Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Acts Studies|
Chs. 18 & 19
Chapters 18 & 19
Chapter: Acts 18
Passage: Acts 18:23-28
A. Find Out:
1. Where did Paul go next, doing what? v.23
2. Who did he meet where and how was he described? v.24
3. What was the extent of his experience? v.25
4. Who befriended him and did what for him? v.26
5. What did he want to do? v.27a
6. So what happened? v.27b,28
While Paul had returned home, Aquila and Priscilla had settled in Ephesus where the church was obviously established. After remaining in Antioch for some time, Paul eventually starts off again going up through Galatia again to strengthen the churches he had previously established.
Meanwhile back in Ephesus , a new believer, Apollos, arrives on the scene. Although he clearly IS a believer the extent of his teaching was a little limited, not knowing about the baptism of the Spirit, but there he encounters Aquila and Priscilla who take him under their wing and teach him further. This lovely couple appear almost as spiritual parents, looking after anyone who needed help. Apollus himself is quite a remarkable man who wanted to go on encouraging the church wherever and however he can.
The picture that we are given here is of an established church with some very mobile ministries. Priscilla and Aquila & Apollos are all people serving God far from their original homes. They are those whose first call in life is to build and bless the church. These are the sort of people, together with Paul, Silas, Timothy, Barnabus etc., who established the church, laying down of their lives, forsaking comfort.
1. The church is built on sacrificial lives.
2. Can we be said to be the same today?
A. Find Out:
1. Who was where? v.1
2. What did Paul ask and what replies was he given? v.2,3
3. How does Paul show that was inadequate? v.4
4. What then happened? v.5
5. What did Paul do and with what effect? v.6
Apollos has moved onto Corinth by the time Paul gets back to Ephesus , as he had earlier promised ( 18:21 ). When he arrives he encounters a small group of Christians with a limited experience. We know they are Christians because he asked them about their experience when they “believed”. Christian believers they were but they had an inadequate experience of the Lord. They didn't know about the Holy Spirit and Paul's question must refer to “baptism in the Spirit”, a clear experience he expected them to have had. They had only had a water baptism that was to do with repentance.
Their “Spirit baptism” (v.5) comes about through two ways: first they are taught by Paul why their existing knowledge and experience were inadequate (v.4) and then, second, he laid hands on them and prayed for them. When those two things happened then they are filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues and prophesied, i.e. a clearly observable event. It is interesting to note that conservative commentators seeking to avoid a “double events salvation” skirt around and avoid various words in this passage. It is clear however, that these were already “disciples”, they were already “believers” but their teaching and experience were simply inadequate in the eyes of Paul. He remedies this by teaching and praying over them and they receive.
1. Do WE have a powerless experience of the Lord?
2. We need His filling to be released in gifts for service.
A. Find Out:
1. How long did Paul keep going to the synagogue? v.8
2. What eventually happened? v.9a
3. So what did Paul then do? v.9b
4. How long did that continue? v.10
5. What was God doing? v.11
6. What was the extent of this anointing? v.12
After encountering the “limited believers” Paul goes on to follow his usual practice of going to the Jews of the town to share the Gospel. He goes to the synagogue and for three months keeps sharing from the Scriptures about Jesus. Some believe but others get hardened against it and eventually speak strongly against the message. Paul realises it is time to move on from this phase and takes the new believers into another place where he continues to teach them daily through discussions (note the change from “arguing” - v.8 - to “discussions” - v.9). This has changed from evangelising to teaching new converts. He is now building up the newly formed church. This phase continues on for another two years. He is really making sure this church is established. But more than this the word goes out from Ephesus to all the area of Asia Minor .
Not only are evangelisation and church teaching the main planks of Paul's ministry but healing also. While in Ephesus the Lord gave Paul an amazing healing ministry, so much so that even things that Paul had touched, when conveyed in faith, brought healing. This was clearly a very significant building time by the Spirit when the church was blessed and much strengthened.
1. The first stage is always to be evangelising.
2. The next stage, by necessity, is teaching. Are we doing both?
A. Find Out:
1. Who were trying to do what, and how? v.13,14
2. What happened to them one day? v.15,16
3. How did this change the outlook of many? v.17
4. How did they show that in a practical way? v.18,19
5. So what was happening generally? v.20
The power of God was clearly there in Ephesus and so it is perhaps not surprising that some of the religious Jews who were not Christians tried to cash in this. They were being challenged by what they saw as this new sect that was moving powerfully in signs and wonders, and having heard or seen, presumably, Paul casting out demons in Jesus' name, they decided to do it the same way. What they didn't realise, of course, was that Paul knew Jesus and was doing it under his direction. When these Jews tried it the demons knew that this wasn't Jesus and so turned on these would-be exorcists.
The result of this publicly, when the story spread, was excellent! Everyone began to realise that this wasn't just some mechanical way of deliverance, it was clearly Jesus himself acting in authority through his servants, and as the Holy Spirit moved He brought mighty conviction to many who came to the Christian gathering and publicly confessed their sins. More than that all those who had been involved in “magic” burned their books (scrolls), a tremendous clean out revealing a tremendous sum having been spent on deception previously. When the power of God is clearly there, that which is counterfeit will eventually be shown up and the glory will come to God, it is only a matter of time!
1. Deliverance ministry is not mere words but relationship with Jesus.
2. True repentance brings acts to go with the words.
A. Find Out:
1. What was Paul's intended strategy? v.21,22
2. Yet before he did that who stirred up trouble? v.23,24
3. Who did he stir up and what did he say Paul was doing? v.25,26
4. What two things did he say would happen? v.27
5. What happened then? v.28,29
6. What did Paul want to do but who stopped him? v.30,31
Luke briefly gives us an insight to Paul's future plans, to go to both Jerusalem and Rome . The letter to the Romans indicates that Paul had Spain on his heart beyond Rome. He obviously wanted to check out the churches in Macedonia and Achaia that he had established on his second trip and then report back to the mother church at Jerusalem before he went further afield. He is constantly working on the basis of a) building up the existing churches and b) going further with the Gospel while c) keeping the home base fully informed. Good strategy!
However, before he leaves Ephesus , he receives yet further opposition from the enemy. Everywhere he went Paul encountered enemy lash-back. So far he hasn't had it at Ephesus but now it comes in the form of those who made shrines to Artemis. As so many people were turning to the Lord and turning from the false idol Artemis, those employed in the minor industry of shrine making were having their income cut! They eventually objected and rose up to oppose Paul. A riot starts and crowds rush into the main meeting place. Paul wants to go to reason with them but his friends and town officials strongly advise against this. Where emotions are running high, appealing to their logic doesn't always work. It is sometimes better to wait until emotions cool.
1. Where the Gospel is flourishing the enemy will always attack.
2. We need wisdom to know how to deal with his attack.
A. Find Out:
1. What was going on? v.32
2. The Jews sought to do what? v.33
3. Yet what happened? v.34
4. What first point did the city clerk make? v.35,36
5. What were his second and third points? v.37,38
6. What was his final point and warning? v.39
A crowd is a dangerous element, often being swayed by emotions and nothing else. So it was here. Eventually the Jews pushed their spokesman forward, presumably to disassociate themselves from the Christians, but as soon as the crowd realised they were Jews they shouted them down, presumably because they felt they also could be a threat to their own “religion”. It is the town clerk who quietens things.
First he reaffirms their pagan beliefs and says if they believe that then there is no fear for the cult of Artemis. Next he points out that Paul and friends haven't done anything illegal and, third, that if Demetrius has any legal complaint then he can settle it in the courts. Finally he warns them that they themselves are in great danger of being charged with rioting and will be breaking the law. In these ways he calms the whole place down.
Why does Luke include this incident in his writing? Perhaps to show that the Christian faith again has been shown to be NOT offending the law of the land in any way. Others may charge that it is but the civil authorities have yet again backed it up and made it more secure. It may offend non-believing pagans who feel threatened by it, but it is not breaking the law of the land.
1. People in a crowd easily loose control of their emotions. Beware.
2. The Christian faith was legally acceptable. Beware the day it isn't.
In this third group of 6 studies we have seen :
On his second journey Paul had only briefly stopped in Ephesus , so on this his third journey he fulfils his promise ( 18:21 ) and comes and stays for two years to establish the church. He does this by first of all starting at the synagogue and then after three months moves out to a local hall. While he was there the power of the Lord was with him and his ministry was characterised by signs and wonders, with the result that the word spread widely, the Gospel flourished and the church grew. Almost inevitably opposition eventually came.
1. The church was built on people sacrificially following Christ.
2. It is possible to know the facts of salvation but be Spirit powerless.
3. The church is built by Gospel preaching then teaching converts.
4. Deliverance ministry is a matter of relationship releasing authority.
5. Where the Gospel succeeds the enemy will seek to counter-attack.
Thank the Lord for “the foolishness of the Gospel” (1 Cor 1:21 -29) that brings salvation). Ask for help in sharing it.
PART 4 : Third Journey, Part 2
In this next Part watch out for the same order of events that we've seen before with Paul, a miracle performed, and then return via Ephesus and Paul's word's to the leaders there.