This page is a daily devotion. It will study a chapter of the Bible for 5 days one section at a time. Then it will move on to another chapter for 5 days. Included is a verse to memorize.

Acts chapter 19

 

Memory verse: Acts 19:5-6

 

Each book of the Bible has a unique importance. None is more important than the others, but each one has a special main purpose. For example, you read throughout the Bible that God is our Creator. However, there is only one book of the Bible that actually contains the account of the creation – Genesis. Certainly the 4 accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John of the ministry of Jesus are of utmost importance. Yet the church did not actually start in those books. It started in the book of Acts. The new testament is based on the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28). It is based on His death (Hebrews 9:13-18). A last will and testament is just a piece of paper until the person who wrote it dies. When Jesus was born, the old testament of the law of Moses was in effect. When John the baptizer came, the transition to the new testament began (Matthew 11:12-13, Luke 16:16). He prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1, Malachi 4:4-6). The teaching of Jesus recorded in the 4 gospels can be looked at as the writing of the will. It was put into force in the book of Acts after His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus said the beginning of the ministry of the church would be in Jerusalem when the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Luke 24:46-48, Acts 1:1-8). This occurred in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost. Peter looked back to that day after being converted in Acts 2 (Luke 22:32), and also called it the beginning (Acts 11:15). It is believed that the day of Pentecost fell on the same day Moses received the 2 tables of the ten commandments in Exodus 20. God now writes His covenant on our hearts with His Spirit (Jeremiah 31:33, 2Corinthians 3:3, Hebrews 8:10, Hebrews 10:16). As the presence of God descended on Mount Sinai in fire,  all heard the voice. His presence descended on the day of Pentecost in fire, and all heard the Holy Ghost giving utterance of the works of God. The book of Acts is the only place in the Bible where you read actual accounts of the early church “reading” the will, and executing it. The accounts are all consistent and reiterate what Peter said in Acts 2:38 (Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6). Acts chapter 19 contains a particularly interesting account of Paul preaching the gospel which sheds important light on the apostle’s doctrine. It is followed by the account of the riot in Ephesus.

 

Day 1 – Unto what then were ye baptized?

Verses 1-8

When Paul arrived in the city of Ephesus, he found “certain disciples”. The first recorded thing he did was ask them a question, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” This shows several things. One is that someone who puts their faith in Christ does not automatically receive the Holy Ghost. Another is that receiving the Holy Ghost is essential (John 3:5, Romans 8:9-11). It is not a bonus gift for the extra spiritual. What would some people’s reaction be if that question was the first thing a Christian said to them when they met? These disciples told Paul that they had not heard of it. This does not mean they had never heard of the existence of the Holy Ghost. They were disciples of John the baptizer who clearly spoke of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11, John 1:33). They had not heard that the Holy Ghost was being given. When the people said they had not heard of the Holy Ghost, Paul then asked another question: “Unto what then were ye baptized?” Since they did not have the Holy Ghost, Paul then asked how they were baptized. He did not ask if they were baptized, but how. Paul apparently assumed since they were disciples they were baptized. It also appears that Paul connected how they were baptized with the issue of them not yet receiving the Holy Ghost. They explained they were baptized by John the baptizer. Now Paul understood what the problem was. He explained that John was baptizing to prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus. They responded to that by being re-baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. There was only one difference between their first baptism and this. John was a man of God (John 1:6). In fact, Jesus said there was no greater prophet than John (Matthew 11:11). John baptized by total immersion (Matthew 3:6 & 16, John 3:23). He baptized the repentant for the remission of sins (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3). These are the elements of water baptism in the new testament, except for one. John did not baptize in the name of Jesus Christ because He had not come forward as the Christ yet. This was so important that even though these people were baptized by immersion for the remission of their sins by a great prophet of God after they repented, they were re-baptized in the name of Jesus Christ because that is the only saving name of God in the new testament (Acts 4:12). It is now only through His name we receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43), and that is what water baptism is for (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16). This shows that anyone baptized any other way than by immersion in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins after repentance needs to be re-baptized. This includes those who have been baptized in the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The power of remission and salvation is not in those words. It is only in the name of Jesus Christ. That is why the early church always baptized that way. For centuries there was a group called the Anabaptists who re-baptized people who were not baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. There is also a church today that follows the Biblical doctrine and example, and baptizes this way. When these disciples of John were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, they received the Holy Ghost with the initial outward evidence of speaking with tongues. These 12 people were the start of the church in Ephesus, which Paul later wrote his epistle to. Then Paul preached in the synagogue for 3 months.

 

Day 2 – God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul

Verses 9-17

When some people opposed what Paul was teaching in Ephesus, he took those who believed and went to a school where he continued to preach for 2 years until the word of God spread  throughout the whole region. Instead of once a week to only the Jews, Paul could now teach daily to both Jews and Gentiles. The devil tried to close the door, but God opened up an even better one. God did special miracles. By definition a miracle is something special, but these were even more so. People brought cloths from Paul to people who were sick and possessed with demons, and they were delivered. There were some homeless Jews who thought they could do what Paul was doing, and cast out demons using the name of Jesus, without actually being His disciples. 7 sons of the chief priest decided they would try it. The demon replied, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” Not only does God know who His real disciples are, the devil knows too. The demon possessed man overcame these 7 men, stripped them naked, injured them, and ran them out. Word of this spread throughout the city, the fear of God fell, and the name of Jesus was magnified.

 

Day 3 – so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed

Verses 18-22

Many people believed and publicly confessed their sins. Many who practiced magic brought the books they had about it and publicly burned them. They calculated the value of the books at 50,000 pieces of silver. It cannot be determined exactly what that would be in today’s money. Even today the price of silver fluctuates. One ounce of silver is worth about 20 to 30 dollars. If each piece was one ounce and worth $20, that would be one million dollars’ worth of books. They did not care about that. They wanted to literally burn the bridge back to their old works, and be right with God. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. As Paul’s time in Ephesus came to an end, he planned to pass through Macedonia en route to Jerusalem. From there he knew he would be headed to Rome. God had shown him what would happen in Jerusalem, which he later told the Ephesians (Acts 20:22-24). He sent 2 of his helpers ahead to Macedonia, but stayed in Ephesus.

 

Day 4 – the whole city was filled with confusion

Verses 23-32

Paganism has its roots in the original religion of Babylon in Genesis 11:1-9. It is the mother of all false religions (Revelation 17:5). The idols of Babylon spread throughout the world after the dispersion from the tower of Babel. Their names changed according to the different languages, but remained for the most part in their original form. The Babylonian queen Semiramis became a goddess, and the worship of this idol spread throughout the world under the name of the language of the culture it spread to. She was called Ishtar, Ashtoreth (Judges 2:13, Judges 10:6, 1Samuel 7:3-4, 1Samuel 12:10, 1Samuel 31:10, 1Kings 11:5 & 33, 2Kings 23:13), the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18, Jeremiah 44:17-25), Isis, and Aphrodite. In Ephesus it was called Diana. Alexander Hislop wrote a book called “The Two Babylons” which details the history of this idolatry, and describes how it is still alive today as described in Revelation 17. The harlot described there is a worldwide religion which features the worship of the female goddess, international political influence and corruption, sexual perversion, decadent array in colored robes and gold, a cup in her hand, murder of Christians, and a city which sits on 7 hills which ruled the world at the time the book of Revelation was written in the first century A.D. Other books on this are “Three Persons” by Thomas Weisser, and “Babylon Mystery Religion” by Ralph Woodrow. The word Babylon, or Babel, means confusion. It is the confusing of the worship of God with paganism. It is purposefully confusing people so they cannot find the truth. It causes societal confusion, which is literally what happened in Ephesus. When the gospel spread powerfully there, a man named Demetrius who made the idols of Diana feared that he would lose the income he made from selling them, and gathered the people against God and Paul. The love of money is the root of all evil, and causes people to err from the faith (1Timothy 6:10). Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). They all started screaming in wrath, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”, and ran violently into the theater, which was the place where they held their sporting events and public meetings. Paul was going to go in to address the people, but the disciples stopped him for his own safety because of the riot that was occurring. There was so much confusion, some of the people did not even know why they were there. There are some people that are professional protestors. They do not even know the facts about what they are protesting. They just join the crowd. If you ask them what the facts of the issue are, they cannot tell you. They just protest because that is what they do. When riots break out, most often the truth is the biggest victim. People just run out and loot and burn because they have an excuse to do it. They don’t even know what started the thing. There are many Demetriuses in the world who for the love of money like to stir up trouble by lying to those who do not really care about the truth of the matter in the first place, and getting them riled up. They create the need for their existence in the minds of the deceived. Sadly, even Christians who profess a love of the truth get caught up in issues and are led astray without even realizing what they are doing (Matthew 24:24).

 

Day 5 – ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly

Verses 33-41

We must be careful and diligent to know the truth of things. We cannot please God when we rush to judgment, or embrace agendas that are not based on the principles of the Bible. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him (Proverbs 18:13).” “Therefore judge nothing before the time (1Corinthians 4:5).” Truth must always take precedence over any other criteria for the Christian. “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding (Proverbs 23:23).” Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). We will not find Him in the situation when our judgment is clouded by other things, and our perception is based on our own opinions and not the truth. Many times people jump to conclusions based on their preconceived ideas only to be ashamed later when the facts come out. This is not the behavior of a Christian, and is not pleasing to God. Much damage has been done to the cause of Christ, and to society, by those who put their agendas ahead of the truth, especially when they claim to be speaking for God. People need to be careful whose side they take in issues, lest they be found to be attacking the truth and the children of God in favor of their issue. God will not bless this. We need to be on the side of the truth and righteousness. The Ephesians were going to persecute Paul’s companions Gaius and Aristarchus, who had done nothing wrong. The townclerk, or scribe, managed to get the people to calm down enough so he could speak to them. He said these men had done nothing wrong, and if someone had an accusation to bring, there was a legal, proper, and orderly way to address their concerns, and a legal hearing could be held to determine what had actually occurred. The townclerk said the accusers were the ones who were out of order, and in danger of being found guilty themselves of misdeeds. They had no excuse to be causing this insurrection and riot. He then dismissed them all. If someone does something wrong, they will be held accountable, whether in this life or the next. God is just. He is also merciful. We have all received of His mercy. Therefore we need to extend that mercy to others, and give people the benefit of the doubt unless otherwise necessary. The American system of innocent until proven guilty is based on the Bible, and is a special protection not everyone everywhere has enjoyed. Christians need to practice it. “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 17:17).”