In this chapter we see a glimpse of the spiritual warfare that occurs when the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ comes into a region that the enemy has previously held, with the power of the Holy Spirit bearing witness. The enemy holds a region, first of all, by blinding the eyes of the hearts and minds of the people who dwell there (2 Cor 4:4). Notice there was a synagogue of the Jews in Ephesus. However, that synagogue, and those who attended there, did not disturb the grip the enemy held on the people of that region. The synagogue coexisted with the paganism and each were at peace. That is not to say that the Jews compromised their faith. That is just to say that they each did their own thing and everyone was content.
So without the Spirit, we are seeing, the letter is dead (2 Cor 3). Moses and the Prophets are preaching truth, but that truth needs the Spirit in order to change lives, because it is the Spirit who gives life (2 Cor 3:6); it is the Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness (Joh 16:8).That is not to say that the letter and the Spirit are opposed – Jesus said the Word He speaks IS Spirit and life (Joh 6:63).
So Paul found twelve disciples (twelve … interesting) and they received the baptism of the Spirit with tongues and other gifts.
Paul was instrumental, because he was not content to sit at home and coexist with the pagans around him. He first bore witness of the Lord Jesus Christ in the synagogue to the Jews for three months. Now many believed – only some were hardened, it says. But when those who were hardened began to speak evil of the Way of the Lord Jesus Christ, the believers departed the synagogue, and Paul began teaching in the School of Tyrannus daily. Since the rise of the Greek empire, in the major cities, any teacher or philosopher who gained a following could open a “school” where he taught his followers his philosophy. Schools dedicated to different philosophers were prevalent in the ancient world under the influence of Hellenistic culture. We don’t know who Tyrannus was or what he taught. Maybe he was long dead, but his building remained for teachers to rent as a venue to teach their followers.
But now that Paul was in the marketplace of ideas, so to speak, in the heart of Ephesus, both Jews and Gentiles – any of the Ephesians – could come and hear him teach. During the course of the two years that he was there, many notable miracles were done through Paul, which magnified the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the working of miracles gave Paul a platform – a pattern we have seen over and over in Acts. People came out of curiosity to hear this man who could heal people just from a handkerchief from his body. So people began to be set free from the works of the enemy – sorcery, diseases, demonic possession. Now it was the Word of the Lord that grew mightily and prevailed – over the hearts and minds of the people that the enemy formerly held in bondage!
To retaliate, the enemy incited a mob. He did not have teeth against the believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. (He did have teeth against religious people who did not have the Lord, however; vs. 13-16.) All he could do was make a big noise and spread confusion. And we see a riot ensues, because the idol makers were on the verge of bankruptcy. What a glorious testimony! The Lord wants to disrupt the lives of His believers and the lives of those who are bound by the enemy, and He wants to disrupt our towns! He wants to come into an area, held by the enemy, and He does not want to coexist there! He wants to close down the silversmiths, so to speak – anything that exalts itself over YHVH the Creator of Heaven and Earth! He wants His Word to grow mightily and prevail!
I think we get comfortable in our safe “synagogues,” but in order to change our towns, we need to get out there into the heart of the city, into the marketplace of ideas, and advance on the enemy’s territory. If we are magnifying Him, then the Lord will give us a platform!