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Acts 19:1-10, Paul in Ephesus

Tuesday, May 1

Ephesus

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

 amphitheater at Ephesus

Before Snapchat, before email, even before snail mail, there was mass communication of another sort. But it came painfully slowly. It came one speech at a time.

Paul was the orator of such communication. To communicate with masses of people, Paul stationed himself in some of the trade and cultural centers of his day, preaching in the synagogues and lecture halls day after day, until everyone who lived in or passed through regularly had heard the word of the Lord. 

Ephesus was a cultural center of the region. It housed the Library of Celsus, which included 12,000 scrolls during the Roman Empire, an amphitheater capable of seating 25,000 (mass communication of its day!), and the nearby Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was an ideal place for Paul to preach and teach, and he was able to spread the word to countless masses.

Paul's efforts to spread the word also served to unify the Christian communities under one set of governing principles. One of his first matters of business was to baptize John's followers, who had been baptized into a baptism of repentance, into Jesus' baptism for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. He laid hands on them, and they received the gift of Jesus' Holy Spirit. Paul's work of unifying the church and spreading the word was well underway.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 19:1-10

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— altogether there were about twelve of them.

He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the Way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.