Day 24 - Acts 18:23-19:20 - 40 Days In The Book of Acts

Acts 18:23-19:20

23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

We now begin missionary journey #3

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

We are introduced to a missionary names Apollos.  He was from Alexandria, Egypt.  He was a believer and knew what he was talking about.  Upon arrival in Ephesus he began to teach.  Priscilla and Aquila heard him and welcomed him, probably into their home.  There they began to fill in some of the blanks he didn't know, such as the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  As we see in the next chapter, there were followers of Jesus who were not baptized in the Holy Spirit.  

From Ephesus he received letters or recommendation to go to Greece and preach there.  He did so and was very successful at it.  

1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

Paul comes across 12 followers of Jesus.  However, he senses that something is missing so he asks them if they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit?  Their response was simple.  "We haven't heard if any are receiving the Holy Spirit."  The only baptism they had participated in was of John the Baptists.  Simply, a baptism of repentance.  Once Paul explains what he is talking about, he prays for them and they received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in other tongues. 

Paul, in this instance, lays his hands on them as he prays for them.  There is nothing magical or powerful about this.  It is simply a focal point of faith.  Paul and the person he is praying with agreeing together what Gods will is.  

8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

While this passage of scripture doesn't tell us much here, history does.  Paul went to Ephesus and taught in the synagogue freely for three months.  It took some time for some of the Jews to finally run him out, but they finally did.  So he moved to a schoolhouse or lecture hall called Tyrannus.  (Who said you cannot use a school to start a church?)

Now Paul goes from teaching weekly at the synagogue to daily at the lecture hall.  His day would look something like this.  
From dawn to 11 am - tent making.  That is how he kept his fellow travelers fed. 
From 11 am - 4 pm - teaching, daily. 
From 4 pm until evening he would travel to different homes teaching and encouraging specific believers. 

He did this for two years straight.  Because Ephesus was the main area of commerce, people would travel there for business, hear the Gospel, believe in Jesus, learn from the church and go back to their respective home towns and start churches.  

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

Verse 11 imply that miracles were an everyday occurrence during Pauls time at Ephesus.  People would come to where Paul was working and get his sweat rags and work aprons (literally anything that touched his skin) and take them back to people who were sick.  They would lay these items on a sick person and they would be healed.  Now there was nothing magical about this, but again, it was a point of faith.  

There was a traveling group of Jewish exorcists (what a profession huh?) who caught wind of all of this.  So they tried to cast a demon out of a person using the same formula or a modified formula they apparently heard watching Paul and the disciples.  We see Peter say to the lame man, "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth...."  So they said, ..."by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims."  The problem here is that they don't believe in the authority of Jesus, therefore, using His name was pointless to the demon.  The demon responded, Jesus I know and Paul I know too, but who are you?  Without faith, hell doesn't even pay attention to what you say or do.  

The demon whips the daylights out of them.  So badly that they run out of the house naked and wounded (and their pride in shambles too I would imagine).  

Word of this got out and the people began to examine their relationship with Jesus in a new light.  Because Ephesus was city known of it's magical practices (casting spells ect.) many believers came out and confessed that they had been practicing magic.  Realizing that it was demonic in origin and practice, they burned their spell books.  So much so that the Bible says the value of those books was around 50,000 pieces of silver.  This would be enough to pay 200 laborers a days wage.  To put that into context by todays standard, 200 people being paid for 8 hours work at minimum wage would equal $11,600. 

Why did they do this?  Because they would rather please Jesus than be like everyone else.  WOW! 

 English Standard Version (ESV)


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