My dad could never understand when I said that as clergy we were going on a retreat. Commonly, amongst other titles such a gathering over a few days was known as a Clergy Retreat. The idea was we retreated from our normal ministry to get away for times of personal and corporate prayer, Bible Study as well as guest preachers teaching us over the time we were there. All dad heard was “retreat”. To him it was unheard of that pastors retreat from their duty. The concept of retreating at war was dominant in his mind. Today we return to Paul’s ministry in Ephesus:
Ac 19:9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. 11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, Ac 19:12so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
1) Paul moving his ministry. He did not retreat … he relocated his teaching ministry! It was impossible for Paul to remain teaching in the synagogue whilst some of the Jews were obstinate and refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. Ministry under such attacks is not profitable for those wanting to listen and certain unhelpful where it came to the integrity of the Way! So Paul departed from the synagogue. He took those who were disciples with him. The word “took” means “to created boundaries, by cutting themselves off from others”. In this way, Paul could continue his ministry without interruption from those Jews who were bent on destroying or corrupting his ministry. I heard of extreme tensions within a Church reaching university students. The leaders of the Church were mostly older, seasoned men and the pastor was middle aged. As the pastor, he tried to take the Church in a direction different to that of the denomination they belonged to. Some of the leaders stood their ground against the pastor whilst a few supported him. It was equally difficult on both sides to worship together. The pastor struggled to preach. The tension between his supporters and opponents was such they did not speak to each other … and their friction naturally flowed into the congregation. Ministry cannot be done where there is opposition to the preacher! (In this case the opposition was right but the effects of the friction caused serious problems. The pastor resigned and moved on.)
2) Paul ministering at Tyrannus’ lecture hall. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. Tyrannus is only mentioned once in the Bible, so we don’t know more than what the text says. The hall might have been a school of some sort. Whether it had a religious affiliation or not we don’t know. What we do know is that Paul had two years of freedom to teach the Word of God. The word “discussions” is the same word used before, but translated differently. I repeat my comments on verse 8 of yesterday … the words “arguing persuasively” are translated in verse 9 as discussions … (The word arguing, also translated as reasoning has the idea of mingling thoughts with thoughts. One gets the picture of Paul taking Jewish “thoughts” (doctrine, theology and teaching) and lining it up against Christian “thoughts” (doctrine, theology and teaching), showing that the “New” replaced the obsolete “Old”. The next word is persuading, which means to “cause belief in a thing” or “induce one by words to believe”.) The discussion Paul conducted had the same intention … proving from the Jewish Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ; that He had come; died and rose again and everything that meant for salvation. Once again we are brought face to face with a teaching ministry. Many today want preaching that tickles their fancy. They want “lift me up” messages. They want prosperity messages. They want supernatural performances. They want excitement, laughter, endless singing followed by motivational talks. Few want real Biblical expositional preaching. In other words, they want God on their terms. They want to tell God what they want as if they know better than God! A careful reading of the Bible will show what they want does not exist in the Bible. They want “candy floss”. When you buy candy floss, it fills the plastic bag. If you don’t eat it soon, it shrinks and flattens. That’s what they want. The last thing they desire is a message that tells them what they need. They need the real Jesus through repentance and faith. They need what God wants for them not what they want for themselves. O my beloved I cannot labor this point enough. Unless the teaching and preaching is Christ centered, it is man centered and is candy floss. Avoid this at all costs!
3) Day by day for two years this continued. After this period, under Paul’s ministry there must have been many strong, robust followers of the Lord Jesus.
Ac 19:10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
This is amazing. Everyone Jew and Gentile in the whole of the Province of Asia heard the Word of God. Naturally Paul would have had his helpers such as Priscilla and Aquila to support his ministry. Two thoughts arise here.
(1) The day by day ministry points to the fact that a Sunday sermon is not sufficient to prepare a person theologically and doctrinally for life, service and eternity. Even when you add personal daily devotions it is insufficient. Instruction in the Word of the Lord needs to happen at least twice a week … and without being fanatical, more if possible. The Church we attend does not have an evening service, but we have a Sunday School class before the morning worship hour. We have an evening study every second weeks and the ladies have a Thursday Study. Luke writes … “heard the word of the Lord” … this needs to happen.
(2) The other thought is sharing a ministry to reach more people. A pastor cannot make more inroads than those who come to Church. He needs suitably trained (discipled) people to assist him. People who have an evangelistic heart, filled with urgency in reaching lost souls.
4) The results of Paul’s ministry. What followed was because of the goodness of God. He placed His hand upon Paul’s ministry.
Ac 19:11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
(1) Before we proceed … please note that verse 11 starts like this … “God did”. Miss this and read the text incorrectly. Those two words mean that the omnipotent, sovereign God was present and He did the wonders that follow. Too often today, so called miracles are attributed to a man. God is not present there!
(2) Observe the words “extraordinary miracles”. Extraordinary in this context means “uncommon” or “not happening readily”. The word miracles means “mighty power”. We shall return to this verse tomorrow, but for now consider:
(a) God is the source behind what happened through Paul because these things were totally uncommon. They were so unnatural it needed God’s omnipotence to bring them about.
(b) When the omnipotence of God is release, it is His mighty power that comes upon individuals.
(c) God uses men who are holy, dedicated to His glory and Kingdom. There is no self-glory and personal kingdoms, Rolls Royce motorcars, personal jets and luxury mansions.
(d) It is all about God and nothing of man. Too often personal fame, name and image bites, proving God has no part of what is supposed to be happening. Miss these closing points and you shall not understand what follows.
Our Father, the glory is always Yours. We are only weak, humble servants of You, our Great and Glorious King. Educate us through Your Word as our pastors teach and grow us more into the likeness of our Savior Jesus. Amen.