Acts 19


Paul, coming to Ephesus, finds certain disciples who had not

received the gift of the Holy Ghost, knowing only the baptism

of John, but receive it through the imposition of his hands,


He preaches for three months in the synagogues, 8.

Many being hardened, he leaves the synagogues, and teaches

daily in the school of Tyrannus for two years, 9, 10.

He works many miracles, 11, 12.

Account of the vagabond exorcist Jews, and the seven sons of

Sceva, 13-17.

Many are converted, and burn their magical books, 18-20.

Paul purposes to pass through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to

Jerusalem, and afterwards to Rome; but, having sent Timotheus

and Erastus to Macedonia, continues a little longer in Asia,

21, 22.

Demetrius, a silversmith of Ephesus, raises an uproar against

Paul, which, after some tumultuous proceedings, is appeased by

the town clerk, 23-41.


Verse 1. And it came to pass-while Apollos was at Corinth] The

Codex Bezae begins this chapter differently. But then Paul was

desirous, according to his own counsel, to go to Jerusalem, the

Spirit commanded him to return into Asia: then, passing through

the upper parts, he came to Ephesus. This addition is also found

in the Latin or Itala part of the same MS., and in the margin of

the later Syriac.

Paul having passed through the upper coasts] That is, through

those parts of Asia Minor that lay eastward of Ephesus, such as

Galatia, Phrygia, and probably Lycaonia and Lydia; and it is in

reference to Ephesus that these are called the upper coasts. See

their situation on the map.

Verse 2. Have ye received the Holy Ghost] It is likely that

these were Asiatic Jews, who, having been at Jerusalem about

twenty-six years before this, had heard the preaching of John, and

received his baptism, believing in the coming Christ, whom John

had proclaimed; but it appears that till this time they had got no

farther instruction in the Christian religion. Paul, perceiving

this, asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost since they

believed? For it was the common privilege of the disciples of

Christ to receive, not only the ordinary graces, but also the

extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit; and thus the disciples of

Christ differed from those of John, and of all others. John

baptized with water; Jesus baptized with the Holy Ghost. And to

this day the genuine disciples of Christ are distinguished from

all false religionists, and from nominal Christians, by being made

partakers of this Spirit, which enlightens their minds, and

convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment; quickens their

souls, witnesses to their conscience that they are the children of

God, and purifies their hearts. Those who have not received these

blessings from the Holy Spirit, whatever their profession may be,

know nothing better than John's baptism: good, excellent in its

kind, but ineffectual to the salvation of those who live under the

meridian of Christianity.

We have not so much as heard whether, &c.] That is, they had not

heard that there were particular gifts and graces of the Holy

Spirit to be received. They could not mean that they had not heard

of the Holy Spirit; for John, in his baptism, announced Christ as

about to baptize with the Holy Ghost, Mt 3:11; Lu 3:16; but they

simply meant that they had not heard that this Spirit, in his

gifts, had been given to or received by any one.

Verse 4. That they should believe on him which should come

after] John baptized them with the baptism of repentance; this

was common to all the baptisms administered by the Jews to

proselytes; but telling them that they should believe on him who

was coming, was peculiar to John's baptism.

Verse 5. When they heard this, &c.] As there is no evidence in

the New Testament of persons being rebaptized, unless this be one,

many criticisms have been hazarded to prove that these persons

were not rebaptized. I see no need of this. To be a Christian, a

man must be baptized in the Christian faith: these persons had not

been baptized into that faith, and therefore were not Christians:

they felt this, and were immediately baptized into the name of the

Lord Jesus. This is a plain case; but let one instance be produced

of a person being rebaptized, who had before been baptized in the

name of the holy Trinity, or even in the name of Jesus alone. In

my view, it is an awful thing to iterate baptism when it had been

before essentially performed: by "essentially performed," I mean,

administered by sprinkling, washing, or plunging, by or in water,

in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, being invoked at the

time. Whoever has had this has the essence of baptism, as far as

that can be conferred by man; and it matters not at what period of

his life he has had it; it is a substantial baptism, and by it the

person has been fully consecrated to the holy and blessed Trinity;

and there should not be an iteration of this consecration on any

account whatever. It is totally contrary to the canon law; it is

contrary to the decisions of the best divines; it is contrary to

the practice of the purest ages of the Church of God; it is

contrary to the New Testament, and tends to bring this sacred

ordinance into disrepute.

Verse 6. They spake with tongues, and prophesied.] They received

the miraculous gift of different languages; and in those languages

they taught to the people the great doctrines of the Christian

religion; for this appears to be the meaning of the word

προεφητευον, prophesied, as it is used above.

Verse 8. Spake boldly-three months] We have often remarked that

St. Paul, in every place, made his first offers of salvation to

the Jews; and it was only when they rejected it, that he turned to

the Gentiles; see Ac 18:6. And the same line of conduct he

pursues here: he goes to the school of Tyrannus, at least a public

place, to which all might resort, when they obstinately rejected

the Gospel in the synagogue.

Disputing and persuading] διαλεγομενουςκαιπειθων, Holding

conversations with them, in order to persuade them of the truth of

the doctrine of Christ.

Verse 9. When divers were hardened] τινες, When some of them

were hardened; several no doubt felt the power of Divine truth,

and yielded consent. Our term divers, one of the most bald in our

language, has too general a meaning for this place.

Behold the effect of the word of God! It is a savour of life

unto life, or death unto death, according as it is received or

rejected. The twelve men mentioned above received it

affectionately, and they were made partakers of the Holy Ghost;

the others were hardened, for they refused to believe; and they

calumniated the doctrine, and became Satan's preachers among the

multitude, to prejudice them against Christ and his religion.

Separated the disciples] Paul, and those converted under his

ministry, had doubtless been in the habit of attending public

worship in the synagogue: but, on the persecuting conduct of these

Jews; he and his converts wholly withdrew from the synagogue, and

took a place for themselves; and constantly afterwards held their

own meetings at a school room, which they hired no doubt for the


The school of one Tyrannus.] For σχολη, the school, one MS.

has συναγωγη, the synagogue; and, for Tyrannus, some have

Tyrannios. Some have considered the original word as being an

epithet, rather than the name of a person; and think that a prince

or nobleman is intended, because τυραννος, tyrant, is taken in

this sense: but this is a most unlikely conjecture. It appears

that the person in question was a schoolmaster, and that he lent

or hired his room to the apostles; and that they preached daily in

it to as many, both Jews and Gentiles, as chose to attend. It is

very likely that Tyrannus was a Jew, and was at least well

affected to the Christian cause; for we have many proofs that

individuals among them kept schools for the instruction of their

youth; besides the schools or academies kept by the more

celebrated rabbins. See Schoettgen and Vitringa. The school of

Tyrannus might have been such a place as Exeter Hall, and such

like places for public and especially for extraordinary religious

meetings in London.

Verse 10. By the space of two years] The schoolhouse of Tyrannus

was his regular chapel; and it is likely that in it he taught

Christianity, as Tyrannus taught languages or sciences.

All they-in Asia heard the word] Meaning, probably, the

Proconsular Asia, for the extent of which

See Clarke on Ac 16:6.

Jews and Greeks.] For, although he ceased preaching in the

synagogues of the Jews, yet they continued to hear him in the

school of Tyrannus. But it is likely that Paul did not confine

himself to this place, but went about through the different towns

and villages; without which, how could all Asia have heard the

word? By Greeks, we are to understand, not only the proselytes of

the gate, but the heathens in general.

Verse 11. God wrought special miracles] δυναμειςτεουτας

τυχαυσας, Miracles of no ordinary kind, i.e. extraordinary


Verse 12. Handkerchiefs or aprons] σουδαριαησιμικινθια,

Probably the sudaria were a sort of handkerchiefs, which, in

travelling, were always carried in the hand, for the convenience

of wiping the face; and the simikinthia were either the sashes or

girdles that went about the loins. These, borrowed from the

apostle, and applied to the bodies of the diseased, became the

means, in the hand of God, of their restoration to health.

The diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out

of them.] Here, there is a most evident distinction made between

the diseases and the evil spirits: hence they were not one and

the same thing.

Verse 13. Certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists] τινεςαποτων

περιερχομενωνιουδαιωνεξορκιστων; Certain of the Jews who went

about practicing exorcisms. Vagabond has a very bad acceptation

among us; but, literally, vagabundus signifies a wanderer, one

that has no settled place of abode. These, like all their

countrymen, in all places, went about to get their bread in what

way they could; making trial of every thing by which they could

have the prospect of gain. Finding that Paul cast out demons

through the name of Jesus, they thought, by using the same, they

might produce the same effects; and, if they could, they knew it

would be to them an ample source of revenue; for demoniacs

abounded in the land.

Verse 14. Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the

priests] The original ιουδαιουαρχιερεως, dignifies a Jewish high

priest; but it is not probable that any sons, much less seven sons

of a Jewish high priest, should be strolling exorcists: it is

therefore likely that υιοισκευατινοςιερεως, the sons of Skeva,

a certain priest, as it stands in the Codex Bezae, is the true

reading. The whole verse in that MS. reads thus: Among them there

also the sons of Skeva, a priest, who wished to do the same: for

they were accustomed to exorcise such persons. And entering in to

the demoniac, they began to invoke that Name, saying, We command

thee by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth, to go out. And the evil spirit

angered, and said unto them, Jesus I know, &c. It has been often

remarked that in our Lord's time there were many of the Jews that

professed to cast out demons; and perhaps to this our Lord

alludes, Mt 12:27. See Clark's note there; "Mt 12:27".

Josephus, in speaking of the wisdom of Solomon, says that he had

that skill by which demons are expelled; and that he left behind

him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they are cast out; and

that those arts were known among his countrymen down to his own

time; and then gives us the following relation: "I have seen a

certain man of my own country whose name was Eleazar, releasing

people that were demoniacs, in the presence of Vespasian, his

sons, his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The

manner of the cure was this: He put a ring, that had a root of one

of those sorts mentioned by Solomon, to the nostrils of the

demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils;

and, when the man fell down, immediately he adjured him to return

into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting

the incantations that he had composed. And when Eleazar would

persuade the spectators that he had such power, he set at a little

distance a cup of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out

of the man, to overturn it; and, when this was done, the skill and

wisdom of Solomon were showed very manifestly." Joseph. ANTIQ.

book viii. cap. 2, sect. 5. Whiston's edition.

That there were such incantations among the Jews we know well,

and that there are still such found, and that they are attributed

to Solomon; but that they are his remains to be proved; and could

this even be done, a point remains which can never be proved, viz.

that those curious arts were a part of that wisdom which he

received from God, as Josephus intimates. Indeed, the whole of the

above account gives the strongest suspicion of its being a trick

by the Jewish juggler, which neither Josephus nor the emperor

could detect; but the ring, the root, the cup of water, the

spell, &c.; all indicate imposture. Magicians among the Jews

were termed baaley shem, Masters of the Name, that is, the

name of Jehovah by a certain pronunciation of which they

believed the most wonderful miracles could be wrought. There were

several among them who pretended to this knowledge; and, when they

could not deny the miracles of our Lord, they attributed them to

his knowledge of the true pronunciation of this most sacred name.

Verse 15. Jesus I know, and Paul I know] In the answer of the

demoniac, the verb in varied: τονιησουνγινωσκωκαιτονπαυλον

επισταμαιυμειςδετινεςτινοςεστε. I acknowledge Jesus, and

am acquainted with Paul; but of whom are ye? Ye belong to neither;

ye have no authority. And he soon gave them full proof of this.

This distinction is observed in my old MS. Bible: I have knowe

Jesu, and I wote Poule; forsothe who ben yee.

Verse 16. And the man in whom the evil spirit was, &c.] Thus we

find that one man was more powerful than these seven brothers; so

that he stripped them of their upper garments, and beat and

wounded the whole! Was not this a proof that he derived his

strength from the evil spirit that dwelt in him?

Verse 17. The name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.] They saw

that there was a sovereign power in the name of Jesus, which could

not be imitated by these lying exorcists: they therefore

reverenced this name, and despised those pretenders.

Exorcisms or adjurations of evil spirits were very frequent in

the primitive Church: the name of JESUS was that alone which was

used. The primitive fathers speak strong and decisive words

concerning the power of this name; and how demons were tormented

and expelled by it, not only from individuals, but from the

temples themselves. Exorcists formed a distinct class an the

Church; hence we read of presbyters, deacons, exorcists, lectors,

and door-keepers. The adjuration was commonly used over the

catechumens, before they were admitted to baptism. Gregory of

Nazianzen, and Cyril of Jerusalem speak much of this rite. See my

Succession of Sacred Literature, under Cyril, and GREGORY

Nazianzen; and see Suicer, under εξορκισμος.

Verse 19. Which used curious arts] ταπεριεργα. From the use of

this word in the Greek writers, we know that it signified magical

arts, sorceries, incantations, &c. Ephesus abounded with these.

Dio Cassius, speaking of the Emperor Adrian, says, οαδριανος


"Adrian was exceedingly addicted to curious arts, and practised

divination and magic." These practices prevailed in all nations

of the earth.

Brought their books together] The εφεσιαγραμματα, or Ephesian

characters, are celebrated in antiquity; they appear to have been

amulets, inscribed with strange characters, which were carried

about the body for the purpose of curing diseases, expelling

demons, and preserving from evils of different kinds. The books

brought together on this occasion were such as taught the science,

manner of formation, use, &c., of these charms.

Suidas, under εφεσιαγραμματα, Ephesian letters, gives us the

following account. "Certain obscure incantations.-When Milesius

and Ephesius wrestled at the Olympic games, Milesius could not

prevail, because his antagonist had the Ephesian letters bound to

his heels; when this was discovered, and the letters taken away,

it is reported that Milesius threw him thirty times."

The information given by Hesychius is still more curious: εφεσια






αγια. "The Ephesian letters or characters were formerly six, but

certain deceivers added others afterwards; and their names,

according to report, were these: ASKION, KATASKION, LIX, TETRAX,

DAMNAMENEUS, and AISlON. It is evident that Askion signifies

DARKNESS; Kataskion, LIGHT; Lix, the EARTH; Tetrax, the YEAR;

Damnameneus, the SUN; and Aision, TRUTH. These are holy and

sacred things." The same account may be seen in Clemens

Alexandrinus; Strom. lib. v. cap. 8, where he attempts to give the

etymology of these different terms. These words served, no doubt,

as the keys to different spells and incantations; and were used in

order to the attainment of a great variety of ends. The Abraxas of

the Basilidians, in the second century, were formed on the basis

of the Ephesian letters; for those instruments of incantation,

several of which are now before me, are inscribed with a number

of words and characters equally as unintelligible as the above,

and in many cases more so.

Then it is said they brought their books together, we are to

understand the books which treated of these curious arts; such as

the εφεσιαγραμματα, or Ephesian characters.

And burned them before all] These must have been thoroughly

convinced of the truth of Christianity, and of the unlawfulness of

their own arts.

Fifty thousand pieces of silver.] Some think that the αργυριον,

which we translate piece of silver, means a shekel, as that word

is used Mt 26:16, where see the note; 50,000 shekels, at

3s., according to Dean Prideaux's valuation, (which is that

followed throughout this work,) would amount to 7,500.

But, as this was a Roman and not a Jewish country, we may

rationally suppose that the Jewish coin was not here current; and

that the αργυριον, or silver coin, mentioned by St. Luke, must

have been either Greek or Roman; and, it is very likely that the

sestertius is meant, which was always a silver coin, about the

value, according to Arbuthnot, of two-pence, or 1d. 3q3/4.,

which answers to the fourth part of a denarius, rated by the same

author at 7 3/4d. Allowing this to be the coin intended, the

50,000 sestertii would amount to 403. 12s. 11d.

The Vulgate reads, denariorum quinquaginta millium, fifty

thousand denarii, which, at 7 3/4 d., will amount to 1,614.

11s. 8d. The reading of the Itala version of the Codex Bezae

is very singular, Denariorum sestertia ducenta. "Two hundred

sesterces of denarii;" which may signify no more than "two hundred

sestertii of Roman money:" for in this sense denarius is certainly

used by Cicero, Orat. pro Quint.; where ad denarium solvere, means

to pay in Roman money, an expression similar to our word sterling.

This sum would amount to no more than 1. 12s. 3 1/2d. But that

which is computed from the sestertius is the most probable amount.

Verse 20. So mightily grew the word of God, and prevailed.] The

Codex Bezae reads this verse thus: "So mightily grew the word of

the Lord, and prevailed; and the faith of God increased and

multiplied." It is probable that it was about this time that St.

Paul had that conflict which he mentions, 1Co 15:32:

If I after the manner of men, have fought with wild beasts at

Ephesus, &c. See the note there. It means some severe trials not

here mentioned, unless we may suppose him to refer to the

ferocious insurrection headed by Demetrius, mentioned at the end

of this chapter. See Clarke on Ac 19:38

Verse 21. Paul purposed in the spirit, &c.] Previously to this

he appears to have concerted a journey to Macedonia, and a visit

to Corinth, the capital of Achaia, where he seems to have spent a

considerable time, probably the whole winter of A.D. 58; see

1Co 16:5, 6; and afterwards to go to Jerusalem; but it is

likely that he did not leave Ephesus till after pentecost, A.D.

59. (1Co 16:8.) And he resolved, if possible, to see Rome, which

had been the object of his wishes for a considerable time. See

Ro 1:10, 13; 16:23.

It is generally believed that, during this period, while at

Ephesus, he wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. He had

heard that some strange disorders had entered into that Church:-1.

That there were divisions among them; some extolling Paul, beyond

all others; some, Peter; others, Apollos. 2. He had learned from

Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, whom he saw at Ephesus,

1Co 16:17; 7:1, that several

abuses had crept into their religious assemblies. 3. That even

the Christians went to law with each other, and that before the

heathens. And, 4. That a person professing Christianity in that

city, had formed a matrimonial contract with his step-mother. It

was to remedy those disorders that he wrote his first epistle to

the Corinthians, in which he strongly reprehends all the above


Verse 22. So he sent into Macedonia] He desired Timothy to go as

far as Corinth, 1Co 4:18, and after that to return to him at

Ephesus, 1Co 16:11; but he himself continued in Asia some time

longer; probably to make collections for the poor saints in

Jerusalem. Erastus, mentioned here for the first time, appears to

have been the chamberlain, οικονομος, either of Ephesus or

Corinth; see Ro 16:23. He was one of St. Paul's companions, and

is mentioned as being left by the apostle at Corinth, 2Ti 4:20.

Verse 23. No small stir about that way.] Concerning the Gospel,

which the apostles preached; and which is termed this way,

Ac 9:2, where see the note.

Verse 24. Silver shrines for Diana] It is generally known that

the temple of Diana at Ephesus was deemed one of the seven wonders

of the world, and was a most superb building. It appears that the

silver shrines mentioned here were small portable

representations of this temple, which were bought by strangers as

matters of curiosity, and probably of devotion. If we can suppose

them to have been exact models of this famous temple, representing

the whole exterior of its magnificent workmanship, which is

possible, they would be held in high estimation, and probably

become a sort of substitute for the temple itself, to worshippers

of this goddess who lived in distant parts of Greece. The temple

of Diana was raised at the expense of all Asia Minor, and yet was

two hundred and twenty years in building, before it was brought to

its sum of perfection. It was in length 425 feet, by 220 in

breadth; and was beautified by 127 columns, which were made at the

expense of so many kings; and was adorned with the most beautiful

statues. To procure himself an everlasting fame, Erostratus burned

it to the ground the same night on which Alexander the Great was

born. It is reported that Alexander offered to make it as

magnificent as it was before, provided he might put his name on

the front; but this was refused. It was afterwards rebuilt and

adorned, but Nero plundered it of all its riches. This grand

building remains almost entire to the present day, and is now

turned into a Turkish mosque. See an account of it in Montfaucon,

Antiq. Expliq. vol. ii., with a beautiful drawing on plate vi.,

No. 20. See also Stuart's Athens. There were also pieces of silver

struck with a representation of the temple of Minerva on one side:

many coins occur in the reigns of the first Roman emperors, where

temples, with idols in the porch, appear on the reverse; and

several may be seen in Muselius, in the reigns of Trajan, Adrian,

Antoninus Pius, &c. A beautiful representation of the temple of

Diana at Ephesus may be seen on a medal engraved by Montfaucon, in

his Antiq. Expliq. Suppl. vol. ii. plate 33. It has eight Doric

columns in front, which Pliny says were sixty feet in length. In

the entrance, the figure of Diana is represented with a sort of

tower upon her head; her arms are supported by two staves; at her

feet are represented two stags with their backs towards each

other. The sun is represented on the right side of her head, and

the moon as a crescent on the left. On each side and at the bottom

of this temple are the words, πρωτωνασιαςεφεσιων. Some think

that the medals here referred to are the same that are meant by

the silver shrines made by Demetrius and his craftsmen.

See Clarke on Ac 19:27.

Brought no small gain] There were many made, many sold, and

probably at considerable prices.

Verse 25. By this craft we have our wealth.] The word ευπορια

not only signifies wealth, but also abundance. It was a most

lucrative trade; and he plainly saw that, if the apostles were

permitted to go on thus preaching, the worship of Diana itself

would be destroyed; and, consequently, all the gain that he and

his fellows derived from it would be brought to nought.

Verse 26. This Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people]

Prom the mouth of this heathen we have, in one sentence, a most

pleasing account of the success with which God had blessed the

labours of the apostles: not only at Ephesus, but almost

throughout all Asia, they had persuaded and converted much people;

for they had insisted that they could be no gods which are made

with hands; and this the common sense of the people must at once


Verse 27. The temple of the great goddess Diana] From a number

of representations of the Ephesian goddess Diana, which still

remain, we find that she was widely different from Diana the

huntress. She is represented in some statues all covered over

with breasts, from the shoulders down to the feet; in others she

is thus represented, from the breast to the bottom of the abdomen,

the thighs and legs being covered with the heads of different

animals. From this it is evident that, under this name and form,

nature, the nourisher and supporter of all things, was

worshipped: the sun and moon, being grand agents, in all natural

productions, were properly introduced as her attributes or

symbols. Because she was the representative of universal nature,

she was called, in opposition to Diana the huntress and goddess

of chastity, the GREAT goddess Diana; not only worshipped in Asia,

but throughout the whole world; both the Greeks and the Romans

unanimously conjoining in her worship.

Several statues of this Ephesian Diana still remain; and some

beautiful ones are represented by Montfaucon, in his Antig.

Expliq. vol. i. book iii. cap. 15, plates 46, 47, 48. From this

father of antiquaries, much information on this subject may be

derived. He observes that the original statue of Diana of Ephesus,

which was in that noble temple, esteemed one of the wonders of the

world, was made of ivory, as Pliny says; but Vitruvius says it was

made of cedar; and others, of the wood of the vine. The images of

this goddess are divided into several bands, or compartments; so

that they appear swathed from the breasts to the feet. On the head

is generally represented a large tower, two stories high. A kind

of festoon of flowers and fruit descends from her shoulders; in

the void places of the festoon a crab is often represented, and

sometimes crowned by two genii or victories. The arms are

generally extended, or stretched a little out from the sides; and

on each one or two lions. Below the festoon, between the two first

bands, there are a great number of paps: hence she has been styled

by some of the ancients, Multimammia, and πολυμαστος, the goddess

with the multitude of paps: on one figure I count nineteen.

Between the second and third bands, birds are represented; between

the third and fourth, a human head with tritons; between the

fourth and fifth, heads of oxen. Most of the images of this

goddess are represented as swathed nearly to the ancles, about

which the folds of her robe appear. Though there is a general

resemblance in all the images of the Ephesian Diana, yet some have

more figures or symbols, some less: these symbols are generally

paps, human figures, oxen, lions, stags, griffins, sphinxes,

reptiles, bees, branches of trees, and roses.

That nature is intended by this goddess is evident from the

inscription on two of those represented by Montfaucon: παναιολος

φυσιςπαντωνμητηρ, Nature, full of varied creatures, and mother

of all things. It is evident that this Diana was a composition of

several deities: her crown of turrets belongs to Cybele, the

mother of the gods; the lions were sacred to her also; the fruits

and oxen are symbols of Ceres; the griffins were sacred to

Apollo; and the deer or stags to Diana. The crab being

placed within the festoon of flowers evidently refers to the

northern tropic Cancer; and the crab being crowned in that

quarter may refer to the sun having accomplished his course, and

begun to return with an increase of light, heat, &c: The paps, or

breasts, as has already been observed, show her to be the nurse

of all things; and the different animals and vegetables

represented on those images point out nature as the supporter of

the animal and vegetable world: the moon and tritons show her

influence on the sea; and the sun her influence on the earth.

All these things considered, it is no wonder that this goddess was

called at Ephesus the Great Diana, and that she was worshipped,

not only in that city, but in all the world. In the worship of

this deity, and in the construction of her images, the heathens

seem to have consulted common sense and reason in rather an

unusual manner. But we must observe, also, that among the Greeks

and Romans they had two classes of deities: the Dii Majores, and

the Dii Minores: the great gods, and the minor gods. The latter

were innumerable; but the former; among whom was Diana, were only

twelve-Jupiter, Neptune, Apollo, Mars, Mercury, and Vulcan; Juno,

Vesta, Ceres, Diana, Venus, and Minerva. These twelve were adored

through the whole Gentile world, under a variety of names.

Verse 29. The whole city was filled with confusion] Thus we find

the peace of the whole city was disturbed, not by an apostle

preaching the Gospel of Christ, but by one interested,

unprincipled knave, who did not even plead conscience for what he

was doing; but that it was by this craft he and his fellows got

their wealth, and he was afraid to lose it.

Rushed-into the theatre.] The theatres, being very spacious and

convenient places, were often used for popular assemblies and

public deliberation, especially in matters which regarded the

safety of the state. There are several proofs of this in ancient

authors. So Tacitus, Hist. ii. 80, speaking concerning Vespasian,

says: Antiochensium theatrum ingressus, ubi illis consultare mos

est, concurrentes et in adulationem effusos alloquitur. "Having

entered into the theatre of the Antiochians, where it was the

custom to hold consultations, the people running together, and

being profuse in flattery, he addressed them." Frontinus, in

Stratagem lib. iii. cap. 2, speaking of a public meeting at the

theatre at Agrigentum, observes, ubi ex more Graecorum locus

consultationi praebebatur; which, according to the custom of the

Greeks, is the place for public deliberation. See several examples

in Kypke.

Verse 31. Certain of the chief of Asia] τινεςτωνασιαρχων; Some

of the Asiarchs. The Asiarchs were those to whom the care and

regulation of the public games were intrusted: they were a sort of

high priests, and were always persons of considerable riches and

influence. These could not have been Christians; but they were

what the sacred text states them to have been, αυτωφιλοι, his

friends; and foreseeing that Paul would be exposed to great danger

if he went into the theatre, amidst such a tumultuous assembly,

they sent a message to him, entreating him not to go into danger

so apparent. Query: Did he not go, and fight with these wild

beasts at Ephesus? 1Co 15:32.

Verse 32. Some-cried one thing, and some another] This is an

admirable description of a tumultuous mob, gathered together

without law or reason; getting their passions inflamed, and

looking for an opportunity to commit outrages, without why or

wherefore-principle or object.

For the assembly was confused] ηεκκλησια; The same word which

we translate church; and thus we find that it signifies any

assembly, good or bad, lawful, or unlawful; and that only the

circumstances of the case can determine the precise nature of the

assembly to which this word is applied.

Verse 33. They drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews

putting him forward] From this and the following verses it is

pretty evident that this Alexander was brought forward on this

occasion by the Jews, that he might make an oration to the

multitude, in order to exculpate the Jews, who were often by the

heathens confounded with the Christians; and cast the whole blame

of the uproar upon Paul and his party. And he was probably chosen

because he was an able speaker; and when he beckoned with his

hand; to gain an audience, the Greeks, knowing that he was a Jew,

and consequently as much opposed to the worship of Diana as Paul

was, would not hear him; and therefore, to drown his apology, τω

δημω, for the people, viz. the Jews, they vociferated for the

space of two hours, Great is Diana of the Ephesians! There does

not seem any just ground from the text to suppose that this

Alexander was a Christian; or that he was about to make an apology

for the Christians: it is generally believed that he is the same

with Alexander the coppersmith, of whom St. Paul speaks,

2Ti 4:14, and whom, with

Philetus, he was obliged to excommunicate, 1Ti 1:20. By

the Jews putting him forward, we are to understand their

earnestness to get him to undertake their defence, and criminate,

as much as possible, St. Paul and his companions, and the

Christian cause in general; which he would no doubt have done,

without vindicating the worship of Diana, which, as a Jew, he

would not dare to attempt.

Verse 35. When the town-clerk] ογραμματευς, Literally, the

scribe. The Syriac has [Syriac] reisha damedinato, the chief or

prince of the city. The later Syriac has, the scribe of the

city. Some think that the word recorder would do better here

than town-clerk; and indeed it is evident that a magistrate of

considerable authority and influence is intended-the mayor or

sovereign of the city.

Ye men of Ephesus] The speech of this man may be thus analyzed:

1. He states that there was no need of a public declaration that

the Ephesians were worshippers of Diana; this every person knew,

and nobody attempted to contest it, Ac 19:35, 36. 2. That the

persons accused were not guilty of any public offence, nor of any

breach of the laws of the city, Ac 19:37. 3. That, if they were,

this was not a legal method of prosecuting them, Ac 19:38, 39. 4.

That they themselves, by this tumultuous meeting, had exposed

themselves to the censure of the law, and were in danger of being

called into question for it, Ac 19:40. See


Is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana] The word νεωκορος,

neocoros, which we translate worshipper, signified at first,

among the ancient Greeks, no more than sweeper of the temple, and

answered nearly to our sexton: in process of time, the care of the

temple was intrusted to this person: at length the neocori became

persons of great consequence, and were those who offered

sacrifices for the life of the emperor. Whole cities took this

appellation, as appears on many ancient coins and medals; and

Ephesus is supposed to have been the first that assumed this

title. At this time, it was commonly known as belonging to this

city. "What man is there that knoweth not that the city of the

Ephesians is the Neocoros of the great goddess Diana?" As if he

had said: "The whole city is devoted to her worship: it is reputed

an honour to our highest characters even to sweep her temple, and

open and shut her doors. Besides, we offer to her the highest

sacrifices; and are intrusted with the religious service that

pertains to the emperor's safety."

Of the image which fell down from Jupiter?] The original image

of the Ephesian Diana (See Clarke on Ac 19:27) was supposed to have

descended from heaven; which intimates that it was so old that no

person knew either its maker or the time in which it was formed,

and it was the interest of the priests to persuade the people that

this image had been sent to them as a present from Jupiter

himself. Several images and sacred things were supposed, among the

heathens, to be presents immediately from heaven. Euripides states

the image of Diana of Tauri to be of this kind; and calls it

διοπετεςαγαλμα, the image fallen from Jupiter. Numa pretended

that the ancilia, or sacred shields, had come from heaven. In

imitation of these, many of the Italian papists believe that the

shrine of our lady of Loretto was also a Divine gift to their

country. St. Isidore, of Damietta, says that the heathen, in order

to induce the people to believe that such images came from heaven,

either banished or slew the artists that had formed them, that

there might be no evidence of the time in which, or the persons by

whom, they were made: this point secured, it was easy to persuade

the credulous multitude that they had been sent from heaven. The

story of the Palladium, on which the safety of Troy was said to

depend, is well known. It was an image of Minerva, and also

supposed to have descended from Jupiter.

Verse 37. These men-are neither robbers of churches] ιρεσυλους;

Spoilers of sacred places. As his design evidently was to appease

and conciliate the people, he fixed first on a most

incontrovertible fact: These men have not spoiled your temples;

nor is there any evidence that they have even blasphemed your

goddess. The apostles acted as prudent men should: they

endeavoured to enlighten the minds of the multitude, that the

absurdity of their gross errors might be the more apparent; for,

when they should know the truth, it was likely that they would at

once abandon such gross falsehood.

Verse 38. If Demetrius-have a matter against any man] If it be

any breach of law, in reference to Demetrius and the artists, the

law is open, αγοραιοιαγονται; these are the terms of law, public

courts, times of sessions or assize; or, rather, the judges are

mow sitting: so the words may be understood. And there are

deputies, ανθυπατοι, proconsuls, appointed to guard the peace of

the state, and to support every honest man in his right: let them

implead one another; let the one party bring forward his action of

assault or trespass, and the other put in his defense: the laws

are equal and impartial, and justice will be done to him who is


Verse 39. But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters]

In which the safety of the state, or the national worship, is

concerned, know that such a matter is not the business of the mob;

it must be heard and determined in a lawful assembly, εντηεννομω

εκκλησια, one legally constituted, and properly authorized to hear

and determine on the subject.

Verse 40. For we are in danger, &c.] Popular commotions were

always dreaded by the Roman government; and so they should by all

governments; for, when might has nothing to direct its operations

but passion, how destructive must these operations be! One of the

Roman laws made all such commotions of the people capital offenses

against those who raised them. Qui caetum et concursus fecerit,

capite puniatur: "He who raises a mob shall forfeit his life." If

such a law existed at Ephesus-and it probably did, from this

reference to it in the words of the town-clerk or recorder-then

Demetrius must feel himself in great personal danger; and that his

own life lay now at the mercy of those whom he had accused,

concerning whom he had raised such an outcry, and against whom

nothing disorderly could be proved.

Verse 41. He dismissed the assembly.] τηνεκκλησιαν. Another

proof that the word εκκλησια, which we generally translate church,

signifies an assembly of any kind, good or bad, legal or illegal.

1. How forcible are right words! From the conduct of this

prudent, sensible man, we may learn how much influence persons of

this character may have, even over the unbridled multitude. But,

where the civil power associates itself with the lawless might of

the many, THERE must be confusion and every evil work. What a

blessing to the community is the civil law! Were it not for this,

the unthinking multitude would destroy others, and at last destroy

themselves. Law and justice are from God; and the civil power,

by which they are supported and administered, should be respected

by all who regard the safety of their persons or property.

2. Though the ministry of St. Paul was greatly blessed at

Ephesus, and his preaching appears to have been very popular, yet

this sunshine was soon darkened: peace with the world cannot last

long; the way of the Lord will always be opposed by those who love

their own ways.

3. How few would make an outward profession of religion, were

there no gain connected with it! And yet, as one justly observes,

religion is rendered gainful only by some external part of it. For

this very reason, the external part of religion is always on the

increase, and none can find fault with it without raising storms

and tempests; while the internal part wastes and decays, no man

laying it to heart. Demetrius and his fellows would have made no

stir for their worship, had not the apostle's preaching tended to

discredit that by which they got their wealth. Most of the

outcries that have been made against all revivals of

religion-revivals by which the Church has been called back to its

primitive principles and purity, have arisen out of self-interest.

The cry of, the Church is in danger, has been echoed only by those

who found their secular interest at stake; and knew that

reformation must unmask them and show that the slothful and

wicked servants could no longer be permitted to live on the

revenues of that Church which they disgraced by their lives, and

corrupted by their false doctrines. He that eats the Church's

bread should do the Church's world: and he that will not work

should not be permitted to eat.

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