Acts 19

Chapter 19: Acts 19: 1-41, Paul’s third missionary journey

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for ears to hear You and eyes to see You. We pray that You will direct our steps, answer our prayers, and speak to us through scriptures, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

V 1-3, 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus, and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John’s baptism.

Paul started his third missionary journey. He traveled by land through Galatia, Asia Minor, and arrived at Ephesus, while Apollos was in Corinth. Paul stayed in Ephesus for 3 years. Ephesus was the guardian of the temple of Diana or Artemis, the patron goddess of women. According to Greek mythology, Diana was the daughter of Zeus or Jupiter. Besides paganism, Ephesus was also an active commercial centre.

Paul discovered that believers in Ephesus had not received the Holy Spirit because they were baptised by John the Baptist and were ignorant about the Holy Spirit.

VV 4-7, 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve.

Paul laid hands upon 12 Ephesian believers and baptised them in the name of Jesus. They were filled by the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and prophesied.

VV 8-10, 8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

Paul preached and taught the kingdom of God in the local synagogue for three months, but the unbelieving Jews antagonised, persecuted, and harassed Paul. He left the synagogue and taught in the school of Tyrannus daily for 2 years. Jews and Gentiles from all over Asia Minor came and heard Paul preach the word of Jesus in the school of Tyrannus. Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians in Ephesus during his third missionary journey.

VV 11-12, 11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Paul was so anointed by the Holy Spirit that even his aprons and handkerchiefs had the power to heal the sick and deliver the demon-possessed.

VV 13-16, 13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Jews who practiced sorcery invoked the name of Jesus in their exorcism trade but the demons answered back and said, they did not recognise them. Sceva was one of the Jewish priests who practiced sorcery and occultism. The seven sons of Sceva invoked the name of Jesus to exorcise the demonised. The demons did not submit to their commands and leaped onto them causing physical injuries and embarrassments.

VV 17-20, 17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus, and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men, and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Ephesus was a stronghold of occult worship, paganism, and sorcery. When what happened to the seven sons of Sceva became public knowledge, fear came upon the people. The name of the Lord was exalted and many believed in Him. The sorcerers got together and burnt all the occult books, which were valued at 50,000 pieces of silver. This may be equivalent to a few million dollars in today’s economy. The church continued to grow and the faith of the believers was strengthened.

VV 21-22, 21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

Paul laid out his future traveling plans to Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and Rome. He sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia to collect an offering for the Jerusalem church, while he stayed back in Ephesus, 1 Cor 16:1.

1 Cor 16:1, ‘’Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also’’.

VV 23-27, 23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen. 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands. 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

In those days, Christians were called followers of the way. Demetrius a silversmith was upset over the loss of income when people converted to Christianity and stopped buying statues of Diana. Blaming Paul for his loss of income, he instigated all the silversmiths in Ephesus to oppose and attack Paul.

VV 28-31, 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.29 And the whole city was filled with confusion, and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

The silversmiths were filled with anger saying “Great is Diana”. They started a mob in the city. They arrested Paul’s disciples Gaius and Aristarchus and threw them into the Roman amphitheater, a huge open-air complex with a seating capacity of 20,000. Paul wanted to go in to rescue Gaius and Aristarchus, but his companions feared for his safety and prevented him from entering the theatre.

VV 32-41, 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another, for the assembly was confused, and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies, let them implead one another. 39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

The people in the mob were confused and did not know what was happening. Alexander was hand-picked by the crowd to make an address but when the people found out that he was a Jew, they started chanting “Great is Diana” for 2 hours. The town clerk came to the rescue and addressed the mob. He acknowledged the people’s belief that Ephesus was the guardian to the temple of Diana whose image fell from the sky God, Jupiter. According to Greek mythology, Jupiter or Zeus was the father of Diana. He said Paul’s followers did not rob temples or churches and did not blaspheme their goddess Diana. If Demetrius or any other silversmith were unhappy over their loss of income, they could take the matter to the court. After this, he dismissed the crowd.

The Risen Christ rebuked the Ephesians church for abandoning their first love for Him in Rev 2:4. Today, the ruins of Ephesus and the huge Roman amphitheater had been excavated.

Rev 2:4, “nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love.”

Application:

The sorcerers in Ephesus invoked the names of Jesus Christ in their exorcism trade but it backfired on them. The demons recognised Jesus and Paul but they did not recognise the sorcerers. Non-Christians should not invoke the name of Jesus in prayer because it will not work. Jesus will only answer your prayer if you have a personal relationship with Him and abide in His Word, John 15:7.

The Ephesians silversmiths openly attacked and mobbed Paul and his companions. Persecution is one of the marks of an apostle. Paul was openly persecuted by hostile Jews in Damascus, Jerusalem, Philippi, Thessalonica, Lystra, Pisidia Antioch, Corinth, and now Ephesus. Paul continued to preach the gospel faithfully. He did not throw in the towel. Have you ever suffered persecuting or hostilities from any non-Christians?

Evangelism is a spiritual war against principalities, powers, thrones, rulers, authorities, and spiritual wickedness in high places. Spiritual warfare is real. You need to go on your knees every day and put on the whole armour of God, Ephesians 6.

John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray that You will remain in us even as we remain in You and Your words. Fill us with the Holy Spirit and saturate us in Your words. Correct, convict, teach, educate, and train us in righteousness, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acts 18

Chapter 18: Acts 18: 1-28, Concluding Paul’s second missionary journey

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us to encounter You as we journey with Paul to Corinth. Give us ears to listen, eyes to see, hearts to learn, minds to know, and willingness to obey, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Paul traveled from Athens to Corinth, the capital of Achaia. Ancient Achaia is Southern Greece today. Northern Greece and Southern Greece are seperat4e by a narrow 4 miles wide Isthmus. Today, ships can cross Corinth from east to west and vice versa, via the Corinthian canal but this was not possible in the first-century world. Ancient Corinth was a big city with a population of 200,000.

Corinth had a reputation for Corinthian bronze, Corinthian architecture, Corinthian columns, Corinthian sports, Isthmian games, and immorality. A Corinthian is someone immoral. To corinthianise means to be a prostitute. The temple of Aphrodite housed 1000 prostitutes who roamed the streets of Corinth every night to ply their trade.

VV 1-4, After these things Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth. 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought, for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

Paul met Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth, a husband and wife Jewish tentmakers from Rome. They had migrated to Corinth due to persecution by Claudius Caesar, the emperor of Rome.

VV 5-8, 5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, your blood be upon your own heads, I am clean, from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. 7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth from Macedonia. Paul preached to Corinthians Jews that Jesus was the Christ but they did not believe and persecuted him. Shaking his garments as a sign of breaking fellowship, Paul announced that he would take the gospel to the Gentiles.

Paul entered the house of Justus, a Gentile God-fearer. Crispus, a ruler of the synagogue believed. Many Gentiles Corinthians believed and were baptised.

VV 9-13, 9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace. 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, for I have much people in this city. 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, 13 saying, this fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision encouraging him to continue speaking with a promise to protect him. Jesus had many people loyal to Him in Corinth. Paul stayed on in Corinth for 18 months, teaching the word of God, from 50-52 AD. The Jews joined hands to persecute Paul and brought him before Roman proconsul Gallio.

VV 14-17, 14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you. 15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it, for I will be no judge of such matters. 16 And he drave them from the judgment seat. 17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

Gallio spoke up for Paul but did not want to be involved. He dismissed the case and sent the Jews away from the judgment seat. The Greeks beat Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue at the judgment seat but Gallio ignored it.

VV 18-23, 18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head in Cenchrea, for he had a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there, but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not, 21 but bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem, but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

Paul left Corinth, and sailed to Ephesus in Asia Minor via Cenchrea, with Priscilla and Aquila. Paul shaved his hair at Cenchrea because he had taken a Nazarite wow, Number 6:1-4. Aquila and Priscilla parted company with Paul at Ephesus but Paul continued to preach in the local synagogue. The Ephesians believers begged Paul to stay longer but he declined because he had to be in Jerusalem before the feast. Paul left Ephesus by sea and landed in Caesarea, and traveled by land to Antioch, Syria, bringing his second missionary journey to a close.

Paul’s second missionary journey took 3 years from 49 to 52 AD. Paul wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians during this second missionary journey.

After some time in Antioch, Syria, Paul started his third missionary journey, traveling through Galatia, Asia Minor. You can follow Paul’s third missionary journey on a map available on the internet.

Numbers 6:1-4, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.”

VV 24-25, 24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John

The author of Acts introduced us to Apollos in Ephesus who was a bible scholar, teacher, preacher, orator, and disciple of John the Baptist. His full name was Apollonius, a Hellenistic Jew from Alexandria, a Jewish settlement in Egypt, where the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the New Testament, was compiled in 132 BC. Baptised by John the Baptist, Apollos did not know about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

VV 26-28, 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him, who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace. 28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Aquila and Priscilla discipled Apollo and taught him that Jesus was the Christ. Apollos left Ephesus and crossed over to Corinth, where he taught and discipled the believers. He confronted the unbelieving Jews boldly proving from scripture that Jesus was the Messiah. Apollos made a great impact on the Corinthian church.

Application:

Aquila and Priscilla took Apollo aside and discipled him. The church needs more Aquila’s and Priscillas. Have you taught and discipled anyone in the faith? The church needs more Apollos who made an impact on the church. Do have an Apollos spirit? Have you made an impact on the church?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray that You will deposit into us the spirit of Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos. Help us to make an impact on the lives of people through mentoring, discipleship, and teaching, in Jesus’ name, Amen.