Acts 19:7

ESV There were about twelve men in all.
NIV There were about twelve men in all.
NASB There were about twelve men in all.
CSB Now there were about twelve men in all.
NLT There were about twelve men in all.
KJV And all the men were about twelve.

What does Acts 19:7 mean?

It seems Paul had first been to Ephesus for less than a week. He was coming home to Syrian Antioch from Corinth; his ship took him across the Aegean Sea from the east coast of Greece to the west coast of modern-day Turkey. He spent a very short time in the synagogue, explaining how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the Hebrew Scriptures' prophecies of the Messiah. The people there asked him to stay longer, but he wanted to get to Jerusalem and promised to return if he could. He did leave his friends and fellow-Christians Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus (Acts 18:19–21).

While Paul sailed to Judea and then traveled up to Syrian Antioch, Priscilla and Aquila joined the synagogue and met a Jewish man named Apollos from Alexandria. Apollos was a strong follower of John the Baptist and passionately shared John's message that God-followers and Jews needed to repent from their sins and resolve to obey God. Apollos knew some things about Jesus but didn't quite understand Jesus as the Messiah who came to reconcile people to God. Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside and explained Jesus' story to him. He quickly believed and taught as fervently about Jesus as he had about John. After a time, he left Ephesus and took Paul's place in Corinth (Acts 18:24–28).

John's message had always been popular. Even though he had publicly condemned the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 3:7), the Jewish leaders were still afraid of criticizing him three years after his death for fear of his followers (Mark 11:27–33). Somehow, whether by hearing from John in Judea or by hearing from Apollos in Ephesus, twelve men in Ephesus had heard John's message of repentance and publicly aligned with his call to repentance by receiving John's baptism.

When Paul returns to Ephesus during his third missionary journey, he meets these men. Like Priscilla and Aquila with Apollos, he shows the men how John was merely the messenger who announced the coming of Jesus. The men put their faith in Jesus and agree to align themselves with His offer of salvation from sins and reconciliation with God (Acts 19:1–6).

Paul will stay in Ephesus for about three years (Acts 20:31). With Priscilla and Aquila (1 Corinthians 16:19), he will build a solid church filled with Gentiles who flee demonic magic to follow the true God (Acts 19:18–20). The church members will become experts in revealing false teachers, but they will have trouble keeping their eyes on Jesus instead of the threat of the enemy. In Jesus' words to them, "I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first" (Revelation 2:3–4).
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