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151: Paul’s Third Missionary Journey – Part I

May 19, 2009

[Galatia, Phrygia, and Ephesus]

Text: Acts 18:23-19:22

Outline:

  1. P aul leaves for Galatia and Phrygia                        Acts 18:23
  2. Happenings at Ephesus during Paul’s Absence   Acts 18:24-28
  3. Paul’s Ministry in Ephesus                                           Acts 19:1-22

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Paul spends some time in Antioch but quickly turns around and heads back to Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen the believers. This is the same area he visited and established churches during his first and second missionary journeys. I believe Paul may have picked up Timothy and possible Titus to help him minister in Ephesus.

While Paul was gone from Ephesus, Apollos arrived from Alexandria and began preaching in Ephesus. He was very learned in the Scriptures, knew about Jesus’ teachings, and practiced John’s baptism for the remission of sin. Priscilla and Aquila hear him, invite Apollos to their home, and explain to him that Jesus is the Christ, that He died for our sin, and that He rose from the dead to be with the Father. Apollos believes, continues to minister in Ephesus, and expresses a desire to go to Achaia [Corinth]. The believers at Ephesus realize he would be a good fit for the ministry in Greece so they write a letter of recommendation to the church to welcome Apollos.

Paul arrives in Ephesus and finds twelve men who believe but have not received the Holy Spirit. They had received John’s baptism only. These men were probably early converts of Apollos’ before he had heard the Good News. Paul takes them aside, teaches them, and baptizes them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving the Holy Spirit.

Paul teaches in the synagogue for three months but the Jews were not receptive. So he takes the believers and moves to a lecture hall where he continues to teach and preach for two years. This tells us the Ephesian church was now too large for a home. The church was so successful that all of Asia heard about the Lord.

During this period many miracles were done by Paul relating to illnesses cured and spirits cast out. Some Jews began to try competing by doing their own miracles in Paul’s name and in the Lord’s name. They were unsuccessful. One time the spirit did leave a man and beat up those who were trying to exorcize it. This brought the fear of God into the believers resulting in confessed sin and a burning of books associated with sorcery. They wanted nothing to remain from their former lives, making sure they made a clean break with their past and are focusing on their future with the Lord. With this revival, Paul decides he must return to Jerusalem, visiting the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. He sends Timothy and Erastus on ahead while he makes plans to leave Ephesus.

While Paul was in Ephesus, he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, probably around 55-56 AD.

Lessons/Applications:

  1. Rest, Reporting, and Recharging is necessary for effective ministry. So is a sense of urgency. Strike a good balance to prevent burn out.
  2. Accounting at every milestone is necessary for receiving encouragement and support.
  3. The Lord brings people from different educational backgrounds and different experiences into specific ministries. Recognize them, Teach them, Train them, and Send them.
  4. There are three significant venues of ministry. One is evangelism; bringing new believers into the Kingdom of God. Another is discipling; bringing new believers into obedience of God’s Word. A third is meeting the physical needs of those around us. A strong effective ministry possesses all three.
  5. An effective ministry for the Lord will be copied by unbelievers but will lack effectiveness because they do not acknowledge the Lord and do not have the Holy Spirit present in their work.
  6. A fear of God is good. It causes us to recognize the importance of confessing our sins and to practice true repentance, that of changing direction completely. These two lead to revival and gives the Holy Spirit freedom to work among the people.

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