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Summary: This nineteenth chapter, and the first seven verses, are one of the most familiar passages in the whole book, but unfortunately it is also one of the most constantly misinterpreted passages. It needs careful consideration.

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June 14, 2015

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson: IV.D.3.a: The Twelve Men (1-7)

Acts 19:1-7 (KJV)

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,

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.

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

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.

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

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

7 And all the men were about twelve.

Introduction

This nineteenth chapter, and the first seven verses, are one of the most familiar passages in the whole book, but unfortunately it is also one of the most constantly misinterpreted passages. It needs careful consideration.

Paul, having paid his visit to Palestine, returned overland to Ephesus (thus fulfilling his promise; see 18:21) and settled down there for some two and a half years, speaking daily in the school of Tyrannus, from the autumn of 52 to the spring of 55. There a great work was accomplished, radiating out from Ephesus to other cities of the province of Asia. The effect of the preaching is vividly portrayed by Luke in a few scenes.

Ephesus was commonly called “the Light of Asia.” It was the seat of the Roman proconsul and also of the confederation of cities known as the “Asiarchte,” and it was a hotbed of Roman “emperor worship.”

In the first scene, which Luke describes in verses 1-7, we meet the 12 “disciples” who knew only John’s baptism and had never heard of the Holy Spirit.

Commentary

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,

You will remember that Paul had come through Ephesus on his return trip from his second missionary journey and had told them that he would come back to them if God so willed. He had not stayed in Ephesus previously and had had no ministry there. Now he returns to Ephesus, but he has been preceded there by that great preacher, Apollos. You recall that Apollos did not know anything about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until Aquila and Priscilla had talked to him. All he had been preaching was the baptism of John, which was as far as his knowledge went. As a result of this, the people who had heard his preaching had been instructed only as far as the baptism of John and had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul, somehow became aware of that.

“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus.” From Luke’s description, it appears that Paul made the journey to Ephesus by way of the shorter, though less frequented, route through Caster valley. At least this seems to be the meaning of the phrase “the upper coasts” (the interior, NIV), since this road did lead over higher ground than the main road through Colossae and Laodicea; the more frequently traveled trade route. He was now in proconsular Asia. By the second century B.C. this region was under the rule of the Seleucids, but with the defeat by the Romans of the Seleucid king, Antiochus III (133 B.C.), it was bequeathed back to the Romans. This new Provence was called Asia because the Attalids were known to the Romans as the kings of Asia. It took in Mycia; Lydia; and Caria; the coastal areas of Aeolia, Iconia and the Troad; and many of the islands of the Aegean. The province was enlarged in 116 B.C. by the addition of greater Phrygia. Its first capital was Pergamon, the former capital of the Attalids, but by the time of Augustus, Ephesus had assumed that position. The city governed its own affairs through the citizen assembly and elected magistrates.


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