Acts 19:8-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 19, 1998

Building situation, modular buildings, prayer!


On Paul’s second missionary journey, he had tried to go to Ephesus, but the Holy Spirit had said no. Later on, he passed through Ephesus leaving his friends Aquila and Priscilla there on his way back home. He’s now made it back to this grand city, world famous for its temple of Diana and occult practices.

:8-10 Into the synagogue

:8 spake boldly for the space of three months

three months – And you thought my messages were long! It is possibly a world’s record for Paul to preach in a Jewish synagogue for three months before getting kicked out. But the Jews here had been anxious before to hear Paul speak (Acts 18:20), and they’ve had Aquila and Priscilla hanging out with them for a while.

:8-9 disputing … divers

disputing – "dialoging"

divers – "certain ones" (no, it’s not talking about scuba divers!)

:9 separated … disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

Paul didn’t see the synagogue as a church, it was a place to preach to people who might be interested in the Messiah. It’s time now to make a clean break and start meeting separately.

disputing – "dialoging"

Paul moved the meeting place of the church to this secular meeting hall. Kind of like meeting at the YMCA. This isn’t the only place the church in Ephesus would meet. They also met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1Cor.16:19).

:10 And this continued by the space of two years

This meeting in the school of Tyrannus went on for two years. Paul would eventually stay for three years in Ephesus. It is around this time that Paul will hear of some concerns in the church at Corinth, and write 1Corinthians.

:10 so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word

Ephesus became a center of outreach to the entire region of Asia (the western portion of modern Turkey).

Thirty years from now, when John is writing down his Revelation, Jesus will address letters to seven of the churches in Asia, including Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Guess where they got their start?

:11-12 Special Miracles

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

miraclesdunamis – strength, power, ability

specialtugchano + negative = "un-ordinary" miracles, "un-common" miracles.

:12 from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs …

bodychros – the surface of the body, the skin

handkerchiefssoudarion – a cloth for wiping perspiration from the face and for cleaning the nose.

This is truly amazing! Could you imagine people hunting through your trash for a dirty kleenex, hoping to be healed?

Even funnier … can you imagine the demons seeing one of Paul’s handkerchiefs and screaming?!?

apronssimikinthion – like a craftsman’s apron worn at work.

I imagine this must have been kind of frustrating for Paul to go to work in the morning and find another tool apron missing!


A point of contact, the release of faith.

Chuck: The people activated their faith at the point of contact when Paul's articles were placed on them. The articles themselves had no power to heal but triggered the release of faith.

Ultimately the power is in God alone. And for a person to be healed, what they need is to trust God to heal them. Yet God will allow at times for us to have a point of contact to release our faith in him.

Luke 8:43-48 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, {44} Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. {45} And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? {46} And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. {47} And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. {48} And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

In one Scripture, God even commands us to use a "point of contact" to receive healing:

James 5:14-15 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: {15} And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Is there any great healing power in oil? Is there great healing power in elders? No, the power is in God, and it’s our faith in Him that brings the healing. But God can work even in our weakness and inability to believe by giving us something to help focus our faith.

:13-17 The Exorcists

:13 exorcists, took upon them to call over them … the name …

exorcistsexorkistes – he who extracts an oath of one; an exorcist, one who employs a formula of conjuration for expelling demons

to call … the nameonomazo – to name, to utter the name of a person or thing. These exorcists had discovered a new "magic word", the name of Jesus.

Josephus (Antiquities, 8:2:5) writes about these Jewish customs of exorcism, saying that they supposedly came from Solomon:

"God also enabled him (Solomon) to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man.

Keep in mind, this is not Scriptural, or the way we ought to be doing things, but simply became the tradition from which these men claimed their authority.

:13 We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

We adjurehorkizo – to force to take an oath, to administer an oath to; to adjure (solemnly implore) – this is the root word behind "exorcist" (one who adjures).

by Jesus – literally, "by the Jesus whom Paul preaches".

Apparently, these wandering exorcists had heard of the power demonstrated in Paul’s life through the name of Jesus.

:14 seven sons of one Sceva

Sceva = "mind reader"

:15 Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

There are two different words here, both translated "know". More literally, "Jesus I recognize, and Paul I am acquainted with, but who are you?"

Isn’t it kind of strange to think that there are demons in the spirit world who know you, as a Christian, by name? (and are afraid of your kleenex?)

:16 overcame them, and prevailed against them

overcamekatakurieuo – to bring under one's power, to subdue; to hold in subjection, to be master of, exercise lordship over

prevailedischuo – to be strong; wield power, to have strength to overcome


Don’t mess with demons without Jesus.

There are people who like to dabble in things of the occult. They don’t see it as being wrong, they feel that they’re on the side of good. They’ll wear crosses or crucifixes, and talk about religious things.

But without a relationship with Jesus, a person messing with demons is in for trouble.

Even the great archangel, Michael, doesn’t mess around with demons, but simply stands behind the Lord’s power:

(Jude 1:9 NLT) But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse Satan of blasphemy, but simply said, "The Lord rebuke you."

rebukeepitimao –chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely


The power is in Jesus, not in rituals.

It’s not about knowing magic words. It’s about coming to know Jesus.

Before knowing Jesus, we are caught in the devil’s trap:

(2 Tim 2:24-26 NLT) The Lord's servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. {25} They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will believe the truth. {26} Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

When we ask Jesus to come into our life, we have a power greater than that of Satan:

(1 John 4:4 KJV) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Jesus gives authority over demons to those who follow Him.

(Luke 10:19-20 KJV) Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. {20} Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Are you a person who just "talks" about God, or one ally knows Him?

There was an article in the paper the other day about a man under arrest for posing as a doctor, but who never was one. People have died in his care. He could talk a good talk, but he had no power to help people.

:18-20 Fruits of Repentance

:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.

The sense of this in the Greek is that many of those who had believed in the Lord were continually coming, continually confessing, and continually exposing their deeds.

Apparently, there were some people who had come to believe in Jesus, but who were still dabbling in Satanic practices. As they were seeing the power of God working in Paul’s life, and the absence of power in these exorcists’ lives, they decided to make a break with the old life.

:19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them

curious artsperiergos – ("around" + "work") originally a word for a busybody; but became a technical term for "magic".

books – these would not just be books about magic, but Ephesus was famous for what was called it’s "Ephesian Letters", which were slips of papyrus or parchment that contained symbols, magical sentences, incantations, and were worn as amulets and charms.


Censorship or "cleaning house"?

Some people have a problem with this concept of book burning. They think it’s narrow-minded and dangerous to our "first amendment freedoms".

But would you keep poison in your refrigerator alongside the milk? What if the poison was white and kept in a milk container? What if you had children?

Some things are just not for human consumption, because they’re poisonous to the brain. I’m talking about the poisonous things like , racial/hate literature, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself from poison.

:19 before all men

This wasn’t done in a closet. It was an open, public repentance.


Freedom comes from open confession.

One of Satan’s most effective weapons against us is that of isolation. We think that we are the only one in the world with a struggle. We think that we will never get victory over our sin.

But healing and victory start with admitting your needs.

(James 5:16 KJV) Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

:19 they counted the price … fifty thousand pieces of silver.

If the silver drachma is meant, the value would have been the equivalent of about 138 years' pay for a rural worker. These people were throwing away some pretty expensive stuff!


It’s worth the cost.

I think for some, there’s a reluctance to throw away things from the old life because of the "investment" we made in them.

But I think that the issue of "value" is just another of the enemy’s hooks to keep you attached to the things that tempt you.

There was a king in the Old Testament who had done a bad thing in hiring a bunch of pagan, unbelieving men to be his army. He hired 100,000 men with a hundred talents of silver (3 ˝ tons).

2 Chr 25:7-9 But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim. {8} But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down. {9} And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.

Amaziah’s objection was the investment. After all, he had paid good money for these men. God’s response was that He was able to take care of the money part.

You can’t put a price on the freedom that comes from cutting off the temptations of the past.


The story goes of a beggar who lived near the king’s palace and who was one day invited to a great dinner, as long as he wore royal garments. But because the beggar didn’t have any proper clothes, he pleaded with the king for perhaps some hand-me-downs to wear. The king went into a closet and came out with one of his son’s best outfits.

"You are now eligible to attend my banquet tomorrow night," said the king. "But even more important, you will never need any other clothes. These garments will last forever." The beggar dropped to his knees. "Oh, thank you," he cried. But as he started to leave, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor. He hesitated. What if the king was wrong? What if he would need his old clothes again? Quickly he gathered them up.

The banquet was far greater than he had ever imagined, but he could not enjoy himself as he should. He had made a small bundle of his old rags and it kept falling off his lap. The food was passed quickly and the beggar missed some of the greatest delicacies. Time proved that the prince was aright. The clothes lasted forever. Still the poor beggar grew fonder and fonder of his old rags. As time passed people seemed to forget the royal robes he was wearing. They saw only the little bundle of filthy rags that he clung to wherever he went. They even spoke of him as the old man with the rags.

One day as he lay dying, the king visited him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king's face when he looked at the small bundle of rags by the bed. Suddenly the beggar remembered the prince's words and he realized that his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty. He wept bitterly at his folly. And the king wept with him. (Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.)

(Phil 3:7-8 NLT) I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. {8} Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ

Are you ready to get rid of the rags? Are you ready to throw some junk onto the fire?