Acts 19:1-22: Ephesians Gospel Bridgehead
February 8, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Exodus 21-23, Psalm 31, Matthew 13:24-43, Acts 19:1-22
Paul’s work in Ephesus produced a significant bridgehead for the gospel into the province of Asia (see churches of Asia in Revelation chapters 2 to 3). What was that ministry like? What can we learn from the effectiveness of his witness in that city of Ephesus for our lives today?
First, move towards clarity about the gospel. There were followers of God in that area, looking forward to the Messiah, but they only knew the baptism of John. They were living in a sort of spiritual time warp—as if the coming of Jesus and the gift of his Spirit had not yet happened. Pau explains things better to them, and they experience, as it were, a mini-Pentecost as they enter into the New Testament story of Christ’s death for their sins and receive his Spirit for themselves. It is important that we move towards gospel clarity where there is confusion, doctrinal orthodoxy where there is error, and a love for truth where there is biblical sloppiness and haphazard understanding of the truths of God and the gospel.
Second, engage in regular Bible teaching in the public square. Having been cast aside by the synagogue, Paul rented a space to hold daily discussions about the gospel—in the hall of Tyrannus. When we do evangelistic public ministry, it is important to find a space that could be conceived as neutral ground and in that context there proclaim the gospel, even through discussion and dialogue.
Third, stick to a consistent method and let the fruit gradually grow. Paul kept at this approach for two years. And by this simple method of Bible engagement in the public hall of Tyrannus, the whole of Asia “heard the word of the Lord.” There was a gospel conversation that was carried from Ephesus to the rest of the province of Asia.
Fourth, utilize opposition for the gospel to make progress. The spiritual opposition that Paul experienced was intense. But because of his faithfulness, and the miraculous work of God through him, that opposition was turned to give great witness to the power of God. And “in this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” It is tempting to back away when we are opposed by the forces of darkness. But remember that our God is Almighty, and if opposition is being allowed, there is an opportunity to demonstrate God’s power.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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