FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20
SCRIPTURE: Acts 19
This chapter can be divided into three sections. The first section has to do with 12 men who were disciples (learners) of Jesus but not Christians. The second section has to do with 7 hapless men who thought using the name of Jesus would give them incredible power. The third section has to do with an angry mob, some of whom were mad because they were going to lose their livelihood and some of who were mad just to be mad. All of three of these sections deserve a close look. Sadly, the space of this page doesn’t permit a very close look.
The 12 men in the first section may actually be the result of the ministry of Apollos. In Acts 18:24-26, Apollos was a Jewish man who had obviously heard about Jesus and was doing his best to use the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Christ. But he had incomplete knowledge of the Gospel as evidenced by the fact that he only knew about the baptism of John and not about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11).
The result of this was 12 men who knew about Jesus and were trying to learn more. But knowing about Jesus is never sufficient. Salvation means that you not only know about Him but you also know Him.
Paul got to this point by asking about the Holy Spirit. The reason this question was so important is the Holy Spirit is undeniable evidence of salvation. (Romans 8:9). Their answer was most telling: they did not even know there was a Holy Spirit.
Paul told them the complete story of the Gospel. They were rebaptized. They received the Holy Spirit when Paul laid his hands on them. (This is not normative. Instead it was the way that God chose for the church in Ephesus to recognize the authority of Paul.) And they spoke in tongues. There are a couple of important things about the speaking in tongues here. One, when we are saved we are given spiritual gifts that empower us to do what we could never have done before we were saved. Speaking in tongues, regardless of whether that is a known language or unknown language, is a spiritual gift. Two, from my best research, this is the last time that speaking in tongues appears in the Acts. The use of that gift has had a fairly prominent role in the first 18 chapters of the book but, as far as I can tell, it not mentioned again. I am not sure what that means. It is just a curious thing to me.
From there we encounter what I think is a very funny story. The seven sons of Sceva were Jewish exorcists. They obviously had seen some of the incredibly miraculous things Paul did in the name of Jesus. So, they invoked Jesus’ name in an attempted exorcism. The demon was not amused. So, he jumped on those guys, beat them up, tore their clothes off of them, and sent them running. Knowing Jesus’ name is not the same as knowing Jesus.
And finally, we have the mob scene. As the Spirit of God worked in the city of Ephesus many people were saved. Those that were saved gave up their idolatry which is what should happen. The silversmiths in Ephesus who made a good living creating objects for the worship of Artemus realized this was going to cost them their livelihood. So the instigated a riot.
Verse 32 provides an interesting note about the mob. It says that some of the folks who were part of that didn’t have a clue what was going on or why they were mad about it. But, by golly, they were mad. Sounds a lot like the mob scenes in our country doesn’t it?