And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
— Acts 19:8,9
One of the most difficult moments in life is when you realize one season has ended, and the time is right for you to move on to the next season. Perhaps you are in such a season now — when you are realizing it’s time for you to move on from where you are to the next period of your life. As you will see in today’s Sparkling Gem, this could possibly be the beginning of one of the most glorious times in your life. Let’s look at the life of the apostle Paul for an example of this kind of life transition.
When Paul’s ministry first began in Ephesus, it started out very successfully in the synagogue, but eventually a time came when that season ended, and it was time for him to move on. Acts 19:8 says that Paul entered the synagogue and “…spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
Paul’s manner was so compelling that many who heard him were convinced and won over by the message they heard him preach. Yet despite Paul’s success with some of his listeners, he didn’t have this same effect on all who heard him. When many Jews began converting to Jesus Christ, the hospitable atmosphere evaporated. Acts 19:9 says, “But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them…”
The phrase “spake evil” comes from the Greek word kakologeo, which is a compound of the words kakos and logos. The word kakos describes something evil, harmful, injurious, malevolent, malicious, spiteful, or mean. The word logos simply means words. But when the two words are com-pounded, they form the word kakologeo, which describes malicious words that are deliberately devised and spoken to produce harm, hurt, and injury.
These kakos words spoken by unbelieving Jews were cleverly designed words and preplanned statements intended to damage Paul’s reputation and ruin the impact of his message and ministry. Those hostile people were spewing out premeditated, sinister, and villainous allegations in hopes of shutting Paul down. And, unfortunately, they did it publicly! That is why the verse goes on to say they spoke these words “before the multitude.” The word “multitude” probably refers to those in the synagogue, which explains why Paul made the decision to leave the synagogue at the end of that three-month period.
The opposition became so intense that Paul knew his effectiveness in the synagogue had ceased. Every time he tried to raise his voice to speak to the crowd, the opposition was so vocal, loud, and nasty that he was unable to successfully carry on his ministry. Paul had the maturity to recognize when he had lost his effectiveness and it was no longer profitable to debate with this audience. Had he stayed and fought longer or harder, it wouldn’t have produced anything of lasting quality and may have created an even worse situation. He perceived that his season in the synagogue was coming to a close, and it was the right time for him to move on to the next season in his ministry.
Likewise, if we will listen to the Holy Spirit, He will show us when to speak and when to be quiet — when to stay and when to move on. We must learn to be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in every situation. Then we can know when we are to remain in the battle or when it is wiser for us to withdraw, break camp, and relocate to new territory where greater victories will be won. The Holy Spirit will lead us — if we will quiet our hearts and listen for His voice.
When Paul realized that the battle in the Ephesian synagogue was counter-productive and no longer worth the effort, the Bible tells us, “…he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9).
Every so often, occasions like this come to us in life — landmark moments when we must choose to make a break with where we are in order to move into the new place where God is calling us. Such moments can be difficult. However, just beyond our struggle is where we discover the greatest power of God. But once we are where God wants us and we surrender to the Holy Spirit, resurrection power is soon released in our lives. This is exactly what happened in Acts 19:9. It was only after Paul left the synagogue that God unleashed miracles in the city of Ephesus.
We don’t know how Paul felt when he left the synagogue. He may have had high hopes initially that the positive response he first received from this Jewish community would last. As he gathered his disciples and walked away from the synagogue to begin afresh in a new place, it’s possible that Paul felt heartbroken over the souls he had to leave behind. Perhaps he was tempted to feel discouraged or as if he had lost an important battle.
Regardless of how Paul may have felt, Acts 19:9 relates that he found an effective venue to continue preaching the Gospel as he “…disputed daily in the school of one Tyrannus.” It looked as if an important door for the Gospel were closing, but God had already prepared another, more effective place for Paul and his group of disciples to meet.
The same thing happens in our lives as we seek to obey God’s will. In moments when it looks like all is lost, we must remind ourselves that when a door closes, God is already behind the scenes, working to open another door. In Paul’s case, the door God opened was a place the Bible calls “the school of one Tyrannus.”
Paul’s entire stay in Ephesus lasted approximately three years. But regarding the apostle’s teaching ministry in the school of Tyrannus, Acts 19:10 states that Paul “…continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
The school of Tyrannus was located in the most prestigious areas of Ephesus — right in the central section of the city. Hour after hour, revelation and insight poured forth from the apostle for anyone who wished to listen. In fact, the verse goes on to say Paul’s teaching became so well known that “all they which dwelt in Asia” heard of it.
Of course, it was humanly impossible for Paul to personally preach to “all they which dwelt in Asia.” But Paul’s influence in Ephesus grew as he taught every day during those two years in this central location. Those who heard Paul’s teaching passed it along to others, and fellow team members were dispatched to start churches in other regions. As a result, the population of Asia was exposed to the Gospel in a very short period of time — a much greater result than if he had stayed in the synagogue, which provided the apostle a very limited audience. Although it seemed a great door had closed, it was actually the beginning of a glorious period in Paul’s ministry.
Today I want to tell you that if you sense a door is closing or a season is ending, it may turn out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to you. It may not be comfortable to go through this change, and it may be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done. But if you put your eyes on the Lord and trust in Him, you’ll discover that He is working behind the scenes to prepare the next place for you.
Take that to heart today. Open your spiritual ears and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. He will show you when to stay and when to move on — when it is wiser to withdraw, break camp, and relocate to new territory where greater victories will be won. The Holy Spirit will lead you if you will quiet your heart and listen for His voice. One door may be closing, but another door is getting ready to open for you — and it could possibly be the most wonderful season of life you’ve ever known!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I needed this word today. I do feel that I’m beginning a new season in my life. Knowing how to move on has been the challenge for me. I ask You to give me wisdom to know what steps to take, discernment to know what to say and what not to say, and understanding as to how to do this in a manner pleasing to Jesus. For me to do this correctly, I need Your help and guidance. So, Holy Spirit, I open my spiritual ears to hear You, and I extend my hand for You to lead me through all the steps I need to take — until I land securely in the next place and the new season that You have ordained for my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God, by His Spirit, is leading me into the next season of my life. Although it is difficult to leave the present season, I know and declare that God is opening a new door for me and that the next season will be the most wonderful time I have ever known in my life thus far. Because I lean upon the Holy Spirit and I follow His voice, He will show me what to say, what not to say, what steps to take, and how to transition from where I am to where I am headed. The Holy Spirit is speaking to me and leading me, and I will end up in the next God-ordained place for my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you sense that a door is closing in your life? Why do you think that is the case? How is it closing?
- Can you see where you are headed? Paul didn’t know where he was going to teach until he made the decision to leave the synagogue. Are you stepping out in faith before you have all the answers, as Paul was required to do?
- Have you ever done anything like this before? Have you considered seeking counsel before you take this step just to make sure you’re on the right course?