EPHESUS: FACING RELIGIOUS PEOPLE
Acts 18:23-19:41 August 10 2008
Paul left Antioch and traveled through Galatia and Phrygia,
encouraging churches (Acts 18:23). Meanwhile Apollos, an
eloquent Alexandrian Jew , came to Ephesus. Though he spoke
persuasively in the synagogue about Jesus , Apollos had an
incomplete knowledge of Christianity. He needed to learn more
about the faith.
Priscilla and Aquila instructed Apollos more fully in "the
way of God" (Acts 18:24-26). He wanted to go to Achaia, so
Ephesian believers wrote letters of recommendation for him.
In Achaia he used the Scriptures to demonstrate to Jews that
Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 18:27-28).
When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he encountered believers who
had not received the Spirit. They only had experienced John’s
baptism . Paul taught them about faith in Jesus and baptism in
His name . When he laid hands on them , they received the Spirit
For three months, Paul witnessed to Jews in the synagogue.
When they publicly slandered Christianity, he began to meet
with believers in a lecture hall . He continued this ministry for
two years , during which time the gospel spread throughout the
province of Asia (Acts 19:8-10).
Through Paul , God performed miracles , healing the sick
and casting out demons. When Jewish exorcists tried to use
Jesus’ name to cast out demons., a demon-possessed man
overpowered and routed them. Believers in Ephesus renounced
the practice of magic and burned their books about it, and the
gospel advanced (Acts 19:11-20).
Silversmiths who made statues of the goddess Artemis
incited a riot because their business was threatened by Paul’s
winning people to Christ. The city clerk quelled the riot ,
reminding the crowd that such a disorderly assembly was
illegal (Act 19:21-41).
1. Listen to What Other Say (Acts 18:24-28)
Acts 18:24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of
Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a
thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 18:25 He had been
instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great
fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew
only the baptism of John. 18:26 He began to speak boldly in
the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they
invited him to their home and explained to him the way of
God more adequately. 18:27 When Apollos wanted to go to
Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the
disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great
help to those who by grace had believed. 18:28 For he
vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from
the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Alexandria . In Egypt. It was the second most important
city in the Roman empire and had a large Jewish population.
Baptism of John . It was not in the name of Jesus (Acts19:
2-4). Apollos knew something about Jesus, but basically he,
like John, was still looking forward to the coming of the
Messiah. His baptism was based on repentance rather than
on faith in the finished work of Christ. Achaia . The Roman
province with Corinth as its capital.
2. Ask Other Questions (Acts 19:1-3)
Acts 19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road
through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found
some disciples19:2 and asked them, “Did you receive the
Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have
not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 19:3 So Paul
asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” John’s baptism,”
Apollos was at Corinth . Apollos was introduced at
Ephesus (Acts18:24) in the absence of Paul; he moved to
Corinth before Paul returned to Ephesus. But later Apollos
came back to Ephesus during Paul’s ministry there (1Cor.
16:12). Through the Interior . Not the lower direct route down
the Lycus and Meander valleys but the upper Phrygian route
approaching Ephesus from a more northerly direction. If Paul
got to northern Galatia, which is unlikely, it must have been
on one of these trips through the interior (Acts 16:6; 18:23).
Ephesus . (Acts18:19). Some Disciples . These 12 (Acts19:7)
seem to have been followers of Jesus, but indirectly through
John the Baptist or some of his followers. Or perhaps they had
received their teaching from Apollos himself in his earlier
state of partial understanding (Acts 18:26). Like Apollos, they
had a limited understanding of the gospel (Acts 18:25).
Receive the Holy Spirit. Paul finds that they were not informed
about the Holy Spirit at all (Acts 19:3-6).
3. Teach What’s Needed (Acts 19:4-7)
Acts 19:4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of
repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming
after him, that is, in Jesus.” 19:5 On hearing this, they were
baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 19:6 When Paul
placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and
they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 19:7 There were about
twelve men in all.
John’s Baptism . (Matt 3:11,15). Baptism of Repentance .
A summation of John’s teaching. It was preparatory and
provisional, stressing man’s sinfulness and thus creating a
sense of need for the gospel. John’s baptism looked forward
to Jesus, who by his death would make possible the forgiveness
of sins ( Mark 1:4). Placed his hands on them . (Acts 6:6). Holy
Spirit came on them . . . Spoke in tongues and prophesied . The
same experience the disciples had at Pentecost (Acts 2:4,11)
and the Gentiles had in Caesarea (Acts 10:46).
4. Seek Opportunities to Help (Acts 19:8-10)
Acts 19:8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there
for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of
God. 19:9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused
to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them.
He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in
the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 19:10 This went on for two
years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the
province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
Three months . Much longer than the three Sabbaths in
Thessalonica (Acts 17:2), but the same approach: Jews first,
then Greeks (Acts 13:14). The way . (Acts 9:2). Lecture hall of
Tyrannus . “Ephesus,” probably a school used regularly by
Tyrannus, a philosopher or rhetorician. Instruction was
probably given in the cooler, morning hours. One Greek
manuscript adds that Paul did his instructing from 11:00 A.M.
to 4:00 P.M. This would have been the hot time of the day, but
the hall was available and the people were not at their
Two years . Two years and three months (Acts 19: 8) was
the longest stay in one missionary location that Luke records.
By Jewish reckoning, any part of a year is considered a year;
so this period can be spoken of as three years (Acts 20:31).
All . . . In the province of Asia heard . One of the elements of
Paul’s missionary strategy is seen here. Many of the cities
where Paul planted churches were strategic centers that,
when evangelized, served as focal points from which the
gospel radiated out to the surrounding areas. Other examples
are Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1),
Athens (Acts17:15) and Corinth (Acts 18:1).
Ephesus was the leading city in Paul’s time and later
the capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was a free (self
– governing) city. Located at the mouth of the Cayster River,
it was a major seaport. It also was situated on an important
trade route inland and thus was a thriving commercial center.
it was known as "the Treasure House of Asia". When Paul went
there, it was at the apex of its greatness, perhaps the fourth
largest city in the world , having a population of about 250,000
Archaeological discoveries attest to the city’s
greatness: a civic meeting area, the temple of Domitian,
gymnasiums, baths, a 24,000-seat theater, a library, and a
commercial market place.
The city’s most imposing feature was the great
temple of the fertility goddess Artemis (Diana). This
spectacular temple was considered one of the Seven
Wonders of the world. Its dimensions attest to its splendor:
425 feet long by 220 feet wide by 60feet high . Each of its
127 marble pillars was a gift from a king. Legend stated
that the temple’s statue of Artemis had fallen from the sky.
In the temple’s long and dark shadow of paganism, Christians
brought the light of the gospel.