God bless you in the exalted name of Jesus Christ, by which signs, miracles and wonders occur.
Yesterday we looked at the transition Paul made to the school of Tyrannus in Acts 19:8-10. Today I want to focus on the special miracles mentioned in verse 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.
Rather than fighting the opposition of the unbelieving Jews in the synagogue, Paul relocated to the school of Tyrannus. After this move, we saw that the Word of God grew mightily and prevailed. The Word prevailed so that all the Jews and Greeks dwelling in province of Asia Minor (of which Ephesus was the principal city) heard the word of the Lord Jesus. This was accomplished as God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul. Paul described this in I Corinthians 16:8 as the great and effectual door that was opened unto him. So, he made Ephesus his headquarters for quite some time.
The miracles that occurred in Acts 19 were simply remarkable. God’s amazing healing power was being released through articles of clothing that had touched Paul’s skin when they were laid upon those who were ailing. Although we may not know exactly what these garments were, we do know they were used to bring healing to those too sick to come to Paul. This is the only record of this kind of thing happening in the book of Acts. There must be a logical reason as to why this particular manifestation of God’s power happened in Ephesus.
Ephesus was the home of the great temple where Diana was worshipped (Acts 19:23-29). When people visited the multiplicity of dark pagan temples that flourished in Ephesus, it was common for them to “take home a piece of the power” by purchasing a fetish or a silver shrine like those Demetrius made. They believed objects carried power.
Therefore, the faith of the new converts manifested itself by taking handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul’s skin to those who were sick. God was pleased to bestow blessings because of their believing. In the city of Ephesus where exorcism and “curious arts” of witchcraft and incantation were commonly exercised, God appears to have made the cures that were wrought to be specially evidences of the power of the law of believing. Many of the sick were too frail to go to Paul, and Paul did not go to them. Rather, the new converts took those things that had touched Paul’s body to the sick, who could not travel to Paul, and they were healed.
So, it seems that God met these new converts at the point of their believing. Because they believed that objects could transmit power, they believed that if they could take home a piece of clothing that had touched Paul’s skin, they would “take home a piece of the power” that operated in his ministry. However, even the sons of Sceva recognized that it was not to Paul, but to Jesus whom he preached, that the “power” was to be ascribed (Acts 19:13). [More on that another day.]
Verse 11 says “God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.” Other Bible translations use “extraordinary,” “unusual” or “not common” instead of “special.” These were miracles the likes of which had not been seen before. They were indeed mighty, exceptional, and out-of-the-ordinary. “Special,” is the Greek word tugchanō. This Greek word means “to hit upon” or “happen upon.” It implies something unique that surprises one. One commentator said it means, “to light upon,” “to fall in line with,” or “to happen to find oneself.” The Lord had already prepared for these extraordinary energizings that Paul happened to find himself in the middle of and seamlessly fell in line with what God was doing.
Paul began to operate power that was without equal in his experience. Paul himself was surprised by the exceptional miracles that were occurring at his own hands. The figurative use of “hands” often alludes to or indicates “power,” “strength,” or “agency.” It was through Paul’s ministry that the hand of God was released in such an amazing way (See Acts 4:30). Acts notes three particular kinds of miracles:
Notable Miracles (Acts 4:16).
“Notable” in Acts 4:16 is the Greek word gnōstos, (10 of its 15 occurrences are in Acts.). It means “known,” and indicates something noteworthy and undeniable (a matter of knowledge not opinion). A notable miracle is one that comes to the attention of those outside the local congregation or area. This is the kind that would make the newspaper and the television evening news outside the local network area, today. The healing of the lame man in Acts 3:6-10 attracted such community interest that it became an event and a conversation piece that reached and influenced people widely. Two chapters in Acts (3 and 4) detailed this miracle.
Great Miracles (Acts 6:8).
In Acts 8:13 Luke uses the Greek words mega dunamis or “great miracles.” This is not a reference to any one incident. It refers to the steady stream of signs, wonders, and miracles which Stephen performed. These great miracles that Stephen did indicates how God moved in a lavish way so that the list of miracles was great in quantity as well as quality. These great miracles were not isolated happenings. Stephen did them openly among the people demonstrating his courage and heroism.
Special Miracles (Acts 19:11).
The thing stressed here is the geographical location involved. The disciples were in Ephesus, center of the worship of the Greek goddess Diana, a practice which led to depravity, degeneracy, and immorality. It took something special to free people from such a devilish snare. These surprising, mighty, exceptional energizings the power of God indicated the special need of the area. To turn from curious arts and incantations to the awesome power of God required something special.
These extraordinary miracles that God wrought by Paul’s hand used what the Ephesians knew and believed to demonstrate the genuine power of God available to us in the name of Jesus Christ. I’m always amazed as I consider what extraordinary things God is able to do to get His people healed. I’m so glad He has let me labor along with Him.
Let’s recognize the wonderful doors God is opening for us, too. God so wants to do amazing thing through our hands, also. Why not? We’re God’s best and certainly God blessed.