The Apostle Paul was intentional in his strategies of evangelism. In 1 Corinthians 9:20 he wrote – “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.” In Romans 1:16 he declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
What did this look like in practice? Since Paul was Jewish at the time of his conversion to Christ, he understood the challenge of presenting the gospel in a Jewish context. In Acts 19, as we explore the background to the Ephesian church, we see his intentional “Jewish first” strategy.
- He entered the synagogue. This was the Jewish place of instruction and worship. He knew the ‘routine’ and had spoken on many occasions in other ‘teaching centres.’
- He spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. Paul’s boldness rested in his Scripture-saturated, Holy Spirit inspired, grace-gifted abilities. God had entrusted him with speaking gifts (1 Peter 4:10,11) and Paul used them. Obviously these were not just ‘lectures’ or one-way communication forays but dialogues and Q&A’s that were stirred up through wise but provocative statements.
- Some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. Not everyone will accept the claims of Jesus as the Messiah. Opposition at times rages not only privately but publicly.
- So Paul left them. His deep love for his own people (Romans 10) must have left him with a grieved heart as he exited that synagogue for the last time. One door was closing. Where would God open a new door for gospel ministry?
- He took the disciples with him. Those who had responded to the claims of Christ needed further teaching. Disciples (according to Christ’s great commission) must be taught to obey. What did they learn from this ‘exit strategy’ of Paul’s?
- “…and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.” A new location, a new open door provided opportunity for establishing the gospel in this city. Where the synagogue proved no longer a fruitful harvest field, a lecture hall, a community instructional location provided a venue for Biblical preaching and teaching.
- This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Strategic urban locations mean wide range impact. Village preaching, city preaching, town preaching….all matter but Ephesus was a strategic intersection for the province.