Bowie Apostolic Church
Acts 20: Paul Leaves Ephesus
by From the Pastor's Desk on February 20th, 2013

Why Now? Things are Going so Well.

Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 
At the height of his ministry, Paul leaves. From the standpoint of man’s accomplishments, this doesn’t make sense. He was able to stay in Ephesus for years. This had never happened before. He has dominion in the city with the governmental authorities and the spiritual opposition in the area. Why would he leave now? Why would anyone leave now?

There was something awaiting Paul that seems so unfair from our standards, but God’s plans are not our plans. His plans go beyond the moment of success in our individual memories. Paul begins a process that gives him a lot of downtime. What is he going to do with that downtime? He is supposed to be moving and getting the job done. He is supposed to be evangelizing the world and starting new churches. He should be out their putting it all on the line in a new city. What is he going to be doing during this downtime? He is going to write. He is going to write to all of the churches that he was involved with starting. He is going to write to his sons in the Gospel. He is going to expound upon and reiterate the things that he said on location while establishing these churches. He’s going to bear witness to the revelations that God has revealed to him.

You see, it may look like Paul is quitting. It may look like Paul is giving up the best ministry position he’s ever been offered. To recap: Paul started off being beaten, imprisoned and banished from cities everywhere he went. He once was stoned and left for dead. He goes through one missionary journey in which there was no huge success in the number of converts because he was never given that much time to operate in one place. Then he goes to Corinth and reaches a breaking point in his ministry. He reaches Ephesus and his ministry just explodes. 

But God is about to do something unique with this intellectual Pharisee who could’ve very well been the next premier Rabbi in Israel. He was taught by Gamaliel who already had that title. There are people still talking about Gamliel in orthodox Judaism today. Paul gave up his standing in his community and follows the One whose faith he vehemently tried to kill. God has plans for this man who abandoned his identity and put his life on the line because he was seen as a traitor. Paul is about to be immortalized in scripture. However many thousands there were in Corinth or Ephesus, Paul’s ministry is going to go further than it ever has. It will reach lands that he will never set foot on. It will last for thousands of years. His letters will be read by countless millions if not billions of people through the centuries. You and I are in that count.

Now was Paul giving up something and losing out? Or was God taking his ministry to a level that he had not expected?

What does this teach us? It teaches me that if our lives are not our own, neither are our ministries. We can’t get to comfortable with our perception of success. Everything we do is to the glory of God and His glory alone. It also teaches us something that I’ve been talking about lately. Never underestimate the impact of one life when it is given to Jesus. Never underestimate your life when you are given to Jesus. Ultimately it is His strength that works in us.

Posted in Acts, Bible 2013    Tagged with Paul, Ephesus


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Acts (28)
30 pieces of silver About the bible Abraham Agrippa Arm of the Lord Ascension Berea Bethlehem Bramblebush Caesar Corinth Counsel Damascus David Ephesus Ephratah Euroclydon Everlasting Father Felix Festus Fullness of power Galilee Golden rule Herod His suffering Integrity Isaac Ishmael Jerusalem Jotham Judah Malta Mary Messiah Moses Nathan Passover Paul Philippi Right hand of God Righteous Branch Rome Sanhedrin Saul Silas Son of God Timothy Triumphal Entry Virgin Birth ananias angels appointed time arbiter arrested asset management awe baptism betrayal boast bones borrower breaking point brockenhearted bruise business buyer caesarea casting lots centurion character child rearing colt commitment consistency construction conversion correction cosigning culture debt demon devil discernment disrespect edification edify education environment eternal ethiopian ethnic expectation facade faith family filled finances foolish foul words friends gentiles glory gospel heresy holy spirit honor hope humble humor identity idleness ill-gotten gains intimidation iron irreverence jealousy john joke justice knowledge lamb law of moses lazy learning lender lion love the Blesser love your neighbor love loyalty magician martyr mercy ministry miracle mob mocked moment name of Jesus nations negotiation no corruption obedience peace keeper peace pentecost persecution perseverance peter philip poor taste power pranks prayer preach promise prosper rebellion rebuke referee relationships reproach resurrection reverence rich man's tomb ruin sapphire satan self-promotion seller serpent sharpens shepherd ship silent before slaughter simon slave stephen strife submitted surety teacher temptation timidity truth understanding unsubmitted wealth what goes around comes around wicked wisdom words matter work ethic wounds zeal of thine house