The Last Chapter  |  The Next Chapter  |  NCB Acts Menu

Acts Chapter 19
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
1) Then, while Apollos was [still] at Corinth, Paul traveled through the [western] districts and came to Ephesus where he found some disciples. Apollos had entered Luke's story at Ephesus and then moved on to Corinth. He may have made some disciples here before being taught by Priscilla and Aquila.
- Luke returns to his main narration.
2) He asked them, "Did [any of] you receive the [indwelling] Holy Spirit when you became believers [in Jesus]?" They answered him, "No, we have never [even] heard that there was a Holy Spirit." Paul detected a shortcoming in their belief in Jesus, so he asked about the Holy Spirit.
- They knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. This answer signaled a serious shortcoming in their comprehension of the Faith.
3) Paul [again] asked, "Into what were you immersed then?" They answered him, "Into John's immersion." Since the indwelling of the Spirit comes as part of the immersion package (Acts 2:38-39), the next question was about their immersion.
4) Paul [then] said, "John immersed people who [demonstrated their] repentance, telling them they must believe in Jesus, the One who would come after him." They learned the difference between the two immersions. John's immersion merely pointed to Jesus.
- John's entire ministry was to point Israel to Jesus as the One who would come after him.
5) When they heard this they were immersed into the name of the Lord Jesus. They were immersed by the authority of the Lord Jesus this time. The immersion of Jesus is to identify with his death, burial and resurrection. Romans 6:4.
6) Then Paul placed his hands on them and [the supernatural power of] the Holy Spirit came on them and they [began to] speak in [other] languages and prophesy [i.e., speak God's message]. Additionally, because Paul was an Apostle of Christ and could pass along the supernatural gifts, he conveyed at least two to them: languages and prophecy. The gift of languages is always accompanied by another gift.
- The method of delivery was through the laying on of his hands.
7) The total number [of those immersed] was twelve men. Did these twelve men evangelize Asia? See verse 10.
8) Paul went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, discussing and convincing people about matters regarding the kingdom of God. Paul next picked up where he left off in Acts 18:19-20.
- His second evangelistic tour has been completed and he is ready again for local action.
- The Kingdom is the church rather than the Israel the synagogue members had in mind. Philip had preached it in Acts 8:12 and Paul in Acts 14:22.
9) But some became stubborn and refused to obey [the message], saying false things about "the Way" [ Note: This was a term used to designate the early church ] in front of the large crowds. So, Paul left [the synagogue] and took the disciples and began holding discussions every day at Tyrannus' school [house]. The usual opposition arose, but it was slower in coming than in previous towns.
- False charges just come naturally from those refusing the truth. See Matthew 26:59, 60; Acts 6:13; 24:1-13.
- Paul had a backup plan in case he had to go elsewhere.
- Their meetings were everyday, rather than weekly.
- Paul combined teaching with tentmaking. Acts 20:34-35.
10) This continued for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks [i.e., Gentiles] who lived in [the province of] Asia heard the message of the Lord. Paul trained men and they established other churches such as Colossae and Laodicea, Hierapolis, Pergamum, Smyrna, Thyatira, Sardis and Philadelphia.
- Tourists, business travelers and worshipers all came to Ephesus as well as Christians going out with the message.
11) And God performed special miracles through the hands of Paul,
12) such as sick people, who were given hand towels or [leather] aprons that had touched Paul's body, being healed from diseases and delivered from evil spirits.
"Out of the usual pattern" miracles were being performed by Paul. Peter had something like this in Acts 5:15.
- The unusual thing was that Paul was not present when the healing occurred.
- Luke the doctor distinguishes between disease and evil spirits.
- Speaking of evil spirits, Luke is reminded of a story
13) But certain traveling Jews, who practiced exorcism, decided that they too would attempt to speak the name of the Lord over people dominated of evil spirits while saying, "I command you [evil spirits to come out] by [the authority of] Jesus whom Paul preaches." These were probably not Jews who attended the synagogue, but may have moved from city to city with their magic show. They had heard about Paul casting out demons in the name of Jesus. (Verse 12.)
- Josephus tells of Jewish exorcists in Antiquities 8.2.5.
- Exorcism was very ancient and those who practiced it were looking for powerful means to cast out the evil spirits.
14) [Now] the seven sons of a Jewish leading priest named Sceva were doing this. This priest had trouble with his sons. This priest may not have been personally involved.
15) [On one occasion] the evil spirit replied, "I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?" Their use of the name of Jesus may have even worked for a while until they found a resistant evil spirit.
- The evil spirit was not looking for information, but credentials.
16) The man with the evil spirit then jumped on all of them, took control, then overpowered them so that they ran out of the house with their clothes torn off and badly beaten. Those who were demon-controlled could possess great strength as in the case of Luke 8:29. Here one of them beat-up seven exorcists. And it wasn't kept private, either.
17) When this incident became known to all of the Jews and Greeks [i.e., Gentiles] who lived in Ephesus, they became fearful and the name of the Lord Jesus was regarded with honor. Word of the beating got around, frightening people.
- The name of the Lord Jesus came to be highly esteemed.

- Satan had overplayed his hand.
18) Many of the believers also came confessing their sins and describing what they had [previously] done. These believers had not made a total break with the old ways.
- describing: Disclosure removes the mystery of the spirit world.
19) And a large number of them, who had been involved in occultic practices, brought their books [on the occult] and began burning them publicly. When they calculated the cost [of the books] it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. [ Note: The actual amount was approximately 150 years of a farm laborer's pay, or overmore than 3 million dollars in 1994]. Some believers had kept their books and practices. This is common where the message of the Lord comes to people without a background in God's way such as those from the synagogue would have had.
- burning them: They didn't sell them in a garage sale.
- Here are sound steps to breaking with one's past: Confessing, describing (vs. 18), gathering and destroying materials used in that way of life.
20) So, the message of the Lord spread widely and had a great influence [over people]. The working of the devil (vs. 13) triggered a remarkable growth for the message of the Lord.
- Luke makes one of his periodic progress summaries.
21) After these things happened Paul decided to travel through Macedonia and Achaia on his way to Jerusalem. He said, "Then, after I have been there I want to visit Rome also." Paul decided to revisit Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth and Cenchrea.
- Paul was going to Jerusalem with the collection for the poor in Judea. This collection was both to relieve a need and to assist with the feelings of the Jerusalem brethren toward the Gentiles. More can be learned about the offering in Romans 15:25; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.
22) After sending his two associates Timothy and Erastus on to Macedonia [ Note: These were men who cared for various needs of his ministry ], Paul remained in [the province of] Asia for a while. Timothy had come to Ephesus and Paul is sending him back to Macedonia.
- Erastus may have been the City Treasurer of Corinth and would bring money-handling skills to the collection process. Romans 16:23.
23) About that time a large disturbance arose [in Ephesus] concerning "the Way." Paul's teaching about Jesus and avoiding idolatry was having an impact on the whole area.
24) [Here is what happened]: A certain manufacturer of silver objects named Demetrius, who made silver replicas of the temple of Artemis [i.e., a Greek goddess], brought much business to his workmen. A businessman saw the trend and raised a question about the economic impact on his idol-making business.
- The Latin version of Artemis is Diana.
- In Ephesus, she was the many-breasted goddess of fertility. Artemis was described differently in other localities. There were more than 30 other temples to Artemis.
25) He called a meeting of his men and others involved in the same work and said to them, "Fellows, you know that we have made a good living from this work [of making temple replicas]. There is a large shopping mall at Ephesus and this may have been the place where the meeting was held.
26) And now you have seen and heard, not only here in Ephesus, but throughout almost all of [the province of] Asia, that this Paul has been convincing people, [even] to the point of turning many away [from idol worship]. [He is] saying that hand-made gods [like we make] are not real [gods at all]. The idols were supplied to devotees and tourists from all over Asia Minor. The replicas allowed devotees to worship wherever they were.
- Luke tells us of the convincing nature of Paul's preaching through the words of a "competitor."
- Evidently so many people were turning to Jesus as Lord that the sales by these silversmiths were dropping.
27) And not only is there a [real] danger that our trade will be discredited but also that the temple of our great goddess Artemis will be considered worthless and that even she [herself] will be dethroned from her magnificent place of being adored by all [in the province of] Asia and the world." Demetrius was concerned about finances first, then the community values and tourism, and finally his religion.
- The prediction of Demetrius was on target. See the last paragraph in Pliny's Letter to Trajan. (On the CD.)
- The temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Travelers of the time rated this marble temple as the best. It has been dismantled and only the depression where it stood remains. More can be learned on the Internet at:
28) When they heard this they became extremely angry and shouted out, "Great is [the goddess] Artemis, of the Ephesians." The personal income loss touched their emotions. Again there is shouting.
- Great is . . . was a prayer to their goddess.
29) The city became full of confusion; they grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's Macedonian traveling companions, and everyone together rushed into the amphitheater.
30) And when Paul decided to go before the crowd [to talk with them], the disciples would not allow him.
Some in the crowd grabbed Paul's known companions.

- The amphitheater is a marvel of acoustics. This writer once stood on the top row listening while a friend whispered clearly down on stage. It seats 24,000.
31) Some of his friends, who were officers in the province of Asia, sent word urging him not to take a chance by entering the amphitheater. Paul had friends in government. Most preachers today do not make the effort.
32) Some [in the crowd] were shouting one thing and some another; there was mass confusion, with most of the people not [even] knowing why they had assembled. As with mobs, the issues were not clear.
- Some present may have thought this was just a legal, hastily called city meeting.
- This segment could have been reported to Luke by Aristarchus.
33) [It appears that] Alexander was appointed out of the crowd by the Jews [i.e., to be their spokesman in defending them from the charges being made against Paul]. He motioned with his hand [to get attention] and attempted to speak to the assembly in defense [of the Jewish viewpoint]. God-fearing Jews would have been opposed to idols as well as Paul, but they did not want to be painted with the same brush.
- Alexander may have been a good speaker and was hastily appointed to defend the Jewish community.
- Motioning with the hand is always a good way to get a crowd's attention. He was experienced at speaking.
34) But when the crowd realized that he was a Jew, they all joined together for about two hours shouting, "Great is [the goddess] Artemis, of the Ephesians." Anti-Semitism is very old. This outburst may have been prompted because it was widely known the Jews worshiped the God of Heaven rather than Artemis.
- After arriving at the amphitheater, the prayer/chant continues for two hours. (Try repeating any six words for two hours and see what it does to the brain!)
35) When the town clerk had quieted down the crowd, he said, "You people of Ephesus, who among you does not know that the city of Ephesus is caretaker of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell down from the sky? The town clerk held a position similar to a city-manager in a U.S. city. He was the bureaucrat and technician that kept the city running properly.
- There may have been a meteorite that hit nearby and that looked something like Artemis.
36) Since no one can [really] say anything against these things, just calm down and do not do anything foolish. His first instruction is to calm down. This is appropriate in light of the previous two hours.
- They may have already done something so foolish the Roman Government could come investigating.
37) For you have brought these men here --- [men] who have neither desecrated our temple nor defamed our goddess. These men refers to Gaius and Aristarchus from verse 29.
- No criminal laws have been broken. They have not spoken against the temple or Artemis. (They had taught that idols are not real gods and that was not against the law.)
38) If therefore Demetrius, and the workmen associated with him, have a charge against anyone, the courts are open and there are magistrates [to judge such cases]; let them file their charges against each other. If Demetrius has a civil charge against anyone, the courts are open and are the proper forum.
39) But if you want to address other matters, they can be settled in the regular, scheduled assembly. Here is a secular use of the word generally translated "church" when it has a religious context. It means assembly.
- Bring other matters to the regularly-scheduled town meeting. This is not one.
40) For we are truly in danger of being accused of inciting a riot here today when there is [really] no reason for it to happen. Then concerning this problem, we will not be able to explain how it all came about." The one doing the accusing would be the Roman Government.
- It is thought that they were a Roman free city and could govern themselves without the "Federal" government interfering. They could even loose their status as a free city.
41) And after the town clerk had said all this, he dismissed the assembly. The wise town clerk dismissed the assembly using the same formula as a regular meeting.
  The Next Chapter