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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 19

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1While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul travelled through the inland regions till he came to Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples. 2When he asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ they replied, ‘No, we were not even told that there is a Holy Spirit.’ 3He asked, ‘Then what baptism were you given?’ ‘John's baptism,’ they answered. 4Paul said, ‘The baptism that John gave was a baptism in token of repentance, and he told the people to put their trust in one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’ 5On hearing this they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus; 6and when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues of ecstasy and prophesied. 7There were about a dozen men in all.

8During the next three months he attended the synagogue and with persuasive argument spoke boldly about the kingdom of God. 9When some proved obdurate and would not believe, speaking evil of the new way before the congregation, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples with him, and continued to hold discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10This went on for two years, with the result that the whole population of the province of Asia, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the word of the Lord. 11God worked extraordinary miracles through Paul: 12when handkerchiefs and scarves which had been in contact with his skin were carried to the sick, they were cured of their diseases, and the evil spirits came out of them.

13Some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried their hand at using the name of the Lord Jesus on those possessed by evil spirits; they would say, ‘I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’ 14There were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who were doing this, 15when the evil spirit responded, ‘Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?’ 16The man with the evil spirit flew at them, overpowered them all, and handled them with such violence that they ran out of the house battered and naked. 17Everybody in Ephesus, Jew and Gentile alike, got to know of it, and all were awestruck, while the name of the Lord Jesus gained in honour. 18Moreover many of those who had become believers came and openly confessed that they had been using magical spells. 19A good many of those who formerly practised magic collected their books and burnt them publicly, and when the total value was reckoned up it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20In such ways the word of the Lord showed its power, spreading more and more widely and effectively.

21When matters had reached this stage, Paul made up his mind to visit Macedonia and Achaia and then go on to Jerusalem. ‘After I have been there,’ he said, ‘I must see Rome also.’ 22He sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he himself stayed some time longer in the province of Asia.

23It was about this time that the Christian movement gave rise to a serious disturbance. 24There was a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, and provided considerable employment for the craftsmen. 25He called a meeting of them and of the workers in allied trades, and addressed them: ‘As you men know, our prosperity depends on this industry. 26But this fellow Paul, as you can see and hear for yourselves, has perverted crowds of people with his propaganda, not only at Ephesus but also in practically the whole of the province of Asia; he tells them that gods made by human hands are not gods at all. 27There is danger for us here; it is not only that our line of business will be discredited, but also that the sanctuary of the great goddess Artemis will cease to command respect; and then it will not be long before she who is worshipped by all Asia and the civilized world is brought down from her divine pre-eminence.’

28On hearing this, they were enraged, and began to shout, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ 29The whole city was in an uproar; they made a concerted rush into the theatre, hustling along with them Paul's travelling companions, the Macedonians Gaius and Aristarchus. 30Paul wanted to appear before the assembly but the other Christians would not let him. 31Even some of the dignitaries of the province, who were friendly towards him, sent a message urging him not to venture into the theatre. 32Meanwhile some were shouting one thing, some another, for the assembly was in an uproar and most of them did not know what they had all come for. 33Some of the crowd explained the trouble to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed to the front, and he, motioning for silence, attempted to make a defence before the assembly. 34But when they recognized that he was a Jew, one shout arose from them all: ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ and they kept it up for about two hours.

35The town clerk, however, quietened the crowd. ‘Citizens of Ephesus,’ he said, ‘all the world knows that our city of Ephesus is temple warden of the great Artemis and of that image of her which fell from heaven. 36Since these facts are beyond dispute, your proper course is to keep calm and do nothing rash. 37These men whom you have brought here as offenders have committed no sacrilege and uttered no blasphemy against our goddess. 38If, therefore, Demetrius and his craftsmen have a case against anyone, there are assizes and there are proconsuls; let the parties bring their charges and counter-charges. 39But if it is a larger question you are raising, it will be dealt with in the statutory assembly. 40We certainly run the risk of being charged with riot for this day's work. There is no justification for it, and it would be impossible for us to give any explanation of this turmoil.’ 41With that he dismissed the assembly.

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