Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 19

Paul instructs the disciples of John at Ephesus. (1-7) He
teaches there. (8-12) The Jewish exorcists disgraced. Some
Ephesians burn their evil books. (13-20) The tumult at Ephesus.
(21-31) The tumult appeased. (32-41)

1-7 Paul, at Ephesus, found some religious persons, who looked
to Jesus as the Messiah. They had not been led to expect the
miraculous powers of the Holy Ghost, nor were they informed that
the Gospel was especially the ministration of the Spirit. But
they spake as ready to welcome the notice of it. Paul shows them
that John never designed that those he baptized should Rest there,
but told them that they should believe On him who should come
after him, that is, On Christ Jesus. They thankfully accepted
the discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The Holy Ghost came upon them in a surprising, overpowering
manner; they spake with Tongues, and prophesied, as the apostles
and the first Gentile converts did. Though we do not now expect
miraculous powers, yet all who profess to be disciples of
Christ, should be called On to examine whether they have
received the Seal of the Holy Ghost, in his sanctifying
influences, to the sincerity of their Faith. Many seem not to
have heard that there is a Holy Ghost, and many deem all that is
spoken concerning his graces and comforts, to be delusion. Of
such it may properly be inquired, "Unto what, then, were ye
baptized?" for they evidently know not the meaning of that
outward sign On which they place great dependence.

8-12 When arguments and persuasions only harden men in unbelief
and Blasphemy, we must separate ourselves and others from such
unholy company. God was pleased to confirm the teaching of these
holy men of old, that if their hearers believed them not, they
might believe the Works.

13-20 It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons to
profess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the
Devil By Faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think
to resist him By the using of Christ's name, or his Works, as a
spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us. Where there is
true sorrow for Sin, there will be free Confession of Sin to God
in every Prayer and to Man whom we have offended, when the case
requires it. Surely if the Word of God prevailed among us, many
lewd, infidel, and wicked books would be burned By their
possessors. Will not these Ephesian converts rise up in
judgement against professors, who traffic in such Works for the
sake of gain, or allow themselves to possess them? If we desire
to be in Earnest in the great work of Salvation, every pursuit
and enjoyment must be given up which hinders the effect of the
Gospel upon the mind, or loosens its Hold upon the Heart.

21-31 Persons who came from afar to pay their devotions at the
Temple of Ephesus, bought little Silver Shrines, or models of
the Temple, to carry home with them. See how craftsmen make
advantage to themselves of people's superstition, and serve
their worldly ends By it. Men are jealous for that By which they
get their wealth; and many set themselves against the Gospel of
Christ, because it calls men from all unlawful crafts, however
much wealth is to be gotten By them. There are persons who will
stickle for what is most grossly absurd, unreasonable, and
false; as this, that those are gods which are made with hands,
if it has but worldly interest On its side. The whole City was
full of confusion, the common and natural effect of zeal for
false religion. Zeal for the honour of Christ, and Love to the
brethren, encourage zealous believers to venture into danger.
Friends will often be raised up among those who are strangers to
true religion, but have observed the honest and consistent
behaviour of Christians.

32-41 The Jews came forward in this tumult. Those who are thus
careful to distinguish themselves from the servants of Christ
now, and are afraid of being taken for them, shall have their
doom accordingly in the great Day. One, having authority, at
length stilled the noise. It is a very good rule at all times,
both in private and public affairs, not to be hasty and rash in
our motions, but to take time to consider; and always to keep
our passions under check. We ought to be quiet, and to do
nothing rashly; to do nothing in haste, of which we may repent
at leisure. The regular methods of the Law ought always to stop
popular tumults, and in Well-governed nations will do So. Most
people stand in awe of men's judgments more than of the
judgement of God. How Well it were if we would thus quiet our
disorderly appetites and passions, By considering the account we
must shortly give to the Judge of Heaven and Earth! And see how
the overruling Providence of God keeps the public peace, By an
unaccountable power over the spirits of men. Thus the world is
kept in some order, and men are held back from devouring each
other. We can scarcely look around but we see men act like
Demetrius and the workmen. It is as safe to contend with wild
beasts as with men enraged By party zeal and disappointed
Covetousness, who think that all arguments are answered, when
they have shown that they grow rich By the practices which are
opposed. Whatever side in religious disputes, or whatever name
this Spirit assumes, it is worldly, and should be
discountenanced By all who regard Truth and Piety. And let us
not be dismayed; the Lord On high is mightier than the noise of
many waters; he can still the rage of the people.