Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders, Acts 20:17-28

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 60

Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders

Acts 20:17-38

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Carefully read the passage of Scripture. Reread it.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul invites the Ephesian church’s leaders to join him at Miletus, the city’s harbor, 10 miles east. He intends to bid them farewell as he is bound for Jerusalem.
  8. This is the first and only sermon delivered by Paul to Christians. He reminds them of his service and states he did not hold anything back from them but declared the whole counsel of God, both publically and from house to house.
  9. Verse 21 is a key Biblical passage where Paul describes his evangelical work: for both Jews and Greeks he preached repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  10. Paul knows what is coming as he heads for Jerusalem. He is willing to suffer even death, as first and foremost, he will continue the work he had been given by Jesus Himself.
  11. Paul knows that after he leaves, thus leaving a power vacuum, fierce wolves from even within the Ephesian church will attack the flock, people attempting to draw people away to themselves.
  12. These wolves will teach messages that combine truth with error, twisted things. Paul says, “be alert.”
  13. Paul can only commend the church “to God and to the word of his grace.” (Likely the wolves will teach a works based faith.)
  14. Paul did not seek money from the Ephesians but worked with his hands to supply his needs. The wolves will not.
  15. Before departing, Paul and Ephesians leaders are on their knees praying and bidding Paul farewell. Their sorrow was that they would not see Paul again.

A Riot at Ephesus, Paul in Macedonia & Greece, Eutychus Raised from the Dead, Acts 19:21-29:12

GOSPEL MEDITATION #59

Acts 19:21-20:12

A Riot at Ephesus, Paul in Macedonia & Greece,

Eutychus Raised from the Dead

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Luke now takes us for a series of events that cover an unknown period of time. He moves us from Ephesus to Philippi where Luke rejoins the missionaries (see “us” and “we”) then on to Troas in what is now northeast Turkey.
  8. The cult of Artemis (or Diana) with the silver images made of the goddess provided considerable sums of money. This business was suffering due to Paul’s preaching.
  9. Luke does not give us as much as we would like; it is likely he only heard second-hand accounts of the fast moving and tumultuous events.
  10. A riot ensued in Ephesus, and two of Paul’s companions were dragged into the local arena by an angry mob. This arena, when excavate was found to seat 25,000.
  11. The crowd of Ephesians is quieted, and soon Paul leaves for Macedonia and visits Philippi before settling for a time in Troas.
  12. On a Sunday morning in a meeting place in Troas, after celebrating the Lord’s Supper, Paul begins to speak. We are not told of the content of what Paul said, but he went on seemingly all night.
  13. Unable to remain awake while Paul preached, on and on, the young man Eutychus, perched on a window sill, fell to his death. Without fanfare, Paul announces he is alive. This resulted in much comfort to the church in Troas.

The Sons of Sceva, Acts 19:11-20

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 58

Acts 19:11-20

The Sons of Sceva

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Ephesus would have been typical of the ancient world, which was much engaged with magical practices.
  8. Now Paul, through Paul, God was doing incredible miracles, primarily power over unclean spirits. There were healings and the casting out of demons. Shocking to the Ephesians.
  9. It was thought that the covenant name of God, given to Moses at the Burning Bush, Yahweh, had magical powers. 7 sons of a supposed Jewish high priest named Sceva, used this name to perform miracles.
  10. Seeing what Paul did, they tried using “the name of the Lord Jesus” when they saw the evil spirits subject to Paul.
  11. The evil spirits knew who Jesus was, of course, the same today, and they recognized Paul, who they knew was wrecking havoc among them.
  12. This did not work, indeed, it backfired, and an evil spirit, or demon, attacked them and wounded them.
  13. Such authority over the demonic realm brought even more attention by the Ephesians to Paul. An awakening was under way already, and now it increased to a great degree.
  14. Word quickly spread in Ephesus and the hand of God is evident in that the citizens brought together a large pile of their magical books and burned them, publically.
  15. The magical materials, Luke tells, totaled 59,000 pieces of silver—a staggering amount.
  16. This all abounded to the glory of God and the Word spread.

 

Paul Returns to Antioch & Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus Acts 18:18-28

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 56

Acts 18:18-28

Paul Returns to Antioch &

Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul leave Corinth and sail to Cenchreae, a port in Syria. There Paul made a vow (likely a Nazarite vow, see Numbers 6), The cutting of the hair meant his vow was completed. This vow was fine for a Jewish man to make.
  8. On to Ephesus, in Asia, modern day Turkey, where Paul visited the synagogue. Though well received Paul intended to return to his home church at Antioch so he left Ephesus. Landing at Caesarea he “went up” to “the church” most probably Jerusalem church. From there, on to Antioch of Syria. After a short time there, Paul headed north into the heart of Asia and visited churches from the first journey.
  9. Luke now interrupts the comings and goings of Paul to introduce the reader to Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, who in a way we do not know of, had been “instructed in the way of the Lord.”
  10. Apollos is described as being both “fervent in spirit” and a bold speaker. However, he knew only of the baptism of John. John announced that the Messiah was coming and to prepare the way, he called for a baptism of repentance.
  11. Priscilla and Aquila take Apollos aside and explain more about Messiah Jesus. Apollos is ready to hear and believe.
  12. Then, Apollos desires to go on to Corinth in Achaia, the “brothers” at Ephesus write a letter of recommendation for him, and he goes on to “greatly” help believers there as well as “powerfully” speak to the Jews in that area.

Paul in Corinth — Acts 18:1-16

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 55

Paul in Corinth

Acts 18:1-16

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. 46 miles from Athens, Corinth was the commercial and political center of Achaia. Rebuilt by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, it was the site of the temple of Aphrodite, which sponsored the most perverse immorality in the Roman world.
  8. The date is 51-52 AD under the proconsul Gallio. In 49 the emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews out of Rome (and Alexandria) for certain reasons that are not understood. Those Jews who were also Christians left as well and among them were Aquila and Priscilla.
  9. They, like Paul, were tentmakers; they met and later worked together. As per Paul’s custom, he spoke in the synagogues. Many Jews lived in Corinth.
  10. Silas and Timothy completing their supportive work in Philippi and Thessalonica, join Paul in Corinth.
  11. Paul continues his work and when strongly opposed virtually quotes Ezekiel 33, “your blood be on your own heads.”
  12. The ruler, or president of the synagogue, Crispus, is converted as well as many others, and were baptized.
  13. Paul now has a vision in which the Lord reassures him in preparation for trouble that is about to begin. Paul will remain in Corinth for one and a half years.
  14. Those opposing the Christian witness attempt to involve the Roman authorities who bring Paul before Gallio. At this point the Romans lump the Christians and the Jews together as a legal religion in the empire. When Gallio understands that the issue is religious in nature, he refuses to act on the matter. The new ruler of the synagogue is beaten.

Paul Addresses the Areopagus, Acts 17:22-34

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 54

Paul Addresses the Areopagus

Acts 17:22-34

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul, standing now in the ancient forum where countless preachers and philosophers presented their views to an eager audience, here composed almost entirely of Gentiles.
  8. These people were either very religious or superstitious; thought is that Paul meant religious, not a derogatory word.
  9. Inscriptions with “To an Unknown God” have been found by archeologists. The Athenians, as most people now and then, want to “cover their bases.”
  10. Paul announces that, unlike most Graeco/Romans deities, was creator of all and a personal God, not a world-soul.
  11. He is not only creator, but sovereign, and sovereign of all including nations, places, and their times.
  12. Times of “ignorance” God overlooked (no one knows what this means), but now it is time to repent, meaning to change one’s mind about who God is, since the creator God desires that people seek Him.
  13. Paul quotes well known Poets, one even a stoic, to the effect that He is actually personally present and is the reason for our very existence.
  14. The upshot is then that God is not made of an earthly material like gold or silver or stone—not an idol—and from this Paul’s hearers must turn away from. Indeed a day of judgment is coming, and the basis of the judgment has to do with a man. A man the creator God has appointed (here we see the idea of Messiah) and who died and rose again.
  15. Some mocked, others put it off, and some believed.

Paul in Athens, Acts 17:16-21

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 53

Acts 17:16-21

Paul in Athens

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul, on the run from those who opposed him in Thessalonica, travelled to Berea only to find that his enemies followed him there.
  8. The “brothers” saw to it he escape to Athens and after some period, Paul was “provoked” by what he saw there.
  9. Athens, known for its 30,000 temples to pagan gods, its great university, renown for being the home of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and where the Epicurians (founded by Epicurius some three hundred years earlier) and the Stoics (founded, centuries earlier also, by Zeno) had seen all these philosophical school degenerate into degradation and cultural and racial pridefulness.
  10. Paul already knew that behind the idols worshipped in Athens the demons lurked. In 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Paul makes this clear.
  11. It was the tradition that the proclaimers of new religions and philosophies to come to the marketplace, the agora, and announce their teachings. This had become standard for several centuries.
  12. At first the listeners thought Paul was preaching about two new gods, Jesus and the resurrection. In Greek resurrection is Anastasia, a feminine word, thus Jesus and Anastasia. These were new and strange words to the Athenians.
  13. But Paul’s words, however unorthodox, were pondered and considered by the crowds. They wanted to know more.
  14. Luke acquaints his future readers with the fact that the Athenians, and other foreigners, loved to hear the theories of the traveling preachers. Perfect for Paul.

Paul and Silas in Berea, Acts 17:10-15

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 52

Acts 17:10-15

Paul and Silas in Berea

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul and Silas, while in Thessalonica, were supported by contributions from the fledgling church at Philippi; Paul also worked as a tent-maker. This is from the letter to the Thessalonians.
  8. Upon arrival in Berea, the missionaries head straight for the synagogue, as per Paul’s practice of preaching Jesus to the Jew first and then the Greek. (see Romans 1:16)
  9. The Bereans received the Word (logon) eagerly and examined the Scriptures to learn the truth. Paul was the perfect person to present the prophetic passages to the Jewish people there as well as the Gentile God fearers.
  10. Women of high standing also were present at the synagogue. This was the era of the “new Roman woman,” a period that had developed about 100 years previous. These women of thigh standing were attracted to the high practices and teachings of the Hebrew Scripture.
  11. Word had gotten back to those in Thessalonica who had caused Paul and Silas so much trouble. They are stirred up about the preaching of the Word of God. These were able to cause trouble, which resulted in the necessity of the “brothers” sending Paul away.
  12. “Brothers” would include women, too. Luke does not use the word “sisters” but includes them in the word “brothers.”
  13. The brothers escort Paul all the way to Athens, whether by horse, by foot, or by boat—Luke does not say which.
  14. Paul “commands” that Silas and Timothy join him in Athens.

 

Paul & Silas in Thessalonica and Berea, Acts 17:1-15

GOSPEL MEDITATION #51

Acts 17:1-15

Paul & Silas in Thessalonica-Paul & Silas in Berea

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul, Silas, and company in Europe now, just having, due to necessity, left Philippi and travel on to Thessalonica some 100 miles away, and is the capital city of Macedonia, this in 51 AD.
  8. Here is a fairly large Jewish population and there is a synagogue where the missionaries spend several weeks conversing in the synagogue showing from the Hebrew Scripture that the Messiah must both suffer death and be raised from the dead. And this Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth.
  9. This would be good news to some, and the worst message to others. Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 captures the dilemma his hearers would experience.
  10. Some or these react when faced with the apostles’ message and stir up trouble; not an unusual occurrence. Here now is found the famous phrase, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”
  11. Apparently one of the early converts is Jason, a prominent citizen who is pressured to send the missionaries away.
  12. The “brothers”—meaning the church that was forming there— send Paul and Silas away, by night, to Berea, some 60 miles away. Upon arrival they to into the Jewish synagogue and proclaim the Gospel message. (see Romans 1:16).
  13. Here now there is an altogether different response; these people “received the word with all eagerness” and they did so by examining their Scriptures.
  14. But trouble arose by way of their opponents from Thessalonica, after hearing about what was taking place. Paul is sent off to Athens. Silas and Timothy remain in Berea.

The Philippian Jailer Converted Acts 16:25-40

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 50

Acts 16:25-40 The Philippian Jailer Converted

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul and Silas, having come to the attention of some prominent Philippian citizens, are severely beaten then placed in a secure inner prison.
  8. At midnight, in the dark and dungy prison, the missionaries are praying and singing hymns to God. Other prisoners are listening as well as the jailer and his household.
  9. An earthquake hits, not a coincidental event, and suddenly the prisoner’s chains fall off and the doors of the prison open. The jailer is also awakened and rushes in.
  10. Under Roman law, the jailer who has a prisoner escape pays for it with his life. The jailer is about to commit suicide when Paul loudly calls out that all in captivity are still there—no one has escaped.
  11. The jailer’s response is “What must I do to be saved?” Saved from what? Is a legitimate question. Saved from punishment by the authorities? Or saved from the judgment of a higher authority? It is likely the latter.
  12. “Believe in Jesus” is the response. From what the jailer overheard in the night must have informed him about his need. He believes (remember God opened Lydia’ heart), and is baptized along with his household, and the similarity is seen with the household of Lydia.
  13. The jailer’s household is not described, but servants for sure, and maybe others; no indication of children. The jailer is likely a retired Roman soldier.
  14. Paul refuses to leave the city without proper authority, for the sake of the church just forming perhaps.