Acts xix.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Disciples. These were apparently disciples of St. John the Baptist, who believed in Christ from his testimony, and had received no farther instruction, nor any baptism but John’s. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. St. Paul first inquires of them, if they have received the Holy Ghost by confirmation. Their answer is probably not to be interpreted with rigour; since they must have heard something of the holy Spirit, so often mentioned in the Old Testament, by whom the prophets are said to speak, &c. They meant, they did not know there was in the Church, any means of communicating this Spirit to the faithful. (Calmet)

Ver. 5. Baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, so called to distinguish it from the baptism of John; and that of Christ was given in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, according to the command of Christ himself. [Matthew xxviii. 19.] (Witham)

Ver. 6. Imposed his hands on them, by which imposition of hands, was given the Holy Ghost in the sacrament of confirmation. (Witham)

Ver. 12. Aprons. It is likely such as he used in working, cured diseases, and cast out devils. What wonder, then, if God work miracles by the relics of martyrs and saints, to testify the sanctity of his servants, and to encourage others both to give them a reasonable honour, and to imitate their lives? (Witham) — Thus was fulfilled the promise which Christ had made his disciples, viz. that they should perform greater miracles than he himself had done. St. Chrysostom repeats more than once, that these clothes raised the dead, and that the apostles’ shadow chased away all maladies, and triumphed over death. Perhaps the unprejudiced reader may observe in this verse some reason for paying due regard to the relics, or whatever has belonged to the saints.

Ver. 13. The Jewish exorcists. Among the Jews were some, who by calling upon the name of the true God, sometimes cast out evil spirits. But these sons of Sceva seeing St. Paul cast out devils, by calling upon the name of Jesus, thought fit to do the same, though they did not believe in Jesus Christ. And God punished them in this manner, as it is here related, at least two of them. (Witham) — It is uncertain whether the Jews really possessed the power of exorcising demoniacs. From the 12th chapter of St. Matthew, one would be inclined to the affirmative opinion, as our Saviour seems to mention it as a thing well attested. The Jews pretended they received their exorcisms from Solomon. On the other hand, neither the Old nor New Testament ever approve of this power in them nor is it any where mentioned in Scripture that Solomon was the author of any such things. The old law was particularly severe in condemning every kind of enchantment. It is certain, that they, in the time here spoken of, added much superstition and magic to these rites. (Tirinus and others.) — Josephus mentions remarkable instances of their power in exorcisms performed in his own presence, and in that of the emperor Vespasian, and his whole army. (Lib. ii. chap. 25. The Jewish War) — Extraordinary things might possibly be performed by magic and collusion between these impostors and the demons. That this power of expelling devils, resides in the Church, every page of primitive ecclesiastical history, testifies. Scripture is also equally explicit on this subject. The exorcisms, says St. Cyprian, are the spiritual torments and scourges of the demons. (Ep. ad Demetrium.) — It was for this reason the Jews, on this occasion, used the name of Jesus; a name terrible to the infernal spirits, to add power to their imprecations. Tertullian urges facts of this power in the Christians, with much energy and eloquence, in his Apology. Prudentius has recorded the same, with equal elegance, in his verse —

———-Torquetur Apollo

Nomine percussus Christi, nec fulmina verbi

Ferre potest. Agitant miserum verbera linguĉ.

Ver. 18. Confessing and declaring their deeds, as penitents do in the sacrament of penance, and not only in general declaring or confessing themselves sinners. See Matthew iii. 6. (Witham)

Ver. 19. Curious arts. By which are here meant books of divination and magic art, to which study the Ephesians were much addicted. The price of the books burnt, amounting to a great sum, even computing the 50,000 denarii, each of them at sevenpence half-penny English money. (Witham) — The value of the books here destroyed might have amounted to £1000 sterling. The Christian emperors, Constantine the Great, Valentinian, Theodosius, Marcian, and Justinian, have made laws not less strict for destroying, than those of the Church for proscribing, the use of wicked books, where danger is likely to ensue. The danger of reading them is set forth by Eusebius, lib. vii. chap. 6; by St. Augustine, lib. iii. de bap. chap. 14; by St. Gregory, lib. v. ep. 64. — Such baneful productions should be destroyed; for although they may possibly produce no bad effect during the life of the present possessors, no one can pretend to say into what hands they will afterwards fall, nor what evil they may hereafter occasion.

Ver. 21. I must also see Rome. It is what St. Paul earnestly desired, and what the Spirit now revealed to him. See Romans i. (Witham)

Ver. 23. About the way of the Lord; that is, about Christian faith, and religion. (Witham) — A great source of these troubles that ensued, was the preaching of the gospel.

Ver. 24. Who made silver temples for Diana.[1] Perhaps figures of Diana’s temple in silver; or boxes and shrines, in which was the statue or figure of Diana. (Witham)

Ver. 27. In danger of being vilified, and Diana of losing her reputation. They ought to have reflected, says St. Chrysostom, (hom. xlii.) that if such a poor man, as Paul, could destroy the worship, and the majesty of this great goddess, whom, as they say, all the world adored, how much greater and worthy of adoration must the God be, by whose power Paul could do this? (Witham)

Ver. 28. Great is Diana of the Ephesians. This they shouted out without intermission for about two hours, though the greatest part knew not why they had met together. A true representation of an unthinking rash mob. (Witham)

Ver. 31. Some also of the rulers of Asia. They are called friends to St. Paul, but it is uncertain whether they were Christians, or others, who favoured him, and wished him well. (Witham)

Ver. 35. The town-clerk, &c. Literally, the scribe, or the recorder of the city. — Jupiter’s offspring.[2] His daughter, according to the poets. The Greek text seems to signify a statue, or figure of Diana, which was pretended to have fallen from heaven, and from Jupiter. (Witham) — Is a worshipper. Neokoron ousan; the word Neokoros is found in this sense in the Arundelian marbles, and more frequently on ancient coins and inscriptions. Its derivation is from neos, a temple, and kore, a virgin, or rather korein, to cleanse and decorate; as if this city were especially destined to ornament the Diana of Ephesus, which the people supposed came to them not by the work of man, but a present from heaven.

Ver. 37. Nor of blasphemy against your goddess. St. Chrysostom takes notice, that to calm the people, he says more than was true. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 24. Ĉdes argenteas, naous argurous.

[2] Ver. 35. Jovisque prolis, kai tou diopetous. Simulachri a cĉlo dilapsi. See Suidas.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Paul establishes the church at Ephesus. The tumult of the silversmiths.

1 And *it came to pass, while Apollo was at Corinth, that Paul having passed through the upper parts, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples:

2 And he said to them: Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? But they said to him: We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost.

3 And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John’s baptism.

4 Then Paul said: *John baptized the people with the baptism of penance, saying; That they should believe in him who was to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus.

5 Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

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

7 And all the men were about twelve.

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

9 But when some were hardened, and believed not, but spoke evil of the way of the Lord before the multitude, departing from them, he separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.*

10 And this continued for two years, so that all that dwelt in Asia, heard the word of the Lord, Jews and Gentiles.

11 And God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles:

12 So that even there were brought from his body to the sick handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the wicked spirits went out of them.

13 Now *some also of the Jewish exorcists, who went about, attempted to invoke over them, that had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus, saying: I conjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth.

14 And there were certain men, seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, who did this.

15 But the evil spirit answering, said to them: Jesus I know, and Paul I know: but who are you?

16 And the man, in whom the evil spirit was, leaping upon them, and mastering them both, prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17 And this became known to all the Jews and the Gentiles who dwelt at Ephesus: and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18 And many of those who believed, came confessing and declaring their deeds.

19 And many of those who had followed curious arts, brought their books together, and burnt them before all: and computing the price of them, they found the money to be fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20 So mightily increased the word of God, and was confirmed.

21 Now these things being 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.

22 So sending into Macedonia two of those that ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself remained for a time in Asia.

23 Now at that time there arose no small disturbance about the way of the Lord.*

24 For a certain man, named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver temples for Diana, brought no small gain to the craftsmen:

25 Whom calling together, with the workmen of like occupation, he said: Ye men, know that our gain is by this trade:

26 Now you see, and hear, that this Paul, by persuasion hath drawn away a great multitude, not only at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, saying: That they are no gods which are made with hands.

27 So that not only this our craft is in danger of being vilified, but also the temple of great Diana shall be thought nothing of, yea, and her majesty shall begin to be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

28 Having heard these things, they were full of anger, and cried out, saying: Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

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

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

31 And some also of the rulers of Asia, who were his friends, sent unto him, desiring that he would not venture himself into the theatre.

32 Now some cried out one thing, some another. For the assembly was confused, and the greater part knew not for what cause they were come together.

33 And they drew forth Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews thrusting him forward. And Alexander, beckoning with his hand for silence, would have given the people satisfaction.

34 But as soon as they perceived him to be a Jew, all with one voice, for the space of about two hours, cried out: Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

35 And when the town-clerk had appeased the multitudes, he said: Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great Diana, and of Jupiter’s offspring?

36 Since, therefore, these things cannot be contradicted, you ought to be quiet, and do nothing rashly.

37 For you have brought hither these men, who are neither guilty of sacrilege, nor of blasphemy against your goddess.

38 But if Demetrius, and the craftsmen who are with him, have a cause against any man, the courts of justice are open, and there are proconsuls: let them accuse one another.

39 And if you inquire after any other matter, it may be decided in a lawful assembly.

40 For we are in danger of being arraigned for this day’s uproar: there being no man guilty (of whom we can give an account) of this concourse. And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.



1: about the year A.D. 54.

4: Matthew iii. 11.; Mark i. 8.; Luke iii. 16.; John i. 26.; Acts i. 5. and xi. 16.

9: about the year A.D. 55.

13: about the year A.D. 56.

23: about the year A.D. 57.