Acts 19 Third Trip (Ephesus)

Tod Kennedy, October 8, 2000

Main points of application or “So what?” from Acts 19

  1. Defend the biblical faith against those who are willing to discuss biblical topics, even though they may be critical of biblical truth. Ask questions, answer questions, explain Scripture, and challenge them to examine the evidence.
  2. Do not try to speak in tongues, to prophecy, to heal people, or to perform miracles. Those spiritual gifts ceased by the end of the first century. God does heal and work miracles today, but your part in miracles and healing is now limited to prayer, medicine, and help.
  3. Do not seek a special baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you have believed in Christ as your savior, you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the sign of the church age believer. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has regenerated you, baptized you into the body of Christ, indwelt you, sealed you, and given you a spiritual gift.
  4. Avoid anything that draws power and influence from demons. Demon magic is magic performed through the ability of demons. It is prominent in various times and locations in the world.
  5. People often reject the gospel and the one witnessing about the gospel. Do not be surprised, and do not take this rejection personally. Unless you are confusing the gospel or you are witnessing ungraciously, they are rejecting God, not you.

Summary Outline

  1. Acts 19.1-7. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) God moved past the dispensation of Israel into the dispensation of the church. Not everyone knew this yet. Paul, in the spring of AD 53, went to Ephesus where he found some Old Testament believers who had learned under the ministry of John the Baptist; they were still living under the Old Testament or age of Israel way of life. These had believed in Jesus as their Messiah and so possessed eternal life, yet Paul found that they were unaware of the church age and its doctrine. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and indwelling of the Holy Spirit were especially unique to the church age. Paul, a church age apostle,  instructed them in these doctrines and then baptized them in water (believer’s baptism). Since they were unaware of the change from God especially working through Israel (the age of Israel) to God especially working through the church (the church age), Paul gave them the Holy Spirit through laying his hands on them. The recipients spoke in tongues and prophesied. By giving the use of the supernatural temporary gift of tongues to those who had just received the Holy Spirit, God publicly demonstrated the coming of the Holy Spirit and the change of divine administration. The gift of prophecy provided instruction for the new believers. Luke records this phenomenon— the change from Israel to the church marked by the universal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all church age believers and that indwelling originally demonstrated by the supernatural temporary spiritual gift of tongues—four times in Acts: Acts 2 records the coming of the Holy Spirit witnessed by Jews; Acts 8 records the coming of the Holy Spirit to Samaritans, and Peter and John reported back to Jews in Jerusalem; Acts 10 records the coming of the Holy Spirit to Gentiles witnessed by Jews; Acts 19 records the coming of the Holy Spirit to Old Testament believers who were uninformed about the church age and its distinctions.  The gift of tongues was a first century spiritual gift. God does not give this gift today. Its purpose was to dramatically notify Jews (tongues was a sign gift) that God was now judging them because they had rejected his word delivered through his prophets and his Messiah, and that God was making a new body consisting of believing Jews and Gentiles called the church.
  2. Acts 19.8-9. After this, Paul witnessed and taught in the synagogue at Ephesus for three months. His subject was the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is God’s rule over his creation. It has at least two aspects: the universal kingdom includes all creation; the theocratic (God rules through his appointed one) or mediatorial (mediator between God and man) kingdom includes God’s redemptive plan through Israel. Paul, in Acts 19, spoke about both aspects of God’s kingdom. He wanted mankind to become willing members of God’s kingdom by faith in God’s king and savior, Jesus Christ.  Paul explained the Scriptures, answered questions, questioned the listeners, gave proofs, and challenged his listeners (“reasoning and persuading”). “Reasoning” is dialevgomai, present middle participle, masculine nominative singular, circumstantial participle of manner, to discuss, to argue, to speak before people (19,8). “Persuading” is peivqw, present active participle, masculine nominative singular, circumstantial participle of manner, to convince, persuade, appeal to, win over (19.8). People made choices for or against what Paul said. Some who rejected the Paul’s message became very antagonistic to him. This resulted in unreasoning and emotional attacks. This often happens when one rejects God’s message but is unable to demonstrate that God’s message is untrue. Paul, in Ephesians 4.17-19, describes what happens to the one who persists in rejecting God’s message—he hardens himself against God and forms scar tissue on his soul.  At this point Paul had enough of the opposition. He moved his Bible classes to a school run by Tyrannus where he conducted classes for two years, “Reasoning daily.” “Reasoning” is dialevgomai, present middle participle, masculine nominative singular, circumstantial participle of manner, to discuss, to argue, to speak before people (19.9). From Paul’s Bible classes the gospel and Bible doctrine spread throughout the Roman province of Asia.
  3. Acts 19.11-17. God gave Paul the temporary sign gifts of healing (i[ama healing 1 Corinthians 12.28) and miracles (1 Corinthians 12.28, dunami~ might, power, strength, miracle). The purpose of these gifts was to authenticate his ministry and message about Jesus Christ; the primary purpose was not to cure physical or social ills (Hebrews 2.3-4, 1 Corinthians 13.8-11, 2 Corinthians 12.12, and Romans 15.18-19). Sometimes physical and mental disease was caused by demon activity; in these cases Paul would cast out the demon and the person would return to normal (19.12). Jewish exorcists tried to copy Paul. One group of seven brothers received the shock of their life. A demon talked back to them and then attacked them. The demon knew Jesus and Paul, but these brothers had no divine authority. The news of this incident spread throughout the city so that people gained an awesome fear of Paul and his workers and Jesus’ name gained great honor. The temporary sign gifts had served their purpose.
  4. Acts 19.18-20. The Lord used the Bible teaching of Paul and others to change the values and standards of new believers so as to bring them in line with God’s standards. Demon-influenced magic was the most prominent practice that began to stop. The magic was a mixture of spells written on scrolls. Some are now in famous museums. “Ephesian Scripts” was a name given to magic scrolls because Ephesus was especially known for magic. Christians who had dabbled in this form of demonism burned their books of magic spells. Believers replaced this magic with the reality of the Word of God.
  5. Acts 19.21-22. By this time, Paul had decided to go to Jerusalem and, after Jerusalem, to Rome, but first he had to revisit Macedonia and Achaia.  Jerusalem would be the start of four years of imprisonment for Paul. Did he make the right choice? Regardless, God brought good out of this imprisonment. He would write Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. He would witness to Nero’s household. He would teach, strengthen, and encourage many believers.
  6. Acts 19.23-34. The ancient world had an openly idolatrous worldview.  Ephesus had a very famous temple, the temple of Artemis, the moon goddess and the goddess of hunting (Diana is the Roman name) . Idolatrous people needed idols and someone to make the idols. The gospel taught that there is one true God. When that message got around and when people believed the gospel, those who earned their living by making idols tended to get nervous. Paul commended the Thessalonians because they had turned to God from idols (1 Thessalonians 1.10). Demetrius was a silversmith in Ephesus. He got together the local silversmiths in order to beat back the loss of business. His argument was twofold: we will lose money and Ephesus will lose her tourist trade. The usual riot erupted; they probably could not find Paul, so they grabbed  Gaius and Aristarchus, two of Paul’s friends (19.29), and took them to the assembly. The assembly was out of control: emotions and false accusations ran rampant. It was even unsafe for Paul to go to the assembly. Jews tried to distance themselves from Paul by trying to have Alexander, a Jew, renounce Paul, but Alexander was shouted down.
  7. Acts 19.35-41. Finally the town clerk (secretary, clerk, a title of a high official in Ephesus), the highest official in Ephesus and the link between the city government and the Roman provincial government, was able to quiet the crowd. Ephesus was the capital of the senatorial province of Asia and Rome would not stand for such riotous activity. The official made four points: Artemis is great and these men cannot harm her (Acts 19:35-37), the silversmiths could meet with the provincial governor at a regular assembly (Acts 19:38), or they could wait for the gathering of the civic assembly (Acts 19.39), but whatever they do, Rome will punish the city if this riotous activity continues (Acts 19:40-41).

Dictionary of Bible Doctrine

  1. Apologetics is the biblical and reasoned defense of the biblical faith. God gives believers many opportunities to give evidence to others that what we believe is true. We talk with people about the evidence for the existence and nature of God, Jesus Christ—his life and times, physical  resurrection, the reliability of the Bible, Christianity and pagan myths, the origin of the universe and of man, miracles, salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, biblical and non-biblical worldviews, and other doctrines of the Word of God. When we answer the critic’s questions, explain why we believe what we believe, and challenge them to consider what the Bible says, we are not only evangelizing and teaching, we are also practicing apologetics. The word “defense” comes from the Greek word apologia “a speech of defense or reply.”  The writers of the New Testament use the word eight times—Acts 22.1; 25.16; 1 Corinthians 9.6; 2 Corinthians 7.11; Philippians 1.7 and 17; 2 Timothy 4.16, and 1 Peter 3.15. Peter tells us to be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3.15). Paul had an apologetics ministry in Athens and in Ephesus. In Athens he spoke with Jews, God-fearing Gentiles, and Greek philosophers:  “reasoning [dialevgomai, to discuss, converse, preach] in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place [Acts 17.17]…. they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?’ [Acts 17.19].” In Ephesus he spoke in the synagogue and in the school of Tyrannus: “reasoning [dialevgomai, to discuss, converse, preach] and persuading [peivqw, to persuade, to have confidence] them about the kingdom of God [Acts 19.8]….reasoning [dialevgomai, to discuss, converse, preach] daily in the school of Tyrannus [Acts 19.9].”  Apollos was using apologetics when he discussed the faith with some Jews in Corinth: “for he powerfully refuted [diakatelevgcomai, refute completely] the Jews in public, demonstrating [ejpideivknumi, demonstrate, show, point out] by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18.28). Paul wrote from a Roman prison that he had a ministry of “defense [apologia] and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1.7) and “I am appointed for the defense [apologia] of the gospel” (Philippians 1.16). Paul also instructed Titus that the elders-overseers-pastor-teachers should “be able…to refute [ejlevgcw, expose, convince, correct] those who contradict” sound doctrine (Titus 1.9). Luke (Luke 1.1-4 and Acts 1.1-3) and Paul (1 Corinthians 15) used evidence to give others a reason to consider that Jesus Christ is the only savior. Jude interrupted a letter about our salvation through Christ and instead wrote to encourage believers to earnestly contend [ejpagwnivzomai, to contend, to fight] for the faith: “I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Then in Jude 22-23, he made it clear that there are some who have doubts about the Word of God. We ought to have mercy on them, which includes teaching, answering questions, and challenging them so that they might grow strong in the biblical faith. Apologetics is a part of witnessing, teaching, and preaching God’s word. Apologetics is doing what God said to do. Apologetics is giving evidence that “the Word of God is living and powerful” (Hebrews 4.12). We are all called upon to “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (1 Peter 3.15; Jude 3).
  2. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the act by which the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ the moment he believes, and by this indwelling God identifies and unites that believer with Christ and his spiritual body, the church (1 Corinthians 12.13). One cannot be a believer and in the church apart from the baptism of the Holy Spirit; the Corinthian believers, with all of their spiritual failures, had been baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11.15-18; 1 Corinthians 12.13; Ephesians 1.22-23; Romans 8.9). The baptism of the Holy Spirit provides the basis for Christian living, because the baptism of the Holy Spirit identifies each believer with Christ in Christ’s death to sin and in Christ’s new resurrection kind of life (Romans 6.1-11) and because the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the time when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer in Christ (Acts 11.15-18). Jesus prophesied the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3.11, Mark 1.8, Luke 3.16, John 1.33, and Acts 1.5. Jesus said, in Acts 1.5,  that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was future to his ascension. It was therefore not a part of the age of Israel, but was the fundamental and basic sign of the church age. The baptism of the Holy Spirit first occurred in Acts 2.1-4 with Jews. God later proved that everyone who believes in Christ will be baptized with the Holy Spirit when he visibly gave the baptism of the Holy Spirit to Samaritans in Acts 8.12-17, to Gentiles in Acts 10.43-48, and to  Old Testament believers in Acts 19.1-6. Luke wrote in Acts 10 that, while Peter was preaching to Jews and Gentiles at Cornelius’ house in Caesarea, Peter and his audience witnessed the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Gentiles who believed the gospel (Acts 10.44-47). Shortly after, Peter went to Jerusalem where Jewish believers criticized him for eating with those Gentiles. He explained to them what had happened when the Gentiles believed the gospel that he delivered; Peter said that he saw the Gentiles being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Peter then explained that this baptism was exactly what Christ had predicted when he spoke to his disciples before his ascension (Acts 1.5 and Acts 11.15-18). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that God does for each believer in Christ; it is not something that is felt; it occurs at the time a person believes in Christ; it is supernatural; it cannot be improved upon; it is complete and perfect when it happens; it is not now evidenced by signs, though several times in the young church it was evidenced by signs in order to confirm that the Holy Spirit was given to every church age believer in Christ; it is revealed only by the Word of God; it is the basis for the supernatural Christian life.
  3. Tent-making (skhnopoiov”) was Paul’s money-making occupation while he witnessed for Christ and taught the Word of God (Acts 18.3-5). He did this in order to support himself when the churches did not support him. Even though those who witness about Christ and teach the Word of God have the God-given right to receive support from those who benefit from their ministry (1 Corinthians 9.6-14 and Galatians 6.6), there are times when believers will not provide support or are unable to provide that support (Philippians 4.13-17); tent-making then becomes necessary. There  are other times when taking support would confuse the issue of God’s free gift of salvation (1 Corinthians 9.15-19); when taking support does confuse grace, Christ’s servant ought to graciously refuse support and take up tent-making while continuing to preach the Word.  Tent-making in order to support oneself in the ministry was, and still is, at times necessary and very helpful; there are advantages, though, to having the freedom to study, teach, and shepherd the flock without the need to “make tents.”
  4. Tongues is one of the temporary spiritual gifts; it is the ability to speak in a known human language that the speaker had not learned. The principle of temporary spiritual gifts is found in Hebrews 2.3-4, 1 Corinthians 13.8-11, 2 Corinthians 12.12, and Romans 15.18-19. The Greek word for “tongue”  is glw`ssa, which means the tongue or a language (Acts 2.3, 4, 11; 10.46; 19.6; 1 Corinthians 12.10, 28, 30; 13.1, 8;  14.2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 39). The purpose of the gift of tongues was to dramatically notify Jews (tongues was a sign gift) that God was now judging them because they had rejected his word delivered through his prophets and his Messiah (Isaiah 28.11-13; 1 Corinthians 14.18-22). Israel was judged and dispersed between May 67 and May 73 AD;  this was the administration of the fifth cycle of divine discipline promised by God through Moses. Moses described the five cycles, which were increasingly severe divine judgments on Israel, in Leviticus 26.14-39; the fifth cycle is found in Leviticus 26.27-39. God fulfilled the fifth cycle judgment and set aside Israel due to her  rejection of his Word and his Messiah. The gift of tongues ceased when the purpose had been accomplished (1 Corinthians 13.8-11).