“Now the men were about twelve in all.”
Ephesus was a very large city with a diverse population. It is estimated, at the time of Paul’s visit, there may have been in excess of 400,000 people living in the city. Ephesus was the largest city in Asia Minor, and one of the largest in the empire. Because of its location, on a trade route, the city was very wealthy; it had become an important center for commerce. Like any large wealthy city, Ephesus had its share of vice. One of the greatest was temple prostitution. Overlooking the city, was the Temple to Diana; which was an awe-inspiring site. It drew pilgrims from all over the world to come and worship. The worship practice included sexual immorality.
It is in this city, we read, Paul met twelve struggling Christians. They believed in Christ, but due to lack of teaching, had a very limited understanding of Jesus and how to follow Him. The odds were so heavily stacked against these men, it seems impossible that they would be able to remain faithful to the Lord; much less have an impact upon Ephesus for the Kingdom of God. But as the story unfolds, we find this small group of struggling Christians becomes one of the most influential churches of all time. The church grew to change the face of Ephesus, to start other churches throughout Asia Minor, and to have an impact that lasted well over a century.
How is that possible? How do twelve struggling Christians impact a community? We read when Paul met them, he introduced them to the work of the Holy Spirit. He revealed that in addition to the baptism with water, a person can be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained that the result of receiving the Holy Spirit, would be power to live for, and serve Christ. Immediately upon receiving the Holy Spirit, we read that these men received gifts from the Spirit that would strengthen, encourage, and equip them for service.
After receiving the Spirit of God, the text says the believers gathered daily in the School of Tyrannus for instruction from the Word. For more than two years they met and were taught the Word of God by the Apostles. Equipped with the power of the Spirit and Word of God, these believers were ready to have a positive impact upon their world for Christ.
We often look at the world in which we live and are filled with an ominous sense of inability. What kind of real, lasting impact could I ever have against such darkness? Allow me to encourage you. Like these twelve men, when you are filled with the Spirit and equipped with the Word, the gates of Hell will not prevail.
Ask Jesus to baptize you today with the Holy Spirit, then get plugged in, not occasionally, but consistently, in a good Bible teaching church. You will find your life and influence is drastically changed for the better.