Holy Spirit at Work in Ephesus

In Your Bible: Acts 19:1-6 (NLT)

After Paul visited the churches in the interior region of Asia Minor he returned to Ephesus for two years, continuing to preach the Word. There the Holy Spirit gave new disciples power and authority to work.

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey

Paul, with Timothy, Luke and others visited the churches in modern Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, and ended in Jerusalem. Again, he experienced persecution and suffering. While in Ephesus, Paul wrote several letters to other churches.

New Disciples Receive the Holy Spirit

On his way to Ephesus Paul encountered some (12) new disciples. He knew they were followers of Jesus by talking with them, but he also knew they lacked something—power!

Then Paul challenged them with a question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? No, they replied, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2 NLT).

Then Paul said, “If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.” As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions” (Acts 19:4-6 Message).

Some commentators * believe this encounter was designed to qualify these twelve men as elders committed the care of the church in Ephesus. There the Holy Spirit gave new disciples power and authority to work.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your gift the Holy Spirit to empower me and guide me into what you would have me do.

Questions: Why do you think repentance is necessary prior to baptism? How is this account in acts differ from the Great Commission Jesus gave in Mathew 19? Do you there think there is a difference, if you consider the word Master used in the Message in Acts 19:7?

* Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary Acts 19:1-7, online at christianity.com

The Riches of God’s Grace

[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17 Amplified Bible.

Ephesians 1:15-23 Amplified Bible
Ephesians 1:15-23 NIV
Ephesians 1:15-23 In Your Bible

Paul’s letters to specific early churches overflow with gems for believers today. Paul reveals he has never stopped praying and thanking God for the believers at Ephesus. He assures them God has many things planned for them.

Paul’s Desire for Believers

His prayer is for the Ephesian believers (and us today) to realize the greatness and power of God who will help them:

  • Gain spiritual wisdom
  • Have hearts flooded with light
  • Begin to grow in Christ
  • Ultimately know God in a deeper more powerful way

His encouragement is emphasized in this verse: I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given his people (Ephesians 1:18b New Living Translation).

Presence and Power

Believers must grasp the incredible power they have in Christ Jesus. For Paul, the resurrection is the supreme proof of the power of God. *

Now Jesus is seated in the heavenly realms far above any ruler, power, or authority. God did this for the benefit of the church – his body, you and me. Now, Christ, fills everything and every place with his power and his presence. We need to get a handle on that for our growth.

Prayer: Father, thank you for opening the eyes of my heart. Now, I see more clearly your greatness and what you want me to do.

Questions: What provides the capability or power in us to do things that God wants us to do? Is this also clearer when we look intently on Jesus’ own words in the Gospels?

* The Daily Bible Study Series, Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Second Edition, September, 1958, p. 107

THE POWER OF JESUS’ COMMANDS

Jesus said, “Go home to your people and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, how you received mercy” (Eyewitness Mark 5:19).

Eyewitness: PP. 89-91
In Your Bible: Matthew 8:23-34; Mark 4:35-5:20; Luke 8:22-39

The disciples and Jesus had just sailed across the lake (where Jesus rebuked the storm with 3 words – “Peace be still” [Eyewitness Mark 4:9]). They landed their boat at Gardarenes, near Galilee. Immediately two men possessed with evil spirits, ran up to Jesus as he climbed out of the boat.

One of these two possessed men was homeless, naked, and lived in the graveyard away from everyone in the nearby town. Chains could not restrain this violent man who cut himself with stones and cried out in torment. When he came to Jesus he knelt and worshipped him. Jesus commanded the many evil spirits to leave this man.

A discussion arose between the evil spirits in this man and Jesus. There were so many in this man that they called themselves “Legion.” They begged Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. They desired to remain in some kind of body form and asked to inhabit the herd of pigs. Jesus allowed it with a simple word “Go.”

The evil spirits entered the pigs, who quickly ran into the sea and drowned. Those tending the pigs, saw what happened and hurried to tell the townspeople. They too saw the tormented man sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed, calm and in his right mind. Overcome with fear, the crowd begged Jesus to leave.

The man delivered from these many evil spirits appealed to Jesus to let him go with him. Instead, Jesus gave the man a task in his town – spread the good news. “No,” Jesus said, “Go home to your people and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, how you have received mercy” (Eyewitness Mark 5:19).

TELLING OF JESUS’ MERCY

The man obeyed Jesus and gave his testimony in Decapolis (the ten cities nearby) telling what Jesus had done for him. He had heard the evil spirits proclaim that Jesus was the Son of the most High God. He knew he’d received not only healing but also mercy. What an eyewitness to the Master this man became! He was one of the first to proclaim Jesus’ mercy.

Application: Even evil spirits knew Jesus to be the Son of God and obeyed the Master. The man delivered couldn’t wait to spread the good news of what Jesus did for him. What has Jesus done for you? Are you spreading the Good News?

Prayer: Father, you have the power to overcome evil and to change lives. Your words are the strength we live by.