Back to the Synagogue
Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.Acts 19:8-10
Miracles vs Magic
God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.
The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honoured. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.Acts 19:11-20
Bridge: The Compulsion of the Spirit and Paul’s Response
Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia.Acts 19:21-22
Serious Trouble in Ephesus
About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows: “Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!” At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.
Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess. “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.Acts 19:23-41
Chapter 19 of Acts represents the bulk of the time Paul spent in Ephesus.
They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews.Acts 18:19
As he left, however, he said, “I will come back later, God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.Acts 18:21
Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt.Acts 18:24
Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed.Acts 18:27
This Chapter, Acts 19, represents the majority of the time Paul spent in Ephesus. The time spent in Ephesus in the first time (Acts 18:19–21) was fleeting as Paul was heading back to Jerusalem and on to Antioch. Chapter 19 is the only extended period of time that Paul spent in Ephesus – total of 2 years and three months. A few of you have asked if the three months were included in the two years or separate? I think the three months were in addition to the two years by the way Luke has written it.
This short account we find in Acts 19 is the summary of all of Paul’s time spent in Ephesus. Then of course we have Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians which he wrote while he was in prison in Rome. Oh, there is another connection we are told about concerning Paul’s meeting with Ephesian elders in Miletus.
The next day we sailed past the island of Kios. The following day we crossed to the island of Samos, and a day later we arrived at Miletus.Acts 18:27
Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn’t want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost.
Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders
But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him. . . .Acts 20:15-38
A meeting which Luke then gives us the summary of in the rest of the above passage. That’s all we have to tell us the sum of Paul’s time in Ephesus along with his own letter back to the church in Ephesus from Rome. Now I would suggest it is time to read all of the above coverage of Paul’s time with the Ephesians in Ephesus and with the elders in Miletus, while at the same time reading the letter Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus.
Reading the above passage together with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians at the same time will give you a better handle on Paul’s contact with the Ephesians. Have fun.
5 frogs are sitting on a log. 4 decide to jump off. How many are left? Answer: 5. Why? Because deciding and doing are not the same thing.Nicky Gumbel
It’s sad that we are so much better at debating the Gospel than we are at demonstrating the Gospel!Anon
Mostly the business of doing the work of God – happens in the routine, unspectacular corners of your life, as you go along!Anon
You have absolutely no idea what you’re made of till you’re tested. So smile at the storm…you finally get to see YOU.Kirk Franklin
A mistake that makes you Humble is better than a success that makes you Arrogant!Ian Vail
Your purpose exceeds your circumstances. Our condition does not change God’s position. It’s all a matter of your view of God and how you see yourself!Ian Vail