MAXIMIZING GOD-GIVEN OPPORTUNITIES
Week of August 27, 2006
Bible Passages: Acts 19:1-5, 8-10, 23-28.
Biblical Truth: God gives believers opportunities to minister effectively in His name.
Communicate Clearly: Acts 19:1-5.
 It happened that while Apollos was at
[1-3] On arrival in Ephesus Paul found some disciples. At least, that is what they claimed to be. In reality, however, they were disciples of John the Baptist. This incident has become a proof text in some Pentecostal and charismatic circles. It is sometimes argued that Christian initiation is in two stages, beginning with faith and conversion, and followed later by receiving the Holy Spirit. But those twelve disciples cannot possibly be regarded as providing a norm for a two-stage initiation. On the contrary, it is clear that these disciples were in no sense Christians, having not yet believed in Jesus. Whereas through the ministry of Paul they came to believe and were then baptized with water and the Spirit more or less simultaneously. When Paul first met them, he assumed that they were believers, but noticed that they gave no evidence in their bearing or behavior of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So he asked them his two leading questions, whether they had received the Spirit when they believed, and into what they had been baptized. His first question linked the Spirit with faith, and his second with baptism. That is, his question expressed his assumptions that those who have believed have received the Spirit, and that those who have been baptized have received the Spirit, for he cannot separate the sign (water) from the thing signified (the Spirit). Both his questions imply that to have believed and been baptized and not to have received the Spirit constitutes an extraordinary anomaly.
Consider now the answers which Paul received to his questions. In answer to his first, they said that they had not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. This answer is difficult to interpret. John the Baptist had talked plainly about the coming of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:32-33]. Perhaps this answer implies that they were unaware that the time of the Spirit's outpouring had come at last. Whatever the case, like Apollos [18:24-26], these men needed further instruction on the message and ministry of Jesus Christ. They believed in Jesus as the Messiah, but they did not understand the significance of His death and resurrection or the role of the Holy Spirit in the birth and life of the church. Since becoming a Christian involves turning from sin (repentance) and turning to Christ (faith), these "believers" were incomplete. They had repented but had not yet trusted in Christ. In truth, they were believers only in the sense that they were seeking to believe. In answer to Paul’s second question, they explained that they had received John’s baptism, not Christian baptism. In a word, they were still living in the Old Testament. They understood neither that the new age had been ushered in by Jesus, nor that those who believe in Him and are baptized into Him receive the distinctive blessing of the new age, the indwelling Spirit.
[4-7] Despite their being known as disciples, Paul preached Jesus to the men as he would to any of the Jews. John’s baptism pointed beyond itself and the Baptist himself pointed to the One coming after him. So on their acceptance of Jesus as the focus of Christian faith, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit, evidencing the same signs of the Spirit’s presence as the first Jewish believers did at Pentecost.
Be Available: Acts 19:8-10.
 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking
out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the
Paul had already established relations with the Jews who met in the synagogue
 For two years this
work went on. Paul stayed in
During this time, Paul wrote the
Corinthian church a letter on the subject of separation from the ungodly [1
Cor. 5:9-10]. In reply he received a letter from certain members of the
Corinthian church seeking his advice on matters concerning marital problems at
Don’t Let Controversy Deter You: Acts 19:23-28.
 About that time there occurred
no small disturbance concerning the Way.  For a man named Demetrius, a
silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little
business to the craftsmen;  these he gathered together with the workmen of
similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this
business.  You see and hear that not only in
 Before Paul himself took his departure, serious
trouble developed in
After a period of relative peace and steady growth for the Ephesian church, the gospel became offensive and intolerable to the city's craftsmen because of the way it was undermining their ability to sell silver idols of Artemis. Converts to Christianity were no longer buying these products. Consequently, for economic and religious reasons, the Way came under scrutiny, suspicion, and eventually attack. Demetrius was the instigator of this trouble.
 The silversmiths of
[25-27] Calling together all the workmen engaged in
this trade, Demetrius, a prominent member of the guild of silversmiths,
persuaded them to stage a mass protest against the disturbing propaganda spread
by Paul and his colleagues. These preachers, by denying the existence of
deities made with hands, were threatening the livelihood of those who carried
on such a profitable business in the manufacture of images of Artemis, but more
than that, they were challenging the divine majesty of the great goddess
herself. It was intolerable that they should idly stand by and allow such an
affront to be offered to the goddess and her temple. Therefore, the people of
1. Why are baptism into Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit important in your life? How do your attitudes and actions reflect those events?
2. Both Apollos and the disciples Paul met had a similar gap in their information about the gospel [18:25, 19:2-3]. Note that the solution to their lack of understanding was clear teaching concerning the gospel [18:26, 19:4]. What steps can we take to see that new converts understand the gospel clearly, and what can we do when we find people confused?
Book of the Acts, F. F. Bruce, Eerdmans.
The Acts of the Apostles, Richard Longenecker, EBC, Zondervan.
The Message of Acts, John Stott, Inter-Varsity Press.