Acts 19J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Ephesus has its own Pentecost
19 1-2 While Apollos was in Corinth Paul journeyed through the upper parts of the country and arrived at Ephesus. There he discovered some disciples, and he asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “No”, they replied, “we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 “Well then, how were you baptised?” asked Paul. “We were baptised with John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 “John’s baptism was a baptism to show a change of heart,” Paul explained, “but he always told the people that they must believe in the one who should come after him, that is, in Jesus.”
5-7 When these men heard this they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, and then, when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they began to speak with tongues and the inspiration of prophets. (There were about twelve of them in all.)
Paul’s two-year ministry at Ephesus
8-12 Then Paul made his way into the synagogue there and for three months he spoke with the utmost confidence, using both argument and persuasion as he talked of the kingdom of God. But when some of them hardened in their attitude towards the message and refused to believe it, and, what is more, spoke offensively about the Way in public, Paul left them, and withdrew his disciples, and held daily discussions in the lecture-hall of Tyrannus. He continued this practice for two years, so that all who lived in Asia, both Greeks and Jews, could hear the Lord’s message. God gave most unusual demonstrations of power through Paul’s hands, so much so that people took to the sick any handkerchiefs or small-clothes which had been in contact with his body, and they were cured of their diseases and their evil spirits left them.
The violence of evil and the power of the “name”
13-20 But there were some itinerant Jewish exorcists who attempted to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus when dealing with those who had evil spirits. They would say, “I command you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven brothers, sons of a chief priest called Sceva, were engaged in this practice on one occasion, when the evil spirit answered, “Jesus I know, and I am acquainted with Paul, but who on earth are you?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was living sprang at them and over-powered them all with such violence that they rushed out of that house wounded, with their clothes torn off their backs. This incident became known to all the Jews and Greeks who were living in Ephesus, and a great sense of awe came over them all, while the name of the Lord Jesus became highly respected. Many of those who had professed their faith began openly to admit their former practices. A number of those who had previously practised magic collected their books and burned them publicly. (They estimated the value of these books and found it to be no less than five thousand pounds) In this way the Word of the Lord continued to grow irresistibly in power and influence.
Paul speaks of his plans
21 After these events Paul set his heart on going to Jerusalem by way of Macedonia and Achaia, remarking, “After I have been there I must see Rome as well.”
22 Then he despatched to Macedonia two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, while he himself stayed for a while in Asia.
The silversmith’s riot at Ephesus
23-27 Now it happened about this time that a great commotion arose concerning the Way. A man by the name of Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines for Diana, provided considerable business for his craftsmen. He gathered these men together with workers in similar trades and spoke to them, “Men,” he said, “you all realise how our prosperity depends on this particular work. If you use your eyes and ears you also know that not only in Ephesus but practically throughout Asia this man Paul has succeeded in changing the minds of a great number of people by telling them that gods made by human hands are not gods at all. Now the danger is not only that this trade of ours might fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana herself might come to be lightly regarded. There is a further danger, that her actual majesty might be degraded, she who the whole of Asia, and indeed the whole world, worships!”
28 When they heard this they were furiously angry, and shouted, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
29-34 Soon the whole city was in an uproar, and on a common impulse the people rushed into the theatre dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, two Macedonians who were Paul’s travelling companions. Paul himself wanted to go in among the crowd, but the disciples would not allow him. Moreover, some high-ranking officials who were Paul’s friends sent to him begging him not to risk himself in the theatre. Meanwhile some were shouting one thing and some another, and the whole assembly was at sixes and sevens, for most of them had no idea why they had come together at all. A man called Alexander whom the Jews put forward was pushed into the forefront of the crowd, and there, after making a gesture with his hand, he tried to make a speech of defence to the people. but as soon as they realised that he was a Jew they shouted as one man for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
Public authority intervenes
35-40 But when the town clerk had finally quietened the crowd, he said, “Gentlemen of Ephesus, who in the world could be ignorant of the fact that our city of Ephesus is temple-guardian of the great Diana and of the image which fell down from Jupiter himself? These are undeniable facts and it is your plain duty to remain calm and do nothing which you might afterwards regret. For you have brought these men forward, though they are neither plunderers of the temple, nor have they uttered any blasphemy against our goddess. If Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen have a charge to bring against anyone, well, the courts are open and there are magistrates; let them take legal action. But if you require anything beyond that then it must be resolved in the regular assembly. For all of us are in danger of being charged with rioting over today’s events particularly as we have no real excuse to offer for this commotion.”
41 And with these words he dismissed the assembly.