Daily Word

Handkerchief healing | Acts 19:8-12

8 Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. 9 But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.

11 God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. 12 When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.

Acts 19:8-12 (NLT) 中文 

3rd Missionary trip

Paul has set out on the 3rd missionary journey. He again left from Antioch for the areas he went to previously. Why? We’re told in Acts 18:23, “strengthening all the disciples” – similar to what he did on the start of the 2nd journey. While he is there, Apollos comes on the scene. He’s another spiritual leader, who teaches in Ephesus, gets gently corrected, then is sent over to Corinth. Paul then arrived in Ephesus and met some disciples outside the main city who came to faith after Paul closed the gap in their knowledge of the Way.

Ministry in Ephesus

As in past trips, Paul heads to the synagogue to preach. He did this for 3 months this time before those opposed to the gospel rejected it and spoke out publicly against it. Paul got frustrated so he “picked up his marbles and left”, so to speak. He took all the disciples, those that chose to repent and believe in Jesus as Messiah, and left the synagogue.

He set up shop in a public forum and there he taught daily – for two years! This is not the work of an itinerant evangelist but a short term missionary. But Paul was flexible to God’s call on his life. As a result, people all over Greek Asia heard the gospel from this strategic cultural outpost.

Handkerchief healing

Preaching is preaching but if you can back it up with signs and wonders (as the Jewish leaders repeatedly demanded of Jesus), you can have a larger impact. This was some amazing stuff happening – like never seen before or, maybe not since (though some may think so). Not just healing was occurring but casting out of demons – just by touching material that had touched Paul! “Jesus continued to work the same ‘extraordinary miracles’ through ‘Paul’ that He had demonstrated during His own earthly ministry (cf. Mark 5:27; 6:56) and that He had demonstrated through Peter (Acts 5:15).” (planobiblechapel.org)


  • These were “extraordinary” (as NASB and ESV translate) miracles. Most scholars understand to mean they were unique to the extremely “spiritual” environment of Ephesus – citing Paul’s later letter to them about spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6). It is up to God how He wants to work. “God seems to like doing things in new and different ways. Therefore we receive whatever is proven to be from the hand of God, but we pursue only that which we have a Biblical pattern for.” (enduringword.com)
  • “If God never honoured any faith save that entirely free from superstition, how about Christian people who are troubled over the number 13, over the moon, the rabbit’s foot? … God condescends to meet us in our ignorance and weakness where he can reach us.” (planobiblechapel.org quoting Robertson) Thank God that His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts than ours, and His mercy abundant!
  • And consider Paul’s flexibility to do what was necessary for the Gospel. Earlier we saw him making tents to earn a living. Mostly he’s an itinerant evangelist. Here, he’s doing short term mission work. What can we learn?
Woman in traditional dress holding handkerchief. Image from pxfuel.com

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