Event(s): Paul arrives at Ephesus; Miracles glorify Christ
Today’s Text: Acts 19:1-22
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 19:23-41
Acts 18:23 marks the start of what is considered Paul’s third missionary journey. In today’s text, he arrives at Ephesus. It’s winter, A.D. 55
Acts 19:2 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” It was evident to Paul that these disciples believed enough to follow, however, he could probably tell “something” was missing. He could tell they had knowledge of God, but lacked the indwelling presence. It’s one thing to know “of” God, it’s another to have a personal relationship with Him.
Acts 19:4 “they should believe on Him who would come after him…” John the Baptist, as we know, was Jesus’ forerunner. The message he went about proclaiming was that One mightier than he would come. So these disciples, while they believed on the message John preached and believed that God would send the Messiah, they had no idea that Jesus had already come.
Acts 19:9 “in the school of Tyrannus” In Corinth, after the message of the Gospel was rejected, Paul moved to the house of Justus (Acts 18:7). Here in Ephesus, again, Paul didn’t stop when the message was rejected, instead he moved to a lecture hall that was run by Tyrannus, a philosopher, who let Paul borrow the facility during the afternoons.
History tells us a typical workday for people (remember, Paul was a tentmaker by trade), was to work from 7 in the morning until about 11 or so. Workers would then take an afternoon break until about 4pm, and then return to work until 9pm. So Paul used his only break in the day, seizing this opportunity, when the lecture hall was closed, to make the most of the space and time he had, to teach the disciples. He continued to do this for two years; what commitment to what God called him to!
Acts 19:11 “Now God worked unusual miracles…” Let us never forget that if and when we start to walk in God’s miracle-performing power, it is He doing the work through us.
God worked unusual miracles through Paul. God had previously healed people who touched Jesus’ cloak, so this was not unusual. Ephesus, in particular, was a hotbed of cultic activity, and the Bible says that where sin abounds, grace that much more abounds. God will always equip us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, with whatever power and grace is needed so that He will be shown supreme.
“Paul is not said to have recommended the use of cloths from his own body as instruments of healing, but God was pleased to honor the faith of these people by granting these miracles.” Homer A. Kent, Bible Scholar
Acts 19:13 “took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus…” Belief in the name of Jesus – in who He is and in His miracle-working power – is what accesses the authority that is in the name of Jesus. This is very different than calling on His name, superstitiously, which is what these exorcists were doing.
Acts 19:15 “Paul I know; but who are you?” We must be led by the Spirit – we cannot look at other people’s methods, or approaches and assume that if we simply take on their method, or copy what they’re doing that it will work for us. God is the One at work. We are vessels He flows through. Jesus said Himself that He only did what He saw the Father doing. And unless God specifically moves on us to work in a similar way as what we have seen or read about in times past (that certainly can happen) it is presumptuous for us to think of His acts like a formula. Let’s not be tempted to copy another’s anointing; seek the Lord and through intimacy with Him, He will guide us each in a way that brings Him great glory!
Acts 19:19 “it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.” This was an exorbitant amount of money. Not only did this indicate there were there lots of materials, but there were lots of people being converted, too. The word “many” is used in verse 18 and verse 19.
“Fifty thousand pieces of silver would have taken 10 laborers 20 years to earn.” – NKJV Study Bible
Let’s go back to Paul, making the most of his time, energy, and resources to do whatever he could to accomplish what God had called him to do. That is so inspiring! Especially because, if we’re honest, so many of us never move forward in “that thing” we know we’ve been called to do because of all the excuses (we often call reasons) we so easily make allowance for. Or, sometimes we get started, but after just the first few steps, we give up at the first sign of resistance. Don’t we?
Truth is, many of us want a fresh, new word from God when we haven’t been obedient with the last one He gave us. We want to see Him do extraordinary things, new things, unusual things – as in the case with Paul, that blow our minds and grow our faith, but we can’t seem to get past the hurdles that stand in our way. A great way to see more of the acts of the Spirit in our lives is to make sure we’ve responded with diligence, creativity and resolve to what He’s already spoken.
What “act” has God spoken to you about, that you know you’re supposed to be doing, that is still maybe tucked away in your heart somewhere? There may be some very legitimate reasons as to why you’ve not been able to move forward, however, let’s be honest with ourselves if what’s holding us up is simply an excuse.
A “reason” is an explanation for why something is the way it is. However, when faced with a reason, we take active responsibility for coming up with a solution or seeking God for His wisdom in how to move forward.
An “excuse” on the other hand, is an explanation for why something is the way it is, however….the thing remains in park. We’re not taking action to solve the issue at hand and we’ll typically shift the weight of the responsibility onto someone or something else. One moves us forward; the other stops us dead in our tracks. So, with this in mind, pray and ask God to breath a fresh new life into “that thing” He’s spoken to you about and begin to take action. Progress is made one step at a time – what step can you take this week to move forward?