January 8, 2023 – Acts 19

Lesson Date: January 8, 2023

Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 19:1-41

AIM: To lead students to discover differences Jesus made in many lives in and around Ephesus, and to examine themselves to determine what changes Jesus has made in their lives.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Acts 19 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Prepare to share your testimony, as described below, with the class.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Briefly share your salvation testimony with the class.  Tell them very briefly about your life before you met Christ, and then how and when you were saved.  Place the majority of your emphasis on the differences Jesus has made in your life since He saved you.

Ask: “Think about your life before you came to Christ and your life now; what are some differences Jesus has made in your life?”  Allow time for students to respond.

Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is Jesus Makes a Difference.  As we study Acts 19, we will discover differences Jesus made in the lives of many people in and around Ephesus, and think about ways He has changed our lives.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God Our Help; ways God helped Paul and others, and how God used His people to help one another).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Acts 18:9).
  2. Disciples of John the Baptist.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 19:1.
    • Remind the students that at the end of last week’s lesson the Lord saved Apollos and used him to preach and teach in Achaia (in and around Corinth; see Acts 18:26-28).
    • Use the Map to explain that at the same time, Paul travelled and preached throughout Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:23) before coming to Ephesus.
    • Ask: “Who did he meet there?” (some disciples).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 19:3-4.
    • Tell the class Paul asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed.
    • Ask: “How did they answer?” (they said they had never heard of the Holy Spirit).
    • Tell the students that Paul then asked about their baptism.
    • Ask: “What did they say about their baptism?” (they were baptized in the way that John the Baptist baptized people).
    • Read Acts 19:5-7.
    • Explain the following:
      • Paul explained to them that John’s baptism was an outward sign of a person’s desire to repent of (turn from) their sin.
      • He further explained that John told his followers to believe in the One who would come after him, namely, Jesus Christ (John 1:7).
    • Ask: “What was their reaction to Paul’s explanation?” (they received Christ, were baptized, and were filled with the Holy Spirit).
    • Tell the class that their speaking and prophesying in other languages was a visible confirmation that their salvation was genuine, as in Acts 2 and 10.
    • Ask: “What difference did Jesus make in these disciples of John the Baptist?” (He saved them, filled them with the Spirit, and gave them boldness to proclaim His name).
    • Summarize: Jesus transformed the disciples of John the Baptist from unsaved followers of a man into born again, baptized, Spirit-filled believers.
  3. Jews and Gentiles Throughout Asia.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 19:8-10.
    • Ask: “According to verse 8, what did Paul do in Ephesus?” (taught in the synagogue for three months).
    • Ask: “What happened when some hard-hearted people rose up against Paul?” (he left the synagogue and continued preaching in a local lecture hall).
    • Ask: “According to verse 10, how far did Paul’s teaching about Jesus reach?” (throughout the region of Asia, including both Jews and Greeks).
    • Read Acts 19:11-12.
    • Ask: “What else happened?” (God did amazing miracles through Paul, healing people by the mere touch of an article of his clothing and delivering many people from demons).
    • Ask: “What difference did Jesus make in the people of Asia?” (many lost people received eternal life through faith in Jesus, and many people were healed and delivered from demons; this surely made a dramatic change in the entire region).
    • Summarize: Jews and Gentiles throughout the region of Asia heard about Jesus, who dramatically transformed many lives.
  4. Exorcists and Magicians.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 19:13.
    • Explain that the “vagabond Jews” travelled about like Gypsy fortune tellers, earning their living through supposed magical skills.
    • Ask: “What did they do?” (tried to cast out demons in the name of Jesus, “whom Paul preacheth”).
    • Ask: “Why do you think they did this?” (because they saw Paul doing it).
    • Tell the students these vagabond Jews didn’t believe in Jesus, they just wanted to add His name to their “bag” of magical tricks.
    • Read Acts 19:14-16.
    • Explain that Sceva was one of these travelling Jewish magicians who claimed to be a priest.
    • Ask: “What happened when his sons tried to use Jesus’ name to cast out a demon?” (the demon recognized them as fakes and caused the man they possessed to attack and utterly humiliate them).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 19:17-20.
    • Ask: “What does verse 17 say happened when all the Jews and Gentiles in Ephesus learned about this?” (they were afraid to take Jesus’ name lightly and His name was magnified).
    • Tell the students that verse 18 says many people received Christ and confessed their sins.
    • Ask: “According to verse 19, what did many of the so-called ‘magicians’ do after turning to Christ?” (gathered up all their books of magic spells and incantations and burned them).
    • Explain the following:
      • The value of the books was astronomical: more than what an average man could earn in 135 years!
      • Confessing one’s sins verbally is relatively easy, but destroying the valuable artifacts of sin takes much greater commitment.
      • A genuine change on the inside makes a change that is visible on the outside.
      • Ask: “Do you still have any evil artifacts from your life before coming to Christ? If so, why don’t you destroy them?”
      • Verse 20 says the Word of God was so powerful it prevailed over all the demon forces.
    • Read Acts 19:21-22.
    • Using the Map, explain that Paul planned to revisit the churches he had established in Macedonia and Achaia, then return to Jerusalem, and eventually go to Rome.
    • Tell the class Paul wrote 1 Corinthians during this stay in Ephesus.
    • Ask: “What difference did Jesus make in the exorcists and magicians in Ephesus?” (the exorcists were shown to be fakes who didn’t know Jesus, and He transformed the magicians so radically that they gave up their business and destroyed their magic books).
    • Summarize: Jesus dramatically changed the lives of supposed exorcists and magicians.
  5. Idol Makers and the Whole City.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 19:23.
    • Explain that “The Way” was an early name for Christ’s followers.
    • Read Acts 19:24-27.
    • Ask: “According to verse 24, what did Demetrius do for a living?” (he made and sold silver idols of the goddess Diana, also known as Artemis).
    • Tell the class that Demetrius called a meeting of all the craftsmen who made similar idols.
    • Ask: “What did he tell them?” (Paul’s preaching was turning people away from idols, and thus cutting into their profits).
    • Ask: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus made such a dramatic difference in the lives of people in Valdosta that liquor stores, drug dealers, and others who make money through sin would be afraid they would go out of business?”
    • Explain the following:
      • Diana was the patron goddess of Ephesus.
      • The temple of Diana at Ephesus was so magnificent that it was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
      • The people of Ephesus believed the statue of Diana at her temple was not made by men, but had fallen to earth from the false god Jupiter (also known as Zeus; v. 35).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 19:28.
    • Ask: “What was the reaction of the silversmiths?” (they were enraged and started yelling “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”).
    • Read Acts 19:29-34.
    • Tell the students that the silversmiths stirred up the whole town, seized some of Paul’s companions, and rushed into the theater (a huge amphitheater capable of seating 25,000 people; this theater is still standing today).
    • Ask: “According to verses 30-31, why didn’t Paul go to the theater?” (his friends persuaded him not to because they feared for his safety).
    • Tell the class a Jew named Alexander tried to quiet the crowd.
    • Ask: “According to verse 34, what happened?” (the crowd refused to hear him and chanted “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” for two hours!).
    • Tell the students in verses 35-41 the town clerk (mayor) finally quieted the crowd, praised them for their devotion to Diana, told them to make their complaints through proper legal channels, and sent them home.
    • Summarize: Jesus made such a difference in Ephesus that the idol-makers were afraid they would go broke.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students that the title of today’s lesson is Jesus Makes a Difference.  Review the lesson by asking the following questions:

“What difference did Jesus make in the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus?” (He saved them and filled them with His Spirit).

“What difference did Jesus make in the Jews and Gentiles throughout the region of Asia?” (he saved many and freed many from demons and diseases).

“What difference did Jesus make in the exorcists and magicians in Ephesus?” (He saved many of them and changed their vocations).

“What difference did Jesus make in the idol makers in Ephesus?” (He transformed so many lives that the idol makers were afraid they would go out of business).

Tell the students those questions help us review the events described in Acts 19, but this is the most important question: “What differences has Jesus made in your life?”

Allow time for a few responses.

Tell the class that Jesus changes lives.  Tell the students if they know Jesus as their Savior, they should be able to identify ways He has made a difference in their lives.  That is natural and should cause us to thank God; but if we don’t see ways Jesus has changed our life, it may mean we are not saved.  Encourage any who are uncertain of their salvation to repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus right now.

Ask everyone to bow their head a close their eyes.  Tell those who are saved to thank Jesus for the differences He has made in their lives.  Ask those who don’t know Jesus to turn to Him for salvation right now.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Tell everyone to be on the lookout this week for differences Jesus makes in their lives and in the lives of others.

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