Upon leaving Cenchrea, they sailed directly east to Ephesus, a journey of three or four days when the winds were favorable. Corinth was the capital of Greece (Achaia), and Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor. Both were prominent cities, and no voyage across the Aegean Sea was made more frequently than the one between Corinth and Ephesus. Paul entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews, who favorably received him and wanted him to stay longer. These were more noble than the Jews in Corinth and in most other places.
Paul's Stay in Ephesus is Short
Paul felt a strong desire to visit Jerusalem. Therefore, he would not tarry long in Ephesus if he were to attend the upcoming feast in Jerusalem. Presumably, that feast was the Passover, the most prominent of all feasts. If it was the Passover, Paul's visit in Ephesus must have been in late March, as Passover was in April. Paul promised the Jewish brethren in Ephesus that he would return if the Lord willed. Meanwhile, he left Aquila and Priscilla there to sow the Gospel seed, and also to prepare the way for his return. Paul did return to Ephesus on his third missionary journey and he remained there for several years. Now, Paul heads for Jerusalem.
On to Jerusalem, Back Home to Antioch
Paul had a tremendous burden for his beloved Jerusalem (Rom. 9:1-5, 10:1). He also had a sense of unfinished business in Jerusalem and wanted to be there during the feast. At the time of the feasts, Jews from all over the world made their rendezvous there. Perhaps he was hoping to make new contacts during his visit. Certainly, Paul would reacquaint himself with old friends and fellow apostles.
Perhaps he felt a special obligation to the Church in Jerusalem—the Church he once persecuted. He sailed from Ephesus and landed at Caesarea, which was the main seaport for Palestine. From here he would travel by land to Jerusalem. Scripture has little to say of this visit. All it says is that he “went up, and saluted the church.” The Church plainly meant the Church at Jerusalem. Paul's visit to Jerusalem would have been his fourth since conversion. Now the great Apostle will return to Antioch, Syria. Thus, the second missionary journey is concluded (18:22). In verse 23, after spending some time resting in Antioch, he will begin his third missionary endeavor.
Approximate Dates at Corinth:
52 A.D. - Mid to late summer: Paul arrives in Corinth.
52 A.D. - The fall: Paul writes his first Epistle to the Thessalonians.
53 A.D. - Early in the year: Paul writes his second Epistle to the Thessalonians
54 A.D. - February or March: Paul leaves Corinth for Ephesus, Jerusalem, and home to Antioch. Paul had resided in Corinth for at least 18 months.
54 A.D. - April: Paul is at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
54 A.D. - May: Paul returns home to Antioch.
54 A.D. - Autumn: Later that year, he started his third missionary journey after a good rest.
One other note of interest. When Paul first came to Corinth, he went to work in the secular field. He started making tents with Aquila. There are times when we have to preach and work at the same time, and this is difficult. For this reason we need to have a stack of good sermons to fall back on. When you go on a mission trip there is no time to study; you must be able to rely on the messages you have preached in the past. Therefore, make good notes of all your sermons and keep copies of them. God will quicken them, and apply them to your new audiences. When revival comes, doors come open and all barriers are broken down. You will be surprised at the places God sends you. You will find every door open and you will be preaching in the most extraordinary places. Get ready!
Paul's Strategy for Evangelism
Before we go into Paul's third missionary journey, it would be good to pause for a few moments to consider Paul's stratagem for propagating the Gospel. Here are some of his keys:
• Paul was called and commissioned by God, not himself.
• He prepared himself and knew the Word of God.
• He waited for God's time.
• He always traveled with a partner ... Barnabas, Silas, Luke.
• He often had younger men along to train ... a Timothy or Titus.
• He concentrated on the main provinces.
• And focused on their main cities, or capitals.
• He sought the blessing of the magistrates of the territory, that they would favor the Gospel.
• First he went to the household of faith (synagogue). Paul submitted to the rulers, staying seated until he was invited to speak (13:14,15). Paul presented his Gospel and new message first to the believing world. If the house of faith rejected him, he went to the outsiders (the Gentiles).
• He established churches. If you have a big crusade and bring people to Christ, your fruit will not remain if you do not gather the people into churches. The people will go back into the world.
• Self-governing churches were established. Paul took his hands off those churches once they were established. They were not directed and controlled from a headquarters.
• He found key people in the new churches and made them elders and leaders.
• Paul did not build big buildings; Churches were started in homes or rented buildings. He deposited and invested his truths into lives. He did not expend time and energy in buildings.
• He trained the local people and let them evangelize their own nation. Paul concentrated on strategic places and made them centers or hubs, then the people evangelized their own region. He did not spread himself thin by trying to go into every tiny village. He stayed in the big cities. Paul majored on the fruitful fields (Corinth), but departed from the unfruitful (Athens).
• The churches were founded upon Christ, not Paul's personality. Therefore, when he left, the church still stood. Paul had the supernatural at work, performing miracles, signs, and wonders.
• Converts were baptized immediately, filled with the Holy Spirit, and were taught well.
• Paul did not preach customs or politics, but he did leave good guidelines (16:4).
• He imparted an eternal vision—having a better resurrection, winning Christ, and not coming short of the prize of the high calling. (We could lose our crown if we do not fulfill our course). Paul taught his converts that “through much tribulation we enter the kingdom.” Trials purify us and prepare us for our heavenly position. If we want an easy life here, our reward will be small.
• Paul stayed in contact with his new converts, writing letters and revisiting them.
Otherwise, he would have labored in vain.
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