 7 - "Miraculous Healing and Responsible Ministry"). Wimber did not believe that miracles will take place every time we pray, but he did teach that they are the necessary manifestation of the kingdom’s presence and advance. If we are not doing miracles along with our preaching, we are not preaching the gospel as we should, according to Wimber.

The hope of miraculous healing attracts many people to churches that claim to see such miracles happening, because there are many who are afflicted with serious, incurable illnesses. We have many in our church suffering from such diseases. I often pray for them, and I would rejoice if God miraculously healed them. Sometimes God does heal miraculously, and we should pray for it, if it is His will. If I thought that anyone in town, or even in the United States, had the God-given gift of healing, I would either try to bring him here or urge those who are sick to go wherever he was, so that they might be healed. But I question both the Vineyard’s theology and its claims of success in healing large numbers of those who are seriously sick. As the Fuller Seminary evaluation noted, not even the apostles did miracles on a par with those of Jesus. And “by any ordinary standard of equivalence, the healings reported by contemporary healing ministries hardly qualify as ‘greater works’ than Jesus did” (p. 31).

Luke notes that these miracles in Ephesus were extraordinary, even for the apostle Paul (Acts 19:11). They seem to parallel the extraordinary miracles that Peter performed for a brief period in his ministry (Acts 5:15-16). It is significant that apart from Stephen and Philip, who worked closely under the apostles, there are no miracles recorded as performed by anyone other than the apostles. And, it seems that all who were brought to them were healed (Acts 5:16). The purpose of these apostolic miracles (according to Heb 2:3-4), was to confirm the message of salvation that Jesus and the apostles proclaimed. In fact, throughout the entire Bible, miracles are not uniformly sprinkled as everyday occurrences. Rather, they are clustered at key moments, such as the Exodus, where God was working on behalf of His people. Those who lived after are often reminded of these former miracles to call them back to God (see Ex 12:14, 12:42, 13:3).

In our text, Paul’s extraordinary miracles in Ephesus are contrasted with the attempts of some inept Jewish exorcists to duplicate the miracles. No doubt the early church often chuckled as it retold the story of these seven men running wounded and naked from the house after the demonic man overpowered them. By drawing this contrast, I think that Luke wants us all to learn a vital lesson that many “faith healers” and their followers need to learn:

We should allow God to use us according to His will for His glory, |
but we should not try to use Him for our own purposes

That summarizes the main difference between Paul and these Jewish exorcists. Paul was allowing God to use him according to God’s will and for God’s glory. But these spiritual charlatans were trying to use God for their own financial profit, and those who hired the exorcists were trying to use God’s power for their own purposes. They had no intention to repent of their sins and submit their lives to God’s purpose. Rather, they wanted to use God as an Aladdin’s Genie, and then put Him back on the shelf until they needed His services again. Even so, many—even many in the evangelical church—attempt to use God for health or wealth or whatever other favors they desire. When He doesn’t perform according to their expectations, they quickly look elsewhere for answers. But in their search for answers to their problems, Jesus Christ is not their Lord. They are their own lords, as seen by their quickly turning to the world when Jesus doesn’t seem to work as they had hoped.

If we come to God to use Him to see if He works, then we are still the lords of our lives, and we have not turned from our many sins. If God works, then we’ll use Him whenever we need Him, but we determine when and where that will be. Do we need a new job or a raise in our current job? Name it and claim it by faith, and it’s yours! Do you need healing from a disease? Command God and He must obey your word of faith! This is what many in the Word of Faith movement are teaching! For example, a prominent Word-Faith teacher has blatantly said,

Now this is a real shocker, but God has to be given permission to work in this earth realm on behalf of man. Yes, you are in control! So if man has control, who no longer has it? God. When God gave Adam dominion, that meant God no longer had dominion, so God cannot do anything in this earth unless we let Him. And the way we let Him or give Him permission is through prayer. (Fred Price, quoted by Christianity in Crisis Study Guide, p. 40; in The Signs and Wonders Movement—Exposed [Day One Publications], ed. by Peter Glover, p. 34). (See also  Is the Word of Faith movement biblical?)

That kind of heresy makes man the lord and God man’s servant. But the God of the Bible is the Sovereign Lord, who “does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Da 4:35).

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Acts 19:12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out

KJV Acts 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

NICNT Sweat-rags and aprons which had been in contact with his body were actually taken from him and applied to those who were sick, so that their diseases left them and evil spirits were expelled.


Handkerchiefs and work aprons that apparently had touched Paul had miraculous powers from God to heal. 

So that - Or "for this reason." This almost functions like an explanation of how the miracles were so extraordinary. 

Kistemaker The focus is on God, who heals the people physically and through the preaching of the gospel restores them spiritually. God performs "extraordinary miracles," as Luke writes. He demonstrates his power among the people so that they may turn to him in faith and obtain salvation. (Ibid)

Handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick - Note that these are not magical objects. They were simply the way the Spirit of God choose to manifest His power and point others to His instrument the apostle Paul. As F F Bruce reminds us "No intrinsic healing efficacy is ascribed to these things; the healing efficacy lay in the powerful name of Jesus."

Body (5559)(chros) occurs only here and refers to the surface of the skin and Luke the physician uses it as a metonym of the the body. Chrōs designates “human skin,” and as such is distinguished from derma which usually denotes the skin of an animal, normally with the hair still attached.

Chros in the Septuagint especially to translate the Hebrew bāsār, “flesh” - Ex 28:42; Lev. 13:2; Lev. 13:3; Lev. 13:4; Lev. 13:11; Lev. 13:13; Lev. 13:14; Lev. 13:15; Lev. 13:16; Lev. 13:21; Lev. 15:7; Lev. 16:4. 

Luke the physician had mentioned a similar supernatural sign associated with the apostle Peter -

"And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. (Acts 5:14-15+, compare healing through touching Jesus' cloak - Lk 8:44+, Mk 5:27–34; Mk 6:56).

Handkerchiefs (napkin)(4676)(soudarion) is from a Latin loan word sudarium from sudor (sweat) transliterated into Greek soudarion which is a sweatcloth handkerchief or napkin. (Luke 19:20+; Acts 19:12). In Acts 19:12 the sweat cloths (“handkerchiefs,” KJV, NIV, NASB) Paul apparently tied around his head while making tents were taken to heal the sick (F F Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament, Acts, p.384).

Aprons (4612)(simikinthiona thing girded round half the body" (Latin, semicinctium), was a narrow apron, or linen covering, worn by workmen and servants. Vincent says the Latin literally means "something passing half-way round the body: an apron or waistband." 

Gilbrant Due to the lack of certainty concerning its exact meaning, some take simikinthion to denote a “bandage,” a “handkerchief” (Bauer), or a “piece of clothing worn next to the apostle’s skin” (Moulton-Milligan). Most, however, take it to refer to an “apron” like that worn by a workman, possibly a tentmaker. (See Acts 18:3 where Paul is referred to as a tentmaker.)

ESV Study NoteAs had happened at Samaria (Acts 8:9-13+), Cyprus (Acts 13:6-11+), and Philippi (Acts 16:16-18+), the powerful forces of pagan magic (Acts 19:19) and religion connected to demonic activity (Acts 19:12, 15; cf. 1 Cor. 10:20; Eph. 6:12) were confronted by the far more powerful work of the Holy Spirit ministering through Paul.

Polhill comments that "This practice often strikes the modern mind as too close to the relic worship that plagued the medieval church." (New American Commentary – Volume 26: Acts)

Longenecker comments on the unusual nature of the miracles - Ephesus was the home of all sorts of magic and superstition, and the phrase "Ephesian writings" (Ephesia grammata) was common in antiquity for documents containing spells and magical formulae (cf. Athenaeus Deipnosophistae 12.548; Clement of Alexandria Stromata 5.242). So it need not be thought unnatural that just as Paul met his audiences at a point of common ground ideologically in order to lead them on to the Good News of salvation in Christ, so at Ephesus he acted in the way here depicted. The virtue, of course, lay not in the materials themselves but in the power of God and the faith of the recipients. Luke's interest throughout this chapter is in emphasizing the supernatural power of the gospel. Therefore he has highlighted these "extraordinary miracles." (Ibid)

And the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out - This text treats diseases as separate from evil spirits. "As a doctor, Luke carefully distinguishes between diseases and afflictions caused by evil spirits to make clear that not all illness stems from demonic causes." (MacArthur). 

Arnold makes an interesting statement - It is my belief that no one today has the gift of healing or miracles.  If I could see someone raised from the dead, or even be immediately healed as they were in the first century, then I might change my opinion on this matter.  God does heal today but He heals through prayer.  Healing miracles do take place today but there are no faith-healers.Many so-called faith-healers today have people send in for a specially blessed and anointed handkerchief for a sum of money and promise a healing. This present-day practice is superstition, hocus-pocus and is a perversion of the teaching here in Acts 19:12. (Sermon)

Ger Paul's extraordinary ability to heal the sick in Ephesus was specific to the Ephesian ministry and not a permanent gifting. It is clear from Paul's own biographical epistles that he could not always heal at will (2 Cor. 12:8; Phil 2:27; 1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20). It is important to notice two qualifications Luke sets forth. First, that every one of the miraculous signs and wonders within Acts was extraordinary and limited to the apostles and their immediate associates. Second, Luke was careful to emphasize that the miracles were not intrinsic to Paul, but that he was merely the instrument through whom God chose to work His power (Acts 19:11). (Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary Series – The Book of Acts: Witnesses to the World) 

Evill (wicked, bad) (4190) see notes below on same word poneros

Diseases (3554)(nosos) means illness, sickness, physical malady

Nosos - Mt. 4:23; Mt. 4:24; Mt. 8:17; Mt. 9:35; Mt. 10:1; Mk. 1:34; Lk. 4:40; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 7:21; Lk. 9:1; Acts 19:12

Gilbrant - In the Septuagint nosos is used only 13 times. Its few occurrences are due in part to a preference for two other terms, arrostia, “not well, ill” (cf. arrōstos [726]), and malakia (3091), “weak, soft,” and to the Old Testament’s use of specific terms for specific illnesses instead of the general term “illness.” In the Old Testament illness is almost always considered from a religious point of view. Primary interest is not on the physical causes of illness nor its diagnosis, but rather on the relationship existing between God—who is Master of illness and health, life and death—and the one who is ill. In Israelite thought illness was an evil and contrary to nature, something out of place in God’s creation. But if sickness and weakness did affect human life, some believed it was because of sin. Mankind incurred God’s wrath because of sin, and consequently, is under the power of evil forces. Thus, suffering and illness were seen as ordinary conditions for a fallen and sinful mankind. (See Harrison, “Disease,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1:955-960.) The origin of illness can be traced back to the Fall. Death entered the world as a direct result of sin, and to the Hebrews illness merely signaled the beginning of death, something which sapped one’s life force. In many of the Psalms it is clear that the sick person believed he was under the power of death. In the Hebrew idiom a person “becomes alive” when he regains his health. When the Psalmist described man as “afflicted and ready to die” from his youth on (88:15), he was not employing poetic exaggeration but acknowledging grim reality. The Law stated that if the Israelites kept God’s commands, He would not bring the diseases of Egypt on them (Exodus 15:26; 23:25; Dt 7:12,15). However, serious illness would afflict them if they broke the covenant (Lev 26:15,16; Dt 28:22,27,58-61). Found in this conditional promise is a clear cause and effect relationship between sin and sickness. But innocent people can also be afflicted. When David sinned by starting a census, it was not he alone but his nation that was heavily afflicted with pestilence (2 Sa 24:15-17). Also, when he sinned with the wife of Uriah, their child died (2 Samuel 12:14). The Book of Job also proves that the righteous also suffer illness. The dramatic lessons of this book strongly warn against adopting the view which Job’s friends so eloquently asserted—and which was common among the Jews—that illness is always a result of one’s personal sins. To a limited degree the priests of Israel were skilled in medicine. Detailed instructions for the recognition and diagnosis of leprosy were provided to protect the nation from this disease (Leviticus 13). Hence the role of man in providing human assistance and nursing is not incompatible with the Law, even though the Lord himself was the healer of Israel (Exodus 15:26). This healing power was also manifested through the prophets (e.g., Elijah and Elisha). Isaiah prophesied that the suffering Messiah would himself take our sicknesses; and healing is provided through His stripes (Isaiah 53:4,5). In the coming kingdom of the Messiah perfect health will reign: “No one living in Zion will say, ’I am ill’ ” (Isaiah 33:24, NIV).

In the New Testament nosos appears 12 times—11 times in the Synoptic Gospels and once in Acts (Acts 19:12). It is always used literally of physical illness. The verb noseō occurs only once, in a figurative sense of those who have a “morbid craving (noseō) for controversy and for disputes about words” (1 Timothy 6:4, RSV). In addition a cognate noun, nosēma (3416), occurs once (John 5:4). Nosos is used parallel with the other general terms for sickness, malakia (3091), mastix (3120), astheneia (763), and the verb astheneō (764), in passages that describe Jesus’ healing ministry. It should be noted that New Testament writers distinguished between natural diseases and demonically originated afflictions. Jews following the theology of the Old Testament understood sickness to be in the world because of sin which began at the Fall. Healing testimonies comprise a large portion of the Gospels, showing Jesus spent much of His time ministering to the sick. Sick people gathered around Him, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases; those suffering severe pain, the demon possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and He healed them (Mt 4:24). He also sent His disciples out with power and authority to heal (Mt 10:8). Jesus strongly opposed the teaching that sickness and disaster always occur as punishment for particular sins (cf. Luke 13:1ff.). Of the man who had been born blind He said, “Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents” (Jn 9:3). This does not mean Jesus did not believe these people were sinners; rather, it emphasizes that this man’s blindness was not a direct result of any particular sin which he or his parents may have committed. Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, became ill not because he had sinned, but in order that through his resurrection the Son of Man might be glorified (Jn 11:1ff.). Perhaps the most significant use of nosos is in Matthew 8:17 where Isaiah 53:4 is quoted in a quite literal Greek translation of the Hebrew. Matthew was inspired to choose nosos and astheneia instead of the Septuagint’s “sin and hardships.” The message here is that Jesus is the Messiah who provides deliverance from sickness and all effects of the Fall by taking the root cause—the sin of the world—on himself. This and the other uses of nosos serve as a reminder that though Christians may suffer the common experience of disease in this fallen world, God has provided for healing in Christ’s atonement as one of the benefits of His many-faceted grace. However, it would be very difficult to find the New Testament teaching that illness is in any way a blessing. It is considered quite natural that the one who is ill wishes to regain his health (Matthew 20:32f.; John 5:6). Illness is a by-product of living in a world placed under the curse of sin—as are suffering, sorrow, accidents, and death. The believer can expect the assistance and strength of God through all these, but nevertheless, they are a part of life. Thus even early Christians were afflicted by sickness. One of the best workers of the church “became sick and died” (Acts 9:37, NIV); one of Paul’s coworkers “was ill, and almost died” (Php 2:27NIV); and Trophimus had to be left in Miletus because he was sick (2 Timothy 4:20). But the New Testament also teaches that illness is sometimes a judgment of God on sin, for example, Herod the king (Acts 12:23) and Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:11). Illness can also be a chastisement from the Lord on His children when they sin, to bring about repentance. For example, in Corinth many became sick and died because they did not recognize the body of the Lord. They were disciplined so they would not “be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). Even the action taken against the person involved in sexual immorality and delivered “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh” was intended for his reflection, conversion, and ultimate salvation (1 Corinthians 5:5). Also, those who blasphemed could be disciplined in the same way (1 Timothy 1:20). This particular church discipline was to be conducted in the power of the Lord and stands in strong contrast to the gifts of healing (1 Cor 5:4). In the New Testament illness is traced back to the Fall as in the Old Testament. Through sin death entered the world (Romans 5:12), and naturally, sickness also—the forerunner of death, and its physical cause. Because of the Fall the body of man is now a body of humiliation (Philippians 3:21); it is dead because of sin (Romans 8:10), and subject to death (Romans 8:11) and corruption (1 Corinthians 15:42). In its earthly nature, as flesh and blood, the body cannot inherit the eternal life of the kingdom of God without a radical transformation (1 Corinthians 15:50). In the present state of the body it is impossible to sharply delineate between the condition of being sick and the condition of being healthy. The difference between “healthy” and “ill” is largely a difference in degree rather than a difference in nature. Perfect health belongs to the realm of eternity and cannot be achieved in the present life. This is why the Scriptures state that at the return of Christ the bodies of the believers will be changed “so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21, NIV). At the resurrection the mortal will clothe itself with the immortal (1 Corinthians 15:53). In the eternal state there is no death, sorrow, or suffering (Revelation 21:4), and the leaves of the tree of life will be for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

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Acts 19:13  But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.

KJV Acts 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

NICNT Some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists also undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were possessed by evil spirits. “I adjure you,” one would say, “by that Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”

NLT  Acts 19:13 A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, "I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!" 


A vagabond is a person who wanders from place to place without a fixed home and generally leads an unsettled, irresponsible, or disreputable life. Such were this "Magnificent Seven" (not to be confused with the famous movie The Magnificent Seven!)

Mechanical when used figuratively describes that which is done as if by machine, seemingly uninfluenced by the mind or emotions, not showing thought or spontaneity and thus automatic. And so the sons of Sceva were merely mouthing words, but as they would soon discover, they were simply natural words without supernatural power. 

Kistemaker From the Gospels we know that Jews in Israel were casting out demons (Mt. 12:27; Lk 11:19+). Also, the Jewish historian Josephus reports that he saw a countryman driving out a demon from a possessed man in the presence of the Roman general Vespasian. At times, Gentiles asked Jewish teachers to exorcise demons. Some of these teachers visited fellow Jews living in the dispersion and used magic formulas to adjure the evil spirits. Because the formulas often failed to achieve results, the magicians were forced to acquire new adjurations to enhance their craft. A number of ancient manuscripts attest to a variety of incantations that Jewish exorcists employed, and as this account discloses, the city of Ephesus proved to be a storehouse of magical scrolls. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles)

But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place - Fruchtenbaum calls them "strolling Jews, exorcists." NET Bible calls them itinerant, one who moves from place to place. NLT describes them as "A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits." They were imitators. Satan often attempts to counterfeit the true (cf ). Apparently this was their "business" and the fact that they had "business" speaks to the prevalence of the occult influence in Ephesus. And the undeniable power that came in the proclamation of Jesus’ name began to draw the attention of some wandering Jewish exorcists. According to F F Bruce, "Among practitioners of magic in ancient times Jews enjoyed high respect, for they were believed to have exceptionally effective spells at their command."  (NINCT Acts).

Exorcists (1845)(exorkistes  from exorkizo = to administer an oath, to adjure [Mt 26:63; Lxx Ge 24:3] from ek = out + horkizo = to make one swear) is strictly speaking one who administers an oath. To bind by an oath. It is one who by adjuration (= a solemn and earnest appeal to someone to do something) and incantation seeks to expel demons from another person. In this sole NT use, it describes the sons of Sceva who attempted to drive out demons by "magical formulas"  BDAG says this word describes "one who drives out evil spirits by invocation of transcendent entities." 

MacArthur adds exorcist "It derives from a root word meaning "to bind with an oath"; ancient exorcists attempted to expel demons by invoking the name of a more powerful spirit being. Exorcists were common in the ancient world, even among the Jews (Matt. 12:27; Acts 13:6). Their fanciful spells and ritual formulas were very different from the absolute authority delegated by Christ and exercised by the apostles. The name of Jesus is no magical charm to be used by whoever wants to use it, as these exorcists soon learned the hard way. (Ibid)

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Who went from place to place (present tense)(4022)(perierchomai from peri = about + erchomai = to come, go" mean to go about, to wander about, as a ship on an irregular course (Acts 28:13), younger widows (1 Ti 5:11) who "go around from house to house." (1 T 5:13). Describes the faithful who "went about in sheepskins." (Heb 11:37). No uses in the Septuagint.

Perierchomai - go around(1), sailed around(1), went from place to place(1), went about(1). Acts 19:13; Acts 28:13; 1 Tim. 5:13; Heb. 11:37

The Jewish exorcists who saw Paul drive out demons in the name of Jesus Christ were intrigued. They realized that their own magical powers had failed them but that the words uttered by Paul were effective. The apostles healed people in the name of Jesus, not to practice magic but to demonstrate Jesus' authority (compare Acts 3:6+). The term NAME signifies the person, words, and works of Jesus, so that anyone who uses this name identifies completely with its bearer and becomes a true representative. Therefore, unbelievers can never use the power of Jesus' name. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles)

Larkin - The sons' syncretistic appropriation follows the time-honored practice of piling name upon powerful name so as to create incantations strong enough to require spirits to do one's bidding. One such conjuration goes "I conjure you by the god of the Hebrews/Jesus, IABA IAE ABRAOTH AIA THOTH ELE ELO..." (Betz 1986:96). The name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches is these men's newest and most potent "power name" (compare Eph 1:21). (Ibid)

Attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus - Attempted is first word in Greek indicating it is emphatic. They are basically using Jesus' name as a magical formula, which has the opposite effect they had hoped for. The name of Jesus has force only when spoken in faith and on His commission as when used by Peter who declared to the crippled man...

“I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” (Acts 3:6+)

Attempted (present tense)(2021)(epicheireo from epi = upon, in + cheir = hand) means to take in hand, to put the hand to, to set one's hand to some task, to endeavor to perform a task, to try, to undertake, whether effective or not. The only uses are by Luke (Lk 1:1, Acts 9:29 = "attempting to put him to death,") and in the present passage.  Vincent adds  that epicheireo "carries the sense of a difficult undertaking and implies that previous attempts have not been successful. It occurs frequently in medical language. Hippocrates begins one of his medical treatises very much as Luke begins his gospel. “As many as have taken in hand (ἐπεχείρησαν) to speak or to write concerning the healing art.”

Saying, "I adjure you by Jesus Whom Paul preaches (kerusso - proclaimed as would a herald)" - This was their magical incantation. They thought by associating Jesus' name with Paul who preached Jesus, they could achieve the same extraordinary miracles as were associated with Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons! They were attempting to carry out the supernatural naturally and found in short order that it did not succeed. 

Kistemaker Their adjuration is derivative, for it includes the name of Paul. Moreover, they expose themselves as unbelievers, for their adjuration shows that Paul, not the charlatans, serves Jesus. By contrast, consider the man who cast out demons in Jesus' name. Jesus commanded his disciples not to stop this man, for "whoever is not against you is for you" (Luke 9:50). The man evidently believed in Jesus and was his follower. (Ibid)

Adjure (3726)(horkizo from horkos = oath) means to put to an oath, to force to take an oath, to swear (Mk 5:7, Acts 19:13 and in the Textus Receptus of 1 Th 5:27 - modern manuscripts have enorkizo). BDAG - to give a command to someone under oath.  In Mk. 5:7 the demoniac adjures Jesus by God in an effort to rob him of his power, but to no avail, since Jesus is the Son of God.

The kindred verb, adjure, occurs Matthew 26:63 ("But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure (exorkizo - charge under oath) You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”), and means, originally, to administer an oath.

GilbrantThis word is found in Xenophon (Fourth Century B.C.), the Septuagint, and in papyri. An example is found in the Hadrumetum tablet, Third–Second Centuries B.C., saying, “I adjure you, demonic spirit, the God of Abraan....” (free translation; cf. Bauer). Horkizō appears almost 30 times in the Septuagint. Of those occurrences with a Hebrew equivalent, shāva‛ is exclusively translated, and always in the hiphil (causative) stem. Thus the sense is usually “I cause to swear” or “I adjure.” The servant of Abraham says, “My master made (caused) me to swear” (Genesis 24:37). This causative aspect is in keeping with the suffix -izo in horkizō which can denote causation. If an individual himself swears an oath, another expression is used. For instance, when the Lord swears by himself (Genesis 22:16) the Hebrew reads shāva‛ in the niphal (reflexive) aspect. The Septuagint translates this with omnuō (3523), “to swear,” rather than horkizō.

Horkizo in Septuagint -

Gen. 24:37; Gen. 50:5; Gen. 50:6; Gen. 50:16; Gen. 50:25; Exod. 13:19; Num. 5:19; Num. 5:21; Jos. 6:26; 1 Sam. 14:27; 1 Sam. 14:28; 1 Ki. 2:37; 1 Ki. 2:42; 1 Ki. 22:16; 2 Ki. 11:4; 2 Chr. 18:15; 2 Chr. 36:13; Ezr. 10:5; Neh. 5:12; Neh. 13:25; Cant. 2:7; Cant. 3:5; Cant. 5:8; Cant. 5:9; Cant. 8:4; Dan. 6:12;

English dictionaries state that to adjure (ad = to + jurare = to swear from jus = oath) means to solemnly urge someone to do something and implies advising as well as pleading with the idea of the invoking of something sacred. To adjure can include the idea of to command, often by exacting an oath.

Bruce - The closest parallel to the Ephesian exorcists’ misuse of the name of Jesus appears in a magical papyrus belonging to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, which contains the adjuration: “I adjure you by Jesus, the God of the Hebrews.” (Ibid)

Polhill A number of magical papyri from the ancient world have been discovered. These consist of various spells that often invoke the names of foreign gods and employ various kinds of gibberish. In the Paris collection of magical papyri, various Old Testament terms are found, such as Iao (for Yahweh), Abraham, and Sabaoth, terms which would have sounded exotic to Greeks and Romans. One spell reads, “I abjure thee by Jesus, the God of the Hebrews.” Another from the same papyrus reads, “Hail, God of Abraham, hail, God of Isaac, hail, God of Jacob, Jesus Chrestus, Holy Spirit, Son of the Father.” Ancient magicians were syncretists and would borrow terms from any religion that sounded sufficiently strange to be deemed effective. These Jewish exorcists of Ephesus were only plying their trade. Paul’s “spell” in Jesus’ name seemed effective for him, so they gave it a try. (Ibid)

Adolph Deissmann adds this note on the sons' incantation - In the formulae of incantation and adjuration found in this literature an important part is played by the Divine names. Every possible and impossible designation of deities, Greek, Egyptian and Semitic, is found in profuse variety, just as, in general, this whole class of literature is characterised by a peculiar syncretism of Greek, Egyptian and Semitic ideas.  (Bible Studies -  scroll to page 331)

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As an word to all Christians who might think dabbling with the occult (horoscopes, fortune tellers/psychics, astrology, ouija boards, etc) is a "neutral" practice, God gives a warning to avoid occult activities...

There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.(Dt 18:10-12) 

Toussaint One of the themes of Acts is the victory of Christ over occultism (cf. 8:9-24; 13:6-12; 16:16-18). This incident is another example of His power over demons. (BKC)

Acts 19:14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this


Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this - This is all we know of Sceva. He is Jewish. His name is Sceva. He is designated chief priest. There is no record he actually lived in Ephesus.  Luke says his sons were doing this (exorcisms) and does not say he knew about it and does not say whether he approved or not. There is no record of a Jewish chief priest by that name of Sceva, so we can only speculate that either he was a member of a high priestly family or that he claimed this title to impress his clientele. We simply cannot make many objective comments about this passage, so it is best to avoid speculation now and ask Dr Luke in Heaven!

Were doing (4160)(poieo) is in the present tense indicating their activity of casting out of demons was their habitual practice. Ther lifestyle was that of exorcism. 

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Acts 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?

KJV Acts 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?


Facade describes a false, superficial, or artificial appearance. These fellows were fakes, charlatans making showy pretenses that they possessed knowledge of the occult. 

And the evil spirit answered and said to them - It is as if the human being is the dummy and the demon is his ventriloquist! We encounter a similar pattern in the Gospels. Read Mt. 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:41+ and note that in each accounts, the demons acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God.

Kistemaker comments that "The demon has learned about Jesus and knows that the divine power flowing from Jesus to Paul can overpower him. He also detects the deception that the Jewish exorcists practice and knows that they are powerless. The question, "Who are you?" reveals the demon's contempt." (Ibid)

I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you? - Emphatically and literally "But you, who are you?" The demons were once in heaven and so they have known Jesus since their creation. And so the demon knew Jesus experientially (ginosko) and was also acquainted (epistamai) with Paul. Interesting that Paul was known by this demon! The demon is in this man possessing him, but still knows about Paul. He knows either by this man having encountered Paul in Ephesus or from hearing about him or alternatively the demon knows because it has been communicated to him by other demons. 

NET Note - This account shows how the power of Paul was so distinct that parallel claims to access that power were denied. In fact, such manipulation, by those who did not know Jesus, was judged (v. 16). The indirect way in which the exorcists made the appeal shows their distance from Jesus. 

VincentThere is a purpose in using two different words to denote the demon's recognition of the Divine Master and of the human agent, though it is not easy to convey the difference in a translation. It is the difference between an instinctive perception or recognition of a supreme power and the more intimate knowledge of a human agent. A divine mystery would invest Jesus, which the demon would feel, though he could not penetrate it. His knowledge of a man would be greater, in his own estimation at least. The difference may be given roughly, thus: "Jesus I recognize, and Paul I am acquainted with."

Recognize  (1097)(ginosko) means to acquire information through some modality, as through sense perception (hearing) and speaks of an experiential knowledge, not merely the accumulation of known facts. Although the verb is different (eido), the demons declared to Jesus "I know (eido) who you are." (Mk 1:24, Lk 4:34+)

I know about (1987)(epistamai from epi = upon + histemi = to stand) means to fix one's mind on, have intellectual apprehension, to understand, to know (know well - Acts 18:25) or to be acquainted with (Acts 19:15). It can convey the sense of to understand or comprehend (Mark 14:68; 1 Tim. 6:4; James 4:14; Jude 1:10).

Louw-Nida on epistamai  to possess information about, with the implication of an understanding of the significance of such information and "to have or gain insight, with focus upon the process - 'to understand, to be aware of, to really know."

Gilbrant Throughout classical Greek, Septuagintal, and Christian literature epistamai means either “to be acquainted with” or “to understand.” The first meaning, “to be acquainted with,” is the dominant one: it indicates having knowledge of something. The second meaning, “to understand,” occurs in the New Testament only twice. In 1 Timothy 6:4 the heretic is described as void of understanding (mēden epistamenos). In Mark 14:68 when Peter was confronted with the accusation, “You too were with Jesus,” he denied it with these words, “I neither know (oida [3471]) nor understand (epistamai) what you are talking about” (NASB).

Epistamai - 14x in 14v -  being acquainted(1), know(6), know about(1), knowing(2), knows(1), understand(2), understands(1).

Mk. 14:68; Acts 10:28; Acts 15:7; Acts 18:25; Acts 19:15; Acts 19:25; Acts 20:18; Acts 22:19; Acts 24:10; Acts 26:26; 1 Tim. 6:4; Heb. 11:8; Jas. 4:14; Jude 1:10

Epistamai in the Septuagint

Gen. 47:5; Exod. 4:14; Exod. 9:30; Num. 20:14; Num. 22:34; Num. 24:16; Num. 32:11; Deut. 20:20; Deut. 22:2; Deut. 28:33; Deut. 28:36; Deut. 28:64; Deut. 29:26; Deut. 31:27; Jos. 2:5; Jos. 2:9; Jos. 3:4; Jos. 14:6; 2 Chr. 2:7; 2 Chr. 2:12; Job 13:2; Job 14:21; Job 32:22; Job 37:16; Job 38:4; Job 38:20; Job 38:33; Job 42:3; Prov. 9:13; Prov. 10:21; Prov. 14:22; Prov. 15:2; Prov. 29:7; Isa. 29:11; Isa. 29:12; Isa. 37:28; Isa. 41:20; Isa. 48:8; Isa. 55:5; Isa. 66:18; Jer. 1:5; Jer. 1:6; Jer. 2:8; Jer. 17:16; Ezek. 11:5; Ezek. 17:12; Ezek. 37:3;

Jack Arnold - The demon in the man spoke words of disdain, indignation and contempt to the seven exorcists.  What happened is rather humorous.  The demon answered, “I instinctively and innately recognize Jesus, and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?  You don't have any power over me!” The demons knew Paul.  He was famous in the spiritual underworld and even in hell.  Paul was much talked about in the pit.  The demons trembled when they saw Paul preaching the gospel.  He was a threat to the kingdom of darkness because he was armed with the power of Christ. Frank Barker, pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama comments on this verse by saying, "But, as Christians, are our names known in hell?  As Christians, when we move about, does it cause reverberations in the kingdom of darkness?  Do they say something to this effect, “Oh, no!  John Jones is working at that place of employment we've held captive for so long.  His going there is a dangerous situation for us, because he verbalizes his faith boldly.  He shares his faith in Jesus Christ.  He prays. He seeks to win others to Jesus.  He stands up for the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Sermon)

Acts 19:16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded

KJV Acts 19:16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.


And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them - He jumped on them to assault them, springing on them as would a panther his prey! To overpower 7 men even if they were only boys indicates this man manifested supernatural strength, surely being empowered by the evil spirit. Some commentaries say there were only 2 sons present  because of Luke's use of the adjective amphoteroi which means both, but it can also but  mean mean "all." ("used of more than two" - Abbott-Smith). 

Evil (wicked, bad) (4190)(poneros from poneo = work or toil; Noun poneria from poneros) means evil including evil, malignant character, pernicious, that which is morally or socially worthless, wicked, base, bad, degenerate. Poneros denotes determined, aggressive, and fervent evil that actively opposes what is good. Poneros is not just bad in character (like kakos), but bad in effect (injurious)!  Poneros describes evil in active opposition to good. It means not only evil in its nature but viciously evil in its influence and actively harmful. Poneros used to describe Satan (ho poneros = "Evil one"), the god of this age, who is corrupting man and dragging him to destruction. This denotes someone who is not content in being corrupt themselves. They seek to corrupt others and draw them into the same destruction! Woe! 

Leaped (2177)(ephallomai from epi = upon + hallomai = to leap, in Lxx used of Spirit coming upon Samson - Jdg 14:6, 19, Jdg 15:14) means to leap or spring upon. It is first in the Greek sentence for emphasis. This is the only NT use but there are 3 uses in the Septuagint and it is interesting that all three relate to the Holy Spirit coming upon Saul (1 Sa 10:6; 1 Sa 11:6; 1 Sa 16:13; and a fourth description of the Spirit coming on Saul is found in 1 Sa 10:10 which uses the root verb hallomai). It is fascinating that the majority of uses of this verb refer to a supernatural being (Spirit in the Septuagint and evil spirit in present passage) coming upon someone, overpowering them (in a good sense of course with the Holy Spirit and a bad sense with the evil spirit). 

Liddell-Scott on ephallomai - to spring upon, assail Il.:-also without hostile sense, c. having leaped upon the chariot. 

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

NET Note on subdued - "beating them all into submission...According to W. Foerster, TDNT 3:1098, the word means "the exercise of dominion against someone, i.e., to one's own advantage." These exorcists were shown to be powerless in comparison to Jesus who was working through Paul.

Subdued ("Mastered")(2634)(katakurieuo from katá = down + kurieúo = have dominion over) means to have dominion "down" on others and includes the idea of domineering as in the rule of this supernaturally strengthened demon over these natural men. Kata speaks of "down" and gives a picture of them being beaten down! Note the verb is derived from kurios which means "Master" so in effect the demons "mastered" the sons of Sceva. 

Overpowered (2480)(ischuo from ischus = might) means the demon was strong in body  and had the necessary physical strength to accomplish his objective. They were overcome by his superior force. Compare the power of the demon in Mk 5:3-4. 

So that (hoste) introduces a result.

They fled out of that house naked and wounded - Their charade exposed by their physical beating, they are probably thankful to escape without their clothes but still with their lives. Wounded is in the perfect tense which is fascinating for it indicates that the wounds took some time to heal!

Fled (escaped)(1628)(ekpheugo  from ek = out of, from + pheugo = move quickly from a point; flee; run) means to flee out of a place, run away and in this context to escape with their lives!

Naked (stripped) (1131)(gumnos cp our English "gym") means not covered, nude or naked but not necessarily descriptive of absolute nakedness as it was used of a person wearing only an under-tunic (descriptive of the mode of dress in the ancient gymnasiums in Greece and Rome). Polhill adds that "With the extreme sense of modesty characteristic of Judaism, the nakedness of the Jewish exorcists was almost symbolic of their total humiliation in the incident." (NAC)

Wounded (5135)(traumatizo from trauma = wound) means to wound and is found only in Lk 20:12 and Acts 19:16. This verb is found in classical Greek from Aeschylus (Fifth Century B.C.). The perfect tense pictures their wounds as occurring at a point in time (the initial beating) and lasting for a period of time, suggesting they were seriously wounded by the demonic beat down! 

Traumatizo in the Septuagint - 1 Sa 31:3; Song 5:7; Isa 53:5; Jer 9:1; Ezek 28:16; Ezek 28:23; Ezek 30:4; Ezek 32:28; Ezek 35:8 

Kistemaker sums up two results of the beating of the seven sons -  On the one hand, these exorcists learned not to invoke the name of Jesus. On the other, the incident promoted the cause of the gospel. (See Acts 19:17)

Jack Arnold - One of the manifestations of demon possession is extraordinary physical strength.  The demon possessed man took out after the seven single handedly, routed them, tore off their clothes, and they jumped out of doors and windows and ran through the town as streakers. What does this teach us?  It is only a Christian using the name of Christ in the power of Christ who can cast out a demon.  No human power, even using the name of Christ, can dislodge a demon.  Furthermore, we still have the seven sons of Sceva with us today who are trying to change men but they have different names.  You can call them “philosophy” or “psychology” or “sociology” or “communism” or “education” or “science” or even “religion.”  You can call them different names but not one of them has the power to change the heart of man or deliver him from slavery to Satan.  Only Christ can change people’s lives and give them a spiritual dimension. (Sermon)

MacArthur wrote, “Satan would have wished these sons of Sceva to succeed, so that the domain of darkness could compete with God, as Pharaoh’s magicians did with Moses. But the attempt to provide competition for the Word was thwarted. In fact, it completely backfired and only brought greater conviction among the Ephesians of the power of Jesus’ name and the truth of Paul’s preaching.” (Ibid)

Acts 19:17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified

KJV Acts 19:17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.


This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus - It became known that Jesus Christ is more powerful than demonic powers. 

It is good that the Name of Jesus spread and was magnified so that men and women would come to hopefully believe in Him. Paul makes it clear 

For this reason also (Php 2:5-8+), God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the Name which is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11+)

THOUGHT - Have you confessed Jesus as Lord? (cf Ro 10:9-10+). It is so sad to see theologians arguing truth the Bible plainly teaches and one is that Jesus is the Lord of all, including those who believe and who do not believe in Him. How silly to say we are to "make Him Lord of our lives." He is Lord of our lives because He is Lord of all! 

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Polhill comments that "Two lessons emerge from the story. For one, Christianity has nothing to do with magic. The name of Jesus is no magical incantation. The power of Jesus drives out the demonic, and his Spirit only works through those who, like Paul, confess him and are committed to him. Second, the demon did confess the power of Jesus over him, “Jesus I know.” Compare Jas 2:19, “Even the demons believe and shudder.” The people of Ephesus recognized this and extolled the powerful name of Jesus as a result. What was true for them is still true. In the name of Jesus is all the power needed to drive out the demonic forces in every age. (NAC)

Ger The news of this humiliation circulated widely throughout Ephesus, and the citizenry realized that when it came to effective exorcisms, they could accept no substitutes for "the real deal." The Lord was magnified in the eyes of unbelievers, who developed a sudden, newfound respect for the name of Jesus. (Ibid)

And fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified - Magnified is in the imperfect tense indicating that the Name of Jesus was being spoken forth with a sense of awe and reverential fear again and again, by one person and then another. This depicts the Name of Jesus spreading throughout this superstitious city who now heard about a Name far greater than any occult name they might name in their incantations! 

Lenski explains "This was not, in our newspaper parlance, a mere "news story" that was soon to be forgotten for another. It gripped the Ephesians very seriously, for they were all given to superstition and magical practices. They all felt directly involved. A glare of light fell on the whole subject, and not because of the dramatic failure of these exorcists, but because the name "Jesus" was involved as having brought on that failure. Here was a new power that operated with stunning effect even against all powers of superstition. In this connection we must not forget the miracles wrought by Paul himself, nor the effort of these exorcists to duplicate them. It was thus that something akin to holy fear fell on all. And Luke at once adds that "the name of the Lord Jesus began to be magnified." The wonder of that name passed from lip to lip. Paul used that name, and the demons were expelled; the exorcists used it, and were themselves crushed. What was back of that name?" (The Interpretation of The Acts of the Apostles.)

Fell upon (1968)(epipipto from epi = upon + pipto = fall) means literally to fall upon (someone) or to press against (Mk 3:10) and is used both literally and figuratively.Luke uses ekpipto figuratively three times to describe the Holy Spirit coming down upon or "falling upon" someone (Acts  8:16, 10.44, 11:15). Luke also used epipito to describe fear falling upon Zacharias who "was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him." (Lk 1:12+) So just as godly Zacharias was "gripped" by fear of the supernatural, so too the residents of Ephesus were gripped by fear at the supernatural phenomena they had witnessed and heard about. 

Fear (reverence, awe) (5401)(phobos) is used in an active sense to describe that which causes fear or terror, in this case the source being God (Jesus) and His divine power. Compare fear as result of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira - Acts 5:5, 11+, Rev 11:11+ = two slain witnesses come to life and ascend to heaven before a watching world!). 

Magnified (3170)(megaluno from megas - great) to make or declare great. Most commonly in the NT as in this passage, it means to magnify or praise (Luke 1:46; Acts 5:13; 10:46; 19:17; 2 Cor. 10:15; Phil. 1:20; Sept.: 2 Sa 7:26; Ps. 34:3; 69:31).

Jack Arnold - A good dose of fear fell upon Ephesus, but it did not stop with non-Christians only.  A realization of Christ's power in the spiritual realm brought wayward and disinterested Christians to a new dedication. (Sermon)

Larkin summarizes this passage noting that "demonstrations of divine power do not automatically produce conversions (see comment at Acts 9:35, 42, where they do). They do, however, demonstrate the reality of the Lord's spiritual power and its superiority to, and difference from, magic. Realizing that Jesus' name is not to be manipulated, the populace is now in a better position to hear the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins declared in that name (Lk 24:47). And for Christians who have believed for a while (perfect tense of pisteuo so indicates), it is now time for a final break with their past. (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Acts)

Steven Cole adds "While sometimes God uses miracles to bring unbelievers to faith (Ac 13:6-12), that is not the general rule. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Ro 1:16). God uses the foolishness of the preaching of the cross to save souls (1Co 1:18). We should stay focused on God’s Word and the gospel, rather than get distracted by signs and wonders.

Acts 19:18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices

KJV Acts 19:18  And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

NICNT Many of those who believed also came and made confession, divulging their spells.


A reverential fear in the believers as a result of the powerful Name of Jesus caused them to realize the nothingness of their superstitious magical arts and objects. Conviction of their consciences resulted in them coming and confessing. 

Lenski comments that "They saw their delusion in the light of the Savior's name and that they were still sinning against him and his divine, saving power." (Ibid)

Many also of those who had believed kept coming - Presumably these were men and women who had heard the Gospel preached by Paul and received it by faith and now sought to repent of their former way of life! 

Who had believed (4100)(pisteuo from pistis; cf the obedience of faith) means they had considered Jesus as truly God and worthy of their trust and so they accept ed him as their Savior. Pisteuo in the perfect tense describes those who had at point in time in the past believed in the Name of Jesus (Acts 4:12+) and continued in their belief. They were the "real deal!" (Compare Perseverance of the Saints)

Robertson on Luke's picturesque use of kept comingimperfect tense middle voice (ED: middle emphasizes personal involvement), kept coming, one after another. (ED: YOU CAN ALMOST IMAGINE THIS SCENE!) 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.

THOUGHT - Some 25 years ago I was made aware of so-called deliverance ministries and became very intrigued, even purchasing an expensive set of "teaching tapes." I soon grew very uneasy about this new teaching that was sweeping through a number of evangelical, Bible believing churches. I became very concerned when I saw some of the tragic "fruit" of these practices including divorce in one evangelical couple who had played an instrumental role in my early walk with Christ. It was very disturbing and disillusioning. While this is only one anecdotal example, it behooves all Bible believing Christians to heed the caution of Paul who commanded the saints at Thessalonica to  "examine (dokimazo in the present imperative) everything carefully; hold fast (dokimazo in the present imperative) to that which is good; abstain (dokimazo in the present imperative) from every form of evil." (1 Th 5:21-22+)  And again (in the context of granting forgiveness) he writes that forgiveness be given "in order that no advantage (pleonekteo) be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant (pleonekteo) of his schemes (noema)." (2 Cor 2:10-11) Although the sermons by John MacArthur (below) are almost 50 years old (1974), they address a number of aspects of the occult that even then were infiltrating the evangelical church. I was amazed when I searched Google (May, 2019) for "deliverance ministries" (in quotes) and retrieved 649,000 hits! I agree with the reputable source which says "We should exercise caution about “deliverance ministries” and indiscriminate exorcisms." (Spiritual Warfare) (See also Acts 17:11+)

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Confessing and disclosing (announcing) their practices - These believers had been in involved in essence in spiritism and the Spirit convicted them of their syncretistic beliefs. This is clear evidence that their belief was genuine and is in essence the equivalent of repentance, for their change in mind was followed by a change in practice. It is interesting and notable that these individuals confessing and disclosing their practices clearly appear to be believers in Jesus Christ and yet Luke makes no mention of any of them having demons cast out but to the contrary emphasizes them casting out (so to speak) their "demonic" practices. 

Confessing (present tense - continually) (1843)(exomologeo from ek - wholly out from or ex = out or intensify [implies full, open confession, openly or publicly] + homologeo - to say same thing about) means to confess forth and thus is stronger than homologeo. In the present context exomologeo means to openly make admission of wrong-doing or sin. In Mt 3:6 exomologeo speaks of an open confession, not a private one. James also speaks of open confession - "Therefore, confess (plural - present imperative) your sins to one another, and pray (plural - present imperative) for one another so that you may be healed (iaomai). The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." 

Exomologeo - 10x - Matt. 3:6; Matt. 11:25; Mk. 1:5; Lk. 10:21; Lk. 22:6; Acts 19:18; Rom. 14:11; Rom. 15:9; Phil. 2:11; Jas. 5:16.

In English disclose means "to make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret." 

Disclosing (present tense) (312)(anaggello/anangello from aná = again {like English prefix re-= again thus re-port or re-hearse = to say again} + aggéllo = tell) means to tell of things done, to provide information, to disclose. 

Anaggello in Acts 14:27; Acts 15:4; Acts 19:18; Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27

Vincent comments that "The two words (exomologeo and anaggello) denote the fullest and most open confession. They openly (ex) confessed, and declared thoroughly (ana = from top to bottom) their deeds.

Lenski makes an interesting point - We have the exact counterpart today: Christians who still resort to witchcraft for healing, for warding off evil, for directing their lives in difficulties, and the like. See, for instance, the comprehensive and most excellent work by Wuttke, Der Deutsche Volksaberglaube. Every experienced physician and every pastor can tell many a tale. In spite of all enlightenment and education the ilk of those who practice the uncanny arts is still legion. If only the churches themselves could clean house as this was done in Ephesus! To no small extent the preachers themselves have been guilty in keeping alive superstitious faith in the claims of witchcraft by admitting that its charms are effective. After an extensive study the writer here declares: they never work; they are remnants of paganism; the holy names, symbols, and Scripture words used in them are substitutions for pagan originals, a desecration of the most damnable kind, the devil's delight; they deceive, and this is the real devil's power in them; they are dangerous even when they are tried in fun; they do "work" in countless cases and often produce the saddest physical, mental, and invariably also spiritual damage. Fail not to include spiritualism..(Ibid)

Robertson on disclosing their practicesJudgment 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

Practices (4234)(praxis from prasso = to practice) is an act, deed or practice. In the plural, praxis refers to one's acts or works and by extension to one's conduct. Praxis has the basic meaning of a doing of something, i.e., a deed. It could refer to a habitual or established practice. It later came to connote something that was ordinarily done or practiced, a normal function. In the present context praxis functioned as a technical term for magic practices which is similar to the use of the verb prasso which sometimes had the technical sense of “practice magic." In the Webster's Thesaurus a synonym for praxis (praxis is transliterated and found in English dictionaries) is habit which is interesting as it pictures these magic practices as habits.

Deissmann writes that praxis was "a terminus technicus for a particular spell." (Scroll to note 5 on page 330)

Jack Arnold - Apparently, this refers to Christians who began to confess their sins and come to grips with their superstitions which they had been secretly holding on to since their conversion to Christ.  They were undoubtedly new converts who had never given much thought to the evilness of these practices.  They were visibly shaken by the supernaturalism of Christ and began to clean up their lives, divulge their hidden practices and confess openly what they were doing privately.  As young Christians, they still held on to some of their old ways, but God brought real conviction to their souls.  They stopped fooling around with astrology, horoscopes and the influence of the stars which had been bringing them defeat and disillusionment in their Christian lives.  Some of the Christians, although they had been converted to Christianity for some time, still had books on magic in their homes and still were, in some ways, in complicity with the occult.  By their confession, the church was purified, for no Christian is to have any connection with the forces of darkness.  “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph.5:11).  These Christians brought their secret sin into the light.  This was the beginning of true revival in the church at Ephesus.  What sins, Christian, are you still holding on to from your unsaved life?  Does the demon of pride, materialism, pleasure, procrastination, sex, alcohol, drugs, criticism and gossip plague you?  Have you fully turned over these kinds of practices to the Lordship of Christ?  When you received Christ, you said you would follow Him as Lord.  Now you must consistently bow to His Lordship so your life can change.  You will never have power in your life until you come to grips with secret practices that you have carried over from your unsaved life.  (Sermon)

Larkin applies this passage to present day Christians - Today the temptation is still present to syncretize a newfound faith with pre-Christian ways of using "power" to cope with life. Whether it be worship and manipulation of the new power levers of secularization—money, education, science, technology—or the traditional practices of occult magic in their time-honored or New Age form, those who live under Jesus' lordship must sooner or later come to terms with any compromise in these matters and follow the Ephesian Christians' example of making a clean break with their "power" past. (Ibid) 

Acts 19:19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver

KJV Acts 19:19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

NET  Acts 19:19 Large numbers of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them up in the presence of everyone. When the value of the books was added up, it was found to total fifty thousand silver coins. 

NLT  Acts 19:19 A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars.


The apostle John explains that "everyone who does (prasso in present tense - same verb Luke uses here in Acts 19:19) evil hates (present tense) the Light (2 Cor 4:4), and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed (elegcho) (2 Cor 4:6). But he who practices (poieo in present tense) the truth (Jn 14:6) comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested (phaneroo) as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:20-21)

The scene Luke describes reminds us of Paul's command 

Do not be bound together (present imperative with a negative) with unbelievers; for (term of explanation) what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship (koinonia) has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)

And many of those who practiced magic (cf Acts 8:9-11+; Acts 13:6,8+) - Interesting that Luke says "many" and not "all" suggesting some held on to their magic paraphernalia. Of course, this could have been Ephesians who had not believed in Jesus. Nevertheless, it is always tempting to "hold on" to some of the things we practiced in our former life and fail to make a clean break (enabled by the Spirit).

THOUGHT - Probably many/most of us have a few items of "baggage" we would still like to "toss overboard" so to speak.  Before we were saved we all had praxis or habits and many if not most were bad (evil). Now that we are saved we are to submit to the Spirit, trust His enabling power and put to death or kill those evil habits. (Ro 8:13+) And if you are like me, those old "ruts in the road" of our minds die off very slowly and unwillingly and too often seem to come back to life! Don't be discouraged by occasional lapses into the old ways, but trust the Spirit to lead you in the right direction (cf Gal 5:18+, Ro 8:14+) and over time the habit will have less and less of a grip on your heart and mind. Praise God!

Robertson says "Considerable number of the performers or exorcists themselves who knew that they were humbugs were led to renounce their evil practices."

Polhill Magic was part of Ephesian culture. Nor should one question the integrity of these Ephesian Christians who only now openly forsook such ways. Salvation involves a process of growth, of increasing sanctification. And after all, the Ephesian spells were not that remote from the horoscopes and board games that supposedly communicate telepathic messages with which many Christians dabble in our own day. (Ibid) (ED: WORD TO THE WISE - DABBLING WITH THE DEMONIC IS DANGEROUS, EVEN GAMES LIKE DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, [especially the early versions]!)

Practiced (4238)(prasso) means doing something as a regular practice or as a routine habit, and is distinguished from poieo which means "to do" which focuses more on the end/achievement of the action. And so Luke's use of prasso clearly pictures these practitioners as not just dabbling occasionally with a ouija board but diving in wholeheartedly and habitually as  they sought to bring about some supernormal effect or end. 

Luke's uses of prasso

Lk. 3:13; Lk. 19:23; Lk. 22:23; Lk. 23:15; Lk. 23:41; Acts 3:17; Acts 5:35; Acts 15:29; Acts 16:28; Acts 17:7; Acts 19:19; Acts 19:36; Acts 25:11; Acts 25:25; Acts 26:9; Acts 26:20; Acts 26:26; Acts 26:31

Magic (4021)(periergos from peri = beyond + ergon = work, deed) literally "a work about." Friberg says literally "overcareful, overdoing." Vincent says "overwrought, elaborate." In classic Greek had a negative meaning of "taking needless trouble" (description of those considered meddlesome and used with this sense in 1 Ti 5:13 to describe women who were "busybodies") and a positive meaning of inquisitive or curious. However the idea of curious merged with leading one beyond the normal range of knowledge and thus into the occult, superstition or magic (Plutarch used periergos to mean "curious" or "superstitious"). BDAG adds that this second sense pertains to undue or misdirected curiosity (periergos techne - excessive, superfluous) as in the practice of magic, belonging to to our colloquialism "fool around with." Robertson notes that periergos "is a technical term for magic as the papyri and inscriptions show."

Deissmann on periergos - Thus the expression ta perierga is a terminus technicus for magic. (Scroll to note 5 on page 330)

Zodhiates on periergos  - "(In 1 Ti 5:13) Used of people who scurry about fussing over, and meddling in, other peoples' affairs being overwrought with unnecessary care." It was also a standard term for black arts or magic (Acts 19:19). It pointed to the lengthy and various rituals involved in incantation ceremonies and the fastidiousness with which they were performed.(Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament)

Liddell - Scott on periergos - 1. careful overmuch, Lys., etc. 2. busy about other folk's affairs, meddling, a busybody, Xen. II. pass. done with especial care, elaborate, Aeschin., etc. 2. superfluous, Plat., etc. 3. curious, superstitious, Plut.

Gilbrant on "A papyrus of the Third or Fourth Century A.D. refers to the magic arts of the populace through which they consulted idols by means of herbs and other devices (cf. Moulton-Milligan).


Robertson quips "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." One wonders what he would have said about the INTERNET!!! Sadly the devil has intimately interwoven evil with good in the internet, and we have become so computerized that it would be difficult to function without internet access (you're accessing hopefully some of the "good" even as you read these notes!)

Ephesus was a "magical" culture - Magic is a category into which have been placed various beliefs and practices considered separate from both religion and science. Emerging within Western culture, the term has historically often had pejorative connotations, with things labelled magical perceived as being socially unacceptable, primitive, or foreign. (Wikipedia)

Brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone - Their books (or scrolls) contained the magical names and incantations used in their "magical arts."  Began burning is in the imperfect tense which presents a vivid picture of what was transpiring in Ephesus - some would bring their books and toss them on the pile, then another, and another, etc. It was quite an "unholy bonfire!" And it likely was not completed in one day but continued. Their actions give us an excellent illustration of genuine confession and repentance. They backed up their words with their actions, always a good thing to do, especially when it has to do with confessing sin (1 Jn 1:9+).

This tangible example of repentance is similar that Paul described among the pagan idol worshipers in Thessalonica writing...

For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,(1 Th 1:9+)

Books (975)(biblion from biblos =  the inner bark of a papyrus plant, hence a scroll, a book) is the diminutive form of biblos and means a book, a roll, a volume, a document, a scroll, a writing. Ancient writing were in the form of a scroll, which was "sheets of papyrus glued together and rolled at each end to collect a long literature work in a form for public reading or private study." (Holman; See also Hastings' Dictionary

Lenski adds these books were "little papyrus rolls that were inscribed with magical formulas and symbols. They used them for their own benefit but also for the benefit of others, and often, as at present, had extensive patronage. Now they wanted to get rid of these treasured documents and, therefore, collected them and proceeded to burn them."

Vincent on booksContaining magical formulas. Heathen writers often allude to the Ephesian letters. These were symbols, or magical sentences written on slips of parchment, and carried about as amulets (and charms with incantations). Sometimes they were engraved on seals. The imperfect (began burning) is graphic, describing them as throwing book after book on the pile.

Burning (2618)(katakaio from kata = intensifies meaning of verb + kaio = to burn) means to burn up (completely), to consume or destroy by fire. The word denotes a violent consuming heat. It means to burn utterly as of chaff (Mt 3:17, Lk 3:17), tares (Mt 13:30,40), magic paraphernalia (Acts 19:19), works believers do in their own strength, for their own glory (1 Cor 3:15), earth (here in 2 Pe 3:10), trees and grass (Rev 8:7), the rebuilt city of Babylon (Re 17:16+, Re 18:8+) Robertson on the prefix kata - (burned) up, we say; down, the Greeks say, perfective use of kata

In the sight of everyone - The confession and "repenting" was done publicly


Polhill Their magical books must have been much like the papyrus collections that have been unearthed and are now on display in museums in Paris, Berlin, Rome, and London. All ancient books were expensive, but magical collections brought a considerable premium. (NAC)

And they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver - They "counted the cost" and were willing to pay it! How much was this worth? Commentators give quite a range from 10-50,000 dollars, but emphasize that whatever the modern equivalent, it was a large sum. 

Lenski points out that 50,000 "was a lot of money to be consigned to the flames. It was one of the best investments these believers ever made. And no one had the brilliant idea of selling these bibloi to the pagans and the Jews and of setting the price aside for sacred use. Incidentally, this sum of 50,000 drachmae gives some indication as to the size to which the Ephesian congregation had grown." (Ibid)

NET Note on fifty thousand - Or "fifty thousand silver drachmas" (about $10,000 US dollars). BDAG 2.c states, "arguriou muriadas pente 50,000 (Attic silver) drachmas (ED: SEE ANCIENT DRACHMA) Acts 19:19." Another way to express the value would be in sheep: One drachma could buy one sheep. So this many drachmas could purchase a huge flock of sheep. A drachma also equals a denarius, or a day's wage for the average worker. So this amount would be equal to 50,000 work days or in excess of 8,300 weeks of labor (the weeks are calculated at six working days because of the Jewish cultural context). The impact of Christianity on the Ephesian economy was considerable (note in regard to this the concerns expressed in Acts 19:26–27). 

Vincent's comment shows how wide the variation is regarding the cost of the occult paraphernalia - If reckoned in Jewish money, about thirty-five thousand dollars; if in Greek drachmae, as is more probable, about nine thousand three hundred dollars.

Robertson 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.

NLT says "The value of the books was several million dollars."

Luke's point is not a specific number as much as the (priceless) specific transforming effect of the Gospel on the hearts of these new believers!

Counted (4860)(sumpsephizo from sun = together + psephizo = to count with stones, to reckon [count the cost of required renunciation] in Lk 14:28+, to vote with stones, to reach a verdict [Acts 26:10] from psephos = stones as used for counting) means to reckon together, to add up, calculate, compute. In secular Greek - "count the hours." It is interesting that the root word is psephos which in the plural was used to describe small stones used in occult practices (astrology, soothsaying - TDNT). Vincent - "The preposition sun/syn, together, in the compound verb, indicates the reckoning up of the sum-total.

Their actions are a perfect example of Jesus' description of a disciple declaring...

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Lk 14:28+)

"So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Lk 14:33+)

Jack Arnold - Christians, old and new, brought their books of magic, their charms, amulets and talismans with Ephesian Inscriptions, and their papers of white and black arts and piled them up and burned them.  They did not sell them for a profit or give them away but burned them.  The amount of these things was the equivalent of around $10,000.00 today which was a considerable sum of money in that day.  Their confession led to conflagration, indicating the reality of their repentance.  If confession is real, it will lead to renunciation of sins.  These Ephesian Christians were changing the total pattern of their lives because they saw they could no longer dabble in the occult and be a Christian too. They were no longer “playing church.”  They meant business.  They sacrificed.  They paid a price.  They denied self.  What about you Christian?  Are you ready to confess your sins and put a fire to books, records, dresses, TV programs, bathing suits, excessive materialism, excessive use of time for pleasure and other worldly and evil practices which sap the power of Christ from you?  Are there things that need to be confessed, repented of, and thrown into the fire?  When you begin to deal severely with your life, then you will experience the power of Christ and revival.  Is Christ really lord in your experience?  Are you just playing church?  (Sermon)

Jack Andrews practical application - Are you facing the attacks of the devil? Are you trying to resist him in the power of the flesh? Do you need the Lord to drive the devil out of your life, out of your home, out of your marriage? Is the devil using you to disrupt and destroy? Are your children causing havoc? Is the name of the Lord Jesus being magnified here? Have you renounced your deeds? Have you repented of your deeds? Is the word of the Lord growing mightily and prevailing here? Do you need to cast down an idol? Do you need to bring something to the fire? Would you make a clean break and in full repentance come to Jesus? May the Lord Jesus be magnified in our lives and His church! May the Word of the Lord give the mighty victory! (Jack Andrews Expository Studies – Understanding Acts - Volume 5)

Related Resources from Wikipedia (Be a Berean - Acts 17:11)...

Acts 19:20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

KJV Acts 19:20  So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.


Andrews comments "The devil doesn’t like to lose—but he is a LOSER! The Lord Jesus was being magnified in Ephesus—the Word of the Lord was being glorified in Ephesus!"...Would to God that His word would grow mightily and prevail in America! (Ibid)(Amen) 

Toussaint comments that "With this sixth "progress report" Luke brought another section of his book to a conclusion (cf. Acts 2:47+; Acts 6:7+; Acts 9:31+; Acts 12:24+; Acts 16:5+; Acts 28:30-31+)." (BKC)

Larkin comments that "Luke's theology places proclamation of the gospel message at the center of any "power advance" in the church's mission, and so should ours." (Ibid)

So (houtos) means in this manner, in this way. This begs the question "In what way?" The way refers to the evidence Luke had just described of the transforming power of the Gospel (see Acts 19:11-19). The news of this "occult bonfire" surely spread throughout the city because it was as if these individuals were willing to burn up something very valuable to them and something of considerable worth. And this would have generated curiosity in the pagans as to why anyone would be willing to make such a sacrifice. This clearly would have opened some doors for the speaking forth of the Word of the word of the Lord was growing mightily!

Lenski It is the Word that grew and prevailed in the double sense of extending to more and more converts and of more and more filling their hearts and their lives.

The word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing - The Word of the Lord refers to the Gospel. The Word is personified and appropriately so for we know the Word of God is living and active (energetic - energes) (Heb 4:12-13+), and yet it does not go forth unless it is spoken. So clearly the believers were speaking forth the word of the Lord. The imperfect tense of was growing depicts the growth occurring again and again. One envisions Gospel "farmers" in Ephesus sowing the seed of the Word hither and yon (and the Holy Spirit taking the Word and bringing about "the washing of regeneration and renewing" (Titus 3:5+) in the hearts of men and women dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1+). Remember the Gospel has intrinsic power (dunamis - dynamic power), so our role is to speak forth this dynamically powerful supernatural Word to the Lord. God's Spirit gives the growth and causes the Word to prevail. 

Word of the Lord in the New Testament - note concentration in the book of Acts...

Lk. 22:61; Acts 8:25; Acts 11:16; Acts 12:24; Acts 13:44; Acts 13:48; Acts 13:49; Acts 15:35; Acts 15:36; Acts 16:32; Acts 19:10; Acts 19:20; 1 Thess. 1:8; 1 Thess. 4:15; 2 Thess. 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:25

Was growing (837)(auxano) means to cause to grow or cause to become greater in extent, size, state, or quality. Note especially the vitally inherent in the Word of God - Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20 - So what? Preach the Word in season and out (2 Ti 4:2) if you want to see your congregation grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). There are no shortcuts. God offers us no "Plan B!"

Luke punctuates the book of Acts with this axiomatic truth that the Word of God was vital to the spread of the Gospel. If it was then, is it not still true of the mission fields in America? (Rhetorical of course! So are you in a church that is preaching the Word? Are you preaching the Word? Are you teaching the Word? see 2 Ti 4:2+)

Acts 6:7+ The Word of God kept on spreading (auxano); and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. 

Acts 12:24+  But the Word of the Lord continued to grow (auxano) and to be multiplied. 

Paul used auxano of spiritual growth, describing the Gospel which had come to and transformed the lives of the Colossians "just as in all the world also it (the gospel) is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth." (Col 1:6+) There is no spiritual growth for the body (the church) apart from union with the Head, Christ. Using auxano with a similar meaning, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church -- "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." (1Cor 3:6-7)

And in one of the most foundational truths in the New Testament regarding spiritual growth (progressive sanctification), Peter says that after "putting aside (middle voice - calls for personal involvement) all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander (ALL OF THESE WILL BLUNT YOUR APPETITE FOR THE WORD! IF YOU ARE NOT HUNGERING FOR THE WORD DAILY, THEN DO A PERSONAL INVENTORY FROM PETER'S LIST), like newborn babes, long for (epipotheo in the  aorist imperative = "Just Do It" - in dependence on the Spirit's enabling your desire and power!) the pure (unadulterated, no additives, no artificial substitutes) milk of the Word, that (purpose clause) by it you may grow (auxano) in respect to salvation (into conformity to the image of Christ). (1 Peter 2:1+, 1 Peter 2:2+, cf Peter's prayer for the saints in 2 Peter 3:18+ where "grow" is auxano in the present imperative - this is to be a saint's lifestyle empowered by the Spirit and the Word!)

Jack AndrewsThe power of God was seen in the salvation, repentance, and separation of the people. (Ibid)

Mightily (2904)(kratos) means strength or might, especially manifested power, exerting itself until it prevails or secures submission (gains mastery, dominates) and in the present context until it secures submission and gains mastery of the soul of a sinner, the Spirit using the Word to bring them to salvation. Kratos was a common military term (Thucydides). Most of the NT uses (10/12)  of kratos are in references to God Almighty, and make the point that ultimate dominion belongs to God Alone. Here of course kratos points to the "dominion" of God's Word, which is the supreme authority. Gary Hill says kratos "plants God's flag down" to show forth His victory (mastery)!" The only other use of kratos by Luke is Luke 1:51 "“He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart." 

All 12 NT uses of kratos - Lk. 1:51; Acts 19:20; Eph. 1:19; Eph. 6:10; Col. 1:11; 1 Tim. 6:16; Heb. 2:14; 1 Pet. 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:11; Jude 1:25; Rev. 1:6; Rev. 5:13. 

And prevailing - The Word of the Lord was proving itself superior, gaining mastery as Paul and his disciples proclaimed it throughout Asia (cf Acts 19:10+). The imperfect tense describes this as it's effect again and again. Such is the power of the Word of God! Don't ever underestimate the power of the Word. Someone may pretend that the Word you spoke to them had no effect (e.g., if they reject the Gospel), but rest assured, it did effect them one way or another (same sun that softens the wax, hardens the clay) and one of the most frightening effects is that every time they hear the Gospel and reject it, they become more hardened in their heart. What a frightening scenario! (cf 2 Cor 6:2, Read one of the most solemn warnings in all of Scripture Heb 10:26-31+ where Heb 10:31 was used by Jonathan Edwards for his sermon title - Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God).

Prevailing (2480)(ischuo  from ischus = might) is embodied strength that "gets into the fray" (action), i.e. strength that engages the resistance. Ischuo can speak of physical power (Mk 2:17, the demoniac in Mk 5:4). Ischuo equates to having efficacy, to availing or to having force. It is intriguing and a bit ironic that Luke used the same verb in Acts 19:16 to describe the forces of darkness as the demon possessed man overpowered the seven sons of Sceva! The Word of God is even more powerful for the demons are overpowered by the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God! Ischuo can speak of having the required resources to accomplish some objective as here in Acts 19:20 where ischuo describes the "strength" of the Gospel which is able to accomplish the purpose for which it is sent out (spoken) (see God's promise in Isaiah 55:11).

This description parallels Paul's description of the Gospel as "the power (dunamis) of God for salvation to everyone who believes." (Ro 1:16+). The Gospel has intrinsic power, and ischuo pictures it as having strength to engage resistance (think of an unbelieving heart which is "engaged" and believes). Ischuo speaks of having the required personal resources as in Paul's testimony in Php 4:13+ where he says that he "can (ischuo - present tense) do all things through Him Who strengthens (endunamoo in the present tense = continually strengthens) him."

Believers need to realize that when they speak forth the Word, it is not just any word, but is a Word which can grow and prevail. Preachers are you preaching this Word? 

Ischuo 28 uses in the NT - 

Matt. 5:13; Matt. 8:28; Matt. 9:12; Matt. 26:40; Mk. 2:17; Mk. 5:4; Mk. 9:18; Mk. 14:37; Lk. 6:48; Lk. 8:43; Lk. 13:24; Lk. 14:6; Lk. 14:29; Lk. 14:30; Lk. 16:3; Lk. 20:26; Jn. 21:6; Acts 6:10; Acts 15:10; Acts 19:16; Acts 19:20; Acts 25:7; Acts 27:16; Gal. 5:6; Phil. 4:13; Heb. 9:17; Jas. 5:16; Rev. 12:8

Related Resources: 

Warren Wiersbe lamented that "It is sad when Christians have no appetite for God’s Word, but must be ‘fed’ religious entertainment instead. As we grow, we discover that the Word is milk for babes, but also strong meat for the mature (He 5:11-12+, Heb 5:13-14+). It is also bread (Mt. 4:4) and honey (Ps 119:103)." (Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor) The point is that their is no spiritual growth in a believer who does not personally (and consistently) imbibe the milk of the living and active Word of God. 

Jack Arnold asks "Why don't we experience more power in our lives as Christians?  We have the Bible, we have Christ in our life and we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as did the first century Christians.  Why don’t we see more power?  Christ works through dedicated serious and committed Christians.  When we get serious, Christ will get serious." (Sermon)

Robertson 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.

Growing and Prevailing - Sermon Notes - C H Spurgeon
And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds. (19) Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (20) So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. Acts 19:18-20

This last verse is a despatch from the seat of war announcing a glorious victory for the royal arms.

Past triumphs of the gospel may be used as encouragements. We, too, shall see the Word of God grow and prevail, for—

The gospel is the same as ever.

The human race is unchanged at heart.

The sins to be overcome are the same.

The Holy Spirit is just as mighty to convince and renew.

The trophies of victory may be expected to be the same.
Men, magic, books, and the love of money shall all be subdued.Let us turn aside to see—I. THE WORD OF GOD PLANTED.Planted it was, or it could not have grown. The work proceeded in the following fashion—

1. Certain disciples were further enlightened, aroused, and led to seek a higher degree of grace. This was an admirable beginning, and revivals thus commenced are usually lasting.

2. These became obedient to an ordinance which had been overlooked (verse 5), and also received the Holy Ghost, of whom they had heard nothing: two great helps to revival.

3. A bold ministry proclaimed and defended the truth.

4. Opposition was aroused. This is always a needful sign. God is not at work long without the devil working also.

5. Deceitful counterfeiting commenced, and was speedily ended in the most remarkable manner.

6. Paul preached, pleaded, made the gospel to sound forth, and on departing could say, "I am pure from the blood of all men."

Read this and the following chapter, and see how three years were well spent in planting the church at Ephesus.

II. THE WORD OF GOD GROWING."So mightily grew the word of God." The measure of it was seen—1. In a church formed with many suitable elders.

2. In a neighborhood fully aware of the presence of the gospel among them. It touched them practically, so much so, that important trades were affected.

3. In a people converted, and openly confessing their conversion.

4. In a general respect paid to the faith. Even those who did not obey it, yet yielded it homage and owned its power.

Here we see Paul's work and God's work. Paul labored diligently in planting, and God made it to grow, yet it was all of God.

Is the word of God growing among us? If not, why not?

It is a living seed, and should grow.

It is a living seed, and will grow unless we hinder it.

III. THE WORD OF GOD PREVAILING.Growth arouses opposition; but where the word grows with inward vitality it prevails over outward opposition.The particular proof of prevalence here given is the burning of magical books.

1. Paul does not appear to have dwelt continually upon the evil habit of using magical arts; but gospel light showed the guilt of witchcraft, and providence cast contempt on it.

2. The sin being exposed, it was confessed by those who had been guilty of it, and by those who had commenced its study.

3. Being confessed, it was renounced altogether, and, though there was no command to that effect, yet in a voluntary zeal of indignation the books were burned. This was right because—

If sold, they would do harm.

They were so detestable that they deserved burning.

Their public burning lighted up a testimony.

4. Their destruction involved expense, which was willingly incurred, and that expense gave weight to the testimony.No other proof of power in our ministry will equal that which is seen in its practical effect upon our hearers' lives.
Will you who attend our preaching see to it that you purge yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit?


It's a blessed time in a soul, it's a blessed time in a family, it's a blessed time in a congregation, it's a blessed time in a country when the word of God grows mightily and prevails . . . . It's a blessed time when open sinners are seen leaving their sins and seeking the Savior; when men are seen giving up their unholy gains; when tavern-keepers take down their signs and burn them when they give up their licenses; and it's a blessed time when card-players throw away their cards and take the Bible instead. It's a blessed time when the lovers of gaudy dress take their gaudy dresses and destroy them. Robert Murray McCheyne

The gospel, like a plant of great vigor, will grow almost among stones. Thus have I seen it to grow among hypocrites, formalists, and worldlings; and I have seen it laying hold of one, and another, and indeed of many, however untoward the surrounding soil "So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."

When the leaven of the gospel begins to work, there will be no need of a train of arguments to prove how inexpedient, how utterly unworthy it is for a Christian to turn aside after the vain amusements and trifling books used by the world: "Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?" What have I to do with black arts, or dealing with a lie? Those who first trusted in Christ were willing to forsake all and follow him. The grace of the gospel produces a new taste — it alters everything about us — our friends, our pursuits, our books, etc. — Richard Cecil

Agesilaus, when he saw the usurer's bonds and bills blazing in the fire, said, "I never saw a better or a brighter fire in all my life!" and it were heartily to be wished that all scandalous, blasphemous, and seditious books and pamphlets were on the fire, too. — John Spencer

Yes, God blessed the self-denial, and gave them compensation and a compensation, too, remarkably appropriate. They who burned books, obtained books. They burned books for Christ, and they received books from him. Have you never heard of Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians? Do you recollect no such letter as one from the Savior "to the Angel of the church at Ephesus"? — T. R. Stevenson

The Earl of Rochester, of whom it has been said that he was "a great wit, a great scholar, a great poet, a great sinner, and a great penitent," left a strict charge to the person in whose custody his papers were, to burn all his profane and lewd writings, as being only fit to promote vice and immorality, by which he had so highly offended God, and shamed and blasphemed the holy religion into which he had been baptized.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon

Acts 19:21 Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."

KJV Acts 19:21 After these things were ended, 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.

NET  Acts 19:21 Now after all these things had taken place, Paul resolved to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. He said, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 

CSB  Acts 19:21 When these events were over, Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem. "After I've been there," he said, "I must see Rome as well!" 

NIV  Acts 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."

NLT  Acts 19:21 Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. "And after that," he said, "I must go on to Rome!" 

ESV  Acts 19:21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 

Click to enlarge - from the Holman Bible Atlas (digital bookHardcover
copyright © 1998 B&H Publishing Group,
Used by permission, all rights reserved.
This is one of the best resources for Bible maps. 
Please do not reproduce this map on any other webpage.


The last half of Acts 19 can be divided into two sections:

In Acts 19:21-22 Luke gives us a preview of Paul's future travels. He does this by recording Paul's desires as to where he would go. Paul's focus is set on the capital of the Roman Empire, the great city of Rome. But before he goes to Rome, he desires to revisit Europe, namely, Macedonia and Achaia, in which their were church plants -- Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens (presumably?) and Corinth were situated. Before Rome he wanted to return to Jerusalem and as discussed his purpose was to take them a financial gift (love offering) from the churches in Europe. 

At first reading Acts 19:21-22 might seen confusing, but simply read it like a parenthesis or an explanation by Luke of what would take place after the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41). And so after the assembly had been dismissed (Acts 19:41), Luke picks back up with a travelogue that in essence is the fulfillment of the "preview" in Acts 19:21-22 

After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples (AT EPHESUS), and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. When he had gone through those districts (MACEDONIA - Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea) and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. (Acts 20:1-2+)

Comment - Click to enlarge the map above to help follow along with these notes. Note that in that beautiful map there is not record of Paul's trip to Illyricum (see following note).

Luke obviously does not include all of the details about Paul's trip from Ephesus to Macedonia. For example when compared with Paul's other letters it is clear that he spent time in Troas and was awaiting Titus who never arrived (2 Co 2:12). From there Paul went to Macedonia (see map - 2 Co 2:13) which is where the first European churches had been planted - Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea (? Amphibolus, Neapolis). It is very possible that from Macedonia Paul went on to Illyricum (just to north and west of Macedonia - See dark brown area on map), for he later writes "round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (Ro 15:19+) His declaration certainly suggests that he was literally in Illyricum. However, the timing of his trip to Illyricum can only be suggested as having occurred after he had visited the churches in Macedonia, but we cannot be dogmatic. Ryrie says that "From Macedonia Paul wrote 2 Corinthians and followed it up with his final recorded visit to the church (Acts 20:1-4)." While Paul was in Macedonia, Titus arrived with the news that the church at Corinth had accepted his first letter (written from Ephesus - see 1 Cor 16:8, 19) and which prompted the writing of his second epistle to the Corinthians. Are you hanging with me regarding these events? When Luke records after his time in Macedonia that "he came to Greece" we are to understand this as his arrival in Achaia (see Acts 19:21) and specifically to the church at Corinth. 

Now after these things were finished - This would suggest that it is at the end of 2 years of ministry and not only had Ephesus been evangelized, but so had virtually every major city in Asia. 

Finished  (4137)(pleroo) means to fill up completely, and speaks of totality. Paul used pleroo in Romans 15:18-19+ in which he summarized his 3 missionary journeys across the eastern and northeastern provinces of the Romans Empire...

For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished (katergazomai) through me (PAUL VIEWED HIMSELF AS AN "INSTRUMENT," A CONDUIT IN THE HANDS OF GOD, A GOOD PATTERN TO EMULATE!), resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed (See the obedience of faith), 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached (pleroo in the perfect tense = speaks of the enduring effect of the Gospel he preached) the Gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:18-19+)

Pleroo in Acts

Acts 1:16; Acts 2:2; Acts 2:28; Acts 3:18; Acts 5:3; Acts 5:28; Acts 7:23; Acts 7:30; Acts 9:23; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:25; Acts 13:27; Acts 13:52; Acts 14:26; Acts 19:21; Acts 24:27

Paul purposed in the spirit - Does Luke mean the Holy Spirit or Paul's spirit? Some translation see this as the Holy Spirit (NAS, NLT, ESV, CSB, NKJV, NRSV, YLT). Others see it as Paul's spirit (NET, NIV). Toussaint says "Since the verb means "purposed," not "was led," it may refer to Paul's human spirit." (BKC) Surely one "translation" does not exclude the other because Paul was clearly a Spirit filled (controlled) man and even as he purposed in his human spirit, that purposing would have been energized by the indwelling Spirit, for Paul would later write "it is God who is at work (energeo in present tense = "continually energizing") in you, both to will *(thelo = exercising one's will as from a motive of desire - thus to wish or want to do something, to resolve thus expressing purpose as here in Acts 19:21) and to work (energeo in present tense) for His good pleasure." (Php 2:13NLT+) In other words the Spirit was continually energizing Paul's thoughts directing his "will" toward a certain direction and at  the same time giving him the supernatural "energy" to carry it to completion. (See also Acts 20:22-24+ where Paul uses his "spirit" working with the "Holy Spirit.")

Paul is contemplating a more extensive missionary journey than any before undertaken. He will return to Jerusalem with the collection from Greece, and then, on his way to Spain, he will visit the Roman Christians. Although those plans were revised by imprisonment in Jerusalem, the end result was the same: Paul saw Rome (cf. Acts 28:1-31+). Strong tradition and some evidence suggest that after release from prison in Rome he did travel to Spain in missionary activity - interesting. Won't it be fun speaking with Paul in Heaven!

To go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome -  Here in Acts Luke does not record Paul's reason for wanting to go to Jerusalem but it is clear from his writing to the Romans that his visit was to bring a collection from Macedonia and Achaia  (see verses 26-27 in following quotation). Then after Jerusalem Paul planned to go on to Rome and from there on to Spain (Ro 15:28). Paul's journey to his journey to Jerusalem occupies the next two chapters in Acts - Acts 20:1-21:16. Paul's intent to go to Jerusalem recalls a similar mindset of His Lord recorded by Luke - "When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem." (Lk 9:51+)

The letter to Romans gives us a commentary on Paul's desire in Acts 19:21

23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions (SPEAKING OF ASIA, MACEDONIA, ACHAIA), and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you (SAINTS IN ROME) 24 whenever I go to Spain–for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while– 25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. 26 For (EXPLAINS WHAT HE MEANS BY "SERVING THE SAINTS" IN JERUSALEM) Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they (SAINTS IN MACEDONIA AND ACHAIA) are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their (JERUSALEM'S) spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain. (Ro 15:23-28+)

MacArthur Before describing the chaos of the riot, Luke gives a brief note on Paul's plans. As his three-year ministry in Ephesus drew to a close, the apostle made plans to go to Jerusalem by way of Macedonia and Achaia. His itinerary seems puzzling, since Macedonia and Achaia were in the opposite direction from Jerusalem. Further, he had just ministered in those regions before coming to Ephesus (Acts 18:23). But Paul had a definite plan in mind, one that reveals his deep concern for the unity of the church. Many in the church at Jerusalem were poor and in need of sustained financial assistance. To meet that need, Paul wanted to take to Jerusalem with him a love offering from the largely Gentile churches he had founded. Before returning to Jerusalem, he revisited Macedonia and Achaia to collect that offering (Ro 15:25-27; 1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 8-9). By contributing to the financial needs of the Jewish believers at Jerusalem, those Gentiles would emphasize the church's unity (cf. 1 Cor. 12:26), while confirming in a very practical way their love for their Jewish brethren. (Ibid) 

A T Robertson - 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 Cor. 1:15-16, but he had now changed that purpose, perhaps because of the bad news from Corinth. Already when he wrote 1 Corinthians he proposed to go first to Macedonia (1 Cor. 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.

Guzik writes that Paul had  plans to go to Jerusalem and then Rome and "yet things did not work out according to his plans. He did go to Rome, yet not as a missionary on his way to Spain. He went to Rome as a prisoner awaiting trial before Caesar, where he would preach the gospel on a different kind of frontier. God had unexpected frontiers for the Gospel in Paul’s life, giving him unexpected access to preach to the emperor of Rome himself. After his release from the Roman imprisonment at the end of the Book of Acts, we have reason to believe that Paul did in fact make it to Spain and preached the gospel there. (The Enduring Word Commentary Series)

James Anderson sums up this transitional passage and Paul's subsequent journeys (there is some repetition of the preceding material but it is probably worthwhile as this section can be somewhat confusing regarding timing of events) -

News had reached him "I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you" (1 Cor 1:11), and that there was trouble in Corinth, regarding divisions, immorality, the misuse of spiritual gifts, and doctrine. Hence he wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians from Ephesus to correct them. He wrote later "We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. (2Co 1:8NLT). Such was the state of his soul as he contemplated this trouble in Corinth. He intended to go to Corinth "I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills" (1 Cor 4:19), with a rod or in love. But he would not go until he heard of the effects of the First Epistle upon the Corinthians. He awaited the return of Titus with news. He moved on to Troas, but still Titus had not arrived, and he had no rest in his spirit as if he could not preach there although the door was opened by the Lord (2 Cor 2:12-13). So he passed over into Macedonia, where at last he met Titus, who brought good news of the Corinthians' repentance ( - "But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more....13 For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.)(2 Cor 7:6, 7, 13). He therefore wrote Second Corinthians to precede him down to Corinth, the first nine chapters referring to the majority who had repented, but the last four chapters referring to the minority who would not repent. In 2 Cor 8:1-9:27 he took the opportunity to remind the Corinthians about the collection being gathered for the poor believers in Jerusalem. Exactly what happened when he finally reached Corinth we are not told; Acts 20:2-3 refer to this visit lasting three months ("When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. 3 And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia." - Acts 20:2-3). Paul's plans are similarly found in Ro 15:23-28, an epistle written from Corinth. He wrote that he would go first to Jerusalem (Ro 15:25), and then he would "come by you into Spain" (Ro 15:28). His visit to Jerusalem would be to take the gifts from the Galatian churches, from the Macedonian churches and from Corinth. Then he would proceed to Spain via Rome—a journey that would have taken months by sea. He planned "by the will of God" (Ro 15:32), but the divine will was quite different for His servant. Instead he would be taken prisoner in Jerusalem, kept in Caesarea for several years, and then he would arrive in Rome still as a prisoner. Prayers are not always answered according to one's asking, for Paul asked the Romans to pray that he might "that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea" (Ro 15:31), but this was not to be so in the will of God. (What the Bible teaches – Acts and James)

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Acts 19:22 And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

KJV Acts 19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus - The last time Luke had mentioned Timothy was in Acts 18:5+ "when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia." It is interesting that clearly Timothy was with Paul in much of this 3 year period in Ephesus and yet Luke makes no mention of his presence or his duties. Also exactly when during his 3 year stay in Ephesus that Paul sent them to Macedonia is not clear. While not definitively stated their mission was likely to facilitate the collection of funds to be carried to Jerusalem by Paul once he arrived (see Acts 20:1-2). 

One other interesting note that Silas who had been mentioned multiple times in Acts 15-18 is not mentioned again after his last appearance being in Acts 18:5 when he and Timothy came from Macedonia to Corinth freeing up Paul to give full time to the Gospel. 

Silas in Acts - Acts 15:22; Acts 15:27; Acts 15:32; Acts 15:34; Acts 15:40; Acts 16:19; Acts 16:25; Acts 16:29; Acts 17:4; Acts 17:10; Acts 17:14; Acts 17:15

Longenecker commenting on Luke's omission of Silas after Acts 18:5 points out that "But while Luke's interest in the last chapters of Acts is focused solely on his hero Paul, that is no reason for us to assume that others were no longer with Paul. For example, Titus is not mentioned at all by Luke, but Paul refers to him as having been extensively involved at various times during the Gentile mission (cf. 2Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13-14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18; Gal 2:1, 3; 2Tim 4:10; Titus 1:4). (Ibid)

Erastus is mentioned only 3 times in the NT. 

Ro 16:23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother.

2 Ti 4:20  Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.

I am unsure how to resolve comments by some like Longenecker who does not think the Erastus in Romans 16:23 is the same man as here in Acts 19:22 writing "This is the first time we hear of Erastus, though in 2 Timothy 4:20 he is spoken of as a well-known companion of Paul's who had a special interest in the church at Corinth. That he was the treasurer of Corinth referred to in Romans 16:23, however, is not at all likely. (ED: HE GIVES NO REASON FOR A FAIRLY DOGMATIC STATEMENT!) (The Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 9: John and Acts)

Kistemaker comments that "In 1930, archaeologists in Corinth discovered a slab of pavement stone that bears the inscription, "Erastus, commissioner of public works, sustained the cost for this pavement." We do not know whether all these references are to the same person or to more than one man." (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles)

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He himself stayed in Asia for a while - This stay would include the mob scene described in Acts 19:23-41. We cannot be sure how long he was without Timothy and Erastus, but clearly he was not alone for there are disciples with him (Acts 19:30).

RobertsonThe reason for Paul's delay is given by him in 1 Cor. 16:8-9, 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.

Kistemaker The discord in the Corinthian church kept Paul in Ephesus.

Acts 19:23 About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.

KJV Acts 19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.


Luke now proceeds to show why an incendiary situation gave Paul an incentive to evacuate Ephesus.

MacArthur writes "He delayed all his travel plans temporarily because, as he wrote at this time to the Corinthians, "I shall remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries" (1 Cor. 16:8-9). Those adversaries soon made themselves known, as a riot erupted in Ephesus over the success of Paul's ministry....The unseen cause of the riot was the satanic realm's antagonism to the prevailing of the Word (Acts 19:20). Demons stirred up human agents to oppose the gospel, which was spreading rapidly throughout the province of Asia (Acts 19:26; cf. Acts 19:10). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Acts)

About that time - Literally "There happened at that time." This is a favorite introductory phrase of Luke = 69x in Gospel and 54x in Acts. Specifically this was before Paul had left Ephesus to visit the churches in Macedonia.

Time (season, proper time) (2540)(kairos) can describe a season or a favorable time, in this context the opposition to the Gospel and the Way was clearly rising creating a "favorable time" for potentially unfavorable events for Paul and the believers. Of course the Sovereign God allowed this "favorable" time for He is ever in control of every kairos moment! 

There occurred no small disturbance - This idiomatic statement is identical to Acts 12:18+ "Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter." See another litotes below!

Disturbance (5017)(tarachos from tarasso - stir up, agitate, cause trouble) is used only twice in NT (Acts 12:18; 19:23) and is a noun that means commotion, confusion, consternation, serious disturbance. Louw-Nida says "a state of acute distress and great anxiety, with the additional possible implications of dismay and confusion." Acts 12:18 speaks more of mental agitation, consternation and acute distress of the soldiers when Peter was not found in prison (Why? because they knew it would result in their execution - Acts 12:19!).  Acts 19:23 speaks more of a state of civic unrest. Commotion refers to a disorderly outburst or tumult, a condition of civil unrest or insurrection, mental excitement or confusion. 

Utley on Luke's understatement no small disturbance -This phrase is characteristic of Luke’s writing (cf. Acts 14:28; 15:2; 17:4, 12; 19:23, 24; 27:20). The understatement accentuates the event (ED: See the figure of speech known as litotes).

Robertson Litotes ([ouk = "no" +  oligos = "little, small"]), occurs eight times in the Acts as in 15:2, and nowhere else in the N. T. (See Acts 12:18; Acts 14:28 ("a long time" = literally no little time); Acts 15:2 ("great dissension" = no little dissension); Acts 17:4 ("large number"); Acts 17:12 ("a number of prominent Greek women"); Acts 19:23 ("no small disturbance"); Acts 19:24 ("no little business"); Acts 27:20 ("no small storm")). 

Zodhiates on tarachos In the NT, it means consternation, trepidation resulting from fear (Acts 12:18; Sept.: 1 Sam. 5:9), as also resulting from excitement, tumult and contention (Acts 19:23). (Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament)

Tarachos in the Septuagint - Jdg. 11:35; 1 Sa 5:9; Est. 1:1;

After they had brought it around, the hand of the LORD was against the city with very great confusion; and He smote the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them.

Concerning the Way - Concerning the believers in Jesus. See preceding comments on "The Way."

J Vernon McGee adds that "Christianity had no name for the churches at that time -- certainly no denominational name. It was simply called "that way." It was a new way, that is certain." (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee)

Steven ColeI have never been caught in the midst of a riot, much less been the target of one. But I have read of Hudson and Maria Taylor’s harrowing experience in Yangchow, China, when an angry, drunk mob attacked their house and tried to set fire to it, and it doesn’t sound enjoyable (see Roger Steer, J. Hudson Taylor [OMF], pp. 217-224)! Somehow God miraculously spared them and their children from permanent injury and death, although Maria, who was six months pregnant, had to jump out of a second story window to escape. If you’ve never read the story of Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, you are lacking a profound spiritual experience!

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Cole concludes by asking some probing questions - Have we burned our idols and cut off our ties with our old life of sin? Surveys show that those who profess to be evangelical Christians watch the same amount of TV and the same TV shows as the population at large. What if all who profess to know Christ stopped watching the filthy TV shows and spent the time studying their Bibles? What if Christians refused to go to or rent questionable movies or videos? Would Hollywood feel the loss of business? What if Christian young people kept themselves morally pure until marriage? What if Christians who were married kept their marriage vows and worked through their problems rather than get divorced? (There is currently no difference in divorce statistics between Christians and the general public.) What if Christians stopped squandering their wealth on frivolous toys and luxurious living and started living and giving sacrificially toward world missions?Would these things impact our culture? Would unbelievers begin to see the effects of the gospel in our lives and be convicted of their sins? Would the Way of Jesus Christ begin to cause no small disturbance in the United States?

Jack Arnold introduces his sermon on this section of Acts describing pagan persecution of the powerful effects of the Gospel - How have our lives changed the world we live in?  God in His providence has caused each one of us to live in the western culture, and the American culture in particular.  How have we changed our culture?  We know that Christ not only changes lives, but Christ also changes culture.  When Christ saves a man or woman, a person begins to develop a Christian world-life viewpoint, and this Christian philosophy begins to make an impact upon our atheistic, materialistic and humanistic society.  Since Christ lives in us, how have we affected the world we live in?  Christ changes culture so as to make a culture face Christ realistically.  Christ changes culture by first changing men on the inside who begin to live for Christ and operate on. a biblical morality based on absolutes.  Men and women, with Christ in their lives, begin to affect society in the area of politics, law, economics, music, morality, art and even religion.  Christ's philosophy is in opposition to the world’s philosophy and there is often open conflict between the forces of darkness and the forces of light.  Christianity is revolutionary and it is a very dangerous faith.  If you do not think so, you have not yet begun to live it.  Someone has said that a Christian is one who is completely fearless, continually cheerful and constantly in trouble.  Let us remember it is Christ’s desire that Christians should shape, mold and make an impact on culture, and that godless, humanistic culture should not mold Christians. (Sermon)

Acts 19:24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen;

KJV Acts 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;


For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis - In other words, Demetrius was a maker of idols (cf 1 Co 10:19-20, Dt 32:31). Luke's use of naos (below) indicates these "shrines" likely included replicas of the huge temple just outside the city of Ephesus, where the statue of Artemis was situated. As Demetrius was a common name there is little likelihood that this was the same man mentioned by John whose character seems to be the antithesis of this Ephesian idol maker - "Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true." (3 John 12)

Shrines (3485)(naos) in the Greek culture denoted the "abode of the gods" and was used to refer to a literal structure or building associated with, dedicated to and set apart to be a dwelling place for a deity. either pagan gods like Artemis (cf Acts 17:24) which are counterfeits of the true God (Mt 23:16). Naos describes the place where a deity was worshipped (cp Zacharias ministering to God in Lk 1:9). So you can picture the pagans carrying around these little shrines and placing them in their homes and offering them as votive (think "vow") offerings in her Temple. Things have not changed much -- we have many today who practice "religion" through use us religious shrines and rituals. How sad when the writer of Hebrews says that we don't need shrines, we simply need to enter boldly by faith into the sanctuary! 

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, (Hebrews 10:19-20+)

And Paul affirms our access to the Holy of holies...

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (Ro 5:1-2+)

Artemis - Robertson adds this qualifier "It is a pity that the Revised Version renders Artemis here (ED: FERTILITY GODDESS IN EPHESUS). Diana as the Ephesian Artemis is quite distinct from the Greek Artemis, the sister of Apollo, the Diana of the Romans (ED: THIS ARTEMIS WAS "GODDESS OF THE HUNT" - see picture of her with bow). 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."

Utley writes that shrines "refers to small silver images (1) of the Temple of Artemis or (2) the meteorite which looked like a multi-breasted woman. Archaeology has found many silver images of this goddess, but none of the shrine (temple) itself. It was one of the seven wonders of the world. Its base was 100 feet by 340 feet. It had 177 columns that were 55 feet tall and 6 feet thick. It was four times larger than the Partheon in Athens " 

Vincent on the shrines Small models of the temple of Diana, containing an image of the goddess. They were purchased by pilgrims to the temple, just as rosaries and images of the Virgin are bought by pilgrims to Lourdes, or bronze models of Trajan's column or of the Colonne Vendôme by tourists to Rome or Paris

Replica of Temple of Artemis

Temple of Artemis (Diania) in Ephesus

The Temple of Artemis or Artemision, also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis (associated with Diana, a Roman goddess). It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). It was completely rebuilt twice, once after a devastating flood and three hundred years later after an act of arson, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed.[1] Only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain at the site.

From the Greek point of view, the Ephesian Artemis is a distinctive form of their goddess Artemis. In Greek cult and myth, Artemis is the twin of Apollo, a virgin huntress who supplanted the TitanSelene as goddess of the Moon. At Ephesus, a goddess whom the Greeks associated with Artemis was venerated in an archaic, pre-Hellenic cult image[38] that was carved of wood (a xoanon) and kept decorated with jewelry. The features are most similar to Near-Eastern and Egyptian deities, and least similar to Greek ones. The body and legs are enclosed within a tapering pillar-like term, from which the goddess' feet protrude. On the coins minted at Ephesus, the goddess wears a mural crown (like a city's walls), an attribute of Cybele as a protector of cities (see polos).[38]

The Hideous Statue of Artemis

Constable on the Temple of Artemis (Diana) - The temple of Diana in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and many historians believe it was one of the most beautiful buildings ever built. It stood about a mile northeast of the city and served as a bank as well as a place of worship and cultic immorality. It could accommodate 50,000 people (OTHERS SAY 25,000) and was probably the largest Greek temple ever built. Its centerpiece was evidently a meteorite that resembled a woman with many breasts. Other meteorites that became sacred cult objects were at Troy, Pessinus, Enna, and Emeas. See Longenecker, p. 502.

Herschel Ford wrote, “During the construction of the building any prince counted it a great honor to be allowed to erect one of these pillars. Alexander the Great offered to pay the entire cost of the temple if they would inscribe his name upon it. These offers were refused, but thousands of people contributed to the cost. The greatest painters were proud to have their pictures in the temple and the greatest sculptors vied for the privilege of placing their statues in it.”

Polhill on Artemis The famous statue of Artemis, the centerpiece of her temple, was noted for the mysterious terms engraved on the crown, girdle, and feet of the image. Referred to as the “Ephesian scripts,” (Ephesia grammata) this magical gibberish was considered to have great power. (NAC)

McGee The temple of Diana was a great pagan temple, and it was the center of business. It was the bank of that day. It was also the center of sin. Gross immorality took place around it. It is true that religion can go to a lower level than anything else. (Ibid)

Was bringing no little business to the craftsmen - Was bringing is in the imperfect tense indicating this was an ongoing business, day in and day out. Once again Luke shows his affinity for using litotes (see preceding passage), no little business, a figure of speech in which he makes an understatement to emphasize the success of the idolatry business. In other words Luke makes his point by stating a negative to further affirm the positive. 

William Barclay - When pilgrims came to Ephesus they liked to take a souvenir home. These silversmiths were makers of little silver model shrines which were bought and sold as souvenirs.

MacArthur gives some historical context to help understand why shrines to Artemis were such a big money making business in Ephesus - The worship of the goddess Artemis was widespread throughout the Roman Empire. There appears to have been at least thirty-three shrines to Artemis throughout the Roman Empire, making it perhaps the most popular cult of all. Ephesus, site of the impressive Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), was the center of Artemis worship. Pilgrims flocked to the city, especially during the annual festival to Artemis held each spring. The trade generated by this influx of pilgrims was an essential part of the Ephesian economy. It is likely that the riot described in this passage took place during that festival, at the peak season for the sale of the paraphernalia of Artemis.(Ibid)

Was bringing (furnishing, providing)(3930)(parecho from para = near, beside + echo = hold) basically (literally) means to hold beside, To hold out toward someone, to present, offer. to cause someone to experience something. 

NET Note - The charge that Christianity brought economic and/or social upheaval was made a number of times in Acts: 16:20–21; Acts 17:6–7; Acts 18:13. 

Business (2039)(ergasia from ergázomai = to toil, work) means to engage in some type of activity or behavior with sustained interest and thus describes a pursuit. Ergasia in the present context means a pursuit for profit. Men like Demetrius were playing on the superstitious nature of the pagans in Ephesus and it was paying off! 

Robertson notes that "Trade guilds were common in the ancient world. Demetrius had probably organized this guild and provided the capital for the enterprise."

Craftsman (5079)(technites from techne = art, trade, craft) refers to an artisan, designer, craftsman, one who customarily engages in a particular craft or occupation. In Hebrews 11:10 the writer uses technites figuratively  of God in describing "the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Vine - It is found elsewhere in Heb. 11:10 "builder;" but this is practically the same as "maker" (dēmiourgos). Trench, Syn. cv., suggests that technitēs brings out the artistic side of creation, viewing God as "moulding and fashioning … the materials which He called into existence." This agrees with the usage of the word in the Sept.

Gilbrant Throughout classical Greek technitēs was a term used to describe a variety of skilled craftsmen such as engravers, wood-carvers, stonemasons, and potters (cf. Liddell-Scott). In general, technitēs referred to any number of skilled individuals— artists, musicians, designers, etc. A second-or third-century document (Dio Cassius 63.29) supposedly records the words of Nero just prior to his suicide (a fatal stab wound into the throat): “Hoios technitēs parapollumai”; that is, “O what a great artist I am wasting (destroying)” (cf. Latin = “qualis artifex pereo”; ibid.). Although a rare figurative use translates the word as “trickster” (one skilled in trickery), the most common meaning is a “craftsman.” The Septuagint translates three Hebrew terms as technitēs: chātsav (a hewer of stones—2 Kings 12:12 [LXX 4 Kings 12:12]), ’ommān (a master workman, an artist—Song of Solomon 7:1,2), chārāsh (an engraver, a woodworker—Jeremiah 10:9, 24:1). The common classical meaning is evident in each Septuagintal occurrence. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Technites - 4x - architect(1), craftsman(1), craftsmen(2). - Acts 19:24; Acts 19:38; Heb. 11:10; Rev. 18:22

Technites in the Septuagint - Deut. 27:15; 1 Chr. 22:15; 1 Chr. 29:5; Song. 7:1; Jer. 10:9; Jer. 24:1; Jer. 29:2

Longenecker gives us background to help set the context for the events that follow especially the reaction to Paul's denigration of Artemis - The second factor the life of Ephesus depended on was the worship of Artemis (the Lat. Diana), the multi-breasted goddess of fertility (statue) whose temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world (see timeline and locations). The relation of Artemis of Ephesus to the Greek goddess Artemis is very vague. Though in their distinctive characteristics they were quite different, in the popular, mind they were often equated. King Croesus of nearby Lydia (reigned 564-546 B.C.) built the first temple to Artemis one and a half miles northeast of Ephesus. It was rebuilt on the same site in the fourth century B.C. after having been set on fire in 356 B.C. This temple was almost four times the size of the Parthenon at Athens and stood till the Goths sacked Ephesus in A.D. 263. With the decline of its commerce, the prosperity of Ephesus became more and more dependent on the tourist and pilgrim trade associated with the temple and cult of Artemis. At the time of Paul's arrival, the people of Ephesus, while surrounded by signs of past wealth and still enjoying many of its fruits, were becoming conscious of the precariousness of their position as a commercial and political center of Asia and were turning more toward the temple of Artemis in support of their economy. (Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 9: John and Acts)

Acts 19:25 these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business.

KJV Acts 19:25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

NET  Acts 19:25 He gathered these together, along with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that our prosperity comes from this business. 


In Acts most of the protests against Christianity come from the Jews over religious matters, but here we find one of the two Gentile protests against Christianity (Acts 16:16-24+) and both of these latter are related to financial matters. "The profit motive still opposes the spread of the Gospel." (Constable)

Always pithy J Vernon McGee quips "you cannot step on a man's pocketbook without hearing him say, 'Ouch!'" (Amen or Oh my!)

These he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades - The collusion among the members of the "chamber of commerce" will bring conflict and then confusion (mob scene). This would undoubtedly include not just the silversmiths but those who created the terra cotta shrines (of which a number have been found in archaeological digs).

Trades (crafts)(5078)(techne from tikto = to bring forth) refers to an art, a trade, craft, skill, occupation, some an activity involving specialized training and skill.  Gilbrant says "It is derived from tektōn, a “craftsman in wood, stone, or metal.” Robertson quips "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."

Blaiklock has an interesting note on these similar trades or guilds - "The guilds, and the problem they presented to the non-conforming Christian, haunt the background of the New Testament. They were societies not trade unions, primarily social, and multitudinous in ancient society. Records exist of guilds of bankers, doctors, architects, producers of woollen and linen goods, dyers, workers in metal, stone or clay, builders, carpenters, pastry cooks, barbers, embalmers and transport workers." (The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary)

Constable comments that "Demetrius' words establish the extent to which the gospel had penetrated Asia and the effect it had. There is no stronger testimony than the words of a critic who acknowledges the success of his adversary."

And said, "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business - When the Gospel begins to threaten one's pocket book, fireworks are soon to follow. One is reminded of Jesus' sobering question "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Mk 8:36) These men had rejected the knowledge of God and fallen into the trap of idolatry and made a very bad exchange (as they would discover one day in eternity!) as described by Paul in Romans 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Ro 1:18-23+)

Know (present tense)(1987)(epistamai from epi = upon + histemi = to stand) means that they had fixed their minds on this economic problem and thus had intellectual apprehension and understanding of the significance of this information. In a word it meant "Bad for business!" 

Jack Arnold - This is a tremendous testimony to the power of Christ to change lives and destroy idols.  Christ does the same thing with modern idols.  Whether those idols be material things, drugs, sex, alcohol or whatevers these idols will topple when men meet the resurrected Christ.  Each time a person comes to Christ for salvation, he affects his culture, and if enough people turn to the Savior, a whole culture can be changed. (Sermon)

Prosperity (2142)(euporia from euporeo = to have plenty of anything from eu + poros = easy to pass through, easy to accomplish and so well off) means abundance, the result of having acquired wealth and thus wealth, good income, easy living. In short euporia speaks of a high standard of living achieved through one’s work, whether that work is easy or hard. BDAG = "having the means for something, ‘means’, then abundant means." Louw-Nida - "an easy means of gaining a profit from one's business." This is the only use in the Bible.

Liddell-Scott - an easy way of doing a thing, facility or faculty for doing, c. inf., Thuc.; absol., Xen.: easy means of providing, Thuc., etc. 2. plenty, store, abundance, wealth, Xen.:-in pl. advantages, Isocr., Dem. II. the solution of doubts or difficulties, Xen., etc. 

Business (2039) see above ergasia

Acts 19:26 You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.

KJV Acts 19:26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:

You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia - This is an amazing testimony to the power and penetration of the Gospel and is in a sense a "pagan commentary" on Acts 19:20+ that "the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing."

Willaim Neil rightly says that "vested interests were disguised as local patriotism-in this case also under the cloak of religious zeal." (The Acts of the Apostles - New Century Bible Commentary)

See (present tense -beholding, observing) (2334)(theoreo  from theaomai = to look at closely or attentively or contemplatively - even with a sense of wonder; cp theoros = a spectator) means that these businessmen were seeing, perceiving and understanding. They were looking with interest and purpose motivated by their pocket books! And so they were watching intensely or attentively, somewhat in amazement and shock at what was occurring. 

This Paul - Demetrius is being contemptuous! Robertson says "Contemptuous use of houtos (this)."

THOUGHT - One man impacting a major Roman province! This truth should remind and encourage all of us that when God gets complete possession of one man or one woman, the supernatural fruit that results is exceeding abundantly beyond all we could ask or think (read 2 Chr 16:9). Why? Because it is NOT us (just as it was not Paul - read 2 Cor 3:5-6+, 1 Cor 15:10+). The explanation is supernatural - "according to the power (dunamis) that works (energeo in present tense = continually works) within us!" (Eph 3:20+). And what "power" is that? The Holy Spirit continually energizing us with dunamis, inherent ability to accomplish supernaturally when it is impossible to accomplish naturally! Upon whose power are you relying - yours or His?

Has persuaded (3982)(peitho) means that a considerable number who heard Paul (and presumably the same message from his disciples) had come to a settled persuasion concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

And turned away a considerable number of people - The key here is a considerable number, for had it just been a few, their bottom lines would have been only minimally impacted. 

Robertson adds that this testimony from a pagan was a "Tribute to Paul's powers as a preacher borne out by Luke's record in Acts 19:10....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)."

Turned away (3179)(methistemi from meta = denoting change of place or condition + histemi =place, stand) literally means to remove or transfer from one place to another. Luke had used methistemi earlier to describe causing a change in Saul's official position "After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king." (Acts 13.22). Here in Acts 19:26 methistemi conveys the sense of to bring or cause a considerable number of people to turn aside or "change sides" (so to speak), in this case speaking of their changing sides spiritually.

THOUGHT - In fact Paul uses this very word to describe what occurs in every soul that says "Yes" to Jesus and receives Him as Lord and Savior. Thus Paul writes that God "rescued us from the domain of darkness (SATAN'S KINGDOM), and transferred (methistemi) us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." (Col 1:13+) Beloved, there are only two possible kingdoms one is subject to in this life - either the Kingdom of Darkness overseen by Satan (1 Jn 5:19+). and the Kingdom of Light overseen by God. There is no middle ground. One is either a slave (and child) of the devil or a slave (doulos as Paul described himself in Ro 1:1+) and child of the King! Again, there are no families in between! This truth sounds harsh, but it is what the Bible teaches is true of every man and woman on earth. This stark reality begs the question - Whose side are you on - darkness or light? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and IMMEDIATELY transferred to the Kingdom of light! (Acts 16:31+, read Acts 26:18+). Hallelujah! Amen! 

Saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all - This single line summarizes Paul's speech in Acts 17:22-31+! It does not take much truth to debunk the false! This is the bad exchange fo light for darkness, of truth for the lie, the pathogenesis of which goes back to Genesis, when Eve bought the lie she could be like God (Ge 3:5+). And so just as Paul later taught the saints at Rome explaining that rejection of God's natural revelation has serious sequelae explaining that those who willfully reject God's grace have in effect "exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image (LIKE SHRINE TO ARTEMIS) in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Ro 1:23+)

This is hardly a crime and Demetrius who finally be shown to have no valid grounds for bringing accusation against the Christians (Acts 19:37+).

Jack Arnold -  Idolatry is the height of stupidity, for men make an object with their own hands and then turn around and pray to the object asking for deliverance. What kind of God do you serve?  Do you serve an idol?  Do you serve a god of your own imagination?  Or do you serve the one, true and living God as He is revealed in Christ Jesus?  Do you bow to the God of Scripture?  Does your god exist to do your will or do you exist to do God's will?  Is your God the sovereign, holy, just and loving God of the Bible or is he some god you made up? (Sermon)

Robertson on made with hands - 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 (Ex 20:4). 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.

The OT describes the utter absurdity of idolatry (see especially Ps 115:8!) So why do are we still so attracted to them?! (see also Isa. 44:9–17; Jer. 10:3–11)

The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, The work of man’s hands.  16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; They have eyes, but they do not see;  17 They have ears, but they do not hear, Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths.  18 Those who make them will be like them, Yes, everyone who trusts in them. (Psalm 135:15-18)

Their idols are silver and gold, The work of man’s hands.  5 They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see;  6 They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell;  7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat.  8 Those who make them will become like them, Everyone who trusts in them! (Ps. 115:4-8)

There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. (Deut. 4:28)“

Acts 19:27 Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.

KJV Acts 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.


The Gospel taught that idolatry was a lie and of no value either in time or eternity and this was Demetrius' greatest fear. 

Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute - "to come into refutation or exposure." (Vincent) Demetrius rightly realized that the Gospel truth jeopardized their professions to the point that they would lose the esteem of the people and their reputations would begin to decline, and in turn their business would be seriously criticized. They felt it in their pocket book!

There is danger (present tense)(2793)(kinduneuo from kindunos = danger from kineo = to move, put in motion) means to be in peril, to face danger or to run a risk (Lk 8:23). In the present context their profits at risk and in jeopardy. Later, because of the uproar the mob was in danger of being accused of a riot! (Acts 19:40+).

MacArthur comments - How typical of a depraved mind to focus on crass materialism when eternal souls are at stake! The Lord Jesus Christ exposed the folly of that type of thinking when He asked, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul" (Mark 8:36-37)? Hell will be filled with people who, like Judas, loved money more than God. (Ibid)

Disrepute (557)(apelegmos from apo = from, intensifier + elegcho = to reprove, refute) means a state of disgrace, discredit, censure, reproach, repudiation (of something shown worthless) and hence even contempt. Louw-Nida - "and strong criticism based upon presumed evidence." BDAG says it speaks of "criticism relating to questionable conduct." 

Demetrius now shifts from appealing to their pocket book to their "hymn book" (so to speak). In other words, he appeals their sense of religious devotion to Artemis and the danger of her reputation being sullied! 

MacArthur Ephesus would suffer. The temple of Artemis was famous throughout the Roman world, and it had been built with gifts from many rulers. Anything that tarnished Artemis's reputation would lower Ephesus's status, hinder civic pride, and disastrously cripple the city's economy. Loyalty to Ephesus demanded that the craftsmen oppose the new religion that threatened to undermine the city's claim to fame and source of revenue. (Ibid)

But also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis  - Artemis was called "The Great" and one inscription found in the ruins of Ephesus called her the "greatest god." Utter rubbish! When men turn from God, they will turn to almost anything!  Demetrius is appealing to the potential loss of income because of the loss of influence of Artemis (regarded as worthless). 

Robertson adds a racy note - "The priests were eunuchs and there were virgin priestesses and a lower order of slaves known as temple-sweepers (neōkoroi, Acts 19:35). They had wild orgiastic exercises that were disgraceful with their Corybantic processions and revelries." Corbantic means affected with or marked by frenzy or mania uncontrolled by reason. Corybantes was a Latin name of the priests of Cybele, a Phrygian goddess of nature, who performed wild dances! 

Be regarded as worthless - Literally "reckoned as nothing!" Worthless is the adjective from ou which means not and heis which means one, to the idea is not even one and here in the neuter means "nothing" or "not a thing." In other words that idolatry would be seen as nothing! 

Temple (2413)(hieros) conveys the basic idea of what belongs to divinity, and was the word that referred to the Temple in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46) and to pagan temples. 

Heiros in Acts -

Acts 2:46; Acts 3:1; Acts 3:2; Acts 3:3; Acts 3:8; Acts 3:10; Acts 4:1; Acts 5:20; Acts 5:21; Acts 5:24; Acts 5:25; Acts 5:42; Acts 19:27; Acts 21:26; Acts 21:27; Acts 21:28; Acts 21:29; Acts 21:30; Acts 22:17; Acts 24:6; Acts 24:12; Acts 24:18; Acts 25:8; Acts 26:21;

Henry Morris on Artemis - Diana (same as Artemis) was not only the goddess of hunting, but was considered--at least in Asia and in many other places around the Graeco/Roman world--to be the mother goddess of all nature, much like Gaia, the goddess currently being widely promoted as Mother Earth in the New-Age movement.

Indeed many neopagans worship Gaia today, so the worship of "Artemis" (under a different name) is as they say "alive and well" in our modern paganized culture! 

Goddess (2299)(thea) is the feminine form of the masculine theos. It is widely used in classical Greek but not in the Septuagint. In the New Testament it appears only in Acts 19:27,37 in reference to the goddess Diana/Artemis of Ephesus. BDAG - "a (ED: SUPPOSED) transcendent being conceived of as female and ordinarily understood as tutelary or source of special benefits to her devotees and therefore worthy of highest admiration and respect."

Regarded (3049)(logizomai from lógos = reason, word, account) means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, and describes a process of careful study or reasoning which results in the arriving at a conclusion. Logizomai was a term frequently used in the business community of Paul's day and meant to impute (put to one's account) or credit to one's account. The accounts of these idol makers were soon to be reckoned as "in the red

And that she whom all of Asia and the world worship - The NET Note adds that "It is important to appreciate that money alone was not the issue, even for the pagan Ephesians. The issue was ultimately the dishonor of their goddess to whom they were devoted in worship. The battle was a "cosmic" one between deities." 

Robertson on all...the worldAn 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!

Utley - There are numerous passages in Greek literature of the first century that mention Artemis of the Ephesians. Apparently there were thirty-nine separate cities of the Mediterranean world which were involved in the fertility worship of this mother goddess.

Will even be dethroned from her magnificence - "Suffer the loss of her greatness (magnificence)" Louw-Nida has "and to have her greatness done away with."

Dethroned (2507)(kathaireo from kata = down + haireo = to take for oneself) means to take down, tear down or destroy. In classical Greek it refers to objects, buildings, persons (to kill), and nations. The Septuagint uses it in reference to the taking down of altars, walls, vessels, idols, pagan temples, and the dismantling of tents. It is fascinating that this same word for "taking down" the reputation and significance is used in the NT in 4/9 uses to describe taking the body of Christ down from the Cross! (Mark 15:36,46; Luke 23:53; Acts 13:29). In 2 Cor 10:5 it is used by Paul to describe "destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." That is not a bad application to Artemis which is nothing but vain speculation and demonically inspired men's thoughts raised up against the knowledge of God. The Gospel Paul proclaimed had the power to dethrone the idolatry and debauchery associated with Artemis.

Magnificence (3168)(megaleiotetos from megaleios = magnificent, mighty, great from megas = great) refers to the quality or state of being foremost in esteem, grandeur, splendor, sublimity, majesty. It defines the quality or state of being foremost in esteem, grandeur, sublimity, majesty. Three uses in NT two of God - Lk. 9:43; Acts 19:27; 2 Pet. 1:16

Vincent - Diana Or Artemis. We must distinguish between the Greek Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana, and the Ephesian goddess. The former, according to the legend, was the daughter of Zeus (Jove), and the sister of Apollo. She was the patroness of the chase, the huntress among the immortals, represented with bow, quiver, and spear, clad in hunting-habit, and attended by dogs and stags. She was both a destroyer and a preserver, sending forth her arrows of death, especially against women, but also acting as a healer, and as the special protectress of women in childbirth. She was also the goddess of the moon. She was a maiden divinity, whose ministers were vowed to chastity. The Ephesian Artemis is totally distinct from the Greek, partaking of the Asiatic character, and of the attributes of the Lydian Cybele, the great mother of the gods. Her worship near Ephesus appears to have existed among the native Asiatic population before the foundation of the city, and to have been adopted by the Greek immigrants, who gradually transferred to her features peculiar to the Grecian goddess. She was the personification of the fructifying and nourishing powers of nature, and her image, as represented on current coins of the time, is that of a swathed figure, covered with breasts, and holding in one hand a trident, and in the other a club. This uncouth figure, clad in a robe covered with mystic devices, stood in the shrine of the great temple, hidden by a purple curtain, and was believed to have fallen down from heaven (ver. 35). In her worship the oriental influence was predominant. The priests were eunuchs, and with them was associated a body of virgin priestesses and a number of slaves, the lowest of whom were known as neocori, or temple-sweepers (ver. 35). "Many a time must Paul have heard from the Jewish quarter the piercing shrillness of their flutes, and the harsh jangling of their timbrels; many a time have caught glimpses of their detestable dances and Corybantic processions, as, with streaming hair, and wild cries, and shaken torches of pine, they strove to madden the multitudes into sympathy with that orgiastic worship which was but too closely connected with the vilest debaucheries" (Farrar, "Life and Work of Paul").

Acts 19:28 And when they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

KJV Acts 19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.


And when they heard this and were filled with rage - Remember that what fills a person will exert control over that person, in this case resulting in a violent mob reaction. How much better to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18+) and experience the fruit of His peace! "Like the Chaldeans of Jeremiah's day, they were "mad over fearsome idols" (Jer. 50:38). (MacArthur)  As an aside anger is a not uncommon reaction by the lost world to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so don't be surprised when you experience it (of course not likely to be of this magnitude). 

The reaction of these pagans is similar to that of the Jews to Stephen's sermon "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him." (Acts 7:54+).

THOUGHT - Satan is able to use Jew or Gentile to accomplish his evil work in opposition to the Gospel. The message for all disciples of Jesus who are actively sharing the Gospel is to "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Pe 5:8+)

Filled with (abounding) (4134)(pleres from pleos = full, pletho = to fill) means filled up as opposed to empty (as of a hollow vessel - Mt 14:20, 15:37, Mk 6:43). Of a surface, covering every part (leprosy in Lk 5:12). Figuratively, of one full of, filled with, abounding in, thoroughly endowed with (Lk 4:1 full of the Holy Spirit, Acts 9:36 abounding in deeds, Stephen full of grace and power Acts 6:8) Pleres is repeatedly associated with the Holy Spirit - Lk 4:1, Acts 6:3, 5, 7:55, 11:24. Clearly the state of being filled with the Spirit was of great import in the life of Jesus and the lives of the disciples in the Book of Acts. When pleres is used in this figurative sense, it conveys something more than simply "filling up to the brim" so to speak. It also conveys the truth that what fills a person, controls the person.

Luke's uses of Pleres

Matt. 14:20; Matt. 15:37; Mk. 4:28; Mk. 8:19; Lk. 4:1; Lk. 5:12; Jn. 1:14; Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5; Acts 6:8; Acts 7:55; Acts 9:36; Acts 11:24; Acts 13:10; Acts 19:28; 2 Jn. 1:8

Pleres is used in Acts 7:55 of Stephen's response to the infuriated Jewish crowd -

"But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

Rage (wrath, indignation) (2372)(thumos from thúo = move impetuously, particularly as the air or wind, a violent motion or passion of the mind; move violently, rush along) describes passion(as if breathing hard) and so speaks of an agitated or "heated" anger that rushes along (impulse toward a thing). Thumos describes a tumultuous welling up of the whole spirit; a mighty emotion which seizes and moves the whole inner man -- can't you just picture the crowd being roused up by the words of Demetrius!  Thumos (especially when accompanied by breathing violently or hard) pictures a "panting rage" probably also a good depiction of these Ephesian businessmen!. We've all seen individuals in whom there was a sudden outburst of this type of passionate anger. You can even see their nasal passages widening to take in more air in the heat of their passion.

Jack Arnold - You can see them now waving their placards and crying, “One, two, three, four; we want Artemis and nothing more!”  This fanatical crowd had a choice: silver or salvation; gold or God; man's business or God's business; Artemis or Christ.  They let their emotions rule their heads and they bowed to a stone idol rather than the Lord Jesus Christ. (Sermon)

They began crying out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" - Crying out is in the imperfect tense picturing this crowd as shouting over and over, again and again. One can imagine this raucous scene! In a touch of irony Vincent adds that this same "reiteration was a characteristic of the oriental orgiastic rites."

McGee suggests that "They went around the city with their placards shouting, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians.""  Recall that the goddess was often called simply "The Great!" 

It’s amazing to me to watch WWII films where thousands upon thousands of Germans would chant together and raise their hands together and chant ‘Heil Hitler.”

Crying out (2896)(krazo) refers to a loud cry or vociferation, expressing deep emotion. Krazo is one of those onomatopoeic words, the very pronunciation of which imitates the hoarse cry of the raven. (listen to the raven's cry out).

Guzik -  It has often happened in the history of Christianity that when God moves among His people and they become very serious about their Christianity, that it affects the livelihood of those who trade in vice or immorality. For example, in the early years of the Salvation Army, they were so effective that pimps and bar owner organized a “Skeleton Army” to oppose them with threats and violence—and even a few Salvation Army workers were murdered.

Acts 19:29 The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia.

KJV Acts 19:29  And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

Remains of the Amphitheater at Ephesus


A good word picture of this scene is our English word pandemonium is defined as a wild uproar because of anger or excitement in a crowd of people. Now catch this - what is even more fascinating is to study the derivation of the word pandemonium PAN- + Late Latin daemonium "evil spirit," borrowed from Greek daimonion "evil spirit," earlier "divine power, inferior divine being," derivative of daímōn "divinity, divine power, individual destiny" (with -ium probably to be read as Latin -ium or Greek -ion, suffixes of place). Surely that is apropos to this satanically inspired spectacle! He would do anything to stamp out the Gospel progress and the main proclaimer Paul! Spiritual warfare is real and is really dangerous, so be sure to put on the full armor of God every day! (Eph 6:10-17+). 

The city was filled with the confusion - This logically follows for in Acts 19:28 the people was filled with rage and rage virtually always gives way to confusion. Luke now describes how the "venom" from Demetrius had spread throughout the city, causing in effect a mob scene. 

Constable points out that "A major boulevard, the Arcadian Way, ran from the harbor to the theater, and it was probably this artery that the ringleaders used to collect citizens on their march to the theater." (See excellent picture of Arcadian way leading to Amphitheater)

Confusion (4799)(sugchusis/synchysis from sun = together + cheo = to pour) literally describes that which is poured together. It is a noun that speaks of a tumult as one sees with a disorderly mob reaction. This word emphasizes the riotous, uncertain, confusion of the crowd. Luke uses the related verb in Acts 19:32 ("the assembly was in confusion"). It was a city in an uproar with confusion, disorder, and anger that accompanied the mob scene.

And they rushed with one accord into the theater - The ruins of this large amphitheater (see note) still remain today and it is estimated it could hold from 25-50,000 people. With a touch of irony Luke uses homothumadon (see below), the great word he uses to describe the unity and fellowship of believers (Acts 1:14; 2:1, 46; 4:24; 5:12; 8:6; 15:25) but now describes the unity of these evil men. They have one mind and one goal in mind and that is to preserve the reputation of Artemis and destroy the Christians. Does this not sound just like Satan who comes to "steal, kill and destroy" (Jn 10:10)?

Rushed (3729)(hormao from horme = violent impulse from ornumi = to excite, arouse) means to set out, to rush headlong, violently, impetuously. It describes a "swift and violent forward motion uncontrolled by reason." (Friberg) It is so fitting that in Acts 7:57 hormao described a herd of Sanhedrin controlled by their rage rushing at Stephen, this same verb was used to describe a herd of swine controlled by evil spirits rushing to their death! There is not much difference between these two pictures and these raging Ephesians who rushed into the theater! In a word, all three groups of rushers were controlled by evil spirits and had destruction on their mind! One can smell the scent of Satan in all three situations! 

Robertson adds hormaō is an "old verb for impetuous dashing, a case of mob psychology (mob mind), with one accord (homothumadon as in Acts 1:14, etc.)."

With one accord (3661)(homothumadon from a combination of homos = same + thumos = temperament or mind - cf thumos used in Acts 19:28 for rage!) means with one mind, unity of mind, with one purpose, with unanimous consent, of one accord. In a word it means together. One lexicon says homothumadon means "to be of one soul." Homothumadon is found 11x (only once outside Acts - Ro 15:6) and is used both in a positive sense (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46; Acts 4:24; Acts 5:12; Acts 8:6; Acts 15:25 = a "key word" in Acts and helping to explain the power of the early church as a unified organism!) and a negative sense (Acts 7:57 Acts 12:20 Acts 18:12 Acts 19:29). 

Theater (2302)(theatron from theaomai = to behold) described the theater or amphitheater, as a place for public spectacles and assemblies, originally for dramatic presentations, then for spectators, including gladiatorial shows. In 1 Cor 4:9 theatron is used as metonymy, of what is enacted in the theater and thus a spectacle or show (an unusual object or event which is observed).

Zodhiates a place where drama and other public spectacles were exhibited and where the people convened to hear debates or hold public consultations." (Ibid)

BDAG - (1) a place for public assemblies (Acts 19:29, 31) (2) what one sees at a theater (1 Cor 4:9)

Gilbrant In classical Greek the noun theatron is used to describe “a place for seeing,” especially for seeing drama. It is derived from the verb theaomai (2277), “to gaze at, behold, see clearly.” Though the word is found as early as Herodotus (Fifth Century B.C.), it never appears in the Septuagint. The primary meaning is “a place for the performance of dramatic representations,” transliterated into English as “theater.” The secondary meaning is “what is seen at the theater,” hence, “a play, spectacle” (cf. Moulton-Milligan). (Ibid)

Liddell-Scott -  a place for seeing, esp. a theatre, Hdt., Thuc., etc. 2. collective for the people in the theatre, the spectators, 'the house,' Hdt., Ar. 3. a show, spectacle,

Theatron - 3x - spectacle(1), theater(2). Acts 19:29; Acts 19:31; 1 Co. 4:9

Alexander Maclaren wrote, “What they meant to do with the two, they had probably not asked themselves. A mob has no plans, and its most savage acts are unpremeditated. Passion let loose is almost sure to end in bloodshed, and the lives of Gaius and Aristarchus hung by a thread.”

Dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus - They snatched them from what they were doing they forced them to go with them. In Acts 20:4+ we read that Paul "was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians (cf Acts 27:2, Col 4:10-11, Php 2:4), and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia." 

Dragging (4884)(sunarpazo from sun = with ~ intensifies meaning + harpazo = to seize, rapture) means to seize (suddenly and violently), to grasp with great violence. Stronger than harpaz by itself! Of a mob seizing Stephen to drag him away (Acts 6.12); of demon activity seize (Lk 8.29); passive, of a ship in a storm be caught, be forced off course by the wind and swept on (Acts 27.15)

Sunarpazo - 4x - Lk. 8:29; Acts 6:12; Acts 19:29; Acts 27:15

MacArthur Aristarchus was a beloved companion of Paul, who would accompany him on his ill-fated voyage to Rome (Acts 27:2) and share his imprisonment in that city (Col. 4:10). He was a Jewish believer, since Paul describes him, along with "Barnabas' cousin Mark" and "Jesus who is called Justus," as "fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision" (Col. 4:10-11). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Acts)

Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia -  The Greek word is sunekdemos (sun = together + ekdemos = one who is absent, i.e., a traveler) is used only here and in 2 Cor 8:19 and described Paul's fellow travelers in foreign countries. Gaius and Aristarchus were men who were so to speak "away from home on a journey with" Paul. (Louw-Nida)

Brian Harbour wrote, “When God’s people get serious, vested interests are often threatened. Those who do not want to rock the boat are shaken. Those who are hanging on to the past are disturbed. Serious commitment to Christ does not remove problems. Sometimes, as it did for the Christians at Ephesus, it increases the problems.”

David Jeremiah wrote, “I’ve almost concluded that if you are not getting opposition in your work for God, then you may be doing something wrong! Whenever the world stops criticizing or opposing the church, we know we are no longer a threat and have stopped doing God’s work.”

Acts 19:30 And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him.

KJV Acts 19:30  And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.


Note God's clear providential protection as Paul was not seized as were his traveling companions. God had him safe and secure. 

And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly - Paul was bold, and wanted to confront the howling mob, but in this case probably not wise. And what do you think he really wanted to do before an amphitheater full of pagans? Preach the Word of course! 

Matthew Henry reminds us, “We may be called to lay down our lives, but not to throw away our lives.”

As Knowling says "St. Paul was not the man to leave his comrades in the lurch." He would have made a good marine the motto of which is "Leave no man behind!"  Paul was a strong-willed man, but on this occasion, he allowed other believers to influence some decisions (Acts 19:31).

McGee is probably correct - Paul would have been mobbed, of course. He would absolutely have been killed. He already had one experience like that over in the Galatian country when he was stoned in Lystra.

Assembly(1218)(demos) means people, populace, crowd, "the mass of the people assembled in a public place." BDAG says "in a Hellenistic city (demos described) a convocation of citizens called together for the purpose of transacting official business." 

MacArthur Although the apostle did not "consider [his] life of any account as dear to [himself]" (Acts 20:24), the other believers would not allow him to risk his life needlessly (cf. Acts 9:25, 30; 17:10, 14). (Ibid)

The disciples (mathetes) would not let him - Would not let is in imperfect picturing Paul as heading toward the theater and being held back again and again. Fortunately they restrained Paul. They did not want him confronting an angry, confused mob. 

Let (permit, let) (1439)(eao) means to allow someone to do something, to let or to permit (Mt 24:43; Lk 4:41 = "He would not allow them to speak", Acts 14:16; Acts 23:32; Acts 27:32, 28:2 1 Cor 10:13), Of leaving the anchors in the sea (Acts 27:40).

Acts 19:31 Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater.

KJV Acts 19:31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him - NET Note says "The desire of these sympathetic authorities was surely to protect Paul's life. The detail indicates how dangerous things had become." Were they believers? We cannot say for certain either way. 

Arnold - We should note that Paul made friends with unbelievers even though they never came to Christ.   The educated classes highly respected Paul even though they violently disagreed with him. (Sermon)

Robertson - 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).

Asiarchs (775)(asiarches from asia + archo = to rule) is literally a "chief of Asia." Thayer has a long note - an Asiarch, President of Asia: Acts 19:31. Each of the cities of proconsular Asia, at the autumnal equinox, assembled its most honorable and opulent citizens, in order to select one to preside over the games to be exhibited that year, at his expense, in honor of the gods and the Roman emperor. Thereupon each city reported the name of the person selected to a general assembly held in some leading city, as Ephesus, Smyrna, Sardis. This general council, called to, koinon, selected ten out of the number of candidates, and sent them to the proconsul; and the proconsul, apparently, chose one of these ten to preside over the rest. This explains how it is that in Acts, the passage cited several Asiarchs are spoken of, while Eusebius, mentions only one; (perhaps also the title outlasted the service)." 

Longenecker notes that Asiarchs :were members of the noblest and wealthiest families of the province of Asia and were bound together in a league for promoting the cult of the emperor and Rome... Every year an Asiarch was elected for the entire province, and additional Asiarchs were elected for each city that had a temple honoring the emperor. The title was probably borne for life by officers in the league; so in Paul's day there could have been a number of Asiarchs at Ephesus." (EBC)

Robertson adds this note on Asiarchs - 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.

Vincent on Asiarchs These were persons chosen from the province of Asia, on account of their influence and wealth, to preside at the public games and to defray their expenses.

Related Resources:

Constable Some of these men were friends of Paul. This shows again that the attitude of many leaders was friendly to Christianity at this time. Their attitude doubtless reflected what was appropriate in the empire. The Asiarchs too wanted to prevent Paul from injury. "A sect whose leader had Asiarchs for friends cannot be dangerous to the state." Notice that Paul had made friends with leading men of the city; he did not keep a low profile as he evangelized.

Friends (5384)(philos) means loved (loved one), dear, befriended, friendly, kind. Philos in this context means kindly disposed. Philos describes one having special interest in someone else. One who is on intimate terms or in close association with someone else 

As Christians there is a time to stand and fight, but there is also a time to stay put! There’s a time to speak up, stand up, but there is also a time to sit still!

And repeatedly urged (parakaleo) him - Repeatedly urged is in the imperfect tense showing that the messengers sent had to repeated insist as Paul repeatedly protested. Robertson notes that "It is not the first time that friends had rescued Paul from peril (Acts 9:25, 30; Acts 17:10, 14)."

Not to venture into the theater - Literally the Greek (didomi = give + heautou = himself) reads "not to give himself into the theater." It is interesting that Paul uses the same phrase  (didomi = give + heautou = himself) to describe Jesus Who gave Himself for our sins (Galatians 1:4; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14).

Jack AndrewsAccording to a report on a pastor and twenty worshipers were killed when gunmen suspected to be Islamic militants opened fire in two separate incidents targeting worship services in northern Nigeria Sunday, April 29, 2012. Christians are still persecuted! There are plenty who will oppose the message of salvation and the messenger! (Ibid)

Acts 19:32 So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together.

KJV Acts 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Phillips has a vivid comment - The universal chant soon degenerated into indiscriminate shouting. Some would be shouting for Artemis. Some would be shouting anti-Semitic slogans. Some would have picked up the name of Paul and would be cursing him vehemently. Some would be shouting down Christianity, which was by now a well-known and powerful force in the city. Soon the arena was filled with a yelling, disorderly mob, each person picking up a line or two of the prevailing, deafening din. (Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary)

Jack Andrews This mob didn’t have a clue as to why they were there and what they were going to do while they were there. They didn’t know what to shout! They were not on the same page! Max Lemer in his book “The Unfinished Country” wrote, “Every mob, in its ignorance and blindness and bewilderment, is a League of Frightened Men that seeks reassurance in collective action.” That is a pretty good definition of a mob and that’s exactly what was happening in Ephesus! These folks were divided in their proclamation. They cried out in confusion. (Jack Andrews Expository Studies – Understanding Acts - Volume 5)

So then, some were shouting one thing and some another Were shouting is in the imperfect tense picturing one after another crying out - quite a scene! This is a typical reaction of a mob that is out of control.

Shouting (2896)(krazo) refers to a loud cry or vociferation, expressing deep emotion. Krazo is one of those onomatopoeic words, the very pronunciation of which imitates the hoarse cry (or "croak") of the raven. (listen to the raven's cry out).

For the assembly was in confusion - Luke explains (for - gar) the reason for the shouting. Was in confusion is in the perfect tense describing this as its "fixed" state or condition. These were the citizens of the city that had been swept into the frenzy as the craftsmen plotted Paul’s downfall. 

Robertson notes that "It was not an "assembly" (ekklēsia, ek, kaleō, to call out), but a wholly irregular, disorganized mob in a state (perfect tense) of confusion. There was "a lawful assembly" (Acts 19:39), but this mob was not one. Luke shows his contempt for this mob (Furneaux).

Assembly (1577)(ekklesia from ek = out + klesis = a calling, verb = kaleo = to call) literally means called out (but see note by Louw-Nida below) and as commonly used in the Greco-Roman vernacular referred to citizens who were called out from their homes to be publicly assembled or gathered to discuss or carry out affairs of state.

Was in confusion (bewildered, confounding, stir)(4797) (sugcheo/sugchunno from sun = with, together + cheo = to pour) literally means to pour together "precisely like the Latin confundo, to confound" (Robertson), not a meaning found in the NT. Figuratively, it means to cause dismay, confound, be thrown into confusion, be amazed, be stirred up (Acts 2:6+). In the acts sense it means to stir up trouble. It is interesting that this verb is used to describe the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel so that men could not understand one another (Ge 11:7). It is interesting that in Acts 2 we see in a sense a "reversal" of what God did at Babel, Moses recording "its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth." (Ge 11:9) The mob in Ephesus is more like Babel!

Sugcheo - 5x - Acts 2:6; Acts 9:22; Acts 19:32; Acts 21:27; Acts 21:31

Craig KeenerGreek comedy frequently parodied people’s stupidity; Luke’s readers would laugh at the crowd not knowing the purpose of their rioting.”

And the majority did not know for what reason (on whose account) they had come together - One of the characteristics of many mobs is they are so swept up in the hysteria of the crowd that they don't have a clue what initiated the mob reaction.

Robertson adds that "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 (Acts 19:38). It was just a mob that shouted because others did.

Acts 19:33 Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly.

KJV Acts 19:33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.

Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward - They pushed Alexander to the front! We do not know if he was a believer or not. The Jews may have put him forward simply to avoid a generalized anti-semitic attack which would not have distinguished between believing and non-believing Jews. 

John Phillips has an interesting note on Alexander When Paul was in prison in Rome, awaiting his execution by Nero, he mentioned in his last letter a man named Alexander the coppersmith who "did me much evil" and whom he handed over to the Lord for judgment (2 Tim. 4:14). This Alexander was evidently a dangerous and eloquent foe of Christianity, and Paul warned Timothy to beware of him. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul also mentions an Alexander who had "made shipwreck" of the faith, whom he had found it necessary to hand over to Satan for judgment (1 Tim. 1:19-20). One wonders, of course, if those are not one and the same individual, the man who here was put forward by the Jews to speak for them to the mob.  (Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary)

Robertson 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 Tim. 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).

Constable The crowd's reaction to Alexander showed distinct hostility toward him. Apparently Alexander was a leading unbelieving Jew who wanted the crowd to understand that even though Paul was a Jew the local Jewish community did not approve of him (cf. Acts 18:12-17). However, like Gallio in Corinth, this crowd did not distinguish between Christianity and Judaism. Both faiths stood against idolatry.

Concluded (4822)(sumbibazo  from sun = together + bibazo = to make to go up) means to bring together, to make or cause to go or come together, to join together, and all of these meanings occur in both a literal and figurative sense. Figuratively in an intellectual sense, sumbibazo meant to mentally put together -- to draw a conclusion in the face of evidence, “to conclude in one’s mind by putting facts together," to give thought to something in order to reach a suitable conclusion, opinion, or decision (Acts 16:10+

Had put him forward  (4261)(proballo from pro = before, in front of + ballo = throw) literally means throw before and so to cause Alexander to come forward. Apparently some pushed him forward to speak in the theater. 

And having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly - Alexander was rapidly waving his hand up and down to get a hearing. Luke frequently mentions motioning with the hand (Acts 12:17; Acts 13:16; Acts 21:40), presumably to get the attention and in this case to cause the mob to stop shouting so they could hear. 

Intending (desiring, wishing) (2309)(thelo) primarily refers to exercising one's will with underlying sense of to desire, to want or to wish. Alexander apparently was willing to speak even though he had been pushed forward.

Make...defense (626)(apologeomai  from apo = from + logos = speech) literally means, “to talk one’s self off from" and thus to speak in one's own defense, defend oneself. BDAG - "to speak in one’s own defense against charges presumed to be false," Apologia was a technical word used in the Greek law courts and was used of an attorney who talked his client off from a charge preferred against him. In short it refers to a speech given in defense. Robertson adds the "Imperfect active, (signifies he) wanted to make a defence, tried to, started to, but apparently never got out a word."

NET Note - The nature of Alexander’s defense is not clear. It appears he was going to explain, as a Jew, that the problem was not caused by Jews, but by those of “the Way.” However, he never got a chance to speak.

Acts 19:34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

KJV Acts 19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.


But when - Term of contrast marking abrupt change in direction of the mob. 

Andrews The mob went from a congregation of confusion to a multitude with a mission. The mob became unified in their proclamation. (Ibid)

They recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all - Recall at this point in time a pagan crowd would see little distinction between Jews and Christians, for both were monotheistic and rejected idolatry.

John Phillips on Alexander - Evidently the Jews feared that the sentiments of the mob would soon degenerate into the old Gentile sport of Jew-baiting. Anti-Semitism was never far from the surface in the Gentile world, as the Jews knew only too well. Evidently this Alexander was a prominent member of the Jewish community and well known in the city. He seemed to think that by a wave of his hand he could gain the attention of the mob. He was mistaken. Word soon flashed around the arena that a Jew was trying to make himself heard. The response was instant and sustained. No detested Jew was going to speak to them. Again the original chant swelled until it could be heard all over the city: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!".(Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary)

Robertson 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.

Toussaint The reduction in Artemis' idol business was not their fault! However, anti-Semitism took over, the mob refused to listen to a Jew, and they chanted in frenzy for about two hours (BKC).

Williams writes that "The noise must have been deafening. The acoustics of the theater are excellent even today and at that time were even better because of bronze and clay sounding vessels placed throughout the auditorium.” 

As they shouted for about two hours, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians - They would not even let him speak as their voices drowned him out. One can imagine this raucous, unruly scene which went on for 2 hours!  "This slogan aroused their pride, fed their egos, ministered to their emotions and covered up their guilt." (Arnold)

Guzik writes -   Think of how this echoes to our own time, and see the strangeness of our world. People say today, in words, actions, time or dollars spent:   “Great is my sports team!” “Great is my political party!”   “Great is the consumer economy!”  “Great is internet porn!”  “Great is material wealth!”  “Great is getting drunk or getting high!” And yet if one says, “Great is the Lord Jesus Christ”—they are regarded by many as strange. For all the supposed greatness of Diana of the Ephesians, no one worships her today (at least directly). Yet there are millions and millions today who live for and worship Jesus Christ, and who would willingly die for Him. Idols and false gods all have expiration dates—Jesus of Nazareth lives forever.

NET Note - The extent of the tumult shows the racial and social tensions of a cosmopolitan city like Ephesus, indicating what the Christians in such locations had to face.

Jack Arnold - While we must deplore their idolatry, we cannot help but be impressed with their dedication and devotion to Artemis.  Their enthusiasm strikes us.  Their zeal cannot be denied.  While they were motivated by pride, selfishness and hatred, their zeal for a false god was truly amazing.  What about our zeal for the true God, Christians?  Do we have as much commitment to the true God as they had to a false god?  Of course, we are not asked to meet in mass meetings and shout slogans, but are we willing to move among men and cry out, “Great is Jehovah!  Praise to His Son, Jesus Christ!”  Are we as committed to Jesus Christ as others are to their false gods? Men can become very dedicated to false religion because all false religion is motivated by the Devil.  Men can have great religious zeal and still be infinitely separated from the true God as He is manifested in Christ. Recently we have seen the kind of devotion fanatical, cultic worshippers can give one man.  Nine hundred persons of the People's Temple in Guyana are dead, half voluntarily committed suicide, in order to be a faithful follower of a demon possessed man, the Rev. Jim Jones.  Men can be sincerely devoted to a religious cause and be sincerely wrong. (Sermon)

Acts 19:35 After quieting the crowd, the town clerk said, "Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from heaven?

KJV Acts 19:35  And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?


After quieting the crowd, the town clerk said - Note how when this city "CEO" appeared, the crowd quieted down to listen! He was the chief city officer, like our modern day mayors and were the locally elected executive official most responsible for what took place in the city. And he realized that the Roman authorities would hold him culpable for any riot that might break out! 

Quieting (2687)(katastello from kata = down + stello = repress) means to restore order, restrain, bring under control, quell, assuage, pacify. Louw-Nida - to bring something under the firm control of someone. The usages of this word indicate that the one calming others is one of authority.

McGeeThe town clerk was, of course, a local official who told them that they were making too much out of this whole thing. He says, "Look at this great temple and at the great Diana. Nothing could happen to them. Nothing could be said against them!" Now, of course, they have been in ruins for nearly two thousand years.

Town clerk (1122)(grammateus  from grapho = to write) in this context describes the chief executive officer of a governmental entity such as a town official secretary, town clerk. As used most commonly in the NT it described one skilled in Jewish law and theology, hence scribe, expert, scholar (Mt 2.4).

Robertson on town clerkEphesus 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 stratēgoi, 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.

Constable - He stated there was no danger whatsoever that people would conclude that Artemis was a goddess made with hands since everyone knew the image of her in her famous temple had fallen from heaven. "Do nothing rash" is still good advice. The town clerk was not a Christian, but he was a wise and diplomatic man.

Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis - The town clerk was reminding the citizens of Ephesus, that they (the city) were in effect the caretakers and preservers of the temple in the goddess’ honor. Inscriptions. There are coins dating back into the First Century A.D. which confirm, in language almost identical to Luke’s, Ephesus’ proud claim to be the neōkoros of Diana (Artemis).

Guardian of the temple (3511)(neokoros from neos - Attic of naos or temple + koreo = to sweep clean) literally means literally a temple sweeper and then temple keeper and is used only here in the NT. It was an official of a temple who also had charge of the decorations. In additions the title of "Guardian of the temple" or "temple keeper" was an honor which the Roman government bestowed on selected cities that possessed temples of the imperial cult (See Imperial cult of ancient Rome)

Vine on neokoros Coin inscriptions show that it was an honorary title given to certain cities, especially in Asia Minor, where the cult of some god or of a deified human potentate had been established, here to Ephesus in respect of the godde ss Artemis. Apparently the imperial cult also existed at Ephesus. Josephus applies the word to Jews as worshipers, but this is not the meaning in Acts 19.

Gilbrant The noun neōkoros can be found in classical Greek literature from the Fourth Century B.C. to describe lowly laborers or slaves whose responsibility it was to keep pagan temples swept and clean, hence a “temple sweeper.” The word also assumed a more positive position of “temple keeper,” one who was put in charge of the regular operation and maintenance of a temple. In literature from the First Century A.D. the word had been appropriated by some cities, especially in Asia Minor, as a proud title affirming that they had established and were maintaining temples to their patron gods or goddesses, or to the emperor (cf. Liddell-Scott). Thus, they had become temple “guardians” or “wardens.” (Ibid)

And of the image which fell down from heaven - Presumably this refers to a meteorite but we cannot be more specific. Whatever it was this statement says that to the Ephesians this was a work of deity and had divine implications. Thus they justified their pagan worship of an idol. This indicates they had some sense of the fact that there is a God in Heaven even though their understanding was warped and perverted because they had chosen willfully to suppress the truth about God so that they might justify (in their foolish darkened hearts) their unrighteous behavior (Ro 1:18-21+). 

John Polhill notes that "Meteorites were often associated with the worship of the Mother Goddess [Artemis]. The most famous of these was the sacred stone taken from Pessinus to Rome in 204 b.c. A meteorite also seems to have been associated with the cult of the Taurian Artemis. Although there is no evidence beyond this text for such a sacred stone being connected with the Ephesian cult, it is altogether likely that one existed, given this common association of the mother goddess with a "stone from heaven." (NAC)

Jack Andrews has a pithy remark - They were staking their eternal well-being on a rock that fell from the heavens! Christians stake their eternal well-being on the Rock that came from Heaven!

NET Note - The expression fell from heaven adds a note of apologetic about the heavenly origin of the goddess. The city’s identity and well-being was wrapped up with this connection, in their view. Many interpreters view her image that fell from heaven as a stone meteorite regarded as a sacred object.

Pierson - “This chapter teaches us all a permanent lesson: that when disciples have a true revival, society gets a revolution. When the Spirit moves mightily upon children of God we may look for other mighty movements among unbelievers, and need not be surprised if the devil himself comes down, having great wrath, as though he knew that his time were short.”

Fell down from heaven (1356)(diopetes from Dios = chief god of Greeks - Jupiter = Zeus the "sky god" + pipto = to fall) means "fallen from Zeus," (or 'the sky') or an image that fell from the statue of Jupiter. BDAG writes that "meteorites viewed as heaven-sent cult objects."

Acts 19:36 "So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash.

KJV Acts 19:36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.


So, since these are undeniable facts  - What are these...facts? The greatness of Artemis was secure. 

Undeniable (368)(anantirretos from a = without + anti = against + ereo = to speak) means not to be spoken against or contradicted and hence indisputable. 

You ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash - It is needful to keep quiet. 

Keep calm (2687)see katastello

Rash (reckless)(4312)(propetes from propípto = fall forward in turn from pró = forward + pípto = fall) is literally falling forward or headlong. It was used to describe one slipping down in bed. Figuratively as used here, it gives a vivid picture of pagan Ephesians marked by or proceeding from undue haste or lack of deliberation or caution. They plunge ahead without forethought in their impetuous deeds. 

MacArthur Nothing the Christian preachers could do, he insisted, could possibly affect their great goddess; Artemis's power was undeniable, and her reputation secure. Although the man was sincere, he was tragically mistaken. Today, no one worships Artemis, yet millions worship the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ibid)

Acts 19:37  "For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess.

KJV Acts 19:37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.


To vindicate means to free from allegation or blame and implies a complete clearance from the accusations or charges and from any attendant suspicion of blame or guilt. From vindicare, meaning "to set free, avenge, or lay claim to."

For (gar) is a term of explanation explaining why the mob should stay calm. 

Jack Arnold makes a good point - Paul and the Christians had not stolen from the temple nor were they sacriligious in any way. This verse tells us something about apostolic preaching.  It was not preaching based on the negative.  Paul preached Christ in a positive way and only pointed out the evils of idolatry to make a contrast.  Paul opposed idolatry, reasoned against it and endeavored to turn people from it, but his presentation was not harsh, critical or reproachful.  Paul did not entitle his first message in Ephesus “Seven Wrong Things About Artemis.”  No, he preached Christ, “Solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).  He encouraged men to turn first to God and then from idols, “. . . and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (I Thess. 1:9).  Christians gain nothing by a negative approach with bitter and reviling words.  We must preach Christ.  When men meet Him, they will turn from idols. (Sermon)

You have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples  - A good testimony from a pagan as to the character of the believers! 

Constable Gaius and Aristarchus had done nothing worthy of punishment. They had neither physically damaged anything nor had they spoken against Artemis. Robbing temples and blaspheming other gods were common accusations that Gentiles made against Jews, including Jewish Christians, in antiquity.

Nor blasphemers of our goddess - The town clerk adds that the believers did not slander or defame Artemis. 

NET Note - There was no formal crime with which Paul could be charged. He had the right to his religion as long as he did not act physically against the temple. Since no overt act had taken place, the official wanted the community to maintain the status quo on these religious matters. The remarks suggest Paul was innocent of any civil crime.

Acts 19:38  "So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; let them bring charges against one another.

KJV Acts 19:38  Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.


So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man - Complaint is logos, a "word" against them.

The courts are in session - "if Demetrius and his workers have an accusation against someone, the courts are open." 

And proconsuls are available - As noted below the proconsuls were the provincial governors. Wikipedia adds "A proconsul was an official of ancient Rome who acted on behalf of a consul. A proconsul was typically a former consul. The term is also used in recent history for officials with delegated authority." 

Proconsuls (KJV = "deputy")(5119)(anthupatos from anti = instead of + hupatos = highest, supreme, consul) literally means instead of a consul. A proconsul was a governor of a senatorial province in the Roman Empire. The Greeks used to word consul because after the expulsion of the kings, the consuls had the supreme or highest authority in the Roman government. "A proconsul, a person sent as governor into a Roman province with consular power which was very intensive. Augustus, at the beginning of his reign, divided the provinces into two parts; one of which he gave wholly over to the people, and the other which he reserved for himself. After this, the governors who were sent into the first division bore the name of proconsuls though they were denied the whole military power, and so fell short of the old proconsuls." (Complete Word Study Dictionary)

Let them bring charges against one another (1458)(egkaleo from en = in + kaleo = ) means to call in as one would a debt or demand, to bring to account, to accuse. Egkaleo in classic Greek was legal technical term meaning “to bring charges against, prosecute.”

Egkaleo - 7x - accused(4), accusing(1), bring a charge(1), bring charges against(1).

Acts 19:38; Acts 19:40; Acts 23:28; Acts 23:29; Acts 26:2; Acts 26:7; Rom. 8:33

Egkaleo in the Septuagint - Ex. 22:9; Pr. 19:5; Zech. 1:4

Acts 19:39  But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly.

KJV Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.


But if you want anything beyond this - "Anything more than this."

It shall be settled in the lawful assembly - "In a legal meeting of citizens." Refers to a legal meeting of the citizens, which normally took place three times each month.

John PhillipsA mob, after all, is a fickle monster. Its passions are easily aroused and can be dangerous in the extreme. It can be made to chant and shout, but it can just as easily be made to fear. At heart, a mob is a coward. Certainly Demetrius had no more desire to draw attention to himself. Probably the more thoughtful ones in that assembly were already slinking away, hoping that their presence and participation in the riot might not be remembered or even noticed by the officials. (Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary)

Constable the mayor reminded the citizens that if the provincial authorities concluded that there was no good reason for their rioting they could impose penalties on the city.

Acts 19:40 "For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today's events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering."

KJV Acts 19:40  For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.


The were in danger of being accused by the Romans of causing an insurrection - an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government. 

For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today's events - They were running a risk with this unruly gathering, treading on thin ice as the saying goes! Clearly local Roman leaders feared insurrections. This would threaten Roman rule and invite Roman retaliation on the city, which was not a good thing!   The Romans put  people to death who engaged in riots against the state.

Are in danger (present tense)(2793)(kinduneuo from kindunos = danger from kineo = to move, put in motion) means they were in peril, facing danger or running the risk a risk of the disciplining wrath of Rome. Luke had used this same verb earlier Acts 19:27 where Demetrius reasoned "Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.” How ironic! How interesting and just like our sovereign God to turn the tables - in v27 it was Paul who was in potential danger and now it is the pagans who are potential danger! And it is notable that Paul was never found guilty by any Roman official, neither here or later.

Being accused (1458) see egkaleo

Riot (4714) (stasis from histemi = to stand) means first a stance or posture (Heb 9:8), then figuratively sedition, an insurrection or an uprising, the very accusation made against Paul (Acts 24:5).

Since there is no real cause for it  - As he as just stated in v37 that Gaius and Aristarchus were "neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess."

And in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering - "since there is no cause concerning which we can give account concerning this disorderly gathering." NLT - "And if Rome demands an explanation, we won't know what to say."

MacArthur If the Romans investigated the disturbance, the Ephesians would be unable to defend their actions. That could result in the loss of the privileges the Romans had granted them. His arguments were persuasive

I Howard Marshall - The clerk’s final words betray his fear that the holding of an extraordinary meeting of the assembly which had turned into a near-riot might have serious repercussions. Sherwin-White (pp. 83-85) cites interesting evidence from this period which shows that the Romans were anxious to get rid of these democratic assemblies; the town clerk of Prusa addressed his assembly in remarkably similar terms, warning his hearers about the drastic consequences of reports of unruly gatherings reaching the proconsul. (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Acts)

Disorderly gathering (4963)(sustrophe from sun = together + strepho = to turn) described a turning or spinning together, as in a whirlwind, hence a "twisting together" of a dense mass of people. Then a disorderly gathering for a negative purpose.  A riotous gathering together, a public tumult

Gilbrant The word sustrophē is composed of two terms, sun (4713), “with,” and trophē (5001), “to turn.” It is used throughout classical Greek writings with both literal and metaphoric meanings. Literally, it refers to things that are twisted together, for example, yarn, chalkstones, nerves and sinews, twisted grain in wood, etc. The term is used likewise by classical writers in reference to a flock of birds, and even to the twisting together of a knot (Liddell-Scott). Metaphorically, it is used to denote communication between men in the form of a conspiracy or coalition, or a disorderly gathering such as a riot, as noted in the writings of Herodotus and Polybius (Bauer). The Septuagint uses the term with the same diversity as classical Greek. Judges 14:8 uses the term in reference to Samson’s “swarm of bees” and the honey in the carcass. In this sense the “gathering” is of physical objects. In 2 Kings 15:15 sustrophē is used of the “conspiracy” of Shallum when he overthrew the evil king Zachariah. Similarly it is used in David’s prayer to God against those who would bring an “insurrection” against him (Psalm 64:2), and in Amaziah’s accusation of “conspiracy” against Jeroboam (Amos 7:10). In Hosea sustrophē is used twice. The first appearance is in 4:19 where it denotes the whirlwind (cf. the “spirit of whoredom” in 4:12), spoken of earlier, that will consume them (Wolff, Hermeneia, Hosea, p.92). In Hosea 13:12 Israel’s sin is “bound up”; i.e., in keeping with the legal tone of the passage, their guilt remains as though laid away in a nonreversible legal record (ibid., p.228)..

Acts 19:41 After saying this he dismissed the assembly.

KJV Acts 19:41  And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.


After saying this he dismissed the assembly - It reminds me of when I was in school "Class dismissed!" In this case mob dismissed. 

Jack Arnold - The town clerk dismissed the assembly but God was behind this move in order to protect Paul and the other Christians in Ephesus.  God has His own way of putting down opposition to Christianity.

Warren Wiersbe sums up the scene - Ephesus is gone, and so is the worldwide worship of Diana of the Ephesians. The city and the temple are gone, and the silversmiths' guild is gone. Ephesus is a place visited primarily by archaeologists and people on Holy Land tours. Yet the Gospel of God's grace and the church of Jesus Christ are still here! We have four inspired letters that were sent to the saints in Ephesus—Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Revelation 2:1-7. The name of Paul is honored, but the name of Demetrius is forgotten. (Bible Exposition Commentary)

MacArthur notes that apparently when the town clerk dismissed the assembly "they went quietly. As far as is known, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen did not pursue the matter any further. The Ephesian believers weathered the storm of persecution unleashed by Demetrius's speech and the resulting riot. Indeed, the church at Ephesus would play a prominent role in church history for several centuries. So again in Acts, God caused the wrath of men to praise Him (Ps. 76:10)."

Dismissed (630)(apoluo from apó = marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former association, separation + luo = loose) is used often of sending a person or a group away from someone. It is interesting that this word was a legal technical term for dismissing an accused party as innocent, which in a manner of speaking is what the town clerk did to the raucous crowd! 

Assembly (1577)(ekklesia  from ek = out + klesis = a calling, verb = kaleo = to call) literally means called out (but see note by Louw-Nida below) and as commonly used in the Greco-Roman vernacular referred to citizens who were called out from their homes to be publicly assembled or gathered to discuss or carry out affairs of state.

Stanley Toussaint says that "While Paul was at Ephesus, he wrote 1 Corinthians as well as an earlier letter to the Corinthians that is not part of the biblical canon (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9). In addition he made a third visit to Corinth which is unrecorded in Acts (cf. 2 Cor. 12:14; 13:1) (BKC)

Steven ColePeople oppose the gospel because Satan has blinded them and the gospel confronts their sin; but God rules over all. When the church effectively spreads the gospel, Satan will arouse opposition.

Constable has an interesting note - One wonders if the cooling of the Ephesian Christians' love for Jesus Christ that took place in later years connects to the zeal for Artemis that characterized this community (cf. Rev. 2:1-7+).

The apostle John wrote the following about 40 years (estimate) after this event at Ephesus...

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:  2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4‘ But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent. 6‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The church ministers by persuasion, not propaganda. We share God’s truth, not man’s religious lies. Out motive is love, not anger; and the glory of God, not the praise of men. This is why the church goes on, and we must keep it so.”

Cole writes "I could not find the exact quote, but T. W. Manson once said something like, “These early disciples were completely fearless, outrageously happy, and constantly in trouble.” This story makes me ask, “Am I doing anything significant enough on behalf of God’s kingdom to stir up the enemy’s opposition?” I realize that God sometimes grants the church times of peace (Ac 9:31). I also realize that the freedom of religion in our country assures us a certain amount of protection from persecution. But I also think that we should ponder G. Campbell Morgan’s words (below in bold font). 

G Campbell Morgan reminds us of an important principle that comes out of the pagan persecution of Christians - “Let us be very careful that we do not waste our energy, and miss the meaning of our high calling, by any rejoicing in the patronage of the world. It is by the friction of persecution that the fine gold of character is made to flash and gleam with glory.

The church persecuted has always been the church pure, and therefore the church powerful.
The church patronized has always been the church in peril, and very often the church paralyzed

I am not afraid of Demetrius. Let him have his meeting of craftsmen, and let them in their unutterable folly shout a lie twenty-five thousand strong. The truth goes quietly on. But when the town clerk begins to take care of us, then God deliver us from the peril.”