Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 19:10-20
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 19:10-12
v10: This gathering at the lecture hall continued meeting daily for two years. During that time so many people were saved, trained, and sent out to preach, Luke says the entire province of Asia (the western coastal region of Turkey) heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. vs11-12: Not only did Paul preach and teach, but God consistently (not “hit or miss”) performed powerful miracles through his hands, so much so that cloths which had touched his skin, such as the handkerchiefs he used to wipe sweat from his face, and the linen aprons he wore while he worked, were carried to those who were ill or tormented by demons, and placed on them “to release them from their diseases and for evil spirits to go out of them.”

Monday: Acts 19:13, 14
vs13-14: Though he must have been physically exhausted from teaching as much as five hours a day, on top of working mornings and late afternoons, this level of power continued to rest on Paul and drew the attention of religious professionals in the area. In particular, a group of seven “sons,” or more likely, seven disciples of a Jewish priest named Sceva, tried to imitate him. There is no record of a high priest named Sceva, and Luke is careful not to call him one. He uses words which mean they were calling him that. He describes him as, “some Jewish high priest named Sceva.” The man may have been a leader of one of the divisions of priests.

Tuesday: Acts 19:13, 14
vs13-14 (continued): This group of men traveled from place to place, and happened to be in Ephesus at the time. For a fee they would perform a religious ceremony intended to drive demons out or away from people. This practice, called exorcism, was fairly common in Judaism at the time. According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities, 8.2.5), part of King Solomon’s great wisdom was that he had learned the skill which expels demons. Josephus said, “God taught him the art of driving out evil spirits to the profit and salvation of men” (J. Schneider, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Eerdmans, Vol 5, 1973, p. 465), and added that he “left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they never return, and this method of cure is of great force unto this day.”

Wednesday: Acts 19:13, 14
vs13-14 (continued): Josephus wrote his history during the first century (AD), and said such exorcists were still “making mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed” (Antiquities 8.2.5). This particular group of exorcists decided Paul was having better success than they, so in Luke’s words, “they took hold of the name of the Lord Jesus in order to name Him over those having evil spirits” (literal). In effect, they tried to command demons to leave by threatening that if they refused they would call on “the Jesus whom Paul proclaims” to curse them. They weren’t using Jesus’ name because they had become His disciples, they were simply using His name because it appeared demons were afraid of Him. By speaking of the “Jesus whom Paul proclaims” they made it clear that they were not proclaiming Him, just using Him.

Thursday: Acts 19:15-17
v15: A similar situation occurred when Jesus was ministering in Capernaum. The disciples reported to Him that they had seen a man, who was not a disciple, using His name to cast out demons, and that they had tried to stop him. Jesus told them to let him continue since the process of seeing the spiritual authority associated with His name might draw the man to faith (Mk 9:38-40). But this demon in Ephesus felt no fear of the name of Jesus when it was spoken by someone who had no faith in Him. It spoke out defiantly through the possessed man and said, “Indeed, I know Jesus, and I have heard about Paul, but who are you?” vs16-17: Luke says, “the man in whom was the evil spirit” leaped on them (like a wild animal), overpowered two (“both”) of them, subdued them, and apparently tore their clothes off and beat them so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. This encounter became known to everyone in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, and the fear of God fell upon the entire city, and “the name of the Lord Jesus was being exalted.”

Friday: Acts 19:18
v18: Ephesus was probably the fourth largest city in the world at that time, with a population estimated at 250,000 people (Holman Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler ed, Homan Pub., 1991, p.425). It was known as a center for the magical arts. Spells made from scrambled words or phrases (sometimes arranged in special patterns) or prayers (addressed to gods or angels) were written on scrolls of parchment or Papyrus. The words would be regularly recited or placed in small cylinders and worn around the neck to bring healing, protection or prosperity. Such items sold at a high price (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, pp. 391-392).

Saturday: Acts 19:18-20
v18 (continued): The use of magic was so deeply rooted in the culture and economy of Ephesus that even those who joined the church did not necessarily stop practicing it. Yet when the fear of God swept over the city, it swept over the church as well. Many fell under conviction and confessed in front of the whole church that they had secretly continued using magic. Luke says they even described the specific practices they had used. v19: Those who had been practicing these elaborate rituals brought their scrolls together and burned them, until they were reduced to ashes, in front of everyone. When the total value of all the scrolls that had been destroyed was calculated, it came to the staggering sum of 5,000 pieces of silver. That would be the equivalent of 5,000 times the average daily wage for a laborer. v20: Luke summarized this season of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus by saying, “Thus, by might, the word of the Lord was expanding (to more and more people) and growing more powerful.”

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