Paul and the Mighty Miracles
Series: Pauline Letters
Acts 19:11-19 ESV
Acts 19:21 to 20:3
While it’s not always the case, often times when we get ‘noticed’ it can cause trouble. We don’t mean for it to cause trouble it just happens. That was what happened with Paul.
We learn in Acts 19:11-19, “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.”
Really, the problem wasn’t that Paul did the extraordinary miracles that were happening. They were done by God. Paul was the instrument God used for the miracles. God made it so, even if a handkerchief had been touched by Paul people were being healed.
More than likely that was unheard of at that time, and the people didn’t know what to do with it.
In the meantime, seven sons of a priest decided to use the name of Jesus to exorcise evil spirits.
That backfired on them big-time.
The strange part is the evil spirit spoke to them and said he knew who Jesus was, and he knew who Paul was, but he had no idea who they were. They didn’t anticipate that.
Then it got worse from there. As they say it went south on ‘em.
The evil spirit attacked them, and they ran out of there house wounded and naked.
Well, as is usually the case word got out around town about what happened. The result was kind of surprising. Everybody in town took notice and they changed their tune.
People all over town were extolling, the name of Jesus. That wasn’t quite what the evil brothers expected.
The great part is a whole lot of people joined up with Jesus. When they joined up with Jesus, they got rid of there evil practices.
It was a win-win for God.
It was a win-win for Jesus.
And it was a win-win for Paul.
The people were so serious about their decision to follow Jesus, that they got rid of all of their evil practices, all of their books, and all the things that they used in their evil craft. When they figured up how much all of that had cost them they figured out it was 50,000 pieces of silver.
Wow, really sounds to me like it was an expensive craft. Following Jesus didn’t cost them a dime.
Jesus paid the price for them.
You’d think that would be the end of Paul’s troubles, but it wasn’t.
Trouble was a brewin’ on the horizon.
In Acts 19:21 to 20:3 we are told, “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”
“When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.”
Just to recap, there was a man named Demetrius, who made a really good living making silver shrines of the god Artemis. The man wasn’t willing to change his job so he decided to take on Paul.
A crowd gathered. There was confusion all over the city. They called in Alexander to settle the dispute about Jesus v. Artemis.
For some unknown reason, Alexander the Jew was selected to head off the mob but he didn’t get anywhere. Then the town clerk sought to appease the crowd. He did a two-step and he told them if they had a problem they could take it to court.
At least that dispersed the crowd. Probably they didn’t wanna spend money and time taking the matter to court.
About that time, Paul decided it was time for him to make his exit.
We pick up in Acts 20:1, “After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.”
In Acts 20:2-3 we are told, “When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.”
Paul and his companions of the people of the Way of Jesus did not cause the riot. In truth, no one really knew why the different groups of people rushed into the theater in an uproar. Paul did not go in because he was urged to stay away. As soon as the uproar started pitting Jesus against the god Artimus, it ended because the clerk told them if they had a problem they could take it to court.
The way I see it, even though God didn’t start the uproar, God finished it (about as quickly as it started). God did a mighty miracle.
Spiritual Practice: Mighty Miracle
Think of a time when something quite unexpected happened. Was God working on your behalf? Miracles are all around us…see them.
In God, Deborah