Paul Back in Ephesus Addressing the Issue of Baptisms
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.”
As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.Acts 19:1-7
Back to the Synagogue
Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.Acts 19:8-10
Miracles vs Magic
God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!”
Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honoured. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.Acts 19:11-20
Bridge: The Compulsion of the Spirit and Paul’s Response
Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia.Acts 19:21-22
Serious Trouble in Ephesus
About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows: “Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!”
At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.
Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess. “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.Acts 19:23-41
Paul is now back in Ephesus after Apollos has moved on to Macedonia and Achaia. Notice later (vs 21-22) that Paul intends to follow Apollos to Macedonia and Achaia. Who is following who here? It is like Apollos is going to the places that Paul has been and then Paul goes back to those places following Apollos. Is this intentional on their part or just the result of the Holy Spirit’s leading for both of them? Notice also that Luke caps certain passages with his characteristic statement concerning the spread of the Gospel. (vs 10 and 20)
You do know what the GOSPEL stands for don’t you? G.O.S.P.E.L. God Offering Sinful People Eternal LifeIan Vail
You know what the BIBLE stands for don’t you? Be Informed Before Leaving EarthIan Vail
We need again to address the issue of baptisms – plural. Which we will do in the next Gem.
Here are some responses I have received:
- Why did Paul go back to the Jews in the synagogue when supposedly he had shaken the dust off his feet concerning the Jews and moved on?
- Especially so when he met with the same Jewish response?
- What was it that went on for two years?
- How is it that Jews and Greeks throughout the Province of Asia heard the Word of the Lord when Paul stayed in Ephesus?
- Isn’t it suspect how the gospel is compared to magic Ian?
- Is it ok to use handkerchiefs and magic for God?
- I have never understood why the story of the sons of Sceva is in the Bible. It all seems too magical to me Ian.
- Does Sceva mean something that we don’t know about?
- “I look forward to your explanation of the burning of the books.”
- Was it because the books were burned that the Word of the Lord was released?
- I have wondered about the need to burn things in order to release the power of God.
- It is funny that Paul feels compelled and then sends his two assistants. It is like Moses – “I can’t; send Aaron.”
- Why is it that there is a pattern here? The Word of God spreads and opposition comes?
- Just when there is progress and significant things happen then persecution or something else happens to get in the way of the work? I feel like this is my life too. Please comment.
The only way to avoid pain is to avoid people. Since we are called to love people, we will never avoid pain. Pain is a sign we are loving.Christine Caine
It’s better to express your love awkwardly than not express it at all.Anon
Our culture doesn’t love love. It loves the idea of love. It wants the emotion without paying anything for it.Anon
Religion: If I OBEY, then God will love and accept me. vs The Gospel: I am LOVED and accepted, therefore I wish to obey.Tim Keller