The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 19:8-12 shows an interesting progression of events which led toward planting of a more permanent church congregation in Ephesus. You will remember that in the beginning of the chapter, there were some Christians who had a doctrinal problem. Paul helped them with teaching, baptism, and encouragement. With this group of about a dozen, in this passage, Paul worked within the context of the synagogue for three months. He used what open door he had to make the Gospel plain. The fact that he worked in that context for three months rather than three days suggests that it was not without success. They didn’t run him out immediately.
The Christian message does divide. Many don’t like being told that they have been wrong in their understanding and that, while God loves people, it has nothing to do with how we act. It has everything to do with whether we trust him or not. The Jews in the synagogue are confronted with a misunderstanding of who the Messiah is and how he rescues them. These are big issues. Christians normally get pushed away from the rest of society for exactly that reason.
In Acts 19, Paul obtains the use of a school. It was not uncommon for a tutor to set up shop in a house with a large front room. We might think of it as a storefront. The residence would normally be in back or upstairs, and there would be a fairly large area in front which could be used for a lecture hall. The tutor could teach and hear recitations. In this instance, the tutor apparently wanted the extra income from renting his lecture hall out to someone else. Christians would normally meet on the first day of the week before sunup or after sundown. This wouldn’t really interfere with a normal schedule for a tutor. Here, the Christians who were excluded from the synagogue could meet for worship, prayer, and hearing the preached Word. Paul continued with this for two years.
As time passed, the Word of God spread throughout the region. By the end of those two years, God was doing miracles through Paul. He was healing people in clearly miraculous ways. God was showing that he could care for his creation in ways that mere mortals could not. We are often faithless and quick to doubt. We think that a lack of miraculous change or growth in a group of Christians means that God isn’t at work. Yet sometimes it is simply a matter of taking time and being patient. We let God’s Word work. Then, at some time, we look back and see that He has been faithful.
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