The Review and Herald

1713/1902

August 31, 1911

Paul at Ephesus

EGW

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, “over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia,” visiting the churches which he himself had established, and strengthening the faith of the believers. RH August 31, 1911, par. 1

In the time of the apostles, the western portion of Asia Minor was known as the Roman Province of Asia. Ephesus, the capital, was the great commercial center of the West. Its harbor was crowded with shipping, and its streets were thronged with people from every country. Like Corinth, it presented a promising field for missionary effort. RH August 31, 1911, par. 2

The Jews, now widely dispersed in all civilized lands, were generally expecting the advent of the Messiah. When John the Baptist was preaching, many, in their visits to Jerusalem at the annual feasts, had gone out to the banks of the Jordan to listen to him. There they had heard Jesus proclaimed the Promised One, and they had carried the tidings to all parts of the world. Thus had Providence prepared the way for the labors of the apostles. RH August 31, 1911, par. 3

On his arrival at Ephesus, Paul found twelve brethren, who, like Apollos, had been disciples of John the Baptist, and, like him, had gained some knowledge of the mission of Christ. They had not the ability of Apollos, but with the same sincerity and faith, they were seeking to spread abroad the knowledge they had received. RH August 31, 1911, par. 4

These brethren knew nothing of the mission of the Holy Spirit. 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.” “Unto what then were ye baptized?” Paul inquired; and they said, “Unto John's baptism.” RH August 31, 1911, par. 5

Then the apostles [apostle] set before them the great truths that are the foundation of the Christian's hope. He told them of Christ's life on this earth, and of his cruel death of shame. He told them how the Lord of life had broken the 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 he described how gloriously this promise had been fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. RH August 31, 1911, par. 6

With deep interest and grateful, wondering joy, the brethren listened to Paul's words. By faith they grasped the wonderful truth of Christ's atoning sacrifice, and received 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 they were qualified to labor as missionaries in Ephesus and its vicinity, and also to go forth to proclaim the gospel in Asia Minor. RH August 31, 1911, par. 7

It was by cherishing a humble, teachable spirit that these men gained the experience that enabled them to go out as workers into the harvest-field. Their example presents to Christians a lesson of great value. 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 with a superficial knowledge of God's Word. They do not wish to change their faith or practise, and hence make no effort to obtain greater light. RH August 31, 1911, par. 8

If the followers of Christ were but earnest seekers after wisdom, they would be led into rich fields of truth, as yet wholly unknown to them. He who 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, and his capabilities will be increased. As he treasures the lessons of divine wisdom, a sacred commission will be entrusted to him; he will be 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.” RH August 31, 1911, par. 9

Today many are as ignorant of the Holy Spirit's work upon the heart as were those believers in Ephesus; 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 as an illustration of the agency of his Spirit in sustaining spiritual life. The sap of the vine, ascending from the root, is diffused to the branches, sustaining growth and producing blossoms and fruit. So the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Saviour, pervades the soul, renews the motives and affections, and brings even the thoughts into obedience to the will of God, enabling the receiver to bear the precious fruit of holy deeds. RH August 31, 1911, par. 10

The Author of this spiritual life is unseen, and the exact method by which that life is imparted and sustained, is beyond the power of human philosophy to explain. Yet the operations of the Spirit are always in harmony with the written Word. As in the natural, so in the spiritual world. The natural 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 spiritual life is sustained by the use of those means that Providence has supplied. If the follower of Christ would grow up “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” he must eat of the bread of life, and drink of the water of salvation. He must watch and pray and work, in all things giving heed to the instruction of God in his Word. RH August 31, 1911, par. 11

There is still another lesson for us in the experience of those Jewish converts. When they received baptism at the hand of John, they did not fully comprehend the mission of Jesus as the sin-bearer. They were holding serious errors; but with clearer light, they gladly accepted Christ as their Redeemer, and with this step of advance came a change in their obligations. As they received a purer faith, there was a corresponding change in their life. In token of this change, and as an acknowledgment of their faith in Christ, they were rebaptized in the name of Jesus. RH August 31, 1911, par. 12

(Concluded next week.)