This is Episode #324 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 18-20 together. And now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #324 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 18-20 together. And now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Acts Chapter 18
Founding the Corinthian Church
After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to preaching the word and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. When they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” So he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole household. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized.
Keep On Speaking
The Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” He stayed there a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them.
While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the tribunal. “This man,” they said, “is persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or of a serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews. But if these are questions about words, names, and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of such things.” So he drove them from the tribunal. And they all seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal, but none of these things mattered to Gallio.
The Return Trip to Antioch
After staying for some time, Paul said farewell to the brothers and sisters and sailed away to Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. He shaved his head at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. When they reached Ephesus he left them there, but he himself entered the synagogue and debated with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he declined, but he said farewell and added, “I’ll come back to you again, if God wills.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.
On landing at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church, then went down to Antioch.
After spending some time there, he set out, traveling through one place after another in the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
The Eloquent Apollos
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers and sisters wrote to the disciples to welcome him. After he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts Chapter 19
Twelve Disciples of John the Baptist
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
“No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
“Into what then were you baptized?” he asked them.
“Into John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. Now there were about twelve men in all.
In the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, arguing and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples, and conducted discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.
Demonism Defeated at Ephesus
God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, so that even facecloths or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.
Now some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists also attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were doing this. The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul — but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded. When this became known to everyone who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, they became afraid, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high esteem.
And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, while many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. In this way the word of the Lord spread and prevailed.
The Riot in Ephesus
After these events, Paul resolved by the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem. “After I’ve been there,” he said, “It is necessary for me to see Rome as well.” After sending to Macedonia two of those who assisted him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
About that time there was a major disturbance about the Way. For a person named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, provided a great deal of business for the craftsmen. When he had assembled them, as well as the workers engaged in this type of business, he said, “Men, you know that our prosperity is derived from this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods. Not only do we run a risk that our business may be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be despised and her magnificence come to the verge of ruin — the very one all of Asia and the world worship.”
When they had heard this, they were filled with rage and began to cry out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” So the city was filled with confusion, and they rushed all together into the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling companions.
The City Clerk Calmed the Crowd Down
Although Paul wanted to go in before the people, the disciples did not let him. Even some of the provincial officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent word to him, pleading with him not to venture into the amphitheater.
Some were shouting one thing and some another, because the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some Jews in the crowd gave instructions to Alexander after they pushed him to the front. Motioning with his hand, Alexander wanted to make his defense to the people. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
When the city clerk had calmed the crowd down, he said, “People of Ephesus! What person is there who doesn’t know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple guardian of the great Artemis, and of the image that fell from heaven? Therefore, since these things are undeniable, you must keep calm and not do anything rash. For you have brought these men here who are not temple robbers or blasphemers of our goddess. So if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a case against anyone, the courts are in session, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.
“But if you seek anything further, it must be decided in a legal assembly. In fact, we run a risk of being charged with rioting for what happened today, since there is no justification that we can give as a reason for this disturbance.”
After saying this, he dismissed the assembly.
Acts Chapter 20
Paul in Macedonia
After the uproar was over, Paul sent for the disciples, encouraged them, and after saying farewell, departed to go to Macedonia. And when he had passed through those areas and offered them many words of encouragement, he came to Greece and stayed three months. The Jews plotted against him when he was about to set sail for Syria, and so he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us in Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread. In five days we reached them at Troas, where we spent seven days.
Eutychus Revived at Troas
On the first day of the week, we assembled to break bread. Paul spoke to them, and since he was about to depart the next day, he kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were assembled, and a young man named Eutychus was sitting on a window sill and sank into a deep sleep as Paul kept on talking. When he was overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. But Paul went down, bent over him, embraced him, and said, “Don’t be alarmed, because he’s alive.” After going upstairs, breaking the bread, and eating, Paul talked a long time until dawn. Then he left. They brought the boy home alive and were greatly comforted.
From Troas to Miletus
We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul on board, because these were his instructions, since he himself was going by land. When he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went on to Mitylene. Sailing from there, the next day we arrived off Chios. The following day we crossed over to Samos, and the day after, we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, because he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, for the day of Pentecost.
Farewell Address to the Ephesian Elders
Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the church. When they came to him, he said to them, “You know, from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and during the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not hesitate to proclaim anything to you that was profitable and to teach you publicly and from house to house. I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
“And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
A Tearful Goodbye
“And now I know that none of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will ever see me again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I never stopped warning each one of you with tears.
“And now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that I worked with my own hands to support myself and those who are with me. In every way I’ve shown you that it is necessary to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
After he said this, he knelt down and prayed with all of them. There were many tears shed by everyone. They embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving most of all over his statement that they would never see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Apollos was a 1st century Alexandrian Jewish Christian. Wow. Talk about an interesting world view! He was very learned and he taught about Jesus accurately. But he only knew the baptism of John and nothing about the salvation of Christ. Apollos knew Scripture very well. He knew that the Messiah was coming and even believed that indeed, Jesus was that Messiah. But he wasn’t making certain connections, the most important of which, in my mind, was the ministry of the Holy Spirit. You have to give him props though for being so teachable. Once Priscilla and Aquilla pulled him aside and filled in his knowledge gap, Apollos was off and running and was integral in building the churches at Ephesus and Corinth. If you want to know more, I found a great bullet-pointed list at BibleWise.com.
Chapter 19 is a great lesson highlighting the difference between how each of us can be used by God in a mighty way if our hearts are right. But if we are self-serving and power-hungry, it can go bad quickly. We see it at the beginning of the Bible between Cain and Abel and we see it today with the Seven Sons of Sceva. However, it seems we have yet another example of how all things work together for good for the called of God. Not only was there a newfound respect for the name of Jesus after the debacle with the seven brothers, but it motivated many to confess their own dabbling in the black arts, hand over their magic books and burn them.
Let’s pray. Father God, we as a country need You so badly right now. Your Word says that no one is in authority that You didn’t put there. We pray, Lord, for those You have placed in authority. Give them boldness to speak the truth, give them an extra measure of wisdom, and courage to be the voice of reason. And, Lord, as individuals, I pray that our conversations would always center around Your truths and always reflect the love of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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