Autumn 52 A.D. to Summer 53 A.D.
In Antioch Peter is rebuked
Paul stays in Antioch from the Autumn of 52 A.D. to the Summer of 53 A.D. (Acts 18:23).
Peter visits Antioch during the Spring Holy Day season. While celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread Peter does not have a problem with eating or fellowshipping with uncircumcised Gentile converts. During the Feast some Jewish converts from Jerusalem arrive. These converts still believe ALL Christians (e.g. the Gentiles) should also be circumcised in order to receive salvation. As Paul relates in the book of Galatians, Peter (and Barnabas) treat the Gentile converts quite differently when the Jewish converts arrive. Their behavior, according to him, deserved a public rebuke:
"Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he WITHDREW and SEPARATED himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
"But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, 'If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?' " (Galatians 2:11-14, NKJV throughout)
Summer 53 A.D.
Paul's third missionary journey begins
The apostle's third evangelistic tour begins by revisiting the churches in Galatia in order to follow-up on the epistle he wrote to them in late spring (book of Galatians). He then visits brethren in the Phrygia province to strengthen them in their walk as Christians (Acts 18:23).
Autumn 54 A.D. to Early Winter 57 A.D.
Apostle Paul lives in Ephesus; Seven sons of a priest learn a hard lesson.
From the Phrygia region Paul journeys to Ephesus and stays in the city for a little more than three years (Acts 19:1-20). In the late winter of 56 A.D., while at Ephesus, he writes the book of 1Corinthians. He writes his second epistle to the Corinthians in late summer of 57 A.D. While in Ephesus he discovers twelve believers who were baptized as a sign of repentance by John the Baptist but who DID NOT as yet have God's spirit. He tells the disciples about Jesus and baptizes them in His name. Upon baptism they immediately receive God's Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7).
Paul preaches boldly about the Gospel for three months in a local synagogue. Some, however, who do not believe what he teaches begin to speak evil of God's way. Paul and those who believe the Gospel leave the synagogue (Acts 19:8-10).
One day seven sons of a Jewish priest named Sceva arrive in Ephesus. The sons are Jewish exorcists who travel from place to place and pretend to cast demons out of people. They witness Paul casting out demons and decide to try his method for themselves. They run into someone possessed of an evil spirit and attempt to cast it out of the person by saying "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." (Acts 19:13).
The response they receive is totally unexpected! What happens next to the seven sons serves as a warning to ANY who assume to have the authority of God to command powerful evil spirits. As the sons will learn, merely using the name of Jesus does not guarantee the ability to access His power:
"And the evil spirit answered and said, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I know; BUT WHO ARE YOU?'
"Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they FLED out of that house NAKED and WOUNDED. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified." (Acts 19:15-17)
After what happened to the sons of Sceva many who practiced magic repented of their deeds and burned their books of spells and other evil-related practices (Acts 19:18-19).
Early Winter 57 A.D.
Loss of idol business causes riot
A second century marble statue of Roman goddess Diana.
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In the early winter of 57 A.D. an Ephesian silversmith named Demetrius, who makes a significant profit creating small replicas of the pagan goddess Diana and her temple, becomes concerned about a recent loss of business.
The preaching of Paul in the area has persuaded many people to stop purchasing and using idols, and to abandon altogether the worship of false gods like Diana.
The goddess Diana is zealously worshipped in Ephesus and in other places around the empire. The city of Ephesus is famous for possessing the Temple of Diana (Artemis), which in modern times is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Demetrius the silversmith organizes a meeting of fellow tradesmen to discuss the drop in idol sales:
“'Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands.
"'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.'” (Acts 19:25-27)
During the meeting a riot breaks out. The crowd finds and seizes two of Paul's traveling companions. When Paul wants to talk to the mob some disciples stop him from doing so and jeopardizing his life (Acts 19:28-31). The riot is eventually quieted by a city clerk who tells the out-of-control crowd:
"'Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly.'
"'. . . if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another . . . For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar . . . ' " (Acts 19:35-36, 38, 40)
The worship of Diana is so well-known and universally accepted that, according to the clerk, there was no danger of it being destroyed by the evangelist and what he taught. The clerk CHIDES the crowd for their unreasonable fears and warns them there are consequences if they continue being disorderly! The riot soon disperses. Paul leaves the city and journeys to Macedonia. During his three month stay in the region he visits Corinth (Acts 20:1-3) and writes his letter to the Romans.
Travel to many cities, elders warned of coming apostasy.
The apostle Paul and company travel back through Macedonia to Troas, where they keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:6). On his last day at Troas he preaches and teaches until late in the night. Listening to him is a young man sitting in a window. The man soon goes into a deep sleep and dies when he falls from the window to the street below. The evangelist immediately goes to the young man, embraces him, and he comes back to life! (Acts 20:7-11).
After the Feast Luke and a few others sail from Philippi and meet Paul in Troas. Although Luke and several others decide to sail from Troas to Assos, Paul chooses to walk to the city (Acts 20:13-14). In Assos the entire group takes a ship to Mitylene (Acts 20:14). From Mitylene they sail past the islands of Chios and Samos, dock for a night at Trogyllium, then eventually arrive at Miletus (Acts 20:15).
Miletus is a seaport town and ancient capital of Ionia. The city is located about 36 miles (58 kilometers) south of Ephesus.
Before 500 B.C. Miletus was considered the greatest and wealthiest of Greek cities. It was important in the founding of the Greek colony of Naukratis in Egypt and founded more than 60 colonies on the shores of the Black Sea.
From Miletus the apostle requests that the elders in the Ephesian church visit him. When they arrive he warns them about the coming apostasy in the church:
"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also FROM AMONG YOURSELVES men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:26-31)
Paul soon boards a ship in Miletus. His vessel sails to the islands of Cos and Rhodes but only to dock briefly off their coasts. He eventually arrives at Patara, where he boards another boat bound for the city of Tyre in Phoenicia (Acts 21:1-4). Landing at Tyre he stays will fellow believers in the area for one week (Acts 21:5-6). From Tyre he sails to Ptolemais where his visits some brethren for a day. He again boards a boat and arrives at Caesarea. Philip the evangelist, who lives in Caesarea, has him stay in his home for many days (Acts 21:8,10). While at Philip's house a prophet from Judea named Agabus comes to see him. He takes his belt, binds his own hands and feet, and gives the following prophecy:
"Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" (Acts 21:11).
Although those with him plead with him not to go to Jerusalem he decides to go anyway (Acts 21:12-15).
Late Spring 58 A.D.
Missionary travel ends in Jerusalem
Paul arrives in Jerusalem around the late spring of 58 A.D., possibly near the time of the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 21:17).