Tag Archives: Ephesus

Fully Committed ~ Acts 20:1-38

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.~ Acts 20:24

The Farewell

The Farewell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the uproar in Ephesus, Paul and several companions depart. Paul’s ultimate destination is Jerusalem, but he makes several stops along the way. During a stopover in Miletus, Paul sent word to Ephesus for the elders of the church to meet him in Miletus. When they arrive, Paul recounts his witness to them, warns them of opposition that will arise both from outside and from within the church, and tells them they will never see him again.

I am struck by the wisdom from God that Paul displays. Paul’s unwavering dedication to God’s service and those who believe, his insight into how his trials and tribulations are worth suffering for God’s good purposes, and his love for those with whom he served are all noteworthy. The degree to which Paul lives these traits is not of his own accord – we see here the power and influence that God can have over a life that is fully committed to Him and we see how God can use such a committed servant to win many for the Gospel.

We also see throughout Paul’s ministry the constant attacks Satan levies against the Gospel and those who believe. Paul’s warning here to the elders must be heeded today as well:

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. (verses 28-30)

My heart breaks when I consider the thousands who have been misled through false, incomplete, or watered-down teaching and preaching. The savage wolves about which Paul warned the elders from Ephesus are active in the church today, and many have unwittingly succumbed to their false teachings. Christians, we must be in the Word. We must be in prayer. And if we hear false teaching in the church, we must speak out as God leads us. Stand firmly and boldly upon the foundation of the Gospel and be richly blessed.

Ponder this: God doesn’t call all of us to a missionary ministry as He called Paul; to what is He calling me? Am I willing?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for faithful servants like Paul and the apostles. Let me learn from them and be inspired by them, but more than that, fill me with your Holy Spirit and guide my footsteps that I might be fully committed to doing Your will in my life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Gospel Impact ~ Acts 19:23-41

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. ~ Acts 19:28-29a

The Artemis of Ephesus, 1st century AD (Ephesu...

The Artemis of Ephesus, 1st century AD (Ephesus Archaeological Museum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Gospel’s impact on the people of Ephesus reaches a crescendo as local silversmith Demetrius raises concern among his fellow craftsmen that the Gospel message could damage their business. Demetrius made silver shrines of the Ephesian goddess Artemis and sold them to travelers coming to Ephesus on religious pilgrimage. If Paul’s message continues to spread, the silver trade could be hurt and Artemis’ credibility could be damaged thus having a negative impact on the Ephesians’ economy, Demetrius warns. Whipped into frenzy over this dire warning, the people seize two of Paul’s traveling companions (Gaius and Aristarchus) and drag them into the assembly hall.

The riot gains momentum. The Scripture tells us that there was mass confusion as people were shouting different things; “Most of the people did not even know why they were there,” we’re told in verse 32. Paul is kept from entering the hall, so Alexander, a fellow Jew attempts to address the crowd but they will not hear him. It is not until a civic leader, the city clerk, steps up to address the crowd that they quiet down and listen. The city clerk admonishes the crowd, telling them that these men have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed Artemis’ name. He tells them that this is not the proper way to handle this dispute. “The courts are open and there are proconsuls,” he says, “They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly” (verses 38-39). Upon hearing this, he dismisses the crowd, presumably peacefully.

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over about two years’ time, Paul’s ministry made a significant impact on the people of Ephesus and surrounding areas. The Gospel has taken root and begun to grow into what would become one of the strongest churches in Asia.

If we plant ourselves firmly in the fertile soil of the Gospel and share the Truth out of sincere love, God can and will use us to change our corner of the world as well. We don’t need booming sound systems or kitschy sermon themes; all we need is the Gospel and the will of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s instruction to Timothy would be well heeded by us today: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Ponder this: What does an honest and straightforward presentation of the Gospel look and sound like? What impact could I have on my world for the Lord?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for the power of the spoken word. That power is misused and abused at times; forgive me, Lord, for my abuses of your gift of language. Father, help me to speak all that I speak to Your glory. And when you give me the opportunity to witness, let my words be Your words so that the Gospel is in clear focus. In Jesus’ name, AMEN

Lay Ministry in Action! ~ Acts 18:18-28

He (Apollos) 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. ~ Acts 18:26

After remaining in Corinth for quite some time, Paul departs with Aquila and Priscilla (the married tentmakers whom he met earlier during his visit to Corinth) and pays his first visit to Ephesus. After hearing him speak in the synagogue, the Jews of Ephesus ask him to stay longer, but Paul declines, promising to return later according to God’s will. Paul departs for Jerusalem, leaving Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus.

We are introduced to Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, who arrives in Ephesus after Paul’s departure. He is a very skilled speaker who “spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately” (verse 25). Interestingly, Luke mentions here that Apollos only knew the baptism of John, which was a baptism of repentence – meaning that Apollos presumably had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even so, Apollos teaches accurately and very persuasively. Aquila and Priscilla invite Apollos to their home, where they “explained to him the way of God more adequately” (verse 26). With the blessing of the believers in Ephesus, Apollos departs for Achaia where we are told he “vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah” (verse 28).

There are numerous places in Scripture where we see God using people of ordinary means and background for His sovereign purpose. Here God uses an ordinary married working-class couple (Aquila and Priscilla) to advance His kingdom. How fascinating it would be to peek in at Paul’s interactions with them prior to his departure: what was their background; what did he teach them; what questions did they ask? They play a very important role here as they prepare Apollos to assume his ministry.

We laymen and laywomen must be available for ministry, just as Aquila and Priscilla were available. God can and will use us – what an honor it is to serve our Lord! We must be vigilant so as to not miss the opportunities to serve God that He may send our way.

Ponder this: What is my ministry? How might God use me in furthering His kingdom?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I want to serve You, first and foremost. Tune me in to Your will for my ministry. Reveal it, open my eyes to it, and guide my footsteps that I would serve You according to Your will. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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