Bible Study – Ephesians
Anne Graham Lotz’ 3-question study (link below)
Week 1: Read Acts 19:1-20:1
Day One’s reading: Acts 19:1-10
We are introduced here to a situation where Paul was in Ephesus for more than two years preaching in the synagogue and the hall of Tyrannus. Paul’s time in the synagogue was cut short to only three months because a group of Jews began to cause a disturbance. They had ‘hardened their hearts’ to the message Paul was sharing. So, Paul wisely decided to leave the synagogue and teach elsewhere.
What can we learn from this?
- We need to be mindful of the atmosphere and energy around us. When the message is being resisted, we can say our goodbyes and let it rest in God’s hands. We need to move on.
- We can always find another location, another opportunity, another audience. We don’t have to stay and fight. In fact, we shouldn’t fight at all. We should be like Christ and be humble, meek, gentle and patient. No need for disturbing the peace.
Day Two’s reading: Acts 19:11-16
vv. 11-13 – “God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, 12 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!”
The first thing to note here is that God, Himself, was performing the miracles. Paul was simply one of the vehicles by which the miracles were performed. Secondly, even fabric was used to heal and exorcise. Finally, God did NOT give authority to these Jewish exorcists to be his messengers. This is something to keep note of. If a person is NOT on God’s team, then they will have no power. They are impotent.
In the above passage, it is good to note that what came after was that the evil spirit talked back to these Jewish exorcists and told them point blank, “Jesus and Paul I know, but, who are you?” And straightway the man with the spirit in him attacked these exorcists and chased them from the area in humiliating fashion. They left ‘naked and afraid.’
Day Three’s reading: Acts 19:17-22
vv. 17-20 – “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. 18 And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, 19 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. 20 In this way the word of the Lord flourished and prevailed.”
Through all of the events thus far, the name of Jesus became famous and the result was that practicing magicians not only gave up their practice, they also burned an enormously valuable collection of books, AND, they proclaimed publicly that they had quit their practicing of magic. This was no small thing. People were turning from their wicked ways and turning to the Lord Jesus.
Day Four’s reading: Acts 19:23-31
23-27 – “23 About that time there was a major disturbance about the Way. 24 For a person named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, provided a great deal of business for the craftsmen. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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.”
Here, we find that money has come into play. This Demetrius fellow noticed that business was beginning to shift because of Paul’s ministry and he gathered his fellow craftsmen to make a stand against Paul.
Paul was preaching the truth and people were converting in large enough numbers that business for the idol makers was in decline and they were feeling the pinch. So they created a mob scene to disturb the peace and blame Paul, the converts and the Jews.
Day Five’s reading: Acts 19:32-20:1
32 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. 33 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. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
The crowd was confused. In this state they are either easily led or indignantly ignorant and unreasonable. With Alexander, the Jew, they were unreasonable. They found him to be one of the problems. And with this, they spent two hours – two hours – being unreasonable and unreachable.
Only after their energy was all but worked out of them, did the city clerk come in and calm them down.
We should expect that some people will be greatly distressed when we preach the Good News of the Gospel out in public. We must be prepared to keep the peace. To do whatever is necessary to extend the hand of peace to these lost souls. For they are acting out of fear and confusion. They do not know what they are doing. Had they known; they would not have crucified the Lord. Sound familiar?
To sum this week up, we need to be mindful of the audience we are speaking to. What are their motivations? What perspective do they come to the conversation with? Are they fearful of losing something? Are they holding tightly onto a lie? Can they be reached?
We need to not become instruments of chaos, but instead, God requires us to be peacemakers. If we have the mind of Christ, then this comes easy, yes? Maybe for some. But, for me, it is still a learning and growing thing. I am not yet a mature Christian. I still fight with the flesh on a daily basis. But my goal is to be like Christ. As long as I continue to look to the cross and to the future, I will stay on path and slowly make my way down the road.
Next week we look to the book of Ephesians, Chapter One, which promises to be a full-bodied hug.
Peace be with you.
The link to Anne Graham Lotz’ study is here: