What do we do when it seems that others are against us: whether at church, in family, at home, at work, or wherever? Have we ever stopped to think, of how ‘we’ act as our own worst enemy instead?! Often, we are complicit in our own failures and weaknesses in Life. And that much, consciously and willingly to our own harm. No one else is ‘really’ the blame; whether we choose to admit and acknowledge such as the case or not! The first century Christians DID have a ‘real’ enemy outside of themselves that sought for their death and utter destruction. Now days however; we are the ones who act as our own worst enemy! No big government or Satan is often there to attack us. Our own mind and hearts, like the bullies in school, do that much! That is why Jesus so expressly warned His Apostles at Mark 14: 38: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It does happen, far to often, that we ‘objectify’ our own evil inclinations; and then do we ‘project’ it out into our world of circumstances and situations. There is in these cases that there is no ‘evil force’ or ‘demons’ apart from our own innate inclinations and habits that are there to tempt us. Yet, weak though we may be, the Apostle Paul assures us at Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” May we always grasp firmly the hand of Jesus Christ. May we see that our own strength needs to be supplemented by His mighty Power and Will so as to say always with Him: “Father not my will, but thine be done.” Amen.
This brief report on the ministry at Ephesus follows Paul’s initial contact there in Acts 18:19. It is sandwiched between two accounts of deficiency—those deficient because of ignorance, the disciples of John (19:1–7) and those who were deceitfully deficient, the seven sons of Sceva (19:13–16).
Paul does not tell the former group about the Spirit, but about Jesus (vv. 4–5). The latter group wants to “use” the power of the Spirit, apart from relationship with Jesus.
The devil is not fooled. He is the master of fakery. His superior power stands in contrast to their powerless, superstitious spirituality.
The resultant burning of the magic scrolls, out of fear of God, and the contrasting health of the Word of the Lord provide a further, rich distinction (vv. 18–20).
Paul’s church planting activities at Ephesus follow a familiar pattern (vv. 8–12). He begins at the synagogue, focusing persuasively on the kingdom of God. Then there arises Jewish opposition. Paul moves elsewhere to teach, proclaiming “the word of the Lord” and God does “extraordinary miracles” through him.
The Gentile antagonism at Ephesus is both commercially and theologically driven. Paul’s insistence that “manmade gods are no gods at all” (v. 26) is bad news for the sellers of silver shrines of Artemis. But, Demetrius is also concerned that the goddess will be “robbed of her divine majesty” (v. 27). The irony is that of all people, it would be hardest for the silversmiths themselves to believe that they were making gods with their own hands.
The resultant outcry from the crowd gathered in the theatre, thought to hold 24,000 people, leads Luke to record two interesting events. Alexander (v. 33) is pushed forward by the Jews, but we will never know what he was going to say because he is drowned out by the crowd. The city clerk calms everyone down by reminding them of the proper legal channels for action against Paul (vv. 35–41).
The seven sons of Sceva, like Ananias and Sapphira before them (Acts 5), are playing a part. Note how they and the evil spirit refer to Jesus in verses 13 and 15. Compare this with how Luke refers to Jesus in verses 13 and 17. Who is fooled? How are they exposed? What results follow?