11. The Daily Routine for 3 Years in Ephesus.
“He departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years…”Acts 19: 9b-10a NKJV
“You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,” Acts 20:17 NKJV
”How I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks.” Acts 20:20-21a (NKJV)
“Remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:31b NKJV
Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.” Acts 20:34 NKJV (All italics and Bold Face mine)
So the screenplay is written. We have all the notes that assist us to understand Paul’s “normal day at the Ephesian Office. We, quite literally, have Paul’s routine to think on. We know for certain, from Acts’ chapters19 and 20 what Paul did for the 3 years he ministered in Ephesus.
I am not being legalistic, and because of the biblical statements, we are tempted so to be. However, the picture I gain from Acts 19 is that Paul gained to his support and assistance a dozen (or so) men of faith, as he entered Ephesus for a second time, and while tutoring them in the faith, preached at the Synagogues for three months. I am not 100% sure what that means time wise during those 90 days or so, but from what I have read and studied about those times, it suggests to me that there might have been two services every Saturday in the synagogues in Ephesus that Paul attended and spoke at, and possibly a couple of meetings cum debates during the week. After three months (approximately 13 Sabbaths) Paul had gained some believers but had also gained many maligners of “the Way”, that is, critics of Christianity in general. So he went to a school building known as, “The school of Tyrannus” and preached and ministered, every day, in such a manner that the whole of Asia heard the word in the space of about two years. If you have a passion to see God move in this generation, I gladly excuse you to reach for the oxygen mouthpieces before I continue. What on earth was Paul doing? Two years? The whole of Asia? From a single school room?
Every day for two years! That means 730 days minimum, Paul preached and ministered the miraculous. Can you imagine! The Bible tells us that there were “unusual” miracles done by Paul. Sadly we live in a day where Christians hardly know the difference between the “usual” miracle and the “unusual.” Here in the west, apart from a few small pockets we do not have any “usual” or “ordinary” miracles. That is because most Christian people in the west have never seen a miracle. Period.
So! Potentially, 730 services in 730 consecutive days. That’s a smack in the face for the philosophy that says it is immoral and illogical to reach an area via Church meetings. If a church has one service a week (like many in the UK do), that means Paul ministered as much in two years as those churches receive in fourteen(14) years. Added to that, having been, for a time, part of a ministry team in a church where healings and miracles were (and still are) many and frequent (almost daily), I would randomly suggest that the meetings in Ephesus would be something like several hours long or more. The mental and spiritual stimulus, combined with the visual aids of healings, miracles, prophecy and deliverance, would create an atmosphere where folks don’t want to go home, and where some even complain that an eight hour service is too short. I then notice that the Amplified Bible adds, in italics, that Paul’s meetings were between 10.00am and 3.00pm. Sounds about right to me. If we compare that to a “Ninety Minute Service Once a Week Church,” we have the startling statement that in 2 years Paul had as much ministry time preaching and healing, prophesying and delivering in Ephesus as some modern churches have in 42 years plus. (?) Nuff said.
Not that I am in anyway suggesting longer services for their own sake. I have been in some 90 minute services and left the building thinking it was 80 minutes too long. But I have to say also, that I have been in quite a few services (not in the UK) that started at 8.00 am on the Sunday morning and finished round about 6.00pm the same evening, leaving both the congregation, as well as myself, bitterly disappointed because the meeting finished too early. What’s the difference? The whole package of the preaching of the Word, Healing and testimonies of healing, deliverance and testimonies of the freedom, and personal prophecy and confirmations of its correctness. Or, to be absolutely frank, it is the glorious manifestation of the wonder of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Friends, there is preaching….and there is preaching. There is praying for the sick people… and there is healing. There is the gentle prophetic breeze of prophetic words of encouragement, and then there is the Tsunami of true biblical personal prophecy – and not just personal prophecy.
In a first century environment that was filled with superstition, black magic, witchcraft and murder, overlaid with rich and deep tones of fanatical idolatry and false religion, as well as a dash of legalistic Judaism and a sprinkling of rank atheism, I cannot possibly imagine that singing “Blessed Assurance” and “Abide with Me,” and then listening to a nice tidy 3 point sermon on the tenets of evangelical Christianity could change the face of a continent in the space of 2 years. (Come to think of it, that first century environment sounds the same as the twenty first century environment! Oops! I walked into that one didn’t I?).
Before anybody writes in to correct me, I am well aware that when the Bible talks of Asia it does not mean the entire continent of Asia as we refer to it. It was still a huge area of land that heard the word from Paul’s two years in Ephesus. Asia in the days of the book of Acts was the majority of Turkey and a bit more.
Back to the subject at hand, we are talking of a church gathering for several hours of the supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit, interspersed with incredibly inspired explanations as to what was happening before their eyes, and why, and a graphic portrayal of Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection being absolutely branded with fire in the hearts and minds of all those that were present. I have tasted it under another man’s ministry. I believe Paul did exactly the same in Ephesus, only to an even greater degree than what I have tasted.
A church that is built with plain speech sermons and the power of God, not only sees the tide of a fallen world turn around, but in itself it becomes part of the wave that “tsunami’s” the local geography with the Word of God.
Christianity is bigger than we see it in the West. We have Americans thinking that we are too small minded in the UK. We have many Christians in the UK refusing to listen to American preachers because too many of them look and sound like second hand car salesman when viewed in the context of English culture. We have the leadership of the State Church in the UK unable to make a clear and concise statement on euthanasia, abortion and homosexual – so called- marriages, and we wonder why folks do not listen. Paul just knew Christ.
New Testament Christianity took the whole issue of God and His relationship to man out of the high intellectual strata, and down into the low practicalities of life. It ceased to be a cerebral adventure of concepts and ideas of the Divine, and became a discussion of, “How does this blind man see?” And “How does that crippled woman now walk?” It took the whole “God-talk” out of ethereal prognostications, and into the practical reality of changed lives. The Apostle Paul in Ephesus was only a smaller scale of Jesus of Nazareth in Judaea, when looking at healing, deliverance and prophecy.
The daily routine for two years after he ceased ministering at the Synagogue was a five hour session of preaching, debating, praying for the sick and casting out demons. It is my conviction also that he ministered in prophecy to people. But as this is not explicit in the particular verses we are looking at the moment I shall explain that aspect of ministry in the context of other verses later. Was it 10 till 3, or was it 11 till 4? Whatever, we suggest that there were five hours out of every day for two years ministering from a school room. “Daily,” “for two years,” is what the scripture says. It would be rational to suggest that Paul may possibly have had a day off, here or there, but it definitely is not so stated.
The next part of his passionate and effective routine was plain and simple: secular work. “You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.” From other verses concerning Paul’s trade as a tent maker, we can only assume that his tent trade was so significantly successful that he was paying the expenses for his entire team. Whether that was merely the twelve disciples from Acts 19:1-7 or other members of the team like Timothy, I have no idea. We are just not told. What we are told is that he worked at a trade that kept him and others, while he lived at Ephesus. It seems that he worked like that from the first day he arrived there. “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,” The example for others to follow was truly astounding.
Finally we are aware also of how Paul taught, preached, shared and testified wherever he was in Ephesus all through this period. “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks.” So where did he fit this into his daily routine? It would seem that if he wasn’t working on his tents, or ministering at the school of Tyrranus for five hours of the day, he was busy ministering to people in the comfort of their own homes. He declares that he held nothing back that was profitable for them. That would mean everything we have in the New Testament from his hand and more. It would also seem that here in Ephesus he was utterly freed from the bondage of Jewish legalists persecuting him and stirring up trouble. For he may have gone to a Jewish household here, and to a Greek (gentile) house there. No friction! No riot! Freedom of movement, and freedom to minister. Was this just five in the evening when such visitations were made, to coincide with High Tea or supper? I jest, of course! He said to them all afterwards that they needed to, “Remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Day and night! Convenient or not convenient! House to House! “To warn everyone!” We are talking here of prophecy, and not just the warnings of the Gospel message.
Three aspects of activity that utterly filled his life for three years in Ephesus. 1. Tent making. 2. Public ministry for a set time of five hours every day. 3.House to house. The pressure on the apostle physically, mentally and spiritually must have been utterly phenomenal.
The remark of visiting both Jews and gentiles is also very significant. Paul had learnt well how to minister to the racial and cultural mish-mash in Antioch. Paul was here demonstrating in the most practical and down to earth manner that he himself was free of any racial elitism or superiority. He was utterly innocent of any kind of religious, racial or cultural prejudice. At last we have it stated as clearly as could be, that in the very practice of his ministry, the wall between Jew and gentile was broken down and non-existent. The textual content for this observation is tiny. The principle we see is galactic in importance. However, it seems to be stated in his testimony to the Ephesian elders to make a specific point. He ministered from the multi ethnic school of Tyrranus to Jews and gentiles, he went from house to house to both Jews and gentiles.
It is tragically unfortunate that I have heard, in my own life time, Christian people say that they love Christ, yet refuse to worship in multiethnic settings. I have seen it. I have heard it. Any apostolic team must set the strongest possible guard on themselves to keep them all from partiality, favouritism and discrimination whether it is race, religious background, and any other kind of labelling that may keep them from delivering the full gospel of Christ to all people.
In the midst of this hectic, pressured, work load of a routine, the miraculous seems to have been common, plentiful and society changing. His self appointed, Holy Spirit driven, working day was as much an integral part of Paul’s management of the miraculous as was his preaching and praying.