Verses about the Apostles'
"TRAVELS and ACTS"

Part 9
ACTS 18-20
Paul's Third Missionary Journey

Location Map


Map - Paul’s Third Missionary Journey, returning to Asia Minor and Greece c AD53-58

Map Key:
1. Paul's Third Journey as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Also in text in [red square brackets]
Only stages 1-6 are covered here in Paul's Third Missionary Journey. Stages 7-22 cover his later return to Jerusalem

 


9.1 PAUL STARTS HIS THIRD JOURNEY; APOLLOS ARRIVES IN EPHESUS; HE IS TAUGHT BY PRISCILLA & AQUILA, AND CROSSES TO ACHAIA

Acts 18:23b-28 - (After spending some time in Syrian Antioch [1], Paul starts on his Third Missionary Journey, and ....) proceeded to visit systematically throughout Galatia [2] and Phyrgia [3] (two large areas in which Paul must have spent quite a few months), putting new heart into all the disciples as he went.

Apollos speaks powerfully at Ephesus and Corinth

Now a Jew called Apollos, a native of Alexandria and a gifted speaker, well-versed in the scriptures, arrived at Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with burning zeal, teaching the facts about Jesus faithfully, even though he only knew the baptism of John (the Baptist). This man began to speak with great boldness in the synagogue. but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. Then as he wanted to cross into Achaia (and the city of Corinth), the brothers gave him every encouragement and wrote a letter to the disciples there, asking them to make him welcome. On his arrival he proved a source of great strength to those who believed through grace, for by his powerful arguments he publicly refuted the Jews, quoting from the scriptures to prove that Jesus is Christ.

 

9.2 PAUL REACHES EPHESUS AND STAYS FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS

Acts 19:1-22 - While Apollos was in Corinth Paul journeyed through the upper parts of the country (the high inland plateau of Asia Minor) and arrived at Ephesus [4] (on the coast). There he discovered some disciples, and he asked them, ....

- In Acts 19:2b-5 following, repeated in Part 40.1, Paul baptises a number of Christian disciples in the Holy Spirit:

(Verse 2b starts ....) "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

"No", they replied, "we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

"Well then, how were you baptised?" asked Paul.

"We were baptised with John (the Baptist)'s baptism," they replied.

"John's baptism was a baptism to show a change of heart," Paul explained, "but he always told the people that they must believe in the one who should come after him, that is, in Jesus."

When these men heard this they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, (Verse 6 continues ....), and then, when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they began to speak with tongues and the inspiration of prophets. (There were about twelve of them in all.)

Paul's two-year ministry at Ephesus

Then Paul made his way into the synagogue there and for three months he spoke with the utmost confidence, using both argument and persuasion as he talked of the kingdom of God. But when some of them hardened in their attitude towards the message and refused to believe it, and, what is more, spoke offensively about the Way (of Jesus Christ) in public, Paul left them, and withdrew his disciples, and held daily discussions in the lecture-hall of Tyrannus (a philosopher or teacher in Ephesus). He continued this practice for two years (... Paul's longest recorded stay in any one location during his three Missionary Journeys), so that all who lived in Asia (not just Ephesus, but the surrounding country), both Greeks and Jews, could hear the Lord's message. God gave most unusual demonstrations of power through Paul's hands, so much so that people took to the sick any handkerchiefs or small-clothes which had been in contact with his body, and they were cured of their diseases and their evil spirits left them.

The violence of evil and the power of the "name"

But there were some itinerant Jewish exorcists who attempted to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus when dealing with those who had evil spirits. They would say, "I command you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches." Seven brothers, sons of a chief priest called Sceva, were engaged in this practice on one occasion, when the evil spirit answered, "Jesus I know, and I am acquainted with Paul, but who on earth are you?" And the man in whom the evil spirit was living sprang at them and over-powered them all with such violence that they rushed out of that house wounded, with their clothes torn off their backs. This incident became known to all the Jews and Greeks who were living in Ephesus, and a great sense of awe came over them all, while the name of the Lord Jesus became highly respected. Many of those who had professed their faith began openly to admit their former practices. A number of those who had previously practised magic collected their books and burned them publicly. (They estimated the value of these books and found it to be no less than five thousand pounds - 50,000 drachma, a drachma being a day's wage; say 2-3 million sterling!) In this way the Word of the Lord continued to grow irresistibly in power and influence.

- Towards the end of his 3 year stay in Ephesus, Paul probably wrote his First Letter to the church in Corinth. This and his Second Letter are introduced shortly -

Paul speaks of his plans

After these events Paul set his heart on going to Jerusalem by way of Macedonia and Achaia, remarking, "After I have been there I must see Rome as well."

Then he despatched to Macedonia (the province that included the cities of Philippi and Thessalonica) two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, while he himself stayed for a while in Asia.

9.3 A NEAR RIOT IN EPHESUS; PAUL LEAVES AND TRAVELS THROUGH MACEDONIA, AND SOUTH TO GREECE

Acts 19:23-20:3a - Now it happened about this time that a great commotion arose concerning the Way (of Jesus Christ). A man by the name of Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines for Diana, provided considerable business for his craftsmen. He gathered these men together with workers in similar trades and spoke to them, "Men," he said, "you all realise how our prosperity depends on this particular work. If you use your eyes and ears you also know that not only in Ephesus but practically throughout (the province of) Asia this man Paul has succeeded in changing the minds of a great number of people by telling them that gods made by human hands are not gods at all. Now the danger is not only that this trade of ours might fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana herself might come to be lightly regarded. There is a further danger, that her actual majesty might be degraded, she who the whole of Asia, and indeed the whole world, worships!"

When they heard this they were furiously angry, and shouted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"

Soon the whole city was in an uproar, and on a common impulse the people rushed into the theatre dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, two Macedonians who were Paul's travelling companions. Paul himself wanted to go in among the crowd, but the disciples would not allow him. Moreover, some high-ranking officials who were Paul's friends sent to him begging him not to risk himself in the theatre. Meanwhile some were shouting one thing and some another, and the whole assembly was at sixes and sevens, for most of them had no idea why they had come together at all. A man called Alexander whom the Jews put forward was pushed into the forefront of the crowd, and there, after making a gesture with his hand, he tried to make a speech of defence to the people. but as soon as they realised that he was a Jew they shouted as one man for about two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"

Public authority intervenes

But when the town clerk had finally quietened the crowd, he said, "Gentlemen of Ephesus, who in the world could be ignorant of the fact that our city of Ephesus is temple-guardian of the great Diana and of the image which fell down (perhaps an ancient meteorite) from Jupiter himself? These are undeniable facts and it is your plain duty to remain calm and do nothing which you might afterwards regret. For you have brought these men forward, though they are neither plunderers of the temple, nor have they uttered any blasphemy against our goddess. If Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen have a charge to bring against anyone, well, the courts are open and there are magistrates; let them take legal action. But if you require anything beyond that then it must be resolved in the regular assembly. For all of us are in danger of being charged with rioting over today's events particularly as we have no real excuse to offer for this commotion."

And with these words he dismissed the assembly.

Paul departs on his second journey to Europe

(Chapter 20 ......) After this disturbance had died down, Paul sent for the disciples and after speaking encouragingly said good-bye to them, and went on his way to Macedonia [5]. As he made his way through these districts ....

- of Macedonia, Paul probably wrote his Second Letter to the Corinthians after Titus' return from that city (2 Corinthians 7:5-7);

- Assuming the Letter to the Galatians was written to the churches of north Galatia, Paul might have written it around this time during his journey through Macedonia, or later in Greece -

........ he spoke many heartening words to the people and then went on to Greece [6] (including Corinth), where he stayed for three months.

- During his stay in Corinth, Paul is believed to have written his Letter to the already established church at Rome;

- According to his Letter to the Romans (15:19), either on his way from Macedonia or during his three months stay in Greece, Paul led or organised a mission to Illyricum (Dalmatia) - the area of the old Yugoslavia.

  back to contents


continuing the Apostle's "Travels and Acts", on to Part 10, 1 Corinthians OR back to Harmony of Jesus & Early Church