Coney Hill Baptist Church

Demonstrating God’s Love Together

Priorities in Ephesus

Acts 18:23-19:12 & 19:21-41

 

Intro:

After a short time home Paul set off on his 3rd Journey.  It would take him longer than the others and see him travelling further, but the new places he would visit would be fewer.

There is a sense, in this trip of building on what has gone before, that commitment, that we’ve mentioned before to missionary discipleship was never more to the fore.

 

The most significant stay of the entirely journey was the 27 months or more he spent in Ephesus.  He arrived there after travelling through Galatia and Phrygia, stopping at same now familiar places. 

 

More of God...

Before recounting the first incident of Paul’s stay Luke digresses and takes us back to a previous story from the City, as he tells us about this chap, Apollos.

 

Why does he do that?

 

Well partly to introduce us to Apollos himself, a significant character, and to provide the only New Testament link with Alexandria, a key centre in the early Church, partly to reinforce the significance of the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila. Certainly to emphasise  the need for and the power of a personality aflame for God.  But mostly I think to take us into the story of Paul in Ephesus by getting us to ponder the question; ‘Is our knowledge and experience of God adequate?’

Apollos, for all his qualities, ‘knew only the baptism of John’ and needed to have the way of God explained to him ‘more adequately’.

 

It’s no coincidence that when, later, Paul arrives in the city the first Christians he met also had only received John’s baptism.  They’d committed themselves to God, had their sins forgiven, found themselves in relationship with Him, but remained somehow impotent.  The baptism of Jesus and the filling of the Spirit was key to the ongoing mission of God in their City. 

 

This ‘Ephesian Pentecost’ has given rise to much reflection on the theology of Christian initiation, but it’s purpose in the text, allayed with the story of Apollos, is to challenge us to ask afresh for all that God has to give us, not to be satisfied with what we already know or have experienced, but to seek more of Him.

 

Power and Persistence...

This spiritual ignition, though dramatic, was no fleeting thing, Paul continued with his work, day in and day out, not always successfully, for 2 years we’re told, until everyone in the entire province had heard the word of the Lord, an extraordinary achievement.

 

A City Transformed...

As Paul was preparing to leave, another ‘great disturbance’ arose in the City. Part spiritual, part economic, the silversmiths of the city rose up as local idols became less popular.  In the chaos of the theatre Paul has to be restrained, his companions bore the brunt, the crowd were dispersed ... the nature of the city had been changed.

 

Conc.

Power ....      a gift of God...

a fervency & passion...

access to God’s wonder-working ability ...          

the strength to continue...

                     capacity to change the culture, and the world...