September 4, 2015


Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe



Topic #IV: The Church Advancing to the End of the Earth (Acts 13-28)   


        Subtopic D: The Third Missionary Journey (18:23-21:14) 


                Sub-subtopic 3: Paul in Ephesus (19:1-41)                                      


Lesson: IV.D.3.f: A Summary Report of the Church in Asia (Acts 19:20)



Acts 19:20 (KJV)


20. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.





20. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.


We have pointed out other places in Acts where the author interrupts the narrative to provide a summary of the progress of the Gospel in various areas.  Verse 20 provides a summary of Paul’s Ephesian ministry, much like the summaries at 6:7 and 12:24, which also refer to the growth of the “WORD.” “The word of the Lord spread widely” is another rendering of this verse; it underscores the fact that more and more people were hearing the lordship of Jesus proclaimed, and, as many gave their lives to Jesus as Lord, the message grew in power, in the sense that its effects were being increasingly felt both in Ephesus itself and in the province. It might also be noted that the recurrence of the phrase “WORD OF THE LORD” in verse 10 and 20 form a bracket that encloses the verses between them to throw some light on a portion of Paul’s two-year Ephesian ministry. 


The “WORD” bore fruit as more and more people responded in faith to the preaching of Paul and to the witness of the Ephesian Christians through such examples as their personal sacrifice in the public burning of their magical books.  Victories such as this over the forces of evil by the Spirit through His servant, Paul, were evidence of the Lord’s power to defeat all of Satan’s plans to defeat the Church.  The Name was magnified and the Church was purified—the cleansed church became a powerful and growing church. That sacrificial fire that burning of the books of magic, was not the burning of books belonging to the Ephesians still remaining in idolatry.  They were books belonging to the people in the Church.  They came, confessing that they still practice the black arts, and still bought and sold these unholy things which were worshipped instead of God, and so the fire was lit.


What happened to the sons of Sceva created a spirit of fear and reverence toward the Christian fellowship among those outside the church.  The event also initiated a reformation within the church.  These results naturally provided a favorable atmosphere for the preaching of the Gospel, “SO” that “THE WORD OF GOD GREW” and “PREVAILED MIGHTILY.” The word “MIGHTILY” means with resistless and overpowering strength.  All kinds of facts and forces were pressed into the service of the “WORD,” and contributed to the carrying-on of the work, and the victory of the “WORD,” and led up to the final statement, “SO MIGHTILY GREW THE WORD OF GOD.” These were evil days, and evil days create an opportunity for God-sent men like the apostle Paul. 


If we want to see the “WORD OF GOD GROW MIGHTILY AND PREVAIL” in our own city, we need to ponder this story carefully, and find out the secrets revealed here; yield ourselves to the Spirit of God; and serve this same Lord with equal humbleness of mind, and sincerity, and sacrificial love, as did this man Paul.  Then the “WORD OF GOD” today, as always, will “GROW MIGHTILY AND PREVAIL.” As a summary verse 20 provides a closure to Luke’s reporting of Paul’s Ephesian witness.


Now, toward the end of his Ephesian period, two matters remain to be communicated: a major discussion regarding Paul’s future (vs. 21-22), and a final tumultuous episode involving the temple of Artemis (vs.  23-41).