Summary: Paul’s Principles of Dealing With Opposition in Ministry Observed at Ephesus: Acts 19:8-41
Paul’s Principles of Dealing With Opposition in Ministry Observed at Ephesus: Acts 19:8-41
Illustration: (Controlling Anger)
This brings to mind a story told about Tommy Bolt who was on the
professional golfing tour in the 1950’s. Tommy had earned the
reputation of being a man of anger. He earned his reputation by
throwing and breaking golf clubs.
One tournament Tommy drew a caddie who had a reputation for talking.
When Tommy introduced himself he told the caddie not to talk on the
course and only speak to him as “yes, Mr. Bolt” and “No, Mr. Bolt.”
The rules were set - Tommy was in charge!
Near the end of the tournament Tommy was within site of first place.
But as things go he hit a ball and it appeared to stop by a big tree.
For his recovery shot Tommy had to look long and hard how to hit the
ball without hitting branches and still make the green.
Tommy looked at the shot then his caddie, “Shall I hit a five iron?”
The caddie replied as instructed. “No, Mr. Bolt.” Angered by the fact
that the caddie did not agree with him Tommy hit the ball with a five
iron and landed within a few feet of the pin. “There, how did you like
that?” Said, Tommy. “Now you may talk.”
The caddie looked at the ball on the green and back at the spot under
the tree where it was hit and said, “Mr. Bolt, that was not your
ball!” His anger cost Tommy Bolt two strokes for hitting the wrong
ball, first place and more money than most people make in ten years of
Most of the time when I see people who are controlled by anger there
decision-making process is stunted. In this case Tommy’s anger did not
allow him to listen and take advice from his caddie.
Sometimes It’s like that with God’s people too! A pastor teaches on
how to overcome anger but the ones who could use the advice are so
angry they don’t hear it. They are blinded by anger. Their anger ties
them up to the point that they no longer have a teachable spirit.
Many times when uncontrolled anger reigns unkind things happen,
ultimately destroying relationships and placing the angry one out of
the will of God.
Previously, Paul was prohibited from going to the region of Asia where Ephesus was the chief city (Acts 16:6), but God’s timing is always perfect. After Paul visited the Galatians’ churches he was given the green light to move into this Roman province, which covered most of the western part of Asia Minor. Many say that it is here that Paul did his greatest ministerial work. Paul describes this area as “a great door and effectual… though there are many adversaries.” (I Cor. 16:8,9). He continued with great fruit in this area for more than three years (Acts 19:10;10:1,31) It was here that he developed a plurality of godly elders that provided the basis for sound leadership for the planting and growing of many churches and set a pattern for others to follow.
Ephesus was one of the three most famous cities of the East, the other two being Alexandria, Egypt and Antioch, Syria. It was a center of commerce with a direct road to Rome so it enabled Paul’s message to spread quickly and effectively. Ephesus owed much of its prominence to the popularity of the worship of the goddess of Diana and trade in silver shrines. Once people saw how the gospel of Christ transformed Ephesus they were willing to allow the same benefits accrue to their communities. Once Paul experienced rejection of his message with the Jews he turned toward the Gentiles where he stayed for more than two years. Here the word of the Lord grew mightily and this growth came through preaching and teaching of the believers for the building up of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-16) Sow your seed where the fields are ripest for the harvest. Ask the Lord to give you strategic places where you can minister for the greatest growth of the kingdom.
Note the sharp contrast in this chapter between those who sacrificed everything for God (vs. 17-20) and those who sacrificed everything for gain (vs 23-38). People who hold selfish interests are always hostile toward the gospel and God’s rulership. In Lystra they opposed the gospel out of ignorant paganism (14:8-19); in Athens they opposed the truth because of cultured heathenism (17:32); in Corinth they opposed the gospel out of philosophical skepticism (18:5-17); however in Ephesus many rejected the truth of Jesus Christ because they feared losing earthly possessions, security and the traditions of their pagan religions. Remember that the sin of covetousness is usually associated with heathenism, debased Judaism and animistic paganism as is the case here in Ephesus.