The Book of Acts: Turning the World Upside Down
David Feddes

Empowered to witness and 
turn the world upside down

• You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8)

• These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also. (17:6)

Jerusalem upside down

At this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished. (Acts 2:6-7) And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles… And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:43,47)

Jerusalem upside down

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus… “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.” … And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem (Acts 4:13, 5:28, 8:1)

Samaria upside down

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city. (Acts 8:5-8)

Cyprus upside down

The proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, … summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God… But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith…. The proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (Acts 13:7-12)

Antioch upside down

Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas… The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord… And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district… And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:7-12)

Iconium upside down

A great number of both Jews and Greeks believed… An attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them. (Acts 14:1,5)

Lystra upside down

They lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” … Paul and Barnbas cried out, “Turn from these vain things to a living God.”… But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. (Acts 14:11-19)

Philippi upside down

Paul… said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers… they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” (Acts 16:18-20)

Thessalonica upside down

Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also… and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” And the people and the city authorities were disturbed. (Acts 17:6-8)

Corinth upside down

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized…  And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” (Acts 18:8-13)

Third Journey of Paul

Ephesus upside down

All the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks… fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:10-20)

Ephesus upside down

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.” (Acts 19:23-26)

The Riot

With a moan and a groan and a scowl and a growl,

Demetrius snarled, “Shall we throw in the towel?

We can’t seem to sell all these idols we’ve made.

The people won’t buy them. We’re not getting paid.

Our idols were selling for oodles of money,

But now we can’t sell them, and that isn’t funny.

Shall we throw in the towel? No! I say we shall not!”

As he spoke, his friends’ tempers began to grow hot.

Then on went Demetrius, madder than ever,

“You know who’s been wrecking our business endeavor?

This fellow named Paul!” (All agreed with a nod.)

“This fellow keeps saying there’s only one God.

He says Jesus Christ is the one all should trust.

When folks believe that, they stop buying from us.

It’s time to do something. It can’t hurt to try it.

Let’s praise our great goddess and start a great riot.

So that’s what they did, and they did it quite well,

Those furious men with a goddess to sell.

They were stomping and shouting and screaming so loud

That soon they attracted an oversize crowd

Who thought yelling rage seemed the “in” thing to do.

But why they were there, most of them hadn’t a clue.

Before long the whole town had become one huge mob.

How to calm it back down? An impossible job!

For two hours they screamed, till they barely could croak.

Then the clerk of the city stood up, and he spoke:

“What’s all the commotion? We’ve got a great idol.

We give her devotion. We honor her title.

But why attack people who’ve done nothing wrong?

Why stand around squawking so loud and so long?

This hubbub could get our fine city in trouble.

So shut your loud mouths, and go home on the double.”

When idol-makers blow their stack

and try to start a fight,

It means God’s people are on track;

They’re doing something right.

But when we worship money, sex,

TVs and sports and song,

Demetrius gets filthy rich.

We’re doing something wrong. (David Feddes)

Jerusalem upside down (again)

“Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place…” Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. (Acts 20:28-31)

Turning the world upside down

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also saying that there is another king, Jesus. (17:6-7)

In a Spirit-empowered movement or revival, Christians are so different, so energized, so bold, so committed to King Jesus, that they cause a stir and cant be ignored by the world around them. Revival first empowers believers. Converts are many, changes are amazing, and opposition is often fierce.

Great Awakening (1730-1750)

This work of God soon made a glorious alteration in the town; so that in the spring and summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor so full of joy; and yet so full of distress as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God's presence in almost every house. It was a time of joy in families on the account of salvation being brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as newborn, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands.(Jonathan Edwards)

God's day was a delight. The congregation was alive in God's service, everyone earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the Word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors. (Jonathan Edwards)

Religion without impact?

Lord Melbourne: “Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade the sphere of private life.”

Slave owner: “Humanity is a private feeling, not a public principle to act upon.”

William Wilberforce: “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”

Go on, in the name of God!

Unless the divine power has raised you up, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God is with you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.” (John Wesley letter to William Wilberforce, Feb. 24, 1791)

Welsh revival (1904-1905)

“The fire zone is where the meetings are actually held, and where you feel the flame that burns. But even when you come out of it, and go into railway trains, or into a shop, a bank, anywhere, men everywhere are talking of God.” (G. Campbell Morgan)

• Coal miners’ mules didn’t know what to do when commands had no swear words!

• More than 20,000 people were added to churches. Many bars went out of business.

Empowered to witness and 
turn the world upside down

• You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8)

• These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also. (17:6)

Last modified: Tuesday, July 25, 2023, 11:27 AM