Day 288 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Acts.
Acts 19 – Apollos and some Ephesians had become followers of John the Baptist and had received his baptism. They knew that John pointed beyond himself to Jesus. They apparently knew of Jesus’ life and ministry, and His death and resurrection, but not about the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and its significance for the new era. These Believers were in a salvation-history “time-warp,” as if they were still in Acts 1, before the unfolding of redemptive history at Pentecost. Their experience of tongues (verse 6) served as the witness to the Ephesian Believers themselves of the gift of the Spirit that transferred them as a group from the old era to the new one in which they should be living.
In Acts 2, Jewish Believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8, Samaritans are filled with the Spirit after they believe the gospel preached by Philip. In Acts 10 and 11, Peter preaches to Gentiles, who believe and are filled with the Spirit. Here in Acts 19, Paul meets some followers of John the Baptist who didn’t even know all that Jesus did and taught. So they believe and are filled with the Spirit. In this progression we see the ever-expanding scope of the gospel. God’s mercy is poured out deep and wide. The Spirit’s ministry is expansive, just as Jesus’ ministry was—including those who previously were excluded or uninformed. The gospel-centered focus of Acts can be pictured by expanding concentric circles: the Holy Spirit brings Jesus’ good news to a small group of disciples, to Jews, to Samaritans, to Gentiles, and to the entire world.
How has God invited you to participate in sharing His Gospel story?
Acts 20 – Some leaders of the world, as Jesus said, use their positions of power to maintain an advantage over their subjects (Matthew 20:25). Jesus modeled a different way. He placed Himself in a position of weakness and was completely humble with His disciples, even calling them His friends (John 15:15). Paul exemplifies this humility as well (example, 2 Corinthians 11:29–30).
Whereas Jesus was able to be completely open with His disciples because He had no fault within Him to hide, Christians do not always have that same level of confidence. Our lives are often marked by failures and shame, by “tears and . . . trials” and “all humility” (verse 19). Our strength to open ourselves up to others, to be vulnerable despite our failings, comes not as we drum up self-confidence but as we focus on Jesus’ finished work and rely on Him. Paul was weak, yet he was confident in the strength of his Lord (2 Corinthians 12:10). When our identity is found in Jesus, we are free to be honest (James 5:16). If you have faith in Jesus, your new identity is secure and robust. Your new identity in Jesus is deeper than any of your wounds, sins, suffering, trials, and failures.
Paul reminds the Ephesians of how God has worked in him to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (verse 24). He expresses confidence not in human ability but in “the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (verse 32). Paul knows that the grace of God is more powerful than any laws, commands, or threats to motivate and build up His people. Paul is concerned that they continue to live under the grace of God that has been poured out for them.
How would you describe your new identity in Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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