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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 19

Verses 1-20

  1. Intro:
    1. Questions: The Boston Globe, which carries a daily column designed to answer reader’s queries, listed the top 10 unanswerable questions. Here’s one:
      “I am 9 years of age and have a cat that eats regularly, and needs to go on a diet. He also eats mice when he is out. How many calories in a mouse?” Sunshine Magazine
      1. Some questions are difficult to answer, but some are difficult to know to ask.
    2. Both Eternal life & our life here on earth come down to having the right answers. But most often people just don’t know what questions to ask!!!
      1. Let me help with 5 Questions this morning from Acts 19:1-20.
      2. What Baptism did you receive? What Training did you receive? What Gift did you receive? What Jesus did you receive? What Freedom did you receive?
    3. Theme taken from vs.3 NIV “Then what baptism did you receive?”
    4. 1 Jn.3:22 whatever we ask we receive from Him!!!
  2. WHAT DID YOU RECEIVE? (1-20)
    1. [1] WHAT BAPTISM DID YOU RECEIVE? (1-7)
    2. Ephesus is in “Asia” which Paul was previously forbidden…now right timing.
      1. Quick Stats: 4th largest city in Roman Empire; population ¼ million; elegant architecture; was one of the 7 Wonders of the world; & a principle center for magic for the ancient world (Magic, defined as, any process by which human beings become able to manipulate supernatural power for their own ends). Peter Wagner
    3. Ephesus was known as the premier fetish factory of the Roman Empire.
      1. Fetish = not obsession over something, but a magical object [rabbits foot]
    4. Ephesus was known for its “Ephesian Writings”, i.e. documents containing spells & formula to be placed in small cylinders or lockets worn about the neck or elsewhere about the person. [known in animistic cultures as fetishes]
      1. It was engraved on the image of Artemis/Diana’s crown, girdle, & feet
      2. This magical gibberish was considered to have great power.
    5. (2) Or, “we have not so much as heard whether the H.S. has been given.” (NIV)
      1. Jn.1:33 He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
    6. John’s baptism – thus John’s disciples. (Or some say Apollos’; see 18:25)
    7. In the name of – was the issue.
      1. John’s baptism – was in the name of repentance, awaiting Messiah.
      2. Jesus’ baptism – in the name of the Lord Jesus. (a.k.a. believers baptism) 2.7.2.1. Ps: Our next baptism is up at the Robles, Sun August 10th.
    8. Some can get their theology twisted into such a Gordian Knot, on the order & timing of these baptisms. [Prophecy: next leader of Asia would untie the knot. Alex the Great wiped out sword & cut it in half]
      1. Instead of untying it, I’d rather pull out my sword this morning & ask, “do you have all of these covered?”
      2. What baptism did you receive? - Make sure you’ve received all that God has to offer you.
      3. Luke 11:13 (context: teach us to pray; then persistence; then ask/seek/knock)
    9. Million $ question: Are you living today as if Pentecost had never taken place???
    10. [2] WHAT TRAINING DID YOU RECEIVE? (8-10)
    11. 3 months in synagogue; then 2 years in Tyrannus school daily at lunch break.
      1. Interesting Paul demonstrates flexibility of method & rents a lecture hall of a pagan teacher.
      2. Western text of the Greek NT tells us that Paul “taught from the 5th to the 10th hour” (or from 11am to 4pm every day)
    12. The Ephesians kept a strict siesta.
      1. William Ramsey says, “Public life in the Ionian cities ended regularly at he 5th hour(11am)”
      2. One historian reportedly commented “that more people in Ephesus were asleep at 1pm than at 1am.”
    13. Here is the clearest example of formalized leadership training in the NT.
      1. Obviously different from ordinary teaching in house churches, or even teaching in the synagogues.
      2. These men would give up their lunch/nap time in order to train.
      3. Paul wrote 1 Cor. while he was here.
    14. What training have you had? – Self taught? Sunday morning taught? Sun & wed night taught? Home Study taught? Radio/CD taught? Bible College? Seminary?
    15. [3] WHAT GIFT DID YOU RECEIVE? (11-12)
    16. Handkerchiefs –sweat rags, cloths worn around the head & used to wipe sweat off (LKGNT; pg.313)
    17. Apron – worn by working men.
      1. Yet, God adopted them as His tools to change lives.
    18. Read 1 Cor.12:1-7,11. [other list: Rom.12:6-8]
    19. [4] WHAT JESUS DID YOU RECEIVE? (13-17)
    20. A Jesus you’ve heard of before; or The Jesus you know personally/intimately?
    21. Be careful of the 2nd hand Jesus!
    22. If I watch a lot of medical shows on television (like ER) I can say I know a lot about subdural hematomas, defibrillators, and different med’s.
      1. Well, I don’t really know about them. But I have this 2nd hand knowledge about life in a hospital.
    23. I have 2nd hand knowledge about what the White House because I have watched many episodes of West Wing.
    24. I have 2nd hand knowledge about the military, because I talk to people who serve in the military.
    25. 2nd hand knowledge is good, it’s helpful, it’s interesting – but it is no substitute for 1st hand knowledge and experience!
    26. In the name of – was the issue here also.
      1. Jn.14:14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
      2. Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons.
      3. Examples: Ambassadors do not go to other countries in their own names; they go in the name of the president of the U.S.
        1. And only those designated by the president can use his name effectively.
        2. If I went to a foreign country & announced that I had come in the name of the president of the U.S., they would laugh at me.
        3. That’s exactly what happened here to the sons of Sceva.
    27. The name of Jesus is no magic formula like the “Ephesian Writings”.
    28. 7 sons of Sceva – fake exorcists who claimed to be sons of Sceva, (whom they declared to be high priest) (no such priest never existed, according to best records)
      1. They had no formula, no talisman, no rabbit foot, except a stolen one!
    29. Jesus had not authorized the 7 sons of Sceva to use His name, & therefore the power was absent.
      1. In the end times some will come to Jesus & say, “have we not cast our demons in Your name” & He will respond, “I never knew you!”
    30. They bypassed the Lord’s authentic power & imitated Paul’s method’s.
      1. ​​​​​​​But note, even demons know a cheap substitute!!!
    31. So because the used the Lord’s name in vain, the 7 sons opened themselves up to a ferocious spiritual backlash, that they would not soon forget.
      1. Beaten up, stripped, & chased out of the house naked!
    32. Spiritual warfare in Ephesus – Eph.6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
      1. ​​​​​​​That’s why the book of Ephesians contains a substantially higher concentration of warfare terminology than in any other epistle by Paul
    33. [5] WHAT FREEDOM DID YOU RECEIVE? (18-20)
    34. Book Burning? – To the tune of about $4 million today.
      1. But isn’t this book burning thing so archaic?
    35. Ok, let’s call it Emptying your closet? - What do you need to throw away? What do you need to walk away from? Who do you need to walk away from? Remove your sinful situation from you. Burn it on the bonfire of God’s altar!
      1. They burned magic books. What do you have to destroy by fire?
      2. Flush some pills? Cancel a pay channel on Cable? Find another job? Cut up some credit cards? Send someone else food shopping? Need to sell a car or collection that has now thoroughly engulfed your life?
      3. I just heard this take place w/a brand new believer in our fellowship!
    36. If you’re not sure what to burn…burn it all, cuz all that is eternal is fireproof! ☺
      1. How freeing to release your worldly attachments, your worldly souvenirs, & your preoccupation with them.
      2. The bonfire is painful & costly, but it is also freeing & gloriously life-changing!
    37. End:
    38. They bypassed the Lord’s authentic power & imitated Paul’s method’s.
      1. ​​​​​​​Does this describe anyone’s spirituality today?
      2. You’ve been trying to impersonate a Christian, but it doesn’t seem to be working. (You’re missing the power)
    39. I might not be able to tell you how many calories in a mouse, but I can tell you the important questions: Which Jesus did you receive? What Freedoms did you receive from this relationship? What Gifts did you receive from Him? What Training are you receiving? Are you missing any Baptisms?

Verses 21-41

  1. Intro:
    1. Ever kick an ant mound/hill? What do the ants immediately do? W/o a moments hesitation, they start rebuilding. You’d think there’d be a minute they’d all get upset (hey!) – They seem to be at perfect peace going back to their menial task.
      1. It’s difficult when someone kicks our mound; when life comes crashing in; our home is destroyed; when we have to fix something we just fixed…that’s irritating!
    2. We live in a time of unrest, anxiety, uneasiness: eating raw tomatoes (Salmonella; now raw Jalapeños & Serrano peppers); water ration most likely this summer; fires this summer in So Cal?(1000 up north); foreclosures; measles on the rise(parents not vaccinating); rice ration at Costco & Sam’s Club because of panic; Gas prices; financial woes of the Stock Market; marriage being redefined; threats of attacks against Iran/Israel.
      1. How do we handle al these things? Panic or Peace…Your Pick!
  2. PANIC OR PEACE…YOUR PICK! (21-41)
    1. Shalom type peace = quietness, confidence, security, & rest.
      1. It’s the steadiness of Daniel waiting in the lions den; It’s the serenity of Jesus asleep in the storm-tossed boat;It’s the joyful singing of Paul & Silas chained together in their jail. It’s the stability of Paul wanting to go into the theater & help his friends
    2. How do we unlock this kind of peace in our lives?
      1. Isaiah gives us the key - Read Is.26:3,4
    3. (1) This song – The prophet wrote a song that will be sung by the redeemed when the messiah will establish the millennial kingdom.
      1. It’ll be the #1 song on Air One in the Millennium!
    4. (3) You will - God gives peace to His people. (also see 12)
    5. Perfect, peace! - In the original “Peace, peace!” “Shalom, Shalom!”
      1. A duplicating peace! - A peace that really is peace.
    6. Trust – The redeemed will readily testify of the everlasting faithfulness of Jehovah.
      1. Let us rest upon Him with all our weight!
      2. Let us drive out all unbelief!
      3. Let us rid ourselves of doubts & fears!
    7. Spurg, “A loving parent would be sorely grieved if his child could not trust him!”
    8. This sounds wonderful, but does it really work?
      1. Can this fit into our contemporary lives?
    9. Mind is stayed – or, steadfast of mind (NIV).
      1. Stayed/steadfast = “lean upon”; mind = state of mind.
    10. Keep means to watch over, or protect; & that with which God does the keeping is peace (repeated for emphasis) shalom, shalom, or “unending security”.
      1. Put these together & the line reads, “The frame of mind that is leaning on & receiving support from You, O Lord, You will protect with infinite calm.”
      2. The next line tells us the impetus for this peace: our trust in God.
      3. The Hebrew word for trust has an Arabic cousin that provides us a picture as well as a meaning: “to throw one down upon his face.”
    11. The point! – Those who throw themselves on God, who remove all other crutches, who abandon their anxieties & fears, will experience God’s shalom.
    12. How long should we trust Him? Until the clouds disappear? Until we can handle things on ourselves? No…forever!
      1. And as long as we trust Him, He will be there like a timeless, immovable rock!
    13. He invites each of us to cling to it as children cling to their father’s neck.
    14. One person whom we find constantly in its embrace is the apostle Paul.
      1. Let’s read it.
    15. *Let’s See 3 Ways Paul Displays Peace: Through Unfulfilled Dreams; Through Uncontrollable & Unpleasant Circumstances; Through Uncertainties.
    16. [1] Remain Faithful in Spite of Panic of Unfulfilled Dreams! (21,22)
    17. (21,22) Paul’s soul always burned to one day be in Rome.
      1. Why? Rome, the Oval Office of the world, the place of ultimate clout. Maybe to gain audience with the Emperor? Maybe to meet & speak with the most influential Christians of the known world (some right there in Caesars household)
    18. (22) The next verse shows his ability to be content & wait for God’s timing!
      1. How long did he wait in Asia? [Quick math: 3 months in the synagogue(8); 2 years in the school of Tyrannus(9); leaving us 9 months in Asia, while Rome was tugging at his heart!
      2. Paul’s natural response to his unfulfilled dreams would have been frustration, anxiety, & panic, but God’s peace was watching over him.
        1. Result: he was able to wait patiently & keep working at his present tasks.
    19. Lessons #1 – Lean on the Lord as an everlasting Rock, entrusting the future to Him. He will support us with His peace.
      1. ​​​​​​​Then we can stay our posts, letting Him unlock the doors of our dreams at just the right time.​​​​​​​
    20. [2] Stay Calm in Spite of the Panic of Uncontrollable & Unpleasant Circumstances! (23-31)
    21. (23) Just when you’ve stopped panicking & started trusting, a dam breaks & trouble comes flooding in.
      1. Trouble starts with an accusation. {Demetrius, the CEO of the Silversmith’s guild}
    22. As a result of Paul’s preaching & the spread of the gospel, thousands of people had begun worshiping the authentic God & had forsaken the odd-looking Artemis & her myriad of replicas & trinkets.
    23. The Silversmith’s could careless about God’s truth; they cared only about the nose-diving line of their profit charts.
      1. Like the 2 demoniacs that get healed, & are clothed & in their right mind…but all the townsfolk response was…to ask Jesus to leave, they only cared about their pig profits; their hogs & not the Healer; they preferred swine over the Savior.
    24. Was it really Paul’s fault? No, it was God that was changing lives. But they couldn’t take a swipe at him, so they tried to make Paul their punching bag. And when they couldn’t get him, someone had to pay.
      1. ​​​​​​​Note: Paul never picketed the temple, he simply shared the word & lives were changed!
    25. The group grows angrier with each exaggerated accusation (27,28).
      1. Not the situation turns suddenly dangerous as thousands of people mob together & pus their way into the Theater.
        1. A powder keg of hostility was about to explode.
    26. What a contrast between those who sacrificed everything for God(19) & those who sacrificed everything for Gain!
    27. Theater = open-air amphitheater, Holds 25,000 people. 495’ in diameter.
    28. Diana (Roman) Artemis (Gk) – Goddess of the moon; daughter of Zeus & Leto; A grotesque multi-breasted image.
      1. Her Temple was 1 of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
      2. 93,500 square feet (4 times the Pantheon in Athens).127 columns, 60’ high, each donated by a different king.
    29. Of course Paul wanted to rush in, but he was held back. (30,31)
    30. Lessons #2 – Paul’s frame of mind exemplified the 2nd definition of peace. His ability to stay calm in spite of the panic of uncontrollable & unpleasant circumstances.
      1. Being at peace is no problem when all is serene.
      2. But being calm when riot is raging at your door that requires true peace; the kind that comes from relying wholly upon God.
      3. “Circumstances that look like obstacles are really opportunities when you let God work.”
    31. [3] Wait Patiently in Spite of the Panic Brought on by Uncertainty! (32-41)
    32. (32) The situation just continues to deteriorate even more. The people don’t even know what they’re supposed to be angry about!
    33. (33,34) Great is Diana of the Ephesians, for 2 hours!
    34. Paul still hidden away, his life in more danger. They still want a pound of flesh. Pressure is rising…but then at the right moment, the God whom Paul serves & trusts sends in the cavalry! The town clerk. {i.e. The secretary of the city, the executive officer who publishes the decrees of the civic assembly} F.F.Bruce
    35. ​​​​​​​The clerk, knowing his job was on the line, carefully selects a few facts about proper legal channels.
      1. He saves his own job, the city’s standing, & the disciples lives.
    36. If you’re playing chess, you can moved a pawn, or piece, right in front of your opponent, to squarely block them. That’s what God does here.
      1. In our own lives He has a way of arranging unexpected events & unlikely people to defend us.
      2. We just have to wait for Him to make His Move.
    37. Lessons #3 – Wait patiently in spite of the panic brought on by uncertainty.
      1. In times of fear, remember God’s peaceful promise…Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.
    38. End:
    39. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Our frame of mind is like the weather…(a) it can be sunny & warm w/only a slight chance of rain; or, (b) overcast & cold w/storm clouds billowing on the horizon.
      1. Why such a variability? A lot has to do with whether you are trusting in the Lord.
        1. You cannot change the weather, but you can change your frame of mind.
      2. No matter how great the storm outside, you can always kindle a warm fire of inner peace.
    40. “Go to the ant,…Consider her ways and be wise,” Prov.6:6
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Acts 19". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/acts-19.html. 2017.