28 May 2020Acts 19:1-20
(Paul) entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the Way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the word of the Lord. (vs. 8-10)
Psalm: Psalm 50:1-15
In Paul’s time, as in ours, it was important to be able to argue for the faith. As Peter would write to believers new to the faith, "Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15) And, as Paul’s experience indicated, this is a long-term project – those who would argue for the faith must, in a saying of my late mother, ‘keep on keeping on’! Paul presented Christ to the congregation in the synagogue at Ephesus for three months, before deciding it would be more productive to move into a public space. This was the methodology he had adopted earlier in Corinth. Taking the gospel out of the more obvious place into the public square takes the utmost courage and faith.
Scholars are not clear as to who Tyrannus was – a teacher or philosopher perhaps? However, lecture halls were among the public buildings in many Greek centres of population. Here people gathered to listen to speakers and thinkers – and Paul believed that he too had a message to offer. A Western Syriac text adds the words, ‘daily from the fifth to the tenth hour’, that is, from about 11 am until 4 pm. Small wonder then that, with this consistency of teaching, "the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed" (v.20).
The World Methodist Peace Award is made on the basis of "courage, creativity and consistency". The account of Paul’s ministry shows that precisely these qualities are required for fruitful ministry, for captivating listeners with the gospel.
- There are few quick fixes, and perhaps today we do have a tendency to look for instant results when we offer Christ. What do you think?
- Reflect on a time when you may have been too impatient in your efforts to witness to the faith. What, if anything, may have made you slow down and take your time?