Acts Chapter 19         Next chapter          Back to Bible Studies   

In chapter 18:25 Apollos acknowledged that he knew only the baptism of John and in chapter 19:3-5 Paul encounters some disciples in Ephesus who also speak of having only received the baptism of John. There must have been a reason why Paul asks them: "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" and the reason is probably that Paul could detect that the Holy Spirit was not in them. Sometimes it is quite obvious that a person's knowledge of Christ is only head knowledge and conversely, when someone is indeed filled with the Spirit of the living God, it is as obvious. Spurgeon once said "Give a man an electric shock and he will feel it, but if he has the Holy Spirit he will feel it much more!"

In our subsequent discussion regarding the baptism of John and how the baptism of the Holy Spirit supersedes that, we looked more closely at John 1:29-34:

‘The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”'

Of course, Jesus and John were cousins and they would certainly have known about each other, so it is interesting that John says: 'I myself did not know him'. In the New Testament there are several words for 'know'. In Matthew 24:32 we read: 'Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and   its leaves come out, you know that summer is near'. The word used here is 'Ginooskoo' which means 'to have information about'. This is not the word that John uses in the reading quoted above. Instead he uses the word 'Eidos' which means 'to know the reality of'. So in other words, John is saying: 'I had information about him, but did not know the reality of him'. Furthermore, John testifies that knowing Christ in reality came to him by revelation from God. This reminds strongly of Peter's confession of Christ in Matthew 16:13-17. I wonder how many Christians today have information about Christ but do not know the reality of Him... May we truly know the reality of Christ in our lives. Paul subsequently lays his hands on these disciples and they receive the Holy Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 16:5-9 we find a striking reference to Paul's work here in Ephesus:

'For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me'.

This almost sounds like a contradictory statement but illustrates clearly that where God's work is being done, the devil will also do his utmost. Paul ended up staying in Ephesus for two years, teaching every day and laying a strong foundation for the church there.

God also did many unusual miracles through Paul in Ephesus, including the driving out of demons. In verse 13 we find that some Jews attempted to drive out demons by invoking the name of the Lord Jesus and Paul. The demons promptly answered them back indicating that they knew Paul and Jesus but not them and then proceeded to overcome them. This event struck fear into the populace and there was a great turning away from sorcery. There is a two-fold lesson in this event for us. Firstly, that if we do not have the Lord Jesus Christ in us, then we will most certainly be overcome by evil. We looked at Romans 7:21:

'So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!'
If we do not have the living Christ in us, we will constantly be overcome by the same sins, over and over again... The second lesson for us is that despite the fact that the demons declare that they 'know' Jesus, they are very far from Him indeed. We must distinguish very carefully between knowing Him academically and actually knowing Him intimately as our Lord and Saviour. This called to mind James 2:19: ‘You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder'. Let us not fool ourselves - mere intellectual knowledge about God is powerless.

The disturbance incited by the silversmith Demetrius that follows in verse 23-41 is clearly not about the great goddess Artemis and that she would be 'robbed of her divine majesty' (not much of a goddess then after all is she!), but more about a threat to the wealth of the silversmiths. Verse 25 in the original Greek actually states ‘(we receive) considerable wealth from this business'. It is striking that the Greek word for wealth is 'euporia,' which we noted in our discussion group is very similar to the English word 'euphoria', meaning ‘elation or extreme happiness’ (though the two words have different origins). The question we could ask ourselves is, where does our 'euporia/euphoria' lie - in our bank balance or in the Lord Jesus Christ? This called to mind Matthew 6:24:

‘“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”'