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The Apostle Paul in Ephesus

19 While Apollos was ministering in Corinth, Paul traveled on through the regions of Turkey[a] until he arrived in Ephesus, where he found a group of twelve followers of Jesus.[b] The first thing he asked them was “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?”

“No,” they replied. “We’ve not even heard of a holy spirit.”

Paul asked, “Then what was the meaning of your baptism?”[c]

They responded, “It meant that we would follow John’s teaching.”

Paul said, “John’s baptism was for those who were turning from their sins,[d] and he taught you to believe in and follow the one who was coming after him: Jesus the Anointed One.”[e]

When they understood this, they were baptized into the authority of Jesus, the Anointed One.[f] 6–7 And when Paul laid his hands on each of the twelve, the Holy Spirit manifested and they immediately spoke in tongues[g] and prophesied.[h]

For three months Paul taught openly and fearlessly in the synagogue, arguing persuasively for them to enter into God’s kingdom realm.[i] But some of them hardened their hearts and stubbornly refused to believe. When they spoke evil[j] of the Way in front of the congregation, Paul withdrew from them and took the believers with him.

10 Every day[k] for over two years,[l] he taught them in the lecture hall of Tyrannus,[m] which resulted in everyone living in the province of Asia,[n] Jews and non-Jews, hearing the prophetic word of the Lord.[o]

Extraordinary Miracles in Ephesus

11 God kept releasing a flow of extraordinary miracles through the hands of Paul. 12 Because of this, people took Paul’s handkerchiefs and articles of clothing, even pieces of cloth that had touched his skin, laying them on the bodies of the sick, and diseases and demons left them and they were healed.

13–14 Now, there were seven itinerant Jewish exorcists, sons of Sceva the high priest, who took it upon themselves to use the name and authority of Jesus over those who were demonized. They would say, “We cast you out in the name of the Jesus that Paul preaches!”

15 One day, when they said those words, the demon in the man replied, “I know about Jesus, and I recognize Paul, but who do you think you are?”

16 Then the demonized man jumped on them and threw them to the ground, beating them mercilessly.[p] He overpowered the seven exorcists until they all ran out of the house naked and badly bruised.

Revival Breaks Out

17 All of the people in Ephesus were awestruck, both Jews and non-Jews, when they heard about what had happened. Great fear fell over the entire city, and the authority of the name of Jesus was exalted. 18 Many believers publicly confessed their sins and disclosed their secrets. 19 Large numbers of those who had been practicing magic took all of their books and scrolls of spells and incantations and publicly burned them. When the value of all the books and scrolls was calculated, it all came to several million dollars.[q] 20 The power of God caused the word to spread, and the people were greatly impacted.[r]

A Riot Breaks Out

21 Paul had it in his heart to go to Jerusalem and, on his way there, to revisit the places in Greece where he had ministered.[s] “After that,” he said, “I have to go to Rome also.” 22 So he sent ahead into Macedonia two of his ministry assistants, Timothy[t] and Erastus,[u] while he remained in western Turkey.[v]

23 At that time a major disturbance erupted in Ephesus over the people following God’s way.[w] 24 It began with a wealthy man named Demetrius, who had built a large business and enriched many craftsmen by manufacturing silver shrines for the Greek goddess Artemis.[x]

25–26 Demetrius called a meeting of his employees, along with all the various tradespeople of Ephesus, and said, “You know that our prosperous livelihood is being threatened by this Paul, who is persuading crowds of people to turn away from our gods.[y] We make a good living by doing what we do, but everywhere Paul goes, not only here in Ephesus but throughout western Turkey,[z] he convinces people that there’s no such thing as a god made with hands. 27 Our businesses are in danger of being discredited. And not only that, but the temple of our great goddess Artemis is being dishonored and seen as worthless.[aa] She is the goddess of all of western Turkey and is worshiped in all the world. But if this outrage continues, everyone everywhere will suffer the loss of her magnificent greatness.”

28 When the people heard this, they were filled with boiling rage. They shouted over and over, “Artemis, the great goddess of the Ephesians!” 29 The entire city was thrown into chaos as everyone rushed into the stadium together,[ab] dragging with them Gaius[ac] and Aristarchus,[ad] Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.

30 When Paul attempted to go in and speak to the massive crowd, the disciples wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the high-ranking governmental officials of the region, because they loved him,[ae] sent Paul an urgent message, saying, “Whatever you do, don’t step foot into that stadium!”

32 The frenzied crowd shouted out one thing, and others shouted something else, until they were all in mass confusion, with many not even knowing why they were there!

33 Some of the Jews pushed forward a Jewish man named Alexander to be their spokesman, and different factions of the crowd shouted instructions at him. He stood before the people and motioned for everyone to be quiet so he could be heard. 34 But when he began to speak, they realized that he was a Jew, so they shouted him down. For nearly two hours they shouted over and over, “Great is Artemis, the goddess of the Ephesians!”[af]

35 Eventually the mayor of the city[ag] was able to quiet them down. He said, “Fellow citizens! Who in the world doesn’t know that we are devoted to the great temple[ah] of Artemis and to her image that fell from Zeus out of heaven?[ai] 36 Since no one can deny it, you should all just be quiet. Calm down and don’t do anything hasty. 37 For you have brought these men before us who aren’t guilty of any crime. They are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 So if Demetrius and the men of his trade have a case against someone, the courts are open. They can appear before the judge and press charges. 39 But if you’re looking for anything further to bring up, it must be argued before the court and settled there, not here. 40 Don’t you realize we’re putting our city in danger of being accused of a riot by the Roman authorities? There’s no good explanation we can give them for all this commotion!”

41 After he had said this, he dispersed the crowds and sent them away.


  1. Acts 19:1 The Greek is “the upper inland country.” This was a trek through certain regions of Turkey for him to arrive in Ephesus.
  2. Acts 19:1 Or “some disciples.” Verse 7 states there were twelve. This information is included here in v. 1 for the sake of the English narrative.
  3. Acts 19:3 Or “into what [name or authority] were you baptized?”
  4. Acts 19:4 The Aramaic can be translated “John’s baptism was a baptism of grace to the people.”
  5. Acts 19:4 “The Anointed One” (or “Messiah”) is found only in the Aramaic. The Greek is simply “Jesus.”
  6. Acts 19:5 Or “on the name of Jesus Christ,” which means they were baptized into the authority of the name of Jesus, who was greater than John.
  7. Acts 19:6 Or “supernaturally given languages.”
  8. Acts 19:6 The Aramaic is “They spoke tongue by tongue and gushed out prophecies.” The impartation of the Holy Spirit and his gifts are here being transferred from Paul to these believers. See also 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6-7. Jesus taught that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, it is to impart power for our lives and ministries. See Acts 1:8.
  9. Acts 19:8 Or “about God’s kingdom realm.” It is a big step for both Jews and Christians to come out of their religious identity and focus on the reality of God’s kingdom realm.
  10. Acts 19:9 Or “cursed the Christian way of living.”
  11. Acts 19:10 The Greek manuscript D adds, “from the fifth hour [11:00 a.m.] to the tenth hour [4:00 p.m.].”
  12. Acts 19:10 Counting the three months of focusing on ministry to the Jews, Paul’s entire stay in Ephesus came to three years, which would have included a short visit to Corinth. See Acts 20:31.
  13. Acts 19:10 This was like a college or lecture hall. Tyrannus (whose name means “sovereign”) was most likely a philosopher and lecturer who had disciples whom he taught. Apparently Tyrannus welcomed Paul after he left the Jewish congregation and brought him into his school to teach the students.
  14. Acts 19:10 This “school of ministry” exploded as many came to hear Paul and then went out to preach, expanding the reach of the gospel into all the “province of Asia” (Asia Minor). The province of Asia would have covered no less than one-third of Turkey. Many multitudes heard the gospel in the two-year period when Paul taught in Ephesus. The teaching of the apostles resulted in the expansion of God’s kingdom realm.
  15. Acts 19:10 Or simply, “the word of the Lord.” However, the phrase “the word of the Lord” is a Hebrew expression consistently used for the prophetic utterances given by the prophets.
  16. Acts 19:16 True authority comes from relationship with Jesus Christ, not just using formulas and techniques. Evil spirits know about the depth of our relationship with God.
  17. Acts 19:19 Or “fifty thousand silver drachmas.” Some historians have said that one lamb would be sold for one silver drachma. The price of a ewe lamb today is about 150 USD. A drachma was one day’s wage, and fifty thousand drachmas would be one hundred years’ wages. The value of the books could have been millions of dollars.
  18. Acts 19:20 Chronologically, this would have been the time when Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians.
  19. Acts 19:21 Or “to go through Macedonia and Achaia.” The implication is that Paul wanted to revisit the area of Greece he had ministered in; therefore, that is made explicit in the translation.
  20. Acts 19:22 Timothy’s name means “one who honors God.” He was Paul’s spiritual son and later became an apostolic church planter. See 1 and 2 Timothy.
  21. Acts 19:22 Erastus means “beloved.” He was possibly the treasurer of the city of Corinth. See Rom. 16:23; 2 Tim. 4:20.
  22. Acts 19:22 Or “the province of Asia” (Minor).
  23. Acts 19:23 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is simply “the way.”
  24. Acts 19:24 Also known as Diana. She was venerated as the daughter of Zeus and the sister of Apollo.
  25. Acts 19:25 The true worship of God threatens not only the political realm, but the spiritual and economic realm as well. Jesus compels men to adopt new values.
  26. Acts 19:25 Or “the [Roman] province of Asia [Minor].”
  27. Acts 19:27 The temple of Artemis (Diana) is one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. We must never put buildings or temples above the true worship of God. The Ephesians valued their goddess and economic standards more than truth.
  28. Acts 19:29 The stadium of Ephesus has recently been discovered and is estimated to have held twenty-four thousand spectators.
  29. Acts 19:29 Gaius’ name is a variant form of “lord.” There is speculation that he could be the man to whom the apostle John wrote his third letter (3 John).
  30. Acts 19:29 Aristarchus’ name means “best ruler.” He was a native of Thessalonica (Acts 20:4; 27:2). He traveled often with Paul and is also mentioned in Col. 4:10 and Philem. 24, called there Paul’s “fellow prisoner.” Church tradition states that he was martyred by Emperor Nero for loving and serving Jesus Christ.
  31. Acts 19:31 As translated from the Aramaic.
  32. Acts 19:34 Artemis, the great goddess of the Ephesians, has faded from history, while we fill stadiums today for conferences and revivals and say, “Great is the God Most High!”
  33. Acts 19:35 The Aramaic is “the city governor.” The Greek is “city clerk” or “scribe” (or “keeper of the records”). For all practical purposes he would be or represent the mayor of the city.
  34. Acts 19:35 As translated from the Aramaic, the Greek is “custodians of the temple.”
  35. Acts 19:35 The Aramaic is “her face that fell from heaven.” Much conjecture has been made over this statement. Some of the oldest translations have “fell from Zeus [Jupiter],” while most modern translations have “fell from the sky [heaven].” Some believe it was an aerolite that was fashioned into a stature of Artemis; however, Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and philosopher who died trying to save relatives from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, says it was made from wood, possibly ebony (Naturalis Historia 16.79.213–14).