By Donna Reimer
Psalm 188:24 “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
My son-in-law, R’veen, is from the Philippines and he is one of 10 siblings. They live in six different countries! On New Year’s Eve they always schedule a Zoom video where they all join in together at a certain time no matter what time zone they are in! When they meet, they have a special way to get each person's news of the year. They call it, ‘Highlights, Lowlights and Headlights’. Each person tells a highlight, which is a special memory from the year. Then they each share a lowlight, which is a difficult circumstance from the year. Finally, they each finish with their headlight, which is something they’re looking forward to in the new year!
When I was panicking about covering these chapters in 30 minutes I remembered their method for covering all their news! So, today I’d like you to join me on this third missionary journey of Paul and give you the ‘highlights, lowlights and headlights’ of Acts 18:23-21:14. Since there is not enough time to read all the scriptures this morning, I would encourage you to read them on your own when you get home later if you haven’t already done so.
-This third journey lasted about four years from roughly 53-57 AD.
-Paul traveled about 2,500 miles: almost 1,200 miles were by sea and over 1,300 miles were by land.
-The purpose of Paul’s third journey was to revisit the churches that had been planted during his first and second journeys and to encourage, exhort, teach and disciple them, as well as continue to preach the gospel to the unsaved.
Now, let’s look at some “Highlights and Lowlights”.
Let’s turn to Acts:18:23where we left off last week at the end of Paul’s second missionary journey In Antioch. (Map)
Acts 18:23 says, “After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.”
1. We are not sure how long Paul spent in Antioch but some say several months and others up to one year perhaps and yet others believe it was a very short time
2. His journey first took him to the regions of Galatia and Phrygia. (Map)
3. Within those regions he went to Tarsus, his hometown, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch of Psidian. (Map)
Ministry of Apollos Acts 18:24-28
Acts 18:24 says, “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.” (Map)
1. Apollos was a Jew who was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures; ferventin spirit which literally means “to boil in the spirit” or as Williams says, “to bubble over with enthusiasm”; he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord.
2. He was instructed in the way of the Lord but only knew of John's baptism.
3. Aquila and Priscilla, who we heard about last week, were Paul’s friends and fellow tentmakers. They came with Paul from Corinth (Map) to Ephesus. Paul lived and worked with them there; Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos speak boldly in the synagogue.
4. Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside privately and explained the way of God more accurately or more fully; humbly away from others.
5. The brothers there in Ephesus sent a letter to the disciples to receive Apollos in Achaia (Greece) (Map). He went on to Achaia (Southern Greece) to Corinth (Map)where he greatly helped the believers; refuted the Jews publicly; showed that Jesus is the Messiah from the Scriptures (The Old Testament).
Paul at Ephesus-Acts 19:1-10
Acts 19:1 says, “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth (Map), that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus.” (Map)
1. After he had spent a short time in Ephesus during his second journey, Paul returned and spent two years and three months here.
2. Ephesus, which is in modern-day Turkey, is one of the seven churches addressed in Revelation chapters 1-3 (Map). It was once considered the most important trading center in the Mediterranean region and was a center of idolatry. It tolerated, and in some cases even celebrated, sexual immorality. Sounds familiar today! It is from here that Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians.
3. Paul met about twelve disciples who hadn’t heard of the Holy Spirit but only of John’s baptism just like Apollos.
4. After Paul told them that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that John had preached about, they were baptized in Jesus’ name. Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied as we first saw in Acts 2:4.
5. Paul first preached in the synagogue, as was his custom, for three months but some
Jews had hardened hearts and wouldn’t believe. They also spoke evil of ‘the Way’(which was the term used for Christians in the early years of the church) so that caused him to leave.
6. Paul then reasoned daily in the Gentile hall of Tyrannus for two years.
Verse 10b says, “that ALL who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
Paul’s effective ministry of preaching the gospel and those that heard it in turn spread it to all.
Unusual Miracles Acts 19:11-20
Acts 19:11-12 says, “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.”
1. Chuck Smith says that ‘The Book of the Acts of the Apostles’ should be more accurately named ‘The Book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit throughthe Apostles’.
2. Even Paul’s handkerchiefs that he used to wipe his brow and his work aprons, when brought to the sick, would bring healing of diseases and the driving out of evil spirits.
3. At that time, there were fake traveling exorcists who decided to use Jesus’ name to drive out demons including the seven sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva.
4. Acts 19:15 says that the demon in the possessed man spoke out and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know but who are you?” They had no authority in Christ-were not believers.
5. The man that was possessed by the demon leaped on them, overpowered them and prevailed and they ran away naked and wounded.
6. This became well known so that fear fell on allof Ephesus and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. David Guzak explains that it made them realize the reality of demons and gave them the fear of the Lord at the same time.
7. Many who believed came confessing their sins and deeds and those who practiced magic brought out their books and burned them. They were worth ‘50,000 pieces of silver’ which would be valued today at 1-5 million dollars!
8. All of this caused the word of the Lord to grow and prevail BUTit also stirred up a riot among the unbelievers.
The Riot at Ephesus 19:21-41
Acts 19:23 says, “And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen.”
1. Was this commotion over differing religious beliefs? No, it was over MONEY and BUSINESS! Sounds familiar today!
2. Demetrius and others made idols to sell to those who came to the temple of Diana to worship her.
3. Diana, or Artemis in Greek, was known as the ‘goddess of the hunt, wild animals, the moon, childbirth and children and was also associated with fertility’.
-The name Diana literally means, “divine”.
-Her temple had 127 columns and 36 of them were sculptured and overlaid with gold.
-But today, only one of those columns remains which was reassembled in 1972 from scattered excavated pieces! There was and is and will always be only ONE GOD and she wasn’t it!
In Acts 19:27 Demetrius says, “So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship. ”
4. Because of Paul’s Spirit-Filled preaching of Jesus Christ many people were turning away from their “worthless idols” made by human hands in repentance to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ!
5. The crowd was full of wrath and began to chant, ”Great is Diana of the
They poured into the 24,000 seat theater of Ephesus and continued to chant for two more hours until the city clerk was able to quiet them down.
6. He told Demetrius and the others that they didn’t seem to have a case against Paul and the disciples because they hadn’t robbed the temples or blasphemed Diana.
-He told them if they had a case to take the matter up with the proconsuls in the courts.
-Remember, the proconsuls were responsible for entire provinces and answered to the Roman Senate.
-The city clerk told them they were in danger of being charged with rebellion.
-He then dismissed the assembly.
Journeys in Greece Acts 20:1-6
Acts 20:1 says, “After the uproar had ceased Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.” (Map)
1. In Macedoniain Northern Greece Paul encouraged the believers with many words. At some point there he wrote II Corinthians.
2. Paul traveled to Corinth in Southern Greece (Map) -he stayed three months and wrote his letter to the Romans here.
3. The Jews plotted against him so he returned through Macedonia accompanied by other disciples.
Next Stop-Troas Acts 20:7-12 (Map)
Acts 20:7 says, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”
1. In Troas, on the first day of the week, which is Sunday, the disciples had come together in the evening to eat since Paul was going to leave the next day. He spoke to them for six hours, until midnight; maybe because he didn’t know when he would see these believers again.
2. They were in the upper room which was three stories up and many lamps were burning so it was probably smoky and stuffy.
3. A young man, named Eutychus, was sitting in a window and was fighting back sleep.
This word for sleep is the same word hypnosis in English.
4. He fell, as Paul spoke, and died.
5. But Paul went down to the ground floor and fell on him, embraced him and he came back to life! What an incredible supernatural miracle!
6. Paul didn’t seem to miss a beat! They ate again and Paul continued to speak until daybreak and then he departed.
7. They were all comforted that Eutychus was brought in alive.
From Troas to Miletus Acts 20:13-16 Map
Acts 20:16 says, “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.” (Map)
Paul passed by Ephesus because he would not have much time to spend with the believers there. He wanted to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost. He landed at Miletus.
Exhortation to the Ephesian Elders in Miletus. Acts 20:17-38 (Map)
Acts 20:17 says, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.”
1. Paul sent forthe Elderswho traveled 36 miles so he could speak with them. -This was an important meeting with the men who were appointed to oversee the congregations in Ephesus.
2. In Acts 20:18-23 He remindedthem of his own conduct in serving Jesus Christ:
-In all humility
-He suffered trials and tears at the hands of the unbelieving Jews.
-He proclaimed the gospel to Jews and Greeks alike.
-Repentance to God and Faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
-He knew he must go to Jerusalem even though the Holy Spirit showed him that chains and tribulations awaited him ahead.
In Acts 20:24Paul says, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” His desire was to finish his race “with joy”!
-In Verse 25 Even thoughhe knew he wouldn’t see them again he pressed on and continued to share the whole counsel of God.
3. In Acts 20: 28-31:
-Exhortedthem to shepherdthe church of God because they were made overseers by the Holy Spirit.
-Warnedthem that “savage wolves”would come in among themnot sparing the flock. -And that menwould rise up from among themspeaking “perverse” or misleading thingsto draw the disciples to themselves.
-He told them to be watchfuland reminded them that he had warned them continuously for three years, with tears .
-We must be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who “searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”. And we must be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we will have discernment.
-He put theminto God’s hands and the word of His grace.
David Guzak in his commentary says, “Programs can’t do it; the spirit of the age can’t do it; slick marketing can’t do it; entertainment can’t do it; only God and the word of His gracecan build you up and give you an inheritance in heaven.
-Only the Holy Spirit through the Word can give you discernment of false teachers and teachings.
-He also reminded themthat he provided for his own needs without coveting what others had.
-He encouraged themto care for the weak as he had done.
-Paul’s farewell in verses 36-38 waswith: prayer, weeping and sorrow at knowing they would not see him again.
Warnings on the Journey to Jerusalem Acts 21:1-14
1. Paul then sailed from Miletus to Syria and landed at Tyre (Map) which is now Lebanon.
2. Acts 21:4 says, “And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.”
-Chuck Smith, in his notes, writes that they may have misinterpreted the message through the Holy Spirit. It is possible the Spirit told them what was going to happen to Paul but not that he shouldn’t go.
3. But Paul was resolute!
-They knelt and prayed and Paul and the disciples sailed on to Caesarea (Map)where they stayed at Philip the evangelist’s home.
-Philip was one of the seven who were chosen to care for the poor in Acts chapter 6.
-This is the same Philip who evangelized the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts chapter 8. -This is the same Philip who Paul had persecuted twenty years earlier.
-Chuck Smith writes, “Philip had opened the gates, but Paul knocked the walls down as far as taking the gospel to the Gentiles. Now they were together.” God’s plan brought it full circle!
- It was just like the Lord ‘ to work all things for the good” as is written in Romans 8:28.
-Just like Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
-Paul’s persecution of the early Christians in Jerusalem caused the disciples to flee which spread the gospel even further.
4. In verse 10 Agabus, a prophet, came from Judea. He had another warning for Paul. He prophesied with Paul’s belt tied around his own hands and feet, that the Jews in Jerusalem would bind Paul and deliver him into the Gentiles’ hands.
5. Again, the disciples pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem but Paul was ready to die for the Lord Jesus.
Acts 21:13 says, ”Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’”
Finally, Acts 21:14 says, “So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”
So, we are now at the end of Paul's Third Missionary Journey. We’ve learned about the highlights and lowlights on this journey and now it is time for the…
Here are three “headlights” or applications from Paul’s godly, Spirit-filled life to give us hope and direction in our continuing journey.
First, Paul’s Servanthood
-Paul’s example was that of Christ; not his own personality or character or actions.
-He told the believers in Corinth, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1
-He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He allowed the Holy Spirit to use him and guide him.
-He humbled himself and became a servant like Jesus.
-He served with care and compassion and “many tears”.
-He encouraged them with love and warned them earnestly against “savage wolves” and perverse or misleading teaching.
-He taught them, encouraged them and rebuked them, when necessary.
-Just like Jesus!
Am I a servant of Jesus’ like Paul was?
Second, Paul’s Sacrifice
-The theme of Acts is found in Acts 1:8. Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the
Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all
Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
-He gave his life to proclaim the gospel. This was his ministry as it is ours.
-In II Corinthians 5:20,Paul calls us “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” -He poured his life into others for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
-In Philippians 2:3 Paul says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
-He spent his life reaching the lost and discipling believers, both Jew and Gentile. -He wasn’t in this for any personal gain or recognition but to glorify and magnify the name of Jesus!
- In Philippians 3:7 Paul says, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” He calls them “rubbish” in verse 8.
-Paul’s desire was to finish his race with Joy.
Am I willing to sacrifice my desires and my life in order to finish my race “with joy”?
Third, Paul’s Submission and Surrender
-Paul was ready to suffer and die for Christ and we must be ready to do the same.
-He said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
-He said in Acts 21:13, “For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
-When the disciples saw that Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem they said, in verse 14,
“The will of the Lord be done.”
-We too must be willing in any circumstance, to say as Christ did in the garden of Gethsemane, Luke 22:42, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Am I totally submitted and surrendered to the Lord’s will?
Let’s pray. Thank you, Father, for showing who You are through Jesus Christ. Thank you for the powerful example of Paul’s servanthood, his sacrifice, and his submissive and surrendered life to You who was gloriously redeemed by Jesus’ blood and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we be “living epistles” as Paul was…a living, breathing, walking letter of God’s goodness, glory and grace to a lost world and may we finish our journey with joy! For we ask it in Jesus’ Matchless Name, Amen.
Diane is going to close by leading us in singing, ‘It Is Well With My Soul’. Let’s sing it as a renewed commitment of our lives to Christ, resolved to follow Him, no matter what comes our way! Look up, Sisters! He’s coming soon!