For over 2 years, Paul taught in Ephesus. God did lots of miracles through him, many believers got rid of their expensive scrolls that taught sorcery, and the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail. (vs. 20) I am sure Paul was feeling pretty good about how things were going. In fact, he felt like his work was done there in Ephesus and planned to move on to other towns.
So, just when things seem like they are going really well,….bam…Paul goes through a major trail! The violent opposition he experienced would leave even the strongest Christian shaken!! Paul was no exception. Although Luke doesn’t touch on the emotions of Paul, Paul spoke about them in his letter to the Corinthians. He was afraid for his life!!
I love what I can learn from Paul, and apply, when I feel attacked. 2 things:
1.) In his successful ministry, he could have been feeling pretty confident…maybe even invincible! God allowed Paul to experience this fearful time to remind him of something crucial in the life of a Christian…..“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead…On him we have set our hope.” (2 Cor. 1:9-10). Even Paul needed a reminder that his strength comes from the Lord. There are no invincible, Christian superheroes. Christ is THE superhero and him alone!
2.) Paul was confident in his plan. Even though it seems like he is leaving Ephesus on a bad note, he felt directed to continue on in what he felt the Lord would have him do. “Paul resolved in his Spirit” (vs 21) is also translated, “purposed in the Spirit”. This translation implies that Paul made plans with the influence of the Holy Spirit. So, trusting that the Holy Spirit is moving him forward, he was not resting on his own understanding. He didn’t fall victim to feeling that the spiritual health of the entire city of Ephesus rested on him, therefore he should stay and keep working there. Instead, the Holy Spirit’s work would continue there in Ephesus and Paul was to obey the Holy Spirit and move on. What a great thing to realize that converting people to Christ is not man’s job, but the Holy Spirits job! So, no matter what is happening around me, I can feel peace knowing the Holy Spirit will do his work, I just need to be obedient to the role he would have me play.