ACTS CHAPTER NINETEEN
GOSPEL CHANGES THINGS IN WESTERN ASIA
Suggested Teasching Objectives:
- To teach the essentials of Scriptural Baptism.
- To teach the importance of showing that we are saved.
- To show that John preached the same message of salvation that Jesus and Paul preached.
- To show why Paul was able to use special miracles at Ephesus and why those things are not necessary today.
- To show the powerlessness with God and men of the unsaved.
- To show what caused the word of God to spread so well in Southwest Asia.
INTRODUCTION: Paul is now on his third missionary journey. cf. 18:22,23. After spending some time in Northern Asia Minor, he finally goes to Ephesus, a great city near the western coast of Southern Asia. It had an artificial harbor accessible to the largest ships. It connected to highways that ran to the chief cities of the province.
It was a wealthy city and was the chief city of the province. It contained the great temple of Diana which brought vast numbers of pilgrims to the city. It was a great commercial center, with trade coming from all over the Roman Empire. Paul usually picked such cities, led by the Holy Spirit, to establish churches and to use as a base of operation for considerable periods. (e.g. Corinth for 12 years and Ephesus for a little over 2 years.) From here, Paul would disseminate the gospel and great changes in habits, customs and in the lives of people would occur.
The Baptism -- Vs. 1-7
Vs. 1-2 -- These certain disciples were most probably unsaved. They had not heard of the Holy Spirit and knew nothing evidently of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. There is no evidence to indicate they had experienced the new birth and of the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-24.
Vs. 3-4 -- Paul asked, "Into what faith were ye baptized?" They said, "Unto John's Baptism." This was some 20 to 24 years after John's ministry, so it seems very unlikely that these were baptized by John the Baptist. If they had, they would have heard of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11) and they would have been saved and had a Scriptural Baptism for John had received authority from God to baptize and the apostles had been baptized by him and their baptism was scriptural.
These were probably baptized by some disciple of John the Baptist who had never been given the authority to Baptize. John never authorized anyone to Baptize, only God can do that. He (God) authorized John and His (Christ's) churches to Baptize (Matthew 28:18-20).
By what Paul teaches them in Vs. 4 about believers on Jesus, we are inclined to believe that whoever had instructed these disciples had not instructed them fully so that they had not fully understood how to be saved. Paul told them that John had preached repentance but that he also preached that believing (trusting, relying) on Christ was necessary in order to be saved. CF. John 3:36.
Vs. 5 -- So when they heard this, they trusted Christ and were baptized. Scriptural baptism involves four essentials:
A scriptural subject -- born again person
A scriptural act -- immersion
A scriptural administrator -- a scriptural church
A scriptural design -- a proper purpose. That of testifying of the subject's salvation, that of picturing the new birth and the gospel (death, burial & resurrection of Christ) and that of acknowledging the acceptance of that church's doctrine.
Vs. 6-7 -- When these were saved and baptized, Paul laid hands on them (as Peter had done in 8:17) and they began to speak in foreign languages. Was this a miracle as occurred at Pentecost? The Bible does not infer it was and those who say so are supposing. In this city were people who spoke many languages and it seems probable they praised God in the language that they were most fluent in. But they so spake and praised God as to definitely manifest that they were saved and fully in the will of God. God would be more pleased with our lives and more would be converted to Christianity if we would so speak as to manifest to others that we are saved.
The Boldness -- Vs. 8-10
Vs. 8 -- Paul was controversial. But he was out and out for Christ whether among those who disagreed with him or among those who agreed with him. For three months, he did all he could to win the Jews of the city.
Vs. 9-10 -- When many of the Jews hardened their hearts and wouldn't believe and turned against him, he left them and went to a school in the area. We should do all we can to win people but if they turn against us and won't believe we should stop contending with them, but we should continue to pray for them.
As a result of Paul's teaching in this school for two years, everyone within the province of Southwest Asia heard the Gospel. Probably it was from this that the seven churches mentioned in Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3 were established.
Paul really made his life count for Christ. Are you?
The Blasphemy -- Vs. 11-18
Vs. 11-12 -- God worked special miracles by the hands of Paul. Handkerchiefs, towels, and aprons that touched his body, when put upon the sick and diseased resulted in healing. The Bible nowhere indicates this happened anywhere else or that anyone else was ever used of God in this fashion. Remember, Paul was in an exceedingly evil city. The Bible was not completed and available. Paul needed a special revelation from heaven and God gave it. Paul was thus able to defeat demons and overcome the power of Satan. Today we should use the Word of God for this purpose. CF. Matthew 4:4; Hebrews 4:12.
Vs. 13 -- Some of the Jews thought that if Paul could perform these tricks they could do it, too. They heard him use Jesus' name so they used it.
Vs. 14-16 -- The evil spirit said, "Jesus I know and Paul I know but who are you?" "I can whip you." So he jumped on these men and beat them. There is never any spiritual power in a man who does not know Jesus. CF. Isaiah 59:1,2; John 15:5 & 7.
Vs. 17-18 -- The success of Paul and the failure of these imposters was soon known all over Ephesus. Because Paul served God, his ministry was blessed. Satan was defeated, the name of Jesus was magnified and many were saved. If we will serve God, He will use us in a similar fashion.
The Burning -- Vs. 19
Many of the converts had practiced witchcraft and sorcery and had books that taught of these evil things. They showed their conversion was meaningful by bringing these things that they had trusted in before and disposed of them. They had a book burning. The books were worth over $9,000. We ought to make a clean sweep of bad habits and practices when we are saved.
The Blessing -- Vs. 20-22
Vs. 20 -- So mightily grew the word. This was as a result of the incidents Luke here has recorded. Eg. Paul in the synagogue, teaching in Tyrannus school, the miracles at his hand, the failure of those who attempted to copy him, and the evidence shown by the converts. (Vs. 19)
Vs. 21-22 -- At this time, trouble developed at Corinth and Paul, not wanting to leave Ephesus just yet, sent Timothy and Erastus there. Satan would get Paul out of Ephesus so he stirs up trouble at Corinth. Satan is unsuccessful but he does weaken the work at Ephesus by creating the situation that made it necessary for those co-workers to go there. Satan is wily and we must be cautious about his tactics. I Peter 5:8; II Corinthians 2:11. Paul's life, dedicated to God, was a great blessing to many.
The Brawl -- Vs. 23-41
The temple of Diana was located at Ephesus. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The statue of Diana, which was in the temple, was said to have dropped straight down from heaven. The people worshiped this statue at certain seasons, thousands of worshipers came to Ephesus. Silversmiths made small images of the goddess of the temple and sold them to the heathens.
But, Paul's preaching ruined their business; for many were saved and turned from these idols, so much so that the silversmiths were being put out of business. The head of the trade union was Demetrius. He gathered these tradesmen together and stirred them up against Paul.
They caught two of Paul's companions (Vs. 29) and took them into the theater. The other Christians would let Paul go. Paul was a brave man.
The town's clerk alerted people as to their ridiculous and dangerous actions. God protects His own. Romans 8:28. God even uses the unsaved if necessary, to protect His own. All of this trouble was due to the love of money. I Timothy 6:10.
CONCLUSION: Paul was controversial but he was dedicated to his work and his calling. Multitudes were saved as a result of this. All of this area of Asia heard the Gospel because one cared not for himself but cared for others and for pleasing God. Everywhere Paul went he caused a great stir but people got saved. Paul thought his sacrifices were worth it. Our sacrifices for Christ would be worth it, also.