Skip to main content

Acts 19 Metaphysical Bible Interpretation

Metaphysical Bible Interpretation of Acts Chapter 19

Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 19:1-10

19:1And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: 19:2and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. 19:3And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. 19:4And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. 19:5And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 19:6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 19:7And they were in all about twelve men.

19:8And he entered into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, reasoning and persuading as to the things concerning the kingdom of God. 19:9But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 19:10And this continued for the space of two years; so that all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

May 14, 1939: Acts 19:8-10

What is the significance of the three months' term of Paul's preaching in the synagogue at Ephesus? The three months denote spirit, soul, and body, man's threefold avenues of expression; the synagogue at Ephesus the mind of man built up by his unfailing desire to gain knowledge and experience.

What is symbolized by Paul's removal to the school of Tyrannus? Tyrannus (tyrant, sovereign) symbolizes the absolute ruling power of desire in the individual. Paul's work in the school of Tyrannus symbolizes the fact that the word of Truth continues to work in the spiritually awakening individual through his inner desires for the things of Spirit. This is the case despite the fact that the individual may repudiate the higher messages of Truth for a time, because his established religious beliefs still hold so large a place in his thought.

What meaning is contained in the statement that “all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks”? This means that the entire man, indwelling his religious nature and his intellect, has been subjected to the infiltration of Truth.

Sunday, July 13, 1941: Acts 19:8-10

What metaphysical meaning is contained in the reference to Paul's entering the synagogue in Ephesus and speaking boldly there for three months? A synagogue represents the established religious consciousness inbred in us by tradition and inheritance. When the illumined will enters into this consciousness, it meets resistance even when man's desire is for Truth. Ephesus means “desirable.”

What does the name Tyrannus signify in connection with man's desires? The name Tyrannus (tyrant) illustrates the power that desire exerts over the soul of man. It is a tyrant that rules man, until he brings the weight of moral will to bear against it.

June 4, 1944: Acts 19:8-10

What does the name Ephesus mean, and what does the importance of the place in ancient times signify? Ephesus means “desirable.” The city founded at least one thousand years before Christ, was at one time the chief point in Asia. Asia represents the inner realm, and the importance of the power of desire is clearly indicated in this symbology.

What does Paul's teaching in the school of Tyrannus represent? The name Tyrannus (“tyrant,” “ruling prince”) represents the rule of desire in the individual. Paul's work in the school of Tyrannus represents the word of Truth continuing its work in the spiritually awakening individual through his inner desire for the things of Spirit. This work goes on even though for a time the individual may repudiate the higher message of Truth, because his mind is filled with preconceived, established religious beliefs.

Does desire always have to do with the inner realm? It may be fixed on the things of sense or materiality as well as on the things of the inner realm. The work of the Christ is to transform it until it becomes righteous desire and faithfully expresses the inner realm of Spirit.

March 5, 1950: Acts 19:1

What do Paul and Apollos represent, respectively? Paul represents the converted will sowing the word of Truth (seed) in all parts of the body. Apollos represents a true, practical understanding of faith and of love and of the other faculties of the mind, and an understanding of how to apply these faculties as they are needed to refresh, encourage, and aid the new Truth thoughts to reach fruition.

What is signified by the fact that Paul went to Ephesus while Apollos remained in Corinth? The word of Truth that is sown in the body in the form of constructive thoughts and affirmations does not always bear fruit immediately. Faith and understanding (Apollos) must be brought to bear on it before it can develop properly. When the word of Truth is supported by understanding and the two work together, results are more immediate.

March 5, 1950: Acts 19:8-10

Is reasoning or persuasion all that is needed to convince hearers of the truth of the Christ teaching? No, this appeals only to those whose mind is open and receptive to Truth. Those who are prejudiced or have preconceived ideas must be approached by different methods.

Why is it sometimes desirable to “separate the disciples”? We deny sense thoughts any place in our mind, or we separate them from thoughts of what is true, helpful, and practical. Paul separated himself and the disciples from the hardened, disobedient Jews in Ephesus and reasoned in the school of Tyrannus (ruling prince).

Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 19:11-20

19:11And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 19:12insomuch that unto the sick were carried away from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the evil spirits went out. 19:13But certain also of the strolling Jews, exorcists, took upon them to name over them that had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 19:14And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, who did this. 19:15And the evil spirit answered and said unto them, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? 19:16And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and mastered both of them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 19:17And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, that dwelt at Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 19:18Many also of them that had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. 19:19And not a few of them that practised magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 19:20So mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed.
August 15 1909: Acts 19:8-20


Ephesus means desire. It was here that Paul, Truth, preached longer than at any other place. Ephesus was one of the most important cities of ancient Greece and well represents that central building faculty of the consciousness called desire. Ephesus was famed for its tents, so much so that the luxurious Athenian General Alcibiades thought his furniture not complete, unless he had a tent from Ephesus. It was famed for its arts; the temple of Diana was there, and many craftsmen made up the city's inhabitants. This all shows its prevailing mental state, and symbolizes a certain center of consciousness in the body of a man. Some people think it far-fetched to claim that a city or place on the earth has any relation to man's mind. The fact is that all places are representative of the mind. The prevailing idea in the race mind at any age of its history may be told by the character of its cities. The American people are picturing in their cities what exists in their minds, and we readily locate the intellectual, governmental, artistic, manufacturing, etc. cities of our country. If we take this country as a whole and call it a man, we can easily locate the head, the heart, the stomach, etc.; in fact, every part of the man may be found in a representative city.

Man makes the world about him after the pattern of his own mind. He has no other pattern. So we say that the Greek meaning of the word, Ephesus, desire, represented that faculty in the mind, and was used by Gospel writers to symbolize certain movements that go on when the Truth is spoken there. In its physical aspect Ephesus is the stomach. In its mental, it is that ganglion center at the pit of the stomach which controls and directs all the organs pertaining to digestion and assimilation.

Philosophers like Darwin and Spencer say desire is the root of all body building. They claim that desire draws together the few protoplasmic cells that make the stomach of the most primitive life forms. The giraffe desires to nip the tender shoots that grow high up on the trees, and he adds cell by cell to his neck, until he reaches them. The deer desires to flee from its enemies, and the desire builds muscles of swiftness. The fish desired to get out into the air above the water, and eventually became a bird. Thus science proves the law of thought in building the body. Desire is but another name for thought. The desire is the center from which goes forth the impetus that makes the form.

The cells that build the form are moved upon by ideas; hence the character of the form is determined by the prevailing ideas back of it. Ephesus was given up to idolatry, superstition and general materialism. So we find in unregenerate man that this center is given up to physical and mortal ideas, and must be raised to the spiritual through the impregnating power of the Word. Hence Paul spent three years preaching the Gospel in Ephesus. The word of Truth cast out evil spirits and healed the sick at Ephesus, and this was imitated by strolling Jew exorcists. They used the same formulas that Paul did, but they had not been converted, or not totally purified, and the evil spirits turned upon them and overpowered them so that they fled. We find people who want to be healed without repentance; they want to be freed from the penalty of error, but do not wish to do right. These ask for word formulas, magic, and they create a demand for the exorcists that imitate the Truth, but are not in the understanding of that change of heart and thought which must accompany all true healing.

Sceva, the Jew, means an established instrument and refers to the fixed state of mind which prevails in the physical consciousness. The "seven sons" are the seven centers of thought and action in the body. When we find that through the mere use of words and formulas there is no permanent casting out of the evil that besets us, fear falls upon us and the name of the Lord Jesus is magnified. "And many that had believed came and confessed and showed their deeds." Randall, a Bible authority says, "Confessing, being used absolutely, denotes giving thanks to God for this manifestation of his goodness and power; and showing, declaring, announcing, denotes a report of what they had seen, not a confession of what they had done." The burning of the books of those who practiced "curious arts" means the total denial of all formulas and aids that are not based in the understanding of Truth.

– UNITY magazine.

[Transcriber's note:the above lesson is found in the PDF for Acts 18]

October 9, 1921: Acts 19:8-20

What is the metaphysical meaning of Paul’s preaching at Ephesus? Paul's preaching at Ephesus symbolizes the activity of Truth principles, as they work to establish spiritual ideas at the very center of desire, in both mind and body.

When this process is begun, what is the result? The work is continued until the whole inner consciousness is instructed in the ways of Spirit.

What seeming miracles are performed? Evil spirits (errors) are cast out and the sick (inharmonious thoughts) are healed.

What do the “strolling Jews” represent? The “strolling Jews” represent wandering thoughts which try to imitate Truth. Since, however, they have no hold on the power of the word, their duplicity is revealed, and the error which they are attempting to master, masters them.

What is the experience of Christian teachers and healers in this respect today? There are those who would be healed without applying the law of forgiveness. They would be freed from their inharmony, but they do not wish to let go of the error thought. A change of heart must be experienced before spiritual healing can be demonstrated.

In individual consciousness, what is the result when the “strolling Jews” (wandering thoughts) are exposed as error? The whole consciousness is cleaned and the living Word is magnified. The power of the Lord prevails throughout the whole being.

Explain the activity of the law in the case of the seven sons of Sceva. The “Seven Sons” represent seven centers of thought and action in the body. When we find that by the mere use of words and formulas there is no permanent recasting out of the evils that beset us, fear falls upon us, and the name of the Lord Jesus is magnified. “Many also of them that had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds.”

October 7, 1928: Acts 19:18-20

“And many that believed came, confessing and declaring their deeds”; that many who “practised magical arts brought their books together and burned them.” Give the metaphysical meaning of these two verses. “Confessing” denotes the giving of thanks to God for the manifestations of His goodness and power. “Declaring their deeds” indicates acknowledging or testifying concerning the wonderful works of Truth. The burning of the books “of them that practised magical arts” signifies the total denial of all formulas and aids to healing that are not based on an understanding of Truth.

Sunday, December 8, 1933: Acts 19:8-20

Our subject today is “Paul in Ephesus.” Metaphysically, what does this mean? Paul represents the word of the Spirit of truth. Ephesus means the central building faculty of the consciousness, called desire. The word of the Spirit of truth working to establish its inspiration in the soul's desires is a great forward movement in spiritual evolution.

Is the soul of man ever without desire? To find one who is wholly without desire is rare, for it is virtually universal, as much so as breathing. Desire is an important part of man’s life. Without it he is without ambition, zeal, or any real motive power.

Do man’s desires need spiritual discipline? Yes. Paul (the working power of the Spirit) spent nearly three years in Ephesus (the central building faculty of consciousness called desire) not only winning new converts to Christ, but also arousing greater faith in His followers, instructing them how to keep their thought force working, not for personal glory, but for the glory of God, and how in every way to radiate the healing power of Christ.

From a metaphysical viewpoint, why is this necessary? As the mainspring of desire is important to man, so also is the trend of his desires. To unfold spiritually, ambition for material gain, power, or fame must be transmuted into spiritual obedience and loving service.

It is recorded that Jesus ate and drank with publicans and sinners. Was Jesus justified in doing this? It was not because Jesus was a glutton or a drunkard, as the Pharisees charged, that He ate with publicans and sinners, but because by so doing He succeeded in reaching their hearts and implanting His message in a way He could not have done otherwise. “Wisdom is justified by her works.”

When Truth students today, like the sons of Sceva, wish to do marvelous healings for the sake of the marvel only, what results? They make very little progress. They are unable to keep the mind on the spiritual side of life, and fail to cultivate the patience necessary to lay the Christ foundation. In such cases the results are usually hazardous.

What must they do who wish to be freed from the effect of past error? They must be willing to give up present error and live by the infinite principle of right. Change of heart and of thought must precede all true healing.

November 8, 1936: Acts 19:8-12

What is represented by the statement that all the inhabitants of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord through Paul's teaching in Ephesus? Ephesus represents desire, Asia represents the inner nature of man, and the Jews and Greeks the religious and intellectual sides of man’s nature, relatively. When Truth (Paul) does its perfect work in man's inner nature, both his religious instincts and his intellectual powers are transformed, and desire in him becomes the righteous expression of his whole being.

How may we avoid hardships? By equalizing our desires with our present ability to realize them we avoid the hardships we would meet, if we allowed our ambitions to outstrip our ability.

When Paul met opposition to his teaching in the synagogue, he removed to the school of Tyrannus. What is symbolized by this statement? The word of Truth continues to work in the spiritually awakening individual through his inner desires that attract the things of Spirit. This takes place even though the individual may for a time outwardly repudiate the higher messages of Truth, because his preconceived, established religious beliefs still hold so great a place in his thought.

March 5, 1950: Acts 19:18-20

What does the ministry of the word of Truth include? It includes denial of error. Many new converts among the Ephesians gave up their practice of magic and sorcery and publicly burned their books on these subjects in order to hold more faithfully to the teachings of Truth. Truth impels those who accept it to turn away from what is untrue, and thus it prevails over error.

Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 19:21-41

19:21Now after these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 19:22And having sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

19:23And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. 19:24For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen; 19:25whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth. 19:26And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands: 19:27and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

19:28And when they heard this they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesus. 19:29And the city was filled with the confusion: and they rushed with one accord into the theatre, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel. 19:30And when Paul was minded to enter in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 19:31And certain also of the Asiarchs, being his friends, sent unto him and besought him not to adventure himself into the theatre. 19:32Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was in confusion; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.19:33And they brought Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made a defense unto the people. 19:34But when they perceived that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 19:35And when the townclerk had quieted the multitude, he saith, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there who knoweth not that the city of the Ephesians is temple-keeper of the great Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 19:36Seeing then that these things cannot be gainsaid, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash. 19:37For ye have brought hither these men, who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. 19:38If therefore Demetrius, and the craftsmen that are with him, have a matter against any man, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls: let them accuse one another. 19:39But if ye seek anything about other matters, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 19:40For indeed we are in danger to be accused concerning this day's riot, there being no cause for it: and as touching it we shall not be able to give account of this concourse.19:41And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

October 25, 1925: Acts 19:23-34

What is the meaning of verse 23: “And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way”? The Way is a designation of what in our day is called Christianity. It is the way of life taught by Jesus Christ.

Does Christianity teach that God is a being with a form like a man, or that he has any form? Christianity teaches that God is Spirit. It is impossible to make a material form that will express Spirit. To grasp spiritual realities one must have developed spiritual faculties, which do their work on the spiritual plane of consciousness.

How do men express their material concepts of God? Men express their material concepts of God by thinking about him materially and by forming in their minds material images of a material heaven in which they suppose God to live.

When the true concept of God is taught, what effect does the teaching have on the thought realm that is preaching and making gain out of a manmade concept of God? When the God of Spirit is proclaimed, the consciousness that believes in and profits from the concept of a personal God, makes an uproar and almost causes a riot, because of injury to the industry which has been built up by material religion. Demetrius, the silversmith, represents the mentality that is sending forth thoughts and images of a material God.

What does Diana of the Ephesians represent? Diana of the Ephesians represents physical generation.

Why does physical generation fear that its industry will be destroyed by those who teach the spiritual character of God? Physical generation is of the natural man (represented in the New Testament by John the Baptist). Physical generation is afraid that it will lose its place as the ruling source of race perpetuation. Spiritually illumined John the Baptist saw that he must decrease and that one would follow him who would increase and fill the whole earth. This means that spiritual understanding will take the place of physical generation and that the sons of God, who are now teaching and preaching Truth in the earth, will appear and rule with Christ.

Metaphysicians find that after a thorough denial of matter and material conditions they experience a much disturbed state of mind? Why is this? Thoughts are things, and people fill their minds with thought substance. When new ideas are entertained, if the subject matter is of a more spiritual character than the ideas previously entertained, the old ideas resist. This process is sometimes called chemicalization. It should be feared. It denotes a thorough repentance or change of mind.

July 13, 1941: Acts 19:23-32

Which of the personal man's ideas offers the most stubborn resistance to the action of the illumined will? The idea that substance is wholly material is the most resistant of all. This material idea is represented by Demetrius, the silversmith.

Does the intellect normally resist the true ideas presented to it? The normal state of the right-minded person is one in which the intellect and the religious nature are harmonized in the search for Truth. Both Jews and Greeks in Ephesus “heard the word of the Lord” throughout two years of Paul's preaching.

How does a material idea of substance affect man's religious faith? It makes him regard religion as a means of bettering his personal fortunes. In other words it enlarges the personal consciousness instead of diminishing it.

Who was Diana whom all Asia was said to worship? Diana was the fertility goddess of the heathen world, and was associated in men’s thought with the moon. The moon exerts an influence upon the whole earth, and in like manner desire is a trait common to all men. Asia represents the within, and desire reaches to man's consciousness.

Is the will sufficient of itself to cope with desire in the natural man? No, the will needs the reinforcing of the Holy Spirit to make it equal to this task. The disciples would not allow Paul to enter the theater unattended and speak to the craftsmen while they were in a frenzy of resistance.

How can man hope to overcome the resistance of material ideas? His hope lies in spiritualizing his thinking. He must desire to do what is right.

December 1, 1946: Acts 19:23-30

What is the first consideration of the material-minded person? The sense self and its interests. “Sirs, ye know that by his business we have our wealth.”

To what form of thinking and living does the sense self lead? To materialism in all its forms. Materialistic thinking is the product of the sense mind.

How does spiritual thinking affect the body? Out of the spiritual substance of thought it builds a spiritual body.

Is materialism conducive to honesty in life and thought? No. The materialist chooses his argument to gain his ends. First, his trade will “come into disrepute,” and secondly, “the temple of the great goddess Diana” will “be made of no account.”

Does the spiritual-minded person regard the work of his hands as worthy of worship? He does not. He knows that the mind far surpasses the hands in its grasp of Truth, and that the hands are servants of the mind. They can fashion only what the mind conceives.

December 29, 1946: Acts 19:21

What is represented by Paul in this lesson? He represents the experiences of the fallible human consciousness in seeking Truth.

Sunday, September 19, 1948: Acts 19:29-41

Lesson Interpretation

How is a union of minds effected, when there is disagreement? Through the employment of reasonableness, which enables persons who disagree eventually to find a common ground of agreement.

Should there be any limitation placed on the individual's right of expression? The individual's right of expression must be kept within the bounds of law and order, otherwise confusion and anarchy result, and society is placed on an unstable basis.

Is there any time when it is permissible for a person to be a law unto himself? Only when he rises to a consciousness of the Christ and becomes selfless. The personal self must be subordinate to the good of the whole society.

Why should anyone bow to distasteful authority? Because the law of liberty or “perfect law” is “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” which means that the good of all is paramount to the good of the personal self, and it should be so accepted. As we take the larger view of law, we see that authority is necessary to the maintenance of the social order and this in turn is necessary to individual security.

What is symbolized by the riot of Demetrius and his fellow workers? It symbolizes the battle of materiality against spirituality, in which self-interest seeks to enforce its will against reason and the good of all, without regard for truth or right.

What faculty is qualified to hold a position of authority over greed and selfishness? Understanding, which gives a person the power to see motives and desires as they are, even when undeclared, and to assess them at their true value. The “townclerk” knew what was back of the confusion stirred up by Demetrius, and since he also knew the laws of the city, he was able to deal with the riot and quell it.

What is shown by a person's using a substitute for legal processes? By the use of force a person admits his inability to prove the reasonableness of his contention. He also admits his contempt for duly constituted authority and the processes by which it is executed. Force is the weakest of all ways to end contention.

Does the approval of a majority prove the merit of a person's claims? Only when the approval is in conformity with law and order. Otherwise it proves that the mass of the population can be carried away by the unreason and violence of a designing leader.

As Between an appeal to reason and an appeal to passion, self-interest, and prejudice, how do right-thinking people respond? They respond to the appeal to reason always in preference to an appeal to lower, personal motives.

Transcribed by Lloyd Kinder on 12-22-2013