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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 13: Paul at Ephesus.

Contents  ...  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  ...

While Apollos was preaching at Corinth, Paul fulfilled his promise to return to Ephesus. He had made a brief visit to Jerusalem, and had spent some time at Antioch, the scene of his early labors. Thence he had traveled through Asia Minor, visiting the churches which he had himself established, and strengthening the faith of the disciples.

The city of Ephesus was the capital of the province of Asia, [* As used in the New Testament, the word "Asia" does not apply to the continent of Asia, but to a Roman province which embraced the western part of Asia Minor, and of which Ephesus was the capital.] and the great commercial center of Asia Minor. Its harbor was crowded with shipping [p. 129] from all parts of the known world, and its streets thronged with the people of every country. It therefore presented, like Corinth, a favorable missionary field.

The Jews, now widely dispersed in all civilized lands, were generally expecting the speedy advent of the Messiah. In their visits to Jerusalem at the annual feasts, many had gone out to the banks of the Jordan to listen to the preaching of John the Baptist. From him they had heard the proclamation of Christ as the Promised One, and on their return home they had carried the tidings to all parts of the world. Thus had Providence prepared the way for the apostle's labors.

On his arrival at Ephesus, Paul found twelve brethren, who, like Apollos, had been disciples of John the Baptist, and like him had gained an imperfect knowledge of the life and mission of Christ. They had not the ability of Apollos, but with the same sincerity and faith they were seeking to spread the light which they had received.

These disciples were ignorant of the mission of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus promised to his believing people, to be the life and power of the church. When asked by Paul if they had received the Holy Ghost, they answered, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." Paul inquired, "Unto what then were ye baptized?" and they said, "Unto John's baptism." The apostle then proceeded to set before them the great truths which are the foundation of the Christian's hope.

He told them of the life of Christ on earth, and of his cruel and shameful death. He told them how the Lord of life had broken the [p. 130] barriers of the tomb, and risen triumphant over death. He repeated the Saviour's commission to his disciples: "All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." He told them also of Christ's promise to send the Comforter, through whose power mighty signs and wonders would be wrought, and described the glorious fulfillment of that promise on the day of Pentecost.

With deep interest, and grateful, wondering joy, the disciples listened to the words of Paul By faith they grasped the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and acknowledged him as their Redeemer. They were then baptized "in the name of Jesus;" and as Paul laid his hands upon them, they received also the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which they were enabled to speak the languages of other nations and to prophesy. Thus these men were qualified to act as missionaries in the important field of Ephesus and its vicinity, and also from this center to spread the gospel of Christ in Asia Minor.

It was by cherishing a humble and teachable spirit that these brethren gained their precious experience. Their example presents a lesson of great value to Christians of every age. There are many who make but little progress in the divine life, because they are too self-sufficient to occupy the position of learners. They are content to remain in ignorance of God's word; they do not wish to change their faith or their practice, and hence make no effort to obtain greater light.

If the followers of Christ were but earnest seekers after divine wisdom, they would be led [p. 131] into rich fields of truth, as yet wholly unknown to them. Whoever will give himself to God as fully as did Moses, will be guided by the divine hand as verily as was the great leader of Israel. He may be lowly and apparently ungifted; yet if with a loving, trusting heart he obeys every intimation of God's will, his powers will be purified, ennobled, energized; his capabilities increased. As he treasures the lessons of divine wisdom, a sacred commission is intrusted to him; he is enabled to make his life an honor to God and a blessing to the world. "The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."

A mere intellectual knowledge of religious truth is not enough. There are to-day many as ignorant as those men of Ephesus of the Holy Spirit's work upon the heart. Yet no truth is more clearly taught in the word of God. Prophets and apostles have dwelt upon this theme. Christ himself calls our attention to the growth of the vegetable world to illustrate the agency of his Spirit in sustaining religious life.

The juices of the vine, ascending from the root, are diffused to the branches sustaining growth, and producing blossoms and fruit. So the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, proceeding from Christ, and imparted to every disciple, pervades the soul, renews the motives and affections, and even the most secret thoughts, and brings forth the precious fruit of holy deeds. The life attests the union with the true and living Vine.

The Author of this spiritual life is unseen, and the precise method by which it is imparted and sustained is beyond the power of human philosophy to explain. It is the mystery of godliness. [p. 132] Yet the operations of the Spirit are always in harmony with the written word. As in the natural, so in the spiritual world. Human life is preserved, moment by moment, by divine power; yet it is not sustained by a direct miracle, but through the use of blessings placed within our reach. So the life of the Christian is sustained by the use of those means which Providence has supplied. He must eat of the bread of life, and drink of the waters of salvation. He must watch, he must pray, he must work, in all things giving heed to the instructions of the word of God, if he would "grow up to the full measure of the stature of a man in Christ Jesus."

There is still another lesson for us in the experience of those Jewish converts. When they received baptism at the hand of John, they were holding serious errors. But with clearer light they gladly accepted Christ as their Redeemer; and with this advance step came a change in their obligations. As they received a purer faith, there was a corresponding change in their life and character. In token of this change, and as an acknowledgment of their faith in Christ, they were rebaptized, in the name of Jesus.

Contents  ...  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  ...


The above page was found at https://www.TruthOrFables.net/books/sketches-from-the-life-of-paul-13-a.htm on April 18, 2024.

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