Acts 19:21-22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 26, 1998


Paul has had an incredible ministry at Ephesus. The city has become an outreach center for all of Asia. God has done amazing miracles through Paul, healing the sick and casting out demons. And best yet, the people were REALLY changed. They were coming by the droves, throwing away their magic books, and following Jesus.

It’s important to realize that Paul will write three major letters all within a few months of our current time period. You might think of reading them for extra credit!

At the point where we start today (Acts 19:21), Paul has just written 1Corinthians.

Within a few weeks, there will be a riot in Ephesus that causes Paul to leave, and after arriving in Macedonia (Acts20:1), where he writes 2Corinthians from Philippi.

He will then travel south to Achaia (Acts 20:2), where he will write his letter to the Romans from Corinth.

:21 After these things were ended

were endedpleroo – to make full, to fill up, to complete

There is a sense of completion, of fulfillment in the ministry at Ephesus. Paul is a church planter, and for the first time, he’s been able to spend enough time in a city to watch a church come to maturity, and the time is coming for him to move on.

:21 when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia

Macedonia – the northern part of Greece, where he’s established churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

Achaia – the southern part of Greece, where he’s established a church in Corinth.

This is Paul’s custom, to always go back and visit the churches he’s established, and strengthen them.

:21 to go to Jerusalem

The way Luke writes this, it seems that Jerusalem was the main objective to Paul.

Why Jerusalem? It’s a little out of the way if he wants to go to Rome too.

What we’re not told in Acts is that Paul has been in the process of taking up a collection for the poor in the church in Jerusalem, which apparently had been hit hard with a famine (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2Cor.8-9)

:21 saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome

It almost sounds like an after thought. The goal is to get to Jerusalem, but he’d also like to one day go to Rome.

God has been stirring up Paul’s heart for Rome, the world’s capital, as he would write in about a month (see also Rom 15:23-29):

Rom 1:8-16 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. {9} For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; {10} Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. {11} For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; {12} That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. {13} Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. {14} I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. {15} So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. {16} For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

What is the gospel?

It is the "good news" that God has for you. "Gospel" means "good news".

Man has a problem that he is often trying to ignore. The problem is his own sin, his own inability to meet God’s standards. And man’s sin has a terrible consequence, it keeps him from God.

But God has good news for us in that He has done something to take care of the problem. God paid the price for our sins, and has made it possible for mankind to once again know God. God did this by sending His own Son to take on a human body, and die on a cross, dying in our place to pay for our sins.

This good news has the ability to "save" you. It has the ability to save you from the consequences of your own sin, which is to pay for them yourself by spending eternity in hell.

This good news will save you is you choose to believe in it. Salvation is a free gift from God, but like any free gift, it doesn’t do you any good unless you receive the gift, and we receive God’s gift of salvation by asking Him to save us, by receiving Jesus Christ into our hearts, and believing that He has done it.

He has friends on the way to Rome.

Though his friends Aquila and Priscilla had been with Paul during much of his Ephesian ministry, by the time Paul writes to the Romans, they’re already there:

(Rom 16:3-5 KJV) Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: {4} Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. {5} Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

Could it be that Paul sent them in advance to Rome, to kind of prepare the soil for his eventual coming?

Going to Rome is more than just wishful thinking.

This is EXACTLY where he’ll go after Jerusalem.

He will be going through Macedonia, then Achaia, then head to Jerusalem, where he will be arrested, put on trial, and when he exerts his rights as a Roman citizen, he will be sent on a Roman ship to Rome.

I think this is due to the phrase …

:21 Paul purposed in the spirit,

purposedtithemi – to set, fix, establish, ordain

Part of my goal in our studies has been to try and see how God is leading Paul, and how he makes his decisions. I want to learn from that. But this is kind of a vague phrase, and it’s kind of hard to nail down just what Paul is doing to make this decision.

It could be translated, "Paul established by the Holy Spirit", or "Paul set his spirit that …", NIV just says, "Paul decided to go to Jerusalem", NLT says, "Paul felt impelled by the Holy Spirit"

Either way, whether through his own mind, or through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul reaches a decision, and it’s the right one.


God leads us with desires.

For Paul, going to Rome had become a great desire in his life:

(Rom 1:11 KJV) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

God has a great promise for us:

Psa 37:4-5 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

When you delight yourself in the Lord, you will find that the very things that God Himself desires, you will start to desire.

Are you looking for direction in life?

Then set your heart to follow Jesus. Set your heart to love Him more than anything else, and just see what kinds of things start to pop up in your heart. See what kinds of things you just long for.


Even Paul wasn’t perfect at hearing from God.

Understanding the will of God for our lives isn’t always an exact science. It’s hard to tell if someone has really heard or not. If our decision isn’t one that’s already clearly spelled out in Scripture, we can sometimes make mistakes.

Sometimes we just pretend to hear from God to have people think we’re something special, though we’re afraid to admit we haven’t heard.


A newly promoted colonel had moved into a makeshift office during the Gulf War. He was just getting unpacked when out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a private with a toolbox coming his way.

Wanting to seem important, he grabbed the phone: "Yes, General Schwarzkopf. Of course, I think that's an excellent plan." He continued: "You've got my support on it. Thanks for checking with me. Let's touch base again soon, Norm. Good-bye."

"And what can I do for you?" he asked the private.

"Uhhh, I'm just here to hook up your phone."

By Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg, Becoming a Contagious Christian

In writing one of his letters to Corinth, Paul tells them that he originally had other plans, instead of going from Macedonia to Corinth and back, it was going to be the other way around. (2Cor. 1:15-16)

He had also originally planned to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, which he won’t be able to do (1Cor.16:8)

Later, after having been arrested in Jerusalem, Paul may have been doubting whether he was on track or not,

Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t always hear God clearly.

:22 So he sent into Macedonia … Timotheus and Erastus

Macedonia – the area of northern Greece, where Paul has already established churches.

Erastus – possibly a city treasurer (Rom.16:23)

Timothy – Paul’s young disciple, who will be part of the "advance team" to encourage the churches before Paul arrives (see also 1Cor.4:15-17).

:22 but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

Asia – the area of western Turkey, of which Ephesus is the capital.

Paul tells us in his own words how long he had planned to stay:

1 Cor 16:5-11 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. {6} And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. {7} For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. {8} But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.

Pentecost came towards the end of May, and May was also the time of the great Festival of Artemis, where crowds from around the world would come to Ephesus.

But Paul would not be able to stay because his time would be cut short by a riot.

He would change his plans to try and be back in Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16)

{9} For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. {10} Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. {11} Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

great door and effectual – God had been doing incredible things through Paul, many healed, demons being cast out, many giving up their old magic ways.

But some trouble had been brewing.


Open Doors.

Too often, when looking for God’s will, we think that an "open door" means no problems.

Open doors can mean there are still problems.

Difficult doesn’t mean "closed".

We’ll see what a closed door looks like to Paul …