I am becoming more and more captivated by the unique ways Paul went from one missionary trip to another with intense focus on preparing others to carry on his work. Leaving Antioch for his third push westward, he visits Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (Pisidia) for the fourth and last time. Previous trips to these places produced true disciples in Gaius (Derby), Timothy (Lystra), Titus (Antioch). On his second missionary trip, more disciples became part of his team; Aristarchus and Secundus (Thessalonica), and Sopater (Berea)*.
It is very possible that some, if not all, of these men met Paul while he preached and taught in Ephesus. “He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). This met with stubborn unbelief which caused Paul to “withdraw from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning (included discussions) daily in the hall of Tyrannus” (19:9). Paul is unmoved by the public opposition. He is thinking long term by training and preparing disciples who will carry on the work after he is gone. The hall of Tyrannus becomes that place where these men and others are trained for two years (three years in Ephesus, the longest stay in any one place).
What is the immediate benefits of Paul’s determination to press on in spite of difficulties? “All the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (19:10). This happened without any preplanned program, budget or mission board. That is a fruitful, effective ministry!
What makes you press on in the face of difficulties? Before you answer that question, turn to chapter 18:9-10 and read carefully.
*Edwards, Gene, Revolutionary Bible Study, SeedSowers Publishing, 2009, page 191.
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