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Chapters 19

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ch. 19:1-22    ch. 19:23-41   

Paul in Ephesus (ch. 19:1 - 22)

In verse 1 Luke begins to tell the story of Paulís third missionary trip.  He does not sail as he often does but he takes an inland road and ends up in Ephesus.  I am sure that Paul has met up with many of his brothers in Jesus along the way to Ephesus but Luke does not record any of these events.

Luke begins with Paulís arrival in Ephesus where he meets twelve men.  Here is the dialogue between Paul and these twelve men as seen in verses 2 through 7.

Paul asks these men, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed"?  They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit".  Paul then asks, "so what baptism did you receive"?  They answered, "Johnís baptism".   Paul then replied, "Johnís baptism was a baptism of repentance.  John told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus". On hearing this these twelve Ephesian men were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

This section of Scripture is important in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles.  It is one text Pentecostal and Charismatics use to prove what they call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, which they claim to be a second work of grace.  I use the term second work of grace because it is the term they use.  The first work of grace is initial salvation, that is to say, oneís conversion experience where one receives the Holy Spirit.  The second work of grace is this experienced called the Baptism in the Spirit where the Holy Spirit is poured out on a person who already has the Spirit.  This experience gives the recipient the power to be true witnesses to Jesus.  Pentecostal teaching says that these twelve men received the baptism in the Holy Spirit here and that in fact it was a second work of grace for them, but, was this really a second work of grace?  Did these men already have the Holy Spirit in their lives and what happened here was a subsequent outpouring of the Spirit?  The answer to this question is clearly no.  This was not a second work of grace.  I'll explain.

There are a few variations of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  One variation is that it is a second work of grace as I've just pointed out.  You receive the Holy Spirit when you first get saved and then at some later date the Holy Spirit is poured out on you in power, which is commonly called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  The other way of thinking, which is not as popular, is that when you get saved you do not receive the Holy Spirit.  You receive him at the second work of grace called the Baptism in the Spirit.  Did either of these two scenarios take place here?

Let's look at what really happened. Paul goes to Ephesus and finds twelve men. While talking with these men who appear to be brothers in Christ something is triggered in Paul's mind.  He thinks that something is not quite right here.  Even though Luke calls these men disciples in verse 1, Paul is scratching his head as he's trying to figure out what's going on. 

Paul begins to realize what is going on here.  He's beginning to realize that something is missing, and it had to do with the Holy Spirit.  Paul asks these men if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. 

Paul had to have thought that the Holy Spirit was the missing ingredient in these menís lives.  He must have also have thought that one should receive the Spirit when one first believes or else he would not have asked this question.  In Romans 8:9 Paul says that one cannot belong to God without the Holy Spirit in his life.  It thus only makes sense that Paul would ask this question of these men. 

These men reply by saying that they did not even know that there was any such thing called the Holy Spirit.  At this point things began to clear up in Paulís mind.  He was now beginning to figure out the problem.  This very thing went through Aquila and Priscillaís mind when they first met Apollos.

Paul thought to himself that if these men know nothing of the Spirit of God, how could they really be born again of the Holy Spirit.  Again, I call your attention to Romans 8:9 where Paul says that that one cannot be a part of God without the Spirit of God in his life.  Paul then asks, "What baptism did you receive"?  Hopefully the answer to this question would clear up this mystery, and it did.  They said that they were baptized with Johnís baptism.

With this answer came complete clarity in Paulís mind.  Paul knew what the problem was.  These men only knew of John the Baptist.  Like Apollos, they did not even know that Jesus, the one John preached about, had already come. Lived His life, ministered for at least 3 years, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and gave the Holy Spirit to the believers.  In fact, these men were still living in Old Testament times.  They needed to come into the New Testament era and receive the Holy Spirit into their lives. 

So I ask, "When were these men born again"?  If being born again means receiving the Holy Spirit into one's life, which I believe it means, they were born again here in Acts 19.  The text states that they were water baptized and when Paul laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.  This was not a second work of grace in the sense they first believed in the resurrected Jesus and received His Spirit and now they received what is commonly called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  This in fact was their salvation experience.

You might ask if these men would have gone to heaven if they had died prior to this time in their lives.  I can only say that God only knows.  My guess is that they obeyed the Lord with the best knowledge they had, so it is quite possible that they would have went to heaven.  On the other hand, it appears that God gave them the chance to be really born again, so, the question isn't really relevant.  One might say that anyone in the same position that these men were in would have the same chance.  God won't leave a person in such a state of spiritual limbo.  

The experience that the one hundred twenty experienced in Acts 2, the Samaritans in Acts 8, Paul himself in Acts 9, the Gentiles in Acts 10, happened to these Ephesians here in Acts 19.  When the Holy Spirit comes into one's life, something dramatic takes place.

These men were re-baptized, but this time into the name of the Lord Jesus and not in the name of John's baptism.  This is the only place in the New Testament where we see people being re-baptized.   We should note however, that these people were not baptized twice in the name of Jesus.  They were only baptized in Jesus' name once and that was right here.

It's my thinking that Pentecostals and Charismatics cannot used this portion of Scripture to support the second work of grace called the Baptism in the Spirit, just as I believe they can't use Acts 2, 8, 9, or 10, to support their thinking.      

Verse 8 tells us that Paul was back in the synagogue teaching.  This time Luke says that he spoke boldly for three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God.  We have seen Paul preach, teach, and reason.  Now we see him arguing persuasively.  I can't see anyone winning an argument with Paul.  Either you lose gracefully and accept his teaching or you, as these people did, get mad at him and try to run him out of town. 

The topic Paul was teaching was the Kingdom of God.  This means that Paul was first trying to persuade these people about their Messiah, their real king, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is king of His kingdom that must rule in their hearts and that would some day come to earth in a physical sense.  This was the hope of the Jews.  They just didn't believe the kingdom came through Jesus.      

Many people today would say that "arguing" has no place in the preaching of the gospel, but Paul must not have felt that way.  Under certain circumstances arguing might well be appropriate.  You can certainly see that Paul was convinced of what he was saying.  Many people aren't so convinced today, and that might be one reason why they wouldn't arguer a point.  Tolerance for other viewpoints would be another reason.  

Concerning the Kingdom of God we should know that on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 the Kingdom of God came to earth in a spiritual sense.  The arrival of the Holy Spirit into the lives of Godís people has brought this spiritual Kingdom to the earth.  As I said above, some day this now spiritual kingdom will become a physical kingdom when Jesus returns to earth as king and rules the nations of the earth.  The Old Testament speaks of the Messiah returning to sit on the throne of David, and that is what Jesus will do when He returns to earth.  He will rule for one thousand years as stated in Revelation 20.  At that point, Israel will have the kingdom restored to them with Jesus as their king.    

If you remember, you will note that Jesus often said that the Kingdom of God is near you, or close at hand.  Why did He say that?  One reason might be that He is King of this Kingdom and when He was in the presence of people, they in turn were close at hand to the Kingdom of God.  Another answer might be that with the soon arrival of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God would soon be coming to earth, albeit in spiritual and invisible form.

Once again many Jews rejected Paulís teaching and once again Paul left the synagogue and went elsewhere to teach.  In verse 9 Luke says that he ďtook the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

No one really knows who Tyrannus was.  The lecture hall could have been a school where he taught.  It could have been a Greek school.  Most suggest that it was not a religious place.  The point to be made here is that Paul would teach anywhere he could.  It didn't really matter to him, and this was the attitude of the early church.  It did not really matter where they met, as long as they met as the living Body of Christ and not some static religious group.  Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 tells us what a gathering of the saints should look like.  We seldom see this in today's church.  This reminds me of what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:5 when he said that some would hold to a form of godliness but deny the power of God.  Paul told Timothy to stay away from such people.

In verse 8 we note that the opposition from certain Jews was not against Paul himself but to all who followed "the Way".  We see the words ďthe WayĒ again, as a name designated to those who followed Jesus.

Verse 10 tells us that Paul taught for two whole years in this format.  This must have just thrilled Paul.  To stay that long in one place and teach Jesus would have just filled him with joy.  

In verses 11 and 12 Luke records that during these two years that extra ordinary miracles took place through Paul.  Aprons and handkerchiefs that he would touch were taken by others to sick people and they were healed, as well as demons being driven out of people.  Luke says that these were extra ordinary miracles.  Luke had seen miracles, but the ones taking place here in Ephesus were beyond the normal miracle.

We should note these were no magic tricks.  People were healed because of the aprons touching Paul.  These people had faith and they demonstrated their faith by using what they had in any way possible.  

In verse 13 Luke tells us that certain Jews were trying to cast out demons by saying, ďin the name of Jesus, whom Paul preachesĒ.  These men did not understand what the name of Jesus meant.  The name of Jesus is more than a formula, more than words added to the end of a prayer.  We as Christians represent Jesus to those we meet.  We are in fact Jesusí representatives.  This is what the name of Jesus means.  When we do anything in His name, we do it in the place of Jesus.  We do it for Jesus.  He has appointed us to represent Him.  Once again, this is what is meant by the term "in the name of Jesus". 

These particular Jewish men were not representing Jesus when they were trying to cast out demons.  Jesus had not appointed them to represent Him.  They were using the words, in the name of Jesus as a formula, and it didnít work, and it wonít work today.  It is sad to say but many Christians today do not understand what the name of Jesus is all about.  They use it at the end of a prayer, thinking that it has some special significance, when in fact it doesnít.  You donít have to end a prayer by saying, in the name of Jesus.

In verse 15 we see that these men, seven in all, tried to cast a demon out of a man using this formula and the spirit answered them by saying, "Jesus we know, and Paul we have heard of, but who are you".  Then the demons, using the manís body, jumped on all 7 men and beat them up.  They ran from the house where they were, naked and bleeding.  Suffice to say, we should take demon possession seriously.

In verse 17 Luke tells us that after this incident the name of Jesus was held in high regard.  The Kingdom of God had definitely come to the city of Ephesus in all of its power.  Luke says that the city was seized with fear.  I canít remember the last time our city was seized with fear because of the great power of God that was seen in Godís people. 

Another result of the power of God is seen in verse 19 when many new believers who had formerly practiced sorcery brought their sorcery books together and burned them in one big fire.  The value of these books was 50,000 drachmas, or roughly about $8,500.00 to $10,000.00. 

In verse 20 Luke says that "in this way the Word of the Lord spread".  When people saw, and when they see today, acts of repenting, like the burning of these expensive books, they know the seriousness of oneís commitment to Jesus.  They in turn think seriously about making the same commitment.  If people donít see any evidence of repentance in our lives, there is obviously no witness coming from us. Thus we hinder the spreading of the gospel by the way we live, by living as unrepentant people.

In verse 21 Paul decides that he would go to Jerusalem, via Macedonia and Achaia, which is in the opposite direction to Jerusalem.  He would head north then west and then back down south.  Achaia is where Corinth is.  After Jerusalem he wanted to visit Rome, on his way to Spain.

We should know that Paul really wanted to go to Spain because as far as he knew, no one had preached the gospel in Spain as of yet.  There is a debate whether Paul ever got to Spain or not.  The last we see of Paul is in Rome at the end of the book of Acts where he is awaiting trial before Caesar.  

Little did Paul know at this time that he would indeed reach Rome some day, but not as a free man, but as a prisoner.  Rome would be crucial to the gospel. It was the capital of the Roman Empire and the gateway to points farther west.  Paulís dream was to preach in Spain , but before he could get to Spain he would have to pass through Rome.  We donít really know for sure that he ever reached Spain , although there are a good number of scholars who strongly believe he did reach Spain.

During his stay here in Ephesus is when Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church.  1 Corinthians 16:10 tells us that Paul delayed his trip to Corinth because a great effective door of ministry was opened to him.  He sent Timothy and Erasuts in his place until the time came when he felt he could leave. It was also during this time when Paul started the collection of money for the poor saints in Jerusalem . 

The Riot In Ephesus (ch. 19:23 - 44)

To date most, if not all of Paulís opposition has come from the Jews, but this is about to change.  When Jews became Christians, they left the Mosaic Law for Jesus.  When pagan Gentiles became Christians they left their idol worship along with the wooden, stone, silver, and gold idols.

Note the term "the Way" once again in verse 23.  The early Christians were known as the Way because their faith in Jesus was a life style.  It wasn't merely a new philosophical way of thinking.  It was a change of life and a way of living.   

In verse 24 we see a man named Demetrius who was a silversmith.  He made shrines and statues for the goddess Artemis out of silver.  Luke tells us that he made a very good living from his occupation and had people working for him.  Because many pagans in Ephesus , and throughout Asia, as Demetrius puts it, became followers of Jesus, they had no need for idols and shrines of there old god Artemis.  This put a huge strain on his business's profit margin.  He was deeply distressed over this and got everyone in his business and related trades together. 

Artemis, also known as Dianna, was the goddess of sex and fertility.  She had a temple in Ephesus erected to her that was considered one of the seven wonders of the world at the time.  There were thousands of male and female prostitutes at the temple.  Prostitution was a part of pagan worship, and this was especially so in Ephesus.         

In verses 25 to 27 Demetrius tells his cohorts that Paul preaches that man-made gods are no gods at all.  Demetrius figured that if Paul's message spread any further they would lose their income.  Besides that, Artemis would lose her influence, place of worship among the gods, and her temple would be desecrated. In short, because of the affective preaching of one man, the whole religious culture in Ephesus would change.

Verse 28 tells us that when they heard this they were furious and began shouting; great is Artemis of the Ephesians.  Soon an uproar began.  Two of Paulís travelling companions were seized and dragged into the theatre. 

In verses 30 and 31 we see that Paul wanted to go into the theatre and speak to this mob, but the disciples which included some government officials begged him not to do so.  Note that Paul's message was even believed by some of the Roman officials.  Paul's mission was successful. He was reaching the Gentile world that God told him he would back in Acts 9.  

The theatre mentioned here was an amphitheater seating 20,000 people.  It was often used for very large gatherings.

Verse 32 tells us that this crowd was now in mass confusion.  There were many that did not even know why they were protesting. 

Luke then tells us in verse 33 that "the Jews pushed Alexander to the front Ö"  He was supposed to make some kind of defense on behalf of the Jews, but when the crowd found out that he was a Jew they shouted Great is Artemis for another two hours.  We should understand that these pagans were just as much against the Jews as they were against the Christians.  The only difference is that the Christians were evangelizing while the Jews weren't.   

We really donít know who Alexander is.  We donít know whether he was a real Jew or not.  Alexander is not a traditional Jewish name.  It's an Egyptian name, thus the question whether he was a real Jew or not.  Whatever the case, it appears the Jews were now on the side of the pagans in order to rid Christianity from Ephesus.  It's simple human nature to side with your enemies when it is to your advantage.  This is what the Jews were doing here.       

In verse 35 the town clerk, a city official, gets up to address this unruly mob.  At once with the sight of his appearance the crowd settles down.  He re-assures the crowd that the whole world knows about the goddess Artemis and her statue that fell from heaven.  In actuality this statue was found, and they only presumed it fell from heaven where Zeus, another god, lived. What the town clerk was saying is that if you are really secure in your religious beliefs, you shouldnít get all that upset.  He says that the reality of Artemis is undeniable, and if it is undeniable then she will look after you. Beyond this, the men that they dragged to the theatre had "not robbed the temple or blasphemed our goddess". 

In verse 38 the city clerk then proceeded to state that this was not a legal assembly, and that there were legal procedures to follow if Demetrius wanted to press charges.  If the crowd continued rioting, they would then be in danger of legal action against them.  They could be charged with causing a riot.  This settled the crowd and the mob dispersed. 

Ephesus had a special Roman colony status, and if they had kept rioting, they were in danger of losing this special status. 

 

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