Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Year: Acts 19-20 for Nov 23

Pauls ministry in Ephesus is highlighted in Acts 19-20.

The snippets of Paul's teaching that Luke reports make it instantly recognizable that it is the same man who wrote the New Testament letters we have (20:24,28,32). And the combination of these things with Luke's patterns of showing the success of the ministry among acts and patterns of opposition show it to be part of Luke's pattern of depiction (19:8,9,29; 20:3).

Luke also brings forward resolutions of conflict that make us say "that worked?" The speech of the town clerk (19:35ff) actually worked? Yes. It was not the current situation today. We aren't under a pax Romana as Paul was then.

Another interesting sidelight of the story of the "no small disturbance" at Ephesus (19:23) is what was said -- by a neutral party, not the Christians -- about the handling of idolatrousness. The neutral party said, regarding Paul and his companions, that Paul and his companions "are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess" (19:37).

This selectivity on the missionaries' part is reminiscent of the depiction of Paul before the other idolatrous group in Athens (17:22ff). Therefore the town clerk's summary rings true. Talking about "the God who made the world and all things in it" (17:24) has implications for idolatry, and the profits from idolatry, no doubt, but that is not the focus of the missionary message.

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