Author: Ron Graham

Book of Acts

Acts 19:1-20
—Verse by verse

This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 19:1-20. These verses describe Paul’s experiences and work in Ephesus during his third missionary journey.

Paul’s experiences and work in Ephesus.

1 Paul Returns to Ephesus —Helps Untaught Disciples

Verses 1-7

¶ "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul had gone through the upper country. So he came to Ephesus, and found a group of disciples. Paul asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied, “No, we haven't even heard whether the Holy Spirit has been given.” Paul asked, “Into what were you baptized then?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, and he told the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him —who is Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Paul had laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them; they spoke with other languages and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all." (Acts 19:1-7).

2 Paul Teaches in Ephesus —at Synagogue and School

Verses 8-10

¶ "Paul went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for a period of three months. He reasoned with persuasion about the Kingdom of God. But some became hardened and rebellious. They spoke evil of the Way before the multitude. So Paul withdrew from them, and took the disciples to the school of Tyrannus where he reasoned daily. This continued for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:8-10).

3 Miracles Take Ephesus by Storm

Verses 11-16

¶ "In Ephesus, God worked special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits went out. But some Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, took it upon themselves to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had the evil spirits. They were saying, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Among those who did this were seven sons of a man named Sceva, a Jewish chief priest. The evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” The man who had the evil spirit in him leaped on them, and overpowered them. He attacked them such that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." (Acts 19:11-16).

Verses 17-19

¶ "This became known to all who lived at Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. Fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. Also, many of those who had believed came, confessing, and disclosing their practices. Many of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. They counted their price, and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver." (Acts 19:17-19).

4 Burning of the Books on Magical Arts —Expensive Bonfire

The city of Ephesus was very religious, being devoted to magic and occult arts. As far as we know, these arts included divining the palm of the hand or reading signs in a great many other ways. They included talking to spirits of various kinds. They included drawing magical power from numbers, mixtures, amulets, and other objects.

Religions commonly employ similar arts today, and this is encouraged in our society. Isn't this religious genre as good as any other? Paul did not think so. When he showed Ephesus the superior power and the truth of his religion, numbers of people burned their religious books (Acts 19:11-20).

The value of the burned books was 50,000 pieces of silver. It is thought that the silver pieces were drachmas —each worth about a day's wages. When they burned these rare and hand-written books, a huge fortune went up in flames.

The people who burned those books made a very strong statement. They demonstrated how well Paul had convinced them that it matters what religion you practice, and only one religion will do.

Verse 20

¶ "So the word of the Lord was growing and gaining great power." (Acts 19:20).


With this progress report (Acts 19:20). Luke concludes his description of the spread of Christianity into Asia, Macedonia, and Greece. Paul has completed his second missionary journey and has set out on his third. He has spent more than two years in Ephesus. In the sixth section of Acts, Paul revisits Macedonia and Greece and then goes to Jerusalem. He is imprisoned in Samaria, and then taken to Rome