Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. The decades since the middle of the 19th century have seen an increased interest in spiritualism. Why do you think these practices have been attractive to people such as Mary Todd Lincoln, Queen Victoria, Heinrich Himmler, William S. Burroughs, and Elvis Presley? What do you think they hoped to gain from the occult?
2. In classic horror movies, the monster is finally defeated, but in more current horror, a demonic villain survives to live another day. Can you give some examples of this? Why do you think tales of eternal evil remain popular in a modern, scientific society?
Read Acts 19:8-10.
1. The synagogue was the logical place for a rabbi like Paul to teach. Try to describe how the climate of Paul’s discourses in the synagogue changed over three months. How do Jesus’ words about when and when not to speak apply here (Matthew 7:6)?
2. Compare and contrast Paul’s withdrawal from teaching in the synagogue to the modern practice of creating alternative Christian media and institutions when secular venues turn hostile (examples include Christian music, Christian charities, Christian schools, and Christian movies). How did the change in venue alter the size of Paul’s audience?
Read Acts 19:11-16.
3. Note the similarity between the miracles of Paul in verses 11, 12 and those of Peter (Acts 5:15, 16). How do these miracles differ from most other healing miracles in Scripture? Why do you think this type of “second-hand” healing seems to have been rare?
4. What is an incantation? Does it fairly describe the words of the sons of Sceva (19:13)? Explain. What was the result of trying to leverage God’s power with a chant or invocation? Do use see any similarities between this and any modern religious practices?
Read Acts 19:17-20.
5. Some preachers have been known to use images of fire and brimstone to inspire fear to convince people to believe. Compare the reaction of the Jews and Greeks in Ephesus to that of the Jews in Jerusalem following the death of Ananias and Sapphira (5:11-14). How do we know whether inspiring fear is an effective tool for evangelism?
6. It has been suggested that the pagan belief at the time was that magical spells and chants became useless once the scrolls holding them were destroyed. Knowing this and knowing that the value of the destroyed scrolls is an estimated $7.5 million in today’s money, what can we conclude about the sincerity of the converts in Ephesus?
7. Magic is one way people seek power. What are some others? What can we remove from our lives to allow “the word of the Lord [to] spread widely and [grow] in power” (19:20)?