Do you fear evil? In Ephesus, Paul meets evil face to face, and guess who wins? His battle with the powers of darkness and his victory over them should encourage us in our spiritual battles today. Pray that the Holy Spirit will show you exactly what he wants you to learn in this lesson. Dig in!
BACK TO EPHESUS, by land through Galatia and Phyrgia.
As Paul set out from Antioch on his third trip, he again revisited a number of the churches he had planted earlier. (18:23) While Paul was gone, some exciting things happened back in Ephesus. (18:23- 28)
1. A. Who arrived in Ephesus? How does Luke describe him? (18:24)
B. Where did he go to teach? What were his strengths and his limitations as a speaker? (18:25, 26) What can happen when a speaker with charisma lacks knowledge?
C. Priscilla and Aquila waited for Paul to come to Ephesus. While they waited, they were busy laying the groundwork for Paul's ministry there. What did they do after listening to Apollos teach? (18:26b)
D. When was the last time you needed to "correct' 'someone? How can this be done so that bridges rather than walls are built? so that you are less likely to cause a defensive reaction?
E. Did Priscilla take an active or a passive role in instructing Apollos? What does this incident tell us about the value of women in Christianity?
F. (Digging Deeper) Remember the significance of Luke recording Paul’s name before Barnabas’ back in chapter 13. Review the text and/or lesson if necessary. What is the significance of the placing of Priscilla’s name before Aquila?
G. (Summit) What do you think is the "woman's role" in the church today? Study the Biblical parameters for women. Also, examine what women did in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.
2. A. When Apollos desired to minister in Corinth, how did the Christians in Ephesus help him? (18:27a) Have you ever "paved the way" for someone in ministry? If so, share the experience.
B. How effective was Apollos in Corinth? (1 8:27b, 28; 1 Corinthians 1: 11, 12)
Ephesus was a wealthy tourist attraction with wide avenues, huge public buildings and luxurious private homes. The temple of Artemis was there. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world and measured four times the size of the Parthenon. Artemis was a many-breasted fertility goddess worshiped as the Great Mother in Asia Minor centuries before Rome came into power. Ephesus was also a key stronghold for pagan practices of the occult and magical arts.
3. A. Paul met disciples when he entered the city. What did they have in common with Apollos? (18:25, 19:2, 3)
B. When Paul recognized that John's disciples were deficient in their understanding of the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, what did he do? (19:4-7)
C. What do you think it means to live empowered by the Holy Spirit? Why is this so crucial for every believer?
D. What can you do to cooperate more fully with the Spirit? How might you grieve or quench Him?
4. A. How long did Paul teach in the synagogue? Why did he leave? Where did he go? How long did he teach there? (19:8-10a)
(Note: The lecture hall of Tyrannus was available for traveling teachers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when most people would eat lunch and rest before returning to work.)
B. How effective and far-reaching was Paul's mission in Ephesus? (19: 1 0b)
5. A. What did God do to help the sick and oppressed through Paul? (19:11, 12) As a result, what counterfeit activity began? (19:13)
B. What did the demons say to the seven sons of Sceva when they tried to imitate Paul? (19:15) What did the demons do then? (19:16)
C. How did this event stop these fraudulent attempts to counterfeit apostolic miracles? (19:17)
D. How did the Ephesians who had been dabbling in the occult exhibit repentance? (19:18, 19)
E. As the believers were cleansed, how was the ministry blessed? (19:20)
F. (Digging Deeper) How might Paul’s conclusion to the Ephesian letter help those involved in occult practices? (Ephesians 6:10-18)
G. Describe magic arts and occult practices in our culture today? Why do you think this is attractive to some people? What are the dangers?
6. Next, Paul decided on an itinerary for future travel. What were his plans? (19:21)
Before Paul's departure, the church faced another potential "death blow."
7. A. How did Demetrius and the other craftsmen make their living? Were they prosperous?
B. When Demetrius called together a special meeting of the craftsmen's guilds, what was his purpose? (19:25-27)
C. Was he successful? Describe what happened. (19:28-32) (Note: The theater was the largest place for an assembly in the city, capable of seating 25,000.) Envision the scene.
8. A. The Jews, fearing the crowds might turn on them also, pushed Alexander forward to make it clear that they had no association with Paul. (19:33) What happened when he tried to speak? (19:34)
B. Who did God use to rescue the Christians? What arguments did he use to disperse the crowd? (19:35-41)
C. What might have happened to the churches in Ephesus and the surrounding areas if Demetrius' plan had worked?
D. Look back over this passage. What lesson does the Holy Spirit have for you this week? What action step can you take to use what you have learned?
E. (Summit) Read Paul's letter to the Ephesians written many years later, probably while he was a prisoner in Rome. Keep in mind the people and events you studied in this lesson. How does the Ephesian letter prepare us for spiritual warfare?
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome the world. For the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
I John 4:4 (NIV)