Ephesus: A People Like Us–Part 1
Ephesians Lesson #001
September 30, 2018
“Our Father, it is great privilege that we have to sit here, comfortable pews, air conditioning, to have in our hands translations of Your Word that are fairly accurate. To come to understand what You have recorded and preserved for us in our own hands is just a remarkable privilege that the vast majority of Christians through the ages have never enjoyed, and yet too often we take that for granted.
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word and for all that is revealed in it: that it may teach us and correct us, rebuke us at times, but it lays out for us the path of righteousness—spiritual growth—so that we can be equipped for every good work, so that we can walk with You.
“It is interesting that as we think through 2 Timothy 3:16–17, that the focal point is to be equipped for every good work, and that connects to our understanding of the gospel in Ephesians 2:8–10, which we so often quote, that we are saved for the purpose of doing good works that have been foreordained in Christ.
“Father, it is why we put such a focus upon Your Word. Help us to understand the significance of it and its application for our thinking in our lives. In Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Acts 19. We are beginning a study of one of the greatest New Testament epistles, the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. This book is thought by many to have the most elevated, mature teaching from the apostle Paul on the Christian life—on the church as the universal body of Christ—and who we are in Christ.
The Ephesian believers had a problem that’s not too different from our problem, and that is that they did not fully comprehend all that God had provided for them in Christ. These were their possessions; this is termed by Paul in the first chapter as “our riches in Christ.”
The first three chapters of Ephesians lays out what these riches are: our position in Christ— a term that is often not understood, seems technical and highly theological— but it is important to understand that it basically means that we have been transferred into the royal family of God. And with that new position in the royal family of God we have various blessings, every spiritual blessing Paul will say in the first chapter.
The second half of the epistle talks about our walk. The first half talks about our wealth in Christ; the second half talks about our walk in Christ.
We learn from what Paul writes to the Ephesians that they were a people not unlike us; very close. A lot of similarities between Ephesus in the ancient world and where we are as Americans living in a neo-pagan culture of Western civilization far more advanced in its paganism in Europe than it is in the United States, but we’re not far behind.
We as Christians face many of the same challenges that the Ephesians faced in living in the midst of a pagan culture and communicating the gospel and the truth of the Scriptures to a culture that is at best neutral and at worst extremely hostile to the gospel and to Christianity.
We as Christians are guilty of many of the same failings of which those Christians were guilty, so it is important for us to delve into this book. In order to do so we need to gain a little background in our understanding of Paul’s impact on and ministry in Ephesus. Actually, we will begin by looking at Acts 18:19.
This is at the end of Paul’s second missionary journey. He had three missionary journeys as are usually described. Then there’s a fourth journey that’s not called a missionary journey, but it is Paul’s trip in chains as it were, from Caesarea-by-the-Sea in Israel, taken as a prisoner to Rome. What we learn here, you ought to remember; it is very easy.
At the conclusion of Paul’s first missionary journey, he wrote his first epistle. The first journey he wrote one Epistle to the Galatians. On his second missionary journey when he took the gospel across into Europe, he went from the northwestern part of Turkey, crossing over to Neapolis and Macedonia. He came down from Macedonia to Acadia and on his way back, he wrote two epistles from Corinth before he came to Ephesus, 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
He didn’t stay long in Ephesus, probably not more than a week, maybe not even two. It was very short because he was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem before the Feast of Tabernacles in order to celebrate it there.
Then he went back to his home church in Antioch, and left within six months, back to Ephesus for a three-year stay. Then he retraced his steps to the churches he founded on his second missionary journey.
He wrote three epistles on that third journey: Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians. So first journey, one epistle; second journey, two epistles; third journey, three epistles.
After he was taken to Rome as a prisoner, he wrote four prison epistles: Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon.
Following his release from his first imprisonment, he wrote Titus and 1 Timothy. During his last imprisonment, he wrote 2 Timothy, his last epistle.
That gives you a summary of the apostle Paul.
Acts 18:19–21 is a brief account of his first visit to Ephesus, “He came to Ephesus, and left them there—that is his traveling companions—but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.”
This word is used a couple of times; it was used also earlier in Acts 17. This is what he typically would do when he went into the synagogue.
Now a synagogue is not quite like an evangelical church. There are some similarities, but a synagogue was built to be a house of study of the Word of God. In a typical synagogue service, you would have a certain liturgy that you would go through.
There would be the reading of the parashah, the Scripture, for the day, and an exposition of that—teaching based on that parashah. Then at the end they would usually open it to perhaps any visitors that might be there, especially if they were there from Jerusalem.
That meant that they had gone to the schools in Jerusalem—they were trained as a rabbi. And they might bring some news from Jerusalem and maybe make some comments about Scripture. This is usually when the apostle Paul would stand up and would give a presentation of the gospel and talk about Jesus who fulfills the Old Testament prophecies as the Messiah.
There would also be a dialogue at that time. That’s what it means to reason; it is a rational dialogue. There would be some question and answer, and Paul would work through the Scriptures and present the gospel.
This is what he did when they asked him to stay longer, which indicates that there is a measure of positive volition in the congregation in that synagogue,
Acts 18:20–21, “… they asked him to stay longer with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them saying, ‘I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.’ And he sailed from Ephesus.”
Let’s have a little background to understand this significant city. It’s a major city for a study of the New Testament. Paul visited it once, at the end of his second missionary journey, and then he spent approximately three years during the beginning of his third missionary journey.
He established a training school there from which missionaries or pastors went out to all of the surrounding towns and villages, teaching the gospel, and there were many hundreds if not thousands who were saved. You had the founding of churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis and Colossae and many others. Those are the ones that we know of because they are mentioned in Scripture.
This is a picture of Ephesus in Paul’s day; it was rather large. Today you can go to Ephesus—I’ve been there twice—and it is the largest excavation of an ancient city in the world. Jerash in Jordan is second to the excavation at Ephesus. It just boggles the mind how large it is.
The population of Ephesus at the time in the first century is estimated to be between 250,000 to 500,000. I’ve read every number in between in doing research. That’s a large city, a lot of people and there’s a lot going on there. It was strategically located on the mouth of the Caster River on the Aegean.
Here’s the harbor that came in, and this shows you how close the water was to Ephesus. It’s a major port for the ancient world. Major highways that came in from the interior of what we now know as Turkey that brought goods all the way from Asia would come and bring those goods to the port at Ephesus.
But that port silted-in in the ancient world. This is a depiction of what it might have looked like in the ancient world, and this is what it looks like today. This is the main cardo here, this line here, but see this area here? That is just low-lying plains between these two hills. That’s where the harbor was; it’s been completely silted in. So now Ephesus is about six miles from the Aegean.
Other areas to note that we’ll talk about: this is a major theater. It is enormous, and this is the scene of the riot that took place in the latter part of Acts 19. Then a little bit out of town, over here is the location of the Temple of Artemis, which I’ll talk about in just a minute.
In terms of the history of the city, it’s divided into three or four eras. It was founded in approximately 1044 BC. There’s not much to note in the first 500 years, but around 555 BC, it was captured by Croesus, the King of Lydia, and is part of his domain for some time until about 60 or 70 years later when Cyrus the Persian came in and captured the city in 546 BC.
After that it became part of the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, and from 334 BC on; it was a center of Hellenism in Asia Minor. It was ruled by Lysimachus who was one of the heirs to Alexander the Great.
In the late second century it was conquered by Rome and Augustus made Ephesus the Roman capital of Asia Minor. So it is a significant city; it was the third largest city in the Roman Empire at the time of the New Testament.
So there were people constantly coming there as well as leaving. It had quite an ethnic mix and a religious mix. There were, in terms of different ethnicities: the Lydians, the Ionians, the Greeks, a native population of Anatolians, and also a large Jewish constituency.
There is an estimate that as much as 10 percent of the population was Jewish. Under Augustus Caesar, the Jews had a somewhat privileged status there, although they always felt like it was somewhat tenuous, and they were always afraid that it would be taken away from them, but Augustus had issued a decree that said:
“It seemed good to me and my counselors, according to the sentence and oath of the people of Rome, that the Jews have liberty to make use of their own customs, according to the law of their forefathers, as they made use of them under Hyrcanus the high priest of Almighty God, and that their sacred money be not touched but be sent to Jerusalem and that it be committed to the care of the receivers at Jerusalem, and that they be not obliged to go before any judge on the Sabbath day nor on the day of the preparation to it after the ninth hour.”
That’s a pretty significant statement for protection of the Jews. However, as we’ll see in this episode of the riot period at the end of the chapter, there is just this incipient anti-Semitism that is still there among the population.
One of the most significant things about Ephesus is that it was the center of one of the most degraded worship centers in the ancient world. The Temple to Artemis—Artemis of the Ephesians—sometimes called Diana. If you’ve got a New King James or King James, they translated it Diana, but it should not be confused with the Artemis or the Diana of Greek or Roman mythology. It’s a similar origin, but as this deity, she takes on a different significance and a different persona.
The temple to Artemis was the seventh wonder of the ancient world. It was massive. It was four times larger than the Parthenon in Athens. It was 220´ by 425´. There were over 120 monumental columns because each was over 60´ in height.
It was a great center of pagan worship, sacrifice, and prostitution in the ancient world because Artemis was a goddess of fertility and what went along with that was just every kind of sexual perversion that you can imagine.
This was a thriving business: there were silversmiths and coppersmiths in Ephesus who would make metal figurines of the temple and of Artemis, and they would be sold; it was a lucrative business, and the conversion of many to Christianity eventually threatened that business.
Let me show you a couple of other pictures here. This is a picture looking down towards the harbor. This is a picture of the theater that shows its size. I have stood there. The acoustics are perfect: send somebody in the group up to the upper levels and stand in the sweet spot down on the stage, and you can just talk in a normal voice and they can hear you. It is just incredible how they constructed the theaters.
Here’s a view from the top the theater looking west. This road would’ve ended at the harbor, so you can see how far the water has receded.
The significance of this aerial you see is off to the left, but this is where the Temple of Artemis was located right here. Nothing left. Amazing.
Christianity completely supplanted it for a while as it became a major center for Christianity; one of the major bishoprics in the early church.
This is a close-up of the site where the Temple of Artemis was located.
This is a typical figurine seen in the museum there. She was called “the many breasted goddess.” That is a picture of fertility, and this was part of the whole basis for their religious practice.
This map shows Ephesus on the western coast of what is today modern Turkey, in what was the Roman province of Asia.
When Paul left on his second missionary journey, his idea was to go there, but as he revisited the churches here in Central Southern Turkey, we’re told in Acts that God, the Holy Spirit prevented him from going there. It wasn’t the right time yet, so he went north and ended up at Troas where he saw a vision of a Macedonian calling for him to go over. So that’s the route that he took, and then came back to Ephesus, Acts 18.
On his third journey, ending the second journey, he went down to Caesarea, to Jerusalem, and then back to Antioch, and then he left, and he came this way overland, revisiting Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch in Pisidia, and then ending up in Ephesus.
Acts 19:1, “And it happened while Apollos was at Corinth ...”
There something interesting here. I’m not going to go through every detail, but I want to note some of the high points that are brought out by Luke and look at them from the vantage point of an aerial view: what is going on and why are we told about these particular episodes.
What we learn is that after Paul left to go back to Jerusalem, we read in Acts 18:24 that there was “a certain Jew named Apollos …” which is a Greek name for one of the Greek gods.
He was born in Alexandria where apparently there was a certain amount of assimilation going on among the Jews. It was one of the great centers; they had a huge number of Jews in Alexandria. It was also great center of education.
He seems to have had a background where he studied rhetoric, and he was a great orator because we’re told that he was “… an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures.”
He’s an Old Testament saint—Jewish. He came to Ephesus, and began to teach the Old Testament Scriptures and the promise of a coming Messiah. I believe that he also knew that Jesus had come, but that’s as far as it went for him. He didn’t know the rest of the story, he just knew the beginning of the story, because he knew, in the next verse, about the baptism of John.
We are also introduced to a couple that is well known. They were close friends with the Apostle Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. We learn from Acts 18:25 that,
“… he had been instructed in the way of the Lord and being fervent in spirit, he spoke accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.”
They took him aside in Acts 18:26, and corrected him. They explained to him the way of God more accurately, and he believed the gospel. Then he left and went to Corinth. But during his brief time there, there are those who are saved, Acts 18:28,
“… for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly showing from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”
Apollos had been there and planted some seeds. Paul has been there—that’s the foundation—but what’s interesting is Apollos knows the baptism of John the Baptist. Nothing significant happens when he is saved.
The first episode that occurs in Chapter 19 is that Paul runs into these twelve disciples of John the Baptist, who don’t know that Jesus has come. When he gives them the gospel that Jesus was crucified, died, and buried, and rose from the dead, then they believe.
But there seems to be something wrong, as Paul talks to them before he gave them the gospel: he realized that they did have the whole story. They knew only the baptism of John.
After they were saved the Holy Spirit comes, and they speak in tongues and prophesy. We will talk about all of that, but why doesn’t that happen with Apollos? Anybody have any idea? That’s an important question to ask, and we will see the answer in a minute.
Acts 19:2, Paul asked these 12 disciples—we learn that when we get down to about verse 10,
“ ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ”
This is important and I think this is part of why nothing happens with Apollos:
1) There’s no apostle with him. Every time you have the church introduced to a new group in Acts—you have it on the Day of Pentecost. You have it in Samaria with the Samaritan believers; Peter and John go there. You have it with Peter going to Cornelius at Caesarea—there is always an apostle present. That is to show that the church is one entity, all under the authority of the apostles.
This is what Paul mentions in Ephesians 2:20, that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church. This is why nothing happens with Apollos.
But with these guys it’s important because Paul is there. He’s an apostle; he’s going to introduce them to the Holy Spirit. What’s significant is that in each of these instances, there’s this new thing that happens when the Holy Spirit comes upon them in what I will call the baptism by the Holy Spirit. That’s the scriptural term.
That’s exactly what we have that’s explained here in Acts 19:3, Paul says, “Into what then were you baptized?”
He uses the Greek preposition EIS, and that’s significant because the end result of different baptisms—if we’re baptized into Christ, the Spirit baptism—is expressed by the same preposition. If you’re baptized by John’s baptism, you’re baptized into repentance. It’s identified by this same preposition. What’s significant here is understanding what plays out; the language is very important. They were baptized into John’s baptism.
Acts 19:4, Paul said, “… John baptized with the baptism of repentance”—remember? We just got through studying in Matthew; the message was “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was a baptism identifying them with repentance for the coming kingdom. “… John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him, who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
That goes back to Matthew 3:11 when John said, “I baptize you now with water—or by means of water. Uses the preposition “in”—but the one who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I’m not worthy to bear, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Now that has been fulfilled; Paul was reminding them, “Remember what John said, there was one coming after him who would baptize with the Spirit? Well, He came: that’s Christ Jesus.”
Acts 19:5, “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
What does that illustrate? How many people are thinking, that’s the Great Commission? That is Matthew 28:19–20. We just got through doing a series on discipleship, “… while you’re going, make disciples by baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” That’s exactly what is happening here.
They’re baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. This was water baptism, and water baptism is important because it is a physical ritual that teaches an abstract spiritual reality, and that abstract spiritual reality is that at the instant of faith in Christ we are identified with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, Romans 6:3–6.
That’s really important, and it’s important for Ephesians because that is what places us in Christ as we will see.
Matthew 3:11, “… He will baptize you ‘by means of’ …”—that’s literally how it should be translated, not “with”.’’ The English preposition “with” has a range of meanings. I could ask you, “Well, who did you come to church with this morning?” And that would be the idea of association.
That’s not what we’re talking about here; we’re talking about instrumentality or how you do something—the means. You’re baptized by means of the Holy Spirit.
What happens is that they spoke in tongues and prophesied. I’ve dealt with the tongues issue many times, and we’ve talked a lot at different times about what prophecy entailed.
There are two meanings to prophecy. Prophecy had one meaning, which really was the idea of bringing a lawsuit or conviction to the people for disobeying the covenant. That’s the role of the prophet.
Most people think the role of the prophet is to tell the future. That’s not correct. It may entail the future, but the prophet was like God’s district attorney, God’s Attorney General. He was bringing a lawsuit against the people for violating the covenant. Now in that He warned them that “if you continue this way, this is what’s going to happen,” and that’s where prophecy, the foretelling, future telling, would come into play. But the primary role of the prophet was to represent God to man as His Attorney General, prosecuting them for violation of the terms of the covenant.
A second meaning for prophecy is found in 2 Chronicles, and that relates to the singing of praise to God. It talks about the choir directors and music directors in the temple prophesying with a harp and various other instruments.
Two women are identified as prophetesses in the Old Testament. One is Miriam, who is Moses’ sister. Right after she’s identified as the prophetess, what does she do? She writes a psalm, a hymn, praising God for deliverance from slavery in Egypt. It is singing.
Then you skip forward a couple of books to Judges, and you see that God raises up a judge named Barak, and he is to go lead the Israelites against the Canaanite king from Hazor, Jabin, and he is going to give them victory.
But he’s kind of a wimpy male, he’s a girly-man, and he really doesn’t want to go to battle, so he says, “I won’t go unless Deborah goes with me.” Deborah is a judge and she is also called a prophetess, and when the battle is over what did Deborah do? She wrote a hymn of praise for victory in the battle, Judges 5.
That is a second way in which the word “prophet” is used, and that’s the only way that we can make sense of some passages in the Scripture. Like this one says, “…and they prophesied…”— Think back we talked about this in 1 Samuel when Saul was anointed, that he was found among the prophets and prophesying among the prophets.
Well, the best way to understand that is that they were singing praises to God; that makes sense. Otherwise what are they doing if it’s convicting or bringing a lawsuit against Israel? That doesn’t make sense in the context; the idea singing does.
What happened here is the Holy Spirit descended and they spoke in tongues, which means they spoke in human languages that they have not previously learned. It was a temporary spiritual gift, along with miracles, and the word of knowledge and wisdom during a time when there is no complete canon of Scripture. These are temporary sign gifts that are no longer in effect.
As Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14, they were a sign of judgment to the Jews. It isn’t what they said that was a message of judgment on the Jews, it’s that they were hearing Scripture. They were hearing the word of God in a Gentile language.
That was prophesied in Deuteronomy and also in Isaiah. The thrust of it is that because God had chosen Israel to be the custodians of God’s Word, that the sign of judgment would be that they would hear Gentile languages in the temple, proclaiming the truth of God. This would be a sign from God who is going to bring judgment on Israel
Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10, we have Peter involved. In Acts 2, the message focuses on repentance. Again, it’s related to the kingdom of God: changing your mind, turning to God.
The emphasis in Acts 8 with the Samaritans is belief, and in Acts 10 it is belief. In Acts 19 they believed the gospel.
There’s no water baptism mentioned in Acts 2 at all, until later, but not at the event itself. Then you have water baptism in Acts 8. Then you have immediate water baptism in Acts 10, and then you have this second baptism, so that would be the first Anabaptist, I guess. They are rebaptized by means of water in Acts 19.
You have the reception of the Holy Spirit and tongues. The reception of the Holy Spirit and no tongues in Acts 8 with the Samaritans. Why? Because they’re half Jewish, so you don’t have it. They’re categorically different from either the Jews or the Gentiles; they’re in between.
Acts 10 you have Spirit baptism manifestation with tongues with Cornelius, and then you have spirit baptism with tongues here in Acts 19.
This all is important in understanding what Paul is getting at in Ephesians, because he’s going to be talking about our position in Christ.
In this chart: at the Cross when you believe in Jesus as your Savior, two things happen in different spheres. First, in terms of eternal realities, we are placed in Christ by God the Holy Spirit. Jesus uses God the Holy Spirit to identify us with His death, burial, and resurrection. That is the baptism by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is used— that’s the instrumental aspect there. It is used by Christ just as John used water to identify us with His death, burial, and resurrection. This is where we have our positional reality. Sometimes you will hear this referred to as positional truth. This is who we are and what we have in Christ.
We are immediately indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. We are sealed by God the Holy Spirit. Initially, we are walking by the Spirit until we sin. We are justified. We are redeemed. We are made priests. We are in the body of Christ. All of these things and much, much more are the assets that God gives us, the blessings that are ours in Christ. That is what we will be studying in the first three chapters of Ephesians.
The second half of Ephesians talks about how we live on the basis of what we have, and that is our walk. We are to walk by means of the Spirit, and part of walking by the Spirit entails the filling by means of the Spirit, where He fills us with His Word.
There are a lot of aspects to walking by the Spirit. The main idea is not being filled by the Spirit. Change your vocabulary. The main idea is walking by the Spirit. When we walk by the Spirit, the Spirit fills us with His Word: it is not the other way around. We’ve covered that many times.
When we fail, when we disobey God, we are “out of fellowship”—a term that we use; that’s not really the best term because it sounds like it’s a passive idea. When we disobey God we’re no longer walking, we’re no longer engaged in spiritual growth. It’s a very active concept.
Fellowship is something that you enjoy. I can be in right-relationship with a friend that I haven’t talked to for four or five years. That’s a pretty static relationship and nothing’s happening. That’s not what it means to walk by means of the Spirit.
It can be some distance. I have a good friend—we met in church when we were 12 years old. We were roommates in college, and we talk about every week or two still, and that is a dynamic, ongoing relationship. He lives several states away.
When we sin, we are no longer walking in the light. That’s why I use white circles with the dark background. We’re no longer walking according to the sin nature. We are walking—it’s an active concept—we’re walking according to the sin nature and we are walking in darkness under the control of the sin nature. But when we confess sin, then we are restored to walking by the Spirit and a place where we can grow spiritually.
Paul then arrived in Ephesus, Acts 19:8, “… he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.”
The word used here is DIALEGOMAI. It is the same word that was used earlier when he came the first time in Acts 18:4. It means to dispute, it means to discuss, it means to reason your way through things; and it is something that is intellectual and not emotional.
Although, if you’re not getting your way and you disagree, you can get pretty emotional; but the activity itself is one of rational discourse, talking through things. So they were reasoning and persuading.
I know a lot of Christians who when it comes to giving the gospel, they just kind of throw it out there and walk away because they are too timid. They don’t know how to reason and to persuade. See that’s part of what Paul did. We are to persuade people of the truth, but to do that you have to understand the arguments for the gospel, understand answers to questions. You need to be able to give an answer for the hope that is in you. You have to have knowledge.
But my opinion—not true of this congregation—but about 90% of evangelical Christians are totally ignorant of the defense of the faith: how to present the gospel, and how to answer any question that somebody might have. They may be very interested, but they say, “Well, how do you really know He rose from the dead?” It’s not a hostile attack: I don’t want to put my brain in neutral and just believe something because you’ve said so.
That’s rational, that we don’t believe things that people say just because it’s an emotional thing and we should believe them, or because O, they told a really sad, difficult story, so it must be true, or anything like that.
We believe because there is evidence, like this hearing this last week. There’s no evidence given. Why would we believe accusations of anyone apart from two or three witnesses? This is what Scripture teaches. Do not receive or accept, don’t even take it into account.
That’s the foundation for American law. Don’t even take into account an accusation unless there is corroborating evidence. Yet when we reject that, we are upending our entire system of jurisprudence. Not just ours, but the entire system of jurisprudence that has shaped the Western world due to the impact of Judeo–Christianity from Deuteronomy all the way into the New Testament.
This is what Paul’s doing; he is giving a rational defense of the gospel. He is going back to Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and Genesis 49 showing that the scepter will not depart from Judah.
It’s interesting. There is a Targum—Jewish commentary—on Genesis, and it’s helpful for understanding Jewish theology, but it’s not necessarily helpful for textual criticism. It’s helpful for understanding Jewish thought because it’s more of a paraphrase, and whoever wrote that Targum wanted people to be clear, said, “this is referring to the coming of the Messiah.” So apart from those who want to say there’s no messianic prophecy in the Old Testament.
That’s what Paul would do. He is going to get a typical response. Some are going to believe some will not.
Acts 19:9, “But when some were hardened and did not believe …” That is, they were not convinced. They rejected being convinced. Being convinced that something is true demands a volitional decision to be willing to be convinced.
I want you to pay attention. I didn’t see this, but I was given an excellent description of this, that this last week when we had this mockery of justice on Thursday, that afterward there was a control group done.
There’s a psychologist, and they do all these kinds of studies on how people respond to different things, and about a third of them were Democrats, a third were Republicans, and a third were independent. They were to press their little buttons as to how convinced they were from listening to the stories from Judge Kavanaugh and also from Dr. Ford.
The result was, given three different types of evidence for Kavanaugh twice and Ford once, all of the Republicans disbelieved everything Dr. Ford said; all of the Democrats disbelieved everything that Kavanaugh said, and the independents were right in the middle waffling.
See none of them were willing to be convinced by any evidence. Their mind was made up first, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”
We often run into that when we are trying to explain the gospel to people. Their minds are already hardened against the truth. They’re convinced of their own truthfulness, and it doesn’t matter how much evidence we present, they won’t believe. That is their decision.
As a result of that, there is a reaction, Acts 19:9, they “… spoke evil of the way before the multitude, he (Paul) departed from them and withdrew the disciples and reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.”
Acts 19:10, “And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
I’ve covered two episodes really. We will get the other two next week. The two episodes here have to do with the episode related to salvation of what I would call Old Testament saints: Apollos and these 12 disciples of John the Baptist.
What happens is they learn the gospel, they believe. We’re not told about baptism for Apollos, but we’re told that the 12 were rebaptized. That takes us back to the Great Commission.
The second thing that happens is Paul is teaching them. For two years he teaches in the school of Tyrannus. Even though the term disciple is not used, that is fulfilling the mission that Jesus gave the disciples in Matthew 28:19-20.
This is the foundation for this body of believers that Paul is writing to some 10 years later, in the epistle to the Ephesians. And he has to remind them—because we all need to be reminded many times—of what we have in Christ.
He made that very, very clear that second time when he’s in Ephesus for three years. He taught them well. That’s the focal point of training a believer and equipping a believer, as Paul will say in Ephesians 4:11–12 is that the role of the apostle, the prophet, the evangelists. and pastor-teacher is to teach, to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. But that falls flat.
Remember, that’s in Ephesians 4. Ephesians 1–3 is our wealth in Christ. Ephesians 4–6 is our walk in Christ. We have to be equipped, we have to understand what the wealth is, and that’s what we will focus on when we go through the first three chapters of Ephesians.
The thing to remember today is the importance of what happens with those two groups. They understand this new baptism by the Spirit placing us in Christ, and then that is followed up by teaching and training, and it involves ministry. They are sending out dozens to all of Asia, so that all of Asia hears—now this isn’t Eastern Asia, this is the Roman Province of Asia—all of Asia hears the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is a tremendous growth.
Acts 19:20, “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed,” and began to establish the foundation for Western civilization.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to begin this study in Ephesians, to be reminded of who we are and what we have in Christ. This remarkable privilege of each one of us as Church Age believers, that You have given us a position higher than any other believer in history.
“Old Testament saints did not have this privilege and position. It will not be there for the Tribulation saint. So throughout history we see these unique roles for the Church Age believer. Father, we as church age believers need to understand this; we need to understand our privileges and our responsibilities.
“Father, we also pray for those who are listening, who may not truly understand the gospel, may not be believers in Christ yet, that Christ died for your sins, that is free gift. It’s not something you earn or deserve. It’s not something where there’s any prerequisite or condition or requirement.
“It is simply to believe that Jesus died for you, He died on the cross, paid the penalty for your sins, and by accepting that as a free gift, you have eternal life along with just a number of other blessings including eternally secure salvation as you’re sealed by God the Holy Spirit.
“Father, for the rest of us, we have to understand what those riches mean, what that wealth has provided, and live on the basis of that, and that is our challenge. In Christ’s name, amen.”