Paul’s Third Missionary Journey

06 Jul

As Paul started out to his next mission field, he began the third journey as he did the second, by passing through Galatia encouraging and strengthening the churches there (Acts 18:22-23). Meanwhile, in Ephesus Aquila and Priscilla became acquainted with Apollos from Alexandria (Acts 18:24-25). He was a spirited and eloquent man preaching out of the Scriptures according to John’s baptism. They instructed Apollos concerning Jesus, showing it was he of whom John had spoken. After his stay in Ephesus, Apollos decided to go over to Achaia and encourage the brethren there, so Aquila and Priscilla sent letters along with him to exhort the Corinthian church to receive him (Acts 18:27-28).

About the time Apollos was in Corinth, Paul was already on his way to Ephesus from Galatia and encountered some of what was probably Apollos’ disciples who were following the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-3), being ignorant of the existence of the Holy Spirit, or the indwelling of God. Paul instructed them in the way of the Lord more perfectly, and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues (Acts 19:4-7).

Paul spoke for about three months in the synagogue at Ephesus, before the unbelieving Jews began speaking against the way of Christ. At this time, as was Paul’s way, he separated himself and those believing on the name of Jesus from the unbelieving Jews, and they worshiped God apart from the others. All in all, Paul spent about two years and three months in Ephesus disputing and persuading both Jews and Greeks, first in the synagogue and then out of the school of Tyrannus, so it could be said that all the Jews and Greeks in the province of Asia became at least familiar with the name of Jesus. Later in a letter to the Corinthians, which Paul wrote from the city of Ephesus, he told them that the Lord had opened a great door for the Gospel in Asia (1Corinthians 16:9), while he preaching the Gospel there.

Ephesus became Paul’s new home for the next three years. Paul mentions in Acts 20:31 as he was about to sail to Jerusalem and prison, that his missionary journey totaled three years, but this incorporated not only the time he spent in the Roman province of Asia, but also his final visits to Achaia and Macedonia before setting sail to Jerusalem. Not only did Paul write his first letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus, but he may also have made an unrecorded visit to Corinth some time before his final visit there, which took place just before departing for Jerusalem (compare Acts 20:2-3 and 2Corinthians 12:14; 13:1).

Jesus’ name became quite well known throughout all Asia because of Paul’s ministry there, but this doesn’t mean knowing of Jesus was the same as knowing Jesus. For example, certain travelling Jewish exorcists who were the seven sons of Sceva, the priest, evidently thought the name of Jesus, in who authority Paul taught, was like a magic formula one had to use. In other words, they assumed this Jesus was like a territorial spirit (cp. Matthew 12:24), whose authority they had to use to cast out the lesser demons that caused trouble in the lives of their clients. These poor unfortunate souls came to understand their error in a most embarrassing and revealing manner, and the story of their encounter became quite well known throughout the city of Ephesus. The name of Jesus was magnified through their ignorant display, showing how God can use anything he wishes to cause the Gospel to prosper and be understood and have people come to Christ (Acts19:13-20). Praise God.

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Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Paul's 3rd Missionary Journey


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