What is the Meaning of Acts 18.23-19.41

“Paul’s Third Missionary Journey Part 1”

Acts 18:23-19:41

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Acts 18:23-21:26 is Paul’s third missionary journey.

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….the issue of the gift for the third missionary journey

Paul has devoted some of this third missionary journey to taking up a love offering for the Jews.

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Romans 15:25–27 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.

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This gift would help strengthen the believing Jews’ relationship with the Gentile believers.

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1. Missing the Gospel? 18:24-28

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Acts 18:24–25 24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.

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But first, Paul had left for Jerusalem. During this time, Aquila and Priscilla meet up with Apollos. He’s a gifted man: from Alexandria, a very educated city; he knew the Old Testament and able to teach with eloquence and power; he was fervent in his spirit; and accurate in his teachings according to the baptism of John. But that’s as far as he went. No gospel…but he was also bold…

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26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

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So A+P helped him understand the gospel and Christ’s ministry. And over in Achaia, Apollos helped the believers and debated the unbelieving Jews.

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Note: Don’t miss out on the gospel! No matter how great your abilities, you’ll be worthless without it! You may be best orator, but without the gospel, you have no actual power.

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Note: Train people to preach the gospel. You need to know it yourself and you need to know how to train others to know it and teach it.

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Note: God uses different people.

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Note: Pray for workers in the harvest field!

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Apollos ministered in Corinth (19:1)…

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2. Missing the Holy Spirit? 19:1-10

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Acts 19:1–10 1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

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Paul has arrived back in Ephesus and he meets these 12 men who profess to be “disciples.” Presumably, these are Christian disciples. When you receive Christ, you receive the Holy Spirit. And especially in this ‘crossover age’ from the OT to the NT the reception of the Holy Spirit was more “physically” clear … but, naturally, receiving the Holy Spirit is also true in all ages…

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Ephesians 1:13 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

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It is questionable whether these men are in Christ. These may actually be Apollos’ converts! This is an example of the crossover between the OT and the NT. These disciples are and represent this crossover. The gospel is now authenticated in their lives…

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Their experience is one and the same as others before them: tongue speaking as evidence of reception of the Holy Spirit but as evidence that previous religious experience doesn’t matter. This is the same baptism that the Apostles received.

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5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all. 8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. [not quite like FBC, no doubt.] 10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. [Wow!]

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These were religious men with something missing: the Holy Spirit.

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Don’t neglect the Holy Spirit! No matter how great your abilities, you’ll be worthless without Him! To do that, walk according to the Word.

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Tongues

Occurrences: Acts 2:1-11; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:1-7; 1 Co. 12:7-10, 28; 12:29-30; 13:1, 8; ch. 14

Defined: The gift of tongues is the miraculous ability to speak an unlearned real human foreign language.

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Purposes

1. Authenticate and spread the message (Acts 2).

2. Demonstrate that the gospel transcends Jew/Gentile distinction (Acts 10), time and location, and any previous religious devotion (Acts 19).

3. Tongues was a sign of judgment upon Jews for their unbelief, informing them they had failed to believe the gospel. Within this framework, tongues served as an indicator of the transition between the Old Covenant (Jewish, national) and the New Covenant (Jew, Gentile, world). Tongues was, therefore, inherently temporary (1 Co. 14:21-22; cf. Isa. 28:11-12). The transition between the covenants happened once.

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Don’t neglect the Holy Spirit in His Word; and don’t neglect God’s power…

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3. Missing God’s Power? 19:11-20

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Acts 19:11–20 11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

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Ephesus is a center for magic, see vv. 18-19. And God, through Paul, was demonstrating that he has the right over this city and these people. And so these unusual miracles of verse 12 that God was working demonstrated God’s power.

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13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists [had been checking out Paul and his work…and they…] took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

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Luke 11:19 indicates that Jewish priests would cast out demons. But here in verse 13 they invoke the name of Jesus and of Paul. And it is likely that, because these men did not believe and trust in Christ for salvation, that their attempt to cast out demons in Jesus name didn’t work.

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If the Jewish exorcists had successfully cast out the demon without having been an apostle without having believed in Jesus, this would have turned the name of Jesus into a similar magical formula and would have discredited the actual mission of God. You remember the slave girl and her master in Acts 16:16ff.

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Note: People use religion for their own advantage.

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But instead, the way it turned out the event became known everywhere and Jesus Christ was magnified….

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17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

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NASB: Acts 19:18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices

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As a result of this demonic incident, many who trusted Christ were convicted and came and confessed and told what they were doing. And they brought their magic books and burned them: the value was 50,000 pieces of silver. This is 50,000 work days. If you can take that into our day…and you make $150 per day 365 days/year, this is $7.5m.

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1. That tells you how pagan they were!

2. That tells you how serious about Christ they are!

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It’s no wonder Paul focuses on spiritual warfare in his letter to the Ephesians in ch. 6.

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Truth is, these Jewish exorcists lacked God’s power because they were not saved.

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Note v.19: But true saving faith changes lives

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TRANS: Don’t miss out on the power of God! No matter how great your abilities, you’ll be worthless without it! Trust Christ alone: the word of the Lord grew mightily despite the failures of man.

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Note: We need true gospel ministry, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

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Paul’s resolve and the riot at Ephesus (19:21–41)

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Remember our outline…

III. Gospel Authentication and Church Expansion to the Ends of the Earth (9:32-28:31)

A. Antioch (9:32-12:25)

B. Asia Minor (Acts 13:1-16:5)

C. Aegean Area (16:6-19:20)

D. Rome (Acts 19:21-28:31)

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So, this section, beginning with 19:21, starts the final section of Acts. And this section connects chapters 13-19 to 20-28. We can see this with Paul’s reference to Rome in verse 21. Paul’s trip to Rome is in chs. 27-28. This section also wraps up events in Ephesus.

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Paul’s resolve (19:21–22)

Acts 19:21–22 21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.

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Paul would write to the Romans, saying that he wishes to see them (Ro. 1:13-15). But before he could go to Rome, he first had to visit the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to deliver the offering for the saints in Jerusalem (Ro. 15:22-33).

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Demetrius’s speech and the shrines of Artemis (19:23–27)

Acts 19:23–27 23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”

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Money is central with false religion (Matt. 6:24; 1 Ti. 6:10; health/wealth). As the gospel is preached, more and more people came to Christ and there are fewer idol worshipers calling on Demetrius the silversmith to make them idols.

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Again, when you touch people’s pocketbooks through preaching the gospel, you’ll likely get some kickback!

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The riot (19:28–34)

Acts 19:28–34 28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

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So we have a confused, religious mob filled with wrath shouting praise to their idol. They take Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling friends, and rush into the theater. Most mobsters don’t even know why they are there!

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And Paul wants to go in with the crowd (to preach no doubt!), but other disciples and city officials prevent him from doing so. Then Alexander is brought to the fore by other Jews. He probably wanted to say, “Hey, we Jews want nothing of this guy!” But since Jews were against idols, the very sight of Alexander and incited the crowd for two more hours.

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But finally!…

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The town clerk ends the riot (19:35–41)

Acts 19:35–41 35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: [appealing to the viewpoint of the crowd] “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? [see, it wasn’t an idol made by human hands! v.26…See, our worship is immune to Paul’s critique] 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, [now he urges the crowd…] you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 [he justifies Paul and his men] For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 [proper instruction] Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. [everyone leaves thinking “oh yea, why were we here anyway?”]

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Motivated by money to begin with; it ends motivated by politics. Rome allowed Ephesus to exist as a free city while having its own elected assembly. But because of this uproar, the city could be called into question and have their privileges revoked.

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Just like Demetrius incited the crowd by invoking the greatness of the city and of Diana, the city clerk quiets the crowd down with the same.

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Clearly, it was widely believed that the apostles did not rob the temple or blaspheme their goddess. The clerk brought some sanity to the situation: Demetrius, “You could take them to court if they did something wrong!”

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Paul is thus spared. You know he would have debated and created a stir after having heard the clerk, which would have incited the crowd more and who knows what would have happened. But Paul is to go to Rome. God is still in control when the gospel isn’t received.

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Note: v. 30, Paul’s not a maverick, crazy sometimes, but dependent on others.

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Note: v.37, be careful not to blaspheme people’s religious beliefs, but do undercut them.

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  • Paul would visit strategic cities
  • He tried to find the most likely converts first: Jews (synagogues, river) then Gentiles (marketplace)
  • Make and baptize disciples and teach them
  • Leave a pastor (Timothy, Silas -he was a team player)
  • Leave and write to them
  • Revisit them

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