Acts 19

Devotional by Brett Wolff

Read Acts 19

Acts 19

Paul in Ephesus

19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

The Sons of Sceva

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 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. 13 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.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 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. 17 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. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 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. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

A Riot at Ephesus

21 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.” 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 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. 27 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.”

28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 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. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 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. 33 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. 34 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!”

35 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? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 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. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 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.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.


Acts 19 begins at the beginning of Paul’s third missionary journey as he is traveling through Ephesus. Think about what happens here, these Christians put their hope in John’s baptism. Sometimes, we too put our hope in church, in the things we do, or even in other people like the Christians in Ephesus did. The Christians in Ephesus are examples that the Holy Spirit only comes into our lives when we believe in Jesus and with that, miraculous things can happen. The Holy Spirit resting upon the Christians in Ephesus destroyed their unbelief.  The harsh reality is that what happened to the Sons of Sceva is the result of living without truly knowing who Jesus is. 

I remember a time when I thought I knew a lot about cooking. I would tell people that I could cook these super fancy meals that would challenge Gordon Ramsay’s best dish. Then, one day I mentioned that in front of someone who actually knew how to cook, and they started asking me how I make my famous chicken alfredo. I could not Google “chicken alfredo recipes” fast enough. I went away embarrassed. Similarly, we may not truly know Jesus but act like we do. Look deeper into the character of Jesus and gain confidence in the power that has been entrusted to you. God validates the ministry of his followers. 

Are you trying to live a Christian life without knowing Christ?

21 thoughts on “Day Nineteen | The Book of Acts

  1. Let’s pray for those walking only under conviction and not conversion. Father, may your Holy Spirit guide us into the truth found in your word.

  2. Life is too unpredictable and fragile to be walking around pretending to know Jesus. We need a “Solid Rock” to stand on when we loose our jobs, illness hits our lives, death of a loved one happens. Trying to live a good life without Christ is like building a beautiful home on sand, it only takes one big wave of life to hit and your house will crumble. WE NEED JESUS, our Firm Foundation in order to do life and do it well🙏🏾

    1. Yes!!! This is the VBS theme this year!! Kids will learn know matter what the world says, what people say… live your life on the one true rock, JESUS!!

  3. Lord Jesus,

    Help me live in You and not in myself. Use me today as a true disciple of Christ who desires to only bring glory and honor to You and to Your word.

  4. This chapter sounds like it could be said about the world we live in today. Many people call themselves Christians yet do not know Christ, it is cultural Christianity, they identify as Christian because they go to church, or were raised in a church but are not in a relationship with Jesus. The sons of Sceva are like many false teachers/leaders today that use Jesus for their own personal gain and agenda. When we follow Jesus we are given the power to share boldly about Him, and that should be our focus. We should be proudly and boldly proclaiming that Jesus is the savior! Father God I pray that I grow closer to you daily, that I am proclaim my faith in all my thoughts, actions, and words. I pray that others will know you in a close and personal way. -AMEN

  5. Wouldn’t it have been amazing to see the men, who had been baptized in John’s baptism, when they learned the Truth and received the Holy Spirit? I can only imagine the change in their demeanor! So grateful that they were willing to listen to the Truth!

  6. Trying to live a Christian life without knowing HIM becomes a big struggle( Rise & Fall). If I don’t know HIM or have relationship with HIM, how can I have HIS Spirit, that will empower me to live a life that truly reflects Christ?

    One of the lessons I learned from this chapter is the importance of receiving the baptism of Holy Spirit as a Believer, either through outpouring like the day of Pentecost or by laying of hands. We must be hungry for HIM as an individual and as a church. We saw in this chapter that Paul encouraged the Christians or a believers that has been baptized with water but haven’t been baptized with the Holy Spirit to do so. I believe they were not yet complete. It means such a Christian is powerless because the Bible says in Act1:8, we shall receive power ( power to live holy, power to resist the devil/sin/ flesh, power to win souls, power to overcome temptations, to heal , set the captives free etc) when the Holy Spirit has come upon us. Therefore we cannot undermine the importance of Holy Spirit in thr Church and in finishing this Spritual Race well and Strong.

  7. Seven sons of Sceva: this is one of my favorite bible stories. I love the translation my college Pastor gave, which goes something like this: “We KNOW Jesus. We have heard of Paul’s reputation. But who in hell are you?”
    Do the demons in hell fear my reputation? When they see me coming, do they see Christ in me and tremble? Are they ready to pounce on me like they did the sons of Sceva?

  8. …so true…

    Can you imagine living decades of your life going to church, knowing about God and thinking you are going to heaven when you die? Can you just imagine that their justification is that they’ve been going to church for a long time and all the good things they had done – given to the local food bank, donated to a local charity or two, helped organize the yearly festival at the church…and generally been a good person throughout their life…

    I pray that the Lord Jesus will send His saints to rescue these souls by the power of the Holy Spirit before it’s too late…

  9. This devotional gives me a burden for those students who’ll be on our campus next week for FREEDOM! With the theme being “Encounter” this reading points my heart to pray and expect the Lord to encounter each one of those who haven’t experienced Christ in a personal way. I pray that I wouldn’t become to comfortable in my faith that I forget that the Lord wants to have a daily encounter with me!

  10. I posted a reply to Agbi and did not realize it wouldn’t be public. I wasn’t trying to be critical, but I wanted him to know that his interpretation of these scriptures are those of charismatic denominations, such as Assemblies of God, Pentecostal church, etc. and are not shared by many evangelical denominations, such as Southern Baptist. The believers who had been followers of John the Baptist, did not have the Holy Spirit, simply because they became believers before Pentecost, and Paul was bringing them up to date. Charismatics believe you need to be baptized by the Holy Spirit after you have been saved, as these disciples were. Southern Baptists and many other evangelicals believe that since Pentecost, the new believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit at conversion, and does not require the “second blessing “ practiced by charismatics. It’s a difference of interpretation, not a criticism.

    1. Frank has taken out the time to write a reply in Christian love at a time when his wife at their home wife Nell has only has a few hours left before Jesus welcomes her into his presents.

  11. I was so encouraged this morning by the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who practiced magic arts. (vs 18-20) Please pray for the children in our community whose parents are practicing these things. This is a real need in our community. Just last night at a community event, we experienced this need! Pray for salvation to come to these homes & for God’s protection over these children!

  12. Sprit of God, help me know Jesus, and mold me to follow his life of sacrificial life, dying to myself so others may come to know and follow Him.

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