Paul in Ephesus. 1* While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and came (down) to Ephesus where he found some disciples. 2He said to them, “Did you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.” 3He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” 4Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.”a 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul laid [his] hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.b 7Altogether there were about twelve men.
8He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God. 9But when some in their obstinacy and disbelief disparaged the Way before the assembly, he withdrew and took his disciples with him and began to hold daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10This continued for two years with the result that all the inhabitants of the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord, Jews and Greeks alike. 11So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul 12that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.c
The Jewish Exorcists. 13Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, tried to do this, 15the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?” 16The person with the evil spirit then sprang at them and subdued them all. He so overpowered them that they fled naked and wounded from that house. 17When this became known to all the Jews and Greeks who lived in Ephesus, fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in great esteem. 18Many of those who had become believers came forward and openly acknowledged their former practices. 19Moreover, a large number of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in public. They calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand silver pieces. 20Thus did the word of the Lord continue to spread with influence and power.
Paul’s Plans. 21When this was concluded, Paul made up his mind to travel through Macedonia and Achaia, and then to go on to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must visit Rome also.”d 22Then he sent to Macedonia two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, while he himself stayed for a while in the province of Asia.
The Riot of the Silversmiths. 23About that time a serious disturbance broke out concerning the Way. 24There was a silversmith named Demetrius who made miniature silver shrines of Artemis* and provided no little work for the craftsmen. 25He called a meeting of these and other workers in related crafts and said, “Men, you know well that our prosperity derives from this work. 26As you can now see and hear, not only in Ephesus but throughout most of the province of Asia this Paul has persuaded and misled a great number of people by saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all.e 27The danger grows, not only that our business will be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be of no account, and that she whom the whole province of Asia and all the world worship will be stripped of her magnificence.”
28When they heard this, they were filled with fury and began to shout, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29The city was filled with confusion, and the people rushed with one accord into the theater, seizing Gaius and Aristarchus, the Macedonians, Paul’s traveling companions.f 30Paul wanted to go before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him, 31and even some of the Asiarchs* who were friends of his sent word to him advising him not to venture into the theater. 32Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, others something else; the assembly was in chaos, and most of the people had no idea why they had come together. 33Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, as the Jews pushed him forward, and Alexander signaled with his hand that he wished to explain something to the gathering. 34But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison, for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35Finally the town clerk restrained the crowd and said, “You Ephesians, what person is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the guardian of the temple* of the great Artemis and of her image that fell from the sky? 36Since these things are undeniable, you must calm yourselves and not do anything rash. 37The men you brought here are not temple robbers, nor have they insulted our goddess. 38If Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a complaint against anyone, courts are in session, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39If you have anything further to investigate, let the matter be settled in the lawful assembly, 40for, as it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s conduct. There is no cause for it. We shall [not]* be able to give a reason for this demonstration.” With these words he dismissed the assembly.
* [19:1–6] Upon his arrival in Ephesus, Paul discovers other people at the same religious stage as Apollos, though they seem to have considered themselves followers of Christ, not of the Baptist. On the relation between baptism and the reception of the Spirit, see note on Acts 8:16.
* [19:24] Miniature silver shrines of Artemis: the temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Artemis, originally the Olympian virgin hunter, moon goddess, and goddess of wild nature, was worshiped at Ephesus as an Asian mother goddess and goddess of fertility. She was one of the most widely worshiped female deities in the Hellenistic world (see Acts 18:27).
* [19:31] Asiarchs: the precise status and role of the Asiarchs is disputed. They appear to have been people of wealth and influence who promoted the Roman imperial cult and who may also have been political representatives in a league of cities in the Roman province of Asia.
* [19:35] Guardian of the temple: this title was accorded by Rome to cities that provided a temple for the imperial cult. Inscriptional evidence indicates that Ephesus was acknowledged as the temple keeper of Artemis and of the imperial cult. That fell from the sky: many scholars think that this refers to a meteorite that was worshiped as an image of the goddess.
* [19:40] Some manuscripts omit the negative in [not] be able, making the meaning, “There is no cause for which we shall be able to give a reason for this demonstration.”
a. [19:4] 1:5; 11:16; 13:24–25; Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16.
c. [19:12] 5:15–16; Lk 8:44–47.
d. [19:21] 23:11; Rom 1:13; 15:22–32.