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The coins in the above photo are attributed to the author under the licence agreement noted on the following page – Didrachme de Ionie
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Message of the Kingdom produces contrite hearts in Ephesus
We just dipped our toe in the waters of Acts 19 last week where we heard that Paul had taught for 3 months in the synagogue at Ephesus, until Jews who refused to believe and hindered his teachings. So he left their company and began to teach in the school or lecture hall of Tyrannus.
So we pick up in verse 8 of Acts 19…
“(8) So Paul entered the synagogue and spoke out fearlessly for three months, addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God. (9) But when some were stubborn and refused to believe, reviling “the Way” before the congregation, he left them and took the disciples with him, addressing them every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.”
“(10) This went on for two years, so that all who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.”
Other translations call this the school of Tyrannus. Which is true is uncertain.
One thing that has been said is that Paul almost certainly spoke there daily between 11am-4pm which is evidently the mid-part of the day when people had some reprieve from their work day or, if you were in school – from your classes. So, naturally the lecture hall would be free during those hours.
Of note is that Paul continued to teach in synagogues to the Jews in each city until they made that impossible or until it was clear that it was pointless. Also, the message he taught was NOT about salvation, forgiveness of sins, heaven…but the Kingdom of God.
These things were NO DOUBT included in the teaching, but they were NOT the focus! The Kingdom of God and submission to the Lord of the Kingdom Jesus Christ the righteous was being set forth as “THE WAY”. The way to what? The way to honor God, the way to live your life, the way into the Kingdom of God, the way to have your sins forgiven, the way to begin to live free from sin’s dominion, the way to knowing God in intimacy and yes…the way to heaven.
“(11) God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, (12) so that when even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his body were brought to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.”
Now in order to fully appreciate extraordinary miracles we need a reminder of what regular miracles are!
A miracle is a supernatural intervention into the normal or ordinary course of nature.
So by definition, a miracle is extraordinary. So what would it take to make an already extraordinary occurrence – even MORE extraordinary?
In this case it was allowing Paul to “be” places he could not be or to be in more places than one at a time.
It is super important to point out that even standard miracles )if they can even be referred to as such) are not something man can conjure upon will. It is, again by definition, a supernatural intervention. So it is BY the Holy Spirit’s will NOT by our will or even by our need!
So if that is true for the garden variety of miracles, and I’m being deliberately sardonic here, then it is all the more WAY OUTSIDE OF OUR POWER to conjure EXTRA-ordinary miracles!
I call attention to this because SO MANY have attempted to lay hands on and anoint with oil handkerchiefs to send out to the sick for healing, to the possessed for deliverance and even for lost loved ones that they might come to salvation. They do this, believing that if God did it once it WILL do again – and that upon demand!
God help us all – this has even been done by ministries for money!
“Just send us a tax deductible donation of $20 or more and we will speed out to you one of these especially anointed prayer cloths for you or your loved one!”
Let me just suggest to you that people who do such things are deceived at best or charlatans at worst!
Paul warns Timothy that…
“(3) If someone spreads false teachings and does not agree with sound words (that is, those of our Lord Jesus Christ) and with the teaching that accords with godliness, (4) he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in controversies and verbal disputes. This gives rise to envy, dissension, slanders, evil suspicions, (5) and constant bickering by people corrupted in their minds and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit.
(6) Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit.
(7) For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. (8) But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that.
(9) Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (10) For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.” – 1Timothy 6:3-10.
Just on a whim I priced bulk handkerchiefs yesterday and someone like me, who does not have huge buying power – I could purchase these clothes for less than 50¢ a piece – their bottom asking price is $20 -that is a HUGE mark up!
Bottom line – what I AM saying and what I am NOT saying…
What I AM saying – If God ever did it, He certainly could do it again – but it MUST be at HIS leading!
What I am NOT saying – is that it is always wrong.
Is it wrong to send a cloth you have prayed over and even anointed with oil in the HOPE that it will serve as an encouragement towards trust towards God regarding healing or deliverance or whatever? Well not necessarily, especially if the recipient knows you are not claiming any known special miraculous power from God.
However, and I believe this is the real crux of the matter – we stand to cause more damage than good.
Clothes with prayer and anointing oil stand to be more of the focus to the recipient as if somehow this cloth carries in it the power of God. In practice it is dangerously close to replacing God with an object and thus an idol.
Sound silly? Well yeah I’d agree, but we are pretty silly beings!
When you have a race of people who could believe that
- throwing salt over your shoulder can ward off evil spirits
- breaking a mirror can cause years of bad luck
- that the 13th of the month is a bad thing if it happen to fall on a Friday
…then yeah, I think we are silly enough to turn our focus away from God Himself, to something God may or may not have “anointed” and if we do it for profit then we have crossed the line!
“(13) But some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were possessed by evil spirits, saying,
“I sternly warn you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
Wow… “sternly warn you?” Really? Isn’t that a lot like saying, “Stop… or I’ll say stop again!”
“Sternly warning” a demon when you have no power to back up your warning is of no value and they know it. If you COULD have done anything, you’d have done it. You wouldn’t have first issued them a warning.
What does that even mean? I warn you that I am about to cast you out… or I warn you that if you do not behave yourself I WILL cast you out? I mean, how silly of a thing was this anyway?!
“(14) (Now seven sons of a man named Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were doing this.)
(15) But the evil spirit replied to them,
“I know about Jesus and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?”
(16) Then the man who was possessed by the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them all into submission. He prevailed against them so that they fled from that house naked and wounded.
(17) This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; fear came over them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised.
(18) Many of those who had believed came forward, confessing and making their deeds known.
Now it would be a stretch to say that such was 100% necessary for salvation. Much of what we see in regard to repentance before God as a precursor to salvation has to do with changing the mind regarding salvation itself and Jesus in particular.
The mind set that needs changing in the lost is one of the following…
- That what they have done is sin
- That they need forgiveness
- That they cannot earn that forgiveness themselves
They also need to see Jesus as the ONLY answer to all the above…
- I need forgiveness and that can only come through faith in Jesus and His work on the cross – I am placing the whole of my reliance upon Jesus for salvation!
I do not know that it is ever necessary to confess before all men the sins you were committing before coming to God through Jesus.
That having been said, I believe it is often the sign of a truly and deeply contrite heart.
True repentance is one of the most beautiful things in the entirety of God’s creation to witness. It falls nothing short of the butterfly who sheds its cocoon before drying its wings in the sun and flying away. It is pure beauty itself!
John tells us,
“(19) Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. (21) But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.” – John 3:19-21
In the same way that there is arguably nothing more beautiful than true repentance, there is NOTHING more objectionable and disgustingly ugly than pretentious contrition. A heart that only admits to what they have to and that reluctantly has no salvation whatsoever – nor any forgiveness!
It is a filthy mockery of something sacred, holy and pure before God!
“(19) Large numbers of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them up in the presence of everyone.”
True repentance had happened here – a deep disdain for all they had done before because they have now seen God through the Lord Jesus and His beauty surpasses all they once held dear! They willingly and passionately forsook all – and that publicly – that they might fully embrace Christ!
To such people salvation cannot even be questioned!
They are those who Jesus illustrated in His parables recorded in Matthew –
“(44) The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field.
(45) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. (46) When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:44-46.
These people saw true value in Christ, even as Peter says,
1Peter 2:6-12, “(6) For it says in scripture, “Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and whoever believes in him will never be put to shame.” (7) So you who believe see his value, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone , (8) and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (10) You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. (11) Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, (12) and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.”
“When the value of the books was added up, it was found to total fifty thousand silver coins.
(20) In this way the word of the Lord continued to grow in power and to prevail.”
Oh the true value of Christ is impossible to measure since it is truly infinite!
There is SO much in these verses.
Notice that these true converts gave proof to their conversion by literally burning their bridges to their past lives which they now disdained! Such a passionate display spoke more than words could EVER say before the on looking eyes of those in Ephesus!
For some perspective, the value of 50,000 silver coins was substantial. The coin being referred to here was almost certainly a drachma which was approximately a day’s wages at the time. So this would have been enough money to pay 50,000 workers for a day. Put into modern terms, the minimum wage being $10/hr. and the average day worked about 8 hours equals $80/day. $80 x 50,000 equates to about 4 million dollars went up in smoke before all who watched.
Interestingly enough, nothing is said about these people being baptized. Though I do not doubt that they were, I believe the point and effect of baptism had already been achieved in this display.
It showed a real and genuine death to their old life and a rebirth into a life lived in devotion to Jesus!
It reminds me of the story of the man who was baptized in his super expensive 3 piece suite – knowing it would ruin it, but since it represented the life of sin and godless affluence he’d lived before he came to Christ he thought it appropriate and poetic to destroy that suite along with his devotion to his past life in the waters of baptism!
“(21) Now after all these things had taken place, Paul resolved to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia.
He said, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
(22) So after sending two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, he himself stayed on for a while in the province of Asia.
(23) At that time a great disturbance took place concerning “the Way”. (24) For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought a great deal of business to the craftsmen.
(25) He gathered these together, along with the workmen in similar trades, and said,
“Men, you know that our prosperity comes from this business. (26) And you see and hear that this Paul has persuaded and turned away a large crowd, not only in Ephesus but in practically all of the province of Asia, by saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all.
(27) There is danger not only that this business of ours will come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be regarded as nothing, and she whom all the province of Asia and the world worship will suffer the loss of her greatness.”
(28) When they heard this they became enraged and began to shout, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
(29) The city was filled with the uproar, and the crowd rushed to the theater together, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, the Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling companions.
(30) But when Paul wanted to enter the public assembly, the disciples would not let him. (31) Even some of the provincial authorities who were his friends sent a message to him, urging him not to venture into the theater.
(32) So then some were shouting one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had met together.
(33) Some of the crowd concluded it was about Alexander because the Jews had pushed him to the front. Alexander, gesturing with his hand, was wanting to make a defense before the public assembly. (34) But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” for about two hours.
(35) After the city secretary quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, what person is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the keeper of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image that fell from heaven?
(36) So because these facts are indisputable, you must keep quiet and not do anything reckless. (37) For you have brought these men here who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess.
(38) If then Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against someone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges against one another there.
(39) But if you want anything in addition, it will have to be settled in a legal assembly.
(40) For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause we can give to explain this disorderly gathering.” (41) After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.”
This was part of the beauty of living in Rome. The Empire liked inward peace – NOT disturbance. If a governor or proconsul of a given province could not maintain peace, a decision would surely come down from Rome and it would settle the issue once for all!
This was a civil dispute and therefore was NOT to be decided in the streets by mobs and the court of public opinion, but before the city’s courts or before the official proconsul.
According to Spiros Zodhiates, “A proconsul was a person sent as governor into a Roman province with consular power which was very intensive.”
This title of proconsul was given by Luke to Sergius Paulus Acts 13 and Gallio here in Acts 19:38.