Acts 19:1-20 The Message Is Authenticated-The Word Spreads.

Once again we see that this was a period of transition. John’s baptism was applicable for this time between old and new covenant administrations. The baptism of John was replaced by the Trinitarian baptism which Jesus Himself had instituted, as the sign of the new covenant administration (vv. 1-7 Cf. 8:12, 14; 10:48; Mt. 3:11; 28:18-20). However, there were still folks like Apollos, who lived during this time of transition, when the key point was to demonstrate “from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (18:28). Apollos was a prominent preacher, especially in Corinth. Paul in fact had to rebuke the Corinthians for playing favourites among the leaders then present in the church (I Cor. 1:12; 3:5-6).

As was Paul’s custom, upon arriving in Ephesus he first went to the synagogue, where he “spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (v. 8 Cf. 19:8). However, when opposition arose from those who were hardened and spoke evil of the Way, Paul withdrew with the disciples to reason with them alone (v. 9). This he did for 2 years, with both Jews and Greeks (v. 10 Cf. 20:31). Paul’s preaching and teaching was supported by “unusual miracles by the hands of Paul” (v. 11 Cf. 5:15; Mk. 16:20), including the casting out of demons (v. 12). Some Jewish exorcists were so enamoured with the latter that they supposed that they could simply invoke the names of Jesus and Paul (vv. 13-14 Cf. 16:18).

The evil spirits had better knowledge than those who were in effect playing with fire, such that they barely escaped with their lives (vv. 15-16). However, this example did cause the justifiable effect of fear in the people, “and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (v. 17 Cf. Lk. 7:16). For those who truly believed it led to repentance (v. 18 Cf. Mt. 3:6). Part of this repentance, by those who had practiced these arts, their repentance involved burning their books of magic, even though they were of great value (v. 19). This reveals to us the nature of repentance. Repentance must be specific and involve the repudiation of our past acts, no matter what the cost. Only in this way will the word of the Lord grow mightily and prevail (v. 20 Cf. 6:7; 12:24).

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