Paul at Ephesus: Acts 19:1-7.
After leaving Corinth, Paul reached Ephesus where he encountered a group of 12 men. They were followers of John the Baptist. They knew about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus but not about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Knowing the facts of the gospel will not save anybody. It is experiencing the life of Christ in daily lives. Paul asked them “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit”. On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hand on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There is no Christian life without the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 12:3). The indwelling presence and controlling of the Holy Spirit in the believer deepens their relationship with Christ (1 John 3:24). John’s baptism of repentance was only a preparation for the coming of Christ. Believers are baptized by Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). Christian baptism is a picture of our identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This vital union with Christ is necessary to experience the life of Christ in our daily lives. Like Jews at Pentecost, the believers of Samaria, the gentile covert, these disciples of John the Baptists received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues (Acts 2, 8, 10,19). Paul had to remind believers that this never intended to continue forever (1 Cor 12:13, 29-31). This progression shows the expanding scope of the gospel in the whole world. The Holy Spirit unifies the believers and enables them to love one another. Also Spirit creates hunger and thirst for righteousness in believer’s lives (John 15:26; 16:14-15).
Paul’s Ministry in Ephesus: Acts 19:8-20. For the next three months Paul spoke boldly and reasoned with Jews about the kingdom of God in the synagogue. But some of them rejected his message and publicly spoke against the way of Christ. So Paul centered his daily teaching ministry in the school of Tyrannus. Some scholars suggest that Paul taught there from 11 A. M to 4 P.M daily. It went on for two years and as a result the word of God spread throughout the province of Asia. The ministry of the Word of God was the foundation of the early church. God performed great miracles through Paul and many people were healed from their diseases. While God still heals as a result of answered prayers, healing by means of handkerchief is no longer a common practice among Christians. The practice of the casting out of the evil spirit was common in those days. When seven sons of Jewish high priest Sceva, attempted do this in the name of Jesus, the man with evil spirit said “I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you” (19:15). Then the man with evil spirit leaped on them, beat them and stripped them naked. This story spread quickly and many became believers in Christ. They forsook their former practice of black magic. They brought their incantation books and burned them in the sight of all. The value of the books was fifty thousand pieces of silver. Thus the word of the Lord spread widely and effectively. Missionaries report that this is a common practice among many people groups.
The Riot in Ephesus: Acts 19:21-41.
Afterward Paul passed through Macedonia and Achaia and went to Jerusalem. He also planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain. It was Paul’s normal practice to preach the gospel where it had never been preached. While Paul stayed in Asia, he sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia ahead of him. About this time serious disturbance developed under the leadership of Demetrius, the silversmith. He complained that Paul’s preaching was destroying their idol business and income. He was also concern about the loss of influence of the temple of Diana and goddess Artemis. This temple was one of the seven wonders of ancient world. The image of this goddess with many breasts signifies the fertility of nature. Ephesians believed that this stone had fallen from heaven. The ministry of the gospel always poses a threat to the unsaved. Soon the whole city was filled with confusion and a riot broke out. People started shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for two hours. The church at Ephesus was an outstanding Church. Their first love for the Lord, and the Word was an example for every church to follow. When truth is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, it will produce result always. Paul’s preaching was free from accusation, clear and strong in persuasion. Today people do not oppose the church because we do not pose any threat to them. Paul wanted to appear before people in the arena. When Jews feared being condemned along with Christians, they pushed Alexander forward to explain the situation. But when the crowd realized that he was a Jew, they started shouting again. Finally order was restored by the town clerk by saying that the city was not going to be destroyed by Christians and they are not here to robe the temple. If they seek anything further, it will be settled in the legal court. Then he dismissed the crowd. God never receives worship along false gods. Pray that God would give you a loyal heart to worship Christ and passion for the gospel.