And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
(a) John; see entry for Mark 1:4.
(b) John’s baptism of water prophetically foreshadowed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. See entry for Mark 1:8.
This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
The word of the Lord is synonymous with the word of God. The gospel of Jesus, in other words. See entry for Acts 12:24.
And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
(a) I recognize Jesus. Demons and evil spirits are terrified of God and his Son; see entry for Matt. 8:29.
(b) I know about Paul. Demons are wary of God’s children.
Paul was developing quite a reputation with his extraordinary miracles (Acts 19:11). But it is not our reputation or accomplishments that cases demons to flee. Our spiritual authority comes from the Lord. Just as darkness flees from the light, demons want nothing to do with the righteous children of God.
(c) Who are you? Demons have little to fear from those who prefer the darkness to the light.
The seven sons of Sceva were unbelievers. Although they were religious, they had no relationship with the Lord. They may have had some success using the Lord’s name to frighten a few demons but on this occasion their charade was exposed. They were relying on the flesh to fight a spiritual battle and they lost.
How do we cast out demons? This work, along with every other, is grounded in “the work” of believing in Jesus (John 6:29). Trust in the Lord and demons will flee (Mark 16:17).
So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
(a) The word of the Lord; see entry for Acts 12:24.
(b) Growing mightily. The Christians of the early church bore witness to the great fruitfulness of the gospel (Acts 12:24, 13:49, 19:10). By the time Paul wrote to the Colossians, the gospel was bearing fruit all over the world (Col. 1:6).
Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
Purposed in the Spirit. To the natural mind, Jerusalem was not a good place for Paul to visit. On a previous visit the Lord had told him to leave this hotbed of religious zealotry and go far away (Acts 22:18). But sometime later Paul felt “bound by the Spirit” to return to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22). He felt compelled to go. Not even the warnings of bondage could deter him (Acts 21:11–14).
When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
(a) Rage. The grace of God provokes wrath among the religious and self-righteous (see entry for Luke 4:28).
(b) Great is Artemis. At the end of days there will be two kinds of people; the righteous and the enraged. Those who are cast away will not be stunned and silent, they will be defiant and wrathful. They will be gnashing their teeth and shouting things like “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.”
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