1 “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at
through the upper
coasts came to
Country for coasts, Authorized Version; found for finding, Authorized Version and
Textus Receptus. The upper country (
the inland districts of
on his way to
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
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.” And he said for he said, Authorized Version and Textus
Receptus; did ye receive for have ye received, Authorized Version; when for since,
Authorized Version; 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,
Authorized Version. Did ye receive, etc.? The Revised Version gives the sense
much more accurately than the Authorized Version, 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 (compare
believing ye are sealed), 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 Revised Version,
is justified by John 7:39, where the exactly similar phrase,
is rendered in the Authorized Version, "The Holy Spirit
was not yet given." "Esse pro adesse" (Bengel). The sense given in the Authorized
Version. 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."
Progression in Divine Revelation (v. 2)
“We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” This is
evidently the simple answer of men who knew nothing whatever about the
matter concerning which they were asked. They were sincerely religious
men; they are called “disciples,” and yet — though the thing seems almost
incredible to us — they had heard nothing about the Holy Ghost. Much is
explained by a careful observation of the facts connected with the early
preaching of the gospel at
eloquence, but limited knowledge, of Apollos. It was an advance upon
Judaism to accept John the Baptist as a prophet, but it seems that Apollos
knew only of John’s demand of repentance, and had not heard of his direct
witness to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Apollos could only teach as
much as he knew, and when Paul reached
find the condition of the disciples. “He noticed a lack of spiritual gifts;
perhaps, also, a want of the peace and joy and brightness that showed itself
in others. They presented the features of a rigorous asceticism, like that of
the Therapeutae (of
mortification, but something was manifestly lacking for their spiritual
completeness.” In his anxiety to find out what was wrong, the apostle
asked this searching question, “Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye
believed?” They did not; they knew nothing about the Holy Ghost. So
Paul lifts them on stage after stage. First to the apprehension of Christ, the
Messiah and Savior, to whom John gave witness, and then to the
experience of the coming and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, as the seal
of the believer. And in this we are plainly taught that there is a progression
in Christian truth — that it is unfolded to us in parts and stages. And we
may even cherish the inspiring assurance that “the Lord hath yet more light
and truth to break forth from His Word.” A sentiment is allowed to prevail
that “revelation must always be perfect and complete.” It is always perfect
in its fitness to its times and to its purpose, but any particular revelation is
only a piece and a part of the truth, and it is imperfect when it is treated as
separate from the whole of which it is a part.
1. There is historical progression in Divine revelation. Broad principles,
covering the general relations of God with men, were given to the early
world. Each passing age was helped to fill in some part of the outline.
There was a fullness of times for the manifestation of Messiah, and, step by
step, truth had advanced to meet the revelation which He brought.
2. There is progression in our apprehension of the Christian truth. No man
can grasp it all at once. It comes to us all bit by bit, step by step. Some of
the more advanced Christian truths cannot possibly be grasped until certain
other and preparatory ones are well learned; and some even of these
preparatory truths cannot be really grasped until we have passed through
the sanctified experiences of middle life. Take, for instance, the Fatherhood
of God. A man must experimentally learn the mystery of the human
fatherhood before he can really receive the full revelation of the Divine
Fatherhood. As a son he may know how he feels towards the Father, but
until he is a father he cannot know how the great Father feels towards him.
In the matter of our salvation the Divine order of progress seems to be:
OF THE HOLY GHOST IS THE HIGHEST REVELATION YET
MADE. It comes last. It comes after and through the objective Christ. It is
the inward witness to Him who lived, labored, died, and rose, “God
manifest in the flesh.” (I Timothy 3:16) The spiritual operations of God in
men’s minds and hearts may be traced in Old Testament times. All spiritual
life always is by the energy of God’s Spirit. And the specialty of the working
of the Holy Ghost in the new kingdom is not that He is some new Spirit, but
that His agencies of motive, persuasion, and instruction are all taken from the
manifested life of the Son of God. He “takes of the things of Christ, and
reveals them unto us.” Our Lord said of him, “He shall receive of mine, and
shall show it unto you.” (John 16:14)
TRUTH, IS THE ONE WHOSE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE IS MOST
ESSENTIAL TO HIGH AND HOLY LIVING. We are responsible for
attaining the best that can be attained. We are not at the highest when we
accept of the truth of Christ for us; that is but a low first step of spiritual
apprehension. We have but taken a little step up when we apprehend the
truth of Christ with us. We only gain the wonderful experiences, and reach
the highest Christian power, when we know of CHRIST IN US! All growth
in the Christian life is response to the life of the Spirit in our souls. Growth
Ø in knowledge;
Ø in graces;
Ø and in the mastery of the soul over the body.
His presences and His working in us are the spring of all our impulses to
whatsoever is good and wise and true.
IS THE ONE MOST EASILY IMPERILLED. Therefore we should be
most jealous of the doctrine and the personal experience of the indwelling
of the Holy Ghost. The Christian sin that is of unspeakable sadness is
quenching or grieving the Spirit. The sin that hath never forgiveness is sin
against the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 121:31-32; Mark 3:28-29) The prayer
that utters forth to God a soul’s innermost agony is this: “Take not thy
Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11)The highest truths are always likely
to fade first. In the individual experience, and in the Church doctrine,
the truth of the Spirit will fade from its place and power long before
any dimness seems to pass over the figure of the manifested human Christ.
Trees mostly die from the top downward. And the first effect of wearing
and weathering is to rub off those delicate touches and tints, which are
the highest efforts of the artist, and give the supreme charm to his work.
Impress that we may be, like these Ephesians, behind the revelation that
has been made for us, or indifferent to it. Then we may pity
them, but we must blame ourselves. And we must humble ourselves, and
repent, if, knowing of this gentle, awful, gracious, comforting Holy Ghost,
we are found neglecting His Divine inner-workings. He is the last and highest
revelation of God to men; then let us not “grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
3 “And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said,
Unto John's baptism” He said for he said unto them, Authorized Version and
Textus Receptus; into for unto (twice), Authorized Version. 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?" (compare ch. 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."
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.” And Paul said for then said Paul,
Authorized Version; John for John verily, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;
Jesus for Christ Jesus, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. The baptism
of repentance. See Luke 3:3, etc., and for the difference between John's baptism
5 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
And when for when, Authorized Version; into for in, Authorized Version. Into the
company, "He commanded them to be baptized in the Name (
) of Jesus Christ" (Revised Version). The formula
of baptism, as commanded by the Lord Jesus Himself, was, "In [or, 'into'] the
Name (εἰς τὸ ὄνοµα ) 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 Authorized Version of ch. 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 (in a comprehensive but concise way) 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 and .
6 “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came
on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”
Had laid his hands, etc. (see ch. 8:17 and note). We have here a distinct
mark of Paul's true apostleship (see ibid. vs. 17-18). For the manifestation of
the Spirit, see ch. 10:45-46.
7 “And all the men were about twelve.” They were in all about twelve men
for all the men were about twelve, Authorized Version.
Essential but Insufficient; Valuable but Temporary (vs. 1-7)
We have here, in connection with the Christian faith and with Christian work:
Ephesus Paul met with disciples who had been baptized “unto John’s
baptism” (v. 3), but who had not learned to exercise faith in Jesus Christ,
nor even heard that there was a Holy Ghost (v. 2). These men were well
on the way to salvation by Jesus Christ, but they were far from the goal.
Repentance is essential, but it is not sufficient of itself.
Ø It is essential; for without it the heart remains estranged from God, the
soul unturned from self and sin, the life unrelieved of that which is false
and wrong; and without it there is no sense of that spiritual need which
welcomes a Divine Savior with humility and trust, which rejoices in a
Divine Lord to whom full submission may be made. The Christian preacher
who does not enforce repentance is fatally lacking in his duty; the Christian
disciple who has not experienced it is fatally short of fulfilling the condition
of acceptance with God.
Ø It is not sufficient; for:
o it leaves the soul without any pledge of Divine forgiveness;
o it leaves the heart without that personal union with a Divine Redeemer
in which consists the very essence of spiritual and eternal life;
o it leaves the spirit of man without the abiding indwelling and
quickening influence of the Spirit of God. Therefore let the
Christian teacher make much of the distinctive doctrine of the
faith he preaches, and continually testify not only “repentance
towards God,” but “faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (ch. 20:21).
had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they
spake with tongues,” etc. It was desirable, then, that the presence and
power of the Divine Spirit should be manifested by “signs and wonders.” It
was, at that stage of the progress of the gospel, a very valuable
contribution to its triumph; it gave assurance to those on whom He came,
and evidence to those who “were without.” Experience soon proved (e.g.
to abuse, and that it was not of the kind that could be permanent in the
Ø We can plainly see that in these days it would be practically useless: it
would be, to ordinary observers, indistinguishable from the jugglery and
affectations of the impostor.
Ø God has given us that which is better, with which we may well be
content, and for the perfection of which we should strive and pray. He
gives us, as the consequence of our faith and as the response to our
believing prayer, quickening influences in the soul; a Divine action upon
and within the spirit, of the actual working of which we are not usually
conscious at the moment of operation, but the effects of which are obvious
to ourselves and to others. They are these:
o an assurance of sonship (Romans 8:16);
o a desire to bear witness unto Christ, so that without any gift of tongues
we shall overcome all obstacles, and speak of Him and for Him;
o a holy heart and a beautiful life (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9).
Paul and John the Baptist’s Disciples (vs. 1-7)
comprehensive, zealous, and wise.
Ø “Have ye received the Holy Ghost?” Is your religion genuine? Is it
profound? Is it a living consciousness of God within the soul? Or a
dependence on forms, on creeds, on ideas merely? How many trained and
taught as Christians must answer, “We know not yet the Holy Spirit”! the
new birth, the love, “the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father”!
Ø “In whom were ye then baptized?” A question also for us. What means
the name “Christian” that you bear? Is the devil and all his works daily
renounced? Baptism reminds us of:
o God the Father, and of childhood to Him;
o God the Son, and of redemption through His blood;
o God the Holy Spirit, and of the temple we ought spiritually to be.
Let us ask ourselves the questions Paul asked of the disciples of the Baptist.
Ø They are typical, as we have seen, of many among us; and those who
resemble them among us should be treated in like manner. There are those
who stand upon a lower step of faith. They know that the gospel requires
them to give up sin; perhaps not yet that it calls them to the perfect trust
and the love that casts out fear. They confess themselves ignorant if
questioned of this “higher life.”
Ø The testing question. A living faith, a life in conformity with the
baptismal profession, a sanctified speech and life, give the only satisfactory
Ø The unity of all disciples under one Master. “One is your Master, and all
ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8) Human teachers impart their words,
Christ His Spirit. Human teachers lay the foundation, give the elements;
He leads on to perfection, guides to the goal. Many are the schools of
philosophy, one is the Church of Jesus Christ.
Baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and Its Sequel
SUBJECT OF BAPTISM, BUT TO THE SUBJECT OF THE HOLY
EMPHATICALLY APPRAISED AS THE DISPENSATION OF THE
IS THE SIGN OF ADMISSION TO ALL THE PRIVILEGES OF
THE SPIRIT, AND TO IMPLICIT SUBMISSION ON THE PART OF
THOSE OF MATURE YEARS TO THE FULL RULE OF THE SPIRIT.
WERE BESTOWED AS THE SEQUEL OF BAPTISM IN THE NAME
OF THE LORD JESUS.
8 “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three
months, disputing and
persuading the things concerning the
Entered for went, Authorized Version; reasoning for disputing, Authorized Version.
etc.); as to the things for the things, Authorized Version. This last is a needless change,
since – peithein – persuading - 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
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.” Some for divers, Authorized
Version; disobedient for believed not, Authorized Version; ( – aepeithoun –
speaking for but spake, Authorized Version; the Way for that way, Authorized
Version; reasoning for disputing, Authorized Version; Tyrannus for one Tyrannus,
Authorized Version. 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 ἐσκληρύνοντο – esklaerunonto – were hardened
(Hebrew הִקְשָׁה, applied to the heart or the neck), see Romans 9:18; Hebrews 3:8,15;
8:19; and Eccliesiasticus. 30:11, where, as here, disobedience is the consequence
of BEING HARDENED.
Lest being hardened he disobey thee. The
Authorized Version, by leaving out "were" before "disobedient," and translating
as if "hardened" and "disobedient" were two adjectives, destroys this consequence.
Speaking evil of; – kakologountes – speaking evil of (see Matthew
I Samuel 3:13), which is otherwise rendered by – kakos eipein -
curses as in Leviticus 20:9. It is nearly synonymous with
The Way (as v. 23; see ch. 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. – Apostas – Withdrawing is more than simply "departing;"
it implies a withdrawal and separation front fellowship with them, as in I Timothy
6:5 (Authorized Version). "From such withdraw thyself;" Ecclesiastes 7:2,
"Depart from the unjust" (compare Luke 13:27). Separated the disciples. Hitherto
the converted Jews at
in the worship of the synagogue; now Paul withdrew them and separated them
(, Galatians 2:12).
, 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 ), 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 large 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 II Maccabees 4:40;
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 - 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
former teacher (see Renan. p. 345).
The First Christian Congregation (v. 9)
Paul had before this taken a room near the synagogue at
seems that this case at
Christian congregation, with its own order and officers, as separate from
the synagogue. Now Paul casts himself free of Judaism; the time had
come for separation, and for arranging a distinctly Christian organization.
Canon Farrar says, “There must have been many an anxious hour, many a
bitter struggle, many an exciting debate, before the Jews finally adopted a
tone, not only of decided rejection, but even of so fierce an opposition, that
Paul was forced once more, as at
communion. We do not sufficiently estimate the pain which such
circumstances must have caused to him. His life was so beset with trials,
that each trial, however heavy in itself, is passed over amid a multitude that
were still more grievous. But we must remember that Paul, though a
Christian, still regarded himself as a true Israelite, and he must have felt, at
least as severely as a Luther or a Whitefield, this involuntary alienation
from the religious communion of his childhood.” We do but suggest three
lines of thought; the treatment of them will depend upon the standpoint of
Several distinct conceptions of Christ’s Church on earth are found
established among Christian people. Show how the idea of separation
stands related to each; and how the Church, as a whole, ought to stand to
any separated members.
CHRISTIANS. Show that as fellowship depends on common Christian life
and interests, we may reasonably expect it to triumph over differences in
modes of worship, places of worship, and even over diversities of opinion.
MINISTERS TO SECTIONS. Especially point out the peril of overestimating
the point of division, and setting it in undue prominence in
public teaching. A minister may preach sectional opinion rather than the
“whole counsel of God.”
10 “And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which
For for by, Authorized Version; Lord for Lord Jesus, Authorized Version and
Textus Receptus. Two years (see ch. 20:31, note). Both Jews and Greeks.
This mention of Jews is rather in favor of Tyrannus being a Jew; but not decisive.
The Shelter of Young Converts (vs. 9-10)
We must be conscious, in reading this passage, of something approaching a
new point of departure on the part of Paul. He was not the man hitherto to
shrink from either the malice of the synagogue or the uproar of the market hall.
But there were reasons why, with so long a stay at
company of the disciples should be “separated,” and some foreshadowing be
now given, under the continued supervision of Paul, of what should come
to be the form of an individual Christian Church. And we have here the
nucleus of this. We are reminded of the
individual place, that it should be answerable to find:
be able to show:
Ø Shelter from the “hardened” world; the world that does not believe, and
resolutely will not believe; the world that, being thus disposed as to itself,
is also manifestly disposed to disturb the belief and peace of those who do
believe, seeking to enter in to ravage “the flock” (ch. 20:29). This it
was abundantly easy to do in the synagogue by every kind of dishonest
quibble and disputatious debate. It should not be by any means so possible
within the fold of the Church.
Ø Teaching of the truth. The truth should be certain of being obtained
here, and the teacher should be competent. He will teach, not by force of
authority, but by persuasion of the truth. He will be listened to and
esteemed because he shall prove his word, and prove it to be a word of
Ø Sympathizing companionship. It is needed
o for prayer and the exercises of religion;
o for daily social life;
o for the stimulating of religious purpose and work.
Ø Nothing more dishonors the place of
all that is most characteristic of his Spirit, than exclusiveness.
Ø The door of entrance is to be large enough to admit not only the honest
seekers, not only those who already show the signs of penitence, not only
those by nature humble and meek, but all who will enter, even the worst
and the most unpromising. These cannot, indeed, enter into the Church
itself of Christ; but even to them welcome may be given to the place of the
Church, that “haply they may be born again” therein. If, indeed, they enter
and stay to show themselves the disturbers of disciples and the resolutely
“hardened,” we have here our authority how to proceed. But otherwise let
be free to enter within the walls of
Word and, if needs be, debate it. Let them be free to hear the prayers and
join the songs of disciples; for “much people” for Christ may be amongst
them. (ch. 18:10) This is at least one of the ways by which the world is to
be gained for Christ. It does not, indeed, exempt the Church from missionary
and “aggressive” work — work which probably, in the more settled
ecclesiastical state of our own country, has been lamentably overlooked.
But it appears that it was the method by which, during “the space of two
all they which dwelt in
Jews and Greeks.” When the world’s turbulent streams dash by that river,
full and deep
and peaceful, of the city of
attention and arouse reflection in not a few.
11 “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 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.” Insomuch for so,
Authorized Version; unto the sick were carried away from his body for from his
body were brought unto the sick, Authorized Version; went out for went out of them,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. From his body (
the skin, but used here by Luke for the body,); literally,
in accordance with the usage of medical writers "from Hippocrates to Galen"
sudarium, properly a cloth for wiping off the sweat. It is one of those words,
, , - kodrantaes –
farthing; 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;
written . It is the Latin word semicinctium, a half-girdle;
the Greek word is . 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 Luke's medical profession. As regards these unusual modes
of miraculous cure, compare ch. 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 Paul this parity of miraculous energy stamped
his apostleship with an authority equal to that of Peter.
The Call for Special Miracles (v. 11)
It should be carefully shown that Scripture miracles are never mere
wonders, or displays of mere power. They are always signs, and always
wrought for the sake of some immediate or prospective moral benefit. This
may be affirmed, however singular the mere form of the miracle may be.
The circumstances under which God sees fit to allow His servants to work
miracles need careful examination and consideration. In connection with
the text we find special circumstances. Paul had separated the disciples,
and formed a distinct Christian community. For his own sake, and for the
satisfaction of the people, it was important that some attestation of the
Divine approval should be given. The question had to be settled — Was
the Christian community, thus separately constituted, as fully under the
power of the Holy Ghost as the older Jewish Christian community had
been? The speciality of the miracles is designed to intimate that, under
these circumstances, a new and mightier baptism of God’s Spirit came
upon the apostle, so that, apart from conscious efforts of his own will,
healing virtue went forth from him. It is also noticed that “This great
effusion of healing power, which, it is implied by the tense of the verb
wrought, continued for some time, was granted as a counterpoise to the
magical and theurgic practices to which the Ephesians were addicted”
(vs. 13,19). In explanation of the agency of “handkerchiefs and aprons,”
the following notes from Eastern travelers may be helpfully suggestive:
Thomson, in ‘The Land and the Book,’ says, “The external instruments
connected with working miracles had, in ancient times, transferred to them,
in imagination, a portion of the sanctity and reverence due to him who used
them, or to that Divine power which was transmitted through them. This
applied not only to the staves, robes, and mantles of prophets while living,
but to such things as their bones also, and even their very gravestones,
when dead. It is now common to bind on or wrap round the sick some part
of the robes of reputed saints, in the belief that healing virtue will be
communicated from it.” Morier says, “At a short distance, near the
roadside, we saw the burial-place of a Persian saint, enclosed by very rude
walls. Close to it grew a small bush, upon the branches of which were tied
a variety of rags and remnants of garments. The Persians conceive that
these rags, from their vicinity to the saint, acquire peculiar preservative
virtues against sickness; and, substituting others, they take bits away, and,
tying them about their persons, use them as talismans.” How far God was
pleased to fit in with the common sentiment of the age, in His gracious
condescension, requires consideration; we may observe that such special
manifestations of miraculous powers were strictly temporary, limited to the
particular occasion for which they were required. We view these “special
miracles” as the outward sign of three things.
THE DISCIPLES. That action had been intensely trying to the apostle
himself; and a very questionable thing to the view of the synagogue folk,
and of the disciples who followed the apostle. If miraculous attestations
had been withheld just at this juncture, the enemies of Paul would have
been enabled to assert the Divine disapproval of his conduct, and Paul
would himself have been disheartened. Compare how graciously now God
often gives success to His servants when they are called to take special
action; giving them converts in unusual numbers, and so silencing their
AND LABOR. In those days miracles were the strong affirmation,
“God is with us.” The very point of them is that they were wrought in the
power of God. The very purpose of them is to bring home to men’s hearts
the conviction that what the miracle-worker says is from God, seeing that,
so evidently, what he does is from God. Miracles are needed when men are
dependent on outward and sensible proofs. Miracles are not needed when
men are able to estimate moral and spiritual proofs. And, therefore,
miracles are not needed now.
BY ADAPTING HIS DEALINGS TO THEIR SENTIMENTS. They were
inclined to magic, and based their belief on superstitious rites. God would
not admit the truth of their “black arts,” but He would consider the tone
and temper of mind which characterized them, and adapt His dealings so as
to meet their prejudices and persuade them. So teaching us that while we
must never misrepresent or prejudice God’s truth, we must always seek so
to know men that we may adapt our presentations of truth to them, and
meet them on their more impressionable sides.
Special Miracles (vs. 11-12)
Under ordinary circumstances this description of miracles wrought by God
by the hands of Paul might be liable to the supposition of being mere surplus
usage of words, a miracle in itself being a thing sufficiently “special.”
The supposition, however, cannot attach to the description as found here,
must because it is here that it is found. And when we look a moment beneath
the surface we discover ample justification for the epithet applied to these
miracles. Let us observe:
We are taught the answer in one verse.
Ø They are wrought without the laying on of the hands of Paul, without his
presence, without his voice, without (so far as appears) even any
knowledge on his part of the persons or the needs of the persons who
received healing. These four circumstances do incontestably entitle them to
the description of “special;” the nearest approach to them being miracles of
the kind that were wrought when one touched “the hem of the garment” of
Jesus. But Jesus did then perceive and know that “virtue was gone out of
Him.” (Mark 5:30)
Ø They are wrought with intervening signs of most unusual kind; the
connecting visible links being handkerchiefs and aprons that have been in
some contact with the body of the apostle, and are now carried to the sick
and possessed by any one — presumably any one of their friends. The
nearest approach to anything so “special” as this may, perhaps, be
considered to occur in the conduct of those who brought their sick on their
couches into the streets, that haply the mere “shadow of Peter might
overshadow some of them” (ch. 5:15). But in these cases there was
far nearer and closer connection between the miracles wrought (if such
were wrought) and Peter than the connection of handkerchiefs fitfully
carried by any one.
Ø To arrest a lively attention.
Ø To suggest really far deeper thoughtfulness in all those who had thought
Ø To spread far and wide blessings themselves, each one of which had a
hundred tongues to speak the praise of some one.
Ø To attract attention to the miracle itself and the blessing wrapped in it and
to the real Worker of it, rather than to suffer attention to be distracted by
an apparently too close relation of the miracle to Paul personally. It is true
that many in their blindness might still think and speak of all the
wonderfulness of Paul, and even of the body of Paul. But yet others would
be helped to see (what with time all the world would be sure to see) that it
was no more due to Paul than to the handkerchief, that the miracle was
wrought, but all due to God, and all to His praise and glory.
SPECIALTY OF MIRACLE. For the “special miracle” helps to reveal only
the more definitely and distinctly the meaning of any miracle.
Ø It is for the attainment of a great moral end; to give sufficient and just
ground, for instance, to believe, to trust, and to act the things which,
without it, might be only believed and trusted by credulity, or not at all.
Ø It is to attain this moral end, without overriding the exercise of men’s
own reason and heart and conscience. The just suggestions of a miracle,
forcible as they ought to prove, are still only moral helps and guides.
Ø The miracle is so far forth for darker days and for the more backward
stages of humanity. The foundation work for much to be built upon as time
should travel on; the time fittest for the miracle is the earlier time, the more
childish time of the world. Then the besetting snare of the miracle would,
at all events, count for less harm, and the moral good of it would be
enshrined a “possession for ever.”
Ø The miracle is useless if permanent. Evidently the day of miracle was
drawing near its end when Peter’s shadow was waited for. But very near
indeed to its end was it when even Scripture says, “God wrought special
miracles by the hands of Paul.” If their end had not been now near, one of
two things must have followed. Either they must have taken their place as
grateful resources for the healing of the diseased and the dispossessing of
the possessed, or, in order to keep their moral virtue and effect, they must
have been becoming in long vista yet more and more “special.”
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. But certain also for then certain,
Authorized Version; strolling for vagabond, Authorized Version; name for call,
Authorized Version; the evil for evil, Authorized Version; I for we, Authorized
Version and Textus Receptus. Strolling (
); 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
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
14 “And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests,
which did so.” A chief priest for and chief of the priests, Authorized Version;
this for so, Authorized Version. A chief priest (
high priest, but in that wider sense of the); not, of course, in the sense of
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
mentioned in the preceding note was a priest, both from his name and because
Josephus calls him one of his – homophulon - which may mean
"fellow-tribesmen." The name Sceva 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.
15 “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know;
but who are ye? “ Said unto them for said, Authorized Version and Textus
16 "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." Mastered both of them for overcame them, Authorized Version
and Textus Receptus.
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."
Became for was, Authorized Version; both Jews and Greeks for the Jews and
Greeks also, Authorized Version; that dwelt for dwelling, Authorized Version;
upon for on, Authorized Version. Fear fell upon them. Compare ch. 5:11-14,
where the same effects are ascribed to the death of Ananias and Sapphira 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
(II Timothy 3:8), and the very purpose for which miraculous power was given to
Paul would have been frustrated. Therefore they were discomfited, and the subtle
design of Satan to destroy, while seeming to magnify, the Name of Jesus was
signally defeated. Compare the somewhat similar incident at Philippi (ch.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.
The Spiritual, the Supernatural, and the Natural (vs. 8-17)
The faithful labors of Paul in the synagogue of the Jews and the room of
Tyrannus, the unusually extensive employment of the miraculous, and the
discomfiture of the exorcists suggest to us:
THE SPIRITUAL. (vs. 8-12.) We remember how our Lord refused to
gratify the unworthy craving for signs and wonders in His day: “There shall
no sign be given to this generation” (Mark 8:12); repeatedly He
discouraged the demand for the miraculous, because it interfered with the
teaching of truth, and so with the furtherance of His spiritual work. We find
Paul making comparatively little of these great “gifts;” his chronicler does
not enlarge on them, but disposes of them in very few words, no doubt
reproducing and reflecting thus the mind of the apostle; he himself does not
make a single allusion to them
in his address to the eiders at
he disparages rather than magnifies their importance in his Epistles
(II Corinthians 13 & 14.). We are led to feel that the “special miracles wrought
by the hands of Paul” are of very secondary value, as compared (v. 11)
with his diligence in persuading
the things concerning the
(v. 8), and with his enterprise and zeal in so acting that “all they which
(v. 10). We need not sigh for departed times when the gospel had some
sanctions and supports which it has not now. All that is of first importance,
all that is truly
redemptive and Divine, abides with the
and will remain for ever.
Ø The knowledge of the living and saving truth.
Ø The love of it, and joy in it.
Ø The privilege of making it known.
Ø The accessibility of those heavenly influences which make it powerful
and efficacious to our own hearts and to the souls of those whom we
THE SPIRITUAL. These exorcists (v. 13) had probably been so far
successful that they had induced their fellow-citizens to believe that in them
resided a strange power over the insane or the possessed. But when they
used the name of Jesus in order to effect their object, they failed signally
and disgracefully. In this respect they are types of those who attempt to do
God’s work without Divine weapons. Only the spiritual can do spiritual
work. It is true that unspiritual men may:
Ø understand much of the Divine thought;
Ø speak what they know with skill and force;
Ø assume a sacred tone and spirit, and may affect men by that
Ø maintain for years a reputation for devotion and usefulness.
But it is also true that:
Ø if any spiritual result should follow, it will be through the overruling
power of God, — it will not be their work, in any true sense;
Ø no considerable or permanent results will follow, — such unreal
conditions will not stand the test of time;
Ø there will come exposure and humiliation, either here or hereafter.
Wherefore let us honor the spiritual as that which is the one true,
abiding Divine power.
Ø Welcome to our heart the first teachings and leadings of the Divine
Ø Establish our whole life on the basis of the spiritual; LIVE and WALK
“in the Spirit,” as those who realize that outward shows are as nothing
to the great spiritual realities.
Ø Do the work of God with spiritual weapons; not attempting to build
human philosophies. These have their place and their work, as
handmaids and auxiliaries, and are by no means to be despised.
But the Christian minister must make men “hear the words of the
Lord Jesus,” must speak of those things which distinctively
doctrine, and look for positively Divine influence.
The Prompt Exposure and Punishment of Human Iniquity
an Evil Spirit
Of the character of these exorcists there can be no doubt Their deceiving
and iniquitous profession was one for gain, and gain only was in their
hearts. With less hesitation even than Simon Magus (ch. 8:18-19),
they propose to themselves to take their chance at least in using and
abusing the “glorious and fearful Name.” And they suffer for their
blasphemous and profane attempt. Notice:
Ø They dare to try the use of the name of Jesus without any authority. No
doubt Paul was cognizant of the aprons and handkerchiefs taken from his
body, and willingly authorized the proceeding. Nothing analogous,
however, finds place now with the exorcists.
Ø They use that Name to supersede and as an experimental substitute for
the name, or odious deceptive practices, whatever they were, which they
had been accustomed to use.
Ø They do this for no high-minded ambitious (even if erroneous)
adventure, but doubtless for the adventure of money gain alone.
Ø Those who do it are Jews, and they are sons of one who was “chief of
the priests,” and they conspire, seven in number, to do it.
Ø It is the exposure, not of Paul (as in the case of Simon Magus it was of
Peter), nor of the horror of true disciples, nor of Heaven’s intervention by
lightning or thunderbolt.
Ø A more humiliating exposure is reserved for these. Even the evil spirit
cannot bear the presumptuous and intolerably conceived iniquity. And in
the keen satire of truth, which perhaps none know better to accentuate
than evil spirits, this ill spirit resents the puny challenge and scathes the
hollow deception by a question following upon an honest enough
confession, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”
Ø The mournfully afflicted man himself joins to make patent the exposure.
No doubt already by the usurped organs of his speech it was that the ill
spirit had uttered forth his trenchant rebuff, but now the record gives us to
understand that the man himself (from whatever source he gained his
inspiration) joined hand and limb, and suited the action to the word. The
exposure surely needed no more to make it complete.
Ø It was summary. Naked and wounded, the seven fled out of that house.
Ø It was retributive. The man on whom they had experimented, and
perhaps not now for the first time, had doubtless (like he of the tombs)
often been “naked and wounded;” but now it is they who are in this plight.
Ø It was essentially humiliating. “Seven flee before one”
(Deuteronomy 28:7, 25), and him the despised or pitied one of long
Ø It was humiliating in its circumstances. For it was not only patent at the
time, but it became notorious. “It was known to all the Jews and Greeks
height, the cup is filled to the full, the bold daring face that sin sets to
heaven is overwhelmed with confusion, and the hour of judgment is
in modern days, to the disparagement of faith in miracles and faith in
prayer, and among other things faith in providence and the veritable
nearness of the Divine hand, “strong to save” or “swift to smite,” there is
no doubt that these things were all heartily believed in by the early Church.
They were also believed in by many who were not “disciples.” Nor is this
evidence traveling down from those who were on the spot in the alleged
age and place of miracles unimportant. In the present history, just as true
as anything else recorded, must this be held, when we read that the great
effect was that “fear fell on them all, and that the Name of the Lord Jesus
was magnified.” If we are open to learn, we may receive help in the firm
persuasion that there was such a thing as the possession by alien and evil
spirits of the organs of the human body; that there was such a thing as
miracle, special Divine interposition to the suspension of the ordinary
course of things; and, dread suggestion that by whomsoever else, evil
spirits are not to be overmastered by, but rather overmaster, evil men.
18 "And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds."
Many also of them that had believed for and many that believed, Authorized Version;
confessing and declaring for and confessed and showed, Authorized Version. 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
under the name of - Ephesia grammata (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).
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." And not a few for many... also, Authorized
Version; that practiced for which used Authorized Version; in the sight of all for
before all men, Authorized Version. That practiced curious arts (
The adjective applied to persons means "a busybody" (I Timothy 5:13),
one who does what it is not his business to do, and pries into matters with which
he has no concern (compare II 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 (circa 1800 A. D. - CY - 2018), If Jewish shekels are
meant, the sum would amount to £7000 (ibid - CY) ('Speaker's Commentary') .
It is in favor of drachmae being meant that, with the exception of Joshua 7:21
and Judges 17:2, the Septuagint always express the word "shekel" or "didrachm"
after the numeral and before the word "silver." If Luke, therefore, had meant shekels,
he would have written But it was the
Greek usage to omit the word before when the reckoning was
by drachmae (Meyer).
Signs of Religious Sincerity (vs. 18-19)
The incidents narrated in these verses suggest the subject of the demands
which men feel that a Christian profession makes upon their practical life
and conduct. It appears that these disciples at
for some time before they made these sacrifices; but presently the relation
of the Christian truth to their magical and superstitious sentiments was fully
recognized, and they were impelled to destroy the books which had been
associated with their early religious beliefs. “
the black art at this time, and the popular mind was familiar with the
pretension to supernatural gifts and endowments, and by its experience in
sorceries and charms was in a measure hardened against the due effect of
miracles.” “Magicians and astrologers swarmed in her streets, and there
was a brisk trade in the charms, incantations, books of divination, rules for
interpreting dreams, and the like, such as have at all times made up the
structure of superstition.” “By actually destroying the books, they not only
acknowledged the sinfulness of the practices taught therein, but also cut off
at once and absolutely the possibility of relapse on their own part, or of
leaving a temptation or stumbling-block in the way of others.” But the
books burned were private property, and did not stop the evil work of
those who made and sold such books. In one form or in another the
question always comes before the new converts — What are you prepared
to give up for Christ’s sake?
GREATER OR LESS DEGREE, ANTAGONISTIC TO THE FORMER
LIFE. A man may take up with religion as a mere matter of profession, and
find that such a religion makes little or no demand for change in his general
sentiments or conduct. But if a man is truly regenerate, if religion is to him
a serious, searching reality, he will soon find out that it is out of harmony
with much in his former life, and as he cannot give up the religion he must
give up the old habits and indulgences. This applies not only to such evils
as intemperance and immorality, but also to more minute forms of
questionable indulgence. Earnest Christian life is found to be corrective of
even our cherished ideas, our views of truth and duty; and the most moral
and amiable man is made so sensitive to purity and truth by a Divine
regeneration that he finds something in his former life and thought which is
out of harmony with his new feeling. It appears, therefore, that our Lord’s
principle is much more minutely searching than we imagine it to be:
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20) The point
of this head may be represented in full detail, as it concerns the several classes
of a congregation. The principle enunciated will gain force by precise
application to the class evils which sincere piety resists.
MAINTAINED BY SETTING LIFE, ACTION, AND RELATIONS IN
RIGHT TONE. A man may feel how opposed his sentiments and his habits
are to the Christian profession he makes, and yet he may do nothing
towards readjusting their relations. He may try to live his old self-willed
life, and at the same time try to keep his faith in Christ and his soul-allegiance
to Him. But the point on which we now insist is, that he cannot
do this. He imperils his Christian life in the attempt. He keeps himself open
to Satanic temptations. He is in the almost hopeless, and certainly
dishonorable, condition of those who, in olden times, “feared the Lord and
served their own gods.” (II Kings 17:33) Full consistency between life and
profession is absolutely necessary. In any case of conflict between the two,
the Spirit of God will help us to a victory. If, even in small matters, we fail
to keep the full harmony between piety and conduct, piety loses its tone,
and gradually its very life. Formalism can allow license. Piety never can.
RELIGION MAY INVOLVE SERIOUS SACRIFICE. As in the case of
these Ephesian Christians. They destroyed books representing a great
wealth. They might have sold them; but since others might be injured by
them, they destroyed them, at great personal sacrifice. Illustration may be
taken from certain forms of trade, which Christians feel they can no longer
carry on; or from certain pleasures, in which they feel they can no longer
indulge. Impress, in conclusion, the teaching of our Lord about the
foolishness of the man who would take up a Christian profession, and does
not “sit down first and count the cost.” (Luke 14:28)
20 "So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."
The Lord for God, Authorized Version. If the Received Text 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.
mightily; according to might - however, taken by itself, is quite usual,
like , etc. (Alford),
and is rightly rendered "mightily."
The Advance (vs. 1-20)
The founding of a Church at
— a great center of Greek and Asiatic life, civil, religious, and commercial,
the seat of the famous
of Christianity which arrest the attention and demand the consideration of
the Christian reader. Not above two years (if so much) had elapsed since
the Holy Ghost had expressly prohibited the preaching of
the Word in
for reasons which we know not; but now that prohibition is removed, and,
after a preliminary movement by Apollos, we find Paul planting his foot
firmly on the soil of
Jesus. The banner which he then set up has never been taken down to this
present hour. What the influence of the great success of Paul’s ministry
knowing in detail; but that it was very great and widespread we learn from
vs. 10,20 and 26 of this chapter. The first three chapters of the Revelation of
the other Churches of
hence John exercised his jurisdiction over the whole of the Churches of Asia.
The Epistle of Ignatius to the
tradition; and we learn from later ecclesiastical history how important a
th~v Asi>av. The third general council was held there in A.D. 431. In thus
casting a hasty glance at the succeeding history of this apostolic Church,
we are led to the reflection how little we know what may be the
consequences of any single forward movement in the
humblest servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, in a meeting with a few likeminded
brethren, may be laying the foundation of institutions which will
last while the Church lasts, and exercise a world-wide influence upon the
destinies of mankind. A mission to a race of semi-barbarians may be the
planting of a Church under whose shadow millions may hereafter walk in
all the joy of Christian hope, and in all the beauty of Christian holiness. The
simplest word spoken in the
the Name of the Lord Jesus, may be the instrument used by the power of
God for advancing His own purposes of grace and salvation to untold
multitudes. (“And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little
ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say
unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42 – CY – 2018)
When Augustine had his first interview with King Ethelbert in
the city of the men of
the influence upon the Christianity and civilization of the world which that
interview was destined to exercise? And so in the case of every fresh effort
to preach Christ where he is not known, there is a glorious uncertainty as
to the ultimate consequences of such advance. The missionaries’
stammering speech telling the story of the cross to a handful of heathen
may be the first step of a mighty change which shall make the wilderness a
pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. One Heaven-born thought
in the mind of a man of God, one prayer in the Holy Ghost, one faithful
word of truth, may be the seed of a sacred history which shall fill, not earth
only, but heaven also with enduring fruits of joy and salvation. Let Paul
himself make the application: “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor
is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).
The Work of Paul at
Here we have the victory of the Divine Word over the power of falsehood
and evil in the minds of men. Such episodes show on a small scale what the
effect of the evangelical leaven is in the world on a large scale.
PAUL. It becomes a two-edged sword in his hand against all the powers of
darkness. Three months’ continuous preaching of great evangelical truths
may lay the foundation of spiritual building for the lifetime of many souls.
In three relations this influence of the gospel is felt:
(1) upon the hard and unbelieving hearts (vs. 8-10);
(2) upon forms of sickness;
(3) upon the dark works of godless magic.
Ø With reference to the first, he refused to throw pearls before swine. Or,
like a faithful shepherd, he separated the untainted sheep from the rest of
the flock, that they might not be injured. To attempt in act or thought to
separate or excommunicate individuals from the true Church is a
usurpation of Divine authority; a violent plucking of the supposed tares
from the wheat. It is a different thing to go apart one’s self from those
believed to be in error. This is an exercise of personal liberty; the former an
encroachment on the rights of others.
Ø With reference to the second, it appears to have been the vital health of
the inspired apostle which opposed and conquered bodily sickness. Not
relics of a dead man, but clothes of a living man, were the instruments of
the cure. The means are of slight importance when the Divine power is
present. It was
not Peter’s shadow at
at Ephesus Paul’s handkerchief, which wrought the cures, but the living
spiritual force in the will, that is, the faith of the worker. The Roman relic
worshipper expects life from dead things, salvation from that which in the
nature of things has no healing power. Nor is the expectation of life and
spiritual health from rites and ceremonies more reasonable. The service of
dead works is placed in the room of the inward organ of a living faith.
Ø The third mode of Paul’s activity: the people placed in trust of God’s
Word had fallen into the practice of the most foolish magic arts. The
impostors’ mode imitate the apostle’s. Not in teaching the truth nor in
converting souls, but in aping the wondrous deeds of the apostle, so
seeking to secure a like credit. ‘Tis the way of all false teachers and
spurious imitators; they can mimic the gesture, cannot catch the spirit. The
counterfeit is all but the original; but an immense chasm lies in that all but!
“Jesus whom Paul preaches.” The faith of very many is but a faith in the
faith of some one else — a dependence on hearsay, like that of these
teachers. And this is weakness itself. The “seven sons of the high priest”
may remind us of the old commonplace that external association with
sacred things is not always favorable to piety. On the contrary, the old
proverb says, “The nearer the church, the further from God.” This is an
extreme way of stating a patent truth. But the evil spirit defies the feeble
imitator, will not yield to his spells, knows the difference between the man
filled with and the man empty of God. If we advance to the combat without
a call and without an inspiration, we shall incur humiliation. We cannot
create an inspiration, nor call ourselves. “Paint a fire; it will not therefore
burn.” Mock enthusiasm will be found out. “Jesus and Paul I know; but
who are ye?” Try to preach without believing your own doctrine, speak of
Jesus as a Friend while the heart is averse from Him; the mocking voice of
the fiend will be heard within, and efforts to convince others will be as the
blows of one that fighteth the air. The lie of the heart will paralyze the
mightiest eloquence; but the simple truth of the conscience will be a power
made manifest in weakness. The false teachers are impotent in the presence
and before the attack of the passionate evil spirit; they are overpowered,
and flee naked and wounded out of the house. The devil is a thankless
master, and puts to shame his most zealous servants. ‘Tis a condensed
tragedy, this scene. A naked and a wounded soul is all that we may expect
to carry from the service of falsehood.
Ø Fear fell on all. Falsehood bows before the majesty of truth. The devils
give witness to Jesus. His Name is glorified by the triumph of His servants
and the subjection of His foes. Silence was broken, guilty reserve vanished.
Probably both converted and unconverted had sin to confess. Fear is in the
soul what the earthquake and the tempest are in the physical world. It
breaks up the hard crust of habit, lets the pent-up lava-floods break forth,
brings purification and health in its train.
Ø Confession is freely made. We have no right to force the secrets of the
heart. Happy is it when they are volunteered, and when the soul brought to
itself thus of its own accord “gives glory to God.”
Ø Practical results. We need not debate the question of the confessional.”
More important is it to recognize that genuine confession is followed by a
renouncement of the sin. Here those who had seen the error of their
superstition promptly undid it. They brought their books and burned them
in public. It seems a pity that we should thus have lost valuable
information. They might have renounced the teaching of the books and
spared the books themselves. The records of human aberration are equally
useful to us with the records of sound philosophy. Experiments that have
failed will not readily be tried again. But in the fervor of a first love all is
excusable. Where great corruption has prevailed, there will be presently a
reaction, and extreme Puritanism will set in. Where pleasure has run to
license legitimate pleasure will presently be looked upon with suspicion.
The example of the Ephesians is not to be followed literally, but in spirit.
Evil, like good, is everywhere present. Burn bad books, they will be read
the more. Denounce “spiritualism,” etc., and people’s curiosity wilt be
inflamed about it. Sophistry is hydra-headed: directly we seem to make
little way against it. The best counsel is — Let alone what you know is
injurious to you. Let the understanding be strengthened and the affections
purified, and superstition will fall from the mind as an eruption disappears
from the skin when the body is restored to health. “Thus mightily grew the
Word of God.” Live for the truth; sow it, plant it out in all minds, and let
there be no room for the ill weeds to grow.
The Sign of Sincerity (vs. 18-20)
We are reminded by the text:
OURSELVES TO HIM. To exercise a living faith in Him is to take
everything from Him and to give everything to Him; therefore to give
ourselves to Him and to His service. It is to recognize and respond to His
supreme claims on heart and life.
ABANDON ALL THAT IS HATEFUL TO HIM. How can we love Him
and not hate and shun the things which are painful and offensive in His sight?
PUT AWAY ALL THAT IS FALSE AND IMPURE. To live a life of
imposture; to be systematically enriching ourselves at the expense of the
credulity of others (as these Ephesians had been doing); to be acting
falsehoods daily, or even frequently; to be introducing a large measure of
vanity or folly into that which should be good and pure; — this is hateful
to Him who is the holy and the true One; this is unendurable by Him in
one who bears His name and professes to be like Him and to follow Him.
PLEASANT FOR CHRIST’S SAKE IS A SURE SIGN OF SINCERITY.
The burning of these profitable “books” was the very best guarantee that
could be given of the sincerity of the Ephesian converts. If we want to
know how deep and true is a man’s conviction, we do not ask what strong
things he can say in its favor, or how eloquently he can descant upon it, or
what fervor he shows on one or two occasions respecting it, but how much
he is prepared to part with on its account. We ask what deep-rooted habits
he will cut away, what cherished treasures he will put aside, what keen
enjoyments he will forego, what money he will sacrifice, what prized but
hurtful friendships he will surrender. This is the test of sincerity. A man
that will do one or more of these things, “we know the proof of him.”
APPRECIATED WITNESS WE CAN BEAR FOR CHRIST. “So mightily
grew the word of God,” etc. (v. 20). There is no way by which we can so
powerfully affect the judgment and win the sympathy of men as by
sacrificing for Christ’s sake that which all men prize and strive for. When
the world sees all who “profess and call themselves Christians” not only
engaging in devotion, and endeavoring to make converts, but also denying
themselves pleasures they would otherwise enjoy, spending on others the
money they would else have spent on themselves, foregoing worldly
advantages which they cannot conscientiously appropriate, then it will be
convinced by arguments which now are without any cogency, and will be
won by persuasions which now are urged in vain.
Practical Evidence of Genuine Repentance (vs. 18-20)
The evidence which “many of them that believed” now came and gave, of
the vitality of their faith and the reality of their repentance, was conclusive.
And the very thought of it is refreshing as we read it. Here follow four
grand evidences of a genuine “faith in Jesus” and “repentance from dead
NO PRESSURE OF TORTURE OR INDUCEMENT OF FEAR OR
WERE THE WAYS OF LIFE’S LENGTH, OF GETTING A
WHICH THE FORMER LIFE AND PROFESSION WERE
SUSTAINED. This renunciation was particularly satisfactory in the present
instances, inasmuch as it was:
Ø A renunciation of large value of capital.
Ø A determined putting away from the eyes the things that had often fed
Ø And an effort to put the old evil course, as far as might be possible, out
of memory itself. To this hardest thing of all God would give His
gracious and effectual help, for its very endeavor’s sake.
The Prevailing Power of the Word (v. 20)
“So mightily grew the Word of the Lord and prevailed.” Compare other
Scripture figures; e.g. “His Word runneth very swiftly “(Psalm 147:15).
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free
course, and be glorified” (II Thessalonians 3:1).
gospel message — the tidings brought to men concerning Jesus Christ; the
message brought by Jesus Christ, the message centering in, and gathering
round, Jesus Christ. Put into all kinds of molds and shapes and forms of
language, the “Word of the Lord” is this: The heavenly Father has Himself
overcome the hindrances and separating difficulties dividing Him from His
children. He is become a reconciling God, and in Jesus Christ His Son He is
willing to pardon; He is waiting to welcome back home every returning,
repenting, believing child. The apostle thinks of this gospel message as a
“living thing,” and so he speaks of its “growing.” Wherever there is life
there is growth. If there be life in the seed, there will be growth of blade,
breaking the soil, and shooting up into the light. If growth ever ceases in
our bodies, death ensues. And so, if there be life in God’s gospel, it will
have the power of widening, spreading, and enlarging its influence. The
sign of growth noticed in connection with the text is the power which
Christian truth increasingly gained over the feelings and the conduct of the
Ephesian disciples, leading them to a most impressive public act of self-denial.
That the growth takes two forms:
Ø Inward growth; the gospel as the soul’s new life, gaining an ever-increasing
Ø Outward growth; the gospel as a testimony, winning more and more
adherents as it is proclaimed more fully and widely. And impress
Ø that these two modes of growth are mutually related and mutually
helpful. Culture of inward spiritual life always should bear its fruit in
enlarged Christian activity; and greater energy put into Christian work
should always be felt to make greater demands on Christian life and
feeling. Illustrate this twofold growth from the history of the early Church.
Ø Since there is life in the Word, and that life is seen in growth, it will be
sure to meet with opposition. If the apostles would only have ceased to
witness for Christ, they would have suffered no persecution. If any of us
will let the life in Christ fade down and die within us, the world will cease
to present any opposition. The dead in trespasses and sins have no
difficulties; but “they that will live godly must suffer persecution.”
(II Timothy 3:12) It is a simple condition of growth, that it involves
resistance; it pushes its way against opposition. And, in the case of
earnest piety, this opposition becomes more than resistance — it is
enmity and willful endeavor.
Ø Since there is life in the Word, we may be sure that it will overcome the
opposition; or, as the text says, it will “prevail” — gain the mastery. This
may be illustrated from martyr-times, when Christianity has seemed to be
crushed, but the life has proved stronger than all outward resistances. See
recent years, the result of persecutions in
(remember that this was over two centuries ago – CY – 2018).
Illustrate also from missionary spheres, in which various kinds of
hindrances are presented, yet the life in the Word gains gradual mastery.
Illustrate by Paul’s sublime triumphs over all forms of opposition met
with in his missionary work. And show how the prevailing power of the
Word is found in individual experience; in the gradual mastery of personal
habits; and in our external relations and circumstances. Impress that faith in
the “growth” and “prevailing power” of Christianity needs to be kept alive
in the Church and in all our hearts; and that such a faith would prove an
abiding inspiration to holier living and to nobler laboring.
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. Now after for after, Authorized Version.
Purposed in the spirit (- literally,
set, fixed, or arranged it in his spirit), like the Hebrew phrase, שּׂוּם בְלֵב, in
- ethento pantes….en tae kardia auton - laid them up in their hearts
(compare ch. 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
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
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).
22 "So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus
and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season." And having sent for so
he sent, Authorized Version; Timothy for Timotheus, Authorized Version; he for
but he, Authorized Version; while for season, Authorized Version. Two of them, etc.
Erastus is here mentioned for the first time. If he is the same person who is mentioned
converts who had gone with him from Corinth to Jerusalem and Antioch, and had
accompanied him through Phrygia and Galatia to Ephesus. Silas, who had been
Timothy's companion on the former visit to Macedonia, seems to have left Paul,
to have attached himself to Peter (I 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,"
Authorized Version; "or our faithful brother," Revised Version. He himself stayed,
etc. This phrase is in singular harmony with I 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
is spoken of as doubtful, though probable, in I 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 ibid. v.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 ibid. v. 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 Paul to dispense
with the services of Timothy and Erastus for a time. - Epeschen -
understand , kept himself back, i.e. stayed;
while, an indefinite phrase, but indicating a short time. a
23 "And the same time there arose no small stir about that way."
About that time for the same time, Authorized Version; concerning the Way for
about that way, Authorized Version. (see v. 9).
24 "For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines
for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;"
Of for for, Authorized Version; little business for small gain, Authorized Version.
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. 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 (), which were offered to different gods
as propitiatory gifts, or carried about by the owners as charms, Business;
, here and v. 25 (see ch.16:16, note).
25 "Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said,
Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Gathered for called,
Authorized Version; business for craft, Authorized Version, but "craft" is the
better rendering. Workmen; , different from the
- techniktai - skilled laborers or artisans. Demetrius called together all
who were in any way interested in the shrine trade. His true reason came out first.
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:" And for moreover, Authorized
Version. We have here a wonderful testimony from an enemy to the power and
efficacy of Paul's labors. Asia, here and in v. 22, etc., means Proconsular Asia,
of which Ephesus was the chief city. That they be no gods, etc. This is an incidental
proof that Paul's success at Ephesus lay chiefly among the heathen, since we know
Gentiles, quite different from his method with Jews.
27 "So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught; 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."
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, Authorized Version; be made
of no account for should be despised, Authorized Version; that she should even
be deposed from her magnificence for her magnificence should be destroyed,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Is there danger. There is no example in
Luke's writings, or in the New Testament, or in the Septuagint, of
, being taken impersonally, as it is sometimes, though
rarely, in Greek authors. The subject, therefore, of this sentence is -
to meros - the portion, part, or business, and -
Touto kinduneuei haemin to meros k.t.l. - this is endangering our business, etc.
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;
, 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 (compare the - megaleiotaeta -
magnificence at the end of the verse, and the cry, vs. 28 and 34). Lewin
(vol. 1. p. 412, note) quotes in the
Ephesian Xenophon , in an inscription at Ephesus;
hold the Ephesian Diana in the greatest honor." From her magnificence.
The Received Text reads instead of in
the Textus Receptus. But Meyer, while he accepts the Received Text, construes
it "and some of her magnificence," etc.; and rightly, because the genitive after
10:27 (Septuagint), and the word 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.
28 "And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried
out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians." This for these sayings, Authorized
Version; filled with wrath for full of wrath, Authorized Version. Great is Diana, etc.
A notable instance of assertion and clamor crying down REASON and TRUTH!
29 "And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius
and Aristarchus, men of
with one accord into the theatre." The city for the whole city, and the confusion
for confusion Authorized Version and Textus Receptus ( – taes – the for
); they rushed, etc., having seized for having caught, etc., they rushed,
etc., Authorized Version. With one accord (); see
ch. 7:57. Into the theatre. The common place of resort, see
for all great meetings. So Tacitus, 'Hist.,' 2:80 (quoted by Alford), says that at
a crowded meeting was held there to forward the interests of Vespasian, then
aspiring to the empire. So Josephus speaks of the people of
public assembly () in the theatre ('
7. 3:3). The people of the Greek city of
on v.29, here). The theatre at
remain, is said to be the largest of which we have any account (Howson, 2. p. 68).
Having seized (); a favorite word with Luke
II Maccabees 3:27; 4:41; but not elsewhere in the New Testament. It is a common
medical word of sudden seizures. The force of the – sun 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 ch. 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 I Corinthians 1:14 a Gains is mentioned as one of Paul's
converts on his first visit to
Church, likely, therefore, to be the same person. Then we have the Gaius to whom
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 Paul, Gaius of
(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.
here described as of
from Caesarea to
In Colossians 4:10 he is Paul's "fellow-prisoner,' as voluntarily sharing his prison,
and in Philemon 1:24 he is his fellow-laborer. His history, therefore, is that, having
been converted on 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!
Self-Interest Opposing Christianity (vs. 24-29)
The introduction should concern the temple, statue, and worship of the
goddess Diana; the reputation in which this goddess was held; the numbers
of persons who visited her shrine; the various opportunities afforded by
this fact for making money; and the fears which were created by the act of
self-sacrifice in burning the magical books. “The shrines were miniature
models of the temple, containing a representation of the statue of the
goddess,” and they were chiefly made for the visitors to take away as
memorials of their visit. “There was a sacred month at
month of Diana — when a great religious gathering took place to celebrate
the public games in honor of the goddess. It was the pleasant month of
May. Trade was brisk then at
increase of population, by the presence of provincials, and strangers from
more distant parts, but from the purchases they made in the shops and
markets. Among the tradesmen of
depended more upon the business of this month than did makers and
dealers in holy trinkets.” “In the sacred month of the third year of St.
Paul’s stay in
consternation, that the demand for their commodity had so materially fallen
off as most seriously to affect their interests. Upon this one of the leading
men of their guild convened a meeting of their craft, and, in an
inflammatory speech, pointed out Paul as the person who, by his preaching
that there were ‘no gods made with hands,’ had not only produced this
crisis in the trade, but had endangered their glorious temple, and imperiled
that magnificence which the world admired.” Kitto well says, “Here we
witness a carious, but not unparalleled, union of the ‘great goddess Diana’
with the great god Self, whose worship still exists, though that of Diana is
extinct.” This brings out the point which seems to have practical interest
for us, which we have suggested in our heading. Self-interest opposes:
creation; it is an impartation of Divine life; it is not, primarily, an
interference with social evils, or any endeavor to set the world’s wrong
right. Paul preached the Christian truth, and bade men seek Christ for
themselves, that “they might have life;” but we have no reason whatever
for supposing that he attacked the shrine-makers, or even made any peril
for himself by arguing against the claims of Diana. The power of
Christianity still lies in the change which it works in each individual, the
regeneration of the man, his possession of a new life. Christian teachers
must deal afterwards with the relations between the Christian life and the
family and society; but the Christian preacher comes first and declares that
“God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his son: he that hath
the Son hath life.” (I John 5:12)
comes to save souls; but the action of the renewed cannot fail to tell on
social life, bringing in a new set of sentiments and habits, and steadfastly
resisting some of the older ones. Illustrations may be found in connection
with slavery. Christianity makes no plea against it, and yet, when men
become Christians, they are sure to feel the evil of slavery, and are ready to
resist it, as a social custom, even at a great sacrifice. So with war. At
Ephesus no word need have been spoken about the superstitious use of
charms and amulets; but when the Ephesians accepted Christ as their
Savior, a social sentiment against these superstitions would speedily be
raised. The one all-effectual counteractive to social and moral evils is
strong, vigorous, noble Christian life; and just this the world so greatly
needs today. Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13)
SURE TO BEAR HEAVILY ON SOME. It did on the shrine-makers of
Ephesus; it has done on slaveholders in England and America; it does on
drink-sellers, and on all whose trade is in any form immoral (It is a heavy
burden when ignored in the drug culture today! – CY – 2018): it does on
those who would make personal gain out of the superstitions and fears of
the people; it does on those who proclaim skeptical and infidel ideas.
AROUSED WHERE SELF-INTEREST IS AFFECTED. Men may feel
more deeply when they are touched in their emotions, but they make more
immediate and active show of their feelings when they are affected in their
self-interests. And, on the ground of such self-interest, combinations of
men are easily made to resist a truth or a reform. Show how this finds
application in these our own milder times. Spiritual Christianity finds itself
affecting men’s purely worldly interests nowadays. Many a man wages a
great fight with himself ere he lets his piety master his very trade; and wins
a willingness to sacrifice golden opportunities of advancement and wealth,
rather than lose his soul’s eternal life. And there are modern illustrations of
the way in which men, whose self-interest is touched, will combine to resist
revival and reformation. In so many forms the principle laid down by our
Lord finds ever fresh illustration: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
(Luke 16:13) Remarking on the deceptions which lead men to combine
against established order or new truth, Bode names the following:
Ø One pretends to high aims, and is influenced by the grossest selfishness.
Ø One thinks himself free to act, and is the involuntary instrument of
Ø One values himself as enlightened, and commits the most unreasonable
acts of folly.
Ø One prides himself that he contends for the right, and perpetrates the
most unrighteous deeds of violence.
Ø One is filled with extravagant expectations, and in the end gains
30 "And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples
suffered him not." Was minded to enter for would have entered, Authorized
Version. 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.
, or – proselthein
eis epi ton daemon - or are phrases implying the intention of
pleading his cause before them.
31 "And certain of the chief of
desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre."
Certain also for certain, Authorized Version (the more natural order would be,
and certain of the chief officers
Version; being for which were, Authorized Version; and besought him not to for
desiring him that he
would not, Authorized Version. Chief
The Greek word is Asiarchs (ῶ
Asiarchs, ten in number, were officers annually chosen from all). The
the cities of Proconsular Asia, to preside over all sacred rites, and to provide at
their own expense the public 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
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.
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."
In confusion for confused, Authorized Version (
thrown into confusion - compare – sugchuseos - of confusion - v. 29).
The more part, etc. A graphic picture of an excited mob led by interested and
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 defense unto the people." Brought for drew, Authorized Version and
Textus Recptus; a defense for his defense, Authorized Version (
apologeisthai – to be making defense). Alexander. Some think he is the same as
"Alexander the coppersmith," of whose conduct Paul complains so bitterly
that, as 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 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 . The people (, as v. 30). It was
a true , though an irregular one, and the
people who formed it were the , different from the
, the mere crowd outside.
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." Perceived for knew,
Authorized Version; , to recognize;
35 "And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of
Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image
which fell down from Jupiter?" Quieted the multitude (
for appeased the people, Authorized Version;)
saith for said, Authorized Version; who for that, Authorized Version; temple-
keeper for a worshipper, Authorized Version; Diana for goddess Diana,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. The town clerk (
); i.e. the scribe, is the city secretary.
, Thucyd., 7:19 (Meyer);
, 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
according to Kuinoel it was an office of first-rate influence in the senate in the
Greek cities of
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 (, and
v. 36). 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,is a man of calm, quiet demeanor, as opposed
to ho tolmaeros - one who is bold and violent. In medical language,–
is to soothe, calm, etc., and - pharmaka
katastaltika - and are medicines which check the
growth of diseases, ulcers, eruptions, and the like. Temple-keeper, in the Revised
Version and margin of Authorized Version ( literally,
temple-sweeper), from a temple, and to sweep.
The word Neoceros was a peculiar title, assumed first by persons and then by
such cities, in
rites of any particular god. It
first appears on coins of
and was deemed a title of great honor. One inscription speaks of
() – ho neokoros (Ephesion) daemos – the temple-sweeper of the
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 (temple-sweeper)
of the emperor. Some extant coins
exhibit the city of
of Diana and the emperor (see Lewin, vol. 1. p. 411; Howson, vol. it. pp. 75, 76).
The image which fell down from Jupiter (
, understand , as in the 'Iphig. in Taur.,' 947),
; which is described in ver. 88 of the same play as "the
image () of the goddess Diana, which they say fell down from
heaven ( ) into her temple in Tauris;"
and in line 1349 it is called ,
, "The image of the daughter of Jove which
fell from heaven," brought away
from Tauris by Iphigenia
and Orestes into
But it does not appear that there was any tradition that the identical image brought
was carried to
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;
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).
36 "Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be
quiet, and to do nothing rashly." Gainsaid for spoken against, Authorized
Version; rash for rashly, Authorized Version. ( – propetes – rashly –
is the adverb). Quiet (: see above, v. 35, note).
37 "For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of
churches, nor yet
blasphemers of your goddess."
Authorized Version; or for nor yet, Authorized Version; our for your,
Authorized Version. Ye have brought, etc.
is especially used of "bringing before a magistrate," "leading
Robbers of temples;
found only here in the New Testament. The verb - hierosuleis –
ye are despoilers of the sanctuary - occurs in Romans 2:22. Blasphemers of
our goddess. If the Authorized Version is right, perhaps we may see in the
phrase "your goddess" an indication that the town-clerk himself was more or
less persuaded by Paul's preaching, that "they are no gods which are made
with hands" (v. 26), and did not care to speak of Diana as his own goddess.
It appears also that 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 (I Thessalonians 1:9).
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." If therefore for wherefore if, Authorized Version;
that for which, Authorized Version; the courts are for the law is, Authorized
Version; proconsuls for deputies, Authorized Version; accuse for implead,
Authorized Version. 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;
. Some supply the word , and make the sense "judicial
assemblies," "sessions," coming round at proper fixed intervals. But the verb
, more naturally suggests , as Bengel says
(: : , 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, . 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.
39 "But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined
in a lawful assembly." Seek for inquire, Authorized Version; about for concerning,
Authorized Version; settled for determined, Authorized Version; the regular for
a lawful, Authorized Version. If ye seek, etc (
means either "to make inquiry" or “to desire earnestly.").
The verb in the next clause,
, 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
legally convened." For
– peraitero –, some manuscripts read
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 (see v. 33), if they wished it to be gone into
on wider and deeper grounds.
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. 41 And
when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly." For indeed for for,
Authorized Version; accused for called in question, Authorized Version;
concerning for for, Authorized Version; riot for uproar, Authorized Version;
for it for whereby, Authorized Version; and as touching it we shall not be able
to for we may, Authorized Version; account for an account, Authorized Version.
We are in danger (: see
v. 27, note). To be accused concerning this day's riot. The Greek cannot well be
so construed. The margin is right; – egkaleisthai staseos –
to be charged with sedition; -
this day, as inis for
ch. 20:26, : only in English we should say,
"on account of this day," i.e. what has been done this day. The Received Text
places a stop after
As touching it. But "it" must mean "the riot," which
is feminine, whereas - is masculine; so that the Receivcd Text
is impossible to construe. It is much better, therefore, to adhere to the Textus
Receptus, which has good manuscript authority, and to construe as the
Authorized Version. Whereby, equivalent to "on the ground of which".
With regard to the great tumult to which the foregoing narrative
relates, it is certain that Luke has by no means exaggerated its
importance. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, written from
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
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”
(II Corinthians 1:4-10). And the same tone breaks out again in ibid. 4:7-18;
6:4-10; 11:23-27; 12:9-10. It is also very probable that it was on this occasion
that Priscilla and
he alludes in Romans 16:3-4, written after he had reached
riot and the danger to 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
that one or two important incidents which occurred are not related by Luke.
The first is that encounter with a savage rabble to which Paul refers in
I 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
probable visit to
13:1-2; and thought to have been caused by bad accounts of the moral
state of the
hasty visit, and in contrast with it he says, in I 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
visit, which is now lost, but is alluded to in I Corinthians 5:9. The First
Epistle to the Corinthians was manifestly written at this
(see I Corinthians 16:8, 19). Some think that the Epistle to the
Galatians was also written from
the Corinthians (see I Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 2:10); but Renan
it was written from
The Greed of Gain (vs. 21-41)
Several instructive lessons crop up from this narrative. When two people
advancing from opposite directions meet in a narrow pathway, one must
give way to the other. When the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
encounters the greed of gain in a human breast, either the Word, with its
promises, its hopes, its commands, must stand aside that the love of money
may pursue its onward course, or the worldly gain must become as dung in
the eyes of the hearer of THE WORD. We have noble examples in such men
as Moses, Elisha, Daniel, Nehemiah, Zacchaeus, Peter and the other
apostles, Barnabas, Paul, and many more both in ancient and modern times,
of that contempt of worldly gains in comparison with the treasures of
heaven, which marks the true servant of the living God. But we have, on
the other hand, many sad though instructive instances of the love of gain
holding its ground and barring the entrance into the heart of love and
obedience to God. It was so in the instance recorded in this section. Here
was the blessed gospel of God’s redeeming grace preached with
extraordinary power by Paul, confirmed by signal miracles, attested by
the conversion of multitudes, glorified by the open confession and the
voluntary losses of so many professors of curious arts; it was presented
with a power and a beauty to the minds of the Ephesians which seemed to
be irresistible. What sweet lessons of godliness, what glorious promises of
immortality, what captivating revelations of the goodness and love of God,
did that gospel contain! It could set men free from sin; it could raise them
to fellowship with angels; it could give them the victory over the very
grave. But when Demetrius heard it he saw in it one fatal blot which
obliterated all its excellences: it would destroy the trade in silver shrines.
Let men once be convinced that there is one true and living God, the Lord
of heaven and earth, and one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of
the Father, and that to know him and love and serve Him is eternal life, and
there would be an end of the worship of the great goddess Diana of the
Ephesians. The strangers who flocked to the pan-Ionian games would no
longer crowd to the shop of Demetrius, that they might carry home with
them a silver shrine; silver ornaments would no more be devoted to
beautify the famous temple; the skill of the craftsmen would no longer
bring them honor and respect; the faith of Jesus Christ would be the deathblow
to the magnificence of Diana and to the gains of her workmen.
Therefore the faith of Christ must be resisted. It must be kept out of the
workmen’s heart, and it must be crushed that it spread no more. The true
cry was — Our gains are in danger! The pretended cry was — The honor
of Diana is at stake! And this leads us to the further remark that selfish
greed seldom dares show itself without disguise. It has an instinctive
consciousness of its own unworthiness as a motive of action, and even of
its repulsiveness in the eyes of others. It must therefore always put on
some cloak of hyprocrisy. It must simulate zeal for God or benevolence
towards man. It must pretend to be seeking some end very different from
the true one, or at least one to which the true end is quite subordinate.
Even if it admit that “this our craft is in danger,” it puts forward as the
supreme danger that “her magnificence should be destroyed, whom
and the world worshippeth.” And this teaches us the importance of a very
close scrutiny of our own motives of action, when our worldly interests are
concerned. It is astonishing how much men’s judgment and their powers of
discrimination are affected by considerations of interest. It is, perhaps, less
common for men to act deliberately against their conviction of what is just
and right than to be biased in their opinion of what is right by the
disturbing force of self-interest. The man whose real aim through life is to
do what is right and accept what is true, quite irrespective of any influence
which his belief or his action may have upon his own temporal gains,
should spare no pains to maintain a judgment quite independent of selfish
considerations, and to force his conscience always to give a true verdict
upon the evidence before it, unmoved by fear of loss, and unseduced by
hopes of gain. Once more, the example of the Ephesian silversmiths
supplies a caution, not unneeded to all Christians, against supposing that
“godliness is a way of gain.” A large part of the corruptions of Christianity,
and of the scandalous lives of worldly minded clergy in all ages, has arisen
from the attempt to make religion a source of individual gain and
aggrandizement. Legacies extorted from death-bed terrors, preferment
gained by unworthy means, the sale of indulgences, paid Masses for the
dead, the huge treasures accumulated by divers pretences at the shrines of
saints, and many other infamous devices to make religion lucrative to the
professors of it, are examples of what I mean. The man of God and the
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. These are the
Christian’s treasures, the results of his craft, the rewards of his labors.
These are the branches which grow on the stem of heavenly truth, and with
these alone can he be satisfied. He covets not the wages of
unrighteousness; he cares not for the silver shrines; he frames not his creed
either to catch the gifts of the wealthy, or to secure the praises of the
world. The practical lesson to the Christian tradesman is to beware lest the
interests of his trade lead him into any antagonism with the requirements of
the gospel. Certain gains may be incompatible with perfect integrity, or
with a supreme regard for the honor of God, or with true love to man. Let
the Christian tradesman look to it that he is always ready to sacrifice his
gains to his higher Christian obligations. His willingness to do so is the test
of his Christian sincerity, and it is a severe test. The voice of a thriving,
growing, swelling business is a loud voice, and the fear of checking a trade
and losing all is a very telling fear. The cry of a feeble business, crying for
more nourishment and a wider field, is a very pressing cry. Let the voice of
conscience, and duty, and fealty to Christ be louder and more pressing still,
so that the silver shrines may pale before the claims of the supreme Lord of
all, and the treasures of the world may become as dung before the glory of
the righteousness of the children of God.
The Supreme Conflict (vs. 21-41)
Of all the struggles which have occurred or are now taking place in the
human world, there is not one which deserves to be named in comparison
with that supreme conflict which is proceeding between:
The world will never be renovated until many strong “interests” have been
bravely encountered and utterly overthrown. The gospel of Christ cannot
be proclaimed in its fullness without giving occasion for many to say, here
and there, now and again, “This our craft is in danger” (v. 27). It is the
inevitable tendency of all purifying truth, not only to eradicate evil from the
hearts of men, but to bring to naught the hurtful institutions of the world.
But by these men live; with these their material interests are closely bound
up. Whether it be “drunkenness, slavery, or war,” which have been
declared to be “the three great evils which have cursed mankind.” or
whether it be any other harmful thing which Christ purposes to overthrow,
His truth must occasionally and incidentally assail the temporal interests and
prospects of men. And such is our human nature that, when it does this, it
will call forth the most bitter, vehement, crafty, determined opposition. It is
in this incidental way that Christ comes, “not to send peace on earth, but a
sword” (Matthew 10:34). And we may learn:
Ø that it is doubtful whether we are declaring the whole counsel of God,
if we are provoking no hostility by our utterance;
that we need not
wonder that the coming of the
delayed when we take this envenomed hostility into account.
By the confession of Demetrius: “This Paul hath persuaded and turned
away much people,” etc. (v. 26). There may have been a note of
exaggeration in his speech, but it is a significant fact that these “shrines”
were in much smaller request in consequence of Paul’s preaching. Truth
will tell, sooner or later. Against all prejudices, material interests, social
habits, civil laws, military forces, IT WILL ULTIMATELY PREVAIL!
Imperceptibly at first, but in growing numbers and accelerating force,
it wins its way until it is accepted, honored, crowned.
their craft in danger, they say so, plainly enough, while they confer
together; but when they face the populace, they disguise their selfishness
under the cloak of piety, and cry, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”
(v. 29). Sin sometimes fights without any mask at all; it shows itself in its
native hideousness, — the rank, foul, selfish, shameful thing it is. But
usually it seeks to conceal its ugliness by draping itself in something which
is elegant and becoming. It affects piety, benevolence, patriotism; it is
concerned for the comfort, the temporal necessities, or even the spiritual
well-being of the world. God strikes through such miserable pretences with
His penetrating eye, and it is often open to our human intelligence to
recognize the hateful features beneath the graceful folds.
Ø Prudence. This is least in virtue and value; but it is not unimportant.
The town-clerk of
address (vs. 35-41); what he employed so admirably in the discharge
of his secular duty, we may use advantageously in the fulfillment of
our high mission. The
in not suffering Paul to enter the theatre; humanly speaking, they saved
his life (v. 30). He himself prudently left the city after this great
disturbance. We may be and should be politic and prudent when
our caution is not cowardice nor faithlessness (John 16:8).
Ø Courage. Paul was ready to go into the midst of the excited, violent,
murderous multitude (v. 30). The same unfaltering courage carried
him over perilous seas, into dangerous countries, among hostile
peoples everywhere, if only he saw the Master’s pointing finger
or heard the cry of spiritual distress.
Ø Faithfulness. It was the preaching of the cross, the telling of the old,
old story of redeeming love, whatever the Jew might demand or the
Gentile crave, which was the source and secret of the apostle’s power.
The Spirit of Rebellion against the Gospel (vs. 21-41)
The tumult at
of the contest between good and evil in the world.
is the dark background out of which all manner of fiendish shapes arise to
contend against the light. Then it was self-seeking under the guise of
religious zeal. Demetrius is the type of all those who make great
professions of interest for the “truth,” the “honor of God,” the “cause of
religion,” and the like, while their real motive is personal profit, honor, or
notoriety. They appear to be aiming at the highest, are really driving at the
lowest object. At the same time, consistency with self gives an appearance
of truth, no matter how corrupt and base the self may be. Hence selfish
men often earn a credit and reputation refused to the more conscientious.
For the egoist always “knows his own mind,” though it be a bad mind; the
conscientious man has frequent self-doubts and conflicts, the signs of
which cannot be suppressed.
must, as usual, be acted upon. For good or for evil, great movements
among the masses, are due immediately to influences upon the imagination.
The preacher’s power lies here, and also that of the sophist and the
demagogue. The ideas connected with profit and those connected with
religion have immense governing power over the mass. We remember the
commotion a few years ago among
the match-makers in the east of
when it was threatened to tax their industry. So with bread-riots, land riots,
and the like All the instincts of self-preservation rise against those who
appear to menace the very means of existence. Religious ideas are only a
degree less powerful. Society rests upon religion. We can only faintly
imagine how the Athenian felt about his guardian goddess Athene, or the
Ephesian about great Artemis. The Greek city was to each native as one
large house or home, the very hearth of which was the altar of the god, the
very foundations of which rested on reverence for that god. Here, then,
were two of the mightiest instincts of human nature roused up and armed
against the gospel:
Ø self-seeking and
Ø the religious or superstitious instinct.
· THE VICTORY OF THE TRUTH.
Ø The kingdom of sense and of nature is represented by the great gods of
cities was that of the beautiful; art and science were supreme. Christianity
makes the moral ideal supreme.
Ø The true temple is the spirit of man. And no worthy temple can be built
to God unless His Spirit purify the heart, and His strength be perfected in
weakness. Without the internal cultus of the heart, the external, in buildings
and ritual, is vain.
Ø The spiritual kingdom alone is abiding.
been in ruins;
but against the
prevail. (Matthew 16:18)
Ø The security of the faithful amidst the storm. They are concealed in a
safe place till the hour of danger be over past (vs. 30-31). Help is raised
up in unexpected quarters (v. 35, et seq.). The storms of angry passions
are subdued (v. 40). The ark of the Church is guided safely through the
Ø Character brought to light in troublous scenes. The chancellor at
impartial justice, and of human kindness.
A Typical Exhibition of Human Nature (vs. 23-41)
This section of the history marks itself off — an episode which gave
apostles and disciples, albeit in a very modified time, to rest, and made
them spectators of an ample display of certain aspects of human nature.
The world, ever ready to arm against the truth, and especially against
Christ, the first distinct and bright embodiment of truth, is left sometimes
to fight out its own battles. And the amount of smoke in which they end is
sometimes, as in the present case, something wonderful. Notice:
MAN. The illustration which Demetrius here affords of what is often
deepest down in the heart of the world — love of money gain, faith in
money gain, the illusion that money gain is the one thing needful, and by
which alone men live — seems for a moment pleasantly relieved by his
apparent free admission of it. Any sense of relief, however, arising from
this consideration is speedily largely discounted:
Ø By the fact that the ready admission of it but speaks the deeper root of
the malady, and that it is a fact grown to be viewed as venial, perhaps
natural, nay, very probably necessary, and therefore true to right nature.
Ø By the fact that the admission, though apparently free enough, was,
when it occurred, only of a semi-public character. Demetrius owns and
unfolds the state of his own mind, not to the wide world, but to his own
“craftsmen,” whose sympathies would lie very near his own — and he
CIRCUMFERENCE OF FEELING, BY MIXING THE PERSONAL OR
AT MOST CLASS GRIEVANCE UP WITH THE RELIGIOUS SENSE
tempting one. And though too evident to allow of its inferring any great
talent on the part of Demetrius, yet he skillfully avails himself of it. Some
persons will miss very tempting opportunities, which are as evident as they
may be tempting. “The children of this world are,” however, “wiser in their
generation,” as a rule, “than the children of light” (Luke 16:8); and this
was one instance of it. It took most successfully.
Ø It is the speedy outcry of “the whole city.” And the movement spread so
rapidly from the craftsmen class interest, that when the whole city is
“come together” (v. 32), “the more part knew not wherefore.” It made
little difference. They had their throats and their limbs with them, and a
couple of victims, “Gaius and Aristarchus” (v. 29), traveling
“companions of Paul.”
Ø Most combustible fuel was forthcoming to add to the fire, in the person
of a Jew (v. 34), who was probably unpopular with his own people. He
was thrust into prominence by his own people (v. 33), either that he
might be their scapegoat and bear the brunt, or possibly because he was
judged to be the most competent man. Of this view there is some
evidence in his ready preparedness to address the surging multitude and
to “make his defense.” Anyway, for two hours more did the
conflagration burn more fiercely for that one move. And it was a move
which derived its force from “the burning religious question.”
Ø The success of the scheme of Demetrius is illustrated most significantly
in what it elicited from the lips of the “town-clerk” (vs. 37-38),
especially in his huge fallacy of asserting to acclamation (which no
doubt rang again in that theatre, but to the flat denial of truth and
time succeeding and now “of all the world”, “Seeing that these
things cannot be spoken against.” (v. 36)
was, it is plain that he was a competent man.
Ø He defends Gains and Aristarchus, and presumably Paul. He finds and
pronounces it boldly that “these men” have done nothing amiss. They
are neither sacrilegious “robbers” nor “blasphemers” albeit of an idol!
Ø He reduces the swelling hazards of Demetrius to their proper
proportions. It is a mere matter of himself and his friends. And it is a
mere matter of whether he can prove anything that will entitle him to
redress. If he can, he must go to the right place to do it, and take the
right course. Probably Demetrius, having set the fire going, had some
time ago dropped into the background. But if not, if he and his party
had stayed to keep up to the full the excitement, they must inevitably
have felt now very small. It were not to have been wondered at if the
multitude had turned upon them, with the threat of lynch law.
Ø He apprises the whole city that disaster may be the sequel of a whole
day’s wasted uproar and undefended concourse. And the people seemed
open to his wisdom, and wiser by far than Demetrius at all events. So
ends in smoke the work of wickedness, the worldliness of the worldly,
the self-seeking and avarice of the man who has far keener foresight
for gain and money than any care, past, present, or to come,
for truth and religion. The day has been uproar; the human nature
of that day has been mere confusion: unseen presences have, however,
been in the scene, and still voices at last prevail, which pronounce
condemnation on the evil-doing ringleader, which reduce him to
shame and humiliation in the eyes of those whose passion he had
needlessly excited, and most remarkable of all, which demand and
obtain silence. It is no dim augury of the close of the world’s
day, when time shall be ripe.
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