In Ephesus, Paul followed his practice of preaching in the synagogue first. When opposition arose, he and the new believers moved to the lecture hall of a certain Tyrannus, where Paul preached daily for two years (Acts 19:8-10). Luke’s summary of Paul’s Ephesian ministry is that the entire province was intensely evangelized (Acts 19:10, Acts 19:26).
In Acts 19:11-20, Luke adds a few miracle stories describing the triumph of God’s power in a city where magic and other superstitious practices were rather common. There is no doubt that God could heal through Paul, but that even handkerchiefs and aprons touched by the apostle had healing power (Acts 19:12) may sound strange to some, though this bears resemblance to Jesus’ healing of the woman with the hemorrhage (Luke 8:44). The Ephesian superstitious beliefs may have led God to perform “extraordinary” miracles, as Luke says (Acts 19:11, NIV). This is, perhaps, an example of God’s meeting the needs of the people at their own level of understanding.
Satisfied with the results of his mission in Ephesus, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21). Luke does not give a reason for this trip, but we know from Paul’s own writings that he wished to deliver the funds he had collected to relieve the poverty of the Jerusalem church (Rom. 15:25-27, 1 Cor. 16:1-3). The pooling of goods of the first years, and a severe famine in the days of Claudius, impoverished the Judean believers, and Paul saw in their appeal for help (Gal. 2:10) an opportunity to strengthen both their trust in his apostleship and the unity of a now transcultural church, despite knowing the risks to which he would be exposed (Acts 20:22-23; Rom. 15:31).
Read Acts 19:23-41. What was the real reason for the opposition to Paul that arose in Ephesus at the end of his stay there?
The opposition had to do with pagan worship, which was severely threatened by Paul’s ministry. Demetrius’s real motivation was clearly financial, but he was able to turn it into a religious matter because the temple of Artemis (or Diana), reckoned as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was located in Ephesus.
|Read Acts 19:27. Notice how artfully Demetrius was able to bring in religious “piety” in his attempt to keep the money flowing in. Why must we as Christians be careful not to use our faith, or a pretended piety in regard to our faith, in the same way?|