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Acts 18:11-28
Skip Heitzig

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Acts 18 (NKJV™)
11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat,
13 saying, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law."
14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.
15 "But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters."
16 And he drove them from the judgment seat.
17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.
18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.
19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent,
21 but took leave of them, saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing." And he sailed from Ephesus.
22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch.
23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.
26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;
28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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44 Acts - 2017

The apostle Paul continued traveling through Greece into Corinth, where he stayed eighteen months or so—the longest stay of all his missionary journeys up to that point. Though it was difficult and Paul was discouraged, the Lord told Paul not to be silent, but to speak in order that many would be saved. God's plan for spreading the gospel forged ahead.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, His followers were tasked with spreading the good news of salvation "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The book of Acts details the early church's rapid growth as they received the Holy Spirit and carried out the Great Commission to a world that was hungry for it. In this verse-by-verse study, Skip Heitzig teaches how we can be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ in the world today, and we learn how God continues His work through the Spirit-empowered church.

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Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Paul continued his missionary journeys through Greece into Corinth
      1. Corinth was a busy hub of trade and commerce
      2. Corinth was debauched and immoral, a mixture of the transient population plus worship of Aphrodite, the Greek god of love
      3. The ancient Las Vegas
    2. Paul was discouraged
      1. New friends Aquila and Priscilla provided housing
        1. Jewish tentmakers, like Paul
        2. Brought courage and comfort to Paul
      2. Old friends Timothy and Silas joined Paul
        1. Brought encouragement
        2. Brought a financial gift from Macedonian churches
        3. Paul was able to quit tentmaking and give himself fully to the Word of God and this mission
  2. Acts 18:11-18 | Paul struggles in Corinth
    1. Jesus was with Paul in Corinth
      1. God used Gallio to protect Paul when the Jews brought charges against him
      2. Gallio was new to his position of power as proconsul of Achaia
      3. Jews rose up against Paul and tried to manipulate Roman justice through Gallio
      4. Gallio was hands-off; he separated himself and Roman law from Jewish law
      5. Greeks beat Sosthenes, the new ruler of the local synagogue, but Gallio did not get involved
    2. Paul made a vow
      1. Aquila and Priscilla traveled with Paul to Cenchrea
      2. Perhaps Paul's vow was the Nazirite vow: no wine; hair grows long then is cut off completely (see Numbers 6)
      3. A Jewish vow of thanksgiving
      4. Why did Paul, who was no longer under the Law, take a vow under Jewish law? Perhaps to open a door to preach to the Jews (see 1 Corinthians 9:20-22­)
  3. Acts 18:19-23 | Paul travels through Ephesus and Jerusalem
    1. Paul stopped briefly in Ephesus to preach to the Jews at the synagogue
      1. They asked Paul to stay but he did not consent
      2. Paul promised to return to Ephesus, God willing (see James 4:13-15)
    2. Paul continued to Jerusalem very briefly for a feast
      1. Aquila and Priscilla returned to Corinth
      2. Paul greeted the church in Jerusalem, then left for Antioch
      3. Jerusalem wasn't very important to Paul
      4. Paul was hated in Jerusalem
      5. He was a Pharisee; he himself stoned believers in Jerusalem
    3. Paul arrived in Antioch
      1. Paul shared a kinship with the church in Antioch
      2. Ended his second missionary journey
      3. Paul visited churches/brothers
  4. Acts 18: 24-28 | Meanwhile in Ephesus
    1. Apollos was teaching "the things of the Lord" (v. 25)
      1. Apollonius was a Hellenistic Jew with a pagan Greek name, from Alexandria
      2. He was brilliant, very well-educated, and probably studied under Philo
      3. He believed Jesus is the Messiah but only knew the baptism of John, not the crucifixion or resurrection
    2. Aquila and Priscilla discipled Apollos and trained him up more accurately
      1. Apollos became mighty and eloquent
      2. He came to understand both sides of the cross and learned the gospel of grace
      3. He helped believers in Corinth, refuting the Jews publicly and showing that Jesus is the Messiah
Figures referenced : Gallio, Gamaliel, Philo, Seneca

Greek/Hebrew words: agora, alliyah, béma, korinthiazesthai, ma'alah, periocope

Cross references: Numbers 6; Acts 18:8-10; I Corinthians 1:1; 9:20-22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; James 4:13-15

Transcript

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Welcome to Expound, our verse-by-verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.

Could you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Acts, Chapter 18, the Book of Acts, Chapter 18. We're going to jump into the scriptures and we're going to finish the chapter. And then we're going to take the Lord's Supper together.

If you remember last time we were together-- and honestly, I don't remember if that was just two weeks ago, three weeks ago, a few weeks ago-- we saw that Paul, who's on the run-- not on the run as much as on the move for the glory of God-- was in the city of Athens. And he's traveling from Macedonia into Greece, and then he goes to the southwest over to Corinth.

And we noticed last time-- we only read the first 10, maybe 11 verses of the chapter-- we left off when Paul was in the city of Corinth. Altogether Paul stayed in Corinth 18 months or so, a little more. We don't know how much more. It just says after he was done, he stayed a little longer, but we don't know how much longer. So let's say a year and a half, 18 months or so.

It happened to be the longest place that he stayed on any of his missionary journeys up to this point. He usually went through, went to the synagogues, preached the gospel, something happened. He either got put in jail, kicked out, beat up, and/or people believed and a church was established. He would go to the next town, et cetera.

When he gets to Corinth, he stays 18 months. It's the longest stint in a city. It will only be outdone when he goes to Ephesus on his third missionary journey, where he will stay for about three years. So he'll double his time there.

But though it was difficult for Paul at the beginning in Corinth, and it was, and though Paul was discouraged, and he was, the Lord gave him a special vision to not hold back, not be silent. But down in Verse 9 and 10, speak, Jesus said, because I have many people in this city, implying there are still many more people I want to touch and save in this city. That bolstered his courage. And that's where we left off last time.

Now do you remember that Corinth is the capital of the region of Achaea? I don't expect you to have remembered that. It's not something that most people remember or know or care about. But you got to remember, in those days, that the entire southern portion of Greece called Achaea, was like an island. If you had a map, or if you have a map in the back of your Bible, you will notice that if you go down from Athens, you come to a very narrow neck of land, and then you find this big land mass that is connected to it.

So it's really an island except for that little neck of land that connects the main body with this island. So it's called a peninsula, right? It's not an island because it's connected at one spot so it's a peninsula. And the actual term is the Peloponnesian peninsula. I just thought you'd want to know that because it just sounds cool.

So Paul is at the Peloponnesian peninsula. Say that really fast 10 times. No, I'm just kidding. You don't have to do that now. So Corinth is the capital of this area in the Peloponnesian peninsula called Achaea, a noteworthy city, a city of trade. And it connects two bodies of water, essentially, because if you were to look at a map and see that island, on the left or on the west would be the Adriatic Sea, or the Ionian Sea, it is also called.

And then on the other side is sort of the heart where the Mediterranean begins. So it's surrounded by water except for that little narrow piece of land that's three and 1/2 miles wide. Now there's a couple of ways you could go from one side to the other. You could sail around it. That's 200 miles by ship. You have to go all the way down into the open sea around what is called the Cape of Malaya.

And it was considered dangerous by sailors. There was even a saying the sailors had, he who sails the Cape of Malaya must first make out his will because many ships were wrecked in the voyage.

So some came up with the idea, well, since it's only three and 1/2 miles, what if we were to put the ships up on land on rollers and roll them across? That's what they did. That's what most people opted for, taking their ship, rolling it across the land.

And across that area is the capital city of Corinth. Corinth a very, very famous place, a wild place because there's so much transient traffic. Although Corinth was known for its traffic, its trade, its commerce, its commercial endeavors, there was, if you remember in our study, a seedy side of Corinth, the underbelly of the city. Really what Corinth was renowned for, known for, it was debauched. It was immoral.

And that is because it was a mixture of a transient population and a religious system. The religious system was called the worship of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. And if you were to look at Corinth-- and last time we had a backdrop of it. We don't need to see it again. But there was the city, and then behind the city, as you look at it from the front, was a hill called the Acrocorinth. And at the top of the Acrocorinth, or that prominent hill, was a temple to Aphrodite.

Housed in that temple were 1,000 priestesses, religious prostitutes, who would come down into this city to find those people in their transient journeys coming through the city and ply their trade in the name of religion. And because of that, Corinth got a reputation, a bad reputation. In the Greek plays, when somebody played the part of a Corinthian, he was always drunk. And a term, a word, was coined, [GREEK] which means to act the Corinthian.

If you called somebody that, it was sort of like cussing them out. It's saying, you scoundrel, you lowlife, you immoral, debauched person. That's what it was. That's how bad Corinth had this reputation. It was a party town. It was the ancient Las Vegas, or pick your city. There's probably a lot of cities like it, but that's an easy target.

So Paul goes there. And as we mentioned, Paul was discouraged. Now when he went there, he stayed with two people who were of the same trade, a husband and wife team. You remember their names, Aquila and Priscilla. He stayed with them. They had been in Rome. They were Jewish. Claudius kicked them out of Rome. All the Jews were expelled from Rome. They went to Corinth. That's where they met Paul. They probably met him in the synagogue.

Paul usually went to the synagogue first. And in those days, people of the same guilds or trades often sat close together in the synagogue. So in one corner, you might have somebody who's a woodworker or stonemason, and over in this corner tent makers. So Paul sat where other tent makers were. And one guy stuck his hand up and said, hey, I'm Aquila, and his wife said, and I'm Priscilla. And he thought, and your names rhyme, but that's cool. So they became close friends.

And they brought courage to Paul. They brought him courage, they brought him comfort, as friends always do, don't they? New friends bring you courage. But that's not all. Old friends bring you more encouragement. And so while Paul is in Corinth and he's going and sort of doing spiritual battle in the synagogues, he has made new friends.

But at this point, old friends come to him, Timothy and Silas. They have been up in Macedonia. They come and join him there, and not only are they encouraging him by their presence, but if you place all the other scriptures together-- and I'm not going to have you turn and chase it down. Take my word that I've done the homework. They bring a financial subsidy, a gift for Paul the Apostle, that has been given to them by the Macedonian churches.

So they gave the money to Paul, which now means Paul can quit tent making for a while and give himself fully to the word of God, which he did. And he was able to stay there for 18 months on this mission, on his second missionary journey there in Corinth.

And so we left around Verse 11. It says he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Now let's give you a date if you are into dates. Paul was there in Corinth, we believe, from the fall of AD 50 to the spring of AD 52.

In AD 52, something happened to change the political landscape. And that is Achaea, that provincial governant of that area of southern Greece, got a new governor. And his name was Gallio, and he is mentioned in Verse 12. When Gallio was proconsul of Achaea, he's the new politician.

I bring it up-- he's new-- because I think it sets the stage because the Jewish population of this town are going to try to take advantage of the fact that he's the new kid on the block. They don't like Paul. They want to manipulate governmental authority against Paul by using this new guy Gallio, but it's going to backfire.

When Gallio was proconsul, the Jews, with one accord, rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat. The word judgment seat is a word some of you know. It's the word bema seat. You've heard people talk about the bema seat of Christ. We will all stand, Corinthians says, before the judgment seat of Christ. And there we're going to be rewarded. We're going to be evaluated on our ministry, on our life, on our faithfulness.

It comes from an actual raised platform in Greek cities where the judgments took place, the bema seat. By the way, if you go to Corinth today, archaeologists have dug up the agora, the marketplace. Many of the temples of the city, the Acrocorinth is still there. And they will show you the bema seat, the bema seat, that raised judgment platform, in the city of Corinth.

And it was that judgment seat that Paul looked at and used when he said, we'll stand before the judgment seat of Christ. When he wrote to the Corinthians, he had that in mind because he stood before that very judgment seat. And so he's comparing that, saying, but we're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. So if you ever make it to Corinth, look for the bema seat. It's still there.

So they brought him to the judgment seat, and they said, this fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law. Now when Gallio hears these words, being a Roman official, when he hears the word law, he's thinking of only one thing. What is that? Roman law. Not Jewish law. These are Jewish leaders saying he's telling us to worship God contrary to the law. They are thinking Jewish law. He hears that as Roman law.

He's soon going to figure out, oh, this has nothing to do with Roman law. And when Paul was about to open his mouth-- he didn't even get the chance to speak or rebut that-- Gallio said to the Jews, if it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, oh Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves, for I do not want to be judge of such matters. And he drove them from the bema seat, from the judgment seat.

Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes-- and he is called here, Verse 17, the ruler of this synagogue-- and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

Luke, the author of this book, I believe here wants to give us an illustration of how Jesus was with Paul. Remember, Paul had a vision. Jesus appeared to him at night, Verse 9 and 10, and said, keep talking. I'm with you. He now wants to give an example of how Jesus was with him, protecting him. And the example is Gallio, how God used Gallio to protect Paul the Apostle when these charges were leveled against him by the locals in the city of Corinth.

They tried to manipulate him. They tried to manipulate Roman justice. But he wouldn't have any part of it. He had a good policy. He had a hands off policy. He's government. He's the state. He's the Feds. They're disputing about religious affairs. So in his mind, it was a separation of powers, a separation of church and state. I don't have any jurisdiction over your law, these names and stuff. That's up to you guys. You take care of that.

So I love that he had a hands off policy. And I think that's very important for justice to be done. Honestly, if Gallio was around today and was running for office, I'd vote for him. I like his policy. So they try to manipulate him. It doesn't work.

Now here's an interesting factoid. You that know your Greek history a little bit will recognize the name Seneca. Seneca was a Greek stoic philosopher, very famous. Seneca was the brother of Gallio. And he writes about his brother. Seneca writes of his brother that no one was good to one like Gallio was to all, that he was kind-hearted and very fair, very favorable in his disposition. So that's a part of history that plays into Gallio, the brother of Seneca, who is now the proconsul at the city of Corinth.

Now I mentioned that the Jews' scheme backfired, and I want you to see why. Go back to Verse 8 and you'll notice something. It says then Crispus-- and what is he called in Verse 8, the what? The ruler of the synagogue. But then if you go to Verse 17, then all the Greeks took Sostenes what? Yeah, the ruler of the synagogue. What goes on?

Well, Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue when Paul came to the town of Corinth. Now a synagogue had a ruler. What that meant was-- the Greek word is [GREEK]. That was his Greek title. And an [GREEK], or a ruler of a synagogue, was somebody appointed by the elders, the Jewish elders in that synagogue, to oversee and upkeep the local synagogue.

So Crispus was the [GREEK] Jewish, served the God of Israel, not a believer until Paul comes to town. Crispus gets converted. Paul baptizes him, we discover in I Corinthians Chapter 1. So they want to replace him. And who do they replace him with? Sosthenes.

So they want to kind of manipulate Roman justice, saying, this guy ought to be arrested. And instead, they take the ruler of the synagogue, the new guy, and they beat him. So they're thinking twice about this. But the best part is still yet to come. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 1, Paul begins.

Paul, called to be an apostle, a Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and-- listen-- Sosthenes our brother. So the first ruler of the synagogue gets saved and baptized by Paul. The second ruler of the synagogue first gets beaten, but eventually believes. So both of them are now Messianic Jews, believers in Jesus Christ.

So all of the plans and schemes of these people against Paul didn't work, backfired against them. And their case was thrown out of court. So, Verse 18, Paul remained a good while. He's been there 18 months. He remains a little longer. We don't know how long, days, maybe weeks, maybe longer.

So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria. And Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. OK, I want to just go through this quickly and then dispense of it so we can get to the meat of this. Cenchrea isn't far from Corinth. So there's that little neck of land, that isthmus, it is called, that little neck of land, three and 1/2 miles. On one side is Cenchrea. On the other side is Corinth. So they're close to each other, a few miles away.

Paul goes to another synagogue in that port town of Cenchrea, and he cuts his hair off. He has taken a vow. What vow has he taken? We're not sure, but some believe it was the vow of a Nazarite.

Now without filling all of that in, it's found in Numbers Chapter 6, and in Numbers Chapter 6, the Old Testament allowed Jewish men to take a vow called a vow of a Nazarite, which means during this period of time that I'm under this vow, there are certain things I can and can't do. I can't drink any wine, which is a celebratory kind of a drink to them. So I'm kind of diminishing my modes of celebration. I drink no wine, no fruit of the vine.

Also, you'd let your hair grow out during the time of your vow. At the end of it, you'd shave your head and take it to a synagogue and they would burn the hair. Now a vow of a Nazarite was-- I guess you could look at it as sort of a token of thanksgiving. If you come to a place, and you just really want to thank the Lord for something he's done in your life, you take this vow. You don't have to do it, but you can do it.

Now here's the interesting thing. Paul, who's not under the law and keeps preaching in the synagogue that Jesus Christ can justify people for things the law could never justify them, and that we're not under the Old Testament law, we're not under all those regulations. We're free. He was a champion of grace, not of the law.

Question is, why is Paul taking a vow under Jewish law, Nazarite or other? And because of that, people have faulted Paul. Some said he did this when he was unsaved. This is before his conversion. That doesn't fit the text. Some believe he's backslid and that he's going backwards into Judaism. I don't think that fits the motif or the character of Paul.

But I think they make a bigger deal of it than you should really make a deal of it. He took a vow. So what? It's not wrong to do it. Where is he going? He's on a way to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Judaism capital, it's Judaism 101. It's the center of everything Jewish. He's on the way to Jerusalem.

And Paul said to the Jews, I become a Jew to the Greeks. I become a Greek. I become all things to all men if by all means, I may save some. So in order to open a door with Jewish people in order to share with them, he took a vow. Did he have to? No. Did he want to? Yeah.

Can't fault him for that any more than you can fault a Christian today. If a Christian says, you know, I'd like to celebrate Passover with my family. OK, go ahead. No problem. Have fun. Enjoy it. Understand the meaning. Enrich your life as you see Christ fulfilled in the Passover.

Or if you say, you know, I was in Israel, and I've come back, and I really like the way they do Friday night and Saturday, their celebration of Shabbat, the Sabbath. I'm going and I'm going to do that with my family. Great. Have at it. You don't have to, but if you want to, great.

Now the problem is, if you start going around telling other New Testament believers, you need to keep the Passover. You need to keep the Sabbath. No, you don't. You're not under the Jewish covenant. You're a Gentile. You're free in God's grace. So under grace, Paul could take the vow. Under grace Paul could not take the vow. Guess what, he wanted to take the vow.

And when somebody comes along and says, shame on Paul, Paul shouldn't have taken that vow, what they're doing is doing what they're accusing Paul of doing. They've now made a law that Paul violated. So it's a logical fallacy. Anytime you say, I have a law, you shouldn't keep the law, we're not talking with you because what you said just doesn't make sense. So he's under grace. He can do whatever he wants. Oh, now let me just throw the whole wrench in the machinery while I'm at it.

You can chase this down on your own, but I'm doing this just to stir up the pot. In your future, and I take it literally, I believe that there is going to be-- in the future, after the tribulation period on the earth of seven years-- when Jesus returns, there's going to be 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth. I believe that. I believe literally in a millennial kingdom.

Well, interesting about the millennial kingdom is the last part of the Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 40 through 48, talk about the building of a temple unlike anything that has ever been built there ever before. It has never been fulfilled. The specifications of this temple Jerusalem has never in its history seen. It's enormous. And it is the temple that will be built for Messiah, from which he will reign for 1,000 years on the earth.

What's interesting about that is sacrifices will be conducted in the millennial temple, animal sacrifices, Jewish sacrifices. In fact, it says people from all over the world, the nations of the world, will converge at Jerusalem once a year for the Feast of Tabernacles. Not just Ezekiel, but Zechariah says that.

Now one wonders why God would do something like that. Why, if Jesus ended the sacrifices, why would they have sacrifices? Well, just as the Old Testament sacrifices were prospective-- that is, they looked forward to their fulfillment in Christ Jesus on Calvary-- the millennial sacrifices will be retrospective, looking backwards, and enjoyed by the Jewish nation principally.

You say, retrospect, looking back? Why? Well, it's very similar to what we're about to do in a few minutes with communion. We're taking elements that represent flesh and blood originally from the Passover. And Jesus said, do this often and look back retrospectively. Enjoy this. Do this often in remembrance of me. So you can have a little fun with that and chase that down on your own. But I just wanted to throw that in with Paul having this vow.

Verse 19. And he came to Ephesus. Now he had to do that by boat. It was on the main trade route. It was probably easier to find a boat from Corinth to Ephesus than just about anywhere else in the Roman Empire because these are the two capital cities of two provinces, and they're on the direct trade route.

So he came to Ephesus. And he left them there. That is, he left there in Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla, who were traveling with him. But he himself entered the synagogue-- little wonder-- and reasoned with the Jews. Little wonder.

When they asked him to stay longer with them, he did not consent. Now this is wild because usually he goes into synagogues and shares with them, and they don't want to hear him anymore. Get him out. Throw him out of town. Go to the next town, if he's going there, and don't let him go there either. Beat him up, stone him, throw him in jail.

He never had a welcome audience, typically, in the synagogue, except from non-Jews, Gentiles. God fearers would listen and go, we want to hear more, this gospel of grace for non-Jewish people. We want to hear more.

Now he goes into the synagogue at Ephesus. They want to hear more, and he goes, sorry. What? You spent a year and a half in Corinth, and you can't stay and tell us-- we want to hear more of the Gospel. Sorry. I'm not-- bye.

Well, he'll be back. He'll spend three and 1/2 years. That will be his third journey. You'll see this right away in this chapter. He'll be back. But also, he wants to go to Jerusalem. He has taken a vow. He's on the way to Jerusalem. So that's in his mind. That's where he's going unless the Lord stops him. So he doesn't consent. But he took leave of them, saying, I must, by all means, keep this coming feast in Jerusalem. But I will return again to you, God willing.

I love that he said that. And I love it when believers say that. That's what James taught us to say. In James Chapter 4, James said, go to now, you who say we're going to do this and that tomorrow, and go into that city and buy and sell and get gain. He said, you don't even know what tomorrow's going to bring. Your life is a vapor. What you ought to say, wrote James, is if the Lord wills.

And you shouldn't just say that. It should be your disposition, your outlook in life, that you subordinate your plans to the will of God. You can make plans, but always realize there is a contingency. There's a little rider with it. Your plans are subject to change. God's the script writer. He has editing rights over your plans. So go ahead and make your plans, but God can change them. So I'll be there, Lord willing.

Now this has become quite a famous saying. Ancient Jews and modern Jews all over the Middle East will say this. God willing, God willing, God willing. Even Arab cultures, in Arab cultures, if they're going to say something or they're going to do something, they always say inshallah, God willing. And so James instructed us we should say that.

Here Paul says that to them. I'm coming back, God willing. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea-- Caesarea is the coastal town in Israel-- and he had gone up-- when you read that, it means he's gone up to Jerusalem.

If you wanted to immigrate to Israel today, you would use a term that literally means I'm going up. It's the Hebrew word aliyah. Aliyah means to go up. So when you tell a Jew I'm going up, what that means to him is you're leaving your country and going to Israel. You're moving to Israel. You're going up to Jerusalem, originally.

For a couple of reasons. First of all, Jerusalem itself is about 2,600 feet above sea level. And usually, from any of the environments around Jerusalem, you have to ascend to get to it. You are climbing the hill. You are ascending. Hence, in the Old Testament, there were the Psalms of ascents. If you've read that in the psalms, psalms of ascents are psalms written as you climb up the hill toward Jerusalem. You ascend upwards. So you are literally ascending, you're going up to Jerusalem.

But more than that, the Jewish person will tell you whenever you go to Jerusalem, you're always moving up in life, spiritually speaking, generally speaking, emotionally speaking. You're going up, you're improving your life. So when you see these words gone up, they're synonymous to he went to Jerusalem. He went to Caesarea because he wants to make it to the feast in Jerusalem.

And he had gone up-- that is, he's made it to Jerusalem-- and greeted the church in Jerusalem. But then he went to Antioch. I've always been fascinated with the fact that though Paul did go to Jerusalem, didn't really hang out much there. It wasn't that important to him, even though it is of prime importance to any Jewish person to go to visit, to be in Jerusalem.

He was a Pharisee, studied under Gamaliel in Jerusalem. But you know, he's had some hard times in Jerusalem. You know, he himself stoned people there, like Stephen and others, so there's bad blood going around. Plus he's hated in Jerusalem.

And I also think he felt more of a kinship with the leadership in Antioch, in Syria, rather than the boys down in Jerusalem, just a different style, different flavor. Antioch was the missionary church, the church that sent him on his missionary journey. So leaving Ephesus, he sails across the Mediterranean, makes it to Caesarea, climbs up to Jerusalem, is there for the feast, goes up to Antioch in Syria, where he started his second missionary journey. Now the second missionary journey is over.

Now begins his third missionary journey in Verse 23. After he spent some time there in Antioch, he departed. And he went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia, those two areas that he was visiting on his first and second trip, in order, strengthening all of the disciples.

Now Verse 24 takes us back to Ephesus for a little pericope, just a little segment of verses that highlight, meanwhile, over in Ephesus, this is what's happening. So there is Paul. He has started his missionary journey. Meanwhile in Ephesus-- so the camera now pans.

It says, now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in spirit, very zealous, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord though he knew only the baptism of John, meaning John the Baptist. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Interesting cat. Apollos. His full name would be Apollonius, which means the follower of Apollo, Apollo the Greek god, the son of Zeus, if you know your mythology. So he's Jewish with a very pagan name, Greek name, Apollonius, nickname Apollos. He's a Hellenistic Jew, that is, he's a Jew with a Greek influence. He's from Alexandria, Egypt.

Now Alexandria, Egypt was the second largest city in the Roman Empire in New Testament times. Massive. And 1/3 of its population, about 250,000 of them, were Jewish. Very significant. Alexandria was founded by guess who? Because the name sounds a lot like the guy who founded it. Alexander the Great, 332 BC, Alexander the Great founded the city. It was a very progressive Greek city.

But it had a large Jewish enclave, so large that people would take refuge, Jewish people found refuge there. Jesus lived there. Mary and Joseph took Jesus in fleeing from Herod to Egypt in the formative years of his life. Where did they go in Egypt? Had to be Alexandria. That was where the Jewish enclaves were. Synagogues in every part of the ancient city.

So Alexandria, Egypt, a very famous place, a very populated place. I mentioned second largest in the Roman Empire. It was also a place of great intellectual wealth. The largest library in the ancient world was located in Alexandria. Guess how many volumes? 700,000 volumes in the Library of Alexandria, Egypt, we are told by ancient historians.

Tragically, Julius Caesar attacked the city in 48, and it burned, they say accidentally. But all of that great wealth of intellect and study was lost. It was also the area from which a guy named Philo, P-H-I-L-O, was from. Now Philo was Jewish, very revered in Judaism, a scholar's scholar, but one who allegorized the biblical text.

Philo, what he tried to do is conflate and harmonize Greek mythology with the biblical Old Testament text. So that's how weird he got. But he was brilliant nonetheless. He was influential nonetheless. And probably this guy, Apollonius, Apollos, sat under, gleaned under, learned from much of Philo of Alexandria.

So he shows up in Ephesus. Now he's an interesting mix of guy because he's Jewish with a pagan name, but he's Messianic Jew, sort of, partway. He believes in the Messiah, believes Jesus is the Messiah. But he knows nothing about the crucifixion and Resurrection. He only knows about the baptism of John, not the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not anything that happened after John. He just believes that when John came and said this guy's the Messiah-- and many people were converted, including Jews-- that he himself believed that.

So here he is. This weird guy with this brilliant intellect from a city of intellectual wealth and prosperity, shows up in Ephesus and preaches Jesus, but doesn't know anything about the fact that he died on a cross and rose from the dead. But he's pretty persuasive. So Aquila and Priscilla teach him the way of God more accurately. It's like, you know, this guy's good. You know, he could preach. If he only knew the truth, he'd be a better preacher.

So they disciple him they take him under their wing and they and they train him up and he becomes mighty and becomes eloquent in scripture. And he understands both sides of the cross. And when he desired to cross Achaea to Achaea-- that's where Corinth is-- the brethren wrote exhorting the disciples to receive him. And when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

In a very short period of time, this guy grew, grew strong, and goes to Corinth, where Paul had been for 18 months, to refute in the synagogues accurately what he had learned.

His story is amazing. And I have some interesting things about him to share. Trouble is, we'll do that next time because we're out of time, and what we want to focus in on is the Lord's Supper, Lord's table.

So we'll close our bibles and we'll continue to keep our hearts open. We'll have a word of prayer. Father, as those who are going to serve communion come now, we want to turn our hearts to the meaning of this. We're not saved by this act. This is an act of honor and respect and love and obedience. It's an act of worship.

We know, Lord, that there is no innate power in the bread. There's no innate power in the juice or, in some communion services, wine. There's no power in those elements. Those elements speak of something greater, far greater. And that is the one who came to fulfill the law, fulfill the Passover.

But Jesus, you told us to do this often, to do it in remembrance of you. And it's a reminder of the commonality that exists. We have something in common. We're sinners in common with each other. We have failed in common with each other. We are imperfect in common with each other. But Jesus died on a cross for our sins. We have that in common. Jesus rose from the dead. We have that in common.

And so, Lord, as we take this bread, each of us will be nourished by the same source. As we take this juice, each of us will be nourished and refresh from the same source. So we're sharing, in common, a meal that speaks of the commonality of our faith, and that you so loved the world that you gave your only begotten son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.

Lord, cleanse our hearts. Forgive us our sins. As we take this to remember you and honor you, it's in Jesus' name. Amen.

For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.

Additional Messages in this Series

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8/16/2017
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Acts 1
Acts 1
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
After Jesus rose from the grave, He spent forty days with His disciples before ascending into heaven. During this time, He tasked them with spreading the gospel to the ends of the world. In this message, we learn about the very beginnings of the early church.
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8/23/2017
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Acts 2:1-31
Acts 2:1-31
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8/30/2017
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Acts 2:32-3:26
Acts 2:32-3:26
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9/13/2017
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Acts 4:1-24
Acts 4:1-24
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9/27/2017
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Acts 4:23-5:42
Acts 4:23-5:42
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10/4/2017
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Acts 6
Acts 6
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10/18/2017
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Acts 7
Acts 7
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11/1/2017
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Acts 8
Acts 8
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11/29/2017
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Acts 9:1-23
Acts 9:1-23
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12/27/2017
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Acts 9:20-43
Acts 9:20-43
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Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul the apostle) had an amazing impact on the early church. But what many fail to realize is that it didn't happen overnight. In this message, we learn what Saul did right after his conversion, and we see how God prepared him for ministry.
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1/3/2018
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Acts 10
Acts 10
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Many in the early church had a hard time believing God's grace extended to the Gentiles. In this message, we learn how God used a Roman centurion to reveal to Peter that no one is beyond the reach of God and there is no place for bigotry among His people.
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1/10/2018
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Acts 11
Acts 11
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We all need some encouragement from time to time as we grow in our walk with the Lord. Barnabas had the gift of encouraging those around him. In this message, we see how he encouraged Saul, who would later become Paul the apostle, to begin in his ministry.
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1/17/2018
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Acts 12
Acts 12
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The Herodian dynasty was filled with proud, dysfunctional, evil kings. Herod Agrippa I persecuted the early church, killing James and imprisoning Peter. In this message, we learn about the power of prayer and see how God's sovereignty triumphs over the pride of man.
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1/24/2018
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Acts 13:1-41
Acts 13:1-41
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Message Summary
God is a missionary God. Even back in the Old Testament, He often sent people out to do various things. Much of the book of Acts details how members of the early church were sent out to spread the gospel. In this message, we learn how Paul and his team set out on their first missionary journey.
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1/31/2018
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Acts 13:16-14:28
Acts 13:16-14:28
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Message Summary
Paul and Barnabas had a specific format to their missionary work: they preached first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. In this message, we examine Paul's first recorded sermon and the response it received. We learn the importance of being anchored in Scripture and centered on God's promises when sharing the gospel with others.
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2/7/2018
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Acts 15
Acts 15
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All people disagree with one another at some point--even Christians. In the early church, a disagreement arose concerning whether the Gentile believers should be required to adhere to the Law of Moses. In this message, we learn how the early church found a biblical solution to this divisive subject.
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3/7/2018
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Acts 15:36-16:30
Acts 15:36-16:30
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3/14/2018
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Acts 16:25-17:34
Acts 16:25-17:34
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3/21/2018
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Acts 18:1-11
Acts 18:1-11
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4/25/2018
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Acts 18:23-19:22
Acts 18:23-19:22
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At the end of Paul's second missionary journey, he traveled to Ephesus but could not stay, as he was headed to Jerusalem. But he promised to return to the city, which he did in his third missionary journey. Paul's three-year stay in Ephesus was fruitful: the entirety of Asia Minor heard the gospel, and his vision for spreading the gospel grew to include Jerusalem, Rome, and even Spain.
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5/2/2018
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Acts 19:23-20:16
Acts 19:23-20:16
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5/9/2018
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Acts 20:17-21:14
Acts 20:17-21:14
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Message Summary
In this message, we see Paul on his third and final missionary journey. He knew he needed to speak to the elders of the church of Ephesus but was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost, so he and the elders met in nearby Miletus. In his parting words to the elders, Paul gave great insight into the attributes of effective ministry. Despite multiple trustworthy warnings about impending hardship in Jerusalem, Paul graciously received the warnings as preparation and proceeded to Jerusalem.
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5/16/2018
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Acts 21:14-22:30
Acts 21:14-22:30
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5/30/2018
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Acts 23
Acts 23
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6/13/2018
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Acts 24
Acts 24
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6/20/2018
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Acts 25-26
Acts 25-26
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7/18/2018
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Acts 27
Acts 27
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7/25/2018
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Acts 27:39-28:16
Acts 27:39-28:16
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8/1/2018
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Acts 28:17-31
Acts 28:17-31
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There are 29 additional messages in this series.