Acts 19 Bible Study
Who is "Apollos" (Acts 19:1) and what was he doing in "Corinth" (Acts 19:1)?
The Jew from Alexandria who met Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus, was converted, and went to strengthen the church in Corinth (See Acts 18).
Where is "Ephesus" (Acts 19:1)?
Ephesus is a port city located on the southwest coast of Turkey, where the Cayster River empties into the Mediterranean Sea. An archaeological ruin today, Ephesus was an important commercial hub, and with a population of 400,000 was the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Corinth.
Through which "upper regions" (Acts 19:1) had Paul passed to reach Ephesus?
From Antioch in Syria, Paul had traveled across what is today Turkey in a westward direction, through Galatia and central Phrygia, which were at higher elevations than Ephesus, which obviously was at sea level.
How many "disciples" (Acts 19:1) did Paul find?
"About twelve in all". (Acts 19:7)
What did they know, and who didn't they know?
They knew the "baptism" (Acts 19:3) of John the Baptist but had "not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." (Acts 19:2)
From whom had they learned?
Since they were repeating what Apollos taught until Aquila and Priscilla "took him aside and explained to him" (Acts 18:26) that the Messiah whom John had prophesied about had already come, they most likely had been learned from Apollos. Since they didn't know the Gospel in full, they obviously hadn't heard Paul when he "entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews" (Acts 18:19) on his previous visit to Ephesus, nor had they met Aquila and Priscilla.
What does that imply about Paul's previous visit to
Ephesus and Apollos' stay in Ephesus?
Paul's previous visit to Ephesus may have been very short, and he may have reasoned in the synagogue as above only once before departing for Caesarea as recorded in Acts 18. As for Apollos, he most likely left for Corinth right after hearing Aquila and Priscilla's explanation, without preaching again in Ephesus' synagogue. The job of bringing the Gospel of "Christ Jesus" (Acts 19:4) to Ephesus had been reserved for Paul.
Why were the new disciples baptized a second time?
Baptism is an expression of repentance and belief. By being baptized "into John's baptism" (Acts 19:3), they had expressed their repentance and belief in the message preached by John the Baptist, that the Messiah "would come" (Acts 19:4) to save them. While John the Baptist's message had been correct, it was now obsolete since the Messiah had already come and saved them from their sins. By being "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:5), they expressed their belief in Jesus as the prophesied Savior.
With what sort of "tongues" did they speak when "the
Holy Spirit came upon them" (Acts 19:6)?
It was either or both sort of the "tongues" enabled by the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Bible. The first is the spontaneous ability to speak another known language, as happened at the Pentecost: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?" (Acts 2:4-8) The second is what sounds to human ears like "groanings" as the Holy Spirit personally intercedes for the Christian: "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26)
Can the latter type of tongues be spoken in public?
Yes, but they must be uttered through at most three Christians, each in turn, and they must be interpreted for the congregants to understand: "If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God." (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)
What about church services where more than 3 speak
in tongues and there is no interpretation?
They Holy Spirit never contradicts His Bible. Those speaking in "tongues" at such services are either faking it or the spirit speaking through them isn't the Holy Spirit. They are also liable to being seen as crazy: "Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?" (1 Corinthians 14:23)
Doesn't 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 state the gift of tongues will cease when the Bible is completed?
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 states that tongues will cease when "that which is perfect has come": "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away." (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) The question is, does "that which is perfect has come" refer to the completion of the Bible or the return of Jesus Christ? The answer is found in the two verses that immediately follow the above passage: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." (1 Corinthians 13:11-12) Does a Christian see the Bible "face to face" or will Christians see Jesus "face to face" upon His return? Can a Christian say, "I shall know [the Bible] just as also am known [by the Bible]", or "[When Jesus returns] I shall know [Jesus] just as I also am known [by Jesus]?"
Why did Paul depart from the Jews in "the synagogue" after three months?
Some not only "were hardened and did not believe" (Acts 19:8) but also began to try to turn the general population of Ephesus against Christianity: "spoke evil of the Way before the multitude" (Acts 19:9).
What were Paul's morning, afternoon and evening activities
in Ephesus after this departure?
Greek schools in the Middle East were invariably in session during the cool hours of the morning, with the hot afternoons reserved for siesta. If the "school of Tyrannus" (Acts 19:9) was a typically Greek school, it would have been in session during the mornings and available for rent during the afternoons. Paul later reminded the elders of Ephesus that while at Ephesus, he worked with his hands to provide for himself and others, most probably by working his trade making tents: "Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me." (Acts 20:34). Paul also reminded them, "I ... taught you publicly and from house to house ..." (Acts 20:20) "to warn everyone night and day ..." (Acts 19:31). Therefore, Paul most likely worked as a tentmaker in the mornings, taught "publicly" at the school of Tyrannus in the afternoons, and then "from house to house" at "night".
Why would Paul wear "handkerchiefs or aprons" (Acts 19:11)?
He most likely wore the apron and tied the handkerchief across his forehead while working as a tent maker.
How was an "evil spirit" (Acts 19:16) able to beat up those
calling upon the name of Jesus?
The "seven sons of Sceva" (Acts 19:14) knew about Jesus, but they didn't know - in the sense of having a relationship - Jesus, and were trying to piggyback on Paul's relationship with Jesus: "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." (Acts 19:13) Evil spirits are no match for the Holy Spirit who indwells every true Christian. Everyone else is defenseless against such evil spirits.
How is this different today?
It isn't. To be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and to defend and win against evil spirits, you must have a direct and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not rely on the faith of your spouse, relatives or parents. The Bible speaks consistently about God's children, but never about His grandchildren, for none exist.
Why did fear fall on "all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus" (Acts 19:17)?
If seven sons of a priest was no match for an evil spirit, neither were they.
Why was "the name of the Lord Jesus ... magnified" (Acts 19:17)?
By saying, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" (Acts 19:15) before attacking, the evil spirit in effect acknowledged the power of Jesus and inferred that he couldn't attack someone like Paul who was protected by Jesus.
Why did "those who had practiced magic ... burn" (Acts 19:18) their books?
They realized that true spiritual power rested with "the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:17)?
What was the value of the books they burnt?
"Fifty thousand pieces of silver" (Acts 19:19) would have equaled the combined annual wages of 200 men. Assuming $50,000 per person, this is comparable to $20 million worth of magic, astrology, witchcraft, etc., books being gathered today from a city of 400,000 inhabitants ($50 worth per person) and burnt. This was no small spiritual clean up job by the Holy Spirit.
What should you do with your 'fun' daily horoscopes, ouiji boards, tarot
cards, lucky charms, etc.?
What did "the Spirit" (Acts 19:21) purpose for Paul to do next?
Revisit the churches in "Macedonia and Achaia" (Acts 19:21), and then stop by "Jerusalem" (Acts 19:21) on his way to "Rome" (Acts 19:21).
The Lord's work for Paul in Ephesus had been "accomplished" (Acts 19:21).
At least who had come to Ephesus during Paul's stay?
"Timothy" (Acts 19:22) who had ministered in Thessalonica of Macedonia, remained in Corinth to minister to the church that Paul planted, and who was now being sent back to those regions ahead of Paul.
Who was "Diana" (Acts 19:28)?
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt.
How did a temple dedicated to a Roman goddess end up in Ephesus?
The temple was originally dedicated to Artemis, a fertility goddess in the Greek mythology, whose goddess of hunt was also named Artemis. When the Romans conquered Ephesus, they mistook one Artemis for the other and rededicated the temple to the Roman goddess of hunt.
What was the temple Diana/Artemis like?
It was 130 yards long - longer than a football field - and 60 yards wide. The roof was supported by 127 columns, each sixty feet tall. It covered almost 4 times more area than the Parthenon in Athens and was deemed one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
What was Demetrius' occupation?
He was a "silversmith" (Acts 19:24) specialized in miniature "silver shrines of Diana" (Acts 19:24).
Why was he upset with "Paul" (Acts 19:26)?
Paul's ministry had crushed idolatry in Ephesus and turned many of Demetrius' former customers into Christians. So his profit margin appears to have suffered.
Who else was upset with Paul?
"The workers of similar occupation". (Acts 19:25)
Who else was upset with Paul and why would this
"great commotion" (Acts 19:23) arise now?
Satan, who most likely didn't want Paul's ministry to do elsewhere, especially in "Rome" (Acts 19:21), what had been done in Ephesus, and was trying to stop him.
Why would the crowd rush into the "theater" (Acts 19:29)?
The amphitheater of Ephesus was the largest public arena in the city. Cut into a hillside facing the harbor of Ephesus, it could accommodate 25,000 seated and even more standing.
Were they truly mad at Paul?
No,"the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together." (Acts 19:32)
How long did the mob frenzy last?
"For about two hours". (Acts 19:34)
Why would the crowd listen to a "clerk" (Acts 19:35)?
The original Greek word translated "city clerk" is grammateus, who was the elected head among the city's administrators. He was not a Roman and didn't have military power, but was the city's chief administrator.
What is "the image which fell down from Zeus" (Acts 19:35)?
Some thought the image of Diana inside the temple had been carved from a meteor.
Why did the crowd disperse?
Rome had granted Ephesus the status of being a self-governing city, albeit under Rome's watchful eyes. The crowd was reminded that they were "in danger of being called in question for ... this disorderly gathering" (Acts 19:40), which risked the direct rule of Rome, which was hypersensitive to signs of rebellion in its provinces.
What did Paul have to say to the persecutors be protected
by the Lord?
As was the case in Corinth, not a word.
Where did Paul conduct the bulk of his ministry in both Corinth and Ephesus?
In the secular world outside the established place of worship. In Corinth, Ephesus and elsewhere, Paul began with those inside the synagogue who had access to Scripture, who prayed, who considered themselves religious and who should have grasped the Gospel most readily, but invariably spent most of his time preaching in the secular world, outside the comfort zone of an established place of worship.
Does your church tend to take the Gospel outside or wait for the unbelievers to come to church?