Priscilla and Aquilla’s encounter with Apollos in Acts 18:24-28 would certainly appear to be providential, as the man knew the scriptures concerning the Christ well, taught many, and spoke eloquently. But it would seem that all of the good news of Jesus had not yet reached him, so the two set him on the right course. Now becoming a powerful worker for the Lord, Apollos had gone to Corinth. Paul came to Ephesus and found some disciples that had likely been taught by Apollos previously. They, like Apollos, only knew of the baptism of John. After being baptized, Paul layed his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Paul taught in the synagogue there for three months (verse 8), but some were not persuaded and some unbelievers began “speaking evil of the Way before the congregation.” “The Way” was a name used for Christianity during those times, as by Luke several times in Acts (Acts 19:9,23;22:4;24:14,22) and in secular history as well (such as written by Josephus, for example).
So Paul removed himself and took the disciples with him, teaching “in the hall of Tyrannus” daily (verse 9). This continued for two years (verse 10), and the following Scriptures speak of the great miracles God worked there through Paul in verses 11-17, including an account in 13-16 of the sons of the Jewish high priest, Sceva, being overpowered by an evil spirit they tried to cast out themselves. Note the key in verse 13 where they said “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” This was not only a lack of authority, but of faith – and it ends badly for them. But the miracles the Lord had worked had a mighty effect on the people listening to the word that Paul and the disciples were preaching.
Paul stayed for a while but sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia, resolving to go there as well as Achaia, where Apollos had gone (Acts 18:27), as well as Rome (verse 21). But then things turned ugly in Ephesus. A silversmith named Demetrius made silver shrines to the Greek “goddess” Artemis (her Roman counterpart in mythology was “Diana”). Paul’s preaching against idols was costing Demetrius money. He gathered similar tradesmen and merchants, and provoked a riot.
Mob violence and confusion ruled, as the disturbance grew large enough that most involved didn’t even know what it was about. They dragged Paul’s companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, into the theater. Paul wanted to go in, but the disciples (and some Asiarchs – high-ranking officials of the Roman province) prevented him. It was the Ephesian town clerk that finally was able to disperse the crowds, pointing out that they were in danger of being charged with rioting by Roman authorities.
Side note: A picture of the ruins at Ephesus is in this article at Ferrell’s Travel Blog; and several great pictures, including what is left of the temple of Artemis, as well as the theater involved in the riot are in this article at BiblePlaces.com.
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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