Daily Devotion Text

October 1, 2019

Acts 19 – 2019-10-01

By carmenhsu In Acts, Devotion Text with Comments Off on Acts 19 – 2019-10-01
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    v.1: Some background on Ephesus:

    “Though Pergamum was the capital of Asia, Ephesus (in modern Turkey) was the real seat of provincial administration.  Being on the western shore of Asia Minor, it connected the Greco-Roman world with Asia Minor.  In the first century it was a predominantly Greek city.  […]  Ephesus was at the center of the worship of the Greek goddess Artemis (Roman Diana), the multi-breasted goddess of fertility.  It boasted a magnificent temple to Artemis, which was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  In Paul’s time the city had lost some of its importance as a political and commercial center and was turning more to the temple to support its economy.” [1]

    vv.1-7: “The account is extremely difficult to interpret, principally because it is so brief. Probably we should assume that these twelve men, while considering themselves Jewish Christian ‘disciples’ in some sense, thought of John the Baptist as the height of God’s revelation–perhaps even as the Messiah himself. John 1:19-34 and 2:22-36 are directed against anyone thinking of the Baptist as superior to Jesus. Together with the emphasis upon ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ in Ephesians 4:5, they suggest that a John-the-Baptist sect existed within Jewish Christian circles in Asia in the first century (assuming, of course, the Ephesian connections of the fourth Gospel and the Letter to the Ephesians). […] Here it seems, both from their own statements and from how Paul deals with them, that we should consider these men as sectarians with no real commitment to Jesus at all.

    vv.8-12: “When work in the synagogue became impossible because of the embittered opposition, Paul changed his quarters to the hall of a philosopher called Tyrannus. One Greek manuscript adds a touch which sounds like the additional detail an eye-witness might bring. It says that Paul taught in that hall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Almost certainly that is when Paul would teach. Until 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Tyrannus would need the hall himself. In the Ionian cities all work stopped at 11 a.m. 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 p.m. than at 1 a.m. What Paul must have done was to work all morning and all evening at his trade and 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 shame many of us for our talk of inconvenient times.

    v.13: “In the ancient world pagan diviners and exorcists were commonplace.  When attempting to cast out a demon, they listed the names of many gods, hoping one of them would produce the desired results.  Having seen Paul effectively cast out demons in Jesus’ name, they added the Lord’s name – and for good measure, Paul’s – to their catalog.  These exorcists had no power over demons, so most likely the demons only deceived people into thinking they had vacated.”[2]

    1. 13-16: “Many Ephesians engaged in exorcism and occult practices for profit (see 19:18, 19). The sons of Sceva were impressed by Paul’s work, whose power to drive out demons came from God’s Holy Spirit, not from witchcraft, and was obviously more powerful than theirs. They discovered, however, that no one can control or duplicate God’s power.  These men were calling on the name of Jesus without knowing the person.  The power to change people comes from Christ.  It cannot be tapped by reciting his name like a magic charm.”[3]

    vv.17-19: “Since a drachma was approximately a day’s wages, this was a multi-million-dollar bonfire in today’s currency.  The book commanded such a high price because they promised power – over sickness, over people and over circumstances.  Power has always been the main allure of the occult, something for which people will pay dearly.  Ephesus was renowned in the ancient world as a ‘shopping center’ for occult practices, which explains the large quantity of scrolls.”[4]

    “Nothing can more definitely show the reality of the change than that in superstition-ridden Ephesus they were willing to burn the books and the charms which were so profitable to them. They are an example to us. They made the cleanest of clean cuts, even though it meant abandoning the things that were their livelihood. It is all too true that many of us hate our sins but either we cannot leave them at all or we do so with a lingering and backward look. There are times when only the clean and final break will suffice.”[5]

    vv.21-22: “It is only by the merest hint that Luke gives us an indication here of something which is filled out in Paul’s letters. He tells us that Paul purposed to go to Jerusalem. The church in Jerusalem was poor; and Paul aimed to take a collection from all his Gentile churches as a contribution to it. We find references to this collection in 1Cor.16:1ff.; 2Cor.9:1ff.; Rom.15:25-26. Paul pressed on with this scheme for two reasons. First, he wished in the most practical way to emphasize the unity of the Church. He wished to demonstrate that they belonged to the body of Christ and that when one part of the body suffered all must help. In other words, he wished to take them away from a merely congregational outlook and to give them a vision of the one universal Church of which they were part. Second, he wished to teach them practical Christian charity. Doubtless when they heard of the privations of Jerusalem they felt sorry. He wished to teach them that sympathy must be translated into action.  These two lessons are as valid today as they ever were.”[6]

    vv.25-27: “When Paul preached in Ephesus, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen did not quarrel with his doctrine.  Their anger boiled because his preaching threatened their profits.  They made silver statues of the Ephesian goddess Artemis. The craftsmen knew that if people started believing in God and discarding their idols, their livelihood would suffer. Demetrius’ strategy for stirring up a riot was to appeal to his fellow workmen’s love of money and then to encourage them to hide their greed behind the mask of patriotism and religious loyalty.  The rioters couldn’t see the selfish motives for their rioting – instead they saw themselves as heroes for the sake of their land and beliefs.”[7]

    v.31: “These officials of the province were government officials, responsible for the religious and political order of the region.  Paul’s message had reached all levels of society, crossing all social barriers and giving Paul friends in high places.”[8]

    “Before Paul left Ephesus, a riot threatened his life and could have put an end to the outreach of the gospel in Asia. The situation was undoubtedly more dangerous than Luke’s account taken alone suggests. For in what may well be allusions to this riot, Paul said later that he had ‘fought wild beasts in Ephesus’ (1Cor 15:32), had ‘despaired even of life’ in the face of ‘a deadly peril’ in Asia (2Cor 1:8-11), and that Priscilla and Aquila had ‘risked their lives’ for him (Rom 16:4). Luke’s purpose in presenting this vignette is clearly apologetic, in line with his argument for the religio licita status of Christianity (cf. Panel 5 [16:6-19:20]) and in anticipation of the themes stressed in Paul’s speeches of defense (Panel 6, esp. chs. 22-26). Politically, Luke’s report of the friendliness of the Asiarchs (‘officials of the province,’ NIV) toward Paul and of the city clerk’s intervention on his behalf is the best defense imaginable against the charge that Paul and Christianity threatened the official life of the empire. Religiously, Luke’s description of the Ephesian riot makes the point that ‘in the final analysis the only thing heathenism can do against Paul is to shout itself hoarse’ (Haenchen, Acts of the Apostles, p. 578).”[9]

    v.41: “The riot in Ephesus convinced Paul that it was time to move on.  But it also showed that the law still provided some protection for Christians as they challenged the worship of the goddess Artemis and the most idolatrous religions in Asia.”[10]

    [1] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998) 503.

    [2] Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994) 1535.

    [3] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2001.

    [4] Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994) 1535.

    [5] William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1975) 144.

    [6] William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1975) 145.

    [7] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2002.

    [8] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2002.

    [9] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for vv.23-41.

    [10] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2003.

  • Acts 19:1-20 (ESV)

    1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.7 There were about twelve men in all.

    8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

    11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.

    19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

  • Reflection Question

  • Acts 19:8-10
    • Note that Paul’s teaching is once again characterized as “reasoning and persuading” (v. 8). What steps can I take to hone my skills of reasoning and of persuading people about the kingdom of God?
    • What lessons can I learn about human nature through the people’s progressively negative response to Paul’s daily proclamation of the word of the Lord?
    • What can I learn from what Paul did in response to the Ephesian Jews’ rejection and from what resulted?

    Acts 19:11-17

    • One commentator writes of the sons of Sceva, “These men were calling on the name of Jesus without knowing the person. The power to change people comes from Christ. It cannot be tapped by reciting his name like a magic charm.”  What are some ways that people today use the name of Jesus like a magic charm? What are the dangers of being engaged in “spiritual” activities without getting to know Jesus better?
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