Today’s chapter is filled with power.
God performed unusual works of power through Paul’s hands. (19:11)
So the word grew and was strong, in accordance with the Lord’s power. (19:20)
Paul walks into Ephesus with incredible power. Disease and evil spirits flee from Paul whose very skin exudes power (19:20). An evil spirit, “too strong” and “overpowering” for the seven sons of Sceva, the Jewish high priest, submissively acknowledges Paul’s power through Jesus (19:15-16). The name of Jesus grows in “prestige” and “power” in Ephesus (19:17, 20).
This emphasis on power is no accident. This is Ephesus, after all. Power was everything in Ephesus.
Ephesus was the most important city in Asia Minor at the time. Though the city was a part of the Roman Empire, they had been granted the right of self-government so long as they maintained the rule of law and a general state of peace in the city (read that into the end of the chapter). All roads converged in Ephesus, making it a center of commerce. They had a major stadium and theatre. Most every street had a major temple to some pagan god or the Caesars. Ephesus was the home to the temple of the fertility goddess Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Altogether, Ephesus had the power of empire, trade, law, culture, and the womb. This was an ancient New York, London, or Toronto. Power in every kind, everywhere you went.
But now, with the gospel’s arrival with Paul, there was a new power in town.