King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 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)

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Paul instructs the disciples of John at Ephesus

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.

He teaches there

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

The Jewish exorcists disgraced. Some Ephesians burn their evil books

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

The tumult at Ephesus

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.

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.

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

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

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

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:

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.

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

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.

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

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.

The tumult appeased

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Disciples. These were apparently disciples of S. 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. S. 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. Idem.

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. Wi.

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

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? Wi. — Thus was fulfilled the promise which Christ had made his disciples, viz. that they should perform greater miracles than he himself had done. S. 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 S. 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. Wi. — It is uncertain whether the Jews really possessed the power of exorcising demoniacs. From the 12th chapter of S. 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 et alii. — 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. c. 25. De Bello. — 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 S. 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 linguæ.

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 Matt. iii. 6. Wi.

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. Wi. — 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 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, l. vii. c. 6; by S. Augtin, l. iii. de bap. c. 14; by S. Gregory, l. 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 S. Paul earnestly desired, and what the Spirit now revealed to him. See Rom. i. Wi.

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

Ver. 27. In danger of being vilified, and Diana of losing her reputation. They ought to have reflected, says S. Chrys. (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? Wi.

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. Wi.

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

Ver. 35. The town-clerk, &c. Lit. 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. Wi. — 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. S. Chrys. takes notice, that to calm the people, he says more than was true. Wi.


[1] V. 24. Ædes argenteas, naous argurous.

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