Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 19: 21-26
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 19:21
v21: We’ll soon see a riot break out in Ephesus, but before he describes what happened Luke tells us that Paul’s mission in Ephesus was complete. He says, “When all these things (God’s work through Paul) were fulfilled, Paul determined in the Spirit that he would go to Jerusalem, but first he would pass through Macedonia (northern Greece) and Achaia (central Greece), saying, ‘After I have been there it is also necessary for me to see Rome.’” In other words, Paul wasn’t driven out of Ephesus prematurely as he had been in so many other places. Yes, a riot broke out, but that wasn’t why he moved on. He had already been notified by the Holy Spirit that it was time to leave before all that happened.

Monday: Acts 19:22
v22: Even though Paul sensed his mission in Ephesus was complete, he didn’t feel released by God to leave right away. So he sent Timothy and a man named Erastus on ahead of him to Macedonia. Timothy was already well-known in the region (Ac 17:14, 15; 18:5) and it may be that Erastus was too. There’s not enough information here to be certain, but a man named Erastus had been the city treasurer in Corinth (Ro 16:23) and at times traveled with Paul (2Ti 4:20). By sending two men on this mission rather than one, we observe that the early church usually traveled and ministered in, at least, pairs. Jesus, of course, modeled this principle (Mk 6:7; Lk 10:1). They recognized that there is safety and strength when believers function as a team. Even when a traveling partner is not mentioned, we can assume that, where possible, someone always accompanied Paul as he traveled.

Tuesday: Acts 19:22
v22 (continued): During the years he spent in Ephesus, Paul’s relationship with the church in Corinth was severely attacked. Traveling religious teachers came in after he left and openly slandered him and tried to seize spiritual control. They mocked his appearance and the way he spoke (2Co 10:10; 11:6). They boasted that their spiritual authority was far superior to his (2Co 10:18). They said if he was a real apostle he would have taken offerings, and by working to provide for himself he was admitting that he had no right to be financially supported the way the rest of the apostles were (2Co 11:7). They may even have questioned Paul’s faith by asking why he hadn’t been healed of a particular physical weakness (2Co 12:7-10). By reading through Paul’s letters to Corinth we can put together a picture of his opponents: they traveled from place to place and called themselves apostles (2Co 11:4, 13); they dominated and abused those they led (2Co 11:20); they aggressively collected money (2Co 11:20); they were Jews, probably from Jerusalem (2Co 11:22); they claimed they had suffered much for their faith (2Co 11:23-32)and had received visions from God (2Co 12:1).

Wednesday: Acts 19:22
v22 (continued): Initially Paul tried to correct this situation in Corinth by writing letters. He wrote a letter which has been lost (1Co 5:9) and then they wrote a letter to him in reply (1Co 7:1) which was probably carried to Ephesus by three members of the church: Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1Co 16:17). First Corinthians is Paul’s response to that letter. In it he addressed issue after issue and then said he would come and talk to them in person, but first he would go to Macedonia (1Co 16:5). But none of this corrected the problems, so Paul found it necessary to make a hurried, unplanned visit (2Co 2:1; 12:14; 13:1-2). And when he got there the confrontation did not go well. Once he returned to Ephesus he wrote back to them a “sorrowful” letter (2Co 2:4; 7:8).

Thursday: Acts 19:22
v22 (continued): Originally Paul’s plan had been to leave Ephesus and go straight to Corinth, and from there he would go up to Macedonia. Then, when he was finished in Macedonia, he would go back to Corinth, and sail from there to Jerusalem (2Co 1:16). But he felt there was nothing to be gained by another painful confrontation, so he sent Titus to Corinth (2Co 2:12, 13) while he made plans to go first to Macedonia and then later to Corinth (2Co 1:23; 2:1) and from Corinth on to Jerusalem. When the Corinthians heard that he had changed his plans, they accused him of being indecisive and unspiritual (2Co 1:15-17). But Paul sent Titus to Corinth to assess the condition of the church and then report to him in Troas. Yet, for some reason, Titus was delayed and didn’t arrive on time. And even though there was much opportunity for ministry in Troas, Paul became so worried about Corinth he left and went on to Macedonia hoping to find Titus who would be traveling north from Corinth to meet him (2Co 2:12, 13). Paul said he was miserable until Titus arrived and told him that the Corinthians had finally repented and were mourning over the way they had treated him (2Co 7:5-7, 13-16). Paul wrote the letter of Second Corinthians after Titus arrived with this news.

Friday: Acts 19:23
v23: Prior to Paul’s departure from Ephesus, a riot broke out. But before we consider the details of that event, we should take note of what Luke did not tell us. Something horrible happened to Paul while he was in Ephesus. The riot Luke will soon describe (vs 23-41), was noisy and exciting, but apparently no one was seriously injured. Yet the crisis Luke doesn’t mention was far more sinister. Whenever Paul reflected on his time in Ephesus, he would refer to hardship and danger. He said it was a time of “serving the Lord with all humility and tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews” (Ac 20:19). Ephesus, he said, was a place with a “wide open door for effective service… and there are many adversaries” (1Co 16:9). And elsewhere, he added these chilling statements: “If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?” (1Co 15:32), and “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia (Ephesus), that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life, indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us…” (2Co 1:8-10). Apparently, something happened in Ephesus that was so bad Paul thought he was as good as dead. This may have been the occasion when Priscilla and Aquila “risked their own necks” to save him (Ro 16:3, 4). Without further information we can only wonder about these trials. There is even a tradition which says he spent time in jail there (F.F. Bruce, In the Steps of the Apostle Paul, Kregel, 1995, p.50). Still, when combined, these vague references suggest that he paid an enormous price to preach Christ to that city. And on top of it all there was a riot.

Saturday: Acts 19:23-26
vs23-26: Just when Paul was planning to leave the city, things exploded. Luke says, “There was about that time no little trouble concerning the Way (Ac 24:14, 15, 22) because a certain silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, provided the craftsmen no little gain” (literal) (Ac 16:16, 19). Note the play on words “no little trouble” because they feared the loss of “no little gain.” Another way of saying this would be, “There was much trouble because they were in danger of losing much money.” Luke has chosen his words carefully to reveal the motive behind the riot. It was money. Demetrius, who made a lot of money selling statues of the goddess Artemis, recognized that Paul’s preaching was reducing the market for his product, so he decided to do something about it. He gathered the artisans who worked in the shops that fashioned these statues and warned them that they would soon be out of work if Paul wasn’t stopped. He said Paul was convincing people all over Asia that Artemis wasn’t real, because “they are not gods which come into being through hands” (v26) (literal).

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