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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Acts 19

Verse 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,

Paul Arrives at Ephesus, and Meets with Certain Disciples of the Baptist, who, upon Receiving from him Fuller Light, are Baptized, Receive the Holy Spirit, and Speak with Tongues (19:1-7)

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth - where his ministry was so powerful that a formidable party in the church of that city gloried afterward in his type of preaching in preference to Paul's (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4), no doubt from the marked infusion of Greek philosophic culture which distinguished it, and which seemed to be the very thing which the apostle studiously avoided (1 Corinthians 2:1-5):

Paul having passed through the upper coasts (or 'parts') - meaning the interior parts of Asia Minor, traveling westwards toward Ephesus; with reference to which (as lying on the seacoast) all from Galatia and Phrygia was elevated, and partly mountainous.

Came to Ephesus (see the note at Acts 18:19) - thus making good his conditional promise (Acts 18:21): "and finding certain disciples,"

Verse 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.

He said unto them, [ heuroon (G2147) ... eipen (G2036), or, according to, perhaps, the true reading, heurein (G2147) ... eipen (G2036) te (G5037), 'found, And said'],

Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed? [ elabete (G2983) pisteusantes (G4100)] - rather, 'Did ye receive the Holy Spirit on believing?' from which it is natural to infer that the one did not of necessity carry the other along with it (see the notes at Acts 8:14-17). Why this question was asked, we cannot tell; but it was probably in consequence of something that passed between them from which the apostle was led to suspect the imperfection of their light. They were probably at the same stage of Christian knowledge as Apollos when he came to Corinth, and, having newly arrived, had no communication with any Christians at Ephesus.

And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit. This cannot be the meaning, since the personality and office of the Holy Spirit, in connection with Christ, formed an especial subject of the Baptist's teaching. Literally, 'We did not even hear whether the Holy Spirit was [given],' that is, at the time of their baptism. That the word 'given' is the right supplement, seems plain from the nature of the case; and it is the same in John 7:39, on the same subject.

Verse 3

And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

And he said [unto them] (the bracketed words are probably not genuine),

Unto (or 'Into') what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto (or 'Into') John's baptism.

Verse 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.

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism (or 'baptized the baptism') of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on [Christ] Jesus. (The word "Christ" is clearly not genuine.) The point of contrast is between two stages in the development of the same Gospel truth-a rudimental and a ripe Gospel; the former represented by John's baptism, in which Christ and His salvation was rather expected than actually come. This state of things, strictly speaking, terminated not with the commencement of Christ's public ministry, but with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; as is evident from John's own statement: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but there cometh the Mightier than I after me, He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit" - which He certainly did not do until after His ascension. Nor is this affected by the fact that Jesus Himself "made and baptized (through others) more disciples than John;" for as the kingdom was represented as still only in prospect, so "the Holy Spirit was not then given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). It was this baptism of the Spirit, from the hands of John's risen Master, unto a new life-which made the whole life and work of Christ another thing from what it was conceived to be before that grand event-that these simple disciples were uninformed about, and that Paul communicated to them (the bare subject of which is given in Acts 19:4).

Verse 5

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

When they heard this, they were baptized - not, however, by Paul himself (see 1 Corinthians 1:14), In (or 'into') the name of the Lord Jesus - into the whole fullness of the new economy, as now opened up to their believing and teachable minds. (To the double baptism of these disciples we shall advert in the Remarks at the close of this section.)

Verse 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; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied - (see the notes at Acts 10:44-46.)

Verse 7

And all the men were about twelve.

And all the men were about twelve - and, from the mode of expression used, probably all men.

Remarks:

(1) The episode about Apollos from Alexandria, and the account of the twelve disciples whom Paul found at Ephesus-both apparently at the same imperfect stage of Christian knowledge denoted by "the Baptism of John" - bear such internal marks of truth as not only to speak for themselves, but to a large degree to inspire confidence in the whole strain of the History in which they lie embosomed. Observe the particulars of Apollos' Christian history up to the time when Aquila and Priscilla took him aside; their perception of the imperfect ground on which he stood, and their confidence that, though occupying a position inferior to his, they could impart to him what he knew not, but would dearly value; the humility and teachableness with which he drank in what they opened up to him, and the readiness with which he set out for a sphere more suited to his special gifts, of which Aquila and Priscilla would doubtless give him full particulars; in a word, the Ephesian letter of recommendation to the Achaian brethren, and the success with which he laboured in Corinth (the capital of Achaia): these are incidents which form one consistent and uncommon whole; which, whether we look at them as a unity or in their component parts, were not in the least likely to occur either to a pure fabricator or a willful distorter of history.

Much of the same thing may be said of the account of the twelve Joannean disciples. Paley (in his 'Horae Paulinae,' Acts 3:1-26, No. 5:) compares this account of Apollos in the Acts with what is said of him in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, as one of the many 'Undesigned Coincidences' between the Acts and the Epistles, confirming the authenticity of both. What he dwells on is the evidence which the Epistle incidentally furnishes, that Apollos must have been at Corinth after Paul's departure from it, and before that Epistle was written; which Paley shows to be just what we gather from the historical statements of the Acts. On this his reasoning is quite conclusive. But something may perhaps be added to it, not less interesting. From the Epistle we gather that the spirit of party had gotten into the Corinthian church, its members crying up their favourite teachers to the disparagement of the rest.

Paul was the favourite of one class, Apollos the oracle of another, while a third took to Cephas (or Peter). Now, we know so much of the peculiarities of Paul and Peter that we can easily understand what should attract some to the one and some to the other; whereas, but for this one historical notice of Apollos we should have known nothing of him at all. Here, however, we find the very characteristics which were fitted to attract a considerable party at Corinth, who would dislike, or at least not take to the method of Paul. We know that the Corinthians had all the Greek love of wisdom-a wisdom, however, which, for the most part, sacrificed the substance to the form. This wisdom the apostle studiously eschewed-calling it "the wisdom of words" - and this "lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." Now, there can be no doubt that Apollos' teaching would wear the aspect of that very "wisdom of words" which Paul repudiated.

For being "a Jew of Alexandria," and "an eloquent man," he would be familiar, not only with the school of his great countryman, Philo, who taught and wrote there, but with the rhetoric of the other schools of Alexandria. That he came to Alexandria a disciple of Philo, or of any Alexandrian school, there is not the least reason to believe. On the contrary, he was of the Baptist's school, whose lowliness and Christian standing, so far as it went, were the reverse of what he would learn either from the Platonic Philo, or the Pagan rhetoricians; and being "mighty in the Scriptures," his teaching would likely be of a Biblical character, on which his "fervour of spirit" would kindle: in short, he would be a thoroughly believing man, whose gifts were consecrated to the illustration and enforcement of divine truth, so far as he knew it. Then, again, the humility and teachableness with which he sat at the feet of Aquila and Priscilla, who certainly were Paul's scholars, the enlargement of his views which followed on this, and the zeal with which he went to Corinth to give forth what he had learnt-all go to show that his teaching at Corinth could not have differed from that of Paul in the substance and scope of it, nor in anything whatever except in method; nor even in this, in any such sense as to affect the saving efficacy of it.

Indeed, we have Paul's own testimony that Apollos only "watered" what he himself had "planted." Nevertheless-allowing his Alexandrian culture to have been sanctified to the utmost, and laid at the feet of Jesus-we can hardly doubt that it would shine through his teaching, nor hesitate to believe that, on the apostle's own principle of "becoming all things to all men, that by any means he might gain some," he would feel himself justified, if not called upon, to deal with those wisdom-loving Greeks as one who knew and could wield to saving purposes their own weapon. And if so, then here was a field for one-sided admiration of Apollos, to the disparagement of Paul. It is needless to prosecute this subject further. Enough that we have shown how well the historical account of Apollos in the Acts and the allusions to his influence at Corinth agree together.

(2) The question, Why were the twelve disciples who had been previously baptized with the baptism of John, after being instructed by Paul, baptized again into the name of the Lord Jesus? has given rise to considerable difference of opinion. The Anabaptists of the Reformation-period and the Church of Rome agreed in regarding the Joannean and the Christian baptisms as essentially different, while the Protestants generally held them essentially the same. But since there is a sense in which both may be held to be right-the substance of what John taught being beyond doubt identical with Christianity, while in respect of development they certainly differed widely-we must be governed entirely by the practice of Christ Himself and of the apostolic church. What, then, was that? First, there is no evidence to show that our Lord caused those disciples of John who came over to Him to be re-baptized; and from John 4:1-2, we naturally conclude that they were not.

Indeed, had those who first followed Jesus from among the Baptist's disciples required to be re-baptized, the Saviour must have performed the ceremony Himself, and such a thing could not fail to be recorded; whereas the reverse is intimated in the passage just quoted. Next, though it is said that all who entered the Church on the day of Pentecost, to the number of three thousand, were baptized, it is evident from the whole narrative that these were all new converts, and did not include any of the hundred and twenty who issued forth from the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit, nor any who had been disciples of Christ before. Lastly, while all the baptisms of which we read in the sequel of the New Testament are of fresh converts and their households, with the exception of these twelve disciples whom Paul instructed at Ephesus, the remarkable and somewhat perplexing fact is that Apollos, though at precisely the same stage of Christian development with these re-baptized disciples, was not re-baptized (so far as we read; and the details in his case are so minutely given, that this fact would certainly not have been passed over if it had taken place).

From all the facts the conclusion appears irresistible, that those who had been baptized with the baptism of John were not held to need any further water-baptism on their becoming followers of Christ, either during His own stay on earth, or after the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit; in other words, that their first initiation by baptism into Christ-all rudimental though it was-was regarded as carrying their total subjection to Him, and participation of all that He had to bestow. And if it still be asked, In what light, then, are we to regard the single case of re-baptization recorded of these twelve disciples? The answer may perhaps be found by comparing their case with that of Apollos. They both "knew only the baptism of John." But in all likelihood the twelve disciples had newly arrived at Ephesus when Paul "found" them, and had come from one of those many quarters where knots of half-instructed disciples were in the habit of meeting together for religious exercises.

Among these they had been baptized, and evidently were sincere believers, as far as their light went. But Paul, finding their knowledge of Christian truth very imperfect, instructed them fully in the way of the Lord; and their views and feelings having now undergone a great change, they would probably regard themselves as new converts, and be as desirous of being "baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus" as Paul could be that they should. Of all this we cannot be certain, but something like it seems extremely probable on reading the narrative; whereas the natural impression on reading what is said of Apollos is just the reverse. He comes to Ephesus already "instructed in the way of the Lord, fervent in the spirit, and mighty in the Scriptures," though yet only on the Joannean platform; and what Priscilla and Aquila did for him seems to have been simply to impart to him those facts of the new economy with which he was unacquainted. And just as those disciples who passed from the rank of the Baptist to those of Christ needed and received no new baptism, so this already distinguished Christian teacher, having merely received a riper view of those great evangelical truths which he already believed and taught, neither needed nor received re-baptism.

(3) The most accomplished theologian may learn from the humblest private Christian what is of more value than all his learning. The pity is, that as there are few such who would, like Apollos, sit at the feet of a Priscilla and Aquila, so there are not many who, like that couple, would venture to put any such to the test. Nevertheless, humility and teachableness are the unfailing characteristics of sanctified learning; and those Christian teachers who are prepared to learn from anyone, are pretty sure to be rewarded with what their books have failed to teach them, from some who have studied in a higher school. And if so, then private Christians, male and female, conscious of the possession of truth to which their teachers have not attained, have a duty to discharge to them from which they do not well entirely to shrink. 'It is instructive (says Lechler) that a man so important and influential in the apostolic age as Apollos, should have been indebted to a plain married couple for his special preparation for the ministry, and for his introduction into positive Christian truth.

These were the persons who first took notice of him and his promising gifts, but who also perceived what was defective in him; these were they who initiated him-certainly more highly gifted and more learned than themselves-more thoroughly in the Christian truth; these were they who assisted his coming to Corinth, and did their best to place the right man in the right place. Here, accordingly, simple laity-and especially a woman of a pious disposition and of solid Christian knowledge-have performed what, according to our ideas, is the business of theological institutions and ecclesiastical boards-a proof of the universal priesthood of the apostolic times.' Of course, there is a self-conceit which may easily crop out in such, the discouragement of which, on the part of teachers, they will interpret into unteachable pride. "But wisdom is justified of her children." The teachable will be humble, and the modest will not presume, while faith and love will overpower the infirmities of both in the common salvation and the one living Head.

(4) Every natural gift and acquirement, when laid at the feet of Jesus and sanctified to His service, is to be used to the uttermost, instead of being suppressed. As Aquila and Priscilla, from their long residence at Corinth, must have known the love there cherished for Greek wisdom, from which the Christians would not be quite weaned, there can hardly be a doubt that they perceived in Apollos the very gifts which were fitted to attract and edify that church; and that Paul having "planted" the truth there, on the principle of eschewing that wisdom which the Corinthians were apt to idolize, Apollos might now "water" it even more effectually than the apostle himself, by showing them that the same truth admitted of diversified illustration, and presenting to them in his own teaching an 'eloquence' akin to what they had been wont to idolize, yet wholly consecrated to the service of Christ. Be this as it may, as Aquila and Priscilla seem to have been the principal Christians as yet at Ephesus, no doubt the suggestion that Apollos should go to Corinth originated with them; the letter of the brethren 'exhorting the disciples' of that church 'to receive him,' must have been prompted, if not dictated, by them; and, availing himself of the information which they would give him as to the state of Corinth, he seems to have found immediate entrance, and in overpowering the Jews in argument, and so 'helping much the believing,' there can be no doubt that his special gifts went to rich account. It will be the wisdom of the Church, then, to develop every natural gift, and avail itself of every natural acquirement in its teachers, turning all into the channel of Christ's service.

After three months' labour in the synagogue, finding himself resisted and the work retarded by the unbelieving, he withdraws, as at Corinth, with the converts to the lecture-room of Tyrannus, which for two years became a center of evangelization for all Proconsular Asia, and the scene of glorious Gospel triumphs (19:8-20)

Verse 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.

And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly, [ eparreesiazeto (G3955)] - 'spake with freedom,' "for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God."

Verse 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.

But when divers (or 'certain') were hardened, and believed not - implying, however, that others, and probably a considerable number, believed,

But spake evil of that way, [ kakologountes (G2551) teen (G3588) hodon (G3598)] - 'calumniating' or 'speaking ill of the way' (see the note at Acts 9:2),

Before the multitude, he departed from them - just as he had done at Corinth (Acts 18:7),

And separated the disciples - withdrawing to a separate place of meeting, for the sake both of the converts already made, that he might be able to confirm and build them up, and of the unprejudiced multitude, that they might no longer be poisoned by a systematic and determined opposition to the truth.

Disputing (or 'discoursing') daily in the school (or 'lecture-room') of [one] Tyrannus. (The word "one" - omitted by Lachmann, Tishendorf, and Tregelles-is probably not genuine.) The attempt made by Meyer to make it probable that this Tyrannus was a Jew, and his school of a rabbinical character, is not successful. The almost universal opinion, that (whether converted or not) he was one of those Greek teachers of rhetoric or philosophy, who opened schools in all the principal cities of Greece and Roman Asia, has everything to confirm it.

Verse 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.

And this continued by the space of two years - in addition to the former three months. See the note at Acts 20:31. But during some part of this period he must have paid a second unrecorded visit to Corinth, since the one next recorded (see the notes at Acts 20:2-3) is twice called his third visit (2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1). See the notes at 2 Corinthians 1:15-16, which might seem inconsistent with this. The passage across was quite a short one (see the note at Acts 18:19). Toward the close of this long stay at Ephesus, as we learn from 1 Corinthians 16:8, he wrote his FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS; also (though on this opinions are divided), the EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS. (See Introductions to those Epistles.) And just as at Corinth his greatest success was after his withdrawal to a separate place of meeting (Acts 18:7-10), so was it at Ephesus.

So that all they which dwelt in (Proconsular or Roman) Asia heard the word of the Lord [Jesus]. (The bracketed word "Jesus" here has scarcely any authority, and is evidently not genuine.)

Both Jews and Greeks. This is that "great door and effectual" which was "opened unto him" while resident at Ephesus, as he tells his Corinthian converts (1 Corinthians 16:8-9), and which induced him to make it his head quarters for so long a period. The unwearied and varied character of his labours here are best seen in his own subsequent address to the Elders of Ephesus, (Acts 20:17, etc.) And thus (as Baumgarten says) Ephesus became the 'ecclesiastical center for the entire region, as indeed it remained for a very long period.' Churches arose eastward, at Colesse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, either through his own labours or those of his faithful helpers whom he sent out in different directions-Epaphras, Archippus, Philemon (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12-17; Philem

23).

Verse 11

And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

And God wrought special miracles, [ dunameis (G1411) ou (G3756) tas (G3588) tuchousas (G5177)] - 'no ordinary miracles.'

By the hands of Paul:

Verse 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.

So that from ('even from') his body were brought - `brought away' is the preferable reading [ apoferesthai (G667)] --

Unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons. The meaning is, that both were brought, and that the cures were performed whether the one or the other were used. See the note at Acts 5:15.

And the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. How different were these miracles from the magical arts practiced at Ephesus! (Acts 19:18-19.) "God" performed these "miracles" merely "by the hands of Paul;" and the very exorcists (Acts 19:13) observing that the name of Jesus was the secret of all his miracles, hoped, by aping him in this, to be equally successful; while the result of all, in the "magnifying of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:17), showed that in working them the apostle took care to hold up Him whom he preached as the source of all the miracles which he performed.

Verse 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.

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, [ perierchomenoon (G4022) Ioudaioon (G2453).] - simply, 'wandering' or 'traveling' Jews, who went from place to place practicing exorcism, or the art of conjuring evil spirits to depart out of the possessed. That such a power did exist, for some time at least, seems implied in Matthew 12:27. But, no doubt, this would breed imposture; and the present case is very different from that referred to in Luke 9:49-50.

Took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you - rather, 'I adjure you' (according to what is beyond doubt the true reading)

By Jesus whom Paul preacheth - a striking testimony to the power of Christ's name in Paul's mouth.

Verse 14

And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests - head, probably, of one of the 24 courses of the priests,

Which did so. It will appear from Acts 19:16 that only two of the seven did so on this occasion.

Verse 15

And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, [ ginooskoo (G1097) ... epistamai (G1987)] - 'Jesus I know, and Paul I am acquainted with.' Probably the latter word (though somewhat stronger) was not intended to express any greater knowledge of Paul than of Jesus, but merely to vary the expression (see Mark 1:24; Mark 1:34).

But who are ye? - an expression of unmeasured contempt for which they were evidently quite unprepared. But worse still:

Verse 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 the evil spirit was. Mark the clear line of demarcation here between "the evil spirit which answered and said," and "the man in whom the evil spirit was." The reality of such possessions could not be more clearly expressed.

Leaped on them, and overcame, [ katakurieusas (G2634) amfoteroon (G297)] - rather, 'mastered them both' (for this reading is not only better attested externally [ amfoteroon (G297) than autoon (G846) of the Received Text], but has internal evidence in its favour; for it never would have crept into the text if not genuine.)

And prevailed against (or 'overpowered') them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Verse 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.

And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them. And who can wonder that so appalling a testimony, at once against those profane impostors, and in favour of Paul and the Master whom he preached, should spread far and wide, and fill with fear all that heard it? nor is what follows more to be wondered at: "and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified."

Verse 18

And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

Verse 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.

Many ('a considerable number') of them also which used curious arts, [ ta (G3588) perierga (G4021) praxantoon (G4238)] - 'who had practiced the magic arts.' The word signifies 'things overdone,' and is here significantly applied to arts in which laborious but senseless incantations were practiced.

Brought their books together (containing the mystic formularies), and burned them before all - the imperfect tense graphically expressing the progress and continuance of the conflagration. These miserable dupes of magicians, and other pretended traffickers with invisible powers, having got their eyes opened, now come forward openly acknowledging how shamefully they had been deluded, and how deeply they had allowed themselves to be implicated in such practices.

And they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver - about 2,000 British pounds sterling, supposing it to be the drachma, the current coin of the Levant. the value of which was about tenpence sterling. From their nature, those books would be costly; and books in general then bore a higher value than now.

While Paul is preparing to leave for Macedonia and Achaia, the idol-makers of Ephesus, whose craft was suffering through the success of the Gospel, raise a tumult in the city, which is with difficulty quelled by the civil authorities (19:21-41)

Verse 20

So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

After these things were ended (or 'completed') - implying something like a natural finish to his long period of labour at Ephesus;

Paul purposed in the spirit, [ en (G1722 ) too (G3588 ) pneumati (G4151 ), 'in his spirit,'] when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. Mark here the vastness of the apostle's missionary plans, which seem only to have expanded the more ground he overtook and the more victorious his course. 'No Alexander (says Bengel), no Caesar, no other hero approaches the large-mindedness of this little Benjamite (a play upon the word Paulus). The truth of Christ, faith in and love to Christ, made his heart wide as the ocean.' The plans here expressed were all of them fulfilled, although he 'saw Rome' only as a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

Verse 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.

So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus - as his pioneers, in order (as he tells the Corinthians) to "bring them in remembrance of his ways which were in Christ" (1 Corinthians 4:17), or, in other words, to communicate his mind to them on various matters. (Compare also 1 Corinthians 16:10.) After a brief stay, he wished Timothy to return to him (1 Corinthians 16:11). That this Erastus was the same who is called (in Romans 16:23) "the chamberlain of the city" (of Corinth) is very doubtful. He is again mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:20.

But he himself stayed in (Roman) Asia for a season - meaning, in the province (in contrast with "Macedonia," in the previous clause), and at Ephesus, its capital city.

Verse 23

And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

And the same time (of Paul's proposed departure), there arose no small stir about that (rather, 'the') way - (see the note at Acts 9:2.)

Verse 24

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

For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for (rather, 'of') Diana - or 'Artemis' (the one the Latin, the other the Greek name of the goddess); the tutelary goddess of the Ephesians. But the great divinity of the Greeks, who was so called, differed in some important respects from the Ephesian Artemis, who was more allied-in her supposed properties-to Astarte and other Oriental divinities of the female sex. These "shrines" or 'temples' were small models of the Ephesian temple and of the shrine or chapel of the goddess-or of the shrine and statuealone-which were purchased by visitors as memorials of what they had seen, and were carried about and deposited in houses as a charm. The models of the chapel of our Lady of Loretto, and such like, which the Church of Rome systematically encourages, are such a palpable imitation of this pagan practice, that it is no wonder it should be regarded by impartial judges as Christianity Paganized, or Baptized Paganism. Brought no small gain unto the craftsmen - the master-artificers.

Verse 25

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

Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation - rather, 'with the workmen in that line;' that is, the artisans who worked for masters, including all who manufactured for sale any sort of memorial of the temple or its service: "and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth."

Verse 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:

Moreover ye see and hear. The evidences of this state of things were, it seems, to be seen, and the report of it was in everybody's mouth.

That not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all (Proconsular) Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, [ hikanon (G2425) ochlon (G3793)] - 'a considerable multitude.' Noble testimony this, from an enemy's mouth, to the vast extent to which idolatry had suffered through Paul's labours, even though we allow for some exaggeration, with the view of exciting the auditors.

Saying that they be no gods which are made with hands. The universal belief of the people was that they were gods, though the more intelligent regarded them only as habitations of Deity, and some, probably, as mere aids to devotion. It is exactly so in the Church of Rome.

Verse 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.

So that not only this our craft, [ meros (G3313)] - literally, 'our share' (of the business), Is in danger to be set at nought; but ... - q.d., 'that indeed is a small matter; but there is something far worse.' So the masters of the poor Pythoness put forward the religious revolution which Paul was attempting to effect at Philippi, as the sole cause of their zealous alarm, to cloak the self-interest which they felt to be touched by his success (Acts 16:19-21). In both cases religious zeal was the hypocritical pretext; self-interest the real moving cause of the opposition made.

But also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised ('counted as nought'), and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. (For full particulars on this subject the reader is referred to Howson, and to a recent work, entitled, 'Ephesus and the Temple of Diana,' by

E. Falkener, 1862, from which we give the following summary, and of the former of which we avail ourselves in the sequel of the exposition.) The antiquity of Ephesus is amazing, and its history long, varied, and splendid. Its ruins, if excavated, would, no doubt, richly reward the pains, if even the site of the temple were ascertained. It is still, however, an unexplored mine. The ruins, though principally Grecian, are some of them of older date. The city seems to have been geometrically planned. It contained vast public buildings besides the temple. The Agora (G58) was probably above 300 feet square, with a vestibule of at least 400 more.

The Gymnasia were probably five in number-one of them not less than 450 by 377 feet in area, while the largest was 925 by 685, occupying 15 acres of ground, or twice the enclosure of the British Museum. The Theatre (Acts 19:29) was the largest ever erected, being 660 feet in diameter (40 feet more than the major axis of the Coliseum). Allowing 15 feet to each, it would accommodate 56,700 spectators (whereas Drury Lane Theatre, in London, holds only 3,200, and Covent Garden 2,800). It contained also innumerable temples. But all is now a desert. It is with the temple, however, and its worship that we have here chiefly to do. It was reckoned one of the wonders of the world. It was built about 550 BC, of pure white marble, and though burned by a fanatic on the night of the birth of Alexander the Great, B.C. 356, was rebuilt with more splendour than before. It was 425 feet long by 220 broad, and the columns, 127 in number, were 60 feet in height, each of them the gift of a king, and thirty-six of them enriched with ornament and colour.

It was what the Bank of England is in the modern world, the larger portion of the wealth of Western Asia being stored up in it. It was continually receiving new decorations and additional buildings, statues, and pictures by the most celebrated artists, and kindled unparalleled admiration, enthusiasm, and superstition. Its very site is now a matter of uncertainty. The little wooden image of Diana was as primitive and rude as its shrine was sumptuous; not like the Greek Diana, in the form of an imposing huntress, but quite Asiatic, in the form of a many-breasted female (emblematic of the manifold ministrations of nature to man), terminating in a shapeless block. Like some other far-famed idols, it was believed to have fallen from heaven (Acts 19:35); and models of it were not only sold in immense numbers to private persons, but set up for worship in other cities. What power must have attended the preaching of that one man by whom the death-blow was felt to be given to so gigantic and witching a superstition!

Verse 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 these saying, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. This was the civic cry of a populace so proud of their temple that (as Strabo says) they refused to inscribe on it the name of Alexander the Great, though he offered them the whole spoil of his eastern campaign if they would do it.

Verse 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.

And the [whole] city (probably "whole" is not genuine) was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel - being disappointed of Paul himself; just as at Thessalonica they laid hands on Jason (Acts 17:5-6). The fellow-travelers of the apostle here named are also mentioned in Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14; and probably in 3 John. If it was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (whom Paul left at Ephesus on his first incidental visit to it, Acts 18:19) that the apostle now found an asylum from the fury of the Ephesian mob, that would explain what he says of them in Romans 16:3-4 that "for his life they laid down their own necks."

They rushed with one accord into the theater - a vast pile (see p. 142) whose ruins are even now a wreck of immense grandeur.

Verse 30

And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

And when, Paul would have entered (or 'wished to enter') in unto the people - the deemos (G1218), that is, the people met in public assembly; with noble forgetfulness of self.

The disciples suffered him not, [ ouk (G3756) eioon (G1439)] - the tense implying, perhaps, that they had to use some effort, and with difficulty prevented him.

Verse 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.

And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, [ toon (G3588) Asiarchoon (G775)] - 'And some, even of the Asiarchs, who were friendly to him.' These Asiarchs were wealthy and distinguished citizens of the principal towns of the Asian province, chosen annually, and 10 of whom were selected by the Proconsul to preside over the games celebrated in the month of May (the same month which Romanism dedicates to the Virgin). It was an office of the highest honour, and greatly coveted. Certain of these, it seems, were favourably inclined to the Gospel-at least were Paul's "friends" - and knowing the passions of an Ephesian mob, excited during the festivals,

Sent unto him, desiring ('beseeching') him that he would not adventure himself into the theater.

Verse 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.

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

Verse 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.

And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward - rather, 'And some of the multitude urged forward Alexander, the Jews thrusting him forward.' As the blame of such a tumult would naturally be thrown upon the Jews, who were regarded by the Romans as the authors of all religious disturbances, they seem to have put forward this man to clear themselves of all responsibility for the riot. (Bengel's conjecture, that this was Alexander the coppersmith, 2 Timothy 4:14, has little to support it.)

And Alexander beckoned with the hand (cf. Acts 13:16 ; Acts 21:40 ), and would have made his defense - `wished to speak in defense,' "unto the people."

Verse 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 they knew [ epignontes (G1921) de (G1161)] -'But when they came to know' But when they knew, [ epignontes (G1921) de (G1161)] - 'But when they came to know'

That he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out - `one shout arose from them all, for about two hours, crying out,'

Great is Diana of the Ephesians. The very appearance of a Jew had the opposite effect to that intended. To prevent him obtaining a hearing, they drowned his voice in one tumultuous shout in honour of their goddess, which rose to such frantic enthusiasm as took two hours to exhaust itself.

Verse 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?

And when the town-clerk, [ ho (G3588) grammateus (G1122)] - the keeper of the public archives, and a magistrate of great authority,

Had appeased the people - `calmed,' or 'stilled the multitude,' which the very presence of such an officer would go far to do,

He said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper, [ neookoron (G3511)] - literally, the neocoros, or 'warden.' The word means 'temple-sweeper,' then 'temple-guardian.' Thirteen cities of Asia had an interest in the temple; but Ephesus was honoured with the charge of it. (In like manner, as Webster and Wilkinson remark, various cities have claimed this title with reference to the Virgin, or certain saints.)

Of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter, [ Diopetous (G1356)] - 'of the Jove-dropped,' or 'sky-dropped' [image]. See the note at Acts 19:27. 'Scarcely less veneration (says Humphry) is paid at the present day to the clay miracle-working images of the Virgin at Einsiedeln in Switzerland, Mariazell in Styria, etc. -the works, probably, of early Byzantine or Oriental artists. (Raoul-Rochette, in Lord Lyndsay on Christian Art. 1: 78.) A still closer analogy to the image falling from Jupiter may perhaps be found in the traditional likenesses of Christ, which, as were pretended, were "not made with hands [acheiropoieetai], and by means of which the Christian Church was first reconciled to the reception and veneration of images. (See Gibbon. ch. 49: and Gretser's treatise in defense of them, entitled, "De Imaginibus non Manufactis," 1625.)

Verse 36

Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

Standing on purely legal ground, he urges that such was notoriously the constitution and fixed character of the city, with which its very existence was all but bound up; 'And did they suppose that all this was going to be overturned by a set of itinerant orators? Ridiculous! What did they mean, then, by raising such a stir?'

Verse 37

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

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, [ hierosulous (G2417)] - rather 'temple plunderers;' that is, sacrilegious persons (or 'revilers'),

Nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. This is a remarkable testimony, showing that the apostle had, in preaching against idolatry, studiously avoided (as at Athens) insulting the feelings of those whom he addressed-a lesson this to missionaries and ministers in general.

Verse 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.

Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter (of complaint) against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies, [ agoraioi (G60) agontai (G71) kai (G2532) anthupatoi (G446) eisin (G1526)] - rather, 'court-days are being holden, and there are proconsuls' (see the note at Acts 13:7); meaning, probably, not that there were more than one proconsul there, but that he was there, with his council, as a court of appeal.

Let them implead one another.

Verse 39

But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

But if ye inquire, [ epizeeteite (G1934)] - are 'in pursuit of' Anything concerning other matters, [ti peri eteroon] - but probably the true reading is 'if ye are seeking anything further.' [ ti (G5100) peraiteroo (G4014) - which, though supported only by B and about 15 cursives, with one manuscript of the Vulgate (ulterius), has internal evidence decidedly in its favour, and is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles];

It shall be determined in a ('in the') lawful assembly.

Verse 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.

For we (the public authorities) are in danger to be called in question - `of being impeached' by our superiors

For ('about') this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby ('no ground on which') we may give an account of this concourse.

Verse 41

And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

Remarks:

(1) As the necessity under which Paul felt himself to transfer his labours from the synagogue to a separate place of meeting, first at Corinth and next at Ephesus, was one of the steps by which his own mind and those of his Jewish co-adjutors were gradually loosened from the exclusiveness of the ancient economy, so unforeseen and resistless events in Providence have from age to age been more effectual than all arguments would have been without them, in setting the faithful servants of Christ free from ancestral prejudices; enabling them to discover, and emboldening them to avail themselves of the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. Had the disciples who hung about Jerusalem not been all scattered abroad, with the exception of the apostles, by the persecution which arose after the martyrdom of Stephen, they had probably never preached even to their Jewish Brethren; still less would those who found themselves in the midst of pagans at Antioch have preached to such the unsearchable riches of Christ, and reared up there a beautiful church of uncircumised Gentiles. Events forced upon them a course of action which, though at first they might go into with some hesitation, they would afterward feel to have been their privilege from the first. So at the time of the glorious Reformation almost every step was rather forced on than deliberately chosen; so it has been in some events of our own day; and so, we doubt not, it will yet be, in the ecclesiastical struggles which wise men see to be approaching. Thus it is that men are gradually prepared for occupying positions and discharging duties from which they would shrink, and for which they might prove unqualified, were they called to them all at once, and by the mere force of argument.

(2) 'In the silversmith Demetrius, and his companions (says Gerok) we recognize-first, The abject slaves of business, who, in the pursuit of temporal gain, have lost all regard for eternity; next, the blind adherents of established customs, who, from every fresh movement of the Spirit, fear the disturbance of their ease, and, indeed, the destruction of the world; thirdly, the self-satisfied priests of the Beautiful, who, in idolatrous veneration for nature and art, acknowledge no consciousness of sin, and no need of grace. Compare Goethe's poem, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians,' and his confession in his correspondence with Jacobi-`I am even now one of the Ephesian silversmiths who has spent his whole life in the contemplation and admiration and adoration of the wonderful temple of the goddess (Nature), and in imitation of her mysterious forms; and in whom it cannot possibly stir up an agreeable feeling, if any apostle will obtrude another and a formless God' [that is, a living and invisible Author of Nature]; fourthly, the hypocritical zealots for the Church and Religion, who, with their apparent zeal for God's house, have only their own interest in view.'

(3) The cry, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," suggests also to Gerok the following striking practical thoughts:

(a) 'Great and glorious is the kingdom of nature; but we find our true home and our right place only in the Kingdom of Grace.

(b) Great and beautiful are the works of the human mind in art and science; but without the discipline of the Divine Spirit and the light of the Christian Revelation, art and science fall into the grossest error.

(c) Great and strong is the power of the human will; but with the best will we can render to the holy God no pure service and build no worthy temple, if His Spirit cleanse not our hearts into His sanctuary and perfect His strength in our weakness.

(d) Great and remarkable are the histories of earthly kingdoms (as Greece and Rome); but the Cross-kingdom of Jesus Christ triumphs over all. Ephesus lies in ruins, and the temple of Diana in ashes; but the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church of Christ.'

(4) When we think with what difficulty complicated systems of religious fraud and superstition, which have for ages held peoples in abject bondage and fear, are made to lose their hold, one cannot but wonder at the rapid success of the Gospel in the hands of Paul at Ephesus, not only in the explosion of the 'curious arts' there practiced, but even in shaking to its center the magnificent worship of the witching temple, which it afterward entirely extinguished. And if this Gospel is still the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, and the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost sent down from heaven, is not withdrawn, should not the Church of God-in now sending forth men of God in the spirit of Paul, not to blaspheme, but to assail the gigantic and hoary superstitions which still hold sway over millions of our race-expect the like results?

(5) What discerning mind can fail to see in the principles which lie at the foundation of Romish superstition the same idolatrous and irrational character which distinguished the worship of the Ephesian temple; and opposed as these are fundamentally to those of the New Testament, who does not perceive that the growth of this system is the growth of all that is antichristian, that its existence is the blot of Christendom, and that its overthrow-root and branch-is essential to the triumph of the kingdom of God?

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/acts-19.html. 1871-8.