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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Acts 19

Verses 1-7

The Disciples at Ephesus Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - We know from Acts 19:1-7 that the believers at Ephesus were filled with the Holy Spirit with the gifts of tongues and prophecy. We can be pretty certain that the churches in the surrounding region of Ephesus partook of the same, being influenced by this key church. We know from 1 Corinthians 1:4-7; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 that the church at Corinth was operating in the nine-fold gifts of the Spirit. We also see in Galatians 3:5 that the churches throughout Galatia were receiving the Spirit and experiencing miracles. We see in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 that the gift of prophecy was active in the church in Thessalonica. Thus, we can be sure that most, if not all, of the churches that Paul established would be considered “Pentecostal” by modern definition.

Testimonies to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a Separate Experience from Salvation - Acts 19:1-7 serves as one witness to the fact that the baptism in the Holy Ghost is a separate experience from salvation. Note verse 2, “have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”

Other passages that witness to this fact:

Witness 2: Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Jesus was speaking to believers to wait for the Baptism in the Holy spirit.

Witness 3: Acts 8:16, “(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)”

Witness 4: Acts 9:17, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Note how Paul the apostle ministered the baptism of the Holy Ghost to the disciples in Ephesus. When he finds out that they had not heard of the Holy Spirit, he endeavors to meet them at their point of faith by asking them where their faith has been placed. When they reply that their faith is in the baptism of John the Baptist, Paul then leads them into a greater revelation of God’s Word. Therefore, the disciples followed Paul in his ministry to them.

We can lose our opportunity of a successful ministry to someone by failing to find out what his point of faith is resting in.

Acts 19:1 “while Apollos was at Corinth” Comments - It is reasonable to assume that Apollos served as a teacher in the church of Corinth, and perhaps as their pastor upon Paul’s departure. We know that the Corinthians were familiar with his ministry and some even preferring him above other apostles (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1Co 3:4-6 ; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 4:6). As to how long he stayed, we are not certain. But he could have been there two or three years before he departure (A.D. 52-55), for Paul later asked him to return and continue his ministry there (1 Corinthians 16:12).

1 Corinthians 16:12, “As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.”

Acts 19:1 “Paul having passed through the upper coasts” - Comments - A third possible reference to a visit to the churches of Galatia is made in Acts 19:1 where Luke tells us that Paul visited the “upper country” before moving down into Ephesus. This upper country could very likely refer to the upland plateau of the northern part of Asia Minor, which included the district of Galatia.

Acts 19:2 “He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” Comments - This is the clearest verse in the New Testament that confirms the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation. Paul assumes that these believers had already been saved when he says, “…since ye believed”. The brake between chapters 18 and 19 cause us to forget that Paul had left Priscilla and Aquila about a year earlier to establish a church. Apollos came and taught them for a season. Because they were so new in the faith, they did not know how to lead these Ephesian converts into the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It was not until Paul’s return that they were filled with the Holy Ghost after being saved at an earlier date.

The distinction between salvation and the baptism of the Holy Ghost is also seen in Hebrews 6:4 when it says that the gift of salvation is different than partaking of the Holy Ghost.

Hebrews 6:4, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,”

Verses 1-41

The Witness of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (A.D. 54-58) Acts 18:23 to Acts 20:38 gives us the testimony of Paul’s third missionary journey.

Oultine Here is a proposed outline:

1. Apollo’s Ministry in Ephesus Acts 18:23-28

2. Paul in Ephesus Acts 19:1-41

3. Paul’s Journey to Macedonia and Greece Acts 20:1-6

4. Paul at Troas Acts 20:7-12

5. Paul Journeys from Troas to Miletus Acts 20:13-16

Verses 8-10

Paul Turns to the Gentiles in Ephesus Acts 19:8-10 records how many of the Jews in Ephesus became hardened in their hearts towards the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how Paul turned to the Gentiles.

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.

Acts 19:10 Comments - From the city of Ephesus, which was located at the mouth of the Cayster River in western Asia Minor, a valley that hosted other cities, reached far into the interior of this Roman province. Some of names of these cities we recognize from other places in Scripture. The cities of Laodicea (Colossians 4:16, Revelation 1:11; Revelation 3:14-22), Hierapolis, and Colossae (Paul’s epistle to the Colossians) are found in this valley and the churches were most likely planted in these cities as well as the other seven churches of Revelation 1:11 as a result of Paul’s two-year ministry and outreach in Ephesus.

Verses 11-20

Paul’s Miraculous Work at Ephesus Some of Paul’s greatest miracles took place while he was ministering in the city of Ephesus. Acts 19:11-20 gives us a brief list of some of these miracles.

Acts 19:12 Comments - Being healed by the contact of clothing is similar to the woman with the issue of blood being healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment (Mark 5:25-34). In fact, many people were healed in this manner in Jesus’ ministry.

Luke 6:19, “And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.”

Mark 5:28-29, “For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.”

Mark 6:56, “And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”

This working of miracles is still testified today. One of my aunts was stricken with polio as a young girl. My Baptist grandmother went to her Pentecostal cousins and obtained a prayer cloth. The minute that this cloth was laid upon my aunt, she began to get better. She was totally healed and lived a perfectly normal life.

Acts 19:11-12 Comments - “special miracles” - This event could be classified as the gift of the working of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10). Verse 12 then gives a list of some of the types of the working of miracles that occurred.

1 Corinthians 12:10, “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:”

Acts 19:13 Comments - Just using Jesus’ name alone is not enough. You must add faith in His Name (Acts 3:16). In order to use the authority of Jesus’ name effectively, you must be a born-again child of God, believing on Jesus.

Acts 3:16, “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong , whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

Acts 19:15 Comments The demon replies and says, “Jesus I know ( γινω ́ σκω ) and Paul I know ( ε ̓ πι ́ σταμαι ), but who are you?” Thus, Luke uses two different Greek words to convey the concept of knowing. Henry Alford believes there should be no real distinction in meeting between these two words used together in this context, suggesting it is the author’s attempt to distinguish between the Lord Jesus Christ and His servant Paul the apostle. [252]

[252] Henry Alford, The New Testament, vol. 2 (London: Rivington’s, 1857), 197.

It is interesting to note how there was no power and authority in the name of Jesus when used by these vagabond Jews. Morris Cerullo helps us to understand why this is so. He said that the Lord once spoke to him and said, “Power does not come from the spoken word. Rather, power comes from relationships.” [253] In other words, the power and authority to cast out demons came from Paul’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. These vagabond Jews did not have such a relationship; and thus, they had no power to cast out demons or to work miracles by that Name.

[253] Morris Cerullo, interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Acts 19:20 Comments - The Word of God is powerful, and when it goes forth through the preaching of the Gospel it carries the power to transform lives. The preaching of the Gospel is accompanied with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who distributes gifts and anointings as He wills.

Romans 1:16 also tells us that the preaching of the Gospel serves as God’s method of releasing His power to transform lives that results in their salvation. Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist, has been evangelizing Africa for the last few decades. He has had the largest gathering of people in the history of the Church. In Nigeria alone his crusades are attended by millions and millions are being saved. He has seen miracles of healings and even the dead raised while he was preaching. He said, “The Gospel inherently holds all the power this whole world will every need to change it. The Gospel has the power to change the whole world. They tell me that the rocks on Mars have locked up so much oxygen. If it was released it could provide an atmosphere as we have it on earth. Well, I think the Gospel holds all the energy and the power this world needs to be totally renewed. It is released when it is preached. Lives are changed. We have seen regions changes. We have seen nations shaken.” [254]

[254] Reinhard Bonnke, interviewed by Cecil Steward, Deciding Your Destiny (Belfast, Ireland: CCN Europe), on Lighthouse Television, Kampala, Uganda, television program, 30 December 2005.

Verses 21-41

The Riot at Ephesus Acts 19:21-41 gives us the account of the riot at Ephesus. It is important to gain some historical insight of the history and culture of the city of Ephesus so that someone can understand why the people of the city became so upset over their goddess Diana and it temple. The city of Ephesus boasted the great Temple of Artemis, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It boasted 127 columns, each being 60 meters in height. The Greek goddess Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo and was known as the moon goddess, the goddess of hunting, and the patroness of young girls. We learn from Acts 19:21-41 that the Ephesians were very proud of their great Temple and of their goddess Artemis, whom they called by the name of Diana in this passage of Scripture. Because of its mythological heritage, Ephesus hosted a vast number of religious pilgrims annually. The local craftsmen found much profit in manufacturing images of the goddess Diana, which they sold to these pilgrims and other strangers. This gained Ephesus its religious role in the Greek society, so much so that an ancient Roman coin was stamped “Diana of Ephesus”. This is the reason that Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen were so threatened by the ministry of Paul the apostle. Their wealthy livelihood became threatened and their reputation as a city that worshipped their goddess Diana was being spoiled. If word spread abroad that the people of Ephesus were turning to this new religion called Christianity, its commercial, political, cultural, and religious importance in the Roman Empire would be diminished. Therefore, these craftsmen, who stood the most to lose, felt compelled to react and try to stop the ministry of Paul and his fellow workers. But since Paul had done nothing unlawful, the town clerk was forced to stop the madness of the riot that these craftsmen started.

Acts 19:21 “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit” Comments - Paul was a man who had learned to be led by the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:21 tells us that Paul decided in his spirit that it was time to make plans to travel back to Macedonia and Achaia to strengthen the churches he has planted there. We read in Acts 19:23, “And the same time there arose no small stir about that way,” This refers to an event was about to take place that would make it necessary for Paul’s departure, which was the riot in Ephesus. Paul was not taken by surprise. Although God had not revealed to him the details of this upcoming riot, the Holy Spirit was prompting him to prepare himself for this forced departure.

Acts 19:22 Comments - Robert Gundry tells us that a first century inscription was discovered in Corinth reading, “Erastus, the commissioner of public works, laid this pavement at his own expense.” He acknowledges to that a commissioner is not the same as city treasurer, they could be “roughly Synonymous.” Therefore, it is possible that the Erastus of Acts 19:22 is the same individual of the so-called “Erastus inscription” found at Corinth. [255] In addition, Erastus is mentioned two other times in the New Testament, where he is associated with Macedonia and Corinth. Thus, he is considered by scholars as the chamberlain of the city of Corinth.

[255] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c1970, 1981), 278.

It was about this time that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians and sent it by the hands of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17). Scholars believe that Paul then sent Timotheus and Erastus (who was from Corinth) to the church at Corinth in order to see how the church was responding to his letter. In fact he tells them in 1 Corinthians 16:10 to receive Timothy if he comes. Paul would soon make a quick visit in what is called the “painful visit” ( 2Co 2:1 ; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1). So, evidently Timothy did not find the situation favorable upon his arrival and reported to Paul these problems.

Acts 19:21-22 Comments - Paul’s Travel Plans In Acts 19:21-22 Luke records Paul’s decision to travel soon into Macedonia and Achaia. We see how he sends Timotheus and Erastus ahead of him to make preparations for him in the cities where he will stay. This event very likely corresponds to 1 Cor. 19:21-22; for we know that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus.

1 Corinthians 4:17-19, “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.”

Acts 19:27 Word Study on “magnificence” Strong says the Greek word “megaleiotes” ( μεγαλειο ́ της ) (G3168) means, “superbness, i.e. glory or spendor.” BDAG defines it as “grandeur, sublimity, or majesty.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used only 3 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “mighty power 1, magnificence 1, majesty 1.” The other two uses are found in Luke 9:43 and 2 Peter 1:16.

Luke 9:43, “And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,”

2 Peter 1:16, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty .”

Acts 19:33 Comments - We do have a Jew named Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:33, who was apparently a leader of the Jewish community in Ephesus. He is mentioned in Acts because he was chosen by the Jews in Ephesus to speak to the crowd and appease their anger, but to no avail. Paul mentions a man by this name in his two epistles to Timothy. He is called Alexander the coppersmith and described as a harsh opponent to Paul’s work in Ephesus. Such a description seen in Acts 19:33 of a well-spoken Jewish leader in Ephesus fits the description of a possible opponent of Paul’s evangelist work in this city. It is very possible for this to be the same person.

1 Timothy 1:20, “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

2 Timothy 4:14-15, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 19". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/acts-19.html. 2013.