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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Acts 19:8-10 - How to conduct a campaign

Having made spiritual progress with the former disciples of John the Baptist, Paul commenced a synagogue ministry in Ephesus that lasted for three months. Luke tells us the subject of Paul’s messages and also the manner in which he presented them. His topic was the kingdom of God, obviously a very big subject, yet one from which Paul did not depart.
The manner in which Paul spoke is interesting. Luke tells us that the apostle spoke boldly, which means that his listeners realised that he was convinced that what he said was true. Moreover, he did not aim merely to share his ideas. Instead he endeavoured to persuade his listeners about the new aspects of the kingdom of God. So Paul was in earnest as he spoke and was not satisfied with getting a hearing. What he wanted was converts, and when it looked as if they were not forthcoming in the synagogue he stopped preaching there.
There was another reason why he left the synagogue. Paul had been content during those three months to let the disciples who had embraced the Christian faith continue attending the synagogue services. Perhaps he came to the conclusion that there was no spiritual benefit in letting new disciples hear other people say evil things about Jesus and his kingdom. So he and they moved elsewhere.
Despite the rejection he received in the synagogue, there was a sense in which his time there was an easier period of his overall campaign in Ephesus. After all, those in the synagogue would have accepted the authority of the Old Testament, even if they refused to accept Paul’s insistence that its predictions about the kingdom were fulfilled in Jesus.
One must admire the tenacity of the apostle. Instead of leaving town after the rejection of his message by his countrymen, Paul engaged in what seemed to be a harder task – evangelise the Gentiles in the area. I wonder what people thought when he held his first meeting. He did so from a base that would be regarded as suitable – a public hall. One wonders whether Tyrannus was the owner’s real name or did it describe his methods of communicating! Whatever the reason for his name, his hall was soon ringing with a gentle message – the gospel.
Why did Paul hold a daily service? One assumes that he had an audience each time, which indicates that interest in his message increased and kept doing so. In fact, the interest so grew that Luke says that within two years everyone – both Jews and Gentiles – in the province of Asia heard the Lord’s message.
No doubt, this was partly achieved through people from the surrounding area hearing Paul when they came to Ephesus for various reasons. There is something intriguing about observing that those people included attendance at Paul’s meetings as one of their activities when visiting Ephesus. I wonder how often they made their trips to the city to hear God’s word. They could go many times in a period of two years.

What is interesting is that Luke does not tell us how many converts resulted from this campaign. Instead he tells us the periods of time that Paul spent in the synagogue and in the hall of Tyrannus. He also tells us how long each period lasted – until each person connected to each group, whether Jews or Gentiles, had heard sufficient information concerning becoming followers of Jesus. That is our challenge as well – to ensure that as many people as possible receive sufficient information about the gospel.

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