Paul in Ephesus
1While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled across the hill country to Ephesus, where he met some of the Lord's followers. 2He asked them, “When you put your faith in Jesus, were you given the Holy Spirit?”
“No!” they answered. “We have never even heard of the Holy Spirit.”
3“Then why were you baptized?” Paul asked.
They answered, “Because of what John taught.”
4 Paul replied, “John baptized people so they would turn to God. But he also told them someone else was coming, and they should put their faith in him. Jesus is the one that John was talking about.” 5After the people heard Paul say this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6Then Paul placed his hands on them. The Holy Spirit was given to them, and they spoke unknown languages and prophesied. 7There were about twelve men in this group.
8For three months Paul went to the synagogue and talked bravely with the people about God's kingdom. He tried to win them over, 9but some of them were stubborn and refused to believe. In front of everyone they said terrible things about God's Way. Paul left and took the followers with him to the lecture hall of Tyrannus. He spoke there every day 10for two years, until every Jew and Gentile in Asia had heard the Lord's message.
The Sons of Sceva
11God gave Paul the power to work great miracles. 12People even took handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul's body, and they carried them to everyone who was sick. All of the sick people were healed, and the evil spirits went out.
13Some Jewish men started going around trying to force out evil spirits by using the name of the Lord Jesus. They said to the spirits, “Come out in the name of that same Jesus that Paul preaches about!”
14Seven sons of a high priest named Sceva were doing this, 15when an evil spirit said to them, “I know Jesus! And I have heard about Paul. But who are you?” 16Then the man with the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them up. They ran out of the house, naked and bruised.
17When the Jews and Gentiles in Ephesus heard about this, they were so frightened that they praised the name of the Lord Jesus. 18Many who were followers now started telling everyone about the evil things they had been doing. 19Some who had been practicing witchcraft even brought their books and burned them in public. These books were worth about 50,000 silver coins. 20So the Lord's message spread and became even more powerful.
The Riot in Ephesus
21After all this had happened, Paul decided to visit Macedonia and Achaia on his way to Jerusalem. Paul had said, “From there I will go on to Rome.” 22So he sent his two helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia. But he stayed on in Asia for a while.
“Have you received the Holy Spirit?” Paul is not convinced that the people before him are fully Christian. The sign that gives evidence that one belongs to Christ is, of course, the residing presence of the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was only a commitment to leave the ways of sin. Salvation in Jesus Christ calls for an understanding that sin has separated us from God’s presence and that only Jesus Christ can re-establish the severed relationship with him.
These people were favourably disposed to the Good News and were ready to hear more. It was when they understood and received what Paul taught about salvation in Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit came on them with great power. We need to ask ourselves if we have received the Holy Spirit. The evidence of this “seal” is the visible manifestation of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, Galatians 5:22).
The gospel caught on in this region. Paul spoke there for two years (vv 8-10). He had earned the right to be listened to. Then, the Holy Spirit chose to work in an extraordinary way (v 11) so that the Ephesians, who were already used to extraordinary manifestations, might be fully convinced of the gospel message. Lastly, the satanic confrontation did not materialize (v 13). Paul was indeed proclaiming the way of the Lord (vs 17). This led them to renounce their occult practices (v 19).
The proclamation of the Word, the power of God manifested in extraordinary miracles, the defeat of false prophets and the abandonment of occult practices . . . all these prove that God’s Word and testimony were well established!
Could it be possible that God is asking me to forsake some habit or practice in my own personal life? Only I can answer this.
Lord, thank you for your Word which is a revelation and demonstration to this world that you are extraordinary and all-powerful.