Tag: Church planting

Church Planting In Ephesus

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
religion.

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.

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Church Planting

Church Planting In Corinth

Book of Acts Chapter 18

The Apostle Paul had a clear understanding that God had raised Christ from the dead in order to call all people to repent.

Those in Berea had been willing to hear the gospel with an open heart.

Those in Athens were mostly just curious and had no respect at all for the preaching of the Word.

But even there some did believe and were saved.

But Paul was now Corinth. Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. The old city had been destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, but Julius Caesar began to build the new in 46 BC.

BUT, even in the time of Jesus, the new city of Corinth was a commercial center and already had a reputation for immorality.

So let’s begin:

(Show map)

Act 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
Act 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

As I said Corinth was a very prosperous and very immoral commercial center and was just south of Athens and Corinth also had a very large Jewish colony.

Priscilla and Aquila had apparently become Christian believers while they had been in Rome but Claudius Caesar had demanded that all Jews depart from Rome and this probably included all Christian converts, Jew or Gentile.

*****Act 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

It was the custom of the Jews to bring up their children in some trade and the Apostle Paul normally tried to provide his own material needs in order not to give occasion for complaint by the churches where he was preaching.

Paul did not want his support to interfere with the beginning of any new church and Paul might have gotten some support from the church but it was in the form of love offerings and “not because he had made a request for it”.

*****Act 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

Paul lived and worked with Aquila and Priscilla six days a week but every Sabbath day he witnessed in the Jewish synagogue.

We should also notice that some Gentiles were also at these synagogues.

The two words we should notice in this verse are “reasoned” and “persuaded”!

The apostle Paul took the Scriptures of the Old Testament which they had, and “reasoned” or proved to them that Jesus Christ was the Messiah they were waiting for to come.

And when they were “persuaded”, Paul would show him how to be saved by preaching the salvation by the Cross to them.

Paul would then teach them of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and how to be washed in His “blood”!

*****Act 18:5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

When Silas and Timothy had returned from from Macedonia, they also had brought about support from some of the churches and this allowed the Apostle Paul to preach full-time again.

We find this proof in the Scriptures:

1Th 3:6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:

2Co 11:9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself

Php 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

Here we see the importance of supporting our missionaries “in every way we can” so they can devote full time to the preparing and the preaching of the “Gospel” of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Everyone agrees that Paul was a great Christian and a great church planter but Paul could not do all these things alone. He much needed the support from the church but also from his friends, it was good to be rejoined by Timothy and Silas.

Our missionaries need to hear from us as much as we need to hear from them and they certainly need our encouragement!

But this also holds true as we witness day by day!

We need to encourage each other in the work of the Lord!

We all know that it is not easy to be a Christian in this evil world and God never said it would be!

But God promises to always be with us!

There could never have been a church in Corinth if it were not for “the devotion and service of many different people” and the zeal of the Apostle Paul for the lost.

We must all have a zeal for the “lost” because such were some of us before we came to know Jesus!

***Act 18:6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.

We can see that those that attended this synagogue in Corinth did not have a problem with hearing the Apostle Paul one day a week.

Satan did not mind that too much either, BUT when Paul started preaching seven days a week, Satan stirred up these people again.

Again we see that not everyone believed but Paul said they were “opposing themselves”.

By shaking his garment, Paul was saying to those of this synagogue that they had, had their opportunity and they may not get another one.

Today we might say that Paul was washing his hands of this situation such as Pilate did at the trial of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul never stops witnessing to the Jews BUT he did begin to spend most of his time witnessing to the Gentiles.

To have blood on your hands means that you are to blame for your own judgement!

This means that you had the opportunity to be saved but you turned it down!

They had been under conviction but had rejected the Holy Spirit!

1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1Pe 2:10 [Which in time past were not a people], but are now the people of God: [which had not obtained mercy], but now have obtained mercy.

These people have been called out of darkness but they had refused to come to the light!

You see when we have been obedient to witness the truth of God, then those that choose to ignore God’s truth have their blood on their own hands!

*****Act 18:7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.

Just when Paul needed a friend, there was one next door to the synagogue named Justus.

Paul still stayed with Aquila and Priscilla but he began a house church in the home of Justus which also shared a wall with the Jewish synagogue.

*****Act 18:8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Crispus would have been the man that directed all the services at the Jewish synagogue and also the caretaker of the building.

No doubt as he continued to hear the preaching of the gospel by the apostle Paul he believed AND with his conversion his family also came to the Lord.

We know what we read the book of Corinthians that Crispus was one of the few people that the Apostle Paul baptized himself.

Paul’s ministry would have an impact on the entire city of Corinth. When Crispus was saved along with his family many other Jews took notice along with Gentiles and many were saved.

But, this also stirred up the opposition against the Apostle Paul.

And Jesus, who had said to us all: “I will never leave you or forsake you” came to the Apostle Paul in a night vision.

*****Act 18:9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
Act 18:10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

Jesus Had already appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road, we read about that in Acts Chapter 9.

We know that the Lord had also appeared to the Apostle Paul while he was in Jerusalem and we will read about that and Acts Chapter 22.

We know that the Lord will comfort the Apostle Paul again when he becomes imprisoned in Jerusalem in Acts Chapter 23 and again when he is imprisoned in Rome.

We can see that the Lord will comfort us with His presence but we let’s not miss these promises He made to the Apostle Paul.

Paul was promised that he could not be hurt while he was in Corinth!

But more important the Lord promised that there will be many souls saved in this city.

We already know that Paul had washed his hands with these people!

We can actually see in this verse the omniscience of the Lord and we know that God knows all things!

God already knew that many of these lost Corinthian’s would be saved by the preaching of the gospel by the Apostle Paul.

God had already regarded them as His own people even before they had become believers.

The Holy Ghost had already been very busy in this evil city of Corinth!

*****Act 18:11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

So Paul stayed in Corinth for 18 months teaching the word of God among God’s people.

This church in Corinth was not made up of many mighty and noble people as Paul wrote in the book of 1st Corinthians but it was filled with sinners saved by the “grace” of God.

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!

It is believed by most Bible scholars that it is during this period of 18 months that the Apostle Paul wrote the two letters to the church of the Thessalonians.

*****Act 18:12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

History tells us that Gallio at one time was a minister to the Emperor Nero, BUT at this time he was pro-counsel of Achaia under the Emperor Claudius.

It is during the time of this man Gallio, that the unbelieving Jews found that Rome had declared Christianity to be an illegal religion.

So, they broke the law by attacking Paul and forcing him to go to court.

Paul was a Roman citizen and he was prepared to defend himself at this time but that became unnecessary.

*****Act 18:13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

These Jews tried to convince Gallio that Paul was persuading men to worship a God that was contrary to Roman Law. In other words Paul was preaching a new and unlawful religion. Rome did show some tolerance to various religions in order to keep the peace and this included Judaism.

*****Act 18:14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:
Act 18:15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.

As a proconsul Gallio had more power than what we would call a governor and these Jews may have requested that Gallio ban Christianity as an illegal religion. They also insisted that Paul led people to worship contrary to Roman Law.

They were astonished that Gallio classified their dispute as an internal Jewish issue and refused to judge this matter.

This decision from such a high ranking Roman set a precedent that was followed by Roman provincial governors for several decades. Rome allowed a tolerance for Christianity!

*****Act 18:16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.

Gallio cleared the court room and this did not set well with these Jews!

Again Satan lost the battle!

*****Act 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

Sosthenes had become ruler of the synagogue when Crispus had converted to Christianity.

When Gallio rejected the complaint of the Jews this gave these pagan Greeks an excuse to beat Sosthenes because they too hated the Jews.

What we do know is that Sosthenes later became a Christian and a leader in the church in Corinth.

The proof of that is 1Cor1:1.

None of these things impressed Gallio and he stayed clear of these religious squabbles but this also meant that Christianity was at last recognized by Rome as a religion, and not just some offshoot of Judaism!

*****Act 18:18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

After this Paul stayed a good while in Corinth before he decided to return to Antioch in Syria.

For some reason Paul decided to take a vow.

It is not likely that this was a Nazarite vow!

It was probably some vow that Paul would make when he was facing difficulty or danger.

But once this vow was made, then Paul had 30 days to get to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice to end the vow!

This is according to the Jewish historian Josephus.

This would explain why Paul was in such a hurry to leave Ephesus and we will see this further when we get to chapter 21.

*****Act 18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.

Luke does not tell us how long Paul was in Ephesus but it had to be a very short time.

*****Act 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
Act 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

These Jews were receptive and wanted Paul to stay, but Paul had to get to Jerusalem to complete his vow and after that he would return to Antioch to make a report of his second missionary journey.

We will see that Paul will keep this promise in chapter 19.

*****Act 18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.

After Paul had landed in Caesarea, he went to Jerusalem to greet the church and complete his vow and then he returned to Antioch of Syria.

*****Act 18:23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

We do not know how long Paul was in Antioch before he began his third missionary journey, but he began by visiting the previously established churches.

It was on this visit that Paul explained the weekly tithes to the Churches and teaching also the support of the missionaries for the spreading of the Gospel.

*****Act 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

And, we see that Luke does not give us a lot of details until we get to Ephesus.

Ephesus was the capitol of the Roman province of Asia and many of these people were Greeks from Athens.

It is in Ephesus where the great Temple of Diana was located. This Temple was at one time considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world.

Apollos was a Jew who had been born in Alexandria Egypt.

Apollos was taught very well in the Old Testament.

It was in Alexandria that the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek. This is what was called the Septuagint and it is said that 70 men did this work over a period of 80 years.

So, Apollos was schooled in this book!

*****Act 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Apollos had a clear understanding of the coming of the Messiah from the teachings of John the Baptist which was all about repentance.

Apollos did not have know the “Gospel”!

Apollos did not know the truth of being washed in the blood of Jesus!

*****Act 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

The ministry of John the Baptist was an important part of God’ plan!

John was sent to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ and even after his death, he was still doing this through men like Apollos.

John had taught the baptism of repentance but not the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Apollos knew about all the promises of the scriptures and of John the Baptist, but he did not realize their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Apollos taught was not wrong it was just incomplete!

*****Act 18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
Act 18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Once Apollos understood the “Gospel” he became a mighty preacher like Paul.

And, Apollos went on to Corinth and continued to establish that church.

It is in Corinth that we find some later who worship the preacher more than they did the Savior.

We will learn more about Ephesus next week.

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Church Planting In Thessalonica

Church Planting In Thessalonica

Book of Acts Chapter 17

Last week when we left the apostle Paul there had been a great salvation in the house of the jailer. Paul had caused problems with the local government when he had informed them that he also was a Roman citizen who had been treated improperly.

But they had still requested that he leave the city of Philippi and before leaving Paul stopped by the house of Lydia to comfort the church that was beginning in her house.

And, the Holy Spirit continued to open doors in what we now call Europe.

We should always be aware that when we are following the Lord there will be problems along the way.

Listen to these words of Jesus:

Luk 12:51  Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

It had not been easy being beaten and mistreated by the government of Philippi but there had been a great salvation and many lost souls receive the gift of God, which is eternal life with Him in Heaven.

The lessons we learn today can be best realized if we study the parable of the sower in Matthew chapter 13.

God told Jeremiah that men must break up the fallow ground and not plant in the thorns in order to reap a harvest. This also holds true when planting the seed of the “gospel”!

It is the condition of the soil that determines the bounty of the harvest.

There may be many sowers but they all should plant the same message which is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Show map of Paul’s second journey.

Let’s begin:

*****Act 17:1  Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
Act 17:2  And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

This chapter will describe Paul’s ministry in three cities and how some of those people responded to the Word of God.

As we study the missionary trips of the Apostle Paul we should have a better understanding of how to support the missions of today’s church.

It was 100 miles from Philippi to Thessalonica and Thessalonica was the capitol city of Macedonia.

As we study the Apostle Paul we learned that he was one of the most effective witnesses for the Lord who’s ever lived. So we can and should learn from his manner of witnessing.

It was typical for Paul to reason with the lost out of the Scriptures.

This is more than just reading or quoting particular verses in the Bible!

In the days of Nehemiah we find this Scripture:

Neh 8:8  So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, [and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading].

The apostle Paul used a similar method to reach the lost of Europe.

The apostle Paul later wrote to us some of the methods he used:

To the Colossians:

Col 4:6  Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

To witness “with grace” would be to use words that “attracted” rather than “repel” a person.

And to be seasoned with salt would be making the Word of God pleasant to the taste and also not to corrupt God’s Word.

2Ti 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

To be a good witness we have to study God’s Word. We also have to rightly divide the truth of the Gospel. This would be to treat it honestly and in a straightforward manner.

As disciples we should teach no other doctrine so there would be no confusion. Leave that to Bible scholars so that it no way we would corrupt the Word of God.

To a sower of seed this would be like plowing a straight furrow and placing the seed at the required interval!

1Pe 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

If we have not sanctified the Lord within our own hearts, we will never be a good witness. And if we have not studied the Word of God then we will never be ready to give an answer to every man that may ask.

We may not have to know the answer to every question but we should know where the answers are located!

We should also notice that Paul reasoned with these people on at least three separate occasions, so we should not expect good results every time we witness and most times there will not be any results.

We must remember what God says:

1Co 3:7  So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; “but God that giveth the increase”.
We can only be the sower of the seed. We can only be the fisherman who cast the line and hook or the net.

*****Act 17:3  Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

When the Apostle Paul went into the synagogues we must remember he did not have to convince these people of the Scriptures.

Most all of them already believed the Old Testament Scriptures!

The apostle Paul had to take those same Scriptures and preached Jesus!

These Jews already believed in creation as it was written in the book of Genesis. Sadly not many today accept creation as it is written in the Bible.

So the apostle Paul had to preach Jesus as the promised Messiah which means He was the Christ child they had been looking for to come!

Whenever possible this is the message we need to give to those lost world!

But in many cases today we will also have to present “Creation” as the truth of the Bible, which it is.

And we must do this as we present the “Gospel” in many cases, just as Paul.

If our belief is not based on “Creation” as the entire truth as it is written in the Book of Genesis then we will fail to be a good witness!

And if our belief is not based on Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah then we will also fail to be a good witness!

We notice as we study the Apostle Paul that he used both methods depending on those he was witnessing to.

*****Act 17:4  And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

We find that some of the Jews believed.

Many of the Greek proselyte also believed.

And there was a great multitude of the devout women of the city who were openly friendly to the Word of God.

These could include women who were proselyte of Judaism, and Gentiles, and Jewish wives of Gentiles and Gentile wives of practicing Jews.

*****Act 17:5  But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

Again we see the success of Paul of leading many to the Lord Jesus Christ, stirred up trouble in the Jewish community.

These Jews did not like what they heard from Paul and they brought in a gang of roughnecks to create a commotion against him. They also stirred up the whole city against these missionaries. But once this crowd was gathered that were unable to find the apostle Paul so they assaulted the house of Jason. It is the house of Jason where they had been staying during this time.

*****Act 17:6  And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

They brought Jason out onto the ruling government of the city. But they made their charges against Paul and Silas accusing them of “turning the world upside down”.

Jesus Christ came into this world to turn it upside down.

It’s a shame when a small group of people can stir up the government who is supposed to be for all people.

We find that today in America as a small group of gays, a small group of atheists, try to spread their influence over the entire population of America.

Christians are commanded by God to witness but it is God Himself that has control of the results.

These enemies of the Lord, also said that Paul and Silas were proclaiming Jesus to be a rival king to Claudius Caesar which was also a lie.

Jesus will one day rule as King on this entire earth. This is prophesied but not during the “Church Age”!

*****Act 17:8  And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
Act 17:9  And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

At least in this case the government took control of this mob and dispersed it and secured Jason and those with him to safety.

It was “the riot itself” that would bring the powers of Rome into the city, not one man housing a few missionaries.

So they released Jason and those with him.

*****Act 17:10  And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

It is very probable that Paul and Silas were in real danger in Thessalonica.

They escaped in the darkness of night, but we know that persecution continued to those that believed the “Gospel”.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

1Th 2:14  For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: [for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews]:

Paul went to Berea which  is about 50 miles from Thessalonica.

*****Act 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

In Berea the people listened to the Preaching of the “Gospel” with an open mind! They did not criticize the Word of God but instead searched the scriptures themselves to verify what Paul was preaching.

In fact they met daily to seek the truth of the of the Bible.

This is what we call Bible study and we all need to be involved in Bible study!

We are taught the truth here at Gethsemane but in our own best interest we cannot rely on the preaching to be our only source. We must study ourselves, seeking the truth of the “Gospel”!

There are still those that preach a false message!

*****Act 17:12  Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

“Therefore” the results were that many of the Bereans believed and were saved! 

Jewish women mainly had household duties and had little say in the synagogues but we find that these Greek women had a place outside the home in society and held a high rank.

Many of these men and women came from what we would call the upper class in Berea.

And there were a great many that believed so things were going good in Berea.

We must never forget that “we present the most powerful life-changing force in the world” when we preach Jesus Christ.

*****Act 17:13  But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

All was going well again until Satan brought his followers to hinder the spread of the “Gospel”.

These are wicked men who had no allegiance to any law but their own! Societies of this world are filled with these sort of evil men, even in America and even more so.

Remember what God says:

2Ti 3:13  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

The Bible teaches us that Satan has his own missionaries:

2Co 11:13  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
2Co 11:14  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
2Co 11:15  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

These are just more signs that Jesus is coming to get His Bride very soon!

*****Act 17:14  And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

It is easy to see that the apostle Paul was the target of these evil men.

But the Church outwitted the enemy and took Paul and put him on a ship bound for Athens.

But Silas and Timothy stayed to help grow the church.

*****Act 17:15  And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

It was only after Paul had arrived safely in Athens that word was sent to Silas and Timothy to join him there.

Athens was the most celebrated city of Greece. Athens was the central place of Greek literature and art, and philosophy. But Athens was also the seat of false worship for the entire Greek nation!

“There was a saying in Rome at that time, that it was easier to find a god in Athens than it was to find a real man”.

The apostle Paul noticed all these things as he waited for the rest of his group to join him.

*****Act 17:16  Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

Athens may have been the cultural center of the world but we should always realize see that culture does not bring wisdom.

The name Athens comes from the Greek goddess Athena who was worshipped as the goddess of wisdom.

But the Bible says:

Ecc 12:13  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

There is no goddess of wisdom though there still those that think so!

The Apostle Paul was not led to Athens to see these wondrous sights and to be a tourist.

Paul was sent by the Holy Spirit to seek the “souls of the lost”!

The real religion of Athens was the worship of art and amusement!

Athens was a city that had no morals!

Even the Jews had got caught up in the idolatry of this city and none opposed the Apostle Paul as they had in the other cities.

*****Act 17:17  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Therefore the Apostle Paul preached throughout the city.

That word “disputed” would mean that Paul reasoned with these people and had discussions with them about the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

The Apostle Paul found a great mixture of people here in Athens.

He found Jews who were not worshipping as they should.

He found devout persons which were probably proselytes who were trying to worship in the Jewish way.

And he found those at the marketplace who were caught up in the immoral practices and the idolatry of the city of Athens.

The marketplace was not only a place were provisions were sold, but it was also a great place for philosophers to gather and engage the public in discussion.

*****Act 17:18  Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

The definition of philosophy is: “the love of human wisdom”!

I believe it can be said that humans have no wisdom until they know God!

Most of the world would dispute this saying but the Bible says:

Pro 9:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

And also:

Psa 19:9  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Psa 19:10  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Are there smart people in the world, sure.

But being smart and having an education does not by itself make us wise!

Wisdom is taking the knowledge that we have and the understanding that we have, and making sound judgments while avoiding evils but attempting good things.

God says:

1Co 3:19  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
1Co 3:20  And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

God says the wisdom of this world is foolishness!

Like all philosophers of that day the Epicureans and the Stoicks had an evolutionary worldview!

The Epicureans were essentially atheists like the modern Darwinist!

The Stoics were pantheist much like the New Age evolutionist movement of our day!

Both of these groups believed in an infinitely old universe and both rejected the concept of an Omnipotent Creator.

They used astrology, spiritualism, associated with many gods and goddesses, who they identified as persons controlling nature, and the natural systems of this Earth.

They would strongly oppose biblical creationist and therefore Christianity!

Jesus would not be considered to them as the only true God!

*****Act 17:19  And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
Act 17:20  For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
Act 17:21  (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

Having never heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ it was still some new thing to them and they wanted to hear this “new age” concept that was unknown to them.

This world is always trying to find some “New Age” philosophy to rule in their lives but God teaches us with these words:

Jer 6:16  Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the “old paths”, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

And just as these in the Book of Jeremiah, the Old Path was rejected for the New Age movement which brought failure to the nation of Israel.

*****Act 17:22  Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Mars Hill is the same as Areopagus.

This hill which was near the Acropolis was used as a gathering place to evaluate your religious views or some new immoral philosophies.

“Ares” was the Greek God of war, corresponding to “Mars” who was the Roman God of war.

These “Athenians” worshipped the great number of gods and goddesses.

So what was religious to the Greeks was actually superstitious to the apostle Paul!

It is a sad note that these people attributed the forces of nature to some imaginary god!

This is why the Bible teaches us that the education of man is foolishness in the eyes of God.

It is only when we understand and accept Creation as explained in the book of Genesis, that we can actually understand the forces of nature in this world we live in.

*****Act 17:23  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

There are too many reports that are known that say, “there was actually altar to an unknown God in first century Greece!

But it has also been shown that “many polytheistic cultures do retain a dim remembrance of a high God”, who was much greater and much more powerful than those they worship that day.

They just refuse and reject this truth!

Let’s remember what Jesus told that Samaritan woman at the well:

Joh 4:22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Joh 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

There was a desire for these Greeks to seek out God, that they knew nothing about and who was the true God.

Jesus brought the knowledge of God to the Samaritan woman.

The Apostle Peter brought the knowledge of God to Cornelius who was a Roman.

The Apostle Paul was now bringing the knowledge of the true God to those in Greece.

And many a missionary are sent to bring the knowledge of God to the uttermost parts of this Earth even today!

That is what a Christian is to do, to bring the knowledge of the Triune God to the world. It is this God who then must bring conviction and results.

*****Act 17:24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Paul said this is the God that I bring to you today, the Creator of all the Earth!

Paul said, the city of Athens may be filled with many beautiful temples, many monuments, and many images, but the true God is the Lord of Heaven and Earth and He will not ever dwell in anything made by the hands of man.

Skip to verse 28:

*****Act 17:28  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

The Apostle Paul said, it is the God of Creation that sustains the life of every person.

The same God of Creation even sustains those who do not believe that He exists.

But He is certainly not very far from each and every one of us!

Col 1:17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

*****Act 17:29  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

The Apostle Paul says that since we are all the offspring of God, then we cannot believe that our Creator can be man-made.

The God of Heaven and Earth has revealed Himself as, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This is to Tri-Une God!

And He can never be represented by any image or any model which man can make either with his hands, or in his mind.

God has given us His model “of the Godhead” in His Creation!

Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

And God says there is no excuse for not seeing these things!

*****Act 17:30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Act 17:31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Act 17:32  And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

God has revealed Himself not only in His creation but also in the Virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the death of, the burial of, and the resurrection of Jesus.

Is this God who created all men who can then be the “only” Judge of His creation.

Paul points out that the founders and the leaders of all the religions and all other philosophies eventually die BUT the Lord Jesus Christ is alive today!

His tomb is empty.

He has a resurrected body.

And He has ascended back to the Father in Heaven.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is a fact!

It was witnessed by more than 500 people!

And there are many in fallible proofs!

And just as most of the world does today these people mocked at the truth!

There are many today that believe in the Creator, but they reject that He is also the Redeemer!

*****Act 17:33  So Paul departed from among them.
Act 17:34  Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

God does not send us out to dispute with those that we witness to in this the world!

Our job is to teach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and in doing this we sometimes have to teach Creation just as it is written in the Book of Genesis.

But no matter which way we start with, we must always to go to the Cross.

And there will always be some who believe!

These that believe are the only reason that God has not returned to take us home.

When is the Lord going to return to take us home?

As soon as that last soul that God already knows about is saved!

Questions?

Let’s pray!

Church Planting In Philippi

Church Planting In Philippi

Book of Acts Chapter 16

Last week we saw that the “Gospel Message was clarified for the Gentiles and the Jews. Nothing was to be added too or taken away from the truth that is in Christ Jesus.

Today we will look into what is known as the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey. Let’s begin by looking at a map.

The purpose of this journey was to deliver the letter from the apostles and the elders of Jerusalem.

When we left off last week Paul and Barnabas and others had returned from Jerusalem to the church at Antioch in Syria and delivered the letter from James and the Apostles and elders of Jerusalem.

These things that were decided did not have anything to do with being saved and they were not part of the original false teaching of those certain Jews.

These were just things that would allow the Fellowship between the Jew and Gentile to improve.

Our lesson is, that our liberty, by the grace of God should never become a stumbling block to others who are weaker in their faith.

Before this journey began there was a great dissension between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along but Paul did not. In fact the contention was so sharp that they decided to split up. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul chose Silas who had come from Jerusalem and decided to stay.

We should realize that John Mark was cousin to Barnabas so they did have family ties. Barnabas was ready to give John Mark another opportunity to prove himself because John Mark had deserted them on the first trip.

The apostle Paul took the stand that the ministry was too important and the word was too demanding to take someone who might prove unreliable.

Obviously we know later that Mark, who wrote the book of Mark, did prove himself worthy to serve the Lord, in the eyes of Paul.

From Antioch Paul traveled first to Derbe and then over to Lystra. Here the apostle Paul found a young man we will later know as Timothy.

Paul knew his mother and his grandmother and he had turned this young man to the Lord on his first trip.

Paul’s team now consists of at least himself, Silas, and Timothy.

According to Mosaic Law, Eunice, the mother of Timothy was not permitted to marry a Gentile. When she did her children were not considered legitimate Jews. Paul later circumcised Timothy, according to Luke because of the Jews in the area and to point out that Timothy was a Jew because of his mother. Remember the promised seed was to come through Sarah the wife of Abraham and not Hagar.

We will see that whenever doctrinal issues were not at state, Paul was willing to be flexible to encourage the spread of the gospel.

1Co 9:19  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. (Vs 19-23)

And before these missionaries moved into Galatia and other areas we know that the church was strengthened by these letters from Jerusalem.

So let’s begin with our lesson today:

*****Act 16:6  Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
Act 16:7  After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

What we should notice is that it is God who was in charge of missionary journeys. After visiting all the churches that had been founded, Paul tried to enter a new territory but the Lord closed that door.

We should notice that it was never the apostles that decided the direction of the gospel. It was God Himself that showed the direction the gospel should take.

God chose at this time for Paul to introduce the gospel to Europe and not to Asia.

*****Act 16:8  And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

We can believe that the apostle Paul did not know exactly what to do with his time. Troas was city on the coast of Mysia, in Asia Minor and Troas was named after the ancient city of Troy.

Paul later explained to the Corinthians that this is where the door to Europe was open to him.

2Co 2:12  Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

AND Paul had another vision.

*****Act 16:9  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

Macedonia is across the Aegean Sea, over in Europe. The apostle Paul is in Asia. The gospel is going to cross from Asia into Europe.

(Again look at the map.)

Macedonia was the Roman name for Northern Greece and the apostle Paul was quick to respond to this vision.

*****Act 16:10  And after he had seen the vision, immediately “we” endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

Since this is the first use of the word “we” instead of the word “they” this seems to dictate that Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, has now joined this group of missionaries.

One of the main things we should see is that the apostle Paul was already active preaching and teaching the gospel in Asia. Paul was not waiting at home for the Lord to give him direction. The Holy Spirit in some very clear way closed two doors, but then opened another.

It is very possible that if the Apostle Paul had not been obedient to the Lord and directed to Philippi and Greece, at this time that he might never have gone to Europe and Christianity might have remained an Asian religion.

This is why we must follow God’s Plan!

As Paul sailed the Aegean Sea, he first set foot in Europe and the town of Neapolis. This was the seaport of the city of Philippi which was the chief city of that part of Macedonia and a Roman colony.

A Roman colony would be governed by their own senate and their own magistrates and not come under the rule of the local foreign government.

It is said that Macedonia was a place where Roman war veterans could retire and live under Roman law with freedom from taxes.

And it was Philippi that was the chief city in this part of Macedonia but it was Thessalonica where the capitol of Macedonia was located.

*****Act 16:13  And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

We can see that it had taken a few days maybe to rest or to seek out a synagogue of the Jew, but none was found. But what this group with Paul had found was that there was a group that met for prayer outside the city near the river. This would probably been the Gangites River.

If there had been at least ten men active in Judaism, then normally a synagogue would be built for worship.

The Greek word for “Prayer”, [Pros-yoo-khay] “proseuche” means that this place was set apart specifically to offer prayer to the Lord.

If the men were meeting in this location it was not mentioned by Luke, but the women were there and that’s where Paul began to witness.

That word “spake” meant that Paul began with an informal conversation.

We will see that the results of this informal conversation was the establishment of first church in Europe.

*****Act 16:14  And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, [heard us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
Act 16:15  And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Thyatira was the home city of Lydia that was located between Sardis and Pergamos. This area is well known for it’s red and purple dye but is known most of all for it’s labor unions.

It is probable that Lydia was not a Jew but probably a Jewish proselyte. Lydia, which is also the name of her country, listened to what Paul had to say and she and her entire household became the first Christians in the city of Philippi.

Notice in the words “heard us”, it is obvious that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart but she first heard the “Gospel” because that was the way of the Apostle Paul.

Paul later wrote to the Church of Thessalonica these words:

2Th 2:13  But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because [God hath
from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth]:
2Th 2:14  Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even before the foundation of the world God also chose the Gentiles to be a part of His Saving “Grace”.

Our lesson again skips some verses where Satan again tried to hinder the Word of God.

If we read them we will see some important things.

We will notice every one of Satan’s workers know exactly who is the true God. And we know that there are always those that make a living off of the work of Satan.

It was only after losing their income that they complained to the local government. The people of this area worshipped Apollo who was the Greek and Roman Sun god among many other things.

Notice again a government took a stand against the Word of God. Paul and Silas were not accused of violating Judaism but they were accused of violating “the government approved” religion of Rome and Greece.

We do not need government approval for Christianity. Christianity is approved by a much higher authority!

*****Act 16:23  And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

Notice the law of the land did not search for the truth and treated these missionaries as they were already proven guilty. Sounds like America!

In Jewish law, a man could only be given 39 stripes. Now we know that a whip called “a cat of nine tails” was invented to increase this punishment.

But Roman law did not  have a set number stripes. Stripes were not counted by just the number of lashes. Stripes were counted by the number of lashes that left a wound.

The magistrates determined how many stripes were enough and our verse says that there were many stripes.

Paul later tells the Corinthians that “in stripes above measure” which means he lost count of how many times he was beaten. The Roman custom was to make the body bare and beat it with rods then cast in prison without medical attention.

To keep them safely meant to block any and all means of escape!

*****Act 16:24  Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

That inner prison would be like a cell of solitude. It would be dark and damp. Those stocks were large pieces of wood that would clamp the legs down far enough apart to cause pain.

*****Act 16:25  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And after all this Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to the Lord.

They were pouring out their hearts to God.
Paul and Silas were bound, placed in a position of pain where they could not move their tortured bodies but they still had the peace of God because they also had peace with God.

And the other prisoners who had heard these things that went on, then heard the praying and the praises. Notice Paul and Silas never complained nor did they ask God to judge their enemies.

God listened and God heard!

*****Act 16:26  “And suddenly” there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

God said enough is enough. God had a plan for the Apostle Paul and that work was just getting started and it was not completed.

We could say that there is nothing strange about an earthquake. But we would have to admit that there was something strange about an earthquake at this precise time, where Christian missionaries were imprisoned, where there had been a Christian “pray and praise meeting” going on, and all the cell doors opened and all bonds were broken.

Psa 42:8  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, [and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life].

While this praising was going on “at midnight” an earthquake shook this jail.

The foundations of this jail shifted.

The jail cell doors were opened.

And “everyone’s” bands were loosed!

*****Act 16:27  And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
Act 16:28  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

Roman custom would hold this jailer accountable for any prisoner that escaped and we can see how serious this was by the fact that this jailer was more willing to take his own life than face that judgment. Paul’s quick response saved this man’s life.

*****Act 16:29  Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
Act 16:30  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

No doubt this jailer had also heard the songs of praise and he already knew all the punishment these two men
had been through. He also knew why they had been imprisoned.

This city of Philippi was committed to Pantheism. A religion that opposed Judaism and certainly Christianity.
God provided just the perfect miracle to provide a breakthrough for the “Gospel”.

This jailer recognized this miracle immediately! He knew this was a supernatural happening!

He realized he was lost and in need of such a Savior as who could do these things and who had such a power as this he had witnessed.

We all have to know the answer to this question before we die!

*****Act 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

There is never a change in the way for anyone to be saved. It is always the same. That word “Believe” means “to
have faith”!

The Bible teaches us:

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

And this way:

Joh 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

This is the way for this jailer and the same way for his entire household.

*****Act 16:32  And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

Paul and Silas then led these to the Lord.

*****Act 16:33  And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and
all his, straightway.

We see that good works and baptism follow salvation.

*****Act 16:34  And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing
in God with all his house.

Now it was time to rejoice in their new life.

We know the remaining verses of this chapter teach us that Paul refused to leave this prison until those
magistrates, recognized and apologized for his treatment because he was also a Roman citizen, who had not
gotten a proper trial.

Questions?

Let’s Pray!