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The Battle at Ephesus

Updated on June 11, 2011
Ephesus, from
Ephesus, from

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


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    • lionswhelp profile image


      8 years ago

      Hey Pratonix,

      Great article. Let's hear more from you!

    • profile image

      Betty Wong 

      8 years ago

      This is a beautiful n inspiring post I can so relate to! TQ RO for sharing ur heart n wise words. U caught my attention when u wrote “… unwillg to let go. No wonder tt many are no better than the sons of Sceva!” It’s true… if we look ard u...s in the culture today, we are losing the battle for the hearts n minds of the ppl. Our nation has become a nation of godless people living for themselves in rebellion to God. U can't find any difference with the modern church n the world; we duplicate all the things tt they do. In reality we hv become them. I ask, does the River of Life flow out of the body of Christ? Does the healing flow come from the world or from the Holy Spirit? If not, why do we spend so much effort n time trying to get man-made institutions to take over this work We shld be in the means of a complete world takeover by the Kingdom of God, by carryg out the mandate of Christ our King: go into all nations making disciples. Wld this not bring abt the transformation needed on this earth or hv we, in our idiocy, come up with a better strategy than the Great Commission? I deem not!! Instead, we hv created a man-made religion tt has no power at all, and a secular gospel that has no power n, in fact, is no gospel at all! Our plan of the Great Commission is to create a Christian palace filled with ppl all lookg for somethg for themselves - not to sacrifice their life for Christ. We wld rather stay in our comfy bldgs n homes n hope maybe the Lord wl forgive our lack of zeal for Him. Why is this true? For the reason tt we are just like Demus tt abandoned Paul - 2 Tim 4:10. We love this existing world. This world is heading to Hell on a runaway train n on the whole the modern church is adding fuel to the engine! Are we willg to lay down our life n take up our cross n follow Christ? Somethg to mull over…

    • ladyt11 profile image


      8 years ago

      A new way to look at this account! I too like Samsons1 love the book of Acts. Way to Go!

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 

      8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Wow! What confirmation to my heart's ponderings this afternoon! "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!"

      And I think of the words to the church at Ephesus in Rev 2:2 "I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don't tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars." And who are the worst liars? The religious leaders like Diotrephes (3 John)!

      Awesome hub, brother!! God bless you abundantly!!

    • profile image

      Darlene Turpin 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for such an awesome eye opening message. For I too did not look at it in such a way.

      Voted up, awesome, beautiful and useful!..

    • fred allen profile image

      fred allen 

      8 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

      Wow! I never gave much thought to the account you brought to life. You have renewed my interest in the book of Acts. I have been a Christian for 27 years and still find myself focused primarily on the books of the bible that interest me most. I also read books on Christian living. Right now I am reading "The Signature of Jesus" by Brennan Manning. He says the same thing you do about modern american Christians.

    • Pratonix profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Asia

      Thank you, Samson. You're a great encourager! Blessings to you!


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