Last time we saw the parallel growth of the disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus, and that there were even sects of John the Baptist followers during this time when Paul is preaching.
So, Paul had to remind them that JB was the messenger crying in the desert, preparing the way for the true Lord, even JB was hesitant to baptize Jesus in water when he came.
John’s baptism is a preparatory baptism for the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus ( “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” – the whole Trinity is involved).
Some of that time didn’t even know there was a Holy Spirit, so Paul asked which they’d received, and they said John’s (that of repentance) so Paul corrected them and instructed them, and baptized them in Jesus’ name and they received the HS and began prophesying and speaking in tongues.
That brings us to today.
For three months, Paul preached in the synagogues of the Jews, asserting that Jesus is the Messiah – prophesied through the Jewish Scriptures.
It seems that Paul was more tolerated in Ephesus than in Thessalonica (since he stayed for three months) – but he eventually wore out his welcome.
v.9 – When some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitudes
(this is the pattern, generally, they don’t believe, harden their hearts, then speak evil about it).
So Paul left, and began daily lecture sessions in the house of Tyranus. The word (his name) actually means “tyrant” – so he may have be dominant.
Paul continued there for 2 years, so that all the Jews and Greeks in Asia heard the Word of the Lord.
Let’s add the previous 3 months + these 2 years + Acts 20 another year
Luke recons it was three years he was in Ephesus – but not only Ephesus, Jews and Greeks in the entire province heard the Word (Smyrna, Pergamum, Colosse, Magnisia, Leodicia, etc – possibly the 7 churches in Revelation were begun by Paul and his associates at this time (Revelation 3)).
Paul likely didn’t go to EVERY city, but the word of mouth talking about miracles and the like probably helped spread the word incredibly quickly.
Paul wrote letters at this time to Colossians – 4:12-13 – Epaphrus greets you, apparently a minister and partner with Paul.
During Paul’s stay in Ephesus, the power of God was demonstrated mightily.
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul so that even small bits of cloth that touched him healed other people.
Paul’s healings could be compared with Peter’s healings in Acts 5:14-15
At that time, believers continually were added to their number so that they brought them out to the streets so that even Peter’s shadow passing by would heal them.
God was doing it, not Peter, just as he did it through Paul. Paul used these signs and miracles as proof that God was using them.
Romans – “I dare not speak of anything that made the Gentiles obedient…except that I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
Remember, Paul was one of the exceptions to the apostles, all the others had been personally commissioned by Christ and sent out while still with him. But, Paul was converted while an enemy of Christ and sent out to be the main missionary to the Gentiles.
“Surely, the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you.”
God in his grace was blessing the church, but at times, Paul had to write to them to correct them and bring them back to the Christian lifestyle – the Corinthians were being misled by false apostles and he wrote rather sarcastically to them, “Oh, perhaps I should have taken offerings as these others have…Have you forgotten how God approved my ministry among you with signs and wonders?”
Miracles are pretty good by themselves, but these were extraordinary miracles – some commentators have had trouble accepting them, but Luke was a doctor, and accurately tried to record history – and he recorded these things.
The Greek word for aprons referred to a garment that a working man would wear around his waist to avoid getting dirty – God used these things to heal others and word spread quickly.
In the next scene, Luke gives a sharp, almost comical contrast.
Paul’s name became so well-known that others were trying to mimic Paul and jump on his bandwagon (seven sons of Seva).
“In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”
Seva was likely a Jewish chief priest (not High Priest), and his sons were unable to use God’s power for their own ends, and they ended up getting beat up for it.
News of this spread quickly as well.
Reminds us of Moses in Exodus and the Egyptian magicians who could repeat some of Moses’ (God’s) miracles. When they couldn’t turn sand into gnats, they admitted “This is the finger of God.”
Reminds us of Elijah and the contest to bring fire down from heaven onto a sacrifice.
We see that God’s power is infinite, greater than any power of the devil.
At that time, both Jews and Greeks were seized with fear and many came telling and confessing their deeds, and many burned their magic books in public – 50,000 drachmas (pieces of silver) in value.
1 drachma = one day’s wage
In the US, $40 per day? * 50,000 coins
= $2,000,000 burned
Hmm, couldn’t we have used the money for something? Feed the poor?
NO. These books were books of evil and must be burned.
In Samaria, Simon Megas (Acts 8), after the murder of Stephen, the church faced persecution – and Philip went to Samaria, and God did many similar miracles like those he did through Paul. Simon was a practisioner of magic and he wanted to follow Philip around.
At that time, the Jews and Samarians were divided, so it was likely that the Samarians were waiting for hands to be laid on them and prophesy – so the apostles did so, and they received the HS, and did as the others did who received Him.
Simon wanted to buy this power, but the apostles rejected him clearly and said “Your money burn with you.” Then he realized the power, and asked them to pray for him.
When Paul went with Barnabas, they met Bar-Jesus, who wanted to turn the pro-consul from God – Paul pronounced a curse on him, and he was covered in physical darkness.
All throughout the Bible, we see how the Word of God prevails over darkness, over magic.
“In this way, the Word of the Lord spread widely and grew (mightily) in power.”
What can we learn?
God is omnipotent, omnipresent, but conditions must be met to receive the full benefit of his salvation.
In our youth, we may have dabbled in the occult – horroscopes, occult, Ouiji Board.
“He who sups with the devil must use a very long spoon – yet it’s not even right.” Derick Prince
We should observe our own lives and vocally renounce our involvement with the occult or alternative religions – “I renounce that, and resist any attempt of it to influence me.” Those things need to be destroyed greatly. Any linkage with uncleanliness needs to be destroyed (pornography). Now it’s in everybody’s home – maybe 50% of Christian men (and women) struggle with this.
What needs to happen is for the access to it (access to ANY temptation) to be destroyed. Do you want freedom? Radically cut off, destroy, any access to the temptation, renounce it, resist it – it’s really a heart matter. “Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman already commits adultery with her in his heart.”
It’s always a heart issue.
Yet, the Word of the Lord prevails.