Acts 19 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Acts 19)

Verse 2

[2] 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.

Have ye received the Holy Ghost? — The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, as well as his sanctifying graces? We have not so much as heard - Whether there be any such gifts.

Verse 3

[3] And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

Into what were ye baptized — Into what dispensation? To the sealing of what doctrine? Into John's baptism - We were baptized by John and believe what he taught.

Verse 4

[4] 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.

John baptized — That is, the whole baptism and preaching of John pointed at Christ. After this John is mentioned no more in the New Testament. Here he gives way to Christ altogether.

Verse 5

[5] When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

And hearing this, they were baptized — By some other. Paul only laid his hands upon them.

They were baptized — They were baptized twice; but not with the same baptism. John did not administer that baptism which Christ afterward commanded, that is, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Verse 9

[9] 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.

The way — The Christian way of worshipping God.

He departed — Leaving them their synagogue to themselves.

Discoursing daily — Not on the Sabbath only, in the school of one Tyrannus - Which we do not find was any otherwise consecrated, than by preaching the Gospel there.

Verse 10

[10] 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.

All who desired it among the inhabitants of the proconsular Asia, now heard the word: St. Paul had been forbidden to preach it in Asia before, Acts 16:6. But now the time was come.

Verse 11

[11] And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

Special miracles — Wrought in a very uncommon manner.

Verse 12

[12] 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.

Evil spirits — Who also occasioned many of those diseases, which yet might appear to be purely natural.

Verse 13

[13] 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.

Exorcists — Several of the Jews about this time pretended to a power of casting out devils, particularly by certain arts or charms, supposed to be derived from Solomon.

Undertook to name — Vain undertaking! Satan laughs at all those who attempt to expel him either out of the bodies or the souls of men but by Divine faith. All the light of reason is nothing to the craft or strength of that subtle spirit. His craft cannot be known but by the Spirit of God nor can his strength be conquered but by the power of faith.

Verse 17

[17] 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.

And the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified — So that even the malice of the devil wrought for the furtherance of the Gospel.

Verse 18

[18] And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

Many came confessing — Of their own accord, and openly declaring their deeds - The efficacy of God's word, penetrating the inmost recesses of their soul, wrought that free and open confession to which perhaps even torments would not have compelled them.

Verse 19

[19] 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.

Curious arts — Magical arts, to which that soft appellation was given by those who practised them. Ephesus was peculiarly famous for these. And as these practices were of so much reputation there, it is no wonder the books which taught them should bear a great price.

Bringing their books together — As it were by common consent, burnt them - Which was far better than selling them, even though the money had been given to the poor.

Fifty thousand pieces of silver — If these pieces of silver be taken for Jewish shekels, the sum will amount to six thousand two hundred and fifty pounds.

Verse 20

[20] So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

So powerfully did the word of God grow — In extent, and prevail - In power and efficacy.

Verse 21

[21] 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.

After these things were ended — Paul sought not to rest, but pressed on, as if he had yet done nothing. He is already possessed of Ephesus and Asia. He purposes for Macedonia and Achaia. He has his eye upon Jerusalem, then upon Rome; afterward on Spain, Romans 15:28. No Cesar, no Alexander the Great, no other hero, comes up to the magnanimity of this little Benjamite. Faith and love to God and man had enlarged his heart, even as the sand of the sea.

Verse 24

[24] For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

Silver shrines — Silver models of that famous temple, which were bought not only by the citizens, but by strangers from all parts.

The artificers — The other silversmiths.

Verse 25

[25] Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

The workmen — Employed by him and them.

Verse 26

[26] 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:

Saying, that they are not gods which are made with hands — This manifestly shows, that the contrary opinion did then generally prevail, namely, that there was a real Divinity in their sacred images. Though some of the later heathens spoke of them just as the Romanists do now.

Verse 27

[27] 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.

There is danger, not only that this our craft [trade] should come into disgrace, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised - No wonder a discourse should make so deep an impression, which was edged both by interest and superstition. The great goddess was one of the standing titles of Diana.

Her majesty destroyed — Miserable majesty, which was capable of being thus destroyed! Whom all Asia and the world - That is, the Roman empire, worshippeth - Although under a great variety of titles and characters. But the multitude of those that err does not turn error into truth.

Verse 29

[29] 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.

They rushed with one accord — Demetrius and his company, into the theatre - Where criminals were wont to be thrown to the wild beasts, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus - When they could not find Paul. Probably they hoped to oblige them to fight with the wild beasts, as some think St. Paul had done before.

Verse 30

[30] And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

When Paul would have gone in to the people — Being above all fear, to plead the cause of his companions, and prove they are not gods which are made with hands.

Verse 31

[31] 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.

The principal officers of Asia — The Asian priests, who presided over the public games, which they were then celebrating in honour of Diana.

Verse 32

[32] Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

The greater part did not know for what they were come together — Which is commonly the case in such an assembly.

Verse 33

[33] 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.

And they thrust forward — Namely, the artificers and workmen, Alexander - Probably some well-known Christian whom they saw in the crowd: the Jews pushing him on - To expose him to the more danger.

And Alexander waving with his hand — In token of desiring silence, would have made a defence - For himself and his brethren.

Verse 34

[34] 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.

But when they knew that he was a Jew — And consequently an enemy to their worship of images; they prevented him, by crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Verse 35

[35] 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?

The register — Probably the chief governor of the public games.

The image which fell down from Jupiter — They believed that very image of Diana, which stood in her temple, fell down from Jupiter in heaven. Perhaps he designed to insinuate, as if falling down from Jupiter, it was not made with hands, and so was not that sort of idols which Paul had said were no gods.

Verse 37

[37] For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

Nor blasphemers of your goddess — They simply declared the one God, and the vanity of idols in general.

Verse 38

[38] 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.

There are proconsuls — One in every province. There was one at Ephesus.

Verse 39

[39] But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

In a lawful assembly — In such a regular assembly as has authority to judge of religious and political affairs.

Verse 40

[40] 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.

This concourse — He wisely calls it by an inoffensive name.