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The Pastor's Blog

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Let’s put Paul’s life and ministry on a timeline. The exact dates are debatable. Maybe we’re off by a year or two, but most historians and scholars agree that these dates are close. Let’s begin by placing the date of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection at 30 AD. Five years later, about 35 AD, Saul of Tarsus encounter the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road.

Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-14:28) can be dated from 46 to 48 AD and his second journey (Acts 15:40-18:23) from 50 to 52 AD. Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 18:23-21:17) must have occurred from about 53 to 57 AD. It was just twenty years from Paul’s glorious conversion (35 AD) to the middle of his third missionary journey (55 AD).

We’ll return to the timeline in just a moment…

At the end of Paul’s second missionary journey, he made a brief pit-stop in Ephesus before returning to Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 18:18-21). On his third missionary journey, Paul traveled directly to Ephesus where he remained for three years (Acts 20:31).

As was most common, Paul began his work in Ephesus by going to the Jewish synagogue where he “spoke boldly over a period of three months, arguing and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples, and conducted discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:8-9). Though there was opposition, Paul worked fearlessly to evangelize his Jewish brethren. When it was necessary, Paul turned his attention to the Gentile population.

During that time, “God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, so that even facecloths or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11–12). As people were miraculously healed, multitudes came to hear Paul’s message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone!

While Paul and his companions ministered in Ephesus, “all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:8–10). Churches were established in the surrounding communities of Colossae, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Glory to God!

Now, back to the timeline. It was only eleven or twelve years from the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey to the end of the third missionary journey (46-57 AD.) These humble words, written by Paul at the end of the third missionary journey, are remarkable. “I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me by word and deed for the obedience of the Gentiles, by the power of miraculous signs and wonders, and by the power of God’s Spirit. As a result, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum” (Romans 15:18–19). (Illyricum was north of Greece.)

In a dozen short years, the Gospel had spread from Jerusalem, north through Syria, and west through modern-day Turkey, then to eastern Europe, eclipsing much of the Roman empire.

We marvel at what God accomplished through one life… a life wholly devoted to the Resurrected Redeemer! What might God accomplish today though one life, committed, uncompromised, surrendered to Jesus?


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