A Missionary Church
The First Church Plant in Antioch ACTS 11:19-30
Another sign of the vitality of the Jerusalem Church was its obedience to Jesus' Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, beginning in Judaea, Samaria and then to the ends of the earth (MATTHEW 28:19-20). The catalyst for this commitment to evangelism and mission was persecution by Jews, who were outraged at the growth of what they saw as a blasphemous sect of Judaism.
Antioch in Syria was at the mouth of the River Orontes and a shipping port. It was the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria, and is the first known Gentile church plant. New converts, who had been scattered to Cyprus and Cyrene as a result of persecution, had established a fellowship in Antioch and sent to Jerusalem, asking the leadership to send them teachers and pastors. The Jerusalem Church sent first Barnabas (who came from Cyprus) and then Paul (from Tarsus) to Antioch to build up the church through teaching and preaching. They stayed there a whole year and the fellowship went from strength to strength.
The Church in Ephesus ACTS 18:18-21; ACTS 19:1-25; ACTS 19:23-41
On his way back to Jerusalem from Corinth in 53AD Paul arrived in Ephesus, where he left Prisca and Aquila. He returned later that year and met with a group of disciples, who had been baptised for the forgiveness of sins but knew nothing of the Holy Spirit. Paul laid hands on them and asked God to baptise them in the Spirit, and they immediately praised God in tongues.
Statue of Goddess Diana of Ephesus
Photo: © R A Taylor
Paul's Preaching In Synagogue & Lecture Theatre
For the first three months Paul preached the gospel in the local synagogue, but when some of the Jews objected, he removed himself to the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus, where he spent two years preaching and teaching.
His ministry was accompanied by the LORD performing signs and wonders to confirm the gospel, including the deliverance of many who had been involved in occultism and the worship of the Roman goddess Diana, whose massive temple and statue were a source of wealth for the silversmiths, who manufactured idols of the goddess.
Paul's Preaching Produced A Riot
The result was a riot instigated by the silversmiths, which led to Paul's friends Gaius and Aristarchus being hauled into the theatre in Ephesus in front of an angry mob. They were rescued from being lynched by the efforts of a cool-headed city official. Paul later appointed Timothy as pastor of the thriving Church in Ephesus. For more on Timothy and a photograph of the Theatre in Ephesus, click on TIMOTHY.