Summary: Paul heads back to Ephesus, to take a look around, and minister. God does a great work.
a. If you have every been anywhere for any length of time, and then leave the place, only to return a while later, you know how the Apostle Paul felt when he returned to Ephesus.
b. Last week, we saw in Acts chapter 18, where Paul landed at Ephesus for a short while with Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Paul stayed in Ephesus for only a very short amount of time, but the Ephesians that Paul met up with there were very interested in the gospel message, in fact, they asked Paul to stay on for a while in Ephesus, when he was there the first time.
c. This was something new for Paul, having someone ask him to stay and minister in a place. Most places, like Philippi and Lystra, Paul was run out of town, rather harshly. He had been stoned, beaten, and put into prison for what he had been saying. One of the best responses Paul got was at Athens and again at Corinth, which could best be described as indifference.
d. But, the folks at Ephesus were different. They wanted to hear the message that Paul had, but the problem was, he had to leave. So, Paul leaves Ephesus, but leaves Priscilla and Aquila, and heads for Jerusalem.
e. After a short stay in Jerusalem, Paul goes home to Antioch, his home church for a time of rest; he set out again and visited the churches at Galatia and Phrygia. We’ll pick up the story today here, as we pick up with Acts chapter 19.
a. Now, just to kind of give you a little background, the city of Ephesus was a Roman colony, and the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Its ruins can still be seen if you go to Modern Turkey today.
b. Paul’s stay in Ephesus was a very unusual one. In the previous weeks, we talked about how Ephesus was really the religious center of the Roman Empire at the time. There were three temples dedicated to the worship of Caesar there, as well as the temple of Artemis or Diana there.
c. Ephesus being a very religious city had some effect on Paul’s ministry there. As I said earlier, in most cities, Paul was run out of town, at the instigation of the local Jews.
d. But to contrast to that, in Ephesus, we see that Paul is very effective in ministry, not only to the Greeks, but also to the Jews living there. Paul taught in the Jewish synagogue there in Ephesus for three months. The longest we ever see Paul teaching in a synagogue elsewhere is three weeks.
e. So, there was an openness amongst the people there in Ephesus not only to hear the gospel, but also to respond to the gospel message. It is my prayer that as we open up God’s Word to study this morning that we would have that same openness. So that we might not only hear God’s Word, but to obey it.
f. Turn with me in your bibles to Acts chapter 19. Acts is right past John, and just before Romans in the New Testament, kind of in the back third of your Bible. If you need a Bibl, just raise your hand… Let’s read starting at verse 1.
i. 1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John’s baptism." 4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would 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 hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
ii. 8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.