The Battle at Ephesus
The Battle at Ephesus
A Meditation on Acts 19
Many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all; and they counted up the price of them and found it 50,000 pieces of silver. Acts 19:19 NASB.
If we read the entire chapter and study the incidents that took place at Ephesus while Paul stayed there and boldly preached the Word of God, we notice
1. It was a battle 'against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places'. Eph 6:12.
God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, Acts 19:11. And evil spirits were being expelled, 19:12. Certain Jewish exorcists, who were sons of a Jewish chief priest, Sceva, tried to expel evil spirits using the name of the Lord Jesus, but they failed. The man who was possessed of the evil spirit attacked them and drove them away, naked and wounded, 19:15. Now, the testimony of the demon-possessed man is important; he said, 'I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?' The sons of Sceva were exposed as frauds. They lacked the power & authority that God had given to Paul.
This fact became known to all in Ephesus, and fear fell upon them all, 19:17. The challenge to the evil spiritual forces in Ephesus came from Paul to whom the Lord had given divine authority. The kingdom of God had arrived in Ephesus, and Satan's kingdom trembled. The Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. In this connection, let us remember: there is power in the Name of Jesus. He has the Name above all names; the Name is linked with His exaltation and enthronement in heaven. He has all things under His feet; Satan has been crushed under His feet. And the Lord's true apostle, Paul, was demonstrating the power and the authority of that Name.
The effect on the magicians of Ephesus was tremendous. God, to demonstrate His mighty power, had opened the hearts of these feared magicians to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they confessed their evil practices. But it was not merely a lip-confession. The mighty effect of the gospel is seen in the fact that
2. They brought their magic books and burnt them in the sight of all. Note: they burnt them publicly, in the public square, in the sight of all.
What was the cost of these books? 50,000 Greek drachmas. Different commentators over the centuries have given different values to this figure. But it was no doubt a huge figure. Because a drachma was a day's wage. If you take the wage as $40 (in modern terms; and I am being very conservative), it would come to $2,000,000. That was a great price that was paid.
I wonder who counted up the price of those magic tomes? Was it the local press, the local media of Ephesus? It was really historic news: 'The Great Burning of Magic Books in Ephesus!'
The effect of the gospel in the early days of the Book of Acts is in stark contrast to the effect of the modern gospel preached by popular evangelists today. How shallow is today's preaching! None of our modern converts (and there are hundreds on Facebook and other social networking sites!) know the Bible thoroughly. They are so superficial, so lazy! So many evangelical Christians cling to the world, its customs, its traditions, its pleasures and pastimes. They are unwilling to let go. No wonder that many are no better than the sons of Sceva!
But here we see the magicians of Ephesus burning publicly their scrolls of magic; and the whole of Ephesus looks on astonished.
3. Satan however got ready for a counter-attack. He mobilized the silversmiths of Artemis, led by Demetrius. The city was in an uproar as these religious craftsmen worked themselves into a rage over the preaching of Paul... But then arrives the town clerk who quietens the mob with a short effective speech.
The speech is so true to character, (as I read verses 35 and 36, I laughed over the words 'undeniable facts'*), and so judicially sound, that just reading what Luke had recorded of that speech makes you certain that the Bible is the most authentic and truest book ever written, and every one of its writers was utterly faithful to the Spirit of Truth who indwelt and inspired them. You can hear the voice of the town clerk over the centuries, typical of a sensible and experienced municipal bureaucrat!
Note: *The one 'undeniable fact' (NASB) I see in this account is that Paul had proved powerfully and dramatically in the religious and commercial precincts of the famous city of Ephesus -- that JESUS IS LORD!
© Roland N Oliver/Pratonix