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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Acts 19

 

 

Verse 1

1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

Ver. 1. While Apollos was at Corinth] A mercy of God to the Church, that in Paul’s absence they should be so well provided of a preacher.


Verse 2

2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

Ver. 2. Have ye received the Holy Ghost] That is, the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost in prophecy, tongues, &c., as Acts 19:6.


Verse 3

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

Ver. 3. Unto John’s baptism] That is, unto John’s doctrine sealed by baptism. This Paul shows to be nothing so, Acts 19:4. Whence Piscator collecteth that they were baptized by some of John’s disciples into John’s name, as if he had been the Christ. For that John had some such zealots about him, appears by John 3:26, &c.


Verse 4

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Ver. 4. John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance] That is, he taught the doctrine of repentance: {See Trapp on "Acts 19:5"} It is not to be thought that those were by Paul re-baptized who were formerly baptized by John; for if that had been necessary, Christ would have baptized his disciples again: but he baptized none himself, John 4:1-2; and they baptized not themselves.


Verse 5

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Ver. 5. They were baptized] That is, say some, they were re-baptized, because baptized before in a wrong name. Therefore Paul first catechiseth them, Acts 19:4. Others say that it was rather their renewing to their baptism than their baptism to them; and not that they took any other than that of John, but that they now began to entertain and apply it to the right intent. (Mr Lightfoot, Harm.)


Verse 6

6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Ver. 6. And prophesied] By a divine and evident inspiration they expounded the writings of the prophets, and also foretold future events.


Verse 7

7 And all the men were about twelve.

Ver. 7. And all the men were about twelve] These twelve, being the firstfruits of this Church, were endued with extraordinary gifts to be for elders and rulers there: for these gifts were not common to all believers, as Beza well noteth.


Verse 8

8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Ver. 8. The things concerning the kingdom of God] The subject matter of his discourse were faith, righteousness, life eternal. Of these things he disputed, and so informed their judgments: and these things he persuaded, and so reduced all to practice. Lo, this is preaching. Every sound is not music; neither is every pulpit discourse, preaching.


Verse 9

9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

Ver. 9. But when divers were hardened] Hardness of heart is either natural or habitual: and this again is increased either by doing (that is, by resisting the word of God), or by suffering it to pass by us without amendment of life.

He departed from them and separated] So did Zuinglius and Luther separate from the Papists for like reason. It was laid to Luther’s charge that he was an apostate. Confitetur se esse apostatam, sed beatum et sanctum, qui fidem diabolo datam non servavit. An apostate he confessed himself; but one that had fallen off from the devil only.

In the school of one Tyrannus] In one ancient copy it is added, "From the fifth hour to the tenth hour:" so indefatigable a preacher was Paul, a very χαλκεντερος, or iron-sides. He had a golden wit in an iron body, as one saith of Julius Scaliger.


Verse 10

10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

Ver. 10. So that all they that dwelt in Asia] Which now (according to the notation of its name) became אשיה Esh-jah, the fire of God: not from the fire which at first they worshipped as God; but from the fire of grace kindled upon the hearth of their hearts, and making them shine as lamps in their lives. Father Latimer, when he was demanded the reason why so much preaching and little practice? answered, Deest ignis, the fire of God is wanting, there is not a coal to warm at. It was otherwise now at Ephesus; all was on a light fire, which opened to St Paul that great door and effectual, 1 Corinthians 16:9, so that all they that dwelt in Asia were fired up to a holy contention in godliness.


Verse 11

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

Ver. 11. And God wrought special miracles] Virtutes non vulgares, not common power, yet ordinary in the infancy of the Church, but now not to be expected. Manna ceased when they came to Canaan; as if it would say, Ye need no miracles now you have means. So here.


Verse 12

12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Ver. 12. Handkerchiefs or aprons] Which having been touched by Paul’s body, became sovereign (by a miracle) to cure diseases and cast out devils.


Verse 13

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

Ver. 13. Exorcists] But of these (having no call from God, but unwarrantably emulating Paul, and yet using good words) we may say, as one doth of witches with their good prayers (as they call them, Si magicae, Deus non vult tales; si piae, non per tales. If magical, God will none of them; as if good prayers, yet because out of an evil mouth, he rejects them.)


Verse 14

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

Ver. 14. Seven sons of one Sceva] All fathers, but especially ministers, should use all utmost care that their children be well educated and instructed; and not think it sufficient to say of them as Pope Paul III did of his dissolute sea Farnesius, Haec vitia me non commonstratore didicit, He never learned it from his father.


Verse 15

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

Ver. 15. Jesus I know, and Paul] Jesus had destroyed his works, and Paul had felt his fingers, 2 Corinthians 12:7, and yet thrown him out of his trenches, 2 Corinthians 10:4.


Verse 16

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Ver. 16. So that they fled out, &c.] Non omnia possumus omnes. Albeit the eagle in the fable did bear away a lamb in her talons with full flight, yet a raven endeavouring to do the like was held entangled, and fettered in the fleece. Every exorcist must not think to do as Paul did, nor every preacher as Latimer did. He had my fiddle and my stick, said he of one that preached his sermons, but wanted my resin.


Verse 17

17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

Ver. 17. And fear fell on them all] {See Trapp on "Acts 5:5"}


Verse 18

18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

Ver. 18. Confessed and showed their deeds] With detestation, being moved thereto by the fear of God’s judgments. This they did publicly, not in the priest’s ear, as Papists, nor out of a brain sick humour, as the Anabaptists at Sangall ( Coeperunt plurimi enormia sun delicta profiteri, alius furta, alius adulteria, alius alia, non sine admiratione audientium, non sine stomacho coniugum maritis talibns nihil non imprecantium, saith Scultetus); but with discretion and detestation. Oftentimes the very opening of men’s grievances easeth the conscience, as the very opening of a vein cools the blood. Howbeit it is neither wisdom nor mercy to put men upon the rack of confession, further than they can have no ease any other way. (Dr Sibbes.)


Verse 19

19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

Ver. 19. Which used curious arts] The Ephesians were much addicted to the black art. Whence that ancient proverb, εφεσια γραμματα, Ephesian learning for necromancy. Cornelius Agrippa’s dog had a devil tied to his collar, as some write. And Paracelsus (or else Erastus belies him) had one confined to his sword pommel.


Verse 20

20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Ver. 20. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed] Happy it is for a people or person, when the word falls upon their spirits in the power of it, and subdues them; when the peace of God ruleth in their hearts, { βραβευετω, Colossians 3:15} and every high thought is so captivated to the obedience of Christ, that they can say, as 8:22; "Rule thou over us," &c. "For thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian."


Verse 21

21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

Ver. 21. Purposed in the spirit] i.e. By the instinct of the Holy Spirit, his counsellor and conduct, by whom all his actions were moderated. So he went bound in the spirit, Acts 20:22. So Simeon came by the spirit into the temple, Luke 2:27. And so still, the steps of every good man are ordered by the Lord, Psalms 37:23.


Verse 22

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

Ver. 22. In Asia] i.e. At Ephesus, the chief city of Asia the Less. {See Trapp on "Acts 19:10"}


Verse 23

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

Ver. 23. No small stir] Covetousness, as itself is idolatry, so it upholds idolatry. (as here) under a pretext of piety. Deos quisqus sibi utiles cudit, saith Epictetus. Ubi utilitas, ibi pietas, saith another. The Papists are sound in those points that touch not upon their profit, as in the doctrine of the Trinity, &c. Luther was therefore so much set against (as Erasmus told the Elector of Saxony) because he meddled with the pope’s triple crown and the monks’ fat paunches. (Scultet. Annal.)


Verse 24

24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

Ver. 24. Which made silver shrines] Gr. temples, Templa portatilia, small portable temples, resembling that greater temple of Diana; as now the Agnus Dei (lamb of God) among the Papists. (Beza.) Some say they were little houses or caskets to put the idols in. (Casaubon.) Others, small coins stamped with the image of that famous temple. (Piscator.) Idolatrous trinkets they were, such as brought no small gain to the craftsmen, to whom gain was godliness.


Verse 25

25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

Ver. 25. By this craft we have our wealth] And wealth is the wordling’s god, which he prizeth, as Micah did his idol; and can as hardly forego it. What a cursing made Micah’s mother in the loss of her eleven hundred shekels of silver, 17:2, and what a hubbub raised Micah all the country over, when the Danites had despoiled him of his dunghill deity, 18:22-27. So did the silversmiths here, and they thought they had reason to be thus mad when their trade was taken away.


Verse 26

26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:

Ver. 26. They be no gods] The town clerk then told a loud lie, Acts 19:5. Politicians think they may lawfully lie for peace sake. Howbeit Paul decried Diana’s temple and worship with better discretion than Abdias the bishop burnt down the temple of the fire (which the Persians worship) at Persepolis. Whereupon not only he himself was slain, but all the temples of the Christians throughout Persia were overthrown, and many Christians put to death; the Persian priests being their chief persecutors, A. D. 413. (Funccius.)


Verse 27

27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

Ver. 27. This our craft] Whereof they had the patent, the monopoly, το μερος. Dictio est mercimoniorum et negotiorum, in genere significans illud quod in divisione obvenit, saith Lorinus. Istud quod nobis est peculiare. So Beza renders it.

To be set at nought] Gr. εις απελεγμον ελθειν. To be refuted, disgraced, decried, and we greatly damnified. Nobis refutatum intercidat. (Beza.) This was the Diana they strove for, and about which they raised all this uproar. So the poor Waldenses were persecuted, not for detestation of their tenets, but out of a jealousy lest these men’s plain dealing should discover their drifts and mar their markets.

And her magnificence should be destroyed] Her majesty, μεγαλειοτητα. Utinam aeque saltem reverenter de Dei nomine hodie homines loquerentur, saith Malcolm. I would men would but use like reverence in speaking of the true God.


Verse 28

28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Ver. 28. They were full of wrath] The Greek word θυμος signifieth the heating or heaving of the blood by the apprehension of the injury offered; hot and fiery anger, such as was that of Nebuchadnezzar, seven fold hotter than his fiery furnace, Daniel 3:19.

Great is Diana] Papists boast and write much of the Romish greatness, as Lipsius and others. We grant them to be that great whore in the Revelation, Revelation 17:18.


Verse 29

29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

Ver. 29. And the whole city was filled with confusion] {See Trapp on "Acts 17:1"}


Verse 30

30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

Ver. 30. The disciples suffered him not] i.e. They persuaded him otherwise, and prevailed. It is best, if a man can so order his affairs, as not to need the counsel of others. And the next best is to rest in good counsel, and to be ruled by it. But he that is uncounsellable is ripe for ruin, and that without remedy, Proverbs 29:1.


Verse 31

31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

Ver. 31. Certain of the chief of Asia] Not rulers, but priests, saith Beza, whose office was to set forth stage players in honour of the gods. These, though bad enough, had some good affection to the Christian religion, and cautioned Paul not to come into the theatre. Christ finds some friends among the worst of men.


Verse 32

32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Ver. 32. Knew not wherefore, &c.] No more do the most of our common hearers. They follow the drove, and believe as the Church believeth. They will say, they come to Church to serve God; but who that God is, how to be served, wherein, and in whom to be served, they know not. Si ventri bene sit, si lateri, as Epicurus in Horace, if the belly may be filled, the back fitted, it sufficeth them.


Verse 33

33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.

Ver. 33. And they drew Alexander] The coppersmith, who was here near to martyrdom, yet afterwards made shipwreck of the faith, 1 Timothy 1:19-20, and did the apostle much evil, and greatly withstood not his person only, but his preachings, 2 Timothy 4:15-16, which was a sin of a high and heinous nature.

Would have made his defence] He would have excused his countrymen the Jews (who therefore put him forward), and have turned all the rage of the people upon the apostles. But by a sweet providence of God he could not have audience.


Verse 34

34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Ver. 34. That he was a Jew] The Jews were generally hated of the Gentiles, and especially after their return from the Babylonish captivity, because they cried down all gods and religions but their own, and would never be drawn again to worship other gods, for which sin they had so exceedingly smarted. At this day the Jews, for their inexpiable guilt in crucifying Christ and their implacable hatred to his people, are by a common consent of nations banished out of the world, as it were. The very Turks themselves so hate the Jews for their crucifying Christ, that they used to say in detestation of a thing, Iudaeus sim, si mentiar, I would I might die a Jew then. Neither will they permit a Jew to turn Turk, unless he be first baptized.

All with one voice cried out, &c.] So the Papists cry up, ad ravim usque, their Lady of Loretto, of Sichem, of Walsingham, &c., and have nothing in their mouths so much as the Church, the Church; wherein, like oyster wives, they do easily out cry us.


Verse 35

35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?

Ver. 35. Great goddess Diana] Who yet, as great as she was, being busy at Alexander’s birth (as he said), could not be at leisure to save her temple at Ephesus from burning. Like as Baal was so hot in the pursuit of his enemies, that he could not be at hand to help his friends, 1 Kings 18:27.

And of the image that fell] A very ancient image made by Canetias a certain artificer, and for the antiquity of it, said by the covetous priests to have fallen down from Jupiter, that it might be the more venerable. By a like craft the Popish priests now show some shivers of the cross whereon our Saviour suffered, yea, some shreds of the tail of that ass whereupon he rode to Jerusalem.


Verse 36

36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

Ver. 36. Ye ought to be quiet] Or, sedate, composed, kept within compass, "to do nothing rashly or headlongly:" Temeritas enim comitem την μετανοιαν εχει.


Verse 37

37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

Ver. 37. Blasphemers of your goddess] This was false: but this politician held it lawful to redeem peace with a lie. Not so St Paul, who knew that after his departure from Ephesus grievous wolves would enter in, Acts 20:29. And yet, because he could not stay to preach unless he would have restored some Pharisaical observations, and unless, for peace’s sake, he would have yielded to the rites and image of Diana, he left the place, because he must not do the greatest good by any evil means.


Verse 38

38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.

Ver. 38,39. As the town clerk here quieted the tumultuating people, so ought we to compose unruly passions. Say to them, 1. Ye ought to do nothing rashly. 2. The law is open; so is God’s ear, to whom vengeance belongeth. 3. We are in danger of this day’s uproar, &c.


Verse 39

39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

Ver. 39. In a lawful assembly] Such as this could not be. Cum boni, cum probi coeunt, non est factio dicenda sed curia: ut e contrario, illis nomen factionis accommodandum est, qui in odium bonorum et Troborum conspirant. (Tertul. Apol. xxxix.)


Verse 40

40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.

Ver. 40. For we are in danger] Danger we all desire to decline, whether it be of life, limb, estate, &c., but venture our souls daily to the danger of damnation: this is practical atheism, rank folly.


Verse 41

41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

Ver. 41. Dismissed the assembly] And so Demetrius was deceived. See here the power of civil prudence and flexanimous eloquence. (See Cic. de Oratore, i.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Acts 19:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/acts-19.html. 1865-1868.

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