(Acts 19) The Persevering Church

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Introduction

Acts 18:23-20:38 records Paul's third missionary journey. On this 3rd journey, he spends 2 years and 3 months in Ephesus - his longest stay at any one place. He revisits many of the new churches started on his second journey.

Paul and his companions had to be faithful and persevering. They meet with opposition from the start. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22) they said. The new church at Ephesus became a persevering church. Paul taught them how to be strong in the Lord.

1 They Persevered Through Teaching About the Holy Spirit (1-7)

Acts 19:2 "Did you receive the Holy Spirit, having believed?" (the literal Greek meaning) - Word Meanings in the New Testament by Dr. Ralph Earle, page 116.

They had not heard that the Holy Spirit had been given at Pentecost. They only knew what Apollos had taught them, about John's baptism of repentance. Apollos had been there before Paul and what he preached was "the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25) (See Matthew 3:1-11, Mark 1:7-8, Luke 3:16-17, Luke 7:29, John 1:26 & 33) The baptism of John was about

  1. Repentance from sin (Mark 1:4, Acts 19:4a)
  2. Forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4)
  3. Faith in Christ (John 3:36)

John announced about Christ, "He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit." (Mark 1:8). John directed his disciples to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was doing the same. By receiving the Holy Spirit, we do NOT mean speaking with ecstatic and unintelligent gibberish and trance-like behaviour. We DO mean that the Spirit of God fills our heart and life with holiness, resulting in godly living. Paul later wrote to the Ephesian Church (in Ephesians 1:4) "He (the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." This is the result of having been filled with the Holy Spirit.

These disciples listened to Paul "that they should believe on Christ Jesus." (Acts 19:46)
They were then baptised in Jesus' name (v 5)
The Holy Spirit came upon them (v 6)
They spoke in languages and prophesied/preached (v 6)

This is still the great need of many in the church today.

(To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)

It is important to note that this is the first thing that Paul presents to the disciples at Ephesus.

It was the same thing when the revival happened in Samaria. Peter and John came to urge the new Christians to receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8)

2 They Persevered Through Paul's Faithful Ministry (Acts 19:8-20)

Preaching the gospel in the synagogue for 3 months (Acts 19:8-9)

  1. Speaking boldly
  2. Reasoning
  3. Persuading
  4. Some hardened and did not believe

Preaching the gospel in the school for 2 years (Acts 19:9-10) "Reasoning daily". Reasons for our faith are a major part. Thus, the Teaching Ministry is a basic part of the Gospel of Christ. Lack of teaching means limited and stunted spiritual growth.

God worked miracles by the hand of Paul. (Acts 19:11-20)

  1. Diseases left them.
  2. Evil spirits went out of them.
  3. Counterfeit miracles attempted by seven of the priest's sons.
  4. Fear fell on them all.
  5. The Lord Jesus was magnified.
  6. Many believed.
  7. Many publicly destroyed their pagan books.
  8. The word of the Lord grew mightily.

3 They Persevered Through a Great Commotion About the Way (Acts 19:23-20:1)

The silversmith union jacked up about their loss of business, because Paul had persuaded many to turn away from idol worship to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, not only in Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia. And they feared the temple worship of the goddess Diana would be destroyed. (In more recent times there was another Diana whom many worshipped.) The temple of Diana/ or Artemis (in the Greek), in Ephesus, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Praise the Lord, the Gospel pulls down strongholds of Satan which blind men's eyes to the truth! There are many more pagan institutions, and soul-destroying businesses of our day that need to be toppled as well!!!

So, the silversmiths, led by Demetrius stirred the city into revolt by using

  1. Confusion
  2. Rushing
  3. Shouting
  4. False accusations
  5. Mob hysteria

The Town Clerk managed to restore quiet and order to the situation.

Conclusion

The new Christian Church at Ephesus learned to persevere through

  1. Receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit
  2. Through receiving faithful ministry by the Apostle Paul
  3. Through conflict with pagan religion.

The more effective the church is in reaching lost people, the more Satan and his supporters will make trouble. In the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: "These things I have spoken to you, that in ME you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Note:

Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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