- Sermon Notes
As The Word Goes Out
This morning we are covering a section of Acts 19 that begins by telling us that the Word went out and ends by telling us what happened when it did! In the middle section we see the Lord move in power, and many people moved to turn from their old ways and magnify Jesus’ name!
What we see in these verses is powerful and important for you and me, because as God’s word goes out, God moves powerfully! And I believe that just as God moved in power as the word went out in Paul’s day, so too He moves in power in ours!
Isaiah 55:10-11, For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it produce and sprout, and providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes out of My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.
As we open to Acts 19 verse 8, we know that the Lord had sent Paul to the city of Ephesus, and in the verses that follow, we will find that the words being shared and sent will not return void or empty but will accomplish what the Lord desires and would succeed in the purpose for which it was sent. This is good for us to see because as Paul first started speaking in the synagogue of that city, as we saw last week, the people are described by the word “hardening.”
Acts 19:8-9, And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, having discussions and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took the disciples away with him, and had discussions daily in the school of Tyrannus.
The people in the synagogue heard Paul’s words and they were “hardened,” filled with disobedience, and spoke evil of the church. That becoming hardened, it speaks to their spiritual “hardness of heart.” The verb there is written in an imperfect tense, which indicates that the hardening was a process. It took place over the course of Paul’s three months of teaching to the people.
But Paul did not stop. He withdrew from those who had become hardened and kept getting the Word out. From verse 9 we know that he ended up getting the Word out in a new venue called the school of Tyrannus.
We don’t really know who Tyrannus was. There hasn’t been any historical information provided about him, however, we know that there was a school, or lecture hall named after him, so many believe he was a teacher, or philosopher in Ephesus.
In Paul’s day, because of the weather conditions, people would work from early in the morning to around 11 a.m., take a break until 4 p.m. and then pick back up at 4 p.m. and work into the evening. In his commentary on Acts, F.F. Bruce wrote that Tyrannus no doubt held his classes in the early morning hours. Public activity ceased from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and more people in that city would be asleep at 1 p.m. that at 1 a.m. But Paul, would use the break in the use of the school of Tyrannus to get the word of God out!
Paul would have worked in the morning at a tent maker, and then go utilize the school of Tyrannus during his break and the heat of the day, to get the Gospel out!
Acts 19:10, This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
“Daily,” for two years, Paul was getting the word out! And after two years, all who lived in Asia had heard the word of the Lord. The area referenced is Asia Minor or modern-day Turkey. During this time, we know that the church at Colossae was founded and many scholars believe it is likely that the seven churches listed in Revelation 2 and 3 were established. All these churches were around Ephesus. Paul never personally went to Colossae, but those who heard him preach at the School of Tyrannus were influenced, instructed, and then sent out to various areas in and around that region.
Paul was holding a meeting every day…For two years. Day in and day out, preaching the word. And the Word was being heard and would not return void! People would come listen to Paul’s preaching, give their lives to Christ, and through them, the Gospel would begin reaching other cities in such a way that all of Asia heard the Word!
So easy it would have been, when Paul was confronted by the people where were hardened to end his preaching to that city…But he didn’t. He kept on, faithfully preaching…Trusting that the Word would not return empty!
- Ask God to Do What Only He Can Do
- In Acts chapter 20, Paul will be recorded as saying that he was in Ephesus for three years total, but two of those years were spend teaching daily at the School of Tyrannus.
- In verses 11 to 20, we are given details surrounding some of the miracles of God and powerful ministry that was happening in Ephesus.
Acts 19:11-12, God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits went out.
- Luke is also known as a doctor, distinguishes between people who were sick, those who had diseases, and those who were possessed by evil spirits, or demons (which are evil spirit, or fallen angels of darkness).
- I appreciate the way Luke, the writer of Acts wrote verse 11, because he did not write, “Paul worked extraordinary (other translations read “unusual”) miracles.” Luke knew that Paul could not work the miracles, so he wrote, “God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul.”
- What we know is that God is looking for hands He can use, those who will be willing to be used by God for His good and His glory.
Romans 12:1, Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
- God is looking for lives and hands who have laid down their lives as a living sacrifice, so that He can do what only He can do, through those who are surrendered to His way and will.
2 Chronicles 16:9, For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
- The Lord is looking around for those He can use, those who have laid down their lives as a living sacrifice, those whose hearts are completely devoted to Him, so that He can strongly support them. As His eyes look for those who are completely His, will He find you? Can God do what only He can do, through you?
- Paul had laid down his life as a living sacrifice, he was walking, preaching, and teaching according to the will of the Lord…and as the Word went out, the Lord was strongly supporting Paul and his ministry in Ephesus.
- From verse 11 we know that God was working unusual miracles through the hands of Paul, and then in verse 12, Luke wrote, so unusual were the miracles, that handkerchiefs and aprons were being carried from his body to the sick, and diseases left them, and evil spirits went out.
- Paul was not there, but people were being healed. As Luke wrote, these were unusual miracles. We aren’t sure how this worked, it was “unusual.”
- It brings to remembrance some other similar types of miracles in the Bible.
- In Luke 8, we reach about some miracles of Jesus, and in verse 43 we read about a woman who had what seemed to be an incurable issue of blood and came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his cloak, and immediately, she was healed.
- Or in Acts chapter 5, where the sick were being carried to the streets and were laid on cots and pallets, so that when Peter walked by, his shadow might fall on them so that they might be healed.
- Extraordinary, unusual miracles.
- Paul never instructs this practice in any of his letters, and it is important to be aware of this because there are ministers who through the years have marketed things like “an apron with a handprint on it,” or “healing cloths” that will be sent if a person send in a financial donation.
James 5:14-15, Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
- Only from Jesus, Peter, and Paul do we ever see these types of healings; but clearly, the power was from God, and the healing was granted to those who had faith.
Romans 10:17, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.
- That said, as the Word of God goes out, we want to ask for God to do what only He can do.
Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.”
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- As the Word goes out, as people hear, pray that faith would arise, and God would do what only He can do in the lives of those who hear. Perhaps the Lord wants to do an unusual miracle, or perhaps He wants to bring about the great gift and miracle of all…Victory over sin and death! Ask God to do what only He can do…In your lives and in the lives of others as the Word goes out.
- Be Known as One Who Walks with Jesus
- In verse 13, we are giving another example of what was happening in Ephesus as the Word was going out.
Acts 19:13, But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had the evil spirits, saying, “I order you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches!”
- Ephesus was filled with a great deal of superstition. It was also filled with temples but was called the Guardian of the temple of Artemis, or the Temple of Diana. Artemis is the Greek name, and Diana is the Roman name.
- Diana was the goddess of the hunt, also the protector of young girls and the patron goddess of motherhood. The worship of Diana was prominent in that city. When young girls got married, they would take a lock of their hair and their maiden garment and offer it in the temple of Diana, hoping that they would be protected and be able to have children.
- Ephesus was known for an obsession with superstition demons and demonology.
- In the Bible, we see Jesus and His disciples cast out demons, and here we see that there were others who would attempt this as well.
- It was not uncommon, and many would wonder by what power something was happening. In Luke 11 Jesus Himself is accused of casting out demons by Beelzebul (the devil).
- Exorcists in that day, like these in Acts 19, would recite and include a list of names or deities to try and cast out demons.
- The word for exorcists comes from the root word which means to “bind with an oath.” They would attempt to bind or expel demons by invoking the name of a more powerful spirit being.
- There were ancient magicians and exorcists who would borrow terms from any religion or power that they thought could help them. Additionally, the exorcists that would travel from place to place, would collect a fee for their services whether or not they were successful.
- Still, they needed some success to keep business coming, so they would try many things.
- The word had gotten out about Paul and his preaching about Jesus. Perhaps they had heard about the handkerchiefs and aprons that were going out and that people were being healed from both sicknesses and demonic forces.
- So, as they go from place to place, they decide to try and match Paul’s power by using the name of Jesus in their incantations.
- It would have been a formula they tried, or something they thought Paul may have called Paul’s effective “spell.”
- So, here is what they started trying “I order you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches…” Unlike Paul, however, they did not know the Jesus who they were naming, nor had His power been given to them. They would learn to change their ways, the hard way.
Acts 19:14-17, Now there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, doing this. But the evil spirit responded and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know of Paul, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit, pounced on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
- There is nothing known about the man mentioned here named “Sceva.” Nor was there ever a high priest named Sceva. Most believe that he attached “high priest” to his name to impress his clients or make them believe he was something he in fact, was not.
- The seven sons of Sceva attempt to cast out an evil spirit using what they thought was a powerful formula, “I order you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preached to come out!”
- And the evil spirit responds to the exorcists, “Jesus I recognize, and of Paul I know…But who are you?”
- The evil spirit recognized Jesus, and was aware that Paul had supernatural power over the demonic realm; but by asking “who are you?” to the seven sons of Sceva, the demon was essentially saying, you have no power over me… Who are you?
- And the man who was possessed by an evil spirit. Overpowered, pounced on and subdued all seven of them, and they ran for their lives out of that house, naked and wounded.
Illus. Matthew 12: The Strong Man.
1 John 4:4, You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
- The story in Acts is quite fascinating really, “I recognize Jesus, I know of Paul… But who are you?”
- The exorcists end up being overpowered and overtaken because they did not know Jesus, nor were they known by Jesus, rather, they only knew about the Jesus whom Paul preached.
- They did not have a personal relationship with Him, and they certainly weren’t known as one who walks with Jesus.
- This brings me to the question, are you known as one who walks with Jesus?
2 Timothy 1:12, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
- This is a prime example of those who did this. They went around casting out demons the name of Jesus whom Paul preached, but it is clear that Jesus was not personal, or real in their lives.
III. Pray That Many Will Surrender Their Lives to Him
Acts 19:17-19, This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Also many of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they added up the prices of the books and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver.
- The word spread quickly throughout Ephesus surrounding the encounter between the sons of Sceva and the evil spirit.
- It seems that there are three different groups who hear and respond to the reality, or a renewed understanding of the power of Jesus name.
- The three groups identified seem to cover all of the groups of people in the city.
- The first group is all who lived in the city, both Jews and Greeks.
- When they heard about the power of Jesus, fear fell upon them, and they began magnifying the name of the Lord Jesus.
- The fear that fell upon them indicates the fear of God. This fear is the fear of the judgement of God, eternal death rather than life, and eternal separation from God.
- In Matthew 10, Jesus said do not fear those who want to destroy your body, but cannot destroy your soul…Rather, fear the one who has the power over the eternal reality of both your body and soul.
Proverbs 9:10, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…
- As the people of the city understood who Jesus was, they were first filled with fear at the thought of where they were headed, but instead of running from Him or going according to their own map, they begin to turn to Him, and magnify the name of Jesus (which means to declare His name great).
- Whatever they had been moving according to and magnifying had changed, they were now magnifying Jesus’ name!
- We need to pray that for our city. That they would see the power of Jesus, understand who He is, and begin magnifying His name!
Psalm 34:3-4, Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
- The people began magnifying the Lord, and as they gave their lives to Him, the fear of their future , like David described, would have faded.
- The next group described, is those “who had believed…”
Acts 19:18, Many of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.
- This is the believers; they saw the power of God in a new and mighty way and realized they were into all the wrong things. They had it all wrong.
- They realized that they weren’t living right, but they needed to get right. They were confessing which describes repentance and disclosing their practices.
Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Hosea 6:1, Come let us return to the Lord…
Acts 19:19, And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they added up the prices of the books and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver.
- They were done with their old life, they were done with their old ways, it did not matter what it cost, they understood that they were lost, and they needed to know Jesus Christ personally, to receive salvation, His power over sin and death.
- They counted up the cost of all the books burned up, and their value totaled 50,000 pieces of silver. With a piece of silver valued at a day’s wages, it was 50,000 days wages burnt up. That is 137 years wages.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Acts 19:20, So the word of the Lord was growing and prevailing mightily.
- After describing what was happening in Ephesus, we get a summary of what we are seeing. The Word of God was growing and prevailing mightily.
- The Word of God, in that city, was growing, increasing and growing up mightily.
- It was also prevailing. Which means it was a force, it had strength to overcome, and power that prevailed.