Acts 19
Pulpit Commentary
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
Verse 1. - Country for coasts, A.V.; found for finding, A.V. and T.R. The upper country (τὰ ἀνωτερικὰ μέρη); the inland districts of Galatia and Phrygia, through which St. Paul journeyed on his way to Ephesus, as distinguished from the seacoast on which Ephesus stood. Disciples. They were like Apollos, believers in the Lord Jesus through the preaching of John the Baptist. It looks as if they were companions of Apollos, and had come with him from Alexandria, perhaps for some purpose of trade or Commerce.
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Verse 2. - And he said for he said, A.V. and T.R.; did ye receive for have ye received, A.V.; when for since, A.V.; nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Ghost was given for we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost, A.V. Did ye receive, etc.? The R.V. gives the sense much more accurately than the A.V., which is, "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost at the time of your baptism, when ye first believed?" Something led the apostle to suspect that they had not received the seal of the Spirit (comp. Ephesians 1:13, πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε), and so he asked the question. The answer, Nay, we did, not so much as hear whether the Holy Ghost was given, as in the R.V., is justified by John 7:39, where the exactly similar phrase, Οὔπω ῆν Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον, is rendered in the A.V., "The Holy Spirit was not yet given." "Esse pro adesse" (Bengel). The sense given in the A.V. does not seem probable. The answer means, "Not only have we not received the Holy Spirit, but we had not even heard that the dispensation of the Spirit was Come."
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
Verse 3. - He said for he said unto them, A.V. and T.R.; into for unto (twice), A.V. Into what then were ye baptized? Nothing can mark more strongly the connection between baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit than this question does. For it implies, "How could you be ignorant of the giving of the Holy Ghost if you were duly baptized?" (comp. Acts 2:38) The answer explains it, "We were baptized with John's baptism, to which no promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost was attached."
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
Verse 4. - And Paul said for then said Paul, A.V.; John for John verily, A.V. and T.R.; Jesus for Christ Jesus, A.V. and T.R. The baptism of repentance. See Luke 3:3, etc., and for the difference between John's baptism and that of Christ, Luke 3:16. Him which should some after him (Luke 3:16; John 3:28; Mark 1:7).
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Verse 5. - And when for when, A.V.; into for in, A.V. Into the Name of the Lord Jesus (see Acts 8:16). So too Acts 10:48 of Cornelius and his company, "He commanded them to be baptized in the Name (ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι) of Jesus Christ" (R.V.). The formula of baptism, as commanded by the Lord Jesus himself, was, "In [or, 'into'] the Name (αἰς τὸ ὔνομα) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:20). But the candidate always first made a profession of his faith in Jesus Christ, as in the A.V. of Acts 8:37; and the effect of baptism was an incorporation into Christ so as to partake of his death unto sin and his life unto righteousness. It was, therefore, a true and compendious description of baptism, to speak of it as a baptism in (or into) the Name of Jesus Christ. (See the Baptismal Service in the Book of Common Prayer.) There does not seem to be any difference of meaning between ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι and εἰς τὸ ὄνομα.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Verse 6. - Had laid his hands, etc. (see Acts 8:17 and note). We have here a distinct mark of Paul's true apostleship (see Acts 8:17, 18). For the manifestation of the Spirit, see Acts 10:46.
And all the men were about twelve.
Verse 7. - They were in all about twelve men for all the men were about twelve, A.V.
And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Verse 8. - Entered for went, A.V.; reasoning for disputing, A.V. (διαλεγόμενος, as ver. 9 and Acts 17:2, 17; Acts 18:4, 19, etc.); as to the things for the things, A.V. This last is a needless change, since πείθειν properly governs an accusative of the things persuaded or taught, and it is a right English use of "to persuade" to apply it to the thing inculcated. For the use of the phrase "the kingdom of God" as a compendious description of Christian doctrine, see Acts 1:3; Acts 8:12; Acts 20:25; Acts 28:23. St. Luke uses the phrase very frequently (Luke 6:20; Luke 8:10; Luke 9:27, 60, 62; Luke 10:11; Luke 11:20; Luke 13:20, 28; Luke 16:16; Luke 17:20; Luke 21:31, etc.).
But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
Verse 9. - Some for divers, A.V.; disobedient for believed not, A.V. (ἡπείθουν, as Acts 14:2; Acts 17:5, T.R.); speaking for but spake, A.V.; the Way for that way, A.V.; reasoning for disputing, A.V.; Tyrannus for one Tyrannus, A.V. Were hardened; or, hardened themselves. Whether considered as active or middle, the hardening their minds against the reception of the truth was just as voluntary an action as that of one who shuts his eyes that he may not see the light. For the use of σκληρύνειν (Hebrew הִקְשָׁה, applied to the heart or the neck), see Romans 9:18; Hebrews 3:8, 15; Hebrews 4:7 - passages all founded upon the LXX. of Psalm 94:8. See also Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:19; and Ecclus. 30:11, where, as here, disobedience is the consequence of being hardened. Μήποτε σκληρυνθεὶς ἀπειθήσῃ σοι, "Lest being hardened he disobey thee." The A.V., by leaving out "were" before "disobedient," and translating as if "hardened" and "disobedient" were two adjectives, destroys this consequence. Speaking evil of; κακολογοῦντες (see Matthew 15:4; Mark 9:39), frequent in the LXX. as the rendering of קִלֵּל (Exodus 21:17; 1 Samuel 3:13), which is otherwise rendered by κακῶς εἴπειν," as in Leviticus 20:9. It is nearly synonymous with βλασφημαῖν. The Way (as ver. 23; see Acts 9:2, note). They would speak evil of the gospel by describing it as a blasphemy against God and against Moses, as contrary to the Law, as subversive of all the customs and traditions of the Jews, and so on. He departed. Ἀποστάσ is more than simply "departing;" it implies a withdrawal and separation front fellowship with them, as in 1 Timothy 6:5 (A.V.), "From such withdraw thyself;" Ecclesiastes 7:2, "Depart from the unjust" (comp. Luke 13:27). Separated the disciples. Hitherto the converted Jews at Ephesus had continued to join their unconverted brethren in the worship of the synagogue; now Paul withdrew them and separated them (ἀφώρισε, Galatians 2:10). The school of Tyrannus; σχολή, leisure; then, "the employment of leisure," as especially in philosophic discussions and the like; thirdly, the "place" were such discussions were held, a school. It is uncertain whether Tyrannus was a Gentile well known at the time (without the τινός), who kept a lecture room for philosophic discussions or lectures on rhetoric, or whether he was a Jew who held a private school or meeting in his house - a beth-midrash - as was not uncommon in largo towns where many Jews were (Light foot, vol. 3. p. 236). "Beth-midrash - The Jewish divinity school, where their doctors disputed of the more high and difficult matters of the Law" (Index to Lightfoot's Works). It was commonly the upper room in the house of a rabbi (Lightfoot, on Acts 2:13, vol. 8:363), whence "house of rabbis "was synonymous with beth-midrash, house of discussion. The name Tyrannus occurs in 2 Macc. 4:40; Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 16. 10:4; 'Bell Jud.,' 1. 26:6, of an officer in Herod's bodyguard, who might be a Jew or a Greek; and a certain Tyrannus is described by Suidas as a sophist and an author, possibly the same as is here spoken cf. Lightfoot, Meyer, Alford, and others think that the Tyrannus here spoken of was a Jew; Lange, Olshausen, Howson, Farrar, Lewin, etc., think he was a Greek philosopher or rhetorician. Some think that "the school of Tyrannus" was the name of the lecture-room from some former teacher (see Renan. p. 345).
And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
Verse 10. - For for by, A.V.; Lord for Lord Jesus, A.V. and T.R. Two years (see Acts 20:31, note). Both Jews and Greeks. This mention of Jews is rather in favor of Tyrannus being a Jew; but not decisive.
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
Verse 12. - Insomuch for so, A.V.; unto the sick were carried away from his body for from his body were brought unto the sick, A.V.; went out for went out of them, A.V. and T.R. From his body (χρωτός); literally, the skin, but used here by St. Luke for the body, in accordance with the usage of medical writers "from Hippocrates to Galen" (Hobart). Handkerchiefs; σουδάριον, the Latin word sudarium, properly a cloth for wiping off the sweat. It is one of those words, like κουστωδία κεντυρίων σημικίνθιον, κοδράντης, etc., which exactly represent the political condition of things at the time of the writers, who were living in a country where Greek was the language of common intercourse, but where the dominion was Roman. It is found in Luke 19:20; John 11:44; John 20:7, and here. Aprons; σιμικίνθια, more properly written σημικίνθια. It is the Latin word semicinctium, a half-girdle; the Greek word is ἡμιζώνιον. According to some, it was a narrow girdle, but according to others, and with more probability, an apron covering only half, i.e. the front of the body. It only occurs here in the New Testament or elsewhere. The careful mention of these cures of the sick may also be connected with St. Luke's medical profession. As regards these unusual modes of miraculous cure, comp. Acts 5:15. It might well be the Divine purpose, in the case of both Peter and Paul, to invest with such extraordinary power the very persons of the apostles who were to stand forth as his messengers and preach in his Name. In St. Paul this parity of miraculous energy stamped his apostleship with an authority equal to that of St. Peter.
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
Verse 13. - But certain also for then certain, A.V.; strolling for vagabond, A.V.; name for call, A.V.; the evil for evil, A.V.; I for we, A.V. and T.R. Strolling (περιερχομένων); going their rounds from place to place, like strolling players or like peddlers. The words should be construed together, "strolling Jewish exorcists." That certain Jews in our Savior's time exorcised evil spirits appears from Matthew 12:27; Luke 9:49. We learn also from Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 8:2, 5, that forms of exorcism, said to have been invented by King Solomon, so efficacious that the devils cast out by them could never come back, were used with great effect in his days. He adds that he himself knew of an instance in which one of his own countrymen, Eleazar by name, had cast out devils in the presence of Vespasian and his sons and officers and a number of his soldiers. The method used was this: The exorcist applied to the nose of the possessed the bezil of a ring, under which was a certain root prescribed by Solomon, and so drew out the evil spirit through the man's nostrils. The possessed then fell to the ground, and the exorcist commanded the evil spirit in the name of Solomon never to return, and then recited one of Solomon's incantations. To give full assurance to the bystanders that the evil spirit had really left the man, the exorcist placed a vessel full of water at some distance off, and then commanded the ejected spirit to overturn it, which he did. Thus far Josephus. Lightfoot, on Acts 13. (vol. 3:215), quotes the book Juchasin as speaking of certain Jews as "skilled in miracles," and the Jerusalem Talmud as speaking of their enchantments and magical tricks and charms" in the name of Jesus" (see, further, Alford on Matthew 12:27).
And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
Verse 14. - A chief priest for and chief of the priests, A.V.; this for so, A.V. A chief priest (ἀρχιερεύς); not, of course, in the sense of high priest, but in that wider sense of the word which comprised the chiefs of the twenty-four courses and the members of the Sanhedrim and all who had ever been high priests or who were of the kindred of the high priest (see Matthew 2:4; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 21:15; 23:45, etc.; Luke 9:22; Luke 19:47, etc.; Acts 4:23; Acts 5:24; Acts 9:14, 21, etc.). It is probable that the Eleazar mentioned in the preceding note was a priest, both from his name and because Josephus calls him one of his ὁμοφύλων, which may mean "fellow-tribesmen." The name Sceca occurs nowhere else, nor is its meaning or etymology at all certain. Some identify it with the Latin Scaera (Horace, 'Ep.,' 1. 17:1), "left-handed," l.q. Scaevola; or the Greek Scenes, a proper name in Appian. Simonis gives it an Aramean etymology.
And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
Verse 15. - Said unto them for said, A.V. and T.R.
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Verse 16. - Mastered both of them for overcame them, A.V. and T.R.
And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
Verse 17. - Became for was, A.V.; both Jews and Greeks for the Jews and Greeks also, A.V.; that dwelt for dwelling, A.V.; upon for on, A.V. Fear fell upon them. Comp. Acts 5:11-14, where the same effects are ascribed to the death of Ananias and Sapphire and the signs and wonders which were wrought by the apostles at that time. This fear produced by the putting forth of God's power paralyzed for a time the enemies of the gospel, and enabled believers, as it were, to take possession of their new heritage, just as the miracles at the Red Sea and the destruction of Sihon and Og paralyzed the courage of the Canaanites and enabled the Israelites to take possession of their land (Joshua 2:9-11). With respect to the incident which caused this fear, it might at first seem inconsistent with our Lord's saying to the apostles (Luke 9:49, 50). But the cases were very different. He who cast out devils in the name of Jesus, in the Gospel, does not seem to have had any hostility to the faith, for our Lord speaks of him as one who "is not against us." But these sons of Sceva were among the unbelieving Jews who were "hardened and disobedient;" and if their exorcisms had been permitted to succeed, they would have had power to withstand Paul, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, and the very purpose for which miraculous power was given to St. Paul would have been frustrated. There- fore they were discomfited, and the subtle design of Satan to destroy, while seeming to magnify, the Name of Jesus was signally defeated. Comp. the somewhat similar incident at Philippi (Acts 16:16-18). Justin Martyr, in his 'Diologue with Trypho,' quoted by Alford on Matthew 12:27, speaks of the Jews as exorcising, sometimes in the name of kings (referring, doubtless, to Solomon), sometimes of just men, or of prophets, or of patriarchs. So these men took up the name of Jesus.
And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
Verse 18. - Many also of them that had believed for and many that believed, A.V.; confessing and declaring for and confessed and showed, A.V. Many also of them that had believed. This and the following verse speak of that class of converts who had previously been addicted to magic arts. It gives us a curious view of the extent to which magic prevailed among the Jews at this time. Nor was it less prevalent in heathen Ephesus. The magic formulae of Ephesus were famous under the name of Ἐφέσια γράμματα (see Renan, pp. 344,345, note), and the belief in magic seems to have been universal. Hesychius gives as the names of the oldest Ephesian charms, Aski, Kataski, Lix, Petrax, Damnameneus, AEsion, which he explains as meaning severally "Darkness, Light," "the Earth," "the Year," "the Truth" (Lewin, p. 334).
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
Verse 19. - And not a few for many... also, A.V.; that practiced for which used A.V.; in the sight of all for before all men, A.V. That practiced curious arts (τῶν τὰ περίεργα πραξάντων). The adjective περίεργος applied to persons means "a busybody" (1 Timothy 5:13), one who does what it is not his business to do, and pries into matters with which he has no concern (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:11); applied to things, it means that which it is not anybody's business to attend to, that which is vain and superfluous; and then, by a further extension of meaning, that which is forbidden, and specially magic arts and occult sciences. Fifty thousand pieces of silver. There is a difference of opinion as to what coin or weight is meant. If Greek coinage, which is perhaps natural in a Greek city, fifty thousand drachmae of silver would be meant, equal to £1875, If Jewish shekels are meant, the sum would amount to £7000 ('Speaker's Commentary'). It is in favor of drachmae being meant that, with the exception of Joshua 7:21 and Judges 17:2, the LXX. always express the word "shekel" or "didrachm" after the numeral and before the word "silver." If St. Luke, therefore, had meant shekels, he would have written δίδραχμα ἀργυρίου But it was the Greek usage to omit the word δραχμή before ἀργυρίου when the reckoning was by drachmae (Meyer).
So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
Verse 20. - The Lord for God, A.V. If the R.T. has the true order of the words, they must be construed, To such an extent, according to the might of the Lord, did the word grow and prevail, after the analogy of Ephesians 1:19. Κατὰ κράτος, however, taken by itself, is quite usual, like κατὰ μικρόν καθ ὑπερβολήν, etc. (Alford), and is rightly rendered "mightily."
After these things were ended, 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.
Verse 21. - Now after for offer, A.V. Purposed in the spirit (ἔθετο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι); literally, set, fixed, or arranged it in his spirit, like the Hebrew phrase, שּׂוּם בְלֵב, in 1 Samuel 12, etc. Similarly of past things, Luke 1:66, ἔθεντο πάντες... ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῶν, "laid them up in their hearts "(comp. Acts 5:4). When he had passed through Macedonia, etc. Observe the constant solicitude of Paul to revisit the Churches which he had founded, so as to confirm the disciples in the faith and to consolidate his work (Acts 14:21; Acts 15:36; Acts 16:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5, etc.). It marks the unrivalled tenderness of his heart toward the disciples. Observe also the insatiable appetite of the apostle for spiritual conquests, and his noble contempt for idleness. He has but just won Ephesus and Asia, and already he undertakes Macedonia and Achaia. Nor does his mind stop there, but reaches on to Jerusalem, then stretches onwards to Rome, and meditates the invasion of Spain. Truly neither Alexander, nor Caesar, nor any hero of antiquity was a match for this little Benjamite (paulus) in the magnanimity of his designs (Bengel).
So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
Verse 22. - And having sent for so he sent, A.V.; Timothy for Timotheus, A.V.; he for but he, A.V.; while for season, A.V. Two of them, etc. Erastus is here mentioned for the first time. If he is the same person who is mentioned in Romans 16:23; 2 Timothy 4:20, it is probable that he was one of St. Paul's Corinthian converts who had gone with him from Corinth to Jerusalem and Antioch, and had accompanied him through Phrygia and Galatia to Ephesus. Silos, who had been Timothy's companion on the former visit to Macedonia, seems to have left St. Paul, possibly at Jerusalem, from whence he originally came (Acts 15:22, 32, 34), and to have attached himself to Peter (1 Peter 5:12). Perhaps he was especially connected with the mission to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, etc., as it appears from the passage just quoted that he was "a faithful brother unto them," A.V.; "or our faithful brother," R.V. He himself stayed, etc. This phrase is in singular harmony with 1 Corinthians 16:8, which seems clearly to have been written after Timothy's departure for Macedonia and before his arrival at Corinth, since Timothy is not mentioned either in the superscription or among the salutations (1 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 16:19, 20), and his coming to Corinth is spoken of as doubtful, though probable, in 1 Corinthians 16:10. Both passages imply a prolongation of Paul's stay at Ephesus beyond his original intention. The special reason for this prolongation of his sojourn at Ephesus, and which is alluded to in 1 Car 16:9, is thought to be the Artemisian or Ephesian games, which were celebrated at Ephesus in May - and therefore just at this time - and which brought a vast concourse of Ionians to Ephesus. It was at this time, doubtless, that the principal sale of "silver shrines of Diana" took place, and therefore it was natural that Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen should be very angry when they found their usual gains were cut short by the multitude of converts all over Proconsular Asia. We learn from 1 Corinthians 16:7 that Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus had arrived at Ephesus from Corinth. It is likely that their presence, together with that of Tychicus and Trophimus, two Asiatic converts, enabled St. Paul to dispense with the services of Time-thy and Erastus for a time. Ἔπεσχεν, understand σεαυτόν, kept himself back, i.e. stayed; χρόνον, a while, an indefinite phrase, but indicating a short time. Herodotus has ἐπίσχοντες (8. 113), ἐπισχὼν ὀλίγον χρόνον (1. 132), and ἐπισχὼν χρόνον (9. 49).
And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
Verse 23. - About that time for the same time, A.V.; concerning the Way for about that way, A.V. (see ver. 9).
For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
Verse 24. - Of for for, A.V.; little business for small gain, A.V. Shrines of Diana, or Artemis. They were silver models of the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus, and were carried as charms on journeys and placed in people's houses to ensure to them the protection of the goddess (Meyer). These gold or silver shrines contained within them an image of Artemis (Lewin, vol. 1. p. 408), as similar ones, which have been found made of terracotta, do of Cybele (Lewin, p. 414). Repeated mention is made in Diodorus Siculus, Ammianus Marcellinus, and elsewhere, of gold or silver shrines (ναόι), which were offered to different gods as propitiatory gifts, or carried about by the owners as charms, Business; ἐργασία, here and ver. 25 (see Acts 16:16, note).
Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
Verse 25. - Gathered for called, A.V.; bust. ness for craft, A.V., but "craft" is the better rendering. Workmen; ἐργάται, different from the τεχνῖται skilled laborers or artisans. Demetrius called together all who were in any way interested in the shrine trade. His true reason came out first.
Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
Verse 26. - And for moreover, A.V. We have here a wonderful testimony from an enemy to the power and efficacy of St. Paul's labors. Asia, here and in ver. 22, etc., means Proconsular Asia, of which Ephesus was the chief city. That they be no gods, etc. This is an incidental proof that St. Paul's success at Ephesus lay chiefly among the heathen, since we know from Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:23, 24, etc., that this was exactly his style of preaching to Gentiles, quite different from his method with Jews.
So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
Verse 27. - And not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute for so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught, A.V.; be made of no account for should be despised, A.V.; that she should even be deposed from her magnificence for her magnificence should be destroyed, A.V. and T.R. Is there danger. There is no example in St. Luke's writings, or in the New Testament, or in the LXX., of κινδυνεύει, being taken impersonally, as it is sometimes, though rarely, in G reek authors. The subject, therefore, of this sentence is τὸ μέρος (the portion, part, or business), and Τοῦτο κινδυνεύει ἡμῖν τὸ μέρος κ.τ.λ, must be construed together, "This trade is in danger for us to come into disrepute," or, put into English, "This our trade is in danger," etc. Come into disrepute; εἰς ἀπελεγμὸν, only found here in the New Testament; literally, into refutation; hence into disrepute, or into reproach, i.e. be a ground of reproach to us who practice it. The great goddess. An epithet especially applied to the Ephesian Diana (comp. the μεγαλειότητα at the end of the verse, and the cry, vers. 28 and 34). Lewin (vol. 1. p. 412, note) quotes Ὀμνύω τὴν μεγαλήν Ἐφεσίων Ἄρτεμιν in the Ephesian Xenophon Τῆς μεγάλης Θεᾶς Ἀρτέμιδος, in an inscription at Ephesus; Ἄρτεμις ἡ μεγάλη θεός (Achill. Tat.). Add from Pausanias, 4,31, 8, All men hold the Ephesian Diana in the greatest honor." From her magnificence. The R.T. reads τῆς μεγαλειότητος instead of τὴν μεγαλειότητα in the T.R. But Meyer, while he accepts the R.T., construes it "and some of her magnificence," etc.; and rightly, because the genitive after καθαιρεῖν should be preceded by ἀπὸ, as Acts 13:29; Joshua 8:29; Joshua 10:27 (LXX.), and the word καθαιρεῖν is also specially used of lowering the honor of any one. All Asia and the world. This is scarcely an hyperbole, the worship of the Ephesian Diana, and of her image reported to have fallen down from heaven, was so very widely diffused.
And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
Verse 28. - This for these sayings, A.V.; filled with wrath for full of wrath, A.V. Great is Diana, etc. A notable instance of assertion and clamor crying down reason and truth.
And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
Verse 29. - The city for the whole city, and the confusion for confusion, A.V. and T.R. (τῆς for ὅλη); they rushed, etc., having seized for having caught, etc., they rushed, etc., A.V. With one accord (ὁμοθυμαδὸν); see Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1; Acts 4:24, etc., and for ὥρμησαν ὁμοθυμαδὸν, see Acts 7:57. Into the theatre. The common place of resort for all great meetings. So Tacitus, 'Hist.,' 2:80 (quoted by Alford), says that at Antioch the people were wont to hold their public debates in the theatre, and that a crowded meeting was held there to forward the interests of Vespasian, then aspiring to the empire. So Josephus speaks of the people of Antioch holding a public assembly (ἐκκλησίαζοντος) in the theatre ('Bell. Jud.,' 7. 3:3). The people of the Greek city of Tarentum received the ambassadors from Rome in the theatre, "according to the Greek custom," Val. Max., 2:2, 5 (Kuinoel, on Acts 19:29). The theatre at Ephesus, of which "ruins of immense grandeur" still remain, is said to be the largest of which we have any account (Howson, 2. p. 68). Having seized (συναρπάσαντες); a favorite word with Luke(Acts 6:12; Acts 27:12; Luke 8:29); and found also in the LXX, of Proverbs 6:25; 2 Macc. 3:27 2Macc. 4:41; but not elsewhere in the New Testament. It is a common medical word of sudden seizures. The force of the συν is that they hurried Gaius and Aristarchus along with them to the theatre, no doubt intending there to accuse them to the people. Gaius and Aristarchus. In Acts 20:4 there is mention of a certain Gains who was one of Paul's companions in travel, but who is described as "of Derbe." Again in 1 Corinthians 1:14 a Gains is mentioned as one of St. Paul's converts on his first visit to Corinth, whom he baptized himself; and in Romans 16:23 (written from Corinth) we have mention of Gains as St. Paul's host, and of the whole Church, likely, therefore, to be the same person. Then we have the Gains to whom St. John's Third Epistle is addressed, and whose hospitality to the brethren was a conspicuous feature in his character, and one tending to identify him with the Gaius of Romans 16:23. We seem, therefore, to have, in immediate connection with St, Paul, Gaius of Corinth, Gains of Macedonia, and Gains of Derbe. But Gaius (or Caius, as it is written in Latin) was such a common name, and the Jews so often shifted their residence from one city to another, that it is not safe either to infer identity from identity of name, or diversity from diversity of description. Aristarchus, here described as of Macedonia, is more precisely spoken of in Acts 20:4 as a Thessalonian. In Acts 27:2, where we find him accompanying St. Paul from Caesarea to Rome, he is described as "a Macedonian of Thessalonica." In Colossians 4:10 he is St. Paul's "fellow-prisoner,' as voluntarily sharing his prison (Alford, on Colossians 4:10), and in Philemon 1:24 he is his fellow-laborer. His history, therefore, is that, having been converted on St Paul's visit to Thessalonica, he attached himself to him as one of his missionary staff, and continued with him through good report and evil report, through persecution, violence, imprisonment, shipwreck, and bonds, to the latest moment on which the light of Bible history shines. Blessed servant of Christ! blessed fellow-servant of his chief apostle!
And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
Verse 30. - Was minded to enter for would have entered, A.V. With the courage of a pure conscience, conscious of no wrong, and therefore fearing no wrong, Paul would have gone straight to the theatre, and cast in his lot with Gaius and Aristarchus; but the disciples, knowing the savage temper of the multitude, dissuaded him; and when their entreaties were backed by the magistrates, Paul thought it his duty to yield. To enter in unto the people. Αἰσελθεῖν, or προσελθεῖν εἰς ἐπὶ τὸν δῆμον or τῷ δήμῳ are phrases implying the intention of pleading his cause before them (see Schleusner and Kuinoel, on Acts 19:30).
And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
Verse 31. - Certain also for certain, A.V. (the more natural order would be, and certain of the chief officers of Asia also); chief officers for chief, A.V.; being for which were, A.V.; and besought him not to for desiring him that he would not, A.V. Chief Officers of Asia. The Greek word is Asiarchs (Ἀσιάρχαι). The Asiarchs, ten in number, were officers annually chosen from all the cities of Proconsular Asia, to preside over all sacred rites, and to provide at their own expense the pub-lie games in honor of the gods and of the deity of the emperor. This necessitated their being men of high rank and great wealth, and Schleusner adds that they were priests. The name Asiarch is formed like Luciarchai, Syriarchai, Phoenicharchai, etc. We have here another striking proof of the enormous influence of Paul's preaching in Asia, that some of these very officers who were chosen to preside over the sacred rites of the gods, and to advance their honor by public games, were now on Paul's side.
Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
Verse 32. - In confusion for confused, A.V. (συγκεχυμένη: comp. συγχύσεως, ver. 29). The more part, etc. A graphic picture of an excited mob led by interested and designing agitators.
And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
Verse 33. - Brought for drew, A.V. and T.R.; a defense for his defense, A.V. (ἀπολογεῖσθαι). Alexander. Some think he is the same as "Alexander the coppersmith," of whose conduct St. Paul complains so bitterly (2 Timothy 4:14, 15; 1 Timothy 1:20), and he may or may not be. It seems likely that, as St. Paul's offence was speaking against the gods and their temples, the Jews, who were commonly accused of being atheists, and one of whose nation Paul was, came in for their share of the popular odium. They were anxious, therefore, to excuse themselves before the people of having had any share in St. Paul's work, and put forward Alexander, no doubt a clever man and a good speaker, to make their defense. But as soon as the people knew that he was a Jew, they refused to listen to him, and drowned his voice with incessant shouts of "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Meyer, however, thinks he was a Christian, because of the word ἀπολογεῖσθαι. The people (δῆμος, as ver. 30). It was a true ἐκκλησία, though an irregular one, and the people who formed it were the δῆμος, different from the ὄχλος, the mere crowd outside.
But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
Verse 34. - Perceived for knew, A.V. ἐπιγιγώσκειν, to recognize; see Acts 3:10; Acts 4:13).
And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
Verse 35. - Quieted the multitude (τὸν ὄχλον) for appeased the people, A.V.; saith for said, A.V.; who for that, A.V.; temple-keeper for a worshipper, A.V.; Diana for goddess Dann, A.V. and T.R. The town clerk (6 γραμματεὺς); i.e. the scribe, is the city secretary. Ὁ γραμματεὺς τῆς πόλεως, Thucyd., 7:19 (Meyer); Τοῦ γραμματέως τοῦ δήμου, inscription quoted by Howson (vol. it. p. 76, note). His office, as appears from the passage in Thucydides, was to read public documents to the people. According to some, it was not a post of much dignity at Athens (Becket, on Thucyd., 7:10); but according to Kuinoel it was an office of first-rate influence in the senate in the Greek cities of Asia, seeing the scribe was the chief registrar, had the drafting of the laws, and the custody of the archives. As there were three orders of scribes, there may have been a great difference in the political rank of each. Had quieted (καταστείλας, and κατεσταλμένους, ver. 36). Καταστέλλω means to "arrange," "put in order," the hair, the dress, or the like; hence "to restrain," "quiet;" found only in these two places in the New Testament, but not uncommon in the Maccabees and in Josephus. In classical Greek, ὁ κατεσταλμένος is a man of calm, quiet demeanor, as opposed to ὁ τολμηρός, one who is bold and violent. In medical language, καταστέλλω is to soothe, calm, etc., and φάρμακα κατασταλτικά and ἀνασταλτικά are medicines which check the growth of diseases, ulcers, eruptions, and the like. Temple-keeper, in R.V. and margin of A.V. (νωκόρος); literally, temple-sweeper, from νεώσ, a temple, and κορέω, to sweep. The word Neoceros was a peculiar title, assumed first by persons and then by such cities, in Asia especially, as had the special charge of the temple and sacred rites of any particular god. It first appears on coins of Ephesus, in the reign of Nero, and was deemed a title of great honor. One inscription speaks of ὁ νεωκόρος (Ἐφεσίων) δῆμος as making a certain dedication. But another use of the term sprang up about this time. Among the vile flatteries of those corrupt times, it became usual with cities to dedicate temples and altars to the emperors, and they received in return the title, meant to be an honor, of νεωκόρος of the emperor. Some extant coins exhibit the city of Ephesus as νεωκόρος both of Diana and the emperor (see Lewin, vol. 1. p. 411; Howson, vol. it. pp. 75, 76). The image which fell down from Jupiter (τοῦ Διοπετοῦς, understand ἀγάλματος, as in the 'Iphig. in Taur.,' 947), Διοπετὲς λαβεῖν ἄγαλμα; which is described in ver. 88 of the same play as "the image (ἄγαλμα) of the goddess Diana, which they say fell down from heaven (οὐρανοῦ πεσεῖν ἀπὸ) into her temple in Tauris;" and in line 1349 it is called Οὐρανοῦ πέσημα, τῆς Διὸς κόρης ἄγαλμα, "The image of the daughter of Jove which fell from heaven," brought away from Tauris by Iphigenia and Orestes into Attica. But it does not appear that there was any tradition that the identical image brought from Tauris was carried to Ephesus. There are several representations of the Ephesian Diana, or Artemis, on coins, of which one or two are given by Lewin (vol. 1. p, 411) and by Howson (vol. it. p. 66). The image was of rude form and execution, mummy-shaped, or like an inverted pyramid; πολυμαστὴ (rendered by St. Jerome multi-mammia, and explained as intending to represent her as the nourisher of all living things: Preface to Ephesians); made of wood variously described as ebony, cedar, and vine wood. Pliny says that, though the temple itself had been restored seven times, the image had never been altered (quoted by Kuinoel).
Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
Verse 36. - Gainsaid for spoken against, A.V.; rash for rashly, A.V. (προπετῶς is the adverb), quiet (κατεσταλμένους: see above, ver. 35, note).
For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
Verse 37. - Temples for churches, A.V.; ,or for nor yet, A.V.; our for your, A.V. Ye have brought, etc. Ἄγειν is especially used of "bringing before a magistrate," "leading to execution," etc. (Luke 21:12; Luke 23:1; Acts 6:12; Acts 17:19; Acts 18:12; Mark 13:11). Robbers of temples; ἱερόσυλοι found only here in the New Testament. The verb ἱεροσυλεῖν occurs in Romans 2:22. Blasphemers of our goddess. If the A.V. is right, perhaps we may see in the phrase "your goddess" an indication that the town-clerk himself was more or less persuaded by St. Paul's preaching, that "they are no gods which are made with hands," and did not care to speak of Diana as his own goddess. It appears also that St. Paul had not launched out into abuse of the heathen gods in general, or Diana in particular, but had preached the more excellent way by faith in Jesus Christ, to draw them from their idols (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
Verse 38. - If therefore for wherefore if, A.V.; that for which, A.V.; the courts are for the law is, A.V.; proconsuls for deputies, A.V.; accuse for implead, A.V. Against any man. Mark the skill with which the town-clerk passes from the concrete to the abstract, and avoids the mention of Paul's name. The courts are open; ἀγοραῖοι (or ἀγόραιοι) ἄγονται. Some supply the word σύνοδοι, and make the sense "judicial assemblies," "sessions," coming round at proper fixed intervals. But the verb ἄγονται, more naturally suggests ἡμέραι, as Bengel says (ἄγειν γενέσια τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς σκηνοπηγίας: Ὀλύμπια: γενέθλιον, etc.), and then the meaning is, "The regular court-days are kept, when the proconsul attends to try causes;" there is no need to have an irregular trial. So Suidas explains it, Ἡμέρα ἐνῇ ἡ ἀγορὰ. There are proconsuls. Bengel, with whom Meyer agrees, thinks the plural denotes the unbroken succession of proconsuls. But Lewin thinks it may mark the exact time of these transactions as being immediately after the poisoning of the Proconsul Junius Silanus by order of Agrippina, when the two procurators, Celer and AElius, exercised the proconsular power till the appointment of another proconsul, according to a law of Claudius to that effect. Others have other explanations.
But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
Verse 39. - Seek for inquire, A.V.; about for concerning, A.V.; settled for determined, A.V.; the regular for a lawful, A.V. If ye seek, etc (ἐπιζητεῖτε). Ἐπιζητεῖν means either "to make inquiry" or" to desire earnestly." The verb in the next clause, ἐπιλυθήσεται, it shall be "settled," or "solved," favors the first sense: "If you wish to inquire further into the spread of Paul's doctrine, and the best way of dealing with it, the question should be decided in an assembly of the δῆμος, legally convened." For περὶἑτέρων, about other matters, some manuscripts read περαιτέρω, further. The regular assembly. That summoned by a magistrate in the constitutional way. The Greek cities under the Roman government preserved their rights and liberties, and the privilege of popular assemblies. The town clerk, therefore, gave them their choice of either having the case tried before the proconsuls or having it laid before the ecclesia of the demos, if they wished it to be gone into on wider and deeper grounds.
For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
Verse 40. - For indeed for for, A.V.; accused for called in question, A.V.; concerning for for, A.V.; riot for uproar, A.V.; for it for whereby, A.V.; and as touching it we shall not be able to for we may, A.V. and T.R.; account for an account, A.V. We are in danger (κινδυνεύομεν: see ver. 27, note). To be accused concerning this day's riot. The Greek cannot well be so construed. The margin is right; ἐγκαλεῖσθαι στάσεως is "to be charged with sedition;" περὶ τῆς σήμερον is for τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας, "this day," as in Acts 20:26, τῇ σήμερον ἡμέρᾳ: only in English we should say, "on account of this day," i.e. what has been done this day. The R.T. places a stop after μηδενὸς αἰτίου ὑπάχοντοςρ As touching it. But "it" must mean "the riot," which is feminine, whereas οϋ is masculine; so that the R.T. is impossible to construe. It is much better, therefore, to adhere to the T.R., which has good manuscript authority, and to construe as the A.V. Whereby, equivalent to "on the ground of which" (Meyer). With regard to the great tumult to which the foregoing narrative relates, it is certain that St. Luke has by no means exaggerated its importance. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, written from Macedonia shortly after his departure from Ephesus, St. Paul speaks as one still smarting under the severity of his sufferings. In the language of trust, yet of a trust sorely tried, he speaks of the Father of mercies" who comforteth us in all our tribulation." He speaks of the sufferings of Christ as abounding in him. And then, referring directly to the trouble which came upon him in Asia, he says, "We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death" (2 Corinthians 1:4-10). And the same tone breaks out again in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10. It is also very probable that it was on this occasion that Priscilla and Aquila saved St. Paul's life at the risk of their own, to which he alludes in Romans 16:3, 4, written after he had reached Corinth from Macedonia, i.e. before Easter of the year So that it is certain that the riot and the danger to St. Paul's life were even greater than we should have inferred from St. Luke's narrative alone. It should be added, with reference to the three years residence at Ephesus (Acts 20:21) which this nineteenth chapter describes, that one or two important incidents which occurred are not related by St. Luke. The first is that encounter with a savage rabble to which St. Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 15:32, but of which we have no account in the Acts. It must have happened in the early part of his sojourn at Ephesus. Another is a probable visit to Corinth, inferred from 2 Corinthians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 12:14, 21; 2 Corinthians 13:1, 2; and thought to have been caused by bad accounts of the moral state of the Corinthian Church, sent to him at Ephesus. It was probably a hasty visit, and in contrast with it he says, in 1 Corinthians 16:7, with reference to his then coming visit, "I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you." It is also thought that there was another letter to the Corinthians, written from Ephesus, soon after that second visit, which is now lost, but is alluded to in 1 Corinthians 5:9. The First Epistle to the Corinthians was manifestly written at this time from Ephesus (see 1 Corinthians 16:8, 19). Some think that the Epistle to the Galatians was also written from Ephesus, a little before the First Epistle to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 2:10); but Renan thinks it was written from Antioch, before he came to Ephesus.

And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

Bible Hub
Acts 18
Top of Page
Top of Page