(68) Paul took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus – Acts 19:9

At the end of his second missionary journey Paul visited Athens where he demonstrated his knowledge of Greek culture and writing. The Greeks worshipped many gods and, afraid to upset any of them, even had an altar dedicated “To an unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Paul took this as a starting point for preaching to them about “The God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24), and quoted from their literature before talking about Jesus. He then spent over 18 months in Corinth, establishing a strong church before setting sail back to Antioch.

Paul’s third journey took him to Ephesus, a town on the west coast of Asia (present day Turkey), where he spent three months teaching in the synagogue before opposition caused him to move to “the lecture hall of Tyrannus.” Luke says “he had discussions daily” (Acts 19:9), indicating that this was a dialogue, not just preaching. People were able to raise their questions and the question and answer style is evident in some of Paul’s letters as he raises objections to his own teaching and deals with them – see for example Romans 6:1 & 6:15. Ephesus was a commercial centre for the region with many people coming and going and “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10) as a result of Paul using the city as his base for two years.

Paul’s time in Ephesus was brought to an end by a riot in the city which was started by the silversmiths who were concerned for their livelihood. Their main income came from selling images of their goddess Artemis (the temple of Artemis, also known as Diana, was one of the original seven wonders of the world) and sales were falling as people became Christians. Not for the first time, the spread of Christianity had an economic impact on a community.

After visiting the churches he had founded in Macedonia and Greece, Paul set off for Jerusalem. When they arrived at Caesarea they stayed with Philip the Evangelist, which is probably where Luke heard the account of his time in Samaria and with the Ethiopian official, and a prophet called Agabus came and said that Paul would be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem and delivered to the Gentiles. The disciples, including Luke, urged him not to go but Paul was convinced that he should go saying that, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem was low key. He met with James, the brother of Jesus, who was the leader of the Jerusalem church and told him and the other elders about what God had done among the Gentiles through his work. They were pleased, although their main concern was still to avoid offending the Jewish believers wherever possible. After a week Paul was spotted in the temple by Jews from Asia who stirred up the crowd against him saying that he his teaching was contrary to Jewish laws and customs. This led to a riot which the Romans stopped by arresting Paul.

Paul then spent over two years under arrest in Caesarea and appeared before a number of Roman Governors and local kings. He was a Roman citizen, which gave him various rights, and during his trial he used his right to appeal to Caesar. As a result he was sent to Rome for trial. Luke records the journey in detail, including a dramatic account of a storm and a shipwreck on Malta. Paul was under house arrest for two years in Rome where, despite being in chains, he had considerable freedom to preach. Luke ends his book by writing that Paul “welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:30-31).

We do not have any record of Paul’s trial before Caesar – the infamous Nero – but it is traditionally thought that he was released and undertook further missionary journeys (his letters make references to places not mentioned in Acts) before returning to Rome where he was martyred.

Paul’s life made a huge impact on the people of his day. But his impact on Christianity comes from his letters, thirteen of which are in our New Testament.

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