Church Planting In Ephesus
Book of Acts Chapter 19
We saw last week that the Apostle Paul had stopped by Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem to complete his vow. This week will see his return.
Today will begin the 3rd missionary trip of the Apostle Paul. He also began this trip from Antioch of Syria. He traveled through Galatia and Phrygia, places he had visited previously.
Paul had met Apollos in Ephesus on his second trip and Priscilla and Aquila had taught Apollos the “Gospel”.
Apollos had gone on to Corinth and preached there to strengthen that church. So let’s look at what Paul found in Ephesus.
*****Act 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
Act 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Ephesus was the greatest commercial city in Asia minor and it was the capital of the province of Asia. Ephesus was also the home of the Temple of Diana. It is said at one time the Temple of Diana was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Those that worship in this Temple believed that the image they worshiped had fallen down from Jupiter.
Meteors and particles from space hit this Earth every day but not a one of them is a god or an image of a god.
The first thing that Paul noticed in Ephesus was some disciples of John the Baptist. They believed but they did not believe on the right things. They did not know the “Gospel”!
We know that John the Baptist had preached Jesus was the promised Redeemer and was truly the Lamb of God. They had totally understood John’s emphasis on repentance but they had failed to see the role of Jesus Christ as the “object” of all our faith.
They had not been taken back to the cross. They had not recognized that baptism represented the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What they had learned did not include the knowledge of the Holy Spirit!
It is the Holy Spirit that is the most infallible proof that a Christian has of his salvation.
There are some denominations that insist on seeing the proof of the Holy Spirit and they use this as an excuse to speak with tongues and do other such things.
The Bible gives us the proof of the Holy Spirit:
They are listed in the book of Galatians:
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Notice the word “fruit” is not plural. Everyone that is filled with the Holy Spirit will possess all these things as evidence of the Holy Spirit. And, if “we live in the Spirit” we will also “walk in the Spirit”!
*****Act 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
Act 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Why did Paul ask about their baptism? Because in the Book of Acts, baptism was a sign of a person’s spiritual experience.
They were truly disciples of John either through him or through other disciples of him. In the New Testament, baptism always comes after saving faith and it is then followed by discipleship.
This is probably the only case mentioned in the New Testament of anyone being re-baptized. We have already heard a similar story of Apollos but there is no mention him him being re-baptized.
Why happened before Pentecost was under the old covenant but what happened after Pentecost had to be on the New Testament blood of Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist baptized for repentance and the belief in the coming of the Messiah.
But Jesus told his disciples these words:
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send “in my name”, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The Holy Spirit can only come when we are saved in the name of Jesus Christ!
And, He will then come with all His “fruit”, which is the evidence of His coming and not some “babel” in some unknown language!
If we are not certain about what the Holy Spirit does we cannot be certain about our salvation!
Every “Born Again” child of God is a “Temple” for the Holy Spirit!
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
*****Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Act 19:7 And all the men were about twelve.
Just as the things that had happened at Pentecost in the upper room these men spake in different languages and started preaching. We must still realize that the Jews still require a sign.
The number 12 is a significant number that corresponds with the 12 apostles. There can be little doubt that these 12 men would form the nucleus of the church that would be started in Ephesus and more probably that these would be the elders of that church.
What God did to Paul and for these 12 men was not normal and is not seen in any church today!
It was not repeated after this time!
The people who were converted in Ephesus under Paul’s ministry received the gift of the Holy Spirit when they trusted on the Lord Jesus as their Savior.
The Apostle Paul later wrote in the book of Ephesians these words;
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
At this time in the early church the appearance of the gift of tongues, speaking in different languages, and prophecy, which is preaching, revealed the reality of the Holy Spirit coming. This was a supernatural happening which soon disappeared from the early church. This was the sign to the Jew!
Joe 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and “your” sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
We should guard against expecting this to be normal or usual today. The Holy Spirit is God and God does what God does but God’s Word tells us that we are filled with the spirit immediately on accepting of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: [in whom also after that ye believed, “ye were sealed” with that holy Spirit of promise,]
Eph 1:14 Which is “the earnest of our inheritance” until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
It is the Holy Spirit that washes us clean and provides us with eternal life.
Tit 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Tit 3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
It is Our Father in Heaven who sent our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ!
1Jn 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
1Jn 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
*****Act 19:8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Act 19:9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
We see in this verse that the Apostle Paul again began his ministry in a Jewish synagogue. But this time he changes his message he did not begin with the preaching of the “gospel” nor the preaching of “creation” but he actually began with things “concerning the kingdom of God”.
The Apostle Paul was a little more cautious in his approach to the Jews in Ephesus and the results of that was that he preached boldly for three months without causing a major disturbance.
But during that time the message that Paul truly had stirred up these stubborn Jews!
Their reaction became so violent that Paul was forced to move out of the synagogue and find another place to continue his teaching.
Paul begins preaching and teaching in a school that belonged to Tyrannus.
*****Act 19:10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
The Apostle Paul was in Ephesus longer than in any other city which he visited.
We are not told very much about this Tyrannus but it does appear that this school was well-known. We will learn many more things about this time in next week’s lesson.
We know that the Apostle Paul had to provide his own support during this time.
And we know that the Apostle Paul taught the Bible in this school of Tyrannus daily.
So the gospel spread throughout Asia.
There can be little doubt that disciples from this school went out informed the seven churches of Asia that we read about in Revelation 2-3.
AND, it is probably during this time that the churches of Colossae and Hierapolis were founded.
And years later history records that the Apostle John was the chief preacher at Ephesus.
And, it is in Ephesus that we find the traditional burial place of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
*****Act 19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
Act 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
God enabled Paul to perform special miracles here in Ephesus probably because Ephesus was the center for the occult and the Apostle Paul was demonstrating God’s power in the middle of Satan’s territory.
And we will see that Satan tries his best to “imitate” whatever God’s people are doing because he knows that the unsaved world “cannot tell the difference”.
*****Act 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
The city of Ephesus was notorious in the ancient world not only for its idols but also for an abundance of magicians and occultist. Demon possession was common so therefore, the practice of exorcism was common.
These wandering Jews [vagabond] who made their living as exorcists, when they saw all the miracles of Paul, decided that there business could improve if they used the name of Jesus.
*****Act 19:14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
The Commandments of God said that a Jewish chief priest would have been from the tribe of Levi and could serve only in the Temple or the Tabernacle.
And the temple was still standing at this time!
These seven sons of Sceva were not Christians but they did see that the Apostle Paul was much more effective than other exorcist at casting out demons.
*****Act 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
Act 19:16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Since these men had no relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and by also using the name of the Apostle Paul in this exorcism, this brought on a bizarre incident.
That evil spirit that possessed this man confessed that he did know both his Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul but he did not know any of these sons of Sceva.
So under the demonic influence that possessed this man, he became so violent that he attacked these seven sons and prevailed against them and left them naked and wounded.
*****Act 19:17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
Act 19:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
This incident produced so respect for Jesus, among these superstitious people that many abandoned their pagan and occult practices and some of the results are in our next verse.
*****Act 19:19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
As these people began to abandon their false religion they also began to publicly burned the books associated with those occult practices.
In today’s prices the value of these books would be over $1 million. This gives us some idea of how prevalent pagan worship and the occult was at this time in Ephesus.
And the results are in our next verse.
*****Act 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
The word of God not only grew but it also prevailed as the “power of the gospel” again overcame “the evils” of this world.
*****Act 19:21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.
Act 19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
In this verse we have the first mention of the Apostle Paul’s plan to go to Rome. So we know at this time the Book of Romans had not been written but would be written before Paul actually went to Rome.
Paul first had to visit the churches in Macedonia and Achaia in order to obtain the love offerings that were being taken up for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
In fact while he was still in Ephesus he sent Timothy to help finish that job.
*****Act 19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
It was during this time that Satan began a full-fledged attack on the gospel that was preached here at Ephesus.
*****Act 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
Act 19:25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
We should be well aware that wherever the gospel was preached in power, it will be opposed by people who make money from superstition and sin.
And this should also show us the extent of how the gospel was spreading throughout this entire area.
The Apostle Paul was not staging riots, he did not have picket lines, and he was not downgrading the Temple of Diana!
The Apostle Paul was preaching and teaching the truth of the gospel and his converts went out to witness to the lost people in the city.
As more and more people got converted, there were fewer and fewer customers that were available to these jewelers.
It is said back in the 40s and 50s that the traveling evangelist could come into the city and by the preaching of the gospel they could shut down the liquor stores on the bars in that city.
This is the revival that we need now in America!
We simply do not have enough of the preaching of the gospel in America today!
*****Act 19:26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
Act 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
I probably shouldn’t mention this but we can see that our president here in America today, is totally surrounded and engulfed with the working unions of America.
This can only be about money!
Remember what the Bible says in first Timothy is, that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and above all things, this is what’s wrong with America today.
The silversmiths were only concerned about their jobs and their income and “not at all” about their own false
If we do not believe that the preaching of the gospel has this kind of power then all we need do is look at the evidence!
As our own nation tries to remove the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to promote immigration and visitors from foreign lands, with the excuse that some may be offended by the truths of the gospel, is our proof.
Everyone has freedom of speech except for the Christian who speaks the Word of God!
*****Act 19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
Diana was the goddess of fertility and was considered, at least in Asia, and many other places in the Greco-Roman world to be the mother goddess of all nature.
There are still many today in this world that worship this false goddess. Today she is known as Gaia or probably better known as Mother Earth.
This false goddess is the basis behind most of the New Age movement, not only in America but in this world. This false goddess is also behind the panic of global warming and the major movements in America.
*****Act 19:29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
We can see that the action of these unions and these government officials brought confusion to the city of Ephesus.
Again we can see that it was not the Christians that brought confusion to the city and these theaters were used for public meetings.
When they could not find the Apostle Paul they captured Gaius and Aristarchus who were two of the men that traveled with Paul on this journey.
Archeology has revealed that this very theater has been excavated and could have seated about 25,000 people
*****Act 19:30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
Act 19:31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
When Paul’s friends were seized by this crowd he felt compelled to go into the theater himself but the disciples prevented him from getting involved in the uproar.
We can also see that during this period of time that Paul had made friends with certain men who were chiefs of Asia.
Most Bible scholars believe that these men were Asiarchs.
These were men who were chosen annually from the chief towns, handled problems that arose but would also preside over games and festivals, and the president of this group of men always lived in Ephesus.
We can see that the preaching of the gospel had not made enemies of these men, but they had actually become friends of the Apostle Paul.
Here is a case where friendship was more important than religious differences!
The convictions of the Apostle Paul did not blind him with prejudice where he could not be friendly with pagans who practiced false worship.
This shows the fruit of the Spirit that is called “LOVE”!
*****Act 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
The people who had assembled in the theater were confused and most of them did not even know why they had gathered. This is usually what happens when someone stirs up a riot.
*****Act 19:33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defense unto the people.
There were a group of Jews in this confused mob and they chose a man named Alexander to defend the Jewish citizens and clear them of any charges, if Paul had defamed this false goddess Artemis.
*****Act 19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
But when this unruly crowned recognize that Alexander was a Jew they shouted him down and did not give him an opportunity to speak.
This is possibly that this same Alexander, who was the Coppersmith who caused Paul much harm that we read later in the book of Timothy.
2Ti 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
2Ti 4:15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
*****Act 19:35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
It is very sad thing when people are so foolish to find a meteorite that fell from the sky, and built such an enormous false religion from it!
BUT, the town clerk who finally got this matter under control, “But” we see that he did this for political reasons only.
Ephesus was permitted to exist as a free city with its own elected assembly but Rome needed very little excuse for removing these privileges!
*****Act 19:36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
Act 19:37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
We can see that this man was indeed a politician as we listen to what he said.
The Christians in Ephesus had committed no crime!
Throughout the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit makes it very clear that the persecution of the Christian church was caused by unbelieving Jews and not so much by the Romans.
In fact the Apostle Paul used his Roman citizenship to protect himself and his friends and the local assemblies.
*****Act 19:38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
The city clerk realized that it was Demetrius and these labor unions that had caused this riot, and if they had any grievances they should take their charges to the court.
There would probably have been a Roman Pro counsel that lived in Ephesus at this time.
*****Act 19:39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
Act 19:40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
Act 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
We have been free in America since the Revolutionary war and it’s hard for us to realize what it’s like to live under the control of any foreign power.
The Romans were very intolerant when any sort of riot was created in the lands that they ruled!
When they favored a city with self-government, they expected those people to avoid all disturbances and keep the peace.
The real danger in Ephesus was not the Temple of Diana, nor the losses that might happen financially to these unions!
Of more importance to the government of Ephesus, was the fact that Rome might see this protest and nullify the government of Ephesus.
So this crowd was dismissed!
All these involved knew they did not want Rome to control their city.
At this point and after three years of labor, the Apostle Paul realized that his work in Ephesus was over. The Apostle Paul was a church planter, and he never intended to stay in one place.
The Apostle Paul had laid a good foundation for the church in Ephesus and the gospel had spread throughout Asia from this location.
The work of the Lord Jesus was not about the Ephesians, it was not about Apollos, and it was not about the Apostle Paul.
The Apostle Paul had began by preaching the kingdom of God, and when he left these people understood the kingdom of Jesus Christ.