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Acts 19 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Acts 19 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

"They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Jesus (Mt.28:19) told his disciples to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." But Paul baptized only "in the name of Jesus."
In whose name is baptism to be performed?
This verse gives no indication that the baptismal formula is given here. See Matthew 28:19 where it is given.
But the author of the SAB also seems to misread this verse as if these persons were baptized twice. This verse isn't Luke describing something that happened. No, this verse is a continuation from Paul's speech in verse 4, that those who were baptized by John were baptized in the name of Jesus. So he didn't need to baptize them twice, but affirms that the baptism of John was the same as his baptism. After this affirmation, Paul only lay his hands on these people.

6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

7 And all the men were about twelve.

8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

"The school of one Tyrannus"
"The school of Tyrannus" is the only school that is ever mentioned in the Bible.
The word Tyrannus didn't have the negative connotation we currently attribute to it of course. The word tyrant just meant king or nobleman. What is also interesting is the definition of school: a place where there is leisure for anything, a school.
That this is the only mention of the word school in the Bible is perhaps not surprising. The school was an invention by the Greek, so we don't find a place like that in the Old Testament. As Luke focuses on Paul's preaching, a school wasn't the usual location were people gathered to hear a sermon I assume.
Although the name school is used just once, the concepts of a place of schooling and of teachers are found in other verses as well. For example Jesus was clearly at a school in Luke 2:46. David send his son Solomon to the prophet Nathan to be instructed, 2 Sam. 12:25. Moses was taught all the knowledge of the Egyptians, chapter 7:22.

10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

"All they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus."
After only two years of preaching, everyone in Asia had heard the word of the Lord!
The word Asia is used here for Asia Minor. Ephesus was the capital of this province. And this verse clearly shows that the word “all” in the Bible very seldom has the meaning of every single individual. It just means many, the word had spread all over Asia. As the capital city it received people from all over the province so it was an excellent location for spreading the word.

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

"From his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."
Sick people were cured by touching the handkerchief or apron of Paul. "And the evil spirits went out of them."
What the Bible says about medical science
Faith-based medicine (for Republicans)
Where do evil spirits come from?
The physician Luke carefully distinguishes here between those who are sick of disease and those who are sick of possession. He doesn't say those with a disease were possessed. Else he would have said: ”The evil spirits went out of them and they were healed.” See the next verses where a person without a disease, but clearly possessed, assaults seven persons.
The author of the SAB also lists some verses, carefully selected and twisted to make some point about medical science in the Bible. But let me make some other points here. Why would Paul have a physician travel with him? It seems he was quite in pain at certain times, 2 Cor. 12:7. At another time he suggests to Timothy to drink some wine to alleviate some stomach troubles, 1 Tim. 5:23. He doesn't say to Timothy he has to pray harder for healing, or find someone who can heal him. There is no faith-based medicine. The miracles described here are to show certain people in certain circumstances the power of God extraordinarily. They are not a normal part of a Christian's life.
But I have a question for the author of the SAB as well: where can people go if secular medicine fails them?

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

(19:15-16) "And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?"
Evil spirits know Jesus and Paul. They also jump on people and strip them of their clothes.
And the result was that fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, verse 17.

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

"Many of them ... brought their books together, and burned them before all men."
The first Christian book burning occurs when Paul's converts at Ephesus burn 50,000 silver pieces worth of books. (Since a piece of silver was worth about a days wages, this would have been several million dollars worth of books.)
The books they burned here were about “curious arts,” which were books about:

Books about magic arts, soothsaying, necromancy, conjuration, and the like, being convinced of the folly and wickedness of them.

Why is it intolerant to burn your own books?

20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:

27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.

34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

"All with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians."
A great multitude cry out "all with one voice" for two hours saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."
Diana had a famous temple at Ephesus, so Luke has it least the place right. And to get the town clerk to come out to appease the people (verse 35), I doubt if shouting for five minutes would have been enough. So it's clear they shouted for an extraordinary long time.

35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?

36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.

39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.

41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.