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ACTS of the APOSTLES
(Part 5 of 6, chapters 18:23b-21:15)
Paul's Third Missionary Journey
|The order of Pauls Third Missionary Journey around AD53-58, returning to Asia Minor and Greece|
18:23b - .... proceeded to visit systematically throughout Galatia and Phyrgia, putting new heart into all the disciples as he went.
Apollos speaks powerfully at Ephesus and Corinth
18:24-28 - 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. 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, 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.
Ephesus has its own Pentecost
19:1-2 - While Apollos was in Corinth Paul journeyed through the upper parts of the country and arrived at Ephesus. There he discovered some disciples, and he asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" "No", they replied, "we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
19:3 - "Well then, how were you baptised?" asked Paul. "We were baptised with John's baptism," they replied.
19:4 - "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."
19:5-7 - When these men heard this they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, 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
19-8-12 - 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 in public, Paul left them, and withdrew his disciples, and held daily discussions in the lecture-hall of Tyrannus. He continued this practice for two years, so that all who lived in Asia, 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"
19:13-20 - 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) In this way the Word of the Lord continued to grow irresistibly in power and influence.
Paul speaks of his plans
19:21 - 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."
19:22 - Then he despatched to Macedonia two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, while he himself stayed for a while in Asia.
The silversmith's riot at Ephesus
19:23-27 - Now it happened about this time that a great commotion arose concerning the Way. 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 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!"
19:28 - When they heard this they were furiously angry, and shouted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"
19:29-34 - 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
19:35-40 - 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 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."
19:41 - And with these words he dismissed the assembly.
Paul departs on his second journey to Europe
20:1-3a - 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. As he made his way through these districts he spoke many heartening words to the people and then went on to Greece, where he stayed for three months.
20:3b-6 - Then when he was on the point of setting sail for Syria the Jews made a further plot against him and he decided to make his way back through Macedonia. His companions on the journey were Sopater a Beroean, the son of Pyrrhus, two Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy, and two Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. This party proceeded to Troas to await us there while we sailed from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread. and joined them five days later at Troas, where we spent a week.
Paul's enthusiasm leads to an accident
20:7-10 - On the first day of the week, when we were assembled for the breaking of bread, Paul, since he intended to leave on the following day, began to speak to them and prolonged his address until almost midnight. There were a great many lamps burning in the upper room where we met, and a young man called Eutychus who was sitting on the window-sill fell asleep as Paul's address became longer and longer. Finally, completely overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground from the third storey and was picked up as dead. But Paul went down, bent over him and holding him gently in his arms, said, "Don't be alarmed; he is still alive."
20:11-12 - Then he went upstairs again and, when they had broken bread and eaten, continued a long earnest talk with them until daybreak, and so finally departed. As for the boy, they took him home alive, feeling immeasurably relieved.
We sail to Miletus
20:13-16 - Meanwhile we had gone aboard the ship and sailed on ahead for Assos, intending to pick up Paul there, for that was the arrangement he had made, since he himself had planned to go overland. When he met us on our arrival at Assos we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. We sailed from there and arrived off the coast of Chios the next day. On the day following we crossed to Samos, and the day after that we reached Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus with the idea of spending as little time as possible in Asia. He hoped, if it should prove possible, to reach Jerusalem in time for the day of Pentecost.
Paul's moving farewell message to the elders of Ephesus
20:17-18a - At Miletus he sent to Ephesus to summon the elders of the Church. On their arrival he addressed them in these words:
20:18b-25 - "I am sure you know how I have lived among you ever since I first set foot in Asia. You know how I served the Lord most humbly and what tears I have shed over the trials that have come to me through the plots of the Jews. You know I have never shrunk from telling you anything that was for your good, nor from teaching you in public or in your own homes. On the contrary I have most emphatically urged upon both Jews and Greeks repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus. And now here I am, compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I do not know what may happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit warns me that imprisonment and persecution await me in every city that I visit. But frankly I do not consider my own life valuable to me so long as I can finish my course and complete the ministry which the Lord Jesus has given me in declaring the good news of the grace of God. Now I know well enough that not one of you among whom I have moved as I preached the kingdom of God will ever see my face again.
20:26-35 - That is why I must tell you solemnly today that my conscience is clear as far as any of you is concerned, for I have never shrunk from declaring to you the complete will of God. Now be on your guard for yourselves and for every flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians - you are to be shepherds to the Church of God, which he won at the cost of his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you without mercy for the flock. Yes, and even among you men will arise speaking perversions of the truth, trying to draw away the disciples and make them followers of themselves. This is why I tell you to keep on the alert, remembering that for three years I never failed night and day to warn every one of you, even with tears in my eyes. Now I commend you to the Lord and to the message of his grace which can build you up and give you your place among all those who are consecrated to God. I have never coveted anybody's gold or silver or clothing. You know well enough that these hands of mine have provided for my own needs and for those of my companions. In everything I have shown you that by such hard work, we must help the weak and must remember the words of the Lord Jesus when he said, 'To give is happier than to receive'."
20:36-38 - With these words he knelt down with them all and prayed. All of them were in tears, and throwing their arms round Paul's neck they kissed him affectionately. What saddened them most of all was his saying that they would never see his face gain. And they went with him down to the ship.
The brothers at Tyre warn Paul not to go to Jerusalem
21:1-11 - When we had finally said farewell to them we set sail, running a straight course to Cos, and the next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. Here we found a ship bound for Phoenicia, and we went aboard her and set sail. After sighting Cyprus and leaving it on our left we sailed to Syria and put in at Tyre, since that was where the ship was to discharge her cargo. We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them for a week. They felt led by the Spirit again and again to warn Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. But when our time was up we left there and continued our journey. They all came out to see us off, bringing their wives and children with them, accompanying us till we were outside the city. Then kneeling down on the beach we prayed and said good-bye to each other. Then we went aboard the ship while the disciples went back home. We sailed away from Tyre and arrived at Ptolemais. We greeted the brothers there and stayed with them for just one day. On the following day we left and proceeded to Caesarea and there we went to stay at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven deacons. He had four unmarried daughters, all of whom spoke by the Spirit of God. During our stay there of several days a prophet by the name of Agabus came down from Judea. When he came to see us he took Paul's girdle and used it to tie his own hands and feet together, saying, "The Holy Spirit says this: the man to whom this girdle belongs will be bound like this by the Jews in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles!"
We all warn Paul, but he is immovable
21:12-13 - When we heard him say this, we and the people there begged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered us, "What do you mean by unnerving me with all your tears? I am perfectly prepared not only to be bound but to die in Jerusalem for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus."
21:14 - Since he could not be dissuaded all we could do was to say, "May the Lord's will be done," and hold our tongues.
Paul is warmly welcomed at first
21:15 - After this we made our preparations and went up to Jerusalem.
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