Acts 19:18
And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.
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(18) And many that believed.—More accurately, many of those that had believed. The word is probably used, as in Acts 19:2, for the whole process of conversion, including baptism, confession in this instance following on that rite, instead of preceding it. The words do not definitely state whether the confession was made privately to St. Paul and the other teachers, or publicly in the presence of the congregation; but the latter is, as in the confession made to the Baptist, much the more probable. (See Note on Matthew 3:6.) The feeling of a vague awe at this contact with the Unseen in some, the special belief in Christ as the Judge of all men in others, roused conscience into intense activity; the sins of their past lives came back upon their memories, and it was a relief to throw off the burden by confessing them.

19:13-20 It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons to profess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the using of Christ's name, or his works, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us. Where there is true sorrow for sin, there will be free confession of sin to God in every prayer and to man whom we have offended, when the case requires it. Surely if the word of God prevailed among us, many lewd, infidel, and wicked books would be burned by their possessors. Will not these Ephesian converts rise up in judgement against professors, who traffic in such works for the sake of gain, or allow themselves to possess them? If we desire to be in earnest in the great work of salvation, every pursuit and enjoyment must be given up which hinders the effect of the gospel upon the mind, or loosens its hold upon the heart.Their deeds - Their actions; their evil course of life. The direct reference here is to the magical arts which had been used, but the word may also be designed to denote "iniquity" in general. They who make a profession of religion will be willing to confess their transgressions, and no man can have evidence that he is truly renewed who is not willing to confess as well as to forsake his sins, Romans 10:10; Proverbs 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy." 18-20. many that believed came and confessed … their deeds—the dupes of magicians, &c., acknowledging how shamefully they had been deluded, and how deeply they had allowed themselves to be implicated in such practices. Many that believed came; that believed the power which God alone had over Satan, and were convinced of their sin and danger in being led captive by him.

And confessed, and showed their deeds; openly declared their evil deeds. They durst keep the devil’s counsel no longer, but expose and manifest it, that their sores being laid open, the balm of the gospel might more effectually be put into them. Thus with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, Romans 10:10. And many that believed,.... In Jesus Christ, whose name was spoken of with great respect, and which spread fear in every person:

came; to the apostle:

and confessed; their sins; and acknowledged what a wicked life they had led:

and showed their deeds; their former evil deeds, which they had been guilty of; one copy reads, "their sins"; see Matthew 3:6.

{5} And many that believed came, and {h} confessed, and shewed their deeds.

(5) Conjuring and sorcery is condemned by open testimony, and by the authority of the apostle.

(h) Confessed their errors, and openly detested them, being terrified with the fear of the judgment of God: and how does this compare to confession to a priest?

Acts 19:18. πολλοί τε: the τε shows another immediate result in the fact that those who were already believers were now fully convinced of the pre-eminence of the name of Jesus, and were all the more filled with a reverential fear of His holy name: “many also of those who had believed,” R.V. So Wendt in latest edition.—ἤρχοντο ultro, Bengel.—ἐξομολ.: Rendall renders “giving thanks” to God for this manifestation of His power. But it is usually taken, not absolutely, but as governing πράξεις, cf. Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5, Jam 5:16; Jos., Ant., viii., 4, 6; B. J., v., 10, 5, so in Plutarch several times, “confessing,” cf. also Clem. Rom., Cor[329], li. 3; Barn., Epist., xix., 12; Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 118, and Mayor on Jam 5:16; Felten, Apostelgeschichte, p. 361.—πράξεις, cf. Luke 23:51; also in a bad sense. So too in Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:9, so often in Polyb. (3Ma 1:27). Deissmann Bibelstudien, p. 5, maintains that the passage before us shows acquaintance with the technical terminology of magic, and instances πράξεις as a terminus technicus for a magic prescription; see also Knabenbauer’s note in loco.—ἀναγγέλλοντες: instead of continuing secretly practising or approving of the deeds of magic, they declared their wrongdoings. Rendall takes it as meaning that they reported the deeds of those men, i.e., the magicians; but can the Greek bear this?

[329] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.18. And many that believed] i.e. who had made a profession of their faith. It was clearly as yet but an imperfect faith. The Rev. Ver.had believed” is the more correct tense.

came, and confessed] Came before the Apostle and the Christian brethren, and in their fear owned that their profession had not been followed completely by their practice.

and shewed their deeds] The verb implies “making a public announcement,” therefore “declaring” (as R. V.) is perhaps nearer to the sense. The “deeds” were those courses of action, connected with witchcraft, sorcery, and exorcism, that were inconsistent with the Christian life. Thus “deeds of the body” is used for evil deeds only (Romans 8:13). Cp. Luke 23:51.Acts 19:18. Τὲ, and) The others, beholding the sons of Sceva, the more withdrew themselves from all wickedness.—ἤρχοντο, came) of their own accord. The efficacy of the Divine word (is hereby illustrated), penetrating into the inmost recesses of souls, so that of their own accord they confess that which they would not be brought to confess by any natural sincerity, or by any tortures.—ἐξομολογούμενοι, confessing) From this verb, it is evident that those actions were bad actions which had been perpetrated before that they had received faith.—ἀναγγέλλοντες, announcing, showing) The beginning of confession is difficult. Once that a beginning is made, the statement of the whole matter is afterwards easy: and this is an indication of a mind freed from the dominion of sins.Verse 18. - Many also of them that had believed for and many that believed, A.V.; confessing and declaring for and confessed and showed, A.V. Many also of them that had believed. This and the following verse speak of that class of converts who had previously been addicted to magic arts. It gives us a curious view of the extent to which magic prevailed among the Jews at this time. Nor was it less prevalent in heathen Ephesus. The magic formulae of Ephesus were famous under the name of Ἐφέσια γράμματα (see Renan, pp. 344,345, note), and the belief in magic seems to have been universal. Hesychius gives as the names of the oldest Ephesian charms, Aski, Kataski, Lix, Petrax, Damnameneus, AEsion, which he explains as meaning severally "Darkness, Light," "the Earth," "the Year," "the Truth" (Lewin, p. 334). Confessed and shewed (ἐξομολογούμενοι καὶ ἀναγγέλλοντες)

The two words denote the fullest and most open confession. They openly (ἐξ) confessed, and declared thoroughly (ἀνά, from top to bottom) their deeds. See on Matthew 3:6.

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