Paul in Ephesus
19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and came (down) to Ephesus where he found some disciples. 2 He 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.” 3 He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” 4 Paul 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.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul laid (his) hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 Altogether there were about twelve men. 8
He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God. 9 But 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. 10 This 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. 11 So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul 12 that 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. 13
The Jewish Exorcists
Then 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.” 14 When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, tried to do this, 15 the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?” 16 The 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. 17 When 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. 18
Many of those who had become believers came forward and openly acknowledged their former practices. 19 Moreover, 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. 20 Thus did the word of the Lord continue to spread with influence and power. 21
When 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.” 22 Then he sent to Macedonia two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, while he himself stayed for a while in the province of Asia. 23
The Riot of the Silversmiths
About that time a serious disturbance broke out concerning the Way. 24 There was a silversmith named Demetrius who made miniature silver shrines of Artemis and provided no little work for the craftsmen. 25 He called a meeting of these and other workers in related crafts and said, “Men, you know well that our prosperity derives from this work. 26 As 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. 27 The 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.” 28 When they heard this, they were filled with fury and began to shout, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29
The 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. 30 Paul wanted to go before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him, 31 and even some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent word to him advising him not to venture into the theater. 32 Meanwhile, 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. 33 Some 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. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison, for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35
Finally 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? 36 Since these things are undeniable, you must calm yourselves and not do anything rash. 37 The men you brought here are not temple robbers, nor have they insulted our goddess. 38 If 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. 39 If you have anything further to investigate, let the matter be settled in the lawful assembly, 40 for, 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.
Journey to Macedonia and Greece
20:1 When the disturbance was over, Paul had the disciples summoned and, after encouraging them, he bade them farewell and set out on his journey to Macedonia. 2 As he traveled throughout those regions, he provided many words of encouragement for them. Then he arrived in Greece, 3 where he stayed for three months. But when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return by way of Macedonia. 4
Return to Troas
Sopater, the son of Pyrrhus, from Beroea, accompanied him, as did Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia 5 who went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. 6 We sailed from Philippi after the feast of Unleavened Bread, and rejoined them five days later in Troas, where we spent a week.
Eutychus Restored to Life
7On the first day of the week when we gathered to break bread, Paul spoke to them because he was going to leave on the next day, and he kept on speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were gathered, 9 and a young man named Eutychus who was sitting on the window sill was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. Once overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and when he was picked up, he was dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself upon him, and said as he embraced him, “Don’t be alarmed; there is life in him.” 11 Then he returned upstairs, broke the bread, and ate; after a long conversation that lasted until daybreak, he departed. 12 And they took the boy away alive and were immeasurably comforted. 13
Journey to Miletus
We went ahead to the ship and set sail for Assos where we were to take Paul on board, as he had arranged, since he was going overland. 14 When he met us in Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15 We sailed away from there on the next day and reached a point off Chios, and a day later we reached Samos, and on the following day we arrived at Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus in order not to lose time in the province of Asia, for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if at all possible, for the day of Pentecost.
Paul’s Farewell Speech at Miletus
17 From Miletus he had the presbyters of the church at Ephesus summoned.
When they came to him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews, 20 and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. 21 I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. 22 But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, 23 except that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. 24 Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace. 25
“But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again. 26 And so I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, 27 for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. 30 And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. 31 So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears. 32
And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated. 33 I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. 35 In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” 36 When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, 38 for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.
Arrival at Tyre
21:1 When we had taken leave of them we set sail, made a straight run for Cos, and on the next day for Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 Finding a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went on board and put out to sea. 3 We caught sight of Cyprus but passed by it on our left and sailed on toward Syria and put in at Tyre where the ship was to unload cargo. 4 There we sought out the disciples and stayed for a week. They kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to embark for Jerusalem. 5 At the end of our stay we left and resumed our journey. All of them, women and children included, escorted us out of the city, and after kneeling on the beach to pray, 6 we bade farewell to one another. Then we boarded the ship, and they returned home. 7
Arrival at Ptolemais and Caesarea
We continued the voyage and came from Tyre to Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed a day with them. 8 On the next day we resumed the trip and came to Caesarea, where we went to the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the Seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four virgin daughters gifted with prophecy. 10 We had been there several days when a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 He came up to us, took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the holy Spirit: This is the way the Jews will bind the owner of this belt in Jerusalem, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles.” 12 When we heard this, we and the local residents begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? I am prepared not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 Since he would not be dissuaded we let the matter rest, saying, “The Lord’s will be done.”
Paul and James in Jerusalem
15 After these days we made preparations for our journey, then went up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea came along to lead us to the house of Mnason, a Cypriot, a disciple of long standing, with whom we were to stay. 17 When we reached Jerusalem the brothers welcomed us warmly. 18 The next day, Paul accompanied us on a visit to James, and all the presbyters were present. 19 He greeted them, then proceeded to tell them in detail what God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry.
They praised God when they heard it but said to him, “Brother, you see how many thousands of believers there are from among the Jews, and they are all zealous observers of the law. 21 They have been informed that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to abandon Moses and that you are telling them not to circumcise their children or to observe their customary practices. 22 What is to be done? They will surely hear that you have arrived. 23 So do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take these men and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses that they may have their heads shaved. In this way everyone will know that there is nothing to the reports they have been given about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law. 25
As for the Gentiles who have come to believe, we sent them our decision that they abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.” 26 So Paul took the men, and on the next day after purifying himself together with them entered the temple to give notice of the day when the purification would be completed and the offering made for each of them
27 When the seven days were nearly completed, the Jews from the province of Asia noticed him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd, and laid hands on him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us. This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place, and what is more, he has even brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this sacred place.” 29
For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him and supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 The whole city was in turmoil with people rushing together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the gates were closed. 31 While they were trying to kill him, a report reached the cohort commander that all Jerusalem was rioting. 32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions and charged down on them. When they saw the commander and the soldiers they stopped beating Paul. 33 The cohort commander came forward, arrested him, and ordered him to be secured with two chains; he tried to find out who he might be and what he had done. 34
Some in the mob shouted one thing, others something else; so, since he was unable to ascertain the truth because of the uproar, he ordered Paul to be brought into the compound. 35 When he reached the steps, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob, 36 for a crowd of people followed and shouted, “Away with him!” 37 Just as Paul was about to be taken into the compound, he said to the cohort commander, “May I say something to you?” He replied, “Do you speak Greek? 38 So then you are not the Egyptian who started a revolt some time ago and led the four thousand assassins into the desert?” 39 Paul answered, “I am a Jew, of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; I request you to permit me to speak to the people.” 40 When he had given his permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand to the people; and when all was quiet he addressed them in Hebrew.
This talk is by Gregory Wolfe
In these chapters we have Paul’s third missionary journey – centered on the 2 major cities of Ephesus and Jerusalem.
Paul stayed longer in Ephesus than anywhere else. Wrote many letters to other places from there. A major port / harbor. (It’s one of the best preserved and restored ancient cities.) Temple of Artemis very important and magnificent. Larger than the Parthenon.
Riot of the silversmiths in the amphitheater. Gaius and Aristarchus (companions) seized. A Roman civil leader helps Paul and companions escape. God uses anyone needed to spread the gospel. A challenge to the status quo by the faith. By chapter 19 – a challenge to both Judaism and to Gentile cultures.
Living according to the Christian Way involves not only words but actions. Who are some models of the Christian Way for us in our everyday lives? Who gives us the example that helps us continue on our journey with the Lord? Parents? Spouse? Friends? Words into action.
Chapter 20 Macedonia / Greece. Then Troas (Troy). Miletus.
Acts 20:7: “On the First day of the week when we gathered to break bread, Paul spoke to them because he was going to leave on the next day.” One of 3 NT references to Sunday / Lord’s Day / first day of the week (in addition to Jewish Sabbath). Only later full break with synagogue.
Acts 20:16: “Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus in order not to lose time in the province of Asia, for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if at all possible, for the day of Pentecost.”
Was Paul patient or impatient? First of the signs of love in 1 Corinthians 13:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,
5 it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
6 it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
9 For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
12 At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
13 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Virtues which he himself struggled?
At Miletus Paul delivers the only speech in Acts to a specifically Christian community. Mission and Passion as key concepts for Christians.
Mission: “I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. I earnestly bore witness for both Jew and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:19-21
Paul’s mission involved teaching, bearing witness
Passion: involves suffering, loss, imprisonment, giving one’s life for others.
“But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of god’s grace.” Acts 20:22-24
Our mission and passion are unique to each one of us. Day to day – What is the Lord asking me to do? Other times not to do something but perhaps to accept something. Suffering? Deferring to another?
If we develop the habit of following the Spirit when it comes to action, then when times come to accept passion – we are ready to do so. Challenged to be faithful in whatever form it comes.
Ephesus = mission; Jerusalem = passion
Casciano, Jose Maria General editor. Translation by Michael Adams. The Navarre Bible: The Acts of the Apostles. (Scepter Publishers, New York, 2005).
Keener, Craig S. Acts: An Exegetical Commentary Volume 3 15:1-23:35. (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids MI, 2014).
Willimon, William H.. Acts. Part of the Interpretation Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching series edited by James L. Mays and Paul J. Achtmeier (NT). (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1988).
Paul in Ephesus
Casciano p. 149: “This presence in Ephesus of a group of disciples who had received only John’s baptism is open to various interpretations. The text seems to imply that they were not, properly speaking, Christians but people who followed the Baptist’s teaching and whom Paul regarded as incipient Christians, to the point of calling them disciples. We say this because in the New Testament being a Christian is always connected with receiving Baptism and having the Holy Spirit.”
Willimon p. 147: “It would have been inconceivable to Luke that someone could be “in” Jesus and not also “in” his Spirit. Baptism ‘in the name of Jesus’ is baptism in the Holy Spirit. In a sense, two baptisms are being reported here; (1) the baptism of repentance practiced by John, which is preparatory and preliminary, and (2) the baptism of Jesus, which is with water and the Holy Spirit and is a sign that one has been initiated into the new age.”
With Ephesus as the base Paul worked throughout the region, accompanied by Timothy, Erastus, Gaius, Titus and Epaphras of Colossae.
The Jewish Exorcists
Casciano p. 152: “In religions of ancient times there were lots of exorcists like the sons of Sceva. This man, probably a member of an important priestly family, gave himself the title of high priest to help promote and gain credence for the magic-making his family went in for. Many magicians, fortune-tellers and exorcists were ready to invoke any and every God. For example, there were pagans who used the different names of THE LORD, and we have evidence in the form of a magician’s papyrus which reads, “I abjure you by Jesus, the God of the Jews.” In this instance the evil spirit turns on the seven brothers, showing that ‘the Name does nothing unless it be spoken with faith’ (St. John Chrsostrom).”
Willimon p. 149: “About half of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9:51 to 19:37) is an account of a journey, a final journey, a kind of exodus for Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to ‘follow me’. In Acts the Christian life has been called ‘the Way’. Now Paul shall imitate Christ’s way as he journeys toward Rome.” A journey in which we have companions – Jesus, H.S., members of the church
The Riot of the Silversmiths
Casciano p. 154: “Artemis was the Greek name of the goddess the Romans called Diana, but through syncretism it was identified with an oriental goddess of fertility. A statue of Diana was worshipped in the Artemison – one of the 7 wonders of the world at the time. Feast-days of Artemis were celebrated with disgraceful orgies, for which people flocked into Ephesus from the surrounding region.” The silversmiths sold small statues of Artemis / Diana during this festival (and others) and likely made a great profit from them.
Willimon p. 152: “The mob scene is vivid testimony to the power of economic self-interest to sway a crowd.”
“Her image fell from the sky”? Keener p. 2930 says that there is not much evidence to suggest that in ancient times they really believed the Artemis image actually fell from the heavens. Some suggest that it may have been made from or incorporated a meteorite. There ARE some ancient cults that DID believe that the statues they worshipped / used in worship did actually fall from the skies.
In church tradition John brought Mary the Mother of Jesus to Ephesus to live out her days. There is a home there now said to be where they lived. It is on a site that had been dedicated to Artemis – like Christmas, it is an example of the church making what was given in a culture into something sacred.
Return to Troas
Casciano p. 157: “Paul has now set out on his last journey to Jerusalem. The seven brethren who travelled with him were presumably delegates of the churches appointed to help him bring the monies collected for the support of the Christians in Jerusalem.”
Note the return of the use of “we”.
Troas – a smallish city on the coast of modern Turkey, named after Troy which was nearby.
Eutychus Restored to Life
Willimon p. 155: “Prophets like Elijah, Elisha, and now Paul comfort God’s grief-stricken people by confronting the status quo, by assaulting the givenness of reality with their prophetic gestures of defiance. God is sovereign. Let not your hearts be troubled.”
Paul’s Farewell Speech at Miletus
This address has two major parts. In the first part Paul recounts his own ministry and its hardships. In the second he praises the mission and the role of elders in churches.
Arrival at Ptolemais and Caesarea
Casciano p. 164: with regard to the prophecy with the belt by Agabus – “somewhat reminiscent of our Lord’s prophecy about St. Peter in John 21” – you used to dress yourself but a time will come, when you are old, when others will gird you and take you where you do not want to go.
Paul and James in Jerusalem
Casciano p. 166: “The rumors which observant Jews had heard about Paul’s preaching were not without foundation, because the apostle regarded the Mosaic Law as something secondary as far as salvation was concerned; he did not accept circumcision as absolutely necessary. But the accusation was unjust. Paul never exhorted Christians of Jewish background not to circumcise their sons, and he himself ensured that Timothy was circumcised. In Corinth he came out in support of women following the Jewish custom of wearing the veil at liturgical ceremonies, and he himself had no difficulty about taking a Nazirite vow.”
Casciano p. 167: “The groundless accusation that he has brought Gentiles into the inner courtyards of the temple was a very serious charge because that type of offence was punishable by death under Jewish law, and usually the Roman authorities did execute those found guilty of it. Archaeologists have unearthed one of the temple’s stone plaques warning Gentiles, under pain of death, not to cross over the low wall marking off the courtyard of the Gentiles; the notice is in Greek and Latin.”