Acts – Paul the Apostle – Wayne Barber/Part 4
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1992|
|We’ve looked at Paul, the Man. Now we are continuing to look at Paul, the Missionary.|
Paul, the Missionary – Part 3
Turn with me to Ephesians 1:1. Now, you are saying, “You’re not going to stay there.” I know. I just want to make sure by the time we actually get to Ephesians 1:1b, your Bible will just open to it. We are going to take that first phrase. I don’t want you to think I am just running around trying to introduce this by biding time. No, it starts off and says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” What are we doing? We are trying to look at Paul. Who is Paul? He is an apostle of Christ Jesus by what? By the will of God.
We’ve looked at Paul, the Man. Now we are continuing to look at Paul, the Missionary. Next time we are going to start right in on the Second Missionary Journey. We’ve already looked at the first one, and we are going to start with the second one in our next study.
In the last study we saw that Paul had a received ministry, not an achieved ministry. If Paul were to walk up to us today and we could ask him a question, we would probably say, “Paul, what is it that gave you the idea to become a missionary?” I am sure he would say back to us, “It wasn’t my idea. It was God’s idea.” Everything in Paul’s life was ordered by God Himself. Every step of his journey was guided by a divine hand. As Proverbs says, “A man can plan his way, but it is God that directs his steps.”
In Acts 15:30, we saw that as they returned to Antioch, there were two other people. There were two people along with Paul and Barnabas. Who were they? One of them was named Judas, nicknamed Barsabbas, but what was the other one’s name? Silas. Now, that’s important. Verse 36 starts his Second Missionary Journey. That is where we want to begin. There are several things that we want to see.
What in the world can a missionary expect? Paul was saying, “I have already been on one journey. Now here is another one. God orders my steps. I plan my way, He changes my direction.” What are some of the things that a person who has surrendered to Christ can expect as he walks in that adventure with Him?
Well, first of all, he encounters a sharp disagreement. Probably one of the things Paul did not expect was what happened as recorded in Acts 15:36. Let’s read it together. “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’” What he wanted to do was backtrack, go back over into Asia Minor and check on the believers that came to know Christ as he was on his First Missionary Journey. He wanted to see how they were doing.
I want you to look at verse 37. There was a disagreement, a sharp disagreement which came up between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas was commissioned by the Spirit, but recognized by the church as we saw earlier. Verse 37 says, “And Barnabas was desirous of taking John, called Mark, along with them also.” Go back to 12:25, and you’ll find where they brought John Mark back from Jerusalem with them. They meet him in Acts 12:12 and bring him back in Acts 12:25. Look at verse 25: “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.” That’s important, because sometimes he literally in scripture is called Mark, and sometimes he is called John. That’s why we say John Mark.
In 13:13 they take him with them on their first journey. In verse 13 it says, “Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos [which was on the island of Cyprus], and came to Perga in Pamphylia.” Now that is the coastal area of Asia Minor. “And John left them and returned to Jerusalem.” We don’t know anything else. We just know that he left them, and he came back to Jerusalem. Why did he leave them? Well, we find out now in our text, Acts 15:38. This is very, very important. This caused a sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.
Verse 38 says, “But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.” Now, this is strong. What does it mean, “he deserted them”? The word there is the word aphistemi. It is the same word that you get the word “apostasy” from. Many people think that apostates fall away from the truth. No, sir, there is no falling away. The word apo, means away from, istemi means “to stand.” It means “to stand back, fold your arms and not have anything to do with it.” Now, an apostate teacher is one who stood away from that which he knew to be true. He was never saved to begin with.
However, this word is used in a different sense with John Mark. What made him stand away from the apostle Paul and Barnabas? We don’t really know. We can sort of conjecture a little bit. Perhaps it is because he had just come from Jerusalem. Remember the problem that they were having with those people from Judea who were always trying to add the Law to grace? Maybe John Mark was one of them. Maybe John Mark could not stomach the fact that these Gentiles were allowed to come into the covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ by grace and grace alone. They didn’t have to be baptized to be saved. They just simply by grace received Him. Maybe he was on that side. Maybe having heard the message that Paul was preaching, he stood away from that and went back to Jerusalem. I don’t know.
Maybe the word had gotten to him that they were about to go to Antioch of Pisidia. We studied that in the First Missionary Journey. They were going to Antioch, then to Iconium, then to Lystra, and then to Derbe. There was a hostile group of people waiting for Paul when he got there. Maybe John Mark had already seen some of the hostility on the island of Cyprus because of Paul’s boldness in his preaching. John cowardly deserts him, willingly stands away from him and goes back to Jerusalem.
Whatever the situation is, and we won’t know until we get to heaven, at least we know that Paul and Barnabas took two different sides of the story. Barnabas being the encourager, probably wanted to encourage John Mark, and wanted to take him along. Paul said, “No way. Absolutely no way. I don’t want a deserter with me. I don’t want somebody who is going to stand away from me.”
Now what happened? Verse 39 continues, “And there arose such a sharp disagreement.” Now, that’s a translation. Those two words are really one word, and the word has to do with that which provokes somebody, that which stimulates somebody. The word “stimulate” is a little more cultured.
You know, you have to have stimulating conversations with your wife. “Yeah, she provoked me, or I provoked her.” That is really what it means.
I mean, they flat got upset with one another. Barnabas said, “No, let’s take John Mark.” Paul said, “No sir, I don’t want a deserter with me.” Well, what happened? This is a missionary; he is God-called. Barnabas is a missionary; he is God-called. What is the first thing they were looking for on this Second Missionary Journey? Companionship and traveling grace. What happened? A sharp disagreement. What happened? Verse 39 says, “they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.”
Somebody might say, “I thought these men were better than that.” Isn’t it amazing how we seem to deify people that are sent out by God? We think for some reason they eat holy cereal or something. I mean these people have got shoes on that cannot ever step on wrong places. I want to remind you of something. These are human beings. That should be an encouragement to every heart. God uses people who have feet of clay. What you have here are two human beings, loving God, who have feet of clay and who sharply disagree to the point they break up. One goes one way, and one goes another. I don’t want to leave it there. It appears to me from verse 40 that Paul had the blessing of the church, not Barnabas. Paul evidently was right.
You know, being motivated to encourage is kind of like me. Sometimes you want to look over some things and just pick up somebody and help them out. Evidently Barnabas was wrong in doing that. There was something God was dealing with John Mark about, because it says in verse 40, “Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.” It says nothing about Barnabas as he took off with John Mark, but it does say something about Paul who takes Silas. When does Silas get there? He came from Jerusalem with them. He was there to be a companion to Paul.
There is a sweet end to this story. Look over in 2 Timothy 4:11. This is the latter years of Paul’s life. Paul is in prison about to be martyred for the faith. As a matter of fact, he tells you that over and over again in that book. He puts some personal notes here in the last part of chapter 4 that I think just really sort of shows you that Paul wasn’t mad at John Mark. Paul had a discernment as to what he was called to, and he knew that John Mark would be a detriment to that. In verse 11 look at what he says, “Only Luke is with me.” As he gives instructions there to Timothy he says, “Pick up Mark [John Mark, the same one], and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” Now, that blesses my heart. That’s the godly part of Paul. Paul was not mad at John Mark, but Paul had discerned something about him that would be a problem down the road. He could not afford to take him along. Paul was going to be dealing in hostile places. He didn’t need a coward with him. He didn’t need somebody that had their own agenda. He says, “No, he cannot go.” He didn’t mean that he didn’t love him. It is proven in the last days of his life. He said, “Could you bring John Mark with you, because he is useful to me for service.” That is a sweet ending.
Well, what is the first thing he encounters? A sharp disagreement. So, if you are going to be surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ, you don’t get the luxury of choosing your companions. The ones you thought were going to walk with you may be the very ones who will take issue with you, and you may have to depart from them. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them, but you must be about your Father’s business. If they leave you, friends, God has somebody else to take their place to get on about the things that God has in store for your life. A lesson well learned.
Well, secondly, we see a changed direction. God completely change his direction. In Acts 15:41-16:10 we see that Paul and Silas began their journey. Acts 15:41 says that he was traveling through Syria. Now, where is Syria? That is where he was when he left Antioch, Antioch of Syria. That’s his home base. It says they went through Cilicia, probably through Tarsus. Why? Because that is where Paul was born. That is where he was from. He had been there earlier. Cilicia was that coastal area of Asia Minor. Then he backtracks through Asia Minor where he had been on his First Missionary Journey. He goes back. Now remember, when he first went through Asia Minor, he went through Antioch of Pisidia, and Iconium, and then Lystra and then Derbe. Well, he is backtracking it now. He comes up the other way. He comes through Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, on to Antioch of Pisidia.
Let’s go back to 16:1. He gets to Lystra. Something happens at Lystra that we need to take note of. In Acts 16:1 it says, “And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra.” When he got to Lystra look what happened. “And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy.” Boy, you remember Timothy? Timothy was to be with him for the rest of his life. He was never like a John Mark. He would not leave him. He was not like a Demos, loving the present world. Timothy really was going to be the most faithful companion he had ever had. “Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” And it goes on to say, “he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.”
So he picks up Timothy. This is so important as we start to study the journeys of Paul. He picks up an associate who is like-minded in his heart. Remember in one letter, he said, “I could only send Timothy to you because he is the only one I know who is of like heart and of like mind with me.” He found him to be the greatest friend he would ever have in his ministry on this earth. He calls him his son in the faith.
Well, drop down to verses 6-10. He leaves and ventures through the Phrygian and Galatian regions. I want to try and explain something to you that is very difficult. If you will hang in there with me, maybe we can get some sense out of it. These were all provinces of Rome. Asia was the property of Rome in the sense that they dominated that area. Depending on the emperor, they would change the region. Therefore, it is very difficult to put any sense to the regions of Asia Minor at that time. Let me just see if I can start off and do that. Start up at the north of Asia Minor with Pontus, which is in the northern part of Asia Minor. Now you are going to come in a circle. We are going to sweep right around the country. The next area would be Galatia. Actually, Galatia sat right to the south of Pontus. Then you would have Cappadocia, Cilicia, which is on the coastal area. Then you would have Pamphylia, which was another coastal area; Lycia which was another coastal area. The names of these provinces would change depending on the emperors who were in power. Then you come on up to Pisidia. Remember, Pisidia was up in the mountains. This is where Antioch of Pisidia was where Paul had all his problems. Then you would come to Asia. Now, Asia is not the Asia we think of. Asia is that area that encompasses Ephesus on the western side of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea. Then you would have Phyrgia which we are talking about here, the Phyrgian region.
It is so difficult because as I studied this, I found out that Phyrgia was and Phyrgia wasn’t. Huh? Some of the Roman emperors just dismissed with Phyrgia and split it up and put them in two different other regions called something else. But the Phyrgian region sat right above Ephesus there in the inward part of the country on that northwestern side. Finally, right up next to Pontus you would have Bithynia.
Basically what you have done, you have gone right around the country in a circle. He goes up. He backtracks. He goes back through Derbe and Lystra. He picks up Timothy, goes on that way, and he is headed up sort of northwest in the country.
Verse 6 says, “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” I thought that was interesting. They weren’t stopped by the devil. They may have had their plans, but the Holy Spirit said, “You are not going into Asia.” They had been stopped from sharing the word by the Holy Spirit in Asia. Verse 7 says, “and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia.” Remember, Bithynia is in that top part of Asia Minor, “and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.”
Now, what happens is a squeeze play. Have you ever played ball? A squeeze play is when you shut off two areas and open up an avenue for somebody to go through. That is exactly what is going to happen here. He squeezed them out of Bithynia, squeezed them out of Asia and then opens the path, the only way he could have gone, towards Troas. Oh, God is going to put him right where He wants him.
Look in verse 8, “and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.” That is a seaport area, a coastal area of Asia Minor on that far, northwestern side of that continent. This is where God is going to say, “Now, Paul, you had a good idea of revisiting these other cities, but I’ve got something on my mind that you hadn’t even thought about.” As a matter of fact, this is to me one of the most historical events you will find in Scripture other than the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul is brought down to Troas, he wanted to go into Asia. God said, “No.” He wanted to go up into Bithynia, and God said, “No.” God just basically opened up a path and shot him right through it into Troas to get him where He wanted him to be.
Now, let me tell you why that is so important. Keep on reading in Verse 9, “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” Now where is Macedonia? That’s in Europe. I mean, we are talking about a total different continent. He has not been anywhere around there so far in his journeys. Then it says in verse 10, “And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia [Why?], concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” You know, it’s interesting to me that the word “concluding” does not mean the vision sent him over there. That wasn’t the deal. The word “concluding,” sumbibazo, sun means “to gather,” bibazo means “to unite something, to force it together.”
What is happening here is Paul was saying, “Hmm, I’m not stupid. I tried to get to Asia, and the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me.” The imperfect tense was used there. “I kept trying, and I kept trying, and I kept trying. I tried to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus shut the door. Now something is going on here, because here I am down here in Troas, and now I’ve had this vision.” So putting all of the facts together, the vision being a large part of that, he concluded, “I must go to Macedonia.” God had completely redirected his route.
It starts off with a sharp disagreement. He gets a companion he didn’t think he was going to have. He ends up with his whole direction changed, all of his plans changed, and God forces him over to Troas to take him into another continent. Why did he trust the vision alone? Who knows. He had the vision, but the vision was not what caused him to make his move. What caused him to make his move is all the facts when he put them together.
Now, what is so important about Macedonia? Again, that’s Europe. You say, “Well, here I am in America.” Man, what a wonderful country we live in. Friends, do you realize that we are based on Christian principles. Now, it doesn’t look like it, and there’s nothing apparently even reminiscent of that in our country today. Even Columbus fasted and prayed before he found this place. Of course, that is not in your books in school because they don’t want you to know that God had something to do with America. “Let’s take His name out. Let’s do it ourselves.” That is the day we live in. America would not have even been Christianized had it not been for Paul being redirected, instead of going to Bithynia, instead of going into Asia, forced between the two, around to Troas. God gave him a vision and said, “Now, I’m going to show you something you hadn’t even thought about in your life.” He takes him over to Macedonia. The Holy Spirit has completely changed his direction.
In verse 11 it says, “Therefore, putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis.”
Now, you know, I’ve just got to stop. Neapolis is a seaport area. We were there. As a matter of fact, we heard a little lady that started a church who had seen the gospel in a romance magazine. Spiros Zodhiates has been a pioneer of that kind of evangelism. He is putting it in romance magazines and putting it in newspapers. Little Effie came 20 years ago, found the gospel in a romance magazine and started a little church there in Neapolis, one of the most thriving churches there in that area, all because of seeing the gospel in that magazine.
Well, Neapolis, like I said, is a seaport area. Paul went to Neapolis in verse 11. From Neapolis, which is on that seaport, he went right on to “Philippi, which is a leading city of the district [verse 12 says] of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days.”
The rest of the chapter talks about his visit to Philippi. Philippi, like Ephesus and Athens, is a lot of ruins. You can really see what was going on there. They had two market places there. One of them was commercial, and one of them was just to argue in and this kind of stuff. You know, the court cases and things like that would be held there. There was a rock that stood there, and they said that was the Bema. As a matter of fact, I have a picture of me standing on the Bema. That was the place they would stand to make their speech or do whatever they were doing. I got to stand on that. We saw Philippi.
I asked a man if there were any synagogues there. He never showed us one, which shows you why it was that Paul had to go outside the city to find a little prayer meeting outside the gates. There were no synagogues. Paul would always go to the synagogue, but not at Philippi. So the only thing we can figure is there weren’t many Jews there. You had to have so many Jews to make up a synagogue, and evidently there weren’t enough.
We saw the jail. Remember when Paul was in jail? We saw the jail. This is all recorded in Acts 16. Remember the jail cell opened, and they said, “Don’t worry about it. We are all here.” How could they know everybody was there if they were way back in the back? You know, you get in your mind that they are down the hall 400 yards back around the corner stuck in a little pit. No, I mean, the cell was about fifteen feet long. From the back part of it you could see everybody in the whole thing. So when the cell opened, they were easily in eye contact with everybody that was there, and they simply said, “Don’t sweat it. We are all here. Everything’s fine.” Of course, that is when the Philippian jailer got saved.
I think one of the sweet things there was to see where Lydia was baptized. Of course, that is in verse 14, “And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us,…” The place where she was baptized is right down from the city. There was a beautiful stream. As a matter of fact, because it was so hot we took our shoes off and were very reverent as we waded in the water. We just stood there thinking about all the people that had been baptized in that area. As a matter of fact, today they have a baptismal fixed up there. It was a beautiful thought to be in that spot where Lydia had been baptized.
So, Paul had gone from Neapolis on the coast there all the way up to Philippi. The Macedonian vision ends as Paul leaves alone while Timothy and Silas stay later on in Berea.
Let’s back up a little bit. Where did they go when they left Philippi? Look at Acts 17:1. Remember what happened after he was put into jail? They found out that he was a Roman citizen, a Jew, but a Roman citizen. They had already beaten him in public and put him in jail and hadn’t given him a public trial. Now that was embarrassing to the magistrates. They begged Paul to leave because of the humiliation in the situation which had been created. Acts 17:1 says, “Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica. We called it Thessalonica, and they laughed. It is Thessaloniki.
When Paul got to Thessaloniki, what did he find? He found a synagogue. He would always go to the synagogue. There one of the greatest churches of the whole New Testament springs up. God was redirecting him. He was over on Asia Minor, wanting to go to Asia, wanting to go to Bithynia, but God said, “No.” He shut the two doors and opened another pathway for him to go to Troas, gave him a vision, took him across an ocean to a totally different continent, took him right into Philippi where you find your first church there. Then from Philippi he goes over to Thessaloniki.
At Thessaloniki, he only stays three Sabbaths. That is all the time that he had. After those three Sabbaths, they ran him out of town, and he goes where? He goes in verse 10 to Berea, “And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.”
Of course, Berea, we stopped there. We have got a picture in the oldest building they have there. They don’t know how far really it goes back. It’s just a little hole in the wall, but Berea was a place that you remember. There was some fine people there who had a lot of integrity. Why? Verse 11 says, “these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica.” Do you know what the word “noble-minded” means? They had more class, to put it in my language. They had more class than they did over in Thessalonica. So what did they do? What made them more noble-minded? “For they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”
Well, he has a ministry there to the Bereans. Then, of course, there is another stirring that comes about. You see, watch this, every time he does something, and God blesses it, pressure and hostility move in. Every time pressure and hostility move in, God takes him over to another ministry. Paul didn’t plan this. Paul planned to be in Asia and Bithynia. Here he is in Macedonia, and he doesn’t know what is going on the next day. God is just leading him. Everywhere he goes, he is very faithful to his call. He establishes a church here. He establishes a church there. Now he is in Berea. The people have come to believe, but now what happens? Others come in and stir up the mind-sets of the people. He is forced to leave one more time. Verse 14 says, “And then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there.” They stay at Berea. Paul is now by himself, and we see the next part of his journey.
So we see a sharp disagreement. That is the first thing. Boy, isn’t it fun to walk with God. The first thing you find out is that your companion that you thought was going to go with you gets mad at you and goes in another direction. Secondly, you think you’ve got your schedule all planned, and God has you clear over here doing things that you never dreamed you were going to be doing.
Finally, he goes down to Athens and thirdly, a vigorous defense. This is totally unsolicited and unsuspecting. Paul did not go down here to do what he did. He went down here to wait on Timothy and Silas. Notice in verse 16, “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens [and this is when it takes place], his spirit was being provoked within him as he was beholding the city full of idols.” You can tell he is a God-called man. If you get a man who is doing it on his own, he takes days off. But you get a man who loves Jesus, buddy, it is going on all the time. Here he is in Athens. He is not down there to preach. He is down there to wait on Timothy and Silas, but he looks around him, and he sees all the idolatry that is absolutely everywhere.
Verse 17 says, “So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.” You know, if Timothy and Silas had arrived early, and they couldn’t find him, guess where they would look for him? Several places, one is, go to the synagogue and listen for the yelling, because he is probably making somebody mad. If he wasn’t there, go the market place. That is where all the people were. Not the commercial market, but the other place where they loved to argue doctrine. If he wasn’t there, try to the local jail. Chances are you would probably find him there. I mean, Paul never sat still. He was a God-called man. When you get a God-called man, he is going to do what he is called to do all the time. That is his life. It’s not 40 hours a week. That’s his life.
So there he is in Athens, and he just gets upset. God gave the apostle Paul an intelligence that we don’t find much in the New Testament. I mean, this guy is incredible how he uses the mind God gave him. Verse 18 says, “also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. And some were saying, ‘What would this idle babbler wish to say?’ Others, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,’ because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.” He says in verse 19, “they took him and brought him to the Areopagus.”
Now the Areopagus could also be called Mars Hill. I went to school at Mars Hill College. Now I know what my college name was all about. There was big rock. It is a huge area that you get up on. It is up on top of a mountain, not on the very top, because on the very top is the Acropolis. That is where the Parthenon is. The Temple of Athena was up there.
Right down in the shadow of that was what they called Mars Hill or the Areopagus. It was a place where they would go and just argue back and forth. As a matter of fact, if you will look down in verse 21, it says, “Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.” They would say, “Don’t tell me something old, tell me something new.” I believe that is just like most of the churches in America that want something. They don’t want something that is old.
They were on this big hill there, and Paul gets up and preaches one of the greatest messages. Look at what he does. He had seen down in the market place or down in that area an inscription to the Unknown God. Paul was so intelligent, so sharp. He was given the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It says in Verse 22, “And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I observed that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.”’” Now watch what he does. This is so neat. I mean, if you don’t get excited about this, just get saved. Watch this. He says, “What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” Now, whoever they meant that to be for, Paul picked up on it and got up on this big rock.
Paul is standing up here and in the hearing of everybody standing below him, he says, “You know, that inscription to the UNKNOWN GOD, I know Him. His name is Jesus.” He began to preach the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected, in the gospel, of course, that we know and understand.
Well, of course, there were many who came to believe. Verse 32 says, “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this.’ So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed.” It gives the ones there that came to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
So we see here a man who has already had to go through a sharp disagreement. The companion that he wanted to travel with just left him. Secondly, he has a totally changed direction. Everything he had planned to do, God just rearranged and took him to a brand new continent that he had never planned to go to. Then we see him giving a vigorous defense that was totally unplanned. Just sitting there waiting on Timothy and Silas, and God stirred his heart, and believers started popping up all over Athens.
Well, fourthly, we find an assuring declaration. He leaves after Timothy and Silas come to meet him. He leaves Athens and goes to Corinth. That was my one thing that I wanted to see while I was over there, and I didn’t get to do it. So I am going to have to go back. I just didn’t have one more day. If I had one more day, I could have gone up to see Corinth.
He leaves Athens and goes up to Corinth, and it is in Corinth that Timothy and Silas meet him. Look at Acts 18:5. It says, “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.” Well, obviously he stirs up some hostility, but he gets an assuring declaration. Look at what God says to him in verse 9 and verse 10. The Lord Jesus just appears to Paul in a vision and tells him something that just refuels him. As a matter of fact, he stays there a year and six months. “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” “Go on, man, preach the gospel.”
You know I understand just a little bit of that. We were over in Romania, and they told me, “Number one, do not preach eternal security. The people are works-oriented. They do not understand that you are eternally saved. They believe you can lose your salvation. Number two, don’t preach on grace. Number three, never laugh in the pulpit.” They told me all the things that I wasn’t supposed to do. It was almost as if I had to be somebody that I’m not. Now, when I got over there and would get on my knees the night before, knowing that the Communists were all over that place, and knowing that they were after us and followed us everywhere we went, the Lord put on my heart, “You tell them what I tell you to tell them.” I have never known the boldness that I knew standing in the pulpits over there. I preached on grace. I preached the fact that they were eternally saved, and I had a ball laughing with them, and they laughed right back with me. We had one of the most wonderful times I have ever had in my life. It was as if the Holy Spirit did the same thing to me that He did to Paul. “Go on and preach it. I’ve got many people in this place. We will protect you.”
You know what I found out? said, “Wayne, you were to be put on the black list for all of Romania. From the first time you came, they wanted to know who you were.” I mean, I am kind of hard to hide. They wanted to know who I was. They thought that I was an FBI agent or CIA agent. They thought that was why I was going to the churches. The churches, of course, were the people that loved God, and they would tell you the honest things about what was going on in the country.
They gave me the code name of Allen. That’s my middle name. It wasn’t anything I made up. It is just what my Mama named me when I got born. They left out Wayne and left out Barber. Nobody over there knew me as Pastor Wayne or Wayne Barber. They would not have recognized that. So, the men who were following me, going to each church after we had preached and left, went to the Pastor and said, “We want to know about this Wayne Barber.” They said, “Who?” They said, “This guy, Wayne Barber, who is he?” “We don’t know any Wayne Barber.” “Well, who is the man in your pulpit?” “Pastor Allen from America.” “No, I’m looking for Wayne Barber.”
Some friends of Cornelius who were in the Secret Service, after it was all over with, sat down with him, and they began to discuss this, and they discovered they tried to blackball me every time I went over there. It was like God said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ve got a lot of friends in this place, and I’ll keep you protected. You just do what I tell you to do.”
That is exactly what He told Paul, and, friend, that cranked him up, and he stayed there a year and a half and made many, many disciples there in the area of Corinth.
Well, what have we seen so far? A sharp disagreement; a changed direction. “What are we doing in Macedonia? I thought we were going to be up in Bithynia.” A vigorous defense in Athens; an assuring declaration in Corinth; and finally, in Acts 18:18-22, we find a homeward departure. Man, you talk about a boy that wants to get home. Even in all of this, you see him heading right back to Antioch of Syria. That was his home base. In verses 18 through 22 it says, “And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him [he brought two more people], Priscilla and Aquila.” You have heard of them. “In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there.”
When we got to Ephesus—I did not know that Ephesus was modern day Turkey. It is amazing geography—being in Ephesus was incredible. Ephesus was a seaport area back in Paul’s day, but not anymore. The old city of Ephesus is way back off the shoreline because there was river there that has through the silt which has built up over the years, filled up all that area. As the sea coast changed and moved forward, now Ephesus sits way back up about six miles from where the actual sea coast is. Back in Scripture times, it was the seaport area. As soon as you came into that harbor, you stepped on these streets, and it is incredible what is preserved.
Ephesus, to me, was the most preserved and the most tremendous ruins that we saw while we were over there. You walk up that street on one side and on the other side there are market places to sell and a goddess or a god sitting right beside it. All the way up that street, you had nothing but idolatry. There is where the Temple of Diana was, there in Ephesus. We got to go there. We got to see the big Coliseum where 30,000 people began to wail and shout at the apostle Paul. We began to get a feel of a man by himself, really. He had Silas with him, but he’s the man that everybody is after. Being there, being outnumbered by just so many people, and yet you see the tremendous work. The book of Ephesians was written to the people here at Ephesus.
Well, he stops at Ephesus. “Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews [by himself]. And when they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent.” I get the feeling he is ready to go home. Verse 21, “but taking leave of them and saying, ‘I will return to you again if God wills,’ he set sail from Ephesus,” which is on that western side of Asia Minor. “And when he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and he went down to Antioch.”
“Oh, glory! You have finished the second journey.” Yes, we have. What did we see? You say, “I want to follow Jesus. I know I won’t be going to all these places, but I want to follow Jesus. What can I expect?” Well, you can expect your companions that you thought were going to go with you to split and go another way. You might just hold that in the back of your mind. You can expect the fact that you may plan your agenda, but God is not impressed with it. He is going to turn you every which way, because He’s got the design and the direction in your life. You can expect the fact that you are going to have some unplanned times of a vigorous defense of the gospel of Christ. You will never plan that, but it will come your way if you are a God-called person. You can expect the fact that the Lord will step and intervene many times in hostile situations to assure you that it’s okay to go ahead and do the things that I have asked you to do.
You know, we are beginning to know Paul a little bit more and now when we get into the book of Ephesians, we will be able to understand where he came from, how God changed him, where he had been, all of his ministry. I have begun to realize, you know, if you walk with God, you just can’t plan your own agenda, can you?
I have people come to me all the time and say, “Brother, you don’t know my life. My job just ended.” I say, “Well, okay. Wonder where God is turning you. Wonder where God is directing you.” “Do what? Well, can’t you get me a job?” “Are you kidding? Man, I can’t balance my checkbook. I’m sure somebody is going to take my recommendation. I can’t get you a job.” “Well, what are you telling me? How can I be encouraged?” Man, listen, if God has shut the door here, what does He do? He opens one someplace else. If you are making your own mistakes, help yourself. I am talking about a surrendered believer. God will turn you this way. He’ll turn you that way. He’ll turn you this way, and sometimes He’ll just shut you off like a squeeze play and just pop you right through, and you will end up in a place you would never dream you would end up. He’ll put you into something that is more glorious that anything you have ever thought about in your entire life.