Paul at Ephesus
1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?"
So they said, "Into John's baptism."
4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
[Paul's expectation in finding disciples is that anyone who believed that Messiah had come would be born of the spirit, would be saved, but these disciples of John were "almost saved". They know about Jesus but did not know that salvation, spiritual rebirth, was available to them right now. In John 3:5 Jesus said "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God".]
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
[The Holy Spirit is intrinsically tied to salvation. If I could destroy one idea as a teacher, it would be the idea that salvation is just an intellectual decision, "I agree that Jesus is the Christ".]
1 John 5:7-8 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
[three in Heaven: Father, Word, Spirit; Three on earth: Spirit, water, blood; what do heaven and earth have in common? The Spirit and nothing else, it is the spirit of God that reconciles mortal man, to the eternal God by the blood of Jesus. The Spirit renews or regenerates, the blood atones, and the water confirms what the Spirit and the blood have done in the believer (burry the man of sin, and resurrect the spiritual man). Salvation is more of a spiritual transformation than an intellectual decision. You cannot separate the water, from the spirit and the blood, and expect to get the same result, but people and churches still do this every day, and it has never worked. The world is filled with baptized, unredeemed lost souls, who were never born again.
In Acts 2:38 Peter preached "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" Romans 8:9 says again that those who belong to Christ have his Spirit.]
8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
[Paul again did all he could in the synagogue before withdrawing the disciples and relocating to a private school run by Tyrannus. One Greek manuscript had a marginal note that added "from the 5th hour to the 10th hour" or from 11 am to 4 pm. Paul kept this schedule for two years and "all who dwelt in Asia" this whole region of Western Turkey then called "Asia" heard the gospel of Christ. Anyone who wanted to question Paul or hear more about Jesus knew where to find him. What an amazing opportunity. This region sometimes called Asia Minor spawned the 7 churches of Revelation 2 & 3.]
Miracles Glorify Christ
11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.
[Even in terms of miracles these were unusual, where the apostle did not even have touch the sick person, but if the sick person touched some cloth that has been on Paul's body they could be healed. As always the purpose of miracles was to glorify God and confirm his work. But sometimes people desire God's power without his sovereignty or Lordship.]
13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?"
16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
[These exorcists desired the power of the Holy Spirit to cast out evil spirits, but were unaware that the Holy Spirit came with redemption through Jesus. They thought they could just use the name of the Lord Jesus like a magic spell, but it didn't work. This was a form of idolatry that God would not honor. They fraudulently used the name of a Lord they did not know, and there public embarrassment became well known.]
17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18
And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
[Incredible how God can take the misuse of Jesus' name by the sons of Sceva , and turn it magnify the name of the Lord Jesus. Now this burning of magic books was not required nor was it discouraged as these books were instrument of demonic influence in the lives of men. This book burning was a spontaneous act of repentance from men desiring to leave their sins behind. The Way of Jesus overthrew idolatry.]
The Riot at Ephesus
21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.
[In Romans 15 Paul tells of bringing a financial gift from the churches of Asia and Macedonia, to the church at Jerusalem. This was a time of great need for the poor saints in Jerusalem and the fellowship of the Spirit gave Paul and others the desire to help. He also wanted to Go to Rome and take the gospel to the heart of the Roman world, but he continued the work in the churches of Asia Minor.]
23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: "Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship."
28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"
[Once again people, who profit from idolatry and false worship, use local pride and anti-Semitic zeal to persecute those who follow Jesus. In Greek mythology Artemis (or Diana) was the goddess of the hunt. Her temple at Ephesus is one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. These silver smiths were afraid of losing their market. They made little Diana statues, and miniature shrines of the temple of Diana. If everyone turned from the polytheism of the Greek gods, to the mono-theistic God of creation, the God of the Jews, Paul's unseen God; the market for false idols would quickly dry up. They fought back with a confused, agitated, shouting mob on the verge of riot.]
35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today's uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering." 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.
[While the silver smiths feared the loss of income, the city officials feared a loss of freedom. If the Romans saw this riot as an insurrection, there would be a brutal occupation by the Roman army. All the local judges and regional governors would likely be replaced by friends and family of Claudius Caesar to guarantee their loyalty to Rome. Like Gallio in chapter 18 we see the God use the calm manner and well spoken reason of the city clerk to persuade the mob to turn away and go home.]