Third Missionary Journey
This is Paul’s final travels to the churches which the Holy Spirit had founded in the provinces of Cilicia, Galatia, Phrygia, Asia Minor, and Macedonia. Through Paul in his journeys, the Holy Spirit has saved the lost, matured the save, and destroyed satan’s strongholds (John 16.8-11, Acts 13.2). This Third Missionary Journey concluded in Jerusalem in the Spring of AD 58 (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). You can follow his course from city to city on the map below.
(Google map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey)
My teaching about the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God through Paul’s First Missionary Journey emphasized the lesson he learned from Jesus. Paul repeats this in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10, especially verse 9: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” This is the critical lesson for every Christian leader: God will empower, even, your weakness to accomplish His assigned task! Paul learned that this included raising him from the dead in Lystra (Acts 14.19-20). Note Paul’s boldness thereafter, to return and show himself to those who murdered him!
My teaching about the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God through Paul’s Second Missionary Journey emphasized the capabilities of the Holy Spirit to deliver the appropriate message by connecting with Paul’s different audience. The Holy Spirit delivered an informative and convicting message to the Jews in Antioch, Pisidia, which was, I think probably, repeated in every synagogue where Paul preached (Acts 13.16-41). And, He reasoned with the atheistic philosophers in the Areopagus that God had put up with their chasing after new ideas without substance (Colossians 2.8-10) for too long and would hold them accountable for not realizing that only He has the truth (Acts 17.22-31). Jesus comforts His disciples with assurance of the right words for the right audience from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10.19-20).
In reading about Paul’s journeys, you can see him becoming more comfortable in his walk with the Holy Spirit; a trusting walk with dependence upon His leadership and care through any and all circumstances. After all, Jesus could raise him from the dead, again, if necessary, to accomplish His assigned task!
This is the theme of today’s teaching about the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God through Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18.23-21.16). I encourage you to read about the Holy Spirit’s leadership from region to region and Paul’s engagement with various cultures.
But, I want to focus your attention on Paul’s farewell message to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. Acts 20.17-38 records Paul’s words of encouragement for the “elders” who met him in the port city of Miletus. In fact, these words are instructive for every Christian. You should read Paul’s words before proceeding, for they reveal the work of the Holy Spirit as Jesus’ described (John 16.8-11).
Saving the lost: Despite the resistance from Jews and Gentiles, Paul “‘did not shrink back…from telling’” about the superiority of Jesus to their philosophies (Acts 20.20-21, 26-27). In Ezekiel 33.7-9, God gives a stern warning for all who might “shrink back”. Perhaps, this warning spurred Paul on. Is this ‘warning’ sufficient for you?
Maturing the saved: Paul “‘did not stop admonishing and advising each one’” of the elders (Acts 20.31, Amplified Bible, 2015). Building the knowledge of Jesus and developing hearers’ faith like Jesus’ therefrom is a continuous endeavor (Ephesians 4.11-13; 2 Timothy 3.16-17). “‘[God’s] grace is able to build you up and to give you the [rightful] inheritance’” (Acts 20.32, Amplified Bible, 2015). I remind you of a definition of ‘grace’ which I learned many years ago from an anonymous source: Grace is God’s word of promise and His willingness to use His great power to bring it to my reality. Your faith will release Jesus’ power (Luke 10.19, 17). ‘Life’ and ‘light’ depend upon God (John 1.4)!
Destroying satan’s strongholds: “‘Though Babylon were to mount up to heaven, and though she were to fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me plunderers would come to her,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 51.53). Paul understood that God was reminding the Prophet that He would do the work of Jeremiah 1.10. So, Paul warns the elders to “take care and be on guard for yourselves and for the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers”, for “ferocious wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20.28-29, Amplified Bible, 2015). John 10.10 is still true and the reason we must be vigilant in all things!
Paul’s message, also, discusses his qualities as a courageous servant: “humility” (Acts 20.19, Amplified Bible, 2015), “compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions” (verse 22), “finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus” (verse 24), “in everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak” (verse 35); “Holy Spirit solemnly [and emphatically] affirms to me in city after city that imprisonment and suffering await me” (verse 23).
Paul did not “shrink back” from following the Holy Spirit. How about you?
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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.