Lesson 43: Paul's 3rd Missionary Journey (Continued/Uproar in Ephesus)
Acts, Lesson #43. This is the third missionary journey. Paul left Antioch, revisited the churches of Galatia and then came on to Ephesus after Apollos had gone on to Corinth. When Paul arrived at Ephesus he found a dozen disciples who had been baptized with John's baptism. After being taught the way of God more perfectly, these twelve were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then, Paul got down to the work of evangelizing Ephesus. How did he go about this task? Let's find out. Acts 19:8-9-10, let's read. "And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years: so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." Paul began to teach in the synagogue (as his manner was). He spoke boldly, he disputed, he reasoned and he persuaded; concerning the kingdom. He didn't do too badly! Three months at Ephesus is a much better record than some other places, e.g., Thessalonica, three weeks. But, (as is par for the course), Paul finally had to withdraw from that synagogue and direct his energies elsewhere. Possibly the school of Tyrannus was where the congregation assembled for worship and study. Paul disputed there daily. That's the same thing he was doing in the synagogue (v.8), i.e., disputing. Strong says that the Greek word for "disputing" means "to say thoroughly." Paul said it clearly and thoroughly for two whole years, concerning the kingdom. There was also a church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla according to I Cor. 16:19. Paul had much success at Ephesus. The work "Asia" hi v.10 has reference to the Roman province where Ephesus was located in Asia Minor. This province (on the western shore of Asia Minor) was a region like Galatia, Pontus or Cilicia. Churches were eventually established throughout this province. The book of Revelation makes reference to seven churches hi that province (Rev. 1:4). Both Jews and Greeks heard the word of the Lord.
O.K., let's saw off another hunk - are you ready? V.I 1-16, tune it hi: "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." Thus we learn, God did special miracles at Ephesus by Paul. Some tried to imitate miracles then, just as some do today. And Luke gave us an interesting example. The seven sons of Sceva (Jews from the priestly tribe), exorcist, i.e., they pretended to cast out demons and they must have hood-winked the people enough to keep up the public curiosity. Some have played that game in our day, and many have fallen prey to such money making schemes. These seven sons of Sceva were on the lookout for more grist to grind, of the crafty sort (that is). They observed that Paul did miracles in the name of Jesus Christ. So, superstitiously they tried to imitate Paul, by calling on the name of Jesus. Do you remember Elymas the sorcerer on Cyprus? He withstood Paul and Barnabas. You know the results. Do you remember the certain damsel at Philippi? Of course, you could have predicted what the seven sons of Sceva discovered. The name of Jesus is not to be misused. And, those that do will pay the penalty. Now! What effect did this have on the community?
Let's read v. 17-20. "And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand peices of silver. So mightily grew the work of God and prevailed." The name of Jesus was magnified, many believed, some of the sorcerers changed their occupation, burned their books, that had cost a lot of money. This tells you they were genuinely converted. Paul had much success at Ephesus (Two years and three months).
Let's read v.21-22, "After these things were ended, Paul purposed hi the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go the Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus; but he himself stayed hi Asia for a season." O.K., Paul made some plans, subject to revision by the Holy Spirit, of course. He stayed hi Asia for a season (v.22). But he began to formulate some long-range plans: 1) revisit Macedonia and Achaia (3.3)., Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea and Corinth; where he had planted churches. Similar, no doubt, to what Paul had done hi re-visiting the churches of Galatia. Plan #2. Paul wanted to make another trip back to Jerusalem. #3). After the Jerusalem voyage he would go to Rome. Ultimately, Paul did exactly that; but, not in the way and manner he anticipated, I'm sure. Did you notice Timothy was at Ephesus? We don't know how long or when he arrived. But Paul now determined to send Timothy along with another brother (not named before), Erastus, to Macedonia. Paul planned to come later; but he sent Timothy and Erastus on ahead. It is generally assumed that Erastus was from Corinth. Paul later wrote the book of Romans, while visiting Corinth, hi that book, Romans 16:23, Paul referred to Erastus as the chamberlain of the city..i.e., the treasurer of Corinth. Then several years after that (just before Paul's death), this man, Erastus, is mentioned again as being at Corinth hi II Timothy 4:20. This, is all we know about Erastus. How Erastus came to be at Ephesus (here hi v.22) we do not know. Perhaps it should be said at this point: Paul wrote two letters (and possibly three) to Corinth while he was at Ephesus. Only one of these have been preserved; the book we call First Corinthians. However, our book, First Corinthians was not the first letter Paul wrote to Corinth, this is established hi I Cor. 5:9. Review your map just a moment! As you can see: Ephesus and Corinth are on opposite sides of the Aegean Sea. In good weather, ships were arriving and leaving every day, between these two cities. And, we have record of other brethren going back and forth between these cities. I Cor. 16:17 mentions three men: Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus, who came to Ephesus and were most likely the ones who carried that letter (our I Cor.) back to Corinth. Also, Apollos came back to Ephesus while Paul was there (I Cor. 16:12). Paul mentions information he received from Corinth by them which are of the house of Chloe (I Cor. 1:11). These letters were written hi response to questions Paul received from the Corinthian brethren (I Cor. 7:1 issustrates this point). Some believe, that Paul himself made a quick trip or two to Corinth while he was at Ephesus to help settle some of the disputes and problems at Corinth. II Cor. 2:1 could have reference to such a trip. At the right season of the year, when the winds were dependable for sailing, I suppose this trip could have been made quickly. Possibly for a gospel meeting and right back. And, it's also possible other short jaunts were made during this two or three year period. For example, there is a book hi the N.T. written by Paul and addressed to the church at Colossie. Yet, we have no record that Paul was ever at Colossie - #35 on your map. Notice Colossie's location hi relation to Ephesus. Ifs another short jaunt possibility. And hi the letter to the Colossians (Col. 2:1), Paul mentions brethren at Laodicia, city #36, one of those seven churches of Asia mentioned hi Revelation. But the same verse (Col. 2:1) may imply they had not seen Paul's face hi the flesh. However, hi the Colossian letter Paul mentioned Timothy, John Mark, Barnabas, Luke and others they seem to know.
So we have reason to believe many interesting things happened during the two or three years Paul spent at Ephesus that Luke does not mention. O.K., keep your eyes on Acts 19:21-22. Paul's plans made here hi v.22. Also, in that last chapter of I Cor. we pick up on an interesting benevolent activity Paul was involved, hi. In the first four verses of that chapter, Paul gives the Corinthian brethren instructions concerning a bounty or liberality that they were collecting to be sent to Jerusalem. This dovetails into Paul's plans to go through Macedonia and then to Achaia and eventually to Jerusalem. Also, the brethren hi Galatia were cooperating on this project per I Cor. 16:1. You will remember, of course, Paul came to Ephesus immediately after visiting the Galatian churches on this 3rd missionary tour. Thus, these plans may have been a good while hi the making. Paul gives the Corinthians, what I would call a "pep talk" about carrying through on this benevolent project hi II Cor. ch. 8-9. In the Roman letter (written after Paul got to Corinth), Paul told them, i.e., the Romans, "Now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem" (Rom. 15:25-26). And, Paul asked the Roman brethren to pray that he would be delivered from them in Judea that do not believe; and also, that their service (i.e., the money) would be accepted in good faith. That's Romans 15:30-31. My purpose for injecting this information here in our study is two fold: (first) it's part of Paul's plans, (second) it helps to explain Paul's routing, time and problems encountered, in some of the future chapters in the book of Acts.
O.K., let's see where we are! Paul was on the third missionary journey. This journey started from Antioch of Syria, just like the first and second missionary journeys. After visiting the churches in Galatia, Paul came to Ephesus and spent two or three years. His first encounter with disciples at Ephesus involved about twelve men who knew only John's baptism. They were re-immersed for the right purpose. Paul spent three months preaching in the synagogue at Ephesus but ultimately had to get out and leave the Jews alone. There was a church in Aquila and Priscilla's house. Possibly another congregation at Tyrannus' school. We don't know of any other! Paul worked out some future plans: visit Macedonia and Achaia. Then take some financial aid to the poor saints at Jerusalem. Timothy and Erastus went ahead into Macedonia and Paul was planning to leave shortly. But, before he left, a riot broke out.
Lefs read about it v.23-41. This is a long reading, see if you can get the substance of it. "And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands; so that not only this our craft is hi danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions hi travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defense unto the people. But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. But if ye inquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined hi a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly." O.K., this was quite a ruckus. After Timothy and Erastus had left Ephesus; Paul most likely had a few more projects, a few more people to see, a little more exhortation for the new converts, before going into Macedonia, and then on to Corinth before his voyage to Jerusalem. However, before Paul could get on his way, Demetrius called a union meeting of his fellow silversmiths. This meeting was quite emotional, as many union meetings are even in our day. Notice (in v.25), Demetrius said: "by this craft we have our wealth." ..."Our craft is in danger" (v.27). "...this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: (v.26). Do you get the drift? The god making business was having a recession, little idols of Diana were more hi supply than hi demand. And, silver was probably losing a few points on the stockmarket (if Ephesus had a stockmarket). Does this remind you of Philippi? Do you remember the keepers of the demon possessed slave girl? Chapter 16:19 said: "When her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and..." and you know what happened. Here at Ephesus, the hope of these silversmith's gain had diminished. That almighty dollar was involved. People will reason with almost anything but their pocketbooks. And, this is the strongest testimony you will ever find that Paul had much success at Ephesus. Do you remember Paul's sermon to the Athenians? "For asmuch then as we are the offspring of God: we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commanded! all men everywhere to repent" (17:29-30): You can see, Paul must have preached that same sermon hi Ephesus. And, those Diana-makers didn't like that sermon. Manufacturing these little silver idols was a way to make an easy buck and Paul took the ease out of it. And, the silversmith's union hi Ephesus was not exactly non-violent. They probably carried more than picket signs. "The whole city was filled with confusion." Can you fathom that scene (v.29)? They "caught Gaius and Artisarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions hi travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre." Luke makes it sound like they meant business. Gaius and Aristarchus were caught up by the mob, but apparently released unharmed. Possibly this is the same Gaius that Paul baptized at Corinth, mentioned along with Crispus in I Cor. 1:14. Luke identifies these men as Paul's companions hi travel. Does this mean they had traveled with Paul before? Or, is Luke preparing us for Paul's future travel? Neither have been mentioned before. When Paul was later taken to Rome as a prisoner: Aristarchus was on the same ship according to Acts 27:2. In that Colossian letter we discussed, written maybe 5 or 6 years later, Paul mentioned Aristachus as his fellow-prisoner. Well, here we are at Ephesus. We've completed reading ch. 19, but we'rein a mess. There's a riot going on out there and our old tape recorder is out of thread (audio of a riot). Some times things just have to wait! We'll finish this riot hi Lesson #44. Be careful! Watch your step!