Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

Ephesus to All Asia

Disciples making disciples. Acts 19.8-10

Ephesus: Acts 19 (2)

Pray Psalm 54.4, 5.
Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
He will repay my enemies for their evil.
Cut them off in Your truth.

Sing Psalm 54.4, 5.
(Beatitude: Father of Mercies, in Your Word)
You are the Helper of our soul; You will sustain and bless.
Recompense evil to our foe in Your great faithfulness.

Read Acts 19.1-10; meditate on verses 8-10

Preparation

1. Where did Paul do his initial teaching in Ephesus?

2. Why did he move to a different venue?

Meditation.

Paul picked up where he left off, taking the Gospel to the synagogue, speaking boldly, reasoning and persuading people concerning Christ and His Kingdom (v. 8). For three months in Ephesus, he carried on this ministry, but then certain influential people had had enough. It will always be thus in the ongoing work of the Lord (v. 9).

Paul considered that he’d done all he could in this synagogue, so when some began to speak evil of the faith, he took his followers to a new venue, where he taught the people daily (v. 9). Whether Paul rented this hall or it was given to him for his use is not clear. We note the Gospel does not require some “sacred space” to flourish and bear fruit. For two years Paul taught the Word of the Lord – as he will remind the Ephesians in chapter 20, “the whole counsel of God” – concerning Christ and His Kingdom (v. 10).

The truth took hold, began to spread, and before long all Asia – the southwest part of what is today Turkey – had heard the Gospel. Paul didn’t do all this work himself. Those who heard him understood that they, too, were to be witnesses to Christ, and so they were.

Everywhere the Gospel took root, opposition arose. But it seems the more people opposed the Gospel, the more it flourished. This is an aspect of the ongoing work of Christ we need to keep in mind. As Jesus Himself demonstrated, the Good News comes through suffering. And as Paul said, it is only through being tried and afflicted that we enter more deeply into the Kingdom of God (Acts 14.22). We must not shy away from opposition to the Gospel; rather, let us move on to more fertile fields and continue to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Christ.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Because people opposed the flourishing of the Gospel, and those who spoke of it, it was extremely important that they presented a united front. It was important then. It is equally important today!

When some hearers were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way, Paul departed from them and “withdrew the disciples” (Acts 19.9). There were to be no bleeding-heart stragglers left in the synagogue, but all were to stand together with Paul for the truth of the Way.

The Church is to be one. It is the exemplar of our faith. Jesus warned of divisions in His Body, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matt. 12.25).

But truly, “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133.1). And Jesus prayed for us, “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as we are” (Jn.17.11).

And the early Church understood the importance of this oneness by “continuing daily with one accord…” (Acts 2.46) Paul asked the Corinthians, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1.13) The answer, of course, was no. Neither should His Church be. And Paul wrote these instructions to the church in Ephesus: “I…beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowlines and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4.1-3).

Why should we? What is so important about believers standing together? Why did Paul withdraw the other believers to leave with him?  Because part of the beauty of the Church is our bond of peace with one another. Because it is not easy to love others as Jesus loved us, but it is what we have been called to do. Because the uniqueness of presenting a united front in love will draw people to Jesus. As He said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (Jn. 12.32).

And because of the opposition that we will face, isn’t it nice to know that Someone, with His people, has our back?

For reflection

1. What are some ways you can contribute to the unity of the faith?

2. The believers in your Personal Mission Field need encouragement in working their Personal Mission Field. Whom will you encourage today?

3. How should you prepare each day to face any opposition or affliction you might encounter?

When arguments and persuasions only harden men in unbelief and blasphemy, we must separate ourselves and others from such unholy company. God was pleased to confirm the teaching of these holy men of old, that if their hearers believed them not, they might believe the works. Matthew Henry (1662-1714),  Commentary on Acts 19.8-12

Pray Psalm 54.1, 2, 6, 7.
Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord this day, and praise Him as often as you can. Rejoice in His salvation and in your calling to be a witness for Jesus.

Sing Psalm 54.1, 2, 6, 7.
(Beatitude: Father of Mercies, in Your Word)
Save us, O God, by Your great Name; vindicate us with power.
Answer our prayer, remove our shame, in this our desperate hour.

Willingly will we praise You, Lord, gladly adore Your Name!
You have redeemed us by Your Word and blessed us by the same.

From all our trouble, by Your grace, You have redeemed us, Lord.
While all our foes in sad disgrace reel backward from Your Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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