Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 19 May 2020; Revised 22 May 2020
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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
Third Diaspora Journey (cont.)
Chapter Nineteen continues Luke's narrative of Paul's third trip into the Diaspora, proclaiming the good news and strengthening disciples (Acts 18:23). Paul departed Syrian Antioch by a land route and after traveling through the Cilicia, Galatia and Phrygia, he came to the city of Ephesus in the Autumn of 53, where he found Jewish disciples of Yochanan the Immerser. These disciples responded to Paul's message that Yochanan's revelation of the Messiah had been fulfilled and that the promised Holy Spirit had been given. Consequently they were immersed into Yeshua, filled with the Spirit, and consecrated as messengers of Yeshua. With the aid of these new helpers the entire province of Asia was impacted for the Kingdom of God, resulting in the seven congregations to whom John the Apostle later wrote letters (Rev 1:11).
Paul conducted ministry in Ephesus for over two years with great success. Scholars generally believe that during this time Paul also wrote his letter to the congregation in Corinth and his letter to the congregation in Rome. Extraordinary miracles occurred in Ephesus, both physical healings from sickness and deliverance from demonic oppression. Indeed so many people abandoned their occult practices that the sin business of selling idols suffered. Paul then purposed to continue his journey into Macedonia and Achaia and then return to Jerusalem. Before he left the occult business owners became upset over the lost sales and instigated a riot that threatened the peace of the city. The town clerk made a reasonable appeal to the people and quelled the disturbance.
Disciples of Yochanan, 19:1-7
Paul's Teaching Ministry, 19:8-10
Miracles in Ephesus, 19:11-16
Revival Among the Jews, 19:17-20
Paul's Plans, 19:21-22
The Complaint of Demetrius, 19:23-27
Riot in Ephesus, 19:28-34
Appeal to the Mob, 19:35-41
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
Rome: Caesar Nero (AD 54-68)
Procurator of Judaea: Marcus Antonius Felix (AD 52-60)
Jewish High Priest: Ananias, son of Nebedaius (AD 47-55)
Disciples of Yochanan, 19:1-7
1 And it came to pass while Apollos was in Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper parts to come to Ephesus, and having found certain disciples,
The chapter begins with a useful timeline reference that alludes to the narrative of Acts 18:27-28. And: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The third meaning applies here. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., lit. "become," which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here.
In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah (SH-1961; BDB 224), to fall out, come to pass, become, be (first in Gen 1:3). The Greek construction egéneto dè, which begins the verse, is a peculiar characteristic of Luke's writing style, appearing in the Besekh only in his writings, 17 times in his narrative of Yeshua and 20 times in Acts. The phrase may be considered a Hebraism because it imitates the frequent use of Heb. v'hayah, "and it came to pass" in the historical narratives of the Tanakh (185 times; first in Gen 4:8). The phrase is used to signal a change in the narrative and often introduces some significant action by individuals in the narrative.
while: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position within, and may be translated "among, at, by, in, into, on, within." Here the preposition marks a temporal reference, "during, in the time of" (Thayer). this one: Grk. ho, article derived from a demonstrative pronoun and may function either as demonstrative pronoun ("this one, that one") or a definite article ("the"), here the former (BAG). In the LXX ho corresponds to the Heb. letter Hey ("hah"), which is added as a prefix to Hebrew words to specify or limit the word. The article here alludes to the identification of the Jew in verse 24 of the previous chapter. The article is left untranslated in Bible versions.
Apollos: Grk. ho Apollōs, a contraction of Apollonius ("destroyer"). Apollos was a traditional Jew from Alexandria whom Luke described as being eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures and a disciple of Yochanan the Immerser (Acts 18:24-25). Apollos was discipled by Aquila and Priscilla and became an effective messenger for Yeshua (18:26, 28). was: Grk. eimi, pres. inf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG).
in: Grk. en. Corinth: Grk. Korinthos, a cosmopolitan metropolis of the Roman province of Achaia, situated on the isthmus of the Peloponnesus between the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The city had two harbors, one for ships from Asia and the other for ships from Italy. A canal to connect the two ports was not dug until modern times. In the first century Corinth was eminent in commerce and wealth, in literature and the arts, especially the study of rhetoric and philosophy; but it was notorious also for luxury and moral corruption, particularly the idolatrous worship of Aphrodite. Gilbert notes that in this wicked city was a sizable Jewish population (234; Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius 281). The ministry of Apollos was significant as he demonstrated with biblical proofs to unbelieving Jews that Yeshua is the Messiah. After Apollos left a partisan group sprang up in the congregation claiming allegiance to him (1Cor 1:12; 3:6, 22).
Paul: Grk. Paulos from the Latin Paulus, meaning small or humble. Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:11; 21:39) of the tribe of Benjamin (Php 3:5). He was "set apart from his mother's womb" (Gal 1:15) for a sacred life. Paul received advanced education under Gamaliel the Elder (Acts 5:34; 22:3), and was a devout Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5). Paul was called personally by Yeshua while traveling to Damascus to persecute disciples. From that point on he was an apostle to Israel and the nations. For a biography of Paul see my article The Apostle from Tarsus.
Of special interest among Bible versions is that the Complete Jewish Bible and Orthodox Jewish Bible consistently translate Paulos with the Hebrew Sha'ul. Stern explains his persistence in using "Sha'ul" for the apostle "to highlight the Jewishness of the New Testament and its major figures" (267). In contrast Paul apparently did not feel any loss of Jewish identity by using his Roman name, which is the only name by which the apostle refers to himself in his letters, and the only name Luke uses from Acts 13:13 to the end of the book. In addition, the OJB adds the title "Rav" to both Apollos and Paul in direct violation of Yeshua's instruction (Matt 23:8). Paul never used the honorific of himself and no one addressed Paul as "Rabbi."
having passed through: Grk. dierchomai (from dia, "through," and erchomai, "to come or go"), aor. part., to go through, go about, journey, travel through. the upper: pl. of ho anōterikos, adj., upper, higher-lying, inland. parts: pl. of Grk. meros, a piece or segment of a whole; part, portion, or share. The phrase "upper parts" denotes that part of Asia Minor more remote from the Mediterranean, farther east (Thayer). to come: Grk. erchomai, aor. inf., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb to indicate completion of movement; in, into, to, toward.
Ephesus: Grk. Ephesos, the seat of administration for the Roman province of Asia, which was bordered on the west by the Aegean Sea and on the east by the province of Galatia. The coastal city had a population of about 300,000. Ephesus was 250 miles due west of Cenchrea. Ephesus was a free city with its own senate (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 10:13). The city had the most favorable seaport in the province, serving as a center of commerce. The business prosperity of the city was rivaled by its cultural attractions, including a 25,000-seat stadium, baths, gymnasiums and impressive buildings. The principal attraction of Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis (or Diana, the Roman name), which was ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Ephesus had a sizable Jewish population with a prominent synagogue. Previous Roman administrations had granted citizenship rights to the Jewish residents of Ephesus and made allowances for their religious scruples, including exemption from serving in the Roman army (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 10:13, 16, 19; XVI, 6:7). Paul had proclaimed the good news in this synagogue toward the end of his second journey and gained a sympathetic hearing (Acts 18:19-20).
and: Grk. kai, conj. with three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea. The first use applies here. having found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. inf., may mean (1) to come upon a person or thing, either by seeking or by chance; (2) to discover by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, or hearing; or (3) to find for oneself, to acquire, get, obtain, or procure. The first meaning applies here. certain: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. Many versions have "some."
disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a scholar or pupil of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term normally refers to followers of Yeshua, but it is also used for members of the Pharisee party (Matt 22:15-16; John 9:28) and of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 9:14; 11:2; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; 7:18-19; John 3:25). At one time Paul had been a disciple of Gamaliel, a prominent Pharisee leader (Acts 22:3). While not explicitly stated, the context favors their identity as Jews.
The initial mention of "disciples" implies that the men were disciples of Yeshua, but as the story unfolds it becomes apparent that they were in the same spiritual position as Apollos when he arrived in Ephesus. The narrative is obscure concerning where Paul found the men, but probably in the synagogue. The men were apparently not part of the Messianic congregation and had not received the discipling ministry of Aquila and Priscilla.
2 also he said to them, "Having believed did you receive the Holy Spirit?" And the men said to him, "But, not even have we heard if the Holy Spirit was given."
also: Grk. te, conj. used to denote addition or close connection that is tighter than with kai; also, and likewise, and both, at the same time. The conjunction connects the verb following with the verb in the previous verse "having found." he said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, command or think. The subject of the verb is Paul. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward; to, toward, with. Here the preposition denotes being with others and speaking face to face. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here.
Having believed: Grk. pisteuō, pl. aor. part., to have confidence in the trustworthiness of some thing or someone. A participle is a verbal substantive, and as such has adjectival quality. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), to confirm or support, and in application may mean, believe, trust, be reliable or faithful (first in Gen 15:6) (DNTT 1:595). The verb pisteuō denotes a heart response of believing-trust. In the Besekh pisteuō often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help. In Acts the participial form of pisteuō is only used of followers of Yeshua. The syntax of Paul's question assumes that the disciples had believed in Yeshua as the Messiah, which he must have concluded from conversation with them.
did you receive: Grk. lambanō, aor., 2p-pl., to lay hold of by actively accepting what is offered (HELPS), to take or receive. the Holy: Grk. Hagios has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (pneuma ho theos, John 4:24). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. Luke applies Hebrew grammatical form to the Greek text by omitting the definite article for both "Holy" and "Spirit," corresponding to the lack of the definite article in the three passages of Ruach Qodesh.
The rest of the question is the natural conclusion of the premise. Paul does not refer to the work of the Spirit in convicting of sin, enabling faith and regenerating a soul dead in sin. Rather, the question refers to the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that is both a promise and an expectation of Yeshua for those who believe in him (John 20:22; Acts 1:8). The question makes the important point that being filled with the Holy Spirit occurs after having believed in Yeshua. The sequence of believing and then afterwards being filled is illustrated in the experience of the apostles on Pentecost (John 20:22; Acts 1:8; 2:4), the outpouring of the Spirit on Samaritan believers (Acts 8:15, 17), Paul's being filled with the Spirit after his encounter with Yeshua (Acts 9:17-18), and Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit after believing the good news of Yeshua (Acts 10:44; 11:15).
And: Grk. de, conj. the men: masc. pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a substantive to denote the disciples to whom Paul was speaking. said to: Grk. pros. him: Grk. autos; i.e., Paul. But: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. not even: Grk. oude, adv., negative particle that introduces a statement that is negated factually and deductively. That is, the negation rules out or invalidates the statement that precedes it, and what naturally extends from it (HELPS); neither, not even, nor. have we heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 1p-pl., to hear aurally or listen, often with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō translates Heb. shama, which not only means to hear, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173).
if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, generally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. the Holy: Grk. Hagios. Spirit: Grk. Pneuma. was given: Grk. eimi, pres. See the previous verse. The present tense is sometimes used to speak of a past event with vividness. The answer does not mean that the men professed ignorance of whether the Holy Spirit existed, as presented in most Bible versions. As Jews they would have believed in the existence of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, as the next verse demonstrates they would have expected the outpouring of the Holy Spirit because of the teaching of their mentor. Some versions capture this sense by translating eimi as expressing the real presence of the Spirit as promised, that He had been "given" (ASV, DLNT, EHV, MW, RV) or had "come" (DARBY).
Five Greek MSS contain the reading of lambanousin tines instead of eimi, including the very early p38, dated AD 300 (GNT 492). This reading would result in the translation "But we have not even heard if certain ones received the Holy Spirit." Bruce translates the verb as "is available," and notes that the Western text reads "if any are receiving the Holy Spirit." In practical terms, the answer means the men had not been present in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Some commentators note the similarity of this statement with that of John the apostle to explain Yeshua's prediction about living water, "But he said this concerning the Spirit, whom the ones believing in him were about to receive. For the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified" (John 7:39 BR). Thus, the common translation of this verse is defective and "given" should be added (so Bengel, Brown, Exell, Gill, Nicoll, and Vincent).
3 And he said, "Into what then were you immersed?" And the men said, "Into the immersion of Yochanan."
And: Grk. te, conj. See the previous verse. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. Paul then seeks clarification. Into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. then: Grk. oun, an inferential conj. used to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." were you immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass., 2p-pl., means to dip under, soak, or immerse into a liquid. In the LXX baptizō translates Heb. taval (SH-2881), to dip, immerse, but only in 2Kings 5:14 (re: Naaman). Baptizō also occurs in Sirach 34:25; and Judith 12:7. These three passages report incidents of self-immersion in water (DNTT 1:144). Christian versions translate the verb as "baptized" whereas Messianic Jewish versions have "immersed." See the Additional Note after verse 5 below.
Many commentators opine that these disciples had not received "Christian baptism," an interpretation that reflects the viewpoint of baptism in Christianity since the church fathers. However, this viewpoint fails to recognize the uniqueness of the Jewish immersions that took place in the apostolic narratives. Consider this. Did Yeshua receive "Christian baptism?" Did any of the twelve apostles receive "Christian baptism?" Yeshua immersed to "fulfill all righteousness." (Matt 3:15). All the other immersions expressed both repentance and readiness to receive the promise of the Father (i.e., the Messiah and the Holy Spirit). Believers immersing after Pentecost are said to immerse "into" Yeshua (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48), not into a "what." Thus, Paul sought an explanation for this curious situation.
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 above. the men: masc. pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a substantive to denote the disciples to whom Paul was speaking. said: Grk. legō, aor. Into: Grk. eis. the immersion: Grk. ho baptisma (from baptizō), ceremonial washing; plunging, dipping, or immersing. Unlike the verb baptizō the noun baptisma does not occur in the LXX or other Jewish sources before the apostolic writings. The corresponding Hebrew noun, coined by the Sages, is tevilah (derived from taval), "complete immersion for purification" (cf. Num 31:23-24). In my view the translation of "immersion" rather than "baptism" is to be preferred as best representing Jewish and apostolic practice. See the Additional Note after verse 5 below.
of Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan ("John" in Christian Bibles) and means "the Lord is gracious," an apt description of the one who would prepare the way of the Messiah (Stern 15). Yochanan was a cousin (degree unknown) of Yeshua, born in Hebron just six months before Yeshua in 3 BC (cf. Luke 1:26, 36, 56-57). Yochanan's ministry began in the Autumn of AD 26 (Edersheim 183). Yochanan conducted his immersion ministry in the Jordan River, although at different locations (John 1:28; 3:23). The phrase "the immersion of Yochanan" represents the entirety of the practice and prophetic teaching of Messiah's forerunner (Luke 3:15-17; John 1:19-29, 34-35; 3:28). See my comment on Paul's description of Yochanan's ministry in Acts 13:24).
Yochanan taught his disciples that the Messiah would send the Holy Spirit in great power to purify the people of God (Luke 3:16), which took place on Pentecost (Acts 2:4; 11:15; 15:8-9). These men were essentially in the same spiritual position as Apollos when he arrived in Ephesus. Clarke accepts the straightforward meaning of the men's statement and concludes that that these men were Asiatic Jews, who had been at Jerusalem about twenty-six years before this, heard the teaching of Yochanan, received immersion in consequence of repentance and believed in the coming Messiah, whom Yochanan had proclaimed. Coke, Poole and Wesley concur with this viewpoint, but Bruce only allows this interpretation to be conceivable.
4 Then Paul said, "Yochanan directed immersing as an immersion of repentance, telling the people they should believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Yeshua."
Then: Grk. de, conj. Paul: Grk. Paulos. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. Paul now demonstrates his personal knowledge of the ministry and message of Zechariah's son (cf. Matt 3:7). Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs. See the previous verse. directed immersing: Grk. baptizō, aor., lit. "immersed." See the previous verse. The active voice of the verb does not mean that Yochanan assisted anyone under the water, since Jews practiced self-immersion. Delitzsch captures the true sense in his Hebrew translation of this verse, using the Hiphil form of Heb. tabal, "caused to be immersed." That is, the verb here depicts Yochanan superintending the immersion of all who came and insured that each person completely submerged into the water. In all likelihood several people immersed at the same time.
as an immersion: Grk. baptisma. See the previous verse. The noun points to a new paradigm for the ritual washing. The conduct of Yochanan's ministry was contrary to what the son of a priest would normally practice. In the Torah ritual washing was done to remove "uncleanness" that resulted from contact with bodily discharges (Lev 15:5), menstrual blood (Lev 15:21), skin diseases (Lev 14:8-9), a dead animal (Lev 17:15) or a dead body (Num 19:14-19; 31:19). Priests washed before performing sacrificial offerings, because God required physical cleanliness to enter His presence (Ex 30:20). None of the ritual washings signified repentance of sin as Yochanan attached to immersion.
of repentance: Grk. metanoia is a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior. Josephus uses the term metanoia to represent especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds (Ant. XIII, 11:3). In the LXX metanoia occurs only one time and without Hebrew equivalent in Proverbs 14:15, "The guileless believe every word, but the astute one comes to repentance" (ABP).
In Yochanan's ministry the immersion followed confession of sins (Mark 1:5), and marked the beginning of a life to produce fruits of repentance (cf. Luke 3:8-14). Yochanan and Yeshua had demanded a "turning" of one's whole self to the fulfillment of God's will. The expectation of stopping sinful practice stems from the anticipation of God's wrath (cf. John 5:14; 8:11; 1Cor 15:34; Eph 4:26; 1Tim 5:20). The fact that a disciple may be instructed to cease sinning or to avoid sinning contradicts the assumption by some Christians that they must sin in thought, word and deed every day. Only consider the words of Paul in Romans 6:1. True repentance with its unequivocal turning away from sinful conduct is at the heart of receiving the good news and gaining eternal life.
telling: Grk. legō, pres. part. the people: Grk. ho laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and usually of people groups associated with the God of Israel. Often in Scripture laos is viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The noun as used here denotes the multitudes that came to the Jordan to hear Yochanan (Matt 3:5). they should believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. eis, prep. the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a substantive circumlocution for the Messiah. coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 1 above. after: Grk. meta, prep., may be used (1) as a marker of association or accompaniment; with, among; or (2) as a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Yochanan.
that: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. in: Grk. eis. The preposition denote entering into a relationship. Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning of his name and his titles, see my article Who is Yeshua?
5 Then having heard this, they were immersed into the name of the Lord Yeshua.
Then: Grk. de, conj. having heard this: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. part. See verse 2 above. The verb refers back to the pronouncement of Yochanan about Yeshua in the previous verse. The verb carries the Hebraic sense of a readiness to act upon what they heard. they were immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above. Paul's representation of baptizō as burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) is a graphic illustration of the procedure. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. The great majority of versions have "in," but some have "into" (ASV, CJB, CSB, EHV, JUB, LITV, NEB, REV, RV).
the name: Grk. ho onoma, name, used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of attributes, authority, powers, or reputation. The common translation "in the name of" might be intended to reflect a ritual formula, but there is no evidence of an immersion ritual in the book of Acts. Essentially "in the name of" would mean "by the authority of." However, the Greek text has eis, not en, so the phrase "into the name" would signify entry into a personal relationship as a disciple of the name that follows.
of the Lord: Grk. ho kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See the previous verse. This is the only recorded "re-baptism" of disciples of Yochanan in the apostolic narratives, but it does not contradict Paul's dictum of "one immersion" (Eph 4:5). Luke does not say that Paul directed the men to immerse themselves into the name of Yeshua. The disciples voluntarily immersed themselves to affirm their complete devotion to Yeshua.
Additional Note: Immersion in the Apostolic Era
My translation of "immersed" and "immersion" is intended to reflect the singular practice of Jews and disciples of Yeshua in the first century. The deficiency of "baptized" and "baptism" in Christian Bible versions is that the Christian reader automatically interprets the terms according to the doctrine and practice of his/her church. In Christianity baptism is regarded as a sacrament, which historically has been defined as a sacred rite to confer grace, although in modern times many Evangelicals view the rite as signifying grace previously received. Neither Yeshua nor the apostles ever described the immersion of penitents as a "sacrament," even though it has a righteous goal (cf. Matt 3:15; Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16; Rom 6:3-5; 1Pet 3:21).
The Christian practice of baptism since the church fathers may be by sprinkling, pouring or immersion, although some Evangelical churches insist on immersion only. The baptismal ceremony must be conducted by a member of the clergy who either pours or sprinkles water on the candidate or physically assists the candidate under the water for immersion. Also, since the second century the Christian practice of baptism pronounces the words "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" in the baptismal ritual (Didache, Chapter 7). We should note that the supposed ritual words found in Matthew 28:19 never appear thereafter in the apostolic writings. Given the global scope of the Great Commission the literal translation "into (Grk. eis) the name of" would represent entering a relationship with the triune God of Israel, submitting to His authority, and renouncing the idolatry of this world.
In Acts new believers are immersed simply "in/into the name of Yeshua," which signifies both the basis for immersion (obedience to the Great Commission), and the entry into a new life as a disciple of Yeshua (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48; 19:4; cf. Rom 6:3). The apostles, being Jews, followed Jewish practice, which itself was based on Torah instruction. Four important elements characterized Jewish immersion.
● Immersion was conducted in a constructed pool or natural body of water deep enough that by squatting one was fully submerged. (The later allowance of the Didache for three pourings recognized that a pool or "living water" might not always be available.)
● Immersion was self-immersion, as in the story of Naaman. No one touched the one immersing and no one needed to assist the penitent under the water for it to be valid. Typically an apostle and/or other servants of Yeshua were present as witnesses to the immersion.
● Immersion was gender-specific. That is, men were not present when women immersed and vice versa for the sake of modesty. Moreover, no Jewish man would put his hands on a woman who was not his wife.
● Immersion was not performed by individuals under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah. In the apostolic narratives only those who repented, i.e. adults, immersed themselves.
These four elements are still followed in Judaism. For more information on the practice of immersion in the apostolic era see Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism.
6 And Paul having laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them; also they were speaking languages and prophesying.
And: Grk. kai, conj. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. having laid: Grk. epitithēmi, aor. part., to put, place or lay upon. his hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. The verbal phrase is used first in the apostolic narratives of Yeshua employing physical touch to heal (Matt 9:18) and to convey blessing (Matt 19:18). on them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Unlike the practice of immersion laying hands on an individual was done for the purpose consecrating the person to ministry. Paul laying his hands on these disciples was not that they might receive the Holy Spirit, but having immersed themselves into Yeshua, they might become his servants in Kingdom work.
In this context the idiomatic expression of "laying on of hands" (from Heb. s'mikhah, "leaning" or "laying"), means to consecrate, dedicate or ordain to an office, which has a strong history in Scripture and Jewish culture. The practice began at Sinai. Just as animals were dedicated for sacrifice by hand-laying (Ex 29:10; Lev 4:15), so the appointment to an office in the same manner effectively made the candidate a "living sacrifice." Israelites dedicated Levites for service (Num 8:10) and Moses transferred his authority to Joshua by this method (Num 27:18-23; Deut 34:9). This ritual may have been followed for ordaining the seventy elders to their office by Moses (Num 11:16–17, 24–25).
In Jewish culture the ordination ceremony for a judge, elder or rabbi was accomplished by laying on of hands. This symbolic act confers or transfers an office, along with its duties and privileges, by dramatizing God's bestowal of the blessings and spiritual gifts needed for the work. A rabbinic candidate was ordained by a board of three elders, at least one of whom had also received s'mikhah (Stern 64). In the Besekh the first mention of appointment to an office by laying on of hands is found in Acts 6:6 in which seven men were appointed as deacons to administer the charitable ministry for widows. We may assume that the appointment of Mattathias to apostolic office (Acts 1:26) was accomplished in the same manner, just as the Twelve and the Seventy had previously been appointed by Yeshua (Mark 3:14; Luke 10:1). The next instance of apostolic ordination by laying on of hands was the consecration of members of the newly formed congregation in Samaria (Acts 8:17).
the Holy Spirit: Grk. ho Pneuma ho Hagion. See verse 2 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep. expressing the idea of hovering, used primarily as a marker of position or location; on, upon. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The clause "the Holy Spirit came upon them" summarizes that as in previous account, the Spirit's coming produced empowerment for witnessing (Acts 1:8) and heart cleansing (Acts 15:8-9). The work of the Spirit here in conjunction with the laying of hands probably implies equipping with spiritual gifts for ministry. Relevant to the text here is that Paul makes reference to Timothy receiving spiritual gifts for ministry through laying on of hands (1Tim 4:14; 2Tim 1:6).
also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction emphasizes that coincidental with the Spirit coming upon the disciples the following two actions occurred. they were speaking: Grk. laleō, impf., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. The imperfect tense denotes continuous action in past time and probably is intended to convey concurrent action that followed immediately upon Paul putting his hands on them. languages: pl. of Grk. glōssa normally refers either to (1) the anatomical organ of the tongue, or (2) a language system that distinguishes a people group. The second usage applies here as it does elsewhere in the Besekh (Acts 2:4, 11; Php 2:11; Rev 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15).
In the LXX glōssa primarily translates Heb. lashōn (SH-3956), the organ of the tongue and human language, first occurring in Genesis 10:5 for the languages of different nations (DNTT 3:1078f). Glōssa also translates Heb. saphah (SH-8193), lip, speech or language, first occurring in Genesis 11:7 of the one language of the earth. The majority of versions have the misleading translation of "tongues," but some versions have "other/different languages" (CEB, CEV, EHV, ERV, EXB, GW, HCSB, HNV, ICB, ISV, TLB, MW, NOG, NCV, NIRV, WEB, WE). The phrase may seem unnecessary since no one can speak without using a language. However, the implication is that the Spirit enabled these disciples to speak in languages they did not normally use.
We should note that Luke is NOT describing glossolalia, which is practiced in some modern congregations. Glossolalia is broken speech experienced in religious ecstasy, consisting of continuous repetition of "words" with no discernible structure or grammar and not intelligible to bystanders. Glossolalia is generally practiced in a manner that disobeys the commands of Yeshua (Matt 6:7) and the apostle Paul (1Cor 14:27-28). See my web article Speaking in Tongues.
and: Grk. kai. prophesying: Grk. prophēteuō, impf., may mean (1) to proclaim a divine revelation; (2) prophetically reveal what is hidden; or (3) foretell the future, prophesy (BAG). In the LXX prophēteuō generally translates Heb. nava, which means to show, present or express oneself, to speak as a prophet (DNTT 3:77). As a spiritual activity prophesying means speaking truth motivated by the Holy Spirit that confronts, challenges or provides consolation to the hearer (1Cor 14:3; cf. Luke 1:67-29; 1Pet 1:10; Jude 1:14). Prophesying is not restricted to men (Acts 2:17; cf. Ex 15:20; Jdg 4:4; 2Kgs 22:14; Isa 8:3; Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9). Prophesying at times may be predictive (John 11:51; Acts 11:28). The prophesying of these Jews could have been conducted in the Spirit-enabled languages or their native language.
7 Now all the men were about twelve.
Now: Grk. de, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the men: pl. of Grk. ho anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. about: Grk. hōsei, comparative adverb, which may denote (1) a comparison; as, as if, like; or (2) when used with numbers and measures to mean, about or approximately. The second usage applies here. The adverb is used to describe the age of Yeshua at his immersion (Luke 3:23), the number of men at the feeding of the 5,000 (Luke 9:14; John 6:10), the number who gathered on Pentecost (Acts 1:15), and the number immersed after Peter's sermon (Acts 2:41).
Edersheim says that in biblical usage the adverb before a numeral meant either a little more or a little less than the exact number (183; citing Midrash on Ruth 1:4). Perhaps "not quite" would be a better translation, but certainly less than. If there had been exactly or more than the number specified there would be no need of the qualification. Gill notes that the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, do not have the word "about," but the adverb is found in the earliest and majority of MSS.
twelve: Grk. dōdeka, two and ten, the number twelve. The number twelve has significance in Jewish history and culture, including the twelve sons of Jacob (Gen 35:22), the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen 49:28; Jas 1:1), twelve unleavened loaves of bread placed in the temple every week (Lev 24), twelve stones in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex 28:15-21), and the twelve men Yeshua called as disciples and appointed as apostles (Matt 10:2). Luke may have seen a corollary between the "about twelve" in Acts 1:13 who would be empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and perform great ministry, and these "about twelve" newly filled with the Spirit who would assist Paul and engage in successful ministry in the province of Asia (see verse 10 below).
Paul's Teaching Ministry, 19:8-10
8 Then having entered into the synagogue, he was speaking boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the kingdom of God.
Then: Grk. de, conj. having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē, a gathering-place or place of assembly. In the Besekh the term refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning. The term does not necessarily mean a manufactured structure as the word "church" can mean (cf. Acts 16:13). In the LXX sunagōgē is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (SH-5712), congregation (Ex 12:3), and qahal (SH-6951), assembly, convocation, or congregation (Ex 16:3) (DNTT 1:292ff).
Pious Jews gathered on the Sabbath to listen to the Torah and to pray (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1). According to Philo, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.−A.D. 50), synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39). In any community where at least ten Jewish men lived, the Jews would meet together for study and prayer and eventually build a sanctuary (Heb. shul) for their meetings. Synagogues were typically positioned so that when the congregation stood for prayer they would be facing Jerusalem. By the first century, synagogues, especially in the Diaspora, emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, exhortation, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings take place (OCB 722).
The presence of a synagogue demonstrates a sizable Jewish population. Previous Roman administrations had granted citizenship rights to the Jewish residents of Ephesus and made allowances for their religious scruples (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 10:13, 16, 19; XVI, 6:7). Paul repeated his model of evangelism practiced in preceding cities since the good news was for the Jews first. Luke then mentions three actions that Paul accomplished in the synagogue.
he was speaking boldly: Grk. parrēsiazomai, impf. mid., speak without sense of constraint; speak openly/boldly/freely. for: Grk. epi, prep. three: Grk. treis, adj., the cardinal number three. months: pl. of Grk. mēn, a lunar month. Three months is a significant time period, and coincidentally serves Luke's habit of mentioning three things. reasoning: Grk. dialegomai, pres. mid. part., presenting a reasoned position in public, getting a conclusion across. and: Grk. kai, conj. persuading: Grk. peithō, pres. part., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; convince, persuade, be persuaded. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; used to denote (1) around; and (2) in reference to, about, concerning. When used of a subject the preposition emphasizes a full or comprehensive presentation where "all the bases are covered" (HELPS).
the kingdom: Grk. ho basileia is used to mean (1) an abstract 'act of ruling' and thus 'kingship, royal power, royal rule, or kingdom; (2) a territory ruled over by a king; kingdom; or (3) the royal reign of God or kingdom of God as a chiefly eschatological concept, appearing in the Hebrew prophets and Jewish apocalyptic literature. The term appears widely in Jewish literature of the time. In the LXX basileia renders Hebrew noun derivatives of the verb malak (SH-4427, become a king; reign), some 400 times (DNTT 2:373). The Hebrew words are used primarily for the reign of earthly rulers and only secondarily of God's kingship.
of God: Grk. ho theos, God or god, as determined from the context. The presence of the definite article perhaps emphasizes "the only God in existence." In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel.
When Yeshua began his ministry he made the public announcement, "the kingdom of heaven has drawn near" (Matt 4:17 BR). When Yeshua commissioned his apostles for their first mission experience he instructed them to make the same announcement (Matt 10:7). The kingdom was manifest in the person of Yeshua, who is the king of Israel (John 1:49). The Kingdom of God functions in the present age by God's reign in human hearts (Luke 17:21). Paul's instruction in the synagogue included explaining the kingdom of God from the Messianic viewpoint. The Kingdom of God also has an eschatological emphasis. The fullness of the Kingdom will be accomplished upon the return of Yeshua as explained in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24–25). In the age to come Yeshua will establish his reign on earth with his capital in Jerusalem.
9 But when some were becoming hardened and were disbelieving, speaking evil of the Way before the assemblage, having departed from them he separated the disciples, reasoning every day in the hall of Tyrannus.
But: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here in a temporal sense. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. The TLV inexplicably omits the pronoun, which is important to establish that the following actions were of a small group that did not represent the majority of the synagogue. Luke then mentions three actions of those who opposed Paul. were becoming hardened: Grk. sklērunō, impf. pass., 3p-pl., to harden; become inflexible; obstinately stubborn, resisting what God says is right (HELPS). The imperfect tense denotes continuous action in past time and depicts the gradual development of a negative attitude over the three months of Paul's ministry in the synagogue.
and: Grk. kai, conj. were disbelieving: Grk. apeitheō, impf., 3p-pl., to refuse to believe, resulting in disobedience. The verb first occurs in Acts of unbelieving Jews in Iconium (14:2). speaking evil: Grk. kakologeō, pl. pres. part., to speak slanderously of or to badmouth someone. HELPS adds "using malicious, damaging words that are calculated to destroy." The verb was also used of pronouncing a curse upon someone (Thayer). As in past cities unbelieving Jews were not content with disregarding the Messianic message, but animosity fueled public defamation.
of the Way: Grk. ho hodos (for Heb. derek, SH-1870), with the focus on the concept of going the word may refer to (1) a route for traveling; (2) the act of traveling; or (3) fig. of conduct or a manner of life, the procedure for accomplishing something or a body of teaching by someone. The third usage is intended here. The shorthand label appears five times in Acts to designate the Messianic movement or disciples of Yeshua (Acts 9:2; 22:4; 24:14, 22). In contrast the label "Christian" (= Messianic) appears only two times (Acts 11:26; 26:28). The origin of the label "the Way" is never stated, but there is a natural association with Yeshua's self-description as "I AM the Way" (John 14:6).
Yeshua's "I AM" saying is grounded in the Tanakh, being derived from the expression "way of the LORD" (Heb. YHVH), which first occurs in Genesis 18:19, where it refers to the expectation of Abraham and his seed doing righteousness and justice in contrast to the wickedness of Sodom. The "way of YHVH" was later codified in the commandments God gave to Israel as part of His covenant (Deut 8:6; 26:17; 30:16). Then Yochanan the Immerser proclaimed that he was sent to call Israel to repent and return to "the way of YHVH," quoting Isaiah 40:3 (Mark 1:3; cf. Acts 18:25). Later, Yeshua identified himself with YHVH (John 8:58). So the "way of YHVH" is equivalent to the "way of Yeshua," which all disciples are commanded to obey (Matt 28:19). By using the label "the Way," disciples declared their identification with Yeshua as the only way of salvation (Acts 16:17), and their devotion to living by his teachings.
before: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' the assemblage: Grk. ho plēthos, relatively large number of any kind; multitude, crowd, great number, assemblage. The noun refers to those gathered in the synagogue. Luke again uses three verbs to describe the actions of Paul. having departed: Grk. aphistēmi, aor. part., may mean (1) cause to move from a reference point; or (2) withdraw oneself from a person or thing. The second meaning applies here. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting place of origin; from. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun probably refers to the opponents of Paul.
he separated: Grk. aphorizō, aor., to select or separate with these applications: (1) to sever social intercourse or excommunicate; (2) to separate in the judgment associated with the Second Coming; and (3) to select or set apart for a special purpose. The first usage applies here. the disciples: pl. of Grk. ho mathētēs. See verse 1 above. The plural noun refers to Jews in the synagogue whom Paul had persuaded to accept Yeshua as Messiah and to follow him as Lord. See my article Disciples of Yeshua. reasoning: Grk. dialegomai, pres. mid. part. See the previous verse.
every: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," expresses something associated with something else in terms of direction, position, or relation and in composition is generally translated as "down," "against" or "according to." Here the preposition is used in a distributive sense, indicating a succession of activity. day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours only, (2) the legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) an imprecise period (BAG). The first meaning applies here.
The phrase kata hēmera, lit. "according to the day," could have the relative meaning "according to the time available each day." The time of day and length of instruction each day would depend on the working hours for the disciples. According to the Western Text, Paul had use of the hall from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Bruce). According to historical documents public activity came to a stop at 11:00 AM in the cities of Ionia, as in many other parts of the Mediterranean world. Paul worked manually in the morning at tent-making (cf. Acts 20:34), and then devoted the afternoon to the ministry of discipleship instruction.
in: Grk. en, prep. the school: Grk. ho scholē, a place where there is leisure for anything. The term was used by Greek philosophers for that in which leisure is employed, especially a learned discussion or lecture (LSJ). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Bible versions are generally divided between translating the noun as "lecture hall" and "school." Indeed, the English word "school" is derived from Grk. scholē, leisure employed in learning. Considering that the disciples were Jewish, Stern translates the noun as yeshiva, a Hebrew term for a place devoted to learning Torah.
of Tyrannus: Grk. Turannos, "absolute ruler." The name appears only here in the Besekh. Nothing further is known about the man, and it is not certain whether the "school of Tyrannus" referred to a living owner or the standing name of its original owner. Ellicott notes that an unconverted teacher of philosophy was not likely to have lent his class-room to Paul. Barnes, Meyer, Poole and Stern favor the suggestion that Tyrannus was a Jewish teacher. Meyer comments that Paul withdrew with his disciples from the public synagogue to the private synagogue of Tyrannus, where he and his doctrine were more secure from public annoyance.
10 And this took place for two years, so that all those inhabiting Asia heard the word of the Lord, and likewise traditional Jews and Hellenistic Jews.
And: Grk. de, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. The pronoun alludes to Paul's instruction of disciples in the school of Tyrannus mentioned in the previous verse. took place: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 1 above. for: Grk. epi, prep. two: Grk. duo, adj., the primary number two. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. The time reference of two years in the school of Tyrannus is in addition to the previous period of three months in the synagogue. Paul spent more time in Ephesus teaching disciples and building up the congregation than any other location. so that: Grk. hōste, conj. which connects cause to necessary effect and emphasizes the result; so that, therefore, so then, so as to.
all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 7 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. inhabiting: Grk. katoikeō, pl. pres. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. Asia: Grk. ho Asia, the Roman province bordered on the west by the Aegean Sea and on the east by the province of Galatia and its capital at Ephesus. The important province also included the well-known cities of Colossae, Hierapolis, Laodicea, Miletus, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Thyatira and Troas. All of these cities had Jewish populations.
heard: Grk. akouō, aor. inf. See verse 2 above. In the Hebraic sense the verb could imply an obedient response to what was heard. the word: Grk. ho logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning, including 'speech, word, report, thing, matter' (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). of the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See verse 5 above. "The word of the Lord," occurring several times in Acts (8:25; 12:24; 13:44, 48-49; 15:35-36), is shorthand for the good news of God's grace and salvation through the atonement of Yeshua presented in a form appropriate to the audience, whether Jew or Gentile. For the content of the good news as proclaimed by the apostles see my article The Original Gospel.
The report of "all those inhabiting Asia" may seem like hyperbole or ministerial exaggeration, but Luke does not report the number of new believers or disciples. He simply affirms that every population center in the province was impacted by the Messianic message. This impact could have resulted from Jews in the other cities of Asia coming to Ephesus to learn from Paul or Paul could have sent the "about twelve" Spirit-anointed disciples into the province to proclaim the good news. The result was that congregations were planted in the other cities of Asia.
and likewise: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction emphasizes that besides the Gentiles in the province "all those inhabiting" included the following two groups. traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Jew, Jewish, Jewess or Judean (BAG). The term may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term was used to distinguish "devout" (Torah/tradition-observant) Jews from non-observant Jews (Acts 2:5). Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life opposed to Hellenism and devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26). Paul used this term to describe his religion before his encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14).
The tenets of orthodox Judaism were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, whose traditions defined Jewish life (cf. Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). The Essenes and Samaritans, who were of Israelite descent, did not identify themselves as Ioudaios, because they rejected the legalism of the Pharisees and the tyranny of the Sadducees that ran the Temple. Traditional Jews revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11) and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20) and the traditions of the Sages (Matt 15:2; Gal 1:14; Col 2:8).
and: Grk. kai, conj. Hellenistic Jews: pl. of Grk. Hellēn, may mean (1) a person who speaks the Greek language; or (2) in the broader sense, all persons who came under the influence of Greek culture (BAG). Almost all Bible versions translate the plural noun as "Greeks" (DRA and GNB have "Gentiles"). My translation of 'Hellenistic Jews' is based on history. After Alexander the Great (356−323 BC) conquered the world he and his successors sought to educate and assimilate people in the Greek way of life. All who spoke and understood the Greek language and adopted or accommodated Greek culture in varying degrees were counted as Hellenist (DNTT 2:124).
All the lexicons recognize that Hellēn is a cultural term as well as an ethnic term. Jewish culture was not exempt from the Hellenistic influence resulting from Alexander's conquest and the imposition of Hellenism on the world. One only needs to read First and Second Maccabees to understand the seriousness of the culture war among Jews. By the first century thousands of Jews in the Diaspora were Hellenistic. In spite of the fact that Hellēn is not a term restricted to Greece, ethnic Greeks or Gentiles in general, all the lexicons inexplicably exclude Jews from this definition. This omission reflects a major blind spot in Christian scholarship.
Hellēn literally means "Hellenist," and a Hellenist might be a Gentile or he might be a Jew. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (1884) states that in the New Testament the term Hellenist refers to "a Jew by birth or religion who spoke Greek and used chiefly of foreign Jews and proselytes in contrast with the Hebrews speaking the vernacular Hebrew or Aramaic." Justin Martyr (110-165), a Gentile born in Samaria and later a Christian teacher in Rome, in his Dialogue with Trypho lists seven Jewish groups, among whom he includes Hellenists (Chap. LXXX).
Hellenistic Jews could be completely secular and assimilated into Gentile culture, or they could be ascetic like the Essenes, or they could be devout worshippers as the Greek-speaking Jews that John describes in John 12:20 and Luke describes in Acts 6:1 and 9:29. Indeed every occurrence of the plural form of Hellēn in Acts is found in Jewish settings (14:1; 17:4; 18:4; 19:9-10, 17; 20:20-21; 21:28). For the rationale to interpret Hellēn as "Hellenistic Jew" see my article Hellenism and the Jews.
Miracles in Ephesus, 19:11-16
11 Likewise God was performing miracles, not being ordinary, by the hands of Paul,
Likewise: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 8 above. was performing: Grk. poieō, impf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition. The second meaning applies here. miracles: pl. of Grk. dunamis, from dunamai, the quality or state of being capable, here as an exhibition of a singular capability, a powerful or wondrous deed or miracle. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. being ordinary: Grk. ho tuchanō, pl. aor. part., may mean (1) be privileged to receive a benefit, happen upon; or (2) meet up with something in ordinary experience; come upon. The second meaning applies here. Many versions qualify "miracles" with "special" or "unusual."
Many other versions translate ou ho tuchanō as "extraordinary," which may cause the reader to miss Luke's point. The "not ordinary" miracles are listed in the next verse. These specific miracles are noteworthy because they did not normally happen in apostolic ministry (cf. Acts 5:15-16). The mode of healing is in no way intended to substitute for the normal method of healing advocated and practiced by the apostles, which involves anointing with oil and/or personal touching with specific prayer for healing of the malady while trusting in the sovereign care of the loving God (cf. Mark 6:13; Jas 5:13-16). It is not necessary to qualify the prayer with "if it be Your will." See my article Divine Healing.
by: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. the hands: pl. of Grk. cheir. See verse 6 above. of Paul: Grk. Paulos. See verse 1 above. The role of Paul in these miracles was entirely secondary and no glory can attach to him for his involvement. The phrase "by the hands of Paul" repeats the formula of Acts 5:12 and depicts miracles performed by physical touching (e.g., Matt 8:3, 15; 9:18, 25, 29; 14:31; 20:34; Acts 3:7; 9:17). The phrase is also an idiomatic expression that includes Paul's superintending of healing ministry.
12 so that even upon those being sick handkerchiefs or aprons were being carried from his skin, and the diseases were being removed from them; likewise the evil spirits were going out.
so that: Grk. hōste, adv. See verse 10 above. even: Grk. kai, conj. upon: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 6 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The plural form suggests a considerable number of people to whom Paul sent his assistants. being sick: Grk. astheneō, pres. part., may mean (1) experience weakness in body, be sick; or (2) lack capacity for something, be weak, be deficient; or (3) lack necessities, be in need. The first meaning applies here. handkerchiefs: pl. of Grk. sundarion, a personal article of cloth. BAG defines the term as a face-cloth, which in Greek literature was used for wiping perspiration, corresponding somewhat to our handkerchief. The term does not appear in the LXX, but it is a loanword in the Mishnah and Talmud.
Jastrow gives the Talmudic word as sudarion, the pl. form of sudar, a scarf wound around the head, which appears in the Targums for the turban worn by the high priest (962). The word sudar also occurs in Jewish literature of a cloth used for various purposes, including a headdress worn by a scholar (Pesachim 111b), and a cloth spread over the head to offer a blessing, such as done by R. Assi (Berachot 51a). Of interest is that Delitzsch in his Hebrew translation of this verse uses the plural sudarim to translate the Greek word. At least two items of personal face-cloth were used.
or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote (1) an alternative, 'or,' or (2) a comparative function, 'than.' The first usage applies here. aprons: pl. of Grk. simikinthion, a narrow apron, or linen covering, which artisans, workmen and servants were accustomed to wear (Thayer). The term does not appear in the LXX. Delitzsch translates simikinthion with the plural form of Heb. chagore (SH-2290), belt or girdle, loin-covering. At least two aprons were used. The face-cloths and aprons were presumably the personal property of Paul and used in his work of tent-making or leather-working. Luke is not describing an organized operation of people bringing cloth items to Paul to get "blessed" for healing work.
were carried: Grk. apopherō, pres. pass. inf., to take away or transport. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 9 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. skin: Grk. chrōs, the surface part of the body, skin. Luke does not explain what triggered this extraordinary event or the logistics involved of meeting with the sick people. and: Grk. kai. the diseases: pl. of Grk. ho nosos, a generic term for physical maladies; disease, illness. were being removed: Grk. apallassō, pres. pass. inf., to remove, release or liberate. from: Grk. apo. them: pl. of Grk. autos.
This narrative of miracles is purposely introduced before the account of people repenting of occult practices (verses 18-19 below) to illustrate that Paul was ministering in a city devoted to the belief in magical cures. Luke does not imply that Paul's body has some magic power that could transform cloth into a healing instrument. There are eleven other anecdotes in Scripture in which material objects were employed to bring about cures or healing. In no case does the narrative imply that healing power resided in the object. The healing always came from God through His appointed servant. Three men are noteworthy in Scripture for such healings: Moses, Elisha, and Yeshua.
● Israelites in Egypt were delivered from death by obeying the instruction of Moses to apply lamb's blood on the lintels and doorposts of their houses (Ex 12:7, 12-13, 22-23).
● In the wilderness the Israelites were endangered by polluted water at Marah, so Moses threw a tree into the waters and the waters became sweet (Ex 15:23-25).
● Israelites were saved from the plague of serpents in the wilderness when they gazed on the brass serpent that Moses put on a standard and raised for all to see (Num 21:6–9). Healing occurred by looking at the uplifted snake. King Hezekiah later demolished the bronze serpent because people treated it as an idol (2Kgs 18:4).
● Elisha had his servant Gehazi lay his staff on the body of a boy that had died. Then Elisha lay on the boy and the boy revived (2Kgs 4:29-35).
● When Elisha's students were being sickened by a pot of contaminated stew he threw in flour and the harm was removed (2Kgs 4:41).
● Naaman the Syrian was cured of his skin disorder when he obeyed the instruction of Elisha to immerse in the Jordan River (2Kgs 5:9-14).
● A mortally wounded man was revived when he was thrown into the grave of Elisha and he came into contact with the bones of Elisha (2Kgs 13:20-21).
● A woman with a bleeding disorder touched the tzitziyot of Yeshua's robe and was healed (Mark 5:25-34). Many other people were also healed by this method (Mark 6:56). Yeshua made clear that healing power had gone out of him (Mark 5:30), not his garment. This action fulfilled a Messianic prophecy (Mal 4:2).
● The twelve apostles at the instruction of Yeshua anointed sick people with oil for healing in their initial ministry trip (Mark 6:13; cf. Matt 10:8).
● Yeshua healed a blind man by applying clay to his eyes and telling him to wash in the pool of Siloam. The blind man obeyed and returned seeing (John 9:6-7).
● Yeshua healed a deaf man with a speech impediment by first putting his fingers in the man's ears, then spitting into his hand and applying the saliva to the man's tongue and finally commanding "Be opened" (Mark 7:31-35).
Luke's narrative in no way implies that the cloths brought from Paul possessed intrinsic power for healing. The bearing of these articles to the sick and the consequent healing functioned as a sign, evidence to all concerned of the spiritual anointing and authority given to Paul. No one today should suppose they can replicate what occurred in Ephesus and achieve the same results. Any attempt to replicate them (as depicted in verse 13) reveals something of the imitator's character and has the appearance of sorcery.
likewise: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. the evil: pl. of Grk. ho ponēros, adj., may mean (1) marked by lowness in social worth or deviation from an acceptable moral or social standard, particularly as prescribed by God in his Word, (2) low in quality, bad, poor, or (3) in deteriorated or undesirable state or condition, of physical circumstances. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX ponēros renders Heb. ra, which can mean evil, bad or of little value (DNTT 1:565). In the Tanakh ra is used to describe both that which is ethically evil (Deut 1:35; 4:25) and something that is unpleasant, disagreeable or injurious (e.g. Deut 22:14; 28:35; Isa 3:11).
spirits: pl. of Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 2 above. Here pneuma is used in reference to a demonic spirit being, referred to as an "unclean spirit" previously in Acts (8:7). were going out: Grk. ekporeuomai, pres. mid. inf., move from one place to another, to go out or to come out. The verb could imply bodily possession or possibly oppression in the lives of people. Luke's narrative is not meant to imply that exorcisms occurred by application of the personal clothing articles of Paul. Rather the final clause of the verse simply relates a concurrent spiritual victory occurring in Ephesus by the apostles. Deliverance from demon possession is only by verbal command (e.g., Mark 1:25; 5:8; 9:25, 38; Luke 4:35; 10:17; Acts 5:16; 16:18).
13 Now also some of the traveling Jewish exorcists attempted to invoke over those having the evil spirits the name of the Lord Yeshua, saying, "I adjure you by Yeshua whom Paul proclaims."
Now: Grk. de, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. of the traveling: Grk. ho perierchomai, pl. pres. mid. part., to go about, go around, move about, make a circuit. A number of versions have "itinerant" (CSB, ESV, LEB, TLB, MSG, NET, NJB, NKJV, NRSV, RSV) or "strolling" (ASV, LITV, NEB, RV). A few versions translate the participle with the pejorative description "vagabond" (BRG, KJV, NMB, RGT). YLT has "wandering." Nicoll treats the word as reflecting divine judgment (cf. Gen 4:12-14; Ps 109:10; Hos 9:17). In the history of Christianity the Church made the term "Wandering Jew" a reproach, because of having been expelled from the holy land in the early second century. Believing the lie that God had rejected the Jews (contrary to Romans 11:1-2) provided justification for forcing Jews to wander after suffering many false accusations, persecution, property seizures and expulsion from various countries.
In this context the participle denotes providing a service in different locations rather than one place, much as a modern traveling salesman. We should not assume, as some commentators, that these men were nomadic and had no fixed home residence. Jewish: Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 10 above. These men lived by principles of Jewish orthodoxy. exorcists: pl. of Grk. exorkistēs, one who seeks to cast out evil spirits by the use of "God-formulas" or religious incantations. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. According to Josephus, Jewish exorcism had been practiced from the time of King Solomon, who first articulated a procedure for it (Ant. VIII, 2:5). attempted: Grk. epicheireō, aor., 3p-pl., to put one's hand to, to attempt.
to invoke: Grk. onomazō, pres. inf., give a name to, mention, call upon the name of. The exorcists viewed the verbal command employed by Paul to expel a demon (cf. Acts 16:18) as a secret spell that had influence over the invisible world. Like Simon of Samaria (Acts 8:18-19) these exorcists believed they could use magical means to accomplish miraculous works. over: Grk. epi, prep. those: pl. of Grk. ho definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. the evil: pl. of Grk. ho ponēros, adj. See the previous verse. spirits: pl. of Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 2 above and the previous verse.
the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 5 above. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 5 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 4 above. This was a very presumptive act for men who were not disciples of Jesus. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 2 above. I adjure: Grk. horkizō, pres., adjure by, charge solemnly by. HELPS adds "to bind under the obligation of oath." you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. by Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that.
Paul: Grk. Paulos. See verse 1 above. proclaims: Grk. kērussō, pres., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald, to proclaim. Luke's description confirms that the "going out of evil spirits" in the previous verse was accomplished by verbal command, not application of articles of cloth. These so-called exorcists thought they could imitate Paul and achieve success.
14 Now there were seven sons of a certain Skeva, a Jewish chief priest, doing this.
Now: Grk. de, conj. there were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. seven: Grk. hepta, the number seven. sons: pl. of Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry, the former in this instance. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is generally used of a male child by direct paternity or male descendant of a distant ancestor. of a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. Skeva: Grk. Skeuas. Christian versions spell the name as "Sceva" but the CJB, MW and OJB have "Skeva." Jeremias also spells the name "Skeva" (175). Delitzsch transliterates the Greek name into Hebrew as Sqêvah (Samekh-Qof-Vav-Hey). The name occurs only here in the Besekh. Luke does not indicate whether he was alive or dead at this time.
a Jewish: Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 10 above. Two versions inexplicably omit the term (NCV, NLT), but the adjective is important to stress the ethnic identity and religion of Skeva. The adjective could also be translated "Judean." chief priest: Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. Note the absence of a definite article. See the Textual Note below. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest," a generic reference, and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Hebrew equivalent to describe Aaron.
In the Besekh the term occurs 123 times, 58 times for the ruling high priest and 65 times for priests that held high office in the temple organization. Bible versions are divided between translating the term here as "high priest" (e.g. CSB, CEV, CJB, ESV, GNB, MSG, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TLV) and "chief priest" (e.g., AMP, CEB, KJV, MW, NOG, NASB, NIV, NKJV), but the latter is to be preferred. Luke does not intend to say that Skeva was a current or past ruling high priest since his name does not appear in the list of high priests compiled by Josephus (Ant. XX, Chap. 10; cf. Jeremias 377-378).
The organization of chief priests developed in order to supervise the cadre of ordinary priests engaged in conducting the many sacerdotal duties in the Jerusalem temple, over 20,000 by the first century (Josephus, Against Apion, 2:8). The chief priests included (1) the director of the weekly division of ordinary priests; (2) the director of the daily shift; (3) seven temple overseers; and (4) three or more temple treasurers (Jeremias 160). In the Dead Sea Scrolls the chief priests are listed simply as twelve chief priests over the daily offering, and the chiefs over twenty-six courses of priests (1QM 2:1; TDSS 149). The chief priests were generally Sadducees and ex-officio members of the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1; 5:17; Josephus, Ant. XX, 9:1; Jeremias 179, 197, 230).
Some commentators have accepted the mistranslation of archiereus as "high priest" and so contend that Skeva must have fraudulently claimed to be a high priest (so Bruce, Ellicott and Marshall). Other commentators (Barnes, Brown, Exell, Meyer, Nicoll, and Poole) recognize that Luke intended archiereus as "chief priest" and suggest Skeva may have been the head of one of the weekly division of priests. The reasonable suggestion cannot be confirmed because there is no other extant Jewish record of chief priests. Luke also mentions the names Yochanan and Alexander who served as chief priests during the tenure of Caiaphas (Acts 4:6).
doing: Grk. poieō, pl. pres. part. See verse 11 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. Luke is careful to say that it was the sons of Skeva and not Skeva himself who engaged in exorcisms. Barnes and Gill offer the illogical deduction that Skeva could not be a high priest among the Jews, because his sons would not be wandering exorcists. Such rationale would also apply to Skeva being a chief priest. Luke simply points out that the sons of Skeva had turned away from hereditary priestly service to make money in a fraudulent enterprise, probably considered a scandal at the time. It certainly was not the first time in the history of Israel that priests rebelled against their fathers and engaged in reprehensible behavior, such as the sons of Levi (Num 16:1-7), the sons of Eli (1Sam 2:12) and the sons of Samuel (1Sam 8:3).
The Western Text, consisting of the manuscripts p38 (c. 300), Ephraem (5th c.), Bezae (6th c.), the Latin Gigas (13th c.), and a marginal reading in the Syriac-Harclean (616), has iereus ("priest"), instead of archiereus (Metzger 417). However, the earliest and majority of MSS have archiereus.
15 And the evil spirit having answered said to them, "I know Yeshua, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"
Luke then relates one of the few anecdotes in Scripture that records the words of an evil spirit (cf. 1Kgs 22:19-23; 2Chr 18:20-21; Mark 1: 23-25; 5:7-12; Acts 16:16-17). And: Grk. de, conj. the evil: Grk. ho ponēros, adj. See verse 12 above. spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 2 above and verse 12 above. having answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. part., make a response to a specific query or to answer someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah (SH-6030), to answer or respond to something said, whether in conversation or a legal proceeding, used first in Genesis 18:27 in Abraham's dialog with ADONAI. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
I know: Grk. ginōskō, pres., to know, used here in the sense of personal knowledge without any implication of a direct relationship. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons, or knowing by experience or by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395). Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous. See verse 2 above. Demons certainly have personal knowledge of Yeshua, but live in dread of him (cf. Matt 8:29; Jas 2:19). The demon did not imply that he and Yeshua were friends. and: Grk. kai, conj. I know about: Grk. epistamai, pres., may mean (1) grasp mentally, know, understand; or (2) acquire information about something, know of, know about. The second meaning applies here. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above.
but: Grk. de. who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 3 above. are: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-pl. See verse 1 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The retort of the evil spirit in one sense is humorous, perhaps even tongue-in-cheek. The evil spirit clearly rebuked the exorcists for thinking they could exercise control over Satan's kingdom by proxy. The rebuke also affirms that the exorcists were not disciples of Yeshua. The sons of Skeva sought to appropriate spiritual power without the necessity of submission to Yeshua.
16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, having leaped on them and having overpowered four, he prevailed against them so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
And: Grk. kai, conj. the man: Grk. ho anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of a male adult. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words (adam, ish, and enosh), generally of an adult male, husband or mankind (DNTT 2:564). in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 1 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 13 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. the evil: Grk. ho ponēros, adj. See verse 12 above. spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 12 above. having leaped: Grk. ephallomai, aor. mid. part., to leap upon, to assault. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. on: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 6 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; the sons of Skeva. and having overpowered: Grk. katakurieuō, aor. part., to bring under one's power, to subject to oneself, to subdue, master.
four: pl. of Grk. amphoteroi, adj., both (of two), both the one and the other. The majority of Bible versions translate the adjective with the phrase "all of them" or "them all," which would require Grk. autōn pantōn, but that phrase is absent from the Greek text here. The common translation is ambiguous and might suggest, "all that came into the house" or "all of the seven sons of Skeva." While verse 14 says there were seven sons, verse 13 says only "some" of the seven were involved in the encounter with the demoniac. Since the adjective amphoteroi is plural, the number would be four. he prevailed: Grk. ischuō, aor., to have the capacity for accomplishing, either to cope with a situation or to achieve an objective; have power or strength, be able. against: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 9 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos.
so that: Grk. hōste, conj. See verse 10 above. they fled: Grk. ekpheugō, aor. inf., to seek safety in flight, to flee out of, flee away, escape. out of: Grk. ek, prep., "out from within," and may be used (1) of a location to denote exit; (2) of separation from the midst of people; or (3) of the origin or source of people. The first usage applies here. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. house: Grk. ho oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home and by extension the household of that dwelling. In the LXX oikos translates Heb. bayit (SH-1004) with the same range of meaning. Thus, the exorcists had entered the house where the demoniac lived to confront him.
naked: Grk. gumnos, adj., may mean (1) unclad, without clothing, nude; (2) ill-clad, e.g., with torn garments, inadequately dressed; (3) clad in undergarment only, the outer garment being removed; or (4) without a body, used of the soul (Thayer). Commentators are divided over which meaning to apply, some applying the first meaning (BAG, Danker, Gill), and others inclined to the second meaning (Ellicott, Nicoll, and Thayer). The matter cannot be conclusively determined, but four men fleeing totally nude does not seem likely.
and: Grk. kai. wounded: Grk. traumatizō, pl. perf. pass. part., to inflict a wound. The verb would indicate being severely bruised from the beating. To assault and beat up four men required greater than normal strength, which came from the evil spirit. Yeshua also encountered a demon possessed man in Gadara with superhuman strength (Mark 5:3-4).
Revival Among the Jews, 19:17-20
17 Now this became known to all traditional Jews, likewise also Hellenistic Jews, those inhabiting Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Yeshua was being magnified.
Now: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 1 above. known: Grk. gnōstos, adj. (from ginōskō, to know), perceived, understood, known, which may be used to mean (1) known, such as being known to someone; or (2) that which can be known or what can be known about something. The second usage applies here. to all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 7 above. Luke then qualifies the "all" in contrast to the "all" of verse 10 above. traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 10 above. likewise: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. Hellenistic Jews: pl. of Grk. Hellēn. See verse 10 above.
those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. inhabiting: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part. See verse 10 above. Ephesus: Grk. Ephesos. See verse 1 above. The abuse of the Jewish exorcists by the demoniac was especially known to the Jews in the city. and: Grk. kai. fear: Grk. phobos, may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The second meaning applies here. A similar experience of "holy fear" occurred in Jerusalem after the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5).
fell: Grk. epipiptō (derived from epi, "upon," and piptō, "fall or cast"), aor., come upon with sudden movement; fall upon, rush or press upon. Metaphorically the verb means to seize or to take possession of (Thayer). In the LXX epipiptō occurs in the sense of falling upon or overwhelming enemy armies (Gen 14:15), being overcome by fear (Gen 15:12; Ex 15:16) and giving a loving embrace (Gen 45:14; 46:29; 50:1). The verb epipiptō is used previously in Acts of the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the Samaritans (Acts 8:16-17) and the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:44; 11:15). upon: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 6 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. all: pl. of Grk. pas. The phrase "them all" refers to the entire Jewish population. This "holy fear" was likely motivated by the Holy Spirit.
and: Grk. kai. the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 5 above. of the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See verse 5 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 4 above. was being magnified: Grk. megalunō, impf. pass., may mean (1) enlarge, either in size or amount; or (2) cause to gain recognition, aggrandize, celebrate, glorify, magnify. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX megalunō renders Heb. gadal (SH-1431), become great, and is used of boasting about or declaring the greatness of God (2Sam 7:22, 26; Ps 35:27; 40:17; 69:30; 70:4; 92:5; 104:1). The last clause of the verse emphasizes that as a result of the extraordinary miracles Yeshua was regarded with much greater respect in the Jewish population.
18 Likewise many of those having believed were coming, confessing and declaring their practices.
Likewise: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here denoting quantity. of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having believed: Grk. pisteuō, pl. perf. part. See verse 2 above. were coming: Grk. erchomai, impf. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. confessing: Grk. exomologeō, pl. pres. mid. part., to make a public statement or response indicating agreement or acknowledgement, and may be used (1) in a negative sense to confess wrongdoing, or (2) in a positive sense to profess openly and joyfully some truth. In this instance the former usage is in view. Confession takes personal responsibility for one's actions without blaming others. Scripture records a number of public confessions (Ex 9:27; Num 22:34; Josh 7:20; 1Sam 15:24; 2Sam 12:13; 24:10; Matt 3:5; 27:4; Luke 15:18; 1Tim 1:13-15).
and: Grk. kai, conj. declaring: Grk. anagellō, pl. pres. part., may mean (1) report or relay, of persons returning from a place; or (2) provide information, announce, declare, disclose, proclaim, teach. The second meaning applies here. The verb depicts a full disclosure of the truth. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. practices: pl. of Grk. praxis, a function, implying sustained activity and/or responsibility; engagement in performance; deed, function, practice. The particular practices being confessed are described in the next verse. Stern comments:
"Trust consists not merely in verbal professions of belief but in turning from sin. Often public confession of sin is the key, for the prayers and exhortations of other believers, as well as the fear of being ashamed in front of them, can keep one from giving in to temptation and returning to the sin one has confessed. The notion that sin can be kept private is surely a delusion: what is whispered now will one day be shouted from the rooftops."
19 And many of those having practiced the occult arts, having brought the books, were burning them before all. And they counted the prices of them and found it five myriads of silver.
And: Grk. de, conj. many: pl. of Grk. hikanos, adj., a quality or extent that is quite enough. When used of a quantity of things or persons hikanos indicates a number that is "rather large" (Danker). The translation of "many" is especially justified by virtue of the monetary value mentioned in this verse and the adverse impact on the sin business in verse 26 below. Some versions minimize the quantity with the translation of "a number" (CEB, ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, OJB, RSV). Commentators generally assume the "many" were Gentiles who had become believers. The "many" were just as likely Hellenistic Jews since in some places they adopted Greek cults (Tarn & Griffith 223-227; Skarsaune 34).
of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having practiced: Grk. prassō, pl. aor. part., to engage in activity with focus on productivity; do, perform, engage in, carry out. The verb is often associated with evil or harmful conduct (e.g., Luke 23:41; John 3:20; Rom 1:32; 2:1-3; 7:15, 19; 13:4). the occult arts: pl. of Grk. ho periergos, adj. (from peri, "around" and ergon, "work"), a descriptor that denotes either (1) someone meddlesome, busy about the affairs other people, a busybody; or (2) an inquiring or inquisitive mind that indulges inappropriate curiosity, especially the magic arts, which in ancient times meant occult practices. The second description applies here. The term is not found in the LXX, but in practice would be parallel the magic arts of ancient Egypt (Ex 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18).
Ellicott comments that the Greek term periergos expresses the idea of superstitious arts and being overly busy with the supposed secrets of the invisible world. Categories of the occult arts included fortune-telling, magic and spiritism. Fortune-telling could involve astrology, card-laying, crystal gazing, divining with rod and pendulum, palmistry, and psychometric clairvoyance. The forms of magic included black magic for harm, persecution and death; and white magic for healing, love and defense. Magic also included hypnosis and mesmerism. Spiritism included visions, table-lifting, automatic writing, speaking in a trance and levitation.
having brought: Grk. sumpherō, pl. aor. part., to bring together or collect. The "bringing" was likely to a meeting of the congregation. the books: pl. of Grk. ho biblos, a book, a scroll or a document. The noun originally meant the papyrus plant, or its fibrous stem, anciently used instead of paper and exported to Greece through the port of Byblos in Syria where the plant was prepared. In the LXX biblos translates Heb. sēpher, (SH-5612), anything that has been written (first in Ex 32:32), such as a scroll, book, writing, letter, diary, or a legal document (DNTT 1:243). Magicians and astrologers swarmed in the streets of Ephesus, and there was a brisk trade in the charms, incantations, books of divination, rules for interpreting dreams, and like matters of pagan superstition.
were burning them: Grk. katakaiō, impf., 3p-pl., to burn down or to completely consume or destroy by fire. before: Grk. enōpion, prep. See verse 9 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 7 above. The adjective refers to all the members of the congregation. Stern observes, "The destruction of these books was one of the best investments believers have ever made. Not only did they forsake publicly their former pagan ways, but the demonic contents of these books went up in flames, never to poison the minds of anyone again."
And: Grk. kai, conj. they counted: Grk. sumpsēphizō, aor., 3p-pl., to compute, count together. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Luke does not explain who did the computation nor does he explain why it was important. Presumptively the believers brought their books to be burned as representative of repentance, not to boast about how much they sacrificed for Yeshua. the prices: pl. of Grk. ho timē, may mean (1) a valuing by which the price is fixed; or (2) honor or respect which belongs or is shown to one. The first meaning applies here. of them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the books. The price may have been what merchants would have charged for the items on this day, although the owners might have revealed how much they spent to purchase the books. Ancient books were hand-made, making them much more expensive than modern mass-produced books.
and: Grk. kai. found it: Grk. heuriskō, aor. See verse 1 above. The verb indicates arriving at a numerical conclusion after a thorough examination of the items. five: Grk. pente, adj., the cardinal number five. myriads: pl. of Grk. murias, myriad, a group of ten thousand. of silver: Grk. argurion (from arguros, silver as a metal) may mean (1) fig. of wealth; (2) money in general; or (3) specifically a silver coin. The third meaning applies here. The noun is singular but Bible versions translate it as plural because of the quantity mentioned, either "pieces of silver" or "silver coins," the latter being preferable in my view. The monetary value is indicative of just how pervasive occult practice was in Ephesus.
In the LXX argurion translates Heb. keseph (SH-3701), the precious metal silver, used as a general term for wealth (Gen 13:2), and the shekel currency (Gen 23:15-16) (DNTT 2:96). In the first century the term argurion was used of a silver coin, such as the Greek drachma, the Roman denarius and the Jewish shekel. Since the location was a Hellenistic city, some commentators suggest that the value represents drachmae (Barnes, Brown, Bruce, Ellicott, Meyer). After all, if Luke had meant shekel he would have used Grk. didrachmon because of its usage in the LXX for Heb. sheqel (Gen 23:15; cf. Matt 17:24). A few versions actually translate argurion as "drachmas" (CJB, MEV, NIV). The drachma, equivalent in value to the Roman denarius, was the daily wage of a farm laborer (Matt 20:2).
While the Greek term drachmē does occur in Luke 15:8-9, it does not occur in this verse. Previously in the apostolic narratives argurion is used for the shekel currency without mention of "drachma" (Matt 26:15; 27:3, 5-6, 9; Acts 7:16). Since Luke was writing his narrative for the benefit of Theophilus, most likely a Jew (see Acts 1:1), then the shekel would be a natural coin to assign a value to the burned books. The shekel was in circulation among the Jews after the exile, from the time of Simon Maccabeus (cf. 1Macc. 15:6). The shekel was equal to four denarii or four drachma (Matt 17:27; Josephus Ant. III, 8:2; Wars, VII, 6:6).
To arrive at a value in modern money requires determining which currency is in view in terms of wages and then convert that quantity into the modern equivalent. For example, let's consider the drachma/denarius, the daily wage for a farm laborer (Matt 20:2). The ancient farmer generally worked from sunrise to sunset, perhaps 10 hours. Modern wages for farm workers vary greatly in the United States, but the median wage is $11.50 per hour ($115 for 10 hours). To calculate we will assume 50,000 workmen multiplied by the modern wage of $115 yields $5,750,000. Stern suggests the total value to be at least two million dollars. The NLT and TPT translate the number as "several million dollars" [sic]. If Luke intended "shekel" as the currency, then the value would be double.
20 Thus, according to might the word of the Lord was increasing and prevailing.
Thus: Grk. houtōs, adv., particle used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done, is expressed or to be done; in this manner, in this way, in accordance with this description. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 9 above. might: Grk. kratos, quality of being strong; dominion, might, power or strength. The phrase "according to might" is used here of the measure of divine grace and power manifested through Paul and his ministry team (cf. Rom 12:3; Eph 4:7). the word: Grk. ho logos. See verse 10 above. of the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See verse 5 and verse 10 above. was increasing: Grk. auxanō, impf., cause to become greater in extent or amount; grow, increase. The verb perhaps alludes to new locales in which the good news was proclaimed. and: Grk. kai, conj. prevailing: Grk. ischuō, impf. See verse 16 above. Audiences found the Messianic message to be convincing.
Paul's Plans, 19:21-22
21 Now when these things were completed, Paul purposed in the Spirit, having passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, having said that, "After my having been there, it behooves me also to see Rome."
Now: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 9 above. these things: neut.-pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. were completed: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning applies here and refers to the narrative of verses 8-20. Paul arrived in Ephesus in the Autumn of the year 53, so two years and three months brings the present time to early Spring of 56. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. purposed: Grk. tithēmi, aor. mid., may mean (1) to put in place; (2) to make or appoint for one's use; or (3) to set, fix or establish. The first meaning applies here in the sense of conceiving a plan. in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 1 above.
the Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 12 above. Most versions capitalize the noun to make it a reference to the Holy Spirit (e.g., AMP, CEB, CJB, CSB, ESV, LITV, NASB, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLV, YLT). Other versions apparently conclude that absent the familiar "Spirit said" to indicate divine direction (cf. Acts 4:8; 8:29; 10:19; 13:2; 21:11), pneuma refers to Paul's own spirit and translate the noun as "heart," "mind" or "spirit." Some versions omit the noun entirely to make it Paul's unilateral decision (e.g., CEV, MSG, NCV, NET, NIV, NIRV, NOG, WE). However, being "in the Spirit" is a very Pauline concept (Rom 8:9; 1Cor 6:11; Eph 6:18; Col 1:8) and denotes being attuned to and submissive to the direction of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 20:22-23; 21:8-14).
having passed through: Grk. dierchomai, aor. part. See verse 1 above. Luke sets forth Paul's planned itinerary. Macedonia: Grk. Makedonia, a Roman province in the upper part of the Balkan peninsula. Prior to Roman occupation Macedonia was the strongest military power in the region and under Alexander the Great the Macedonians conquered the Persians and spread Hellenistic culture throughout the world. The Roman province of Macedonia was established in 146 BC. Principal cities included Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, and Berea, with Thessalonica as the capital and Berea as the seat of the provincial assembly. See the map here.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Achaia: Grk. Achaia, an important Roman province south of Macedonia. The region was originally known as Peloponnese, which included the famous cities of Athens, Corinth, Sparta, Delphi, Thebes and Olympia where the first Olympic Games were held (776 BC). Peloponnese was annexed by the Roman Republic in 146 BC after the sack of Corinth and renamed Achaia. Achaia was combined with Macedonia in AD 15 to form one imperial province, but in AD 44 Caesar Claudius separated the two territories back into senatorial provinces. Corinth was its capital. See the map of Achaia here.
to go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. inf., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here. The verb often has the literal sense of physical movement. to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim (SH-3389), which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). Hierosoluma is one of two forms of "Jerusalem" in Greek, which was used in the secular writings of Strabo and Dio Cassius and the Jewish writings of Philo and Josephus for the city in the Roman province of Judaea (BAG).
What a precious name is Jerusalem! Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yeshua at about twenty–five to thirty thousand (252). Being the center of worship of the covenant-making God (cf. John 4:20; Acts 8:27; 24:11) Jerusalem represented all that was dear to the faithful Jew. The city is spoken of in the Psalms with great affection (Ps 102:21; 116:19; 122:2–6; 137:5–6). Jerusalem is the city God favors above all other cities of the earth and the focus of His covenantal faithfulness (Ps 135:21; 147:2; Ezek 5:5; Zech 2:8).
having said: Grk. epō, aor. part., to say, call or name (LSJ). SECB has "to speak or say by word or in writing." that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The third usage applies here. Bible versions omit the conjunction. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 4 above. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. having been: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf. See verse 1 above. there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place,' as opposed to here or another place.
it behooves: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of necessity or an expected outcome, something that must happen or something one is obligated to do, which may arise in a variety of circumstances; must, necessary, behooves. Most all versions translate the verb as "must." The advantage of "behooves" is that it means both an action necessary because of obligation and an action that provides a personal benefit. me: Grk. egō. The pronoun is in the accusative case, but most all versions translate it as if it were nominative case ("I"). also: Grk. kai, conj. to see: Grk. horaō, aor. inf., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception.
Rome: Grk. Rhōmē, the famous city located on the Tiber River, 15 miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea, capital of Italy and the Roman Empire. Rome dates from 753 BC and is named for its legendary founder Romulus. Initially the city was built on the Palatine hill on the west bank of the Tiber River, but the city expanded over six neighboring hills and became known as "the city of seven hills" (NIBD 927). Over the centuries Rome transitioned in its form of government from a monarchy, to a republic, to a dictatorial empire. There was a significant Jewish population in Rome, dating from the end of the second century BC. While Jewish leaders had been banished from Rome under Caesar Claudius (Acts 18:2), they had been recently allowed to return at the accession of Caesar Nero in AD 54.
In the quotation of Paul provided by Luke there is no explanation of why going to Rome was important. However, Paul gave his rationale two years later in the letter he wrote to the congregation in Rome (Rom 1:9-15; 15:20-24). He stated his purpose as (1) to share some spiritual gift to strengthen them; (2) to be encouraged together through the faithfulness of each other; (3) to proclaim the good news to Hellenistic Jews and barbarians in Rome; (4) to proclaim the good news where Messiah had not been named so as not to build on another's foundation; and (5) to gain their support for a mission trip to Spain.
According to the patristic record Peter ministered in Rome for a few years beginning in the second year of Claudius (c. 42–45) (Edmundson 241; Eusebius, Church History, II, 14:1-6; 15:1-2; Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, Chap. I; Paulus Orosius, History Against the Pagans, Book VII, 6.1). However, many modern scholars use Paul's words to contradict the testimony of the church fathers. The argument is that neither Luke nor Paul mention Peter having labored in Rome and Paul said that he would not build on another's work. Besides (they claim) the history reported by the church fathers is just tradition, which is not reliable. On the contrary, Eusebius, Jerome and Orosius were competent historians and no evidence has been produced to rebut their report.
In my view there is no contradiction with Peter having preceded Paul to Rome. Paul's letter to the Roman congregation was written well over a decade after Peter ministered there. Indeed Paul's comment in his Roman letter very much implies that a foundation had been laid in Rome. A congregation had been formed from pilgrims that heard Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:10), and Aquila and Priscilla had been leaders in that congregation (Acts 18:2). (See my article Introduction to Romans.) In his letter Paul desired to be a spiritual blessing to the Roman congregation, but he primarily wanted their help for his mission to Spain, where Messiah had yet to be named. In Spain Paul would not be building on another's foundation but would be taking the message of the Messiah to a new frontier (cf. 2Cor 10:16).
22 And having sent into Macedonia two of those assisting him, Timothy and Erastus, he stayed in Asia for a time.
And: Grk. de, conj. having sent: Grk. apostellō, aor. part., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translates Heb. shalach ("stretch out" or "send"), often in contexts of sending a messenger (DNTT 1:128). into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. Macedonia: Grk. Makedonia. See the previous verse. two: pl. of Grk. duo, adj., the primary number two. of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. assisting: Grk. diakoneō, pres. part., to serve, especially in meeting of personal needs, such as supplying food and other necessities, or assisting in some practical manner. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Paul. The members of Paul's team assisted him in all facets of ministry.
Timothy: Grk. Timotheos (from timaō, honor, and theos, God), "one who honors God." The name occurs 24 times in the Besekh, first in Acts 16:1. Timothy was from Lystra and the son of a traditional Jewish mother and a Hellenistic Jewish father. Timothy and his mother Eunice had embraced the Messiah during Paul's first journey. After being circumcised Timothy was ordained to ministry by the laying on of hands by Paul and the elders of the congregation (1Tim 4:14; 2Tim 1:6) and from that point became a member of Paul's ministry team (Acts 16:3).
and: Grk. kai, conj. Erastus: Grk. Erastos, "beloved." The name occurs three times in the Besekh (also Rom 16:23; 2Tim 4:20). Meyer notes that Erastus was a common name and most commentators believe these three mentions are of two different men. Some commentators think this Erastus is the one Paul later mentions as the director of public works in the city of Corinth (Rom 16:23 NIV), who supposedly after accepting Yeshua as his Savior, left his office to assist Paul in his mission work (so Barnes, Bruce, Ellicott, and Gill). Most other commentators think it highly unlikely that this man is the same one Paul greeted in the Roman letter (e.g., Brown, Bruce, Marshall, Nicoll, Poole).
The grammar of Romans 16:23 makes the office of the Erastus in Corinth as current, not past. A better alternative for this context is a disciple named Erastus who was one of Yeshua's seventy (Luke 10:1) and included in the list compiled by Hippolytus (On the Seventy Apostles). The mission of the seventy is only mentioned by Luke, who also had been part of that group, so he would have known Erastus. Paul could have met Erastus at the close of his second journey in Jerusalem or Antioch and recruited him for his ministry team.
Paul likely dispatched his two assistants to facilitate lodging and support from the congregations he would be visiting. he stayed: Grk. epechō, aor., to continue in a place; stay on, remain. for a time: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. in: Grk. eis, prep. Asia: Grk. ho Asia. See verse 10 above. The phrase "in Asia" likely implies some missional work outside of Ephesus, perhaps visiting and encouraging the other congregations that had been planted in the province.
The Complaint of Demetrius, 19:23-27
23 And it came to pass at that time there was no small disturbance concerning the Way.
And: Grk. de, conj. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 1 above for this Hebraic idiomatic expression. at: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 9 above. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 16 above. time: Grk. kairos may refer to (1) an appropriate or set temporal segment of time; or (2) a period, definite or approximate, in which an event takes place; time, period. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX kairos translates five different Hebrew words, primarily Heb. eth (SH-6256), 'time,' of an event or an appointed time (first in Gen 18:10) (DNTT 3:835). The breadth of usage in the LXX indicates the versatility of the word. The prepositional phrase makes the following event concurrent with the action of verse 22. "Meanwhile in another part of town…"
there was no: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 11 above. small: Grk. oligos, adj., used (1) of extent or degree; little, small; (2) of quantity, few; or (3) adverbially of time. The first meaning is intended here, no doubt understatement considering the narrative that follows. disturbance: Grk. tarachos, a disturbed state or condition; commotion, disturbance, trouble. The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Acts 12:18). concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 8 above. the Way: Grk. ho hodos. See verse 9 above. The label appears for the third time to designate Jewish disciples of Yeshua. Previously "people of the Way" were opposed by unbelieving Jewish leaders, but now the opposition comes from Gentiles devoted to the wickedness of the occult.
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, making silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing to the craftsmen no small business;
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. a certain man: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. named: Grk. onoma. See verse 5 above. Demetrius: Grk. Dēmētrios, a masculine name derived from Demeter, goddess of agriculture. The man was a prominent citizen of Ephesus, and all that is known of him is contained in this narrative. a silversmith: Grk. argurokopos, a beater or cutter of silver, a silversmith. Bruce cites a journal article that stated a "shrine-maker" (neōpoios) was a designation of a member of the temple vestry, comprising probably twelve men.
making: Grk. poieō, pres. part. See verse 11 above. silver: Grk. argurous, adj., made of the precious metal silver. shrines: pl. of Grk. naos, a divine dwelling place or sacred sanctuary for worship. The term is used here of miniature silver temples modeled after the temple of a pagan deity with a figure of the deity inside (Thayer). of Artemis: Grk. Artemis, a goddess typifying fertility and worshipped by many Asiatic peoples. She is to be distinguished from the maiden huntress Artemis of the Greeks (Diana in Rome), the sister of Apollo. A Greek and Latin inscription found in the theater of Ephesus records how a Roman official presented a silver image of Artemis and other statues to be set up in the theater during meetings of the civic assembly (Bruce). None of these silver shrines are known to have survived. For a general summary and mythology of this goddess see the online article Artemis.
was bringing: Grk. parechō, impf. mid., to cause something to be present for the other, to bring about or to furnish. to the craftsmen: pl. of Grk. technitēs, one proficient in production calling for special skill, artisan or craftsman. The term probably refers to employees of Demetrius, but possibly includes master-artisans contracted by Demetrius for work. no: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 11 above. small: Grk. oligos. See the previous verse. business: Grk. ergasia may refer to (1) engagement in act of production, business, trade; or (2) benefit derived from work, gain, profit. The second meaning applies here. The understatement of Luke indicates that Demetrius and the craftsmen made considerable profit from the idol-making, which supported a very prosperous lifestyle.
25 whom having assembled together, and the workers with respect to such things, he said, "Men, you know that our prosperity is from this business.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. having assembled together: Grk. sunathroizō, aor. part., cause to be in a place together; assemble, bring together, gather. and: Grk. kai, conj. the workers: pl. of Grk. ho ergatēs, one who works for hire, a field-laborer, workman in general. with respect: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 8 above. to such things: Grk. ho toioutos, demonstrative pronoun, of such a kind, such, such as this. Demetrius managed to convene a meeting of all those involved in the occult manufacturing business. he said: Grk. epō, aor. See verse 21 above. Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 7 above. The direct address of "men" indicates that the composition of the meeting was adult men without any women being present.
you know: Grk. epistamai, pres. mid., 2p-pl. See verse 15 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 21 above. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. prosperity: Grk. euporia, gain, plenty, prosperity, wealth. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 16 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. business: Grk. ergasia. See the previous verse. The declaration of Demetrius acknowledges that their livelihood and lifestyle depended on the occult business. Stern comments that the real motive of Demetrius, greed, was concealed for propaganda purposes by a veneer of civic pride.
27 "Now not only this endangers our business to come into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Artemis is about to be reckoned for nothing; likewise also her majesty to be deposed, whom all of Asia and the world worship."
Now: Grk. de, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 11 above. only: Grk. monon, adv., signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun refers to the mention in the previous verse of Paul's persuasion. endangers: Grk. kinduneuō, pres., be exposed to danger, be at risk. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. business: Grk. ho meros, a piece or segment of a whole, used here of a class or category of occupation or business. to come: Grk. erchomai, aor. inf. See verse 1 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. disrepute: Grk. apelegmos, critique of questionable behavior or activity; contempt, discredit, or disrepute. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. the: Grk. ho, definite article. temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary or temple. The term is used of the entire building complex with its rooms and chambers. of the: Grk. ho, definite article. great: Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent and used (1) of any extension in space in all directions; or (2) fig. of measure, whether of age, quantity, intensity, importance or social position (BAG). The adjective denotes importance and social recognition in Ephesian culture. goddess: Grk. thea, a female deity, goddess. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Artemis: Grk. Artemis. See verse 24 above.
The temple of Artemis in Ephesus was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world according to Hellenistic and Roman writers of that period. Construction of the temple, built entirely of pure white marble, began about 550 BC and in the first century covered an area four times as large as that of the Parthenon in Athens. At this time the temple measured 101,250 square feet (2.3 acres) and was supported by 127 pillars, each of them sixty feet in height. The temple stood about a mile and a half northeast of the city which Paul knew (Bruce).
is about to: Grk. mellō, pres., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. be reckoned: Grk. logizomai, aor. pass. inf., to count or calculate in a numerical sense, and by extension to reckon or consider, to take into account. for: Grk. eis, prep. The preposition designates entrance into the following conditional state based on the reckoning. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing. Demetrius warned that Paul's success in persuading people to abandon idols would result in a reduction in pilgrims to the site and loss of sales of their silver shrines.
likewise: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. her: fem. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. majesty: Grk. megaleiotēs, greatness, majesty or magnificence as a characteristic of deity. to be deposed: Grk. kathaireō, pres. pass. inf., to take down or pull down from a position. The verb graphically depicts to forcibly yank down; destroy, leaving nothing standing or even in good working order (HELPS). whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 13 above. all: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. of Asia: Grk. Asia. See verse 10 above. Demetrius notes that the goddess was venerated throughout the province of Asia and parts beyond.
and: Grk. kai. the: Grk. ho, definite article. world: Grk. oikoumenē, (from oikeō, to inhabit or dwell), the world as an inhabited area, often with focus on its populace. In the Roman period the term meant the lands under Roman rule, because whatever lay outside was of no account. In the LXX oikoumenē occurs 40 times and translates primarily Heb. tebel (SH-8398), 'world,' as an inhabited place, mostly in Psalms (e.g., 9:8; 67:4; 96:13; 98:9) and Isaiah (10:14; 24:1), particularly in relation to neighboring empires (13:5; 14:17, 26; 37:18) (DNTT 1:518). worship: Grk. sebō, pres. mid., personally esteem; to hold someone or something in high respect, and in a religious sense to have a worshipful reverence for, which is the meaning here. Demetrius argued that if the temple became nothing to people then the goddess would no longer be esteemed. It would be as if she did not exist at all.
Riot in Ephesus, 19:28-34
28 Then having heard and having become full of rage, they were crying out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!
Then: Grk. de, conj. having heard: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. part. See verse 2 above. The verb alludes to the speech of Demetrius in verses 25-27 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. having become: Grk. ginomai, pl. aor. mid. part. See verse 1 above. full: Grk. plērēs, adj., in a state or condition of being supplied abundantly with something, filled up, full of. of rage: Grk. thumos, a passionate state of mind. The term may indicate intense desire or passion or in the extreme wrath or anger, here the latter. Thumos as a human emotion could be described as being like the flame which comes from dried straw. It quickly blazes up and just as quickly dies down. The speech of Demetrius stoked the passion of the artisans and workers whose livelihood was being threatened.
they were crying out: Grk. krazō, impf., may mean (1) to utter a loud cry; scream, cry out, or (2) express something with a vigorous voice; call out, which fits this situation. The first meaning applies here. The imperfect tense depicts repetitive shouting. saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See verse 2 above. Great: Grk. megas, adj. See the previous verse. is Artemis: Grk. Artemis. See verse 24 above. of the Ephesians: pl. of Grk. Ephesios, adj., of Ephesus, i.e. a native or inhabitant of Ephesus. Ellicott suggests that the cry was probably the usual chorus of the festivals of Artemis. The fervor of the acclamation probably increased in volume and intensity as it continued. In modern times crowds in Turkey shout in praise for a different deity, but with the same enthusiasm.
29 And the city became full of the confusion, also they rushed with one accord into the theater, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, fellow travelers of Paul.
And: Grk. kai, conj. the: Grk. ho, definite article. city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town; here of Ephesus. became full: Grk. pimplēmi, aor., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition; fill, complete. of the: Grk. ho. confusion: Grk. sugchusis, confusion, disturbance, uproar. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The presence of the definite article suggests that Luke uses the noun as a personification, which may imply the condition was caused by a demonic spirit, just as there is a spirit called Abaddon ("destruction," Rev 9:11).
also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. they rushed: Grk. hormaō, aor., 3p-pl., move rapidly in impulsive or undisciplined manner; stampede, rush. with one accord: Grk. homothumadon, adv., a spontaneous meeting of minds; of one mind, of one accord, unanimity. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. the: Grk. ho. theater: Grk. theatron, a semi-circular stone building, generally open to the sky, theater. The theater of Ephesus, cut out of the western slope of Mount Pion, was next to the grand temple of Artemis. With a seating capacity of twenty-five thousand the theater was constructed chiefly for gladiatorial combats with wild beasts as well as dramatic entertainments (Ellicott). The theater was also the regular meeting place for the civic assembly, which was held three times a month (Bruce).
having seized: Grk. sunarpazō, pl. aor. part., take forcibly under control; seize. Gaius: Grk. Gaios, the same as the Roman Caius, a common Latin name. There are four men mentioned in the Besekh. Nothing further is known of this Gaius than what is stated here. and: Grk. kai. Aristarchus: Grk. Aristarchos, "best leader." He was from Thessalonica (Acts 20:4). Macedonians: pl. of Grk. Makedōn, an inhabitant of the Roman province of Macedonia. fellow travelers: pl. of Grk. sunekdēmos, a companion in travel, fellow traveler. The noun signifies being away from one's own people (Thayer). of Paul: Grk. Paulos. See verse 1 above. The two men mentioned here as fruit of Paul's labors in Macedonia were probably Jewish (cf. Acts 17:1, 10). The vividness of Luke's description of what happened in the theater may owe something to the account given by these two men (Bruce).
30 And Paul intending to enter into the assembly, the disciples were not letting him.
And: Grk. de, conj. Paul: Grk. Paulos. See verse 1 above. intending: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid. part., may mean (1) have in one's mind; wish, want, desire; or (2) reach a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, plan, will. The first meaning applies here. to enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. inf. See verse 8 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. the assembly: Grk. dēmos, people bound together by similar laws or customs and used of citizens in Hellenistic cities forming an assembly (HELPS). the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. were not: Grk. ou, adv. letting: Grk. eaō, impf., allow, permit, let alone, leave. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
Luke portrays Paul as exhibiting an impetuous zeal to enter the fray, no doubt in defense of his friends who had been taken hostage. Perhaps he thought he could reason with the mob. His fellow disciples in the congregation were not as confident of his success and acted to prevent him from endangering his own life. He may well have thought of this occasion when he wrote "I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus" (1Cor 15:32). There was no danger of martyrdom from wild animals in the arena, but the antisemitic multitude in their fanatical devotion to Artemis possessed a violent mindset against those who convinced idolaters to give up their occult books.
31 Now some also of the Asiarchs, being friends to him, having sent to him and were urging him not to put himself into the theater.
Now: Grk. de, conj. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. of the: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. Asiarchs: Grk. Asiarchēs, high-ranking government officials in the Roman province of Asia. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. These men were wealthy and distinguished citizens of the principal towns in Asia, chosen annually, and ten of whom were selected by the proconsul to preside over the games or festivals celebrated in the province. It was an office of the highest honor and greatly coveted (Brown). An Asiarch still retained his title after his term of office had expired, so there may have been in Ephesus several Asiarchs, although only one was actually performing his duties (Nicoll).
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. friends: pl. of Grk. philos, in a close relationship with another, as opposed to a casual acquaintanceship; friend. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Apparently at least two of these men were favorably inclined to the message of the Jewish Messiah and Savior and Paul had fostered a cordial relationship with them. Ellicott notes that the manliness, tact, and courtesy which tempered his zeal and boldness, seem always to have gained for him the respect of Gentile men in authority: Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7), Gallio (Acts 18:14-17), Festus and Agrippa (Acts 25:9; 26:28, 32), and the centurion Julius (Acts 27:3, 43). Bruce suggests that the friendliness of the Asiarchs toward Paul suggests that official Roman policy toward the Yeshua movement was not hostile as it became in the next century.
having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or complete a task; send. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. him: Grk. autos. The Asiarch friends apparently learned of the danger of the civil strife to Paul's welfare and dispatched messengers with the following warning. and: Grk. kai. were urging: Grk. parakaleō, impf. (from para, "beside," and kaleō, "to call"), may mean (1) call to be at one's side; (2) hearten in time of trouble; or (3) encourage performance; urge, exhort, encourage. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX parakaleō is chiefly used for Heb. nacham (SH-5152), be moved to pity, console, comfort, have compassion, first in Genesis 24:67. The imperfect tense of parakaleō pictures a repeated appeal. him: Grk. autos; Paul.
not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation that rules out any implications ("suggestions") that could be involved with what should (could, would) apply (HELPS). to put: Grk. didōmi, aor. inf., generally to give, but in this context to betake oneself somewhere, to go into some place; put, place (Thayer). himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person. into: Grk. eis, prep. the: Grk. ho. theater: Grk. theatron. See verse 29 above. The Asiarchs, too, perhaps from different motives, offered the same counsel as the disciples. They knew that Paul's appearance in the theater would only excite the passions of the crowd, be perilous to himself, and increase the disturbance in the city.
32 Indeed therefore, others were shouting something different, for the assembly had been confused and the majority knew not of what reason they had come together.
Indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 3 above. others: pl. of Grk. allos, adj., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; one, other (of two), another, different. The plural adjective refers to people were shouting: Grk. krazō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 28 above. something: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above different: Grk. allos. The singular adjective refers to the content of speech. for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 24 above. the assembly: Grk. ekklēsia (for Heb. qahal, SH-6951), assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. The term was used in Hellenistic culture to denote an assembly of the people convened at a public place of council for the purpose of deliberating (Thayer).
had been confused: Grk. sugcheō, perf. mid. part. (from sun, "with," and cheō, "to pour"), thus to pour out together, bewilder, stir up, throw into confusion. Danker explains that the focus is on circumstances so unusual as to affect one's ability to process them mentally or emotionally. The verb depicts the state or existence of two contrasting reactions occurring simultaneously. and: Grk. kai, conj. the majority: pl. of Grk. ho pleiōn, the comparative form of polus (verse 18 above), greater in quantity. knew: Grk. eidō, plperf., 3p-pl., to know as a result of personal sensory experience and observation rather than education. not: Grk. ou, adv. of what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 3 above. reason: Grk. heneka, prep., expresses cause or reason for something; on account of, because of. The combination of tís heneka implies the question was being asked, "why are we here?"
they had come together: Grk. sunerchomai, plperf., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to come together as a collection of persons; (2) come together in a close personal relationship; or (3) come or go together with someone. The first meaning applies here. There were apparently many in the theater that were present simply because they followed the crowd and once inside became confused when they discovered there was no entertainment and different people were shouting about some complaint. Bruce suggests that Luke's description in this verse reveals his sense of humor.
33 And some from the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jewish leaders having put forward; and Alexander, having motioned with the hand, was wanting to make a defense to the assembly.
And: Grk. de, conj. some from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 16 above. The preposition introduces the source of the following request. the: Grk. ho, definite article. crowd: Grk. ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In many passages the term denotes common people in contrast to the ruling classes and religious elite. prompted: Grk. sumbibazō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) bring together, unite; (2) conclude, infer; (3) demonstrate, prove; or (4) instruct, teach, advise (BAG). All the lexicons say the fourth meaning is intended here, which is conveyed in the great majority of versions ("advised," "explained," "gave instructions to," "prompted"), but a few versions adopt the second meaning (GNB, GW, ISV, NASB, NET, NOG).
In the LXX sumbibazō occurs 9 times and translates four Hebrew words, all related to the idea of instructing or teaching: (1) Heb. yarah (SH-3384), to direct, instruct, point out, or teach by one person to another (Ex 4:12, 15; Lev 10:11; Ps 32:8; Isa 40:13); (2) Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, used of making people know God's instructions for lifestyle decision-making (Ex 18:16; Deut 4:9); (3) Heb. lamad (SH-3925), to teach (Isa 40:14); and (4) Heb. sakal (SH-7919), cause to consider, give insight, teach (Dan 9:22).
Alexander: Grk. Alexandros, a name of Greek origin ("defender of men") given to four different men in the Besekh, all Jews. All that is known of this Alexander is in this narrative. He must have been a prominent person in the Jewish community and perhaps in the city. His identity with Paul's enemy (2Tim 1:14) is a matter of conjecture (Bruce). whom: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. the: pl. of Grk. ho. Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 10 above. The great majority of versions translate the plural noun as "Jews." In this context, Luke likely intended a more specific identification and "Jewish leaders" seems most appropriate (as in the CEV).
having put forward: Grk. proballō, aor. part., thrust to the front, put forward. Alexander was presumed to be an able spokesman. The verb occurs in the LXX six times and translates four different Hebrew verbs: (1) Heb. chud (SH-2330), to put forward a riddle for consideration (Jdg 14:12, 13, 16); (2) Heb. shalach (SH-7971), to send, to put forward a person (Prov 22:21); (3) Heb. yarah (see above; Prov 26:19); and (4) Heb. maraq (SH-4838), to polish or scour (Jer 46:4).
and: Grk. kai, conj. Alexander having motioned with: Grk. kataseiō, aor. part., a gesturing motion, probably with a staccato waving motion for attention; beckon, gesture, motion. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in Acts, and all the action of Jewish apostles, first Peter (Acts 12:17) and then Paul (Acts 13:16; 21:40). Josephus uses the verbal phrase "beckoning with the hand" in recounting a Jewish legend of Moses' farewell speech to the people of Israel (Ant. IV, 8:48) and in repeating the narrative of King Abijah of Judah addressing King Jeroboam of Israel and his army (1Chr 13:4; Ant. VIII, 11:2). the: Grk. ho. hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 6 above.
was wanting: Grk. thelō, impf., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; desire, want, will, wish. to make a defense: Grk. apolegeomai, pres. mid. inf., to speak in one's own defense. In the LXX apolegeomai translates Heb. rib (SH-7378), to plead for justice (Jer 12:1) and Heb. galah (SH-1540), to make known a cause to (Jer 20:12). to the: Grk. ho. assembly: Grk. dēmos. See verse 30 above. Apparently Alexander wanted to explain the Jewish point of view about the controversy, specifically what the clerk will later affirm about the Jews (verse 37 below). His defense was likely intended to disassociate the attitude of synagogue leaders from Paul who had stood against occult practices. The attitude of the non-believing Jews as concerning the pagan culture was "live and let live."
34 But having recognized that he was a Jew, one voice arose from all, for nearly two hours they cried out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
But: Grk. de, conj. having recognized: Grk. epiginōskō, aor. part., 'to know about,' here awareness or recognition based on previous knowledge. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 21 above. he was: Grk. eimi, pres., lit. "he is." See verse 1 above. The subject of the verb is Alexander in the previous verse. a Jew: Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 10 above. one: Grk. heis, the number one. voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound or tone; (2) the sound of uttered words, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
arose: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 1 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 16 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 7 above. crying out: Grk. krazō, pres. part. See verse 28 above. for: Grk. epi, prep., used here in reference to time, "for the space of." nearly: Grk. hōs, adv., used here of a numerical estimate. two: Grk. duo, adj., the primary number two. hours: pl. of Grk. hōra, a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour. Great: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 27 above. is Artemis: Grk. Artemis. See verse 24 above. of the Ephesians: pl. of Grk. Ephesios, adj. See verse 28 above.
The crowd's identification of Alexander as a Jew could have been resulted from personal acquaintance but more likely it was a general recognition based on his appearance and attire. The lengthy and frenzied declaration lauding the pagan deity was clearly directed as mocking the belief of Jews in only one God. Stern notes that antisemitism was at home among these pagans, and their opposition was not directed specifically at a specific version of Judaism but at all Jews and at Judaism generally. To keep up the chant for two hours may indicate demonic influence.
Appeal to the Mob, 19:35-41
35 Then the town clerk, having quieted the crowd, said, "Men, Ephesians, for what man is there who knows not that the city of the Ephesians as being the temple-keeper of the great Artemis and of that fallen from the sky?
Then: Grk. de, conj. the: Grk. ho, definite article. town clerk: Grk. grammateus refers to a specialist in legal matters. The term occurs 64 times in the Besekh and only here does it not refer to a Jewish scribe. Most versions translate the noun as "town clerk." In pagan cities the title referred to a public scribe or recorder whose duties and influence varied from location to another. Bruce says he took part in drafting the decrees to be laid before a public assembly and had them engraved when they were passed. He might be comparable to a modern county clerk. having quieted: Grk. katastellō, aor. part., to bring under control, restrain, quiet. The verb occurs only in this chapter of the Besekh. the: Grk. ho. crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 33 above. said: Grk. phēmi, pres., to convey one's thinking through verbal communication, say, declare.
Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 7 and 25 above. Ephesians: pl. of Grk. Ephesios, adj., voc. See verse 28 above. Many versions translate the phrase as "Men of Ephesus," but Luke routinely distinguishes the various forms of address in public settings. for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 24 above. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 3 above. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 16 above. is there: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 13 above. knows: Grk. ginōskō, pres. See verse 17 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. that the city: Grk. polis. See verse 29 above. of the Ephesians: pl. of Grk. Ephesios. as being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. the temple-keeper: Grk. neōkoros, an honorary title, temple-keeper, temple-warden. In Greek literature the noun was used of one who had charge of a temple, to keep and adorn it. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
of the great: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 27 above. Artemis: Grk. Artemis. See verse 24 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. of that: Grk. ho, used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Many versions insert "image" to clarify the meaning. A few versions have "sacred stone" (AMP, CJB, ESV, GNB, MSG, RSV). fallen from the sky: Grk. diopetēs (from dios, "divine," referring to Zeus, and piptō, "to fall"), fallen from Zeus, i.e., fallen from heaven. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Stern suggests the sacred stone was a meteorite. However, replicas of Artemis indicated the image to be a many-breasted female figure. They wouldn't look at a rock and claim it was a female deity. To say the image was "fallen from Zeus" was to claim supernatural workmanship. It was likely that the image was so old that its maker was unknown. The lie of supernatural origin served to maintain idolatrous worship.
36 Therefore, these things being undeniable, it is necessary to be calm and to do nothing rash.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. The pronoun alludes to the claim made by the town clerk in the previous verse. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. undeniable: Grk. anantirrētos, adj., not to be spoken against, not to be contradicted, thus indisputable, undeniable. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. necessary: Grk. dei, pres. part. See verse 21 above. to be: Grk. huparchō, pres. inf., to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance, here of an emotional condition; be. calm: Grk. katastellō, perf. pass. part. See the previous verse.
and: Grk. kai, conj. to do: Grk. prassō, pres. inf. See verse 19 above. nothing: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from mē, "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, nothing, none. rash: Grk. propetēs, adj., an emotional reaction brought on by unbridled passion; impulsive, rash, reckless. The town clerk urges the crowd to pull back from their adrenalin fueled emotion. He was clearly concerned about social order.
37 For you have brought these men, neither temple-robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess.
For: Grk. gar, conj. you have brought: Grk. agō, aor., 2p-pl., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. men: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 7 above. The phrase "these men" refers to Gaius and Aristarchus mentioned in verse 29 above as being taken into the theater. Some commentators include Paul in the clerk's reference, but Paul was not present in the assembly. Many versions insert "who are" for explanatory purposes. neither: Grk. oute, conj. functioning as a negative particle, dismissing an activity or thing that follows the particle and often coupled formulaically with another oute, "neither…nor." The negative particle is a strong denial.
temple-robbers: pl. of Grk. hierosulos, adj., committing sacrilege or temple plundering. The KJV inappropriately translates the adjective as "robbers of churches." There were no "church buildings" in the first century. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. Ancient codes made robbing a temple punishable by death. nor: Grk. oute. blasphemers: Grk. blasphēmeō, pres. part., to cause damage to reputation by arrogant speech or action; slander, revile, malign, vilify, defame. As in Hebrew the participle is treated as a noun. of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person.
goddess: fem. of Grk. theos, a female deity. The statement by the town clerk seems to imply personal knowledge of the men, but he likely meant only that no formal charges had ever been brought against the men for the identified offenses. As town clerk he would have recorded such charges. Bruce notes that Jewish tradition reads Exodus 22:28 as a prohibition of slanderous attacks on pagan deities (cf. Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:10; Apion II, 34; Philo, Life of Moses 2:205; Special Laws 1:53).
The Textus Receptus, following late MSS, replaced hēmeis ("our") with humeis ("your"), which copyists apparently regarded as suiting better the second person plural of agō ("brought") (Metzger 419). The reading of "your goddess" is found in several versions (CJB, DRA, KJV, NKJV, WEB, YLT) and would appear to make the town clerk sympathetic to Paul, for which there is no evidence. The NA/UBS committee assigned a "B" rating to the reading of hēmeis, which indicates that the text is almost certain. The reading of hēmeis is found in the earliest and best MSS, including p74, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and the Syriac (GNT 495).
38 Therefore, if indeed Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against someone, the courts are carried out and there are proconsuls; let them accuse one another.
After presenting his "findings of fact" the town clerk proceeds to give specific direction to the crowd. Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 3 above. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 2 above. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 32 above. Demetrius: See verse 24 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. the: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. craftsmen: pl. of Grk. technitēs. See verse 24 above. with: Grk. sún ("soon"), prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 13 above. a complaint: Grk. logos, lit. "a word." See verse 10 above. against: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "toward." See verse 2 above. The preposition as used here denotes a hostile direction. someone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above.
the courts: pl. of Grk. agoraios (from agora, "public place of assembly or marketplace"), related to the marketplace or town square where the public assembled. Bruce comments that originally the term meant "market days," which were convenient days for the citizens of an assize city to meet under the presidency of the proconsul. The assizes ("trial sessions") were held in about nine of the cities of Asia in turn. are carried out: Grk. agō, aor. See verse 37 above. and: Grk. kai. there are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. proconsuls: pl. of Grk. anthupatos, one who acts in the place of a consul; proconsul. The title appears in Roman records as early as the 3rd century BC. A proconsul supervised the administration of civil and military matters in a province, and answered to the senate in Rome. The plural form likely refers to the proconsul and his deputy (Gill), although Bruce treats the plural as generalizing the unbroken succession of proconsuls.
let them accuse: Grk. egkaleō, pres. imp., 3p-pl., originally meant to call in the payment of a debt, then of a legal accusation. one another: pl. of Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pronoun, one another, each other. The town clerk indirectly issued a command to the guild of idol-makers, although he directed his comment to the assembly. His approach would be viewed as a reasonable request.
39 But if you seek after anything beyond this, it will be settled in the lawful assembly.
But: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. you seek after: Grk. epizēteō, pres., to search for something based on a strong interest. anything: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. beyond this: Grk. peraiterō, adv. (comparative of pera, "concerning"), on the other side, beyond, besides. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. it will be settled: Grk. epiluō, fut. pass., to clear a controversy, to decide or settle. in: Grk. en, prep. the: Grk. ho, definite article. lawful: Grk. ennomos, bound by law or within a legal boundary. assembly: Grk. ekklēsia. See verse 32 above.
The town clerk implies that the crowd in the theater was not a lawful assembly, since no one in authority had requested it. As citizens of the Roman empire they must follow Roman law. Moreover, while Demetrius and his fellow guild members had expressed a grievance that transformed into religious fervor, they had not actually defined how they had been harmed nor presented any claim for settlement. What did they expect the authorities to do? A practical solution can only be obtained by following the procedures established in law.
40 For also we are risking being accused of an insurrection regarding today, there being not one cause, concerning which we will not be able to give a reason for this commotion."
For: Grk. gar, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. we are risking: Grk. kinduneuō, pres., 1p-pl. See verse 27 above. being accused: Grk. egkaleō, pres. See verse 38 above. of an insurrection: Grk. stasis, standing, here of a position or stance that challenges public order. regarding: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 8 above. today: Grk. sēmeron, today, this day, now. there being: Grk. huparchō, pres. See verse 36 above. not one: Grk. mēdeis, adv. See verse 36 above. cause: Grk. aitios, adj., pertaining to being causative; basis, cause, reason. concerning: Grk. peri. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun.
we will not: Grk. ou, adv. be able: Grk. dunamai, fut. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able. to give: Grk. apodidōmi, aor. inf., with the basic idea of reciprocity the verb may mean (1) give back, return, or restore; or (2) give or render as due. The second meaning applies here. a reason: Grk. logos, i.e., a word of defense. See verse 10 above. for: Grk. peri. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. commotion: Grk. ho sustrophē, a twisting up together, a binding together, thus, a coalition, conspiracy, or concourse of disorderly persons, a riot (Thayer).
The town clerk not only chided the crowd for a gathering that served no practical purpose but endangered the city's free status. If Roman authorities had reason to believe the residents were flouting Roman law, the proconsul might send in the army to take charge and punish suspected offenders. The clerk's assessment is stated generally, but it is also personal. He would have to answer to the proconsul and he could offer no defense to justify the clamor of the crowd in the theater.
41 And having said these things he dismissed the assembly.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun refers to the content of the clerk's speech, verses 35-40. he dismissed: Grk. apoluō, aor., lit. "loose from," here causing to depart from a place, to send off or dismiss. the: Grk. ho, definite article. assembly: Grk. ekklēsia. See verse 32 above. The clerk pronounced a formal dismissal equivalent to "this meeting is adjourned."
Some versions place this verse at the end of verse 40 (DRA, LEB, MRINT, NABRE, NJB, TLV), since the Greek text does not have verse 41. However, the majority of versions separate this sentence from verse 40.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
Bengel: Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752), Gnomon of the New Testament (1742). 5 vols. Trans. by Marvin Vincent. T&T Clark, 1860. Online.
Brown: David Brown, The Acts of the Apostles, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871), 2 vols., by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Coke: Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Exell: Joseph S. Exell, ed. (1849–1954), Acts, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 18. Hendrickson Pub., 1985. Online.
Gilbert: Gary Gilbert, Annotations on "The Acts of the Apostles," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Marshall: I. Howard Marshall, Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. InterVarsity Press, 1980.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
NIBD: Herbert Lockyer, ed., Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
OCB: The Oxford Companion to the Bible. ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. Oxford University Press, 1993.
Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.
SECB: James Strong (1822–1894), Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890). Online.
Skarsaune: Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn and G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
Vincent: Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1922), The Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1886. Online.
Wesley: John Wesley (1703-1791), Acts, Explanatory Notes on the Bible. Online.
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