As Paul entered Ephesus, he met some disciples and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. They told him they had not and that had not even heard there was a Holy Spirit. They explained they had been baptized in the name of John. Paul shared with them that John’s baptism was one of repentance, but told the people to believe in the One coming after him, who was Christ. The disciples were then baptized in the name of Christ. After their baptism, Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them. How many are following Christ but have never felt the fullness of the Holy Spirit? I pray I can be open to better experiencing the Holy Spirit.
Paul spoke boldly, in the synagogue for three months. When some became stubborn and refused to believe and then publicly criticize the Way, Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and held public discussions daily. He did this for two years, and all of the Greeks and Jews in Asia heard the word of the Lord. Again, the Scripture shows us that there is a time to move on and not keep pressing the Word when others are not going to hear. Paul was much more effective in a different place. If you remember from Chapter 16, the Holy Spirit would not allow Paul to preach in Asia, but now, the time was right. God did such an extraordinary work through Paul that “even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” I pray that we will know when it is time to move on and discern God’s time.
There were a group of Jews who were driving out evil spirits and were trying to use the name of the Lord Jesus over some who were demon-possessed. There were seven sons of a Jewish chief priest who were involved in this practice. One day, they encountered an evil spirit who answered them saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I knew about, but who are you? “ The man with the evil spirit attacked the men and beat them. I think we overlook the demonic world today. When the news about the attack spread among the Jews and Greeks in Ephesus, they became afraid and held the Name of the Lord Jesus in high esteem. Many who believed, now came and openly confessed the things they had done. Some who practiced sorcery brought their books (scrolls) of magic and burned them publicly. This act helped the Word of God spread. We have to be very careful that we are actually working in the name of Christ and not a false assumption. If these men had the power of Christ, the evil spirit would have never been able to overcome them. Why would the Holy Spirit move to have you confess your sins publicly? There could be several reasons: It is a humbling experience. It is an example to others. It can become a ministry opportunity. It shows the power of the Holy Spirit in that you can overcome the secret sins of your life by getting putting them in the light. It helps with accountability when those around us help by giving support and encouragement. It can reach others by letting them know their sins can also be forgiven, through repentance.
After some time in Ephesus, the business for the local silversmith began falling off. Why would that be? Well, the people who worshipped false gods and idols would have those idols cast in silver, so it had a profound impact on his business, along with other craftsman who relied on the trade of making idols. This silversmith decided to call the craftsmen together and got them all stirred up. They pulled Paul’s traveling companions in front of a mob. Many people came and were angry and didn’t even know why they were there. Isn’t that how many situations work, today? People get worked up and excited, even angry, because that is what the general population thinks or believes, and will follow along with the crowd, many times without even know why. I pray that we listen for God’s prompting and don’t get caught following the crowd.
The city clerk quieted the crowd and told them they needed to deal with charges legally, and he dismissed the crowd. We will find out what happens after this in chapter 20!