In the Synagogue & School of Tyrannus Part 1 of 2

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

June 26, 2015


Acts of the Apostles
Acts 13:8-10



Acts 19:8-10 (KJV)

8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews, and Greeks.


Introduction

Paul, during his long and varied ministry, remained longer at Ephesus than at any other city. This short passage gives the account of his time spent there, and refers to two periods; first, a period of three months, during which he reasoned in the synagogue; and secondly, two years during which he reasoned in the school of Tyrannus. Writing to the Corinthian Christians from this city, Paul said that he planned to tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost; and he gave his reason for this tarrying: “for a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9).

To this city of Ephesus, wealthy, profoundly religious, with a religion that was in itself worse than an absolute absence of it, the apostle came. There were many adversaries; adversaries among his own brethren in the synagogue, as he revealed in his subsequent appeal to the elders at Miletus; adversaries not so much among the ruling classes, as among those whose trades were interfered with; adversaries principally in that worship which had so remarkable a manifestation in the evil courses and habits of the eunuch-priests and virgin-priestesses. It was to the Church at Ephesus Paul wrote: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).

At Ephesus, the apostle was occupied with making tents. That fact does not appear in this passage, but when the elders of Ephesus came to meet him at Miletus, he said, “I coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:33-34). He was not only the tent-maker, not only the logical and brilliant evangelist, but the pastor of the flock teaching with tears, admonishing; watching, with jealous and zealous love, the growth of those who bore the name of Christ.


Commentary

8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Paul began in Ephesus where he always began, in the synagogue. Jesus began there. It was the natural place to begin. One would naturally assume that a religious message would have the best chance among religious people. The synagogues were filled with the most religious people of their day and it was natural that both Jesus and Paul should begin there. However, both Jesus and Paul were disappointed. Jesus was driven out of the synagogue and preached out of doors. In town after town, Paul left the synagogue in desperation and went to more responsive groups. What is it about religious people, church people that makes them so blind to new truth, and so unresponsive to new truth, and so unresponsive to new life?

Paul had already met the people in the Ephesian SYNAGOGUE and had been asked to stay—“When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined” (Acts 18:20). Paul sowed the seed; Aquila and Priscilla had been there cultivating the ground, and Apollos had ministered effectively among the Jews, watering the seed. The time was ripe for apostolic reaping.

For THREE MONTHS Paul had an open door in the Ephesian SYNAGOGUE—the same SYNAGOGUE he had preached in during his brief visit of Acts 18:19-20—much longer than usual. It was after that that opposition became tenacious and threatening. He used his customary approach of reasoning (he spoke to the intellects of the people) and PERSUADING (the word used means to speak with winning words). His great theme was “THE KINGDOM OF GOD,” that is, that God’s rule could now be experienced in the Messiah, on the basis of the Messiah’s death for our sins and through faith in Him, with the idea also of future judgment by the Messiah. This was no different from his preaching elsewhere (see 17:31; 18:5), for his message was concerned with both Jesus and the kingdom (28:311) and could be referred to in terms of either; but for some reason THE KINGDOM OF GOD may have especially characterized Paul’s preaching and teaching in Ephesus. THE KINGDOM OF GOD was envisioned at the creation of man when GOD crowned Adam and said, “Let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26). The KINGDOM was ruined by the Fall when Adam surrendered his sovereignty to Satan. All Adams posterity has been born as a consequence in the KINGDOM of darkness.

The KINGDOM was long promised in Old Testament revelation. It was presented to Israel when the King was born at Bethlehem, grew up, and was announced by His herald (John the Baptist). He showed Himself in HIS wisdom, love, and power to Israel. The KINGDOM was rejected by the Jews, and has gone underground, so to speak, being in “mystery” form today. That is the KINGDOM for which we are to pray that it might come; the kingdom that will one day be manifested in glory and splendor, that will be set up on earth for a thousand years, and that will then endure forever.

The KINGDOM is centered in the King—the One who was crucified at Calvary and over whose head Pilate wrote the mocking title: “Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews” (John 19:19). It is the KINGDOM which the Lord spoke about to Nicodemus when He said: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). It is the KINGDOM that today is inward rather than outward—“the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

The Jews rejected both King and KINGDOM. It is the KINGDOM Paul preached with persuasive power—THE KINGDOM OF GOD. And we can be sure that he presented that KINGDOM in all the scope of both Old and New Testament revelation.

Some hold the false notion that what is meant by “THE KINGDOM GOD” is the establishment of the kingdom at the second coming of Christ. This can hardly be true, because the Christian Gospel announces that the blessings of THE KINGDOM OF GOD have come to men in advance in the person of Jesus the Messiah: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians1:13, KJV).

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