On Paul’s third missionary journey, he spent the majority of his time in Ephesus. Here, he helped believers understand and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1–7). For two years, he boldly proclaimed the good news of Jesus through sound reasoning and strong persuasion concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 19:8–10). The gospel had spread to Asia (modern-day Turkey) and all who lived there, both Jews and Greeks, heard about Jesus.
As Paul traveled to many places throughout his missionary journeys, he spent time teaching people about Jesus—who He was, what He said, what He accomplished through His death and resurrection and His offer of salvation to all. Besides the prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus, this was all new. People all over were talking about Jesus. Did He really rise from the dead? Are the things He said true? Is He the Savior? On Paul’s journeys, he was able to affirm Jesus’ life and His teachings, solidifying the gospel for those who heard then, and for us to this day.
God used Paul to perform “extraordinary miracles” of healing the sick and casting out evil spirits (Acts 19:11–20). In Ephesus, many people saw these extraordinary miracles and came to know God. They left their old ways of magic behind and believed in the life-giving Jesus. As this happened, we find our sixth update on the newly founded church. “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily” (Acts 19:20). The word of the Lord, the truth of the gospel, the hope of Christ grew mightily and marched on!
paul's speech to the elders
In Acts 20:17–38, Paul gathered the Ephesian elders to uplift them and direct them in the way of the Lord. He reminded them of his teachings: “repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). He told them that he was headed to Jerusalem and was unsure the outcome. He reassured them, though, that his life had no value unless he finished the ministry God had given him: sharing the gospel. He encouraged them to watch closely after their flocks or members of their churches, as he warned of wolves that would look to destroy the flock by speaking heresy-causing division. Lastly, he reminded them to help the weak and embrace generosity.
"for the name of the lord jesus"
On his way to Jerusalem, Paul stopped in Caesarea. Here, Agabus the prophet spoke to Paul through Holy Spirit (Acts 21:7–17). He bound his hands and feet with Paul’s belt as an example of what the Jews would do to Paul in Jerusalem. Upon hearing this difficult prophecy, those with Paul pleaded with him to not go to Jerusalem. Here is Paul’s response: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Paul was ready to go to prison, to die for the sake of his Savior Jesus. Paul was on a mission given to him by God, and nothing could stop him. Not prison. Not death. Paul was all in. He willingly gave his life to spread the good news of Jesus.
In closing, reflect on Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).