Before we get started in talking about the “how” that led to a revival that lasted for over two years, we first need to understand the “where.”
If you couldn’t tell by the themes of chapter 19, Ephesus was a hot bed for demonic superstition and worship of the underworld. Ephesus was widely known throughout the region as the “Citadel of Satan.” It was also the location for the distinct worship of Artemis, the goddess of the earth who controlled the sexual reproductive power in both men and women. The Great Temple of Artemis in Ephesus would have been a popular destination for anyone in the region struggling with infertility. Because of the location and popularity for tourism, Ephesus was also a city of wealth. Many of the craftsmen of silver, gold, and clay made a nice living for themselves making tiny figurines of Artemis.
Having knowledge to the spiritual condition of Ephesus only helps to paint the picture of what Paul was up against. It also serves as an incredible testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit to seize an entire city, much like what we will see in Rome a few years later.
A lot of pieces need to come together in order for a revival to take over a city and last for close to three years. Let’s refer to these pieces as ingredients that make up the entire recipe for revival.
One of the first things we notice is that Paul first goes to the Jews. This is a common theme and practice of the apostles. Even though Paul’s patience for the Jews is starting to wear thin, he still adheres to the understanding, “first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles.”
When Paul is yet again met with resistance, he decides to switch it up and move the meetings to a town hall called Tyrannus. There’s nothing major here to report about Tyrannus, however, what Paul does “daily” is significant.
Because it was common for people to work in the morning, take off in the hot afternoon, and work in the evening, Paul utilized the people’s downtime to teach them regarding the Messiah. So these meetings were called “discussions” in order to attract people who would otherwise not go to the synagogue. You could say Paul, in a way, was the inventor of the “seeker sensitive” movement. Although I highly doubt anything Paul said was sensitive. These leads to another ingredient that if you’re not careful you’ll miss, Home Groups.
Most recently I’ve been really trying to push the necessity for people to meet in small groups. Not only for it’s benefits of creating a culture of care, small groups, or home groups, was a primary way for Paul to give individual instruction. He used home groups to communicate not only doctrine, but philosophy, as well as strategy of the church. If I can cheat for a minute, look at what Paul indicates in his farewell address to the Ephesians in Acts 20:19-20 (ESV)… 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house…
- “teaching you in public” = Daily discussions at the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus
- “and from house to house” = Home Groups
If the ingredients of Daily Discussion and Home Groups was strong enough to sustain a revival, I think it would be strong enough for us to consider as a part of our rhythm of life.
Spirit of Confession
To make just a quick reference here, another ingredient for revival is spirit of confession. Since we’ve learned that Ephesus was a pit of demonic activity and sorcery, it’s really powerful to read that many of the leaders and practicers of the dark arts confess to their sinful practices (v.18). Not only do they confess, but they brought their incantation(book of spells) books (plural, meaning more than one) and burned them in public bonfires! These books were worth over 50,000 drachma a piece! A drachma was a silver coin worth a days wage! I’m emphasizing that there was a serious call and demonstration of confession on the city of Ephesus.
What Can We Learn
In short, this chapter has served for me as a powerful reminder that there are things we can do/support in order for people, churches, cities, etc. to experience revival. Knowing it ultimately depends on the moving of the Holy Spirit, there are still ingredients that can only help the cause.
Recipe for Revival Stew:
- Add a (1/4 cup) of Daily Teaching
- Place (4 Tbsp) of Home Groups
- Sprinkle in (1 cup) of Confession (Make sure to remove the impurities)
- Pour in the Power of the Holy Spirit (Mix in thoroughly)