December 20, 2015.
Daily Reading: Acts 19-20.
Background: Acts 15-18.
Concepts and Connections.
The third missionary journey: Paul’s third missionary, which began in verse 21 of the previous chapter, continues on here as he travels through Ephesus. Here he meets some disciples who had not been baptized in the name of Jesus, but rather only knew of John the Baptizer’s baptism. Paul finds out that they had not been baptized in the name of Jesus because he had asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit, to which they said they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit. Note the connection between baptism and the Holy Spirit here, as Paul immediately asks “into what then were you baptized?” After baptizing them in the name of the Lord Jesus, Paul lays his hands on them and they receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2). After having this interaction with these disciples, he enters into the synagogue as he was accustomed to doing and begins to preach Jesus to them. For two years he stayed in the region, spreading the gospel to all of Asia Minor.
As Paul stays in Ephesus these two years, he does a great many signs and miracles, and God’s power was so great through Paul that even handkerchiefs that he had touched were carried to touch the sick that they might be healed. Attempting to capitalize on this power, there was a group of Jewish exorcists that attempted to invoke the name of Jesus and Paul in effort to drive some evil spirits out. It is interesting that we see the evil spirits know Jesus and recognize Paul, but do not recognize this group of exorcists. The man who was possessed by the spirit then jumped on the men and overpowered them, leaving them to flee from the house naked and wounded. The name of Jesus was extolled and many believed and came confessing and putting away their former practices of magic. They willingly burned their books dedicated to the magic arts, a pile that was worth 50,000 pieces of silver.
After these events, Paul resolves to go to Jerusalem. He sends into Macedonia for Timothy and Erastus to come to him to accompany him on the journey, but while they are coming, a great disturbance was instigated by a man named Demetrius who was a silversmith. He noticed the work Paul was doing and saw it as a threat to his and his fellow metal workers’ business. Paul was preaching that idols are no gods at all, and many were believing and turning away from these idols, surly causing a decrease in demand for their craft. He called together those of similar trade and makes the problem known before them, and then invoked the name of the goddess Artemis, and the crowd begins to be in an uproar. People were shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” and the city was filled with confusion. They drug out some of Paul’s companions, but Paul’s friends would not let him go into the crowd to make a defense because of the danger of the situation. Some of the Jews tried to put forth a man named Alexander, but the crowed would not listen to him because he was a Jew. Finally, the town clerk speaks up and tells the people that no one is treating the goddess Artemis with blasphemy or in a sacrilegious manner, and if Demetrius had a problem with Paul he should take him to the courts. The town clerk was afraid that the city would get in trouble for rioting, so he quieted the crowd and dismissed them.
The journey continues: After the commotion that was raised in the previous chapter, Paul sets out for Macedonia, spending three months in Greece until the Jews made a plot against him. He travels through different regions and finally ends up at Troas where he stays for a week. Just before his departure from here, he gathers together with the disciples to break bread, and he continues his speech to midnight (note this was vey likely a evening meeting, either our Saturday or Sunday night). A young man named Eutychus goes to sleep during Paul’s visit and falls out of the window and dies. Paul raises him from the dead and then goes up and breaks bread with all the disciples. Paul departs at daybreak and sets said for Assos. He then goes through several towns/cities. In Miletus he calls for the Ephesian Elders to meet with him. He declares that he had not shunned to present to them the whole truth and that now he was going to Jerusalem where he would likely face imprisonment or worse. He knows that he will very likely never see these people again, so he gives them a farewell and an encouragement to stay vigilant and ready to ward off attack from the fierce wolves that were to come to try and devour the flock that they oversaw, arising even from their own number. He commends them to the Lord and encourages them to work hard for the Lord, helping the week and giving to those who have need. He knelt down and prayed with them, and then departed on his way.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Deuteronomy 20-22.
Be strong in the Lord.