Acts 18: 19 When they reached Ephesus, Paul left Priscilla and Aquila behind, then he went into the synagogue and spoke to the Jews. 20 They asked him to stay longer, but he refused 21 and said farewell to them, adding, “I will come back to you, if it is God’s will, after I go to Jerusalem to observe the feast.” Then he set sail from Ephesus for Caesarea.
Silas and Timothy had stayed behind in Corinth to pastor the new church. Paul was on his way back to Jerusalem and Antioch. He took advantage and traveled via Ephesus. He had attempted to go to Ephesus two years earlier as he began his second mission trip (Acts 16:6-10). But the Holy Spirit had prevented that and sent Paul to Europe instead. The timing for evangelizing Ephesus was not then.
Ephesus was a beautiful city built of white marble and the capital of the Roman province of Asia. During Paul’s time, the population was well over 100,000 people. But it was spiritually dark, known as the center of powerful magical practices and the cult of the Ephesian goddess Artemis.
At the end of Paul’s second mission trip, he had built a team ministry. It would take this team to break into the spiritual darkness of Ephesus. Priscilla and Aquila would lay the groundwork for Paul’s return on his third missionary trip. They would have established their tentmaking trade in the Jewish section of Ephesus. Paul attended the synagogue there and seems to be well received as they wanted him to stay. But Paul had made a vow and needed to return to Jerusalem in a timely manner. He promised that he would soon return. It appeared that God’s timing to reach Ephesus with the Gospel had almost arrived.
Have you ever had something similar happen to you? You wanted to do something but at first it wasn’t the right time. Ecc.3: 1For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. I think God knew that the timing for evangelizing Ephesus wasn’t at the beginning of Paul’s second mission trip, it was at the end. Paul would need a team and time to break into the spiritual darkness of the city. Paul would go on to spend the bulk of his third mission trip in Ephesus and establish a Christian church there.
How are you dealing with God’s timing? Do you want to force an issue, or can you trust God that His wisdom is the best? It takes faith to set aside our desires for God’s.
To hear more about Paul’s second mission trip, listen here: https://podpoint.com/light-of-christ-church-podcast/series/mission-trip-two-radio-show/faithful-to-persevere