What are “extraordinary miracles?“
For me, Acts 19:11-20 is one of the most fascinating passages in all of Scripture. What makes it so fascinating is Luke’s description of “extraordinary miracles“ that occurred during Paul’s Ephesian ministry.
Ephesus was one of the major cities of the Mediterranean world. While Athens could be called the center of learning and education and Corinth could be called the center of commerce, Ephesus was known as the center of religion.
Ephesus was the home of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – – the Temple of Diana or Artemis.
This temple featured the worship of Diana. It was a fertility religion, which made up much of the religions of Canaan and of the entire Mediterranean region.
Ephesus also was the center of idol worship. Much of the commerce of Ephesus centered around the Temple of Diana. Engravers and craftsman sold items and carvings of every kind. The remainder of Acts 19 shows how possessive these craftsman were of their trade. They rightly saw Christianity as a danger for the future of their economy. They even began a riot because of Paul’s teaching.
This certainly shows how successful Paul had been and how far the gospel had gone in a few short years.
Ephesus also was a center of the “Ephesian Letters.“ These were spells, curses, and other items of magic and superstition. People came from all over the world to buy these spells.
Paul’s extraordinary miracles occurred in this unusual place filled with magic and superstition of every kind. Here, God confronted idolatry, magic, superstition, and every kind of false and rebellious worship head on.
Paul’s extraordinary miracles showed the power of God – – the Creator and sustainer of all people.
We know that miracles basically occurred at three points in history – – the time of Moses, the time of Elijah and Elisha, and the time of Jesus and the apostles.
Jesus used miracles to show compassion and kindness, to teach spiritual lessons, and to demonstrate his credibility as Lord and Messiah. The apostles used miracles in the same way.
Paul’s extraordinary miracles showed the power of God and took the gospel into the very heart of the enemy.