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Tuesday, 3 October 2023
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32
A few small adjustments will bring the words closer to the Greek text, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God and the word of His grace, being able to build and to give the inheritance among all those having been sanctified” (CG).
Paul just reminded the elders of Ephesus that he did not cease to constantly warn everyone for three years, even with tears. Now, to bolster them in how to stay on the right path, he begins his next words with, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God.”
Paul, calling these men “brethren” for emphasis and a sense of true fraternity, begins his summary thoughts to their ears. He has spoken frankly about the hazards that lay ahead of them in hopes that they would pay heed. He does this by commending them to God. It is something he says about himself in his second letter to Timothy –
“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12
As for these men of Ephesus, Paul would no longer be their instructor or counselor in the things of God and so they would have to rely on the same Source he relied on continuously, meaning God. And further, he continues by saying, “and the word of His grace.”
It is doubtful that he is thinking of Christ in the way John later writes, meaning the Word of God. Rather, he is rather speaking in the sense of what James 1 says, where James repeatedly brings up the word, meaning Scripture –
“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.19So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
James is essentially committing his reader to the word of God’s grace. Likewise, this is what Paul is telling the elders of Ephesus, imploring them to cling to the word. It is the word that, according to Hebrews 4:12, is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
This word was, at this time, limited to the Old Testament and any verbal or written communications that existed concerning the Lord as the fulfillment of them. Together, they were sufficient to meet the specifics of the second half of Paul’s words in this verse which begin with, “being able to build and to give the inheritance.”
The idea of building is used by Paul several times, mostly in his first letter to the Corinthians. The word “edify” carries the same connotation and once meant exactly that: to build. Of this word, Albert Barnes says –
“The word used here is properly applied to a house which is raised and completed by slow degrees, and by toil. It here means to establish, make firm, or permanent, and hence, to instruct, to establish in doctrine and in hope. The idea is, that the Word of God was able to confirm and establish them, amidst the dangers to which they would be exposed.”
This process of building is specifically said by Paul to be for the inheritance. That is another thought carefully described by Paul in his epistles, especially his letter to the Ephesians, the very group who is represented before him now. He refers to the “guarantee of our inheritance” in Ephesians 1:14, the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” in Ephesians 1:18, and the “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” in Ephesians 5:5.
Understanding this, Paul’s words finish with this thought concerning the inheritance. It is “among all those having been sanctified.” The verb is a participle in the perfect tense. Through faith in Christ Jesus, the sanctification of the believer is immediate, and it is complete.
This doesn’t mean that the believer is now perfected. Rather, it means that in God’s view, what Christ did to sanctify us is complete and perfect. Nothing is lacking. Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death have allowed us to be fully consecrated to God, once and for all time. Nothing further needs to be accomplished for us to be allowed into the presence of the infinitely holy and pure Creator.
Sanctification is also implied in his words, but not the ongoing sanctification of our Christian walk. Rather, he is speaking of the position we are in because of the work of Christ - sanctified by Him as holy and acceptable to God.
Life application: Paul’s words to those of Ephesus are a descriptive account of what he conveyed to them. However, what he said is to be taken as a truthful and accurate state of how things are. It is as if his words are an epistle spoken forth to them. When he commits them to God and the word of His grace, he intends for them to trust God wholeheartedly and not waffle in their convictions concerning their state before Him.
It means that the word of God is sufficient for believers to trust in regard to their walk before God. It is where our knowledge of Him and what He has done for humanity is recorded. There is nothing lacking for those who are considering a relationship with Him, and like those already counted as believers, their hope will not be futile. Rather, they will also be sanctified and set for eternal glory by trusting in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How sad it is that people fail to accept that God’s provided sanctification is complete and now belongs to them forever! There is no hint in Scripture of the false doctrine of “loss of salvation.” What God has done in Christ is fully sufficient to sanctify His people once and for all time.
We are to accept this and hold fast to it. Otherwise, we will be like so many whose hope is marred by their personal failures, as if their failings can somehow override the full, final, finished, and forever work of God in Christ. Don’t be like that. Instead, be confident that His grace is sufficient to cover all our sins and failings.
Heavenly Father, Your word says that the work of Jesus Christ is sufficient to carry us through this life and into Your presence. We will fail You, but in Christ, we will never be separated from You again. We accept this and give our eternal thanks to You. Hallelujah to Jesus Christ, who has made this possible! Amen.
Monday Jul 31, 2023
Monday Jul 31, 2023
Monday, 31 July 2023
But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. Acts 19:9
The verbs are not well translated. It should more closely read, “And when some were hardened and disbelieving, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, having departed from them, he separated the disciples, everyday reasoning in the school of Tyrannus” (CG).
In the previous verse, Paul was noted to have spent three months reasoning and persuading those in the synagogue in Ephesus about the kingdom of God. As is usual in Acts, his efforts eventually are rejected by some or all of his audience. Such was the case in Ephesus as well. Luke next records, “And when some were hardened.”
The word signifies to make hard or be stubborn. This does not mean it is a hardening initiated by God in the active sense. Rather, their predispositions about what the kingdom meant would not allow them to accept that a spiritual kingdom was currently what was going on. They were anticipating a Messiah who would place Israel as chief among the nations and exalt them because of their heritage. This hardened state led to the next thought, “and disbelieving.”
As has happened consistently, the Jews began to oppose the teachings of Paul, rejecting the concept of a Messiah who would fulfill the law and then set aside that law for a New Covenant, even though this is exactly what their own Scriptures speak of in Jeremiah 31. Thus, their hardening led to a rejection of this teaching. They failed to obey the things laid out in their own Scriptures because of their own presuppositions and biases. That then led to their “speaking evil of the Way before the multitude.”
Rather than accept the teachings of Paul, which were clearly laid out in their own Scriptures, even if misunderstood in the past, some began to speak evil of this new Way. Mentioning the multitude in this verse follows as the standard operating procedure for them. When they could not refute his teachings with reason, they stirred up the masses. Because of this, Paul acted. As it next says, “having departed from them.”
There was no point in going back to the synagogue where the boisterous miscreants would simply argue and contradict him. Paul understood that a person is to state his case, defend what he believes, and then move on if the opposition was intolerant. This is exactly what he did. And when he did, “he separated the disciples.”
This would probably have included those who were mentioned in verses 19:1-7, along with any others who were convinced by his words. As these people had received the Spirit in an outward manifestation, they would have been fully convinced of the reliability of Paul’s words. Therefore, Paul separated those who believed and was “everyday reasoning in the school of Tyrannus.”
The word translated as school is found only here in Scripture, scholé. It is obviously etymologically connected to our modern word. It denotes a place where there is leisure or freedom from labor. Thus, by extension, it speaks of a school.
The name Tyrannus is a provincial form of the derivative of the base of kurios, a master or lord. Thus, it means a tyrant. However, the word would not have carried the negative sense that it now does.
Some believe that this school was a beith ha’midrash, or “House of the Midrash.” Midrash is an interpretive act, seeking the answers to religious questions (both practical and theological) by plumbing the meaning of the words of the Torah.
This would assume that Tyrannus was a Jew, but that is not stated. As both Jews and Greeks are mentioned in the next verse, it could go either way. The fact that Tyrannus is mentioned by name seems to give the sense that he was a well-known person. Luke probably specifically included the name to help confirm his words to those who were interested in checking out whether his account was accurate or not.
Life application: The church is a body of believers, not a place where those believers meet. Whoever Tyrannus was, and wherever his school was, it was an acceptable place for the believers to gather.
In our world today, we get far too caught up in the building where the fellowship meets, as if it is the central point of focus. Such is not the case. Jesus is. If a church meets in a storefront, a movie theater, a gymnasium, or on the beach, it makes no difference. As long as the Lord is being exalted, the meeting will be considered a success.
Don’t get too caught up in the externals. Have a heart for the Lord and for those who gather to worship Him and hear His word taught.
Heavenly Father, help us to have a heart for serving You above all else. May we not get caught up in flashy stuff that distracts our attention away from the word being rightly taught and of worship that is directed to You! May our hearts and minds be directed to what is right, honorable, and proper as we meet and fellowship in Your presence. Amen.
Saturday Jul 22, 2023
Saturday Jul 22, 2023
Saturday, 22 July 2023
for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 18:28
In the previous verse, Apollos went off to Achaia. When he went, he was given a letter of introduction. Upon his arrival, it says he greatly helped those who had believed through the grace. At that time, it was questioned whether “the grace” applied to those who had believed or if it referred to the grace bestowed upon Apollos as a gift. What seems most likely is the latter. That appears to be bolstered by the next words, “for he vigorously refuted the Jews.”
The word translated as “refuting” is found only here. It is a long compound word that signifies “to prove downright.” The Jews said one thing and he said another. Also, the adverb eutonós, translated as “vigorously,” is seen for the second and last time. It signifies well stretched, pressed to the limit, or fully extended. Thus, it gives the sense of “mightily,” or “vigorously.”
The subject is Apollos. The grace bestowed upon him was for oratory skills, the ability to understand Scripture, etc. He was able to make a convincing argument against the Jews because of these things. Further, the verb is imperfect, more rightly saying, “refuting the Jews.” He didn’t have just one argument against their interpretation of things. Rather, he was overflowing with points that silenced them time and again. And more, he did this “publicly.”
It is obvious from this that he was accustomed to speaking in front of others and he was able to form arguments that were convincing not just to himself, but to those who heard. He openly challenged the Jews on a continuing basis because of this. And more, these arguments didn’t just come from his head or from hearsay evidence. Rather, he was “showing from the Scriptures.”
The source of the faith, the Hebrew Scriptures, clearly revealed that his arguments were valid and irrefutable. As they are the basis for the Jewish religion, and as he was able to draw from them his evidence, then what he said had to be taken as a valid interpretation unless demonstrated otherwise based on the context. The tenor of Luke’s words, however, is that they could not do this. Thus, Apollos was able to demonstrate, right from the Scriptures, “that Jesus is the Christ.”
There are prophecies in Scripture that when realized would point to only one possibility for fulfillment. For example, the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. He would be from the tribe of Judah. And so forth. By comparing what was prophesied and then placing Jesus side by side with those prophecies, it was absolutely assured that He is the Messiah.
And more, the things that He did validated this fact as well. He would die for sins. He would resurrect. And so forth. The Jews misunderstood the role of the Messiah and had come to faulty conclusions about who He would be and what He would do. Apollos was able to clearly refute the Jews because he grasped these things, understanding what they meant and how they pointed to what Jesus had done.
Life application: When you speak to Jews about Jesus today, it is not as easy to refute them as you might think. The reason for this is that many do not believe in the inspiration of Scripture. Most believe that the later writings of the rabbis that are compiled in the Talmud form the proper basis for their religious and cultural life.
Therefore, you will be arguing apples and oranges. Unless a Jew (or any other person) is willing to accept the authority of Scripture, there isn’t much you can do to convince them of the truth of who Jesus is. It takes a great deal of understanding Scripture and how reliable it is to be able to break through such barriers.
This is why it is so very important to know your Bible and to be able to defend what you believe. Never stop pursuing this marvelous word. It is what is needed to change hearts and minds. By knowing it, and by demonstrating how reliable it is, you can then have a positive impact on those you speak to.
Glorious God, thank You for Your word. Give us wisdom in reading and interpreting it so that we can properly and effectively tell others about the riches contained in it. May we be responsible enough in our lives to read it daily and meditate on it constantly. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.
Sunday Jul 23, 2023
Sunday Jul 23, 2023
Sunday, 23 July 2023
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples Acts 19:1
In the previous verse, which ended Chapter 18, it said that Apollos vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. With that remembered, Chapter 19 begins with, “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth.”
The verb is present tense. Thus, it more rightly reads, “And it happened, in Apollos’ being in Corinth.” The two accounts, though presented one after the other, are occurring at the same time. This is the second and last time that Apollos is mentioned by name in Acts.
He will be mentioned again repeatedly in 1 Corinthians, and then one more time in Titus. However, the substance of his being mentioned in Acts is really found only in Acts 18:24-28. Therefore, there is a reason that Luke has been inspired to include him. He has no direct interaction with either Peter or Paul, the two main people of focus in Acts, and yet a particular section of the book has been dedicated to events surrounding him. As for the ongoing narrative, it continues with, “that Paul, having passed through the upper regions.”
Archaic translations say “coasts” instead of “regions.” But this isn't the modern sense of coast. Instead of traveling along a seacoast, this involved inland travel along borders. From Galatia and Phrygia to Ephesus is the route. Two words are translated as the singular word “regions,” anōterika mere. The first word is found only here in Scripture. It signifies “upper.” The second word signifies a part, portion, or share. Thus, it is the “upper parts,” or “upper districts.”
Albert Barnes says, “These regions were called upper, because they were situated on the high table-land in the interior of Asia Minor, while Ephesus was in the low maritime regions, and called the low country.” After traveling through these upper parts, he “came to Ephesus.”
This shows the faithfulness of Paul to his words of Acts 18 –
“And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, ‘I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.’ And he sailed from Ephesus.” Acts 18:19-21
With Paul in Ephesus, it next says, “And finding some disciples.” Rather, the verb is an aorist participle, “And having found some disciples.” Luke is preparing the reader for the next thought to be presented.
Life application: With the short account of Apollos now complete, and with the reintroduction of Paul into the timeline, it must be asked, “What was the point of mentioning Apollos at all?” In other words, there were apostles, missionaries, and disciples all over the place at this time, spreading the word in various ways and with numerous people.
And yet, a man and the events of a short period of his time are introduced and quickly ended. With that complete, he will not be mentioned again in Luke’s narrative. This should cause us to stop and think about the “why” of what we were being told. The answer is not far off, but we can very easily miss it if we don’t intentionally ask ourselves, “Why was this included?”
As you continue to read the Bible and become more aware of such notations, take time to pause and ask yourself exactly that. This book we call the Holy Bible has been inspired by God. It is the word of God. Everything in it has been given for a purpose. So, contemplate what you have read, think about the events that occur, and consider the “why” of each thing that is included.
In this, you will be pleasing to the Lord who has put these things in it for you to consider. Think about your own situation. If you are cut off or ignored in the middle of a conversation, you will feel as if what you say is unimportant. If you speak out something and find out the person you were with wasn’t paying attention, you will be offended that they had no care about the instructions you were giving. If you write a heartfelt letter to someone and you later find out they never read it, you will wonder if you have any meaning at all to that person.
Aren’t these the same ways we treat God when we fail to heed His word, when we read it and don’t pay heed to what we have read, or when we neglect reading it altogether? As such, think of how pleased He must be when we actively participate and engage with His word! Treat your Bible time as if it is the most personal and intimate part of your life because it truly is. Just like prayer, it is a time spent with God because it is time spent hearing, heeding, and hoping in His word.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for not making Your word a priority in our lives. We cherish each letter from a close friend or family member. We long to hear the voice of those we love, we remember the words that are spoken to us by those we care about. May we be just as attentive, even more attentive, to Your precious and lovingly transmitted word. Amen.
Monday Jul 24, 2023
Monday Jul 24, 2023
Monday, 24 July 2023
he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:2
The previous verse noted that Paul had arrived in Ephesus and met some disciples. That thought continues now, saying, “he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit.’” The text does not say why Paul asked this, but there is obviously something that made him suspect concerning their walk that must have precipitated the question. Further, there is no article before Holy Spirit. As Bengel notes, “the language is indefinite, to accord with the part (pro parte) of those who are being interrogated.”
With that understood, Paul next says what should be the case. Though this is a descriptive account, it carefully details what is normative with the words, “when you believed?” It is obvious that Paul understands that belief equates to reception. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the two. The verb is an aorist participle, “when you believed,” or more exactingly, “having believed.”
This is in accord with the words of Ephesians 1:13, 14 –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
It should be noted that Paul’s words of Ephesians, being a written epistle, are prescriptive. They outline what is always to be the case. Belief means sealing. It does not necessarily include what will occur in the coming verses in Acts. In other words, what occurs in these coming verses is a description of what happened at that time but it is not something that should necessarily be expected to occur. The only thing that can be expected is the sealing of the Spirit which occurs upon belief.
Expressed more fully, Paul’s words in Acts show that it is normative that the Spirit is received upon belief. That is confirmed in Ephesians. However, what occurs beyond that cannot be taken as normative, such as speaking in tongues and prophesying. These outward demonstrations that take place are described by Luke, but they are not to be taken as normative events. If they were, then Paul’s words of Ephesians would include that as well.
This is the problem with Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. They mix what is prescriptive and what is descriptive and they also take what is not normative and they assume it is normative. In this, they fail to rightly divide Scripture. This results in faulty theology. As for the account now, it continues with, “So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’”
In these words, it appears to be saying that they didn’t know of the existence of the Holy Spirit. This is not the intent of what is said. Rather, it was that they had not heard He had been given to the people of God. As Bengel says –
“...they could not have followed either Moses or John the Baptist, without hearing of the Holy Spirit Himself. [Therefore what they were ignorant of was, the effusion of the Holy Spirit peculiar to the New Testament.—V. g.]”
For example, the Holy Spirit is mentioned explicitly in Psalm 51:11, but He is inferred as far back as Genesis 1:2. He is referred to in verses such as Numbers 11:17 as well. When John the Baptist came, he spoke of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:11 and elsewhere. Thus, it could not be that they did not know of the existence of the Holy Spirit but of the reception of Him by believers. John 7:39 gives the sense –
“But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
The word “given” is inserted for clarity in this verse. It simply says, “the Holy Spirit was not yet.” Therefore, a translation such as the ERSV gives the sense of this verse in Acts –
“Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Ghost was given.”
What is being detailed here begins to explain why the account of Apollos was given just prior to this account now. If the narrative is closely analyzed and properly understood, there would not be as much poor doctrine permeating the church as there is.
Apollos “had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord” (Acts 18:25), even if he had not yet received the baptism Jesus spoke of. These disciples have not been so instructed. Thus, the account in Acts 19 is given to reveal to us what occurred as the church began (describing events as they happened) and to form a normative or not-normative basis for future events during similar circumstances.
In this case, it is normative and expected that when a person rightly believes, he will be sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is not normative, however, that external evidences of this sealing will occur. Further, water baptism, though expected for every believer in Jesus, is not required for being sealed with the Spirit, and thus being saved. This will continue to be fleshed out as the account continues.
Life application: Look at the difference between these two translations of this verse:
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? KJV
he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” NKJV
Just a few words can lead to a complete misunderstanding of what is being conveyed. The word “since” does not connect the two. It could be any amount of time from belief to reception. The two verbs are in the aorist tense and therefore denote instantaneous acts. Thus, the KJV is contrary to Eph 1:13, 14. The NKJV corrects this with the word “when.”
The word “since” can be expressed as a preposition to denote the intervening between two events, such as, “I haven’t spoken to Bob since the wedding.” It can be used as a conjunction, denoting a time in the past until the time being considered, which is usually the present, such as, “Daniel has been eating durian since he got here.” It can be a conjunction signifying “because,” such as, “Wade is happy, since better protections have resulted in fewer accidents at his office.” It can also be used as an adverb, such as, “Sergio took off for a Nephilim hunt and nobody has seen him since.”
None of these accurately equate to the Greek of Acts 19:2. The verb, as noted above, is an aorist participle, most appropriately rendered “having believed.” The error introduced by the Tyndale Bible of 1526 (or earlier), was carried on by the Coverdale Bible of 1535, the Bishop’s Bible of 1568, and the Geneva Bible of 1587.
The KJV and many other translations took the easy path and simply passed on what earlier translations had set forth. This has surely led to many people coming to faulty conclusions concerning the matter being presented. And, inevitably, faulty conclusions lead to faulty doctrine.
Be wise, be studious, and be willing to check things out. Don’t just accept what you read, hear, or see on a TV program or YouTube video. Theology is hard work, but it will pay off in a sound walk with the Lord and in the right doctrine to guide your life.
Heavenly Father, may we be responsible with the time You have given us, carefully searching out Your word and making sound conclusions concerning what it presents. It is of the greatest importance to a wholesome walk with You to know what is accurate and proper. Help us in this all our days. Amen.
Tuesday Jul 25, 2023
Tuesday Jul 25, 2023
Tuesday, 25 July 2023
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Acts 19:3
In the previous verse, Paul asked the disciples he met in Ephesus if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Their answer was that they had not heard about whether there is a Holy Spirit. Because of this, the narrative next says, “And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’”
Paul's question is obvious. If they are disciples, then how could they not know that the Holy Spirit had been given? A lot of information is left unstated so far in this account. First, in verse 1, it said, “and finding some disciples.” Paul met these people and they obviously claimed to be disciples of the Messiah. Otherwise, the content of what occurs would have no meaning.
Paul, assuming that they meant “Jesus the Messiah,” but still maybe wondering if they had received a false Messiah (see 2 Corinthians 11:4), asked about their receiving the Spirit in verse 2. Again, this must be the case because they are called disciples. At this point, they said that they were unaware of this part of the equation.
They are disciples, implying they are followers of someone.
Paul asks if they received the Spirit when they believed, implying that they claimed to be disciples of the Messiah, otherwise, Paul would not have asked this.
They are unaware of the giving of the Spirit.
Therefore, Paul asks them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
This is what has taken place. The obvious and certain meaning is that being disciples involved...? Anyone...? Yes, you., in the seventh row.
Very good. You get an A for the semester.
Paul would not have asked this unless it was understood that being a disciple of the Messiah involved being baptized.
With that understanding, completely supported by the surrounding text, it next says, “So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’”
Their answer explains the situation. They had been baptized into John's baptism. The rite of baptism is an outward reflection of the doctrine to which one adheres to. Their doctrine looked forward to the coming Messiah and the giving of the Spirit but it did not go any further.
As John never claimed to be the Messiah, the clear inference at this point is that these people had heard that John proclaimed the Messiah was coming. They believed his words and were baptized in John’s baptism. Thus, it by default made them disciples of the coming Messiah because John had died. Certainly knowing he had, they were expecting the coming of the Messiah that John proclaimed. And more, John died before the giving of the Spirit. These disciples probably traveled back home to Ephesus, never hearing about the coming of Jesus.
To understand what the faith of these disciples was based on, take time to read Luke 3:1-22. A short portion of this larger section will give an important part of that passage –
“Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 16 John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.’” Luke 3:15-17
Life application: John says that the One coming after Him would baptize His believers with the Holy Spirit and fire. Special note for hyperdispensationalists: This does not mean that this is the baptism Jesus refers to in Matthew 28:19. Jesus’ followers do not baptize anyone into the Holy Spirit, nor do they purify those who believe, symbolized by the fire. That is solely a work of the Lord.
In addition to proclaiming the coming Messiah, John baptized his believers. The reason for this is stated in the gospels, and it will be restated by Paul in the next verse. However, Jesus also told those who follow Him to make disciples and baptize. As noted above, the rite of baptism is an outward reflection of doctrine to which one adheres to.
This means every person who receives Jesus, believing His gospel, is to be baptized. It is a reflection of the doctrine that is adhered to when they believe – Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Paul’s question in the verse today clearly and unambiguously reveals that he expected that all disciples were to be baptized. Otherwise, the question would not have been asked.
If you have not been baptized as an outward demonstration of the inner change that has taken place in you, it is your responsibility to have this corrected. Be baptized, identifying yourself with the Lord who has already saved you because of your faith in Him.
Glorious Lord God, Jesus did not leave us with a long laundry list of things that we should do to honor Him. But two of the things He did leave for us to accomplish are to be baptized and to regularly observe the Lord’s Supper. May we be willing to observe these ordinances to honor Him accordingly. Amen.
Wednesday Jul 26, 2023
Wednesday Jul 26, 2023
Wednesday, 26 July 2023
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” Acts 19:4
In the previous verse, Paul had asked the disciples that he had met, “Into what then were you baptized?” Their answer was that they were baptized into John’s baptism. With that, it next says, “Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance.’”
This was the point and purpose of John’s baptism. He spoke to Israel, under the law, about their state before the law. John was calling the people back to obedience to the law because the law anticipated the coming of Christ. Three times in Matthew 3:1-12 he spoke of repentance. The word repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia. It means “a change of mind.” One is thinking one way and he is to change his mind and think another way.
In Matthew 3, when asked who he was, John cited the prophet Isaiah. A fuller portion of what Isaiah said was –
“’Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’Says your God.2 ‘Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,That her warfare is ended,That her iniquity is pardoned;For she has received from the Lord’s handDouble for all her sins.’3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord;Make straight in the desertA highway for our God.4 Every valley shall be exaltedAnd every mountain and hill brought low;The crooked places shall be made straightAnd the rough places smooth;5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,And all flesh shall see it together;For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” Isaiah 40:1-5
John claimed that he was the voice calling the people to repent, to change their minds about how they were living, and to turn to God in preparation for the coming of the Lord – the Messiah. This is not at all what Paul and the other apostles proclaimed. In Acts 2, Peter did tell the people of Israel to repent, but it wasn’t in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Rather, it was that the Messiah had come and they had crucified Him. They needed to repent of this, to change their mind about what they had done.
In the case of these disciples in Ephesus, they had been baptized into John. They had been told that the Messiah was coming and they needed to prepare themselves for that event. Paul then explains exactly what that meant with the words, “saying to the people that they should believe.”
There is no hint of repentance in the directive. The repentance John called for was directed to those of Israel under the law in anticipation of the coming Messiah. When He came, they were to believe. They would need no change of mind because their minds had been prepared for His coming. In the case of those in Acts 2, they had to change their minds because they had failed to be prepared for His coming. Now that the Messiah had come, they simply needed to believe “on Him who would come after him.”
John said He was coming. When He came, it would be evident. He would fulfill the ancient prophecies, He would be spotless before God in relation to the law, and He would fulfill the law in that capacity, etc. Their repentance, their changing of their minds, was to prepare their minds under the law to accept His fulfillment of the law. With that understood, Paul then explains who John was speaking about, saying, “that is, on Christ Jesus.”
The word Christ is Greek for the Hebrew word Messiah. Paul proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah and these disciples were to believe on Him. There is nothing affixed to that, just believe. With this verse, John the Baptist is never mentioned again in Scripture. The time of the law has given way to the time of grace. Salvation is something that is appropriated by belief in God’s provision of grace in the giving of His Son. Nothing can be added to that. The work is complete.
Life application: As noted above, the word “repent” means “to change one’s mind.” It means nothing more. The word does not mean, “turn from your sin before you can be saved.” When a person is presented with the gospel, he is told that he is a sinner – “Christ died for your sins.” If Christ died for sins, it means that there are sins in his life that Jesus needed to die for. In believing this, it is an acknowledgment by the person that he is a sinner in need of a Savior.
No list of sins is necessary to be presented to the person, identifying what it means to sin before God. The statement “Christ died for your sins” is all-encompassing. When the person believes this by faith, his sins are forgiven – all of them. Only after this occurs does a person then find out what is pleasing to God and what is displeasing to Him.
In other words, someone may be a notorious liar, a homosexual, a brawler, a thief, and a murderer. When he is given the gospel, “Do you know that you are a sinner and that Jesus died for your sins?”, the person giving the gospel may not know a single thing about that person. The person being spoken to may say, “I know I am a sinner and I know I have offended God. I am so relieved that God sent His Son to die for me. I believe!”
It is at this moment, and no other, that he is saved. He has not yet given up on any of the wicked things he has been doing. He may not even know which things he is doing are offensive to God. Only now, after his salvation, does he start to learn what he does that is in need of change. By saying, “You must give up XX, XX, and XX before you can be saved,” you have presented a false gospel of works. This person may do what he is told and he now believes he merits God’s forgiveness. This is not the gospel at all. It is an affront to God who sent His Son to die for this person’s sins. His turning from those things may not equate to belief in Jesus’ work at all.
Be sure to get the gospel down properly. If you misrepresent the gospel, you are not presenting the gospel.
O God, we just can’t seem to get grace. We say we believe it, we tell people about it, and yet we then add to what Jesus has done when telling others about what they need to do in order to be pleasing to You. We remove grace from the equation and bring back deeds of self. Forgive us of this. Help us to properly present the gospel of grace. Jesus has done it all. What we need to be saved is faith in Jesus, plus nothing. Amen.
Thursday Jul 27, 2023
Thursday Jul 27, 2023
Thursday, 27 July 2023
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:5
In the previous verse, Paul noted that John’s baptism was one of repentance and that John told his audience that they should believe on Him who would come after him. With that, the account now continues with, “When they heard this.”
Rather, being an aorist participle, it reads, “And they, having heard.” They were listening to Paul, they were moved by his words, obviously believing what Paul had said, and so “they were baptized.”
It is the normative action that takes place upon conversion, for both Jew and Gentile, during the church age. There is belief followed by baptism. These were followers of John who believed his words about the Messiah that was coming. Paul proclaimed the Messiah that had come, thus fulfilling John’s words. And so, they were baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
These people had obviously not participated in the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. Therefore, they did not have to “repent” as Peter called out to Israel in Acts 2. This is purposefully left out of the account by Luke.
There are various ways of looking at what occurred here. The first is that they were literally baptized in water and then Paul laid his hands on them. Thus, it is a re-baptism of water. If so, it is the only explicit instance of it in the New Testament. No such record of the 11 apostles being baptized was given, and yet they had the Spirit.
However, it would be an argument from silence to say that this was not the normal practice for those who had once been baptized by John to be rebaptized into Jesus after He completed His work. In fact, this account in Acts 19 suggests that this is exactly what occurred.
Another possibility is that they were baptized into the name of Jesus by their belief, not literally in water. However, as noted in a previous commentary, it is Jesus who baptizes with the Spirit, not an apostle. The order of what occurs here is baptism, then the laying on of the hands (in the next verse), at which time the Spirit is received.
Thus, this is – with all certainty – water baptism that is being referred to. This is what occurred with those in Samaria in Acts 8, even if the time between baptism and then the laying on of hands and the reception of the Spirit was greater.
Life application: As can be seen from the record of what occurs in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19 (and in other accounts) baptism is different for each. To pick one account, such as Acts 2, and claim that this is what must happen in the church today, is arbitrary and has no merit. Each account simply describes what occurred without regard to prescribing anything.
The only normative part of the process is that all who believe are saved and the customary rite that is involved after belief is baptism. There is also no instance where a person is baptized into Jesus prior to conversion. That is also not taught anywhere in the epistles. Therefore, infant baptism has no standing within biblical Christianity.
With the church fully established and the word of God complete, the proper order for what is to be done is:
Hear the gospel (Romans 10:17).
Believe the message (Romans 10:17).
Receive the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14).
Be baptized as directed by Jesus (Matthew 28:19).
Not yet been baptized? You are not fulfilling your obligation to the directive of the Lord who saved you. Go get baptized.
Lord God, how good and precious it is to our souls to be in Your presence and to share in Your goodness. For those who have believed the gospel, we are in Christ. We have gone from death to life, from futility to surety, and from hopelessness to a sure and eternal hope. Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Friday Jul 28, 2023
Friday Jul 28, 2023
Friday, 28 July 2023
And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:6
In the previous verse, the disciples Paul was speaking to were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Despite this, and unlike Cornelius and his household, it does not say that the Spirit fell on them. Rather, something similar to what occurred in Acts 8 now takes place. They were first baptized. After this, it says, “And when Paul had laid hands on them.”
The word “when” is not in the Greek, it more rightly says, “And Paul, having laid on them the hands.” As this is not what has previously occurred with Paul’s baptisms, the Spirit seems to have impelled him to do this. Whether this is the case or not, this is the same order as the events in Acts 8 –
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:12-17
With that remembered, and continuing in the same order as in Acts 8, it next says, “the Holy Spirit came upon them.”
Nothing like this is recorded in Acts 16 when Lydia and her household were baptized. Likewise, nothing like this is recorded when the jailor and his household were baptized later in Acts 16. Despite this, Luke carefully records the events now, revealing a particular sequence of events that are followed by more details. As it says, “and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
As the verbs are imperfect, it should say “they were speaking with tongues and prophesying.” This event is not unlike that which occurred in Acts 2 –
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4
The speaking in tongues and prophesying by these people in Ephesus would also have been as the Spirit gave them utterance. The word “tongues” signifies a known language, not gibberish. Prophesying refers to the praising of God, possibly foretelling, and also possibly forth-telling.
Some possible reasons for how things have transpired here are.
This was to confirm to these Jews that Jesus truly was the Messiah John prophesied of. The evidence of this was the Spirit coming upon them.
This was to confirm that their water baptism into Jesus was accepted.
As these disciples of John had not been a part of the rejection of Jesus, there was no need to repent offor that as was the case with the Jews in Acts 2.
The laying on of hands was to confirm Paul as a true apostle to these people who were first hearing the saving message concerning Jesus.
Life application: The events taking place in Acts 19 are different than any other conversion experience found in Acts. There are good reasons for the things that have taken place as noted above. So, when you are reading the Bible, stop and make notes or lists to reasonably explain what might be taking place.
You can refer to them when evaluating other passages that are similar but which may not be identical. This will help you to more readily grasp why the differences may exist. We are being given instruction concerning what God wants us to know as we read the Bible, but it can be complicated. Making such notes is a good way of helping you to process why things are set forth.
The more time and effort you put into your reading and study of the Bible, the more grounded you will be in your relationship with the Lord who gave you this word to ponder.
Lord God, it is so refreshing to search out Your word and to find wonderful insights into the wisdom that is presented there. May we be responsible to spend quality time in it each day, cherishing its contents and reveling in its wonders! Thank You for Your precious word. Amen.
Saturday Jul 29, 2023
Saturday Jul 29, 2023
Saturday, 29 July 2023
Now the men were about twelve in all. Acts 19:7
The previous verse noted what occurred after Paul baptized the disciples introduced in verse 19:1. He subsequently laid hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. When this occurred, they were speaking in tongues and prophesying. With that remembered, Luke provides detail about them as a group, saying, “Now the men were about twelve in all.”
It is a curious verse because the word “about” leaves one to wonder. How simple it would be to just say, “there were eleven of them,” or “there were twelve of them.” However, this misses the point of what is being said. To get what is being presented, there are a few things to consider.
First, this is something Luke does elsewhere, such as –
“Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age.” Luke 3:23
“For there were about five thousand men.Then He said to His disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of fifty.’” Luke 9:14
In the first example, Luke – under inspiration of the Holy Spirit – appears to have been purposefully making a connection to Genesis 41:46 which would then tie his ministry into the typology set forth in the life of Joseph.
In the second example, one could argue that it would be much harder to be definitive about five thousand than it would be about twelve. But the point is not the number at all. Rather, it is that these are men.
In other words, the counting of numbers in this manner is focused on the men alone. Therefore, including women and children, the number would probably have been between fifteen and twenty thousand people. In this case, it can be assumed that these disciples, being fully grown people who had been to Israel and heard John and received his baptism, also included women, whether wives, sisters, daughters, mothers, etc.
The people may have gone as a group on a pilgrim feast and while in the land heard John’s words and became his disciples. This is all speculation, but the matter that there were certainly women included is valid. Therefore, the number was probably between thirty-five and fifty in total.
The “about twelve” makes complete sense when considered from this perspective. The man is the head of the household. Saying “about twelve men” would be equivalent to saying, “about twelve households.”
One can see Luke talking to Paul and asking him about the event so that he could record it in his ongoing narrative, “Well how many were there?” Paul responds, “Oh, about a dozen men.” Thus, Luke wrote down what he heard, “Now the men were about twelve in all.” These men, along with any family that held to the baptism of John, would have made a rather sizeable addition to the body of Christ in Ephesus.
Life application: Despite the brevity of the verse, there are quite a few variations in the translation. All say essentially the same thing, but some contain commas for clarity, one version makes this verse parenthetical, various translations change the order of the words, etc.
Taking the older translations and considering what they say, it is good that newer translations have rearranged the words. Versions such as the Coverdale (1535), the Bishop’s Bible (1568), the Geneva Bible (1587), and the KJV (1611) say, “And all the men were about twelve.”
Though the translation is acceptable, it leaves an unnecessary ambiguity in the predicate. Saying that “all the men were about twelve” can actually mean that their age is about twelve. With a little thought, this could have been easily corrected.
In other words, someone could say, “That is the age of the bar mitzvah! The disciples were just young men.” As crazy as that may sound, even more ludicrous ideas about Scripture are set forth on any given day. A humorous, if not incredibly sad, example of this is using Ezekiel 13:20 as rendered by the KJV to deny the doctrine of the rapture –
“Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.”
If there is one thing man is inclined to do, it is to abuse Scripture to make it fit presuppositions and biases. Faulty or ambiguous translations naturally lead to this type of thing. Be sure to not jump to hasty conclusions without doing a thorough study of what is being presented. The word of God is far too precious to abuse just to supposedly prove one’s presuppositions.
Lord God, it is so wonderful to be a part of Your church. It is a church that has had previous souls added to it for two thousand years. People who have lived in darkness have been brought into Your marvelous light through the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Help us to continue to spread the word. May we be willing to share this good news with any and all who cross our paths. Amen.
Sunday Jul 30, 2023
Sunday Jul 30, 2023
Sunday, 30 July 2023
And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. Acts 19:8
The previous verse finished the account concerning those who had been disciples of John and who had received Christ and been baptized into Him. Now, the direction changes as Luke records, “And he went into the synagogue.”
This is referring to Paul. It was his custom to commit himself to speaking in the local synagogue if they would have him. It is also the fulfillment of the promise made in Acts 18:19-21 where he promised he would return to the synagogue and continue to reason with them –
“And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, ‘I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.’ And he sailed from Ephesus.”
He has honored his commitment by now returning to them. And his offer was accepted, as it next says, “and spoke boldly for three months.”
This is a long time to debate the issues at hand, but their curiosity had been piqued in verse 18:20. On his return, he gave them a full hearing on the matter. If they were only opened on the Sabbath, three months would mean about twelve gatherings. If they were like the Bereans, meeting daily, it would be a lot more time in the word.
Either way, this means that they were at least willing to take an in-depth look into the matter at hand. His efforts were involved in, as it next says, “reasoning and persuading.”
The first word is the same one used when he was previously there in Acts 18:19, dialegomai. It signifies to get a conclusion across. He had a subject that he wished to discuss thoroughly. As such, he carefully went through the entire subject very thoroughly in his attempt to convey what brought him to his own understanding of the matter.
The second word is correctly translated. He was involved in the process of persuading his audience of the truths “concerning the things of the kingdom of God.”
Paul had come to understand much more fully what this term entailed. The Jews anticipated an earthly kingdom patterned after the kingship of David. Paul showed them that this view, at least in the immediate program, was faulty. Though not denying a future literal reign of Christ on earth, he carefully explains how the kingdom involves more than just that.
Writing to those of Ephesus who had accepted the message, he gives insights into this kingdom –
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
He specifically calls this new dynamic a kingdom in Ephesians 5:5 and elsewhere in his other epistles. He further writes of the citizenship of believers. A person who is a citizen of a kingdom is a citizen under a king. It is these types of things that Paul would have carefully conveyed to those in the synagogue at Ephesus. Despite this effort on his part, it should be remembered that during all this time, Paul continued to work with his own hands, as will be seen in Acts 20:34.
Life application: Paul writes about the state of believers, demonstrating that we are subjects of the King, Jesus. He notes that we are members in His kingdom, he speaks of our citizenship in this kingdom, etc. And yet, there are those who deny that Christ is a King reigning over the Gentile-led church. In Romans 14, he writes –
“Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:16-18
One cannot be in a kingdom unless there is a king over that kingdom. We are both members of a kingdom now and yet we await our state in the kingdom that is to come. There is nothing contradictory in this.
And yet, Paul does not deny that there will be a literal kingdom on earth as prophesied in the Old Testament. His focus is on the church and its state, but he also speaks of Israel’s national salvation in Romans 9-11. Their national salvation implies that they will then be in the position promised by the prophets. That is clearly explained by Jesus in the gospels, and it is confirmed in Revelation 20.
The word “kingdom” as noted in this verse of Acts is not a single topic, but it is a broad and all-encompassing term used to speak of the various aspect of the headship of Jesus over His people, both now and into the future as well as over His church and over Israel the nation.
Be careful to not fall for the illogical arguments of those who deny Christ as our reigning King (such as hyperdispensationalists) or Christ as the King who will reign over Israel during the millennium (such as that taught by replacement theology).
Lord God, it is amazing to see redemptive history unfolding before our very eyes. We are citizens of a kingdom that is spiritual in nature. Someday, we will be brought into that heavenly kingdom in a new and eternal way. And yet, we see Israel regathered from among the nations and being prepared for an earthly kingdom. Someday, that will be realized and will endure for a thousand years. Our own eyes are beholding these things. How amazing it is for us to see! Amen.
Tuesday Aug 01, 2023
Tuesday Aug 01, 2023
Tuesday, 1 August 2023
And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. Acts 19:10
In the previous verse, Paul had moved from the synagogue to the school of Tyrannus. Now being established there, it next says, “And this continued for two years.” Adding this to the time already spent in the synagogue, Paul worked well into his third year in Ephesus. Charles Ellicott believes that it may have been during this time that Paul also established the other churches in Asia noted in Revelation 2 & 3.
This is possible, or it could be that travelers to Ephesus heard the word there and went back to establish a church in their local area. Regardless, it should be noted that Paul continued to work with his own hands throughout the entire time (Acts 20:34). He never sponged off of those he ministered to but continued to support himself while also raising up new converts and discipling those who were converted.
It is also believed that he may have visited other established churches during this period as well, such as Corinth. In 2 Corinthians 12:14, he notes that his impending visit would be his third to them. If that is the same as the visit recorded in Acts 20:2, 3, which follows his time in Ephesus, then he may have taken a short visit during this two-year period to see them and build them up.
As for his time now being recorded in Ephesus, Luke next notes, “so that all who dwelt in Asia.” The verb is a present participle. It more rightly is rendered “all those dwelling in Asia.” The words of instruction from Paul actively went out beyond the school of Tyrannus.
As for the words themselves, they are to be taken as a form of hyperbole. It is reasonable to think that not everyone in Ephesus, much less the province of Asia, was affected by Paul’s ministry. Rather, it is a way of saying that his efforts were available to all in Asia.
Such superlative statements are found in the gospels, Acts, and the epistles. One example to demonstrate this would be –
“Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.” Matthew 3:4-6
“And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Luke 7:29, 30
Thus, the point of the superlative is to say that John’s baptism was available to all. None were turned away who desired it. Likewise, Paul’s ministry and his proclamation were, likewise, available to all.
As Ephesus was a great hub of trade and commerce, it is not surprising that the word went out to other parts of Asia or that Paul could personally go from there on short mission trips or even send others who were trained in the word to do so.
Noting that it included all of Asia and not just Ephesus, it also lends credence to the thought that the other churches in Asia were probably established by, or at least had an initial point that was affected by, Paul. As for what Paul proclaimed, that is explained by the words that these people “heard the word of the Lord Jesus.”
This means the doctrine concerning the Lord Jesus, but specifically the gospel. As Paul proclaimed what he had been personally instructed by the Lord (Galatians 1:12), then the word of Paul is the word of the Lord Jesus – both about and from. With that understood, Luke next notes this word went out to “both Jews and Greeks.”
Despite Paul removing himself from the synagogue, he did not remove the Jews from his evangelistic efforts. Being a tent maker, he would have remained in an area where other Jews plied their trades as well. Thus, even if not in the synagogue, his words would continue among his people as well as among the Greek population.
Life application: It is not uncommon for a pastor, preacher, or teacher to dogmatically claim that every “every” in the Bible means exactly that, or that all “all’s” in the Bible must be taken literally. This is not a responsible way to consider what is being expressed. In fact, the opposite is quite often the case.
One must be familiar with the entire context of such a claim before making it. Otherwise, a false idea will be instilled in the heads of those being instructed. Be aware of the use of such superlatives. As you read the Bible, maybe highlight them and keep them in mind. As you continue through the word, consider what you have highlighted. This will help you to properly consider the use of the words. It will also help you to expand your knowledge base in other areas.
Doing a study in one area will inevitably lead you to draw conclusions in other areas as well. Keep expanding yourself through contemplating, meditating upon, and analyzing this precious word. You will be rewarded in heart and soul as you do, and you will be pleasing to the Lord who gave the word in the first place.
Lord God, may we carefully consider Your word, not coming to unfounded conclusions about it. Rather, help us to be responsible in how we analyze it. There is a lifetime of study ahead of us, so help us to be patient and methodical as we search out its wonders. Thank You, O God, for Your precious and sacred word. Amen.