The Story of His Church List

Paul's Third Missionary Journey

The people of Ephesus, a large city of Asia Minor, worshiped the goddess Diana. Heathen people from many parts of the world had sent money to build a great temple for her. When the temple was finished, it was so beautiful that it was called one of the seven wonders of the world.

The heathen went to the temple of Diana to 

worship their goddess. In their homes they had idols of Diana to which they bowed down. Not everyone in Ephesus worshiped Diana. The Jews who lived there had built a synagogue where they could worship the true God. On the Sabbath they met in the synagogue to hear the Old Testament scrolls read.

Apollos, a Jewish preacher, visited the Jews at Ephesus. He was an eloquent preacher, and the people listened eagerly to his words. Although Apollos followed the Lord with all his heart, he had never heard about Jesus. He knew about John the Baptist and believed that John was a prophet sent from God. He taught the Jews at Ephesus John's words.

Some who heard believed, and Apollos baptized them as John did to show they had repented of their sins.

As soon as Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos preach, they invited him to their home and taught him about Jesus Christ. How glad he was to hear about Jesus! He believed at once.

Then Apollos preached that Jesus was the Christ. He was so convincing that many others believed. When he got ready to go to Greece, the believers wrote to the disciples there and told them about Apollos.

In Greece, too, Apollos greatly encouraged those who believed. Soon after Apollos left Ephesus, Paul arrived. He was happy to find so many believers in this city! He asked them, "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?"

And the people answered, "We did not even know there was a Holy Spirit."

Paul wanted to make sure these believers knew the truth so he asked, "Into what were you baptized?" And they said, "The baptism of John." Then Paul taught them that John wanted them to believe in Jesus Christ. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Paul laid his hands on these twelve believers and prayed. They were filled with the Holy Spirit.

For three months Paul taught in the synagogue, proving by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Many were not willing to believe in Jesus. They spoke harshly about Paul and the Christ he preached about.

Paul left the synagogue and took the believers to a school near by. Here he taught them every day for two years. His teaching became known throughout all the city and the country round about. And many believed in Jesus and were baptized.

While Paul taught in Ephesus, he worked miracles in the name of Jesus. He healed many who were sick. Some were too sick to be brought to Paul. Their friends brought handkerchiefs and aprons for Paul to touch. Prayerfully they laid these on those who were sick, and the sick were made well. The people marveled at God's great power. 

Seven brothers who were magicians watched Paul heal the sick and cast out evil spirits in Jesus' name. They thought they could do the same thing. When they found a man who had an evil spirit they said, "We command you to come out in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches."

The evil spirit answered, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" And the evil spirit caused the man to jump on these brothers and beat them terribly. In fear they ran out of the house to escape.

When people heard what had happened, they had even greater respect for the mighty power of Jesus. They praised God. Many who believed had once practiced magic. Now they confessed their wrong and turned away from their superstitions.

In those days books were very rare and expensive. A single book cost so much that few people could buy even one. But the people of Ephesus had saved their money to buy books about magic. When they saw the mighty power of God, they brought their books, built a great bonfire, and burned the books in the streets. Now that they believed in Jesus they would not need such books. They did not want to be tempted by even having such books in their houses. Because the books were full of magic instead of the power of God, they knew it would be wrong for anyone to have them. A crowd watched as these expensive books went up in smoke.

Not all the people of Ephesus believed in Jesus when they heard Paul's preaching and saw the miracles he did. Many still preferred to worship at the temple of Diana. They believed their goddess had fallen from the sky, so they worshiped her as if she were a special gift from heaven. In their homes the heathen had idols or images of Diana.

People who came to visit Ephesus liked to take home an image of Diana as a souvenir. Diana was an ugly-looking image, but the people worshiped her.

Many silversmiths worked steadily at making small idols of Diana. They grew rich selling the idols. One of the silversmiths was Demetrius. He was distressed that so many people were leaving their idol worship to serve Jesus Christ. Every day he heard of more people who believed in Jesus Christ. Every day he grew more restless, for he was afraid all the heathen would become Christians. Then what would happen to the silversmiths?

Demetrius called all the silversmiths to a meeting. He told them, "You men know we make a lot of money by our work. Not only at Ephesus but throughout the province of Asia this Paul has turned many people away from Diana. He says there are no gods that are made with hands. Soon we will have no business left. Not only that, but people will no longer come to worship at the temple of Diana. Finally they will hate her temple and destroy it."

These words excited and angered the silversmiths. At once they began to shout, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" They went through the streets shouting those words. Other people followed. Soon the whole city was stirred by the excitement. Some seized two of Paul's companions and dragged them into the theater.

When Paul heard what had happened, he wanted to go to rescue the two, but his friends would not let him. They were afraid the people would tear Paul to pieces if they could lay their hands on him.

For two hours the city was full of excitement and confusion. Many people did not even know what it was all about, but they all joined in the cry, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" Finally one of the city officials stood before the people and motioned for them to be quiet. He said, "Men of Ephesus, people everywhere know we worship the goddess Diana whose image fell down from heaven. Since that's how it is, you ought to be quiet. Don't do anything you will be sorry for.

"You have brought these men here. They have not robbed any temples or spoken evil about our goddess. If the silversmiths want to bring charges against these men, let them take it to court and have the trouble settled by law. All of you are in danger of being arrested for breaking the peace." And with those words the city official dismissed the people and sent them home.

Paul had been planning to leave Ephesus even before the riot started. He visited the churches in Macedonia and Greece before returning to Jerusalem. While in Greece Paul discovered that the Jews were waiting to capture him as he set sail for Syria. To escape, Paul went back by land the same way he had come.


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