Acts of the Apostles – 19

The Inspired History




  1. Paul Rebaptizes Apollos’s Converts at Ephesus (1-7).
    1. He exposes their obsolete baptism unto repentance (1-3).
    2. He explains the change in baptism and baptizes them (4-5).
    3. He lays hands on them to receive the Holy Ghost (6-7).
  2. Paul Evangelizes Asia from Ephesus (8-12).
    1. He works for three months in the synagogue (8).
    2. He teaches in a school for two years (9-10).
    3. He was blessed with special miracles (11-12).
  3. Imposters Prove Paul’s Apostolic Authority (13-20).
    1. Some Jewish gypsies attempt an exorcism (13-17).
    2. The resulting spiritual fear brought further revival (18-20).
  4. The Lord Ends a Riot Caused by Demetrius (21-41).
    1. Paul prepares to leave Ephesus for Macedonia (21-22).
    2. Demetrius the silversmith incites a riot (23-28).
    3. The whole city engages in a confused assembly (29-34).
    4. The townclerk turns the proceedings into nothing (35-41).

The Sense and Meaning

  1. Paul meets disciples at Ephesus, whom had obsolete baptisms, likely from Apollos (Acts 19:1-3).
    1. A complete and detailed analysis of this section is in an outline entitled “Rebaptism.”
    2. Apollos, an aggressive and accomplished teacher, had been evangelizing at Ephesus.
      1. He knew only John’s baptism (Acts 18:25), so converts were baptized unto John.
      2. Aquila and Priscilla had converted him further before sending him to Corinth.
    3. Paul then arrives in Ephesus after confirming churches in Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:23).
    4. These certain men were twelve in number (Acts 19:7), and they were believing disciples (Acts 19:1-2).
      1. By contextual location, we believe these disciples were converts of Apollos.
      2. Apollos knew the way of the Lord Jesus and taught Him diligently, but he was ignorant concerning baptism, Pentecost, and the Holy Ghost.
      3. It is highly probably that Aquila and Priscilla told Paul of these alien baptisms.
    5. Paul, by way of two probing questions, determines a faulty baptism for their condition.
      1. They lacked the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit necessary at that time.
      2. And they further explain they knew nothing of Paul’s gifts of the Holy Ghost.
      3. The Holy Ghost came by proper baptism (Acts 2:38), so Paul asks of their baptism.
      4. They further explain they had been baptized unto John’s baptism, which was not a baptism by John, but rather an unauthorized baptism copying John.
  2. Paul explains that John’s baptism was anticipatory of Jesus Christ by “that is” (Acts 19:4-5).
    1. The baptism of repentance was prior to Pentecost, since then it is baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, Whom God has exalted as both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:33-40).
    2. They gladly received proper post-Pentecost baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5).
    3. There are two parties speaking and hearing, baptizing and being baptized, not three.
    4. Infant sprinkling heretics, who despise Baptists of any name, deny any rebaptism here by making the words of verse five Paul’s further description of John’s hearers.
  3. Paul then laid apostolic hands on them, and they received the Spirit and His gifts (Acts 19:6-7).
    1. Sometimes these gifts came by God’s timing and act (Acts 2:1-4); sometimes by apostolic laying on of hands after baptism (Acts 8:14-19); and sometimes before baptism (Acts 10:44-48).
    2. In these days, spiritual gifts were needed for edification (I Cor 12:28-31; 13:8-13).
  4. Paul entered the synagogue in Ephesus and spends three months teaching the gospel (Acts 19:8).
    1. Paul’s constant pattern is instructive (Acts 13:14,42; 14:1; 17:1-3,10,17; 18:4,19; 19:8).
      1. Why does the mightiest evangelist go to the synagogues rather than the bars?
      2. If men have no interest in truth, there is no Bible basis for confronting them.
      3. Unreasonable and wicked men are to be avoided (II Thess 3:1-2; Matt 7:6).
    2. Proper teaching includes disputing and persuading; it is not an entertaining art form.
      1. Dispute. Contend by opposing arguments, assertions. Debate argumentatively.
      2. Persuade. To induce belief of (a fact, statement, opinion, etc.); to lead one to think or believe; to prove, demonstrate.
      3. He contended (Acts 9:20-22; 13:43; 17:1-3,17; 18:4,19; 19:8-9,26; 24:25; 28:23).
      4. It is war against your thoughts (II Cor 10:1-6; Tit 2:11-15; II Timothy 4:1-5).
      5. Even saints are to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3).
      6. Nehemiah gives a holy example of contending for the truth (Neh 13:11,17,25).
      7. Rather than constant encouragement, agreement, and positive messages, true preaching has a lot of criticism, correction, and instruction to new conduct.
    3. The things concerning the kingdom of God and the gospel are the same (Acts 28:23-31).
      1. There are glad tidings of Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:14-40; 13:16-41).
      2. There are duties to repent and obey the Lord Jesus (Ac 14:15-16; I Thes 4:1-8).
      3. There is the hope of future glory (I Cor 15:19; I Thess 1:9-10; I Peter 1:3-9).
  5. Paul separated the disciples from the unbelievers and took up teaching in a school (Acts 19:9-10).
    1. When he realized it was no longer efficient and profitable in the synagogue, he left.
    2. Observe that the gospel has a hardening affect on those not ordained to eternal life.
    3. Rather than praying more, he left them to be efficient with believers (II Thess 3:1-2).
    4. We know what he taught, for Paul cared only for Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
    5. Paul continued this daily teaching in the school for two years, converting many.
    6. When we read about Asia here, it was the Roman Asia Minor, part of modern Turkey.
  6. God gave Paul extraordinary gifts of the Spirit to do special confirming miracles (Acts 19:11-12).
    1. In an idolatrous city given to devil worship, Jesus sent Paul into hell (Matt 16:18).
    2. It is precious to read that there are miracles and there are special miracles. Amen!
    3. Diseases and evil spirits were routed by the mere presence of a hankie from Paul.
  7. Seven Jewish gypsies, the son of a priest named Sceva, attempt to duplicate Paul (Acts 19:13-17).
    1. A vagabond is a wanderer roaming about without a home or occupation – a gypsy.
    2. These gypsies earned a living pretending exorcisms by their religion (Matt 12:22-30).
    3. Paul’s incredible authority over spirits was observed, and duplication was attempted.
    4. The evil spirits always knew Jesus, and they had learned about Paul; but that is all.
    5. It is needful for us to realize two things: (a) evil spirits and (b) power in Jesus’ name.
    6. Demonstration of such spiritual presence and power magnified the Lord Jesus Christ.
    7. Miraculous sign gifts are no longer necessary or present, so we pray spiritually.
  8. Fear resulting from this published event brought further revival in the city of Ephesus (Acts 19:18-20).
    1. Through the gates of hell went the gospel of Christ, converting many of the people.
    2. “Curious” here is the desire to learn or know things to which one has no right to know.
    3. Curious “arts” are those techniques of magic and sorcery used to solicit spirit help.
    4. They did not sell these books and turn the money over to the apostles (Deut 23:18).
    5. This great sum of money indicates true conversion – repentance proven by repudiation and loss (Job 33:27-28; Matthew 3:7-9; 5:29-30; Luke 19:1-9; II Corinthians 7:10-11).
    6. Following Christ truly will bring loss (Luke 14:26-27) and persecution (II Tim 3:12).
    7. “So,” in this way, by true repentance, the Word of God grew mightily and prevailed.
  9. Paul, having built a church in Ephesus, prepares to leave for Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 19:21-22).
    1. Paul’s purposes and plans were subject to the Spirit, as should our plans (James 4:15).
    2. He intends to visit the churches he had started there, and he had thoughts of Rome.
    3. He sent Timotheus and Erastus ahead to Macedonia, while he stayed in Ephesus.
  10. Demetrius, the silversmith, initiates a riot in Ephesus against Paul and the gospel (Acts 19:23-28).
    1. Luke and the Holy Spirit here call an inflamed riot of fools “no small stir.”
    2. What is “that way”? It is the way of Christ and His gospel (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 22:4; 24:14,22).
    3. God reveals this opposition, like so many compromises in religion, is based on the desire for financial gain (Exodus 18:21; 23:8; Num 16:15; Deut 16:18-19; I Samuel 8:1-3; 12:1-5; Prov 17:23; Eccl 7:7; Isaiah 56:11; Matthew 6:19-24; Luke 16:3; Acts 20:33-35; I Tim 3:3,8; 6:6-10; Titus 1:7,11; I Pet 5:2; II Pet 2:15; Jude 1:11).
    4. Note that Paul’s preaching was not all positive; he had persuaded many against idols.
    5. So if you cannot overthrow truth by reason, then just cry out for Diana, your fantasy.
  11. The whole city was filled with confusion by this riot and assembly supporting Diana (Acts 19:29-34).
    1. Satan was at work confusing the minds of these people, who knew not their purpose.
    2. We do not know this Alexander for certain, though we may presume Alexander the coppersmith with some safety (II Tim 4:14); we know the Jews wished for him to speak to divert the tumult from them (who also opposed idolatry) to the Christians.
    3. How glorious is a religion based on superstitious chanting about an idol of stone!
  12. The townclerk, by the Providence of God, turns the confused assembly into nothing (Acts 19:35-41).
    1. Isn’t it wonderful to be ignorant? Simply presume Diana to be irrefutable! God forbid! We must rather prove all things and search all things (I Thess 5:21; Acts 17:11).
    2. God uses the ignorance or sensibilities of this noble townclerk to free his servants.
    3. He warns the citizens that Rome will want to know the purpose for their public tumult.