The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 19

Act 19:1

Paul as a type of Christ, esp with the events surrounding his death and resurrection: (1) Journey to Jerusalem: Jesus: Luke 9-19. Paul: Acts 19-21; (2) Suffering and four trials: Jesus: Luke 20-23. Paul: Acts 21-26; (3) Death: Jesus: Luke 23. Paul: Acts 27 (shipwreck); (4) Resurrection: Jesus: Luke 24. Paul: Acts 28 (escape from the depths).

Act 19: "This chapter introduces the activity of Apollos, a man of great ability, who supported the work of the apostle Paul. His influence was enriched by the knowledge of the Truth. In Ephesus, the apostle came in conflict with many of different trades: vagabonds, exorcists and shrine makers. He was challenged by Demetrius and the envious union of the great goddess Diana, with the great god 'Self' whose worship still exists, though Diana is long extinct. The Truth calls men and women of courage and devotion, who are prepared to stand up for the things of Yahweh, and remain faithful to the exalted calling, whatever the costs" (GEM).

Act 19:2

THAT THERE IS A HOLY SPIRIT: Or, 'that the Holy Spirit has been given.'

Alternatively, since the Holy Spirit was a prominent part of John Baptist's preaching (Luk 3:16), these particular men -- in distinction to others -- were seriously deficient, thus explaining their need for rebaptism.

Act 19:6

See Lesson, Laying on of hands.

Act 19:12

Was this done without Paul's approval?

// Peter in Acts 5:18.

Act 19:13

SOME JEWS... TRIED TO INVOKE THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS: "Contemporary pseudo-exorcists made a great show in repetition of impressive religious names, and especially in the (invented) names of angels" (WGos 120).

DEMON-POSSESSED: The actual Greek word "demon" is not in this text at all. KJV reads: "Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus."

Act 19:15

JESUS I KNOW, AND I KNOW PAUL: Why? Because Paul had been preaching there for the past 2 years (Act 19:10), about Jesus (Act 19:13). It is not unreasonable that even a mentally ill man, or a schizophrenic, might have heard a considerable amount about the gospel.

BUT WHO ARE YOU?: That is, 'you are not behaving like Paul... so why are you invoking his name?'

Act 19:16

JUMPED ON THEM: "The both of them" (RV); ie, 2 of the 7.

Act 19:17

THEY WERE ALL SEIZED WITH FEAR: They see that those who take Jesus' name in vain will be punished!

Act 19:19

BROUGHT THEIR SCROLLS TOGETHER AND BURNED THEM PUBLICLY: Were these disciples graduating from an imperfect to a more perfect faith? Or new converts renouncing their old ways? Or both?

"The Word of God has power in this wicked city, and the power must have been mighty, which would make them willing to destroy their property.

"From this instructive passage we may learn that:
"If what they did when they were converted was right -- and who can doubt it? -- it sets forth a great principle on which new converts should act" (Barnes).

FIFTY THOUSAND DRACHMAS: At a day's wages per drachma (as per the NIV margin), the total value could be several million dollars in today's terms.

Act 19:20

THE WORD OF THE LORD SPREAD WIDELY: Suggestion: did this give rise to a new industry -- the copying of mss of OT and letters, to replace the old industry that had been lost?

Act 19:22

ERASTUS: "A name used three times in the NT of a friend or friends of Paul. The Erastus of Rom 16:23 was a chamberlain or treasurer of the city of Corinth who sent his greetings to the Christians at Rome. He appears to be the same as mentioned much later in 2Ti 4:20 as remaining in Corinth. It is hard to say if the Erastus sent by Paul from Ephesus into Macedonia is the same man (Acts 19:22). He is mentioned as one who specifically ministered to Paul, and may have followed him from Corinth to Ephesus in order to help him there. A Latin inscription carved into a stone paving block near the theater at Corinth states that for receiving the position of 'aedile' (treasurer) Erastus laid this pavement at his own expense. Scholars generally agree that he is Erastus of Rom 16:23" (WyE).

Act 19:23

Vv 23-41: Since Paul remained in Ephesus until Pentecost (1Co 16:8), this riot probably occurred in May, the month given over to the festivals and debauchery of the worship of Diana (SB 14:22-24).

Act 19:27

THE TEMPLE OF THE GREAT GODDESS ARTEMIS: Diana is the Latin name for the virgin goddess hunting, also identified with the moon and Hecate, and patroness of childbirth. Her Gr name was Artemis. This twin sister of the sun-god Apollo, chaste goddess of nature and protectress of wild animals, especially of their young, was also regarded as the patroness of hunters. Armed with a bow and arrow and accompanied by a bounding stag, this goddess of the moon was a mighty huntress. To her the Spartans sacrificed a goat before each battle. Young girls regarded her as the guardian of their maiden years. But in Asia Minor during Roman times she was identified with the Phrygian mother-goddess Cybele, a sensuous nature goddess... Diana of the Ephesians (Acts 19:24-37), as known from many statues of her image and as depicted on coins, had her thorax covered with three or four rows of pendant breasts, or possibly ostrich eggs, either of which were symbolic of fertility. The front of her garment was trimmed with sequences of lions, goats, and other sacrificial animals. Down the sides of her garment were alternate rows of nymphs, seashells, sphinxes, bees and roses. Her mural crown was decorated with signs of the Zodiac denoting the seasons, unlike the simple tiara symbolizing the crescent moon which was characteristic of the Gr virgin huntress Artemis.

"Originally the Artemis worshiped at Ephesus was not a Gr divinity but was Asiatic. Ultimately the various goddesses of love in Syria and Asia Minor all owed their origin to the earlier Babylonian and Assyrian Ishtar through the link of the Phoenician Astarte. She impersonated the reproductive powers of man and animals and all other life. She assisted at childbirth. Associated thus with the various fertility cults she became the patroness of ceremonial prostitution, which was part of her worship at Ephesus.

"The great temple of Diana at Ephesus, called the Artemision and considered as one of the seven wonders of the Hellenistic world, was the scene of an annual festival in her honor during the month of Artemisios (in the spring). The religious ceremonies included athletic, dramatic and musical contests. Ephesus was proud of her position as 'temple-keeper' of Diana (Acts 19:35), a boast which has been found on inscriptions excavated there. The temple treasury acted as a bank in which deposits were made by cities, kings and private persons. Here the Ionians came with their wives and children, bringing costly offerings and presents to the priests. Her worship was characterized by sensuous orgies. Great throngs attended. Multitudes of female temple slaves or 'priestesses' who came as virgins were here dedicated to service in the temple which may have included ritual or cultic prostitution.

"The silversmiths of Ephesus carried on a lucrative business by the forging and sale of images of this goddess (Acts 19:23f). Hence it was inevitable that Paul's message of Christianity should arouse their indignation because it jeopardized their trade" (WyE).

Facts about the temple: 425 feet by 220 feet. 127 white marble columns, 62 feet tall. Capacity 57,000.

Act 19:29

GAIUS AND ARISTARCHUS: Paul must have been hidden.

THEATER: A site now excavated. Capable of holding 25,000 to 50,000.

Act 19:31

OFFICIALS OF THE PROVINCE: "Asiarches": persons of wealth and position who presided over the games. They would have recognized and implemented Rome's current policy of recognition and toleration toward all religions that did not disturb the state (SB 14:25).

Act 19:32

THE ASSEMBLY WAS IN CONFUSION...: A weakness of human nature: most people can be so easily misled.

Act 19:33

ALEXANDER: Poss the same as "Alexander the coppersmith" (2Ti 4:14; cp 1Ti 1:20). He would have accused Paul and the Christians, but was not allowed to speak because the crowd recognized him as a Jew.

Act 19:34

// 1Ki 18:26.

Act 19:35

CITY CLERK: "Recorder". On 66 other occasions, translated "scribe".

WHICH FELL FROM HEAVEN: The translation of a single Greek word meaning literally "from the sky", and probably ref to a meterorite in which the worshipers of Artemis thought they detected a likeness of the goddess and which they worshiped in the temple.

Act 19:37

ROBBED TEMPLES: AV has "robbers of churches" (Acts 19:37) is the Greek "hierosulos" -- "hiero" being lit "temple". This is the only occasion in the KJV that "church" is not the translation of the Greek "ecclesia".

Act 19:40

WE ARE IN DANGER OF BEING CHARGED...: 'It might even be that these Christians will want to take YOU to court!'

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