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Bible Commentaries
Acts 19

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-7

Some Disciples Who Were Reimmersed

From Corinth, Paul went on to Ephesus. He met a group of disciples and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. Apparently they were some of those who had been taught by Apollos prior to the time he had been taught the way of the Lord more perfectly. They were disciples of Christ, because Apollos "taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John" ( Act_19:1-2 ; Act_18:24-25 ). They answered Paul's question about receipt of the Holy Spirit by saying they did not even know there was a Holy Spirit. McGarvey thinks the word "given" ought to be supplied after "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." He points out that a similar understanding is needed in reading Joh_7:39 or else the Lord could be understood to be saying the Holy Spirit did not yet exist.

A failure to know about any gift of the Holy Spirit whatsoever would truly point out a flaw in the instructions they had received, so Paul asked, "Into what then were you baptized?" Their having been baptized in John's baptism would not have presented a problem when that baptism was valid prior to the death of the Lord. However, Paul said John told people to repent, be baptized and believe on the Christ who would follow him. For those who would be Christians, belief in Jesus would precede one's repentance and baptism under the authority of his name for the remission of sins ( Act_19:3-4 ; Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:38 ).

Having heard further about John's directions, those disciples were baptized under the authority of Christ. The apostle then laid his hands on them and they received miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit which enabled them to speak in languages they had never studied and proclaim God's will. Luke told Theophilus there were twelve men in the group ( Act_19:5-7 ).

Verses 8-10

Teaching in the School of Tyrannus

Paul next entered into the synagogue to boldly teach the Jews about the gospel. It should be remembered that the apostle had already taught in the synagogue in Ephesus and had been urged to teach further. He had left for the feast in Jerusalem, all the while promising to return and teach some more ( Act_18:19-21 ). On this return visit, he reasoned with them for three months and persuaded them about matters concerning the kingdom of God.

When some of the Jews became hard hearted and against the way of salvation, or life, Paul withdrew with the disciples to continue teaching in the school of Tyrannus. He continued to instruct all who would listen over the space of some two years. The effects radiated out throughout all of Asia. So, the apostle who had previously been forbidden to preach in Asia now got to see much fruit born for God in that region. In fact, many believe his teaching helped to establish the seven churches to whom Christ wrote in the book of Revelation ( Act_19:8-10 ; Rev_2:1-29 ; Rev_3:1-22 ).

Verses 11-22

Magnifying Jesus' Name

God caused some great miracles to be worked through Paul. Even pieces of cloth, like a handkerchief or apron, which had touched his body could be placed on the body of the sick and diseases or evil spirits went out. Some wandering Jewish exorcists, who apparently had previously been unsuccessful in casting out demons, tried to capitalize on the power of God they had seen at work through Paul. Particularly, the seven sons of Sceva attempted to cast out an evil spirit by calling on the name of Jesus' whom Paul preached. The spirit recognized both Jesus and Paul but caused the possessed man to leap on, overpower and strip them, so that they ran away wounded and naked ( Act_19:11-16 ).

Since an irreverent use of the name of Jesus precipitated this attack by the evil spirit, both Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus were moved to reverent awe for the authority of Jesus. Many Christians, along with others, then confessed their previous involvement in the magical arts. Books costing some 50,000 pieces of silver were publicly thrown into a pile and burned. From that point forward, the gospel grew in a great way and conquered the hearts of many in the region. At the end of this great period of growth, Luke reported that Paul mapped out plans to go through Macedonia and Achaia on the way to Jerusalem. Then, he wanted to go on to Rome. He sent Timothy and Erastus on to Macedonia while personally staying on in Asia ( Act_19:17-22 ).

Verses 23-41

The Riot in Ephesus

While Timothy and Erastus were away, a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made shrines of Diana, or Artemis, began to stir people up against Christianity. He called together the other members of his craft, reminding them that their wealth came from making silver idols. He truthfully reported that Paul's preaching had impacted people in Ephesus and throughout Asia. He said Paul had declared idols made with hands were not gods, to the point of destroying their business and causing Diana to fall into disrepute.

The enraged mob began to shout, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" Of course, the whole city came together to see what was happening. Along the way, they seized two Macedonian travel companions of Paul, Gaius and Aristarchus. Paul wanted to go in to the people, but the brethren would not allow it. Asian officials who were his friends also pleaded with him not to enter the theatre. Luke reported that many in the crowd did not even know what was happening.

When some Jews singled out Alexander to make a defense and the people found out he was a Jew, the crowd shouted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" for two hours. Then, the city clerk quieted the crowd and appealed for reason and a lawful approach to the matter. After all, he said, no one could deny Ephesus was the guardian of Diana. He proposed that Demetrius and his colleagues make their case before the authorities, if they had a case. He warned that such an assembly might be questioned by the Roman government and quietly dismissed the crowd ( Act_19:23-41 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 19". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/acts-19.html. 2014.
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