6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
How many times has Paul been run out of a city? How many times was he jailed or beaten up or stoned and left for dead? Something is going on by the time we’re in the 19th chapter of Acts.
In a few of the past cities, Paul only lasted about 3 weeks at the synagogue. The locals got mad, the government got mad, or the paid slackers in the marketplace were bribed to get mad.
But there is something about Ephesus.
It’s not because it’s big, because there were plenty of other big cities that gave Paul problems. It’s not because there were a lot of Jewish people there, because some other cities had many more and several had fewer. It’s not even because of the Holy Spirit coming upon those twelve, because that happened in other cities too.
Paul lasted 3 months in the synagogue in Ephesus and when he was run out of there, it wasn’t even violent. It was disagreeable — for sure — but it doesn’t seem like anybody was threatened. So Paul and the Christians could go to another venue and continue teaching and proclaiming Jesus the Messiah.
Ephesus was kind of like Dubai, New York, or Los Angeles. People from all over the world came through there every day. It was a major hub of commerce because of its port and because of its access to the rest of Asia. It was also very open to all kinds of religions — even more so than Athens. Since you had merchants coming from all over the world, you wanted to make them feel at home with a temple or two from their native lands.
These temples would be kind of like Franklin street or Lower Broad in Nashville. They would be a row of entertainment choices full of crowds on a given evening. (Remember, the weekend was invented first by Moses!) As people went from temple to temple, they could ‘worship’ however that temple liked to do it. One historian said there were more people awake in Ephesus at 1 am than at 1 pm, so interpret that as you will.
If you dropped into Paul’s, you’d hear the good news of a God-Man named Jesus and maybe even get healed of your illnesses and delivered from your demons.
Over the course of the next 2 years, possibly Paul’s longest say anywhere, thousands and thousands of people had heard about Jesus and spread that news throughout Asia. Paul continued to preach along that row of evil pagan temples. He took every chance he could get, and the church grew.
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