Did Paul’s Strategy Work?

The following articles come from a book by James Montgomery Boice, Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997), 319–326.

After an investment of time like that, what were the results? In contemporary terms we would say that we have examined Paul’s goals and studied his strategy; now we want a period of evaluation. What happened? There were many blessings.

A church was established.

This has been Paul’s strategy from the beginning, not only here but in every city he visited. He had worked for this from early in his missionary travels: first, fixing Ephesus in his mind as a promising place for a church; second, conducting a preliminary study, a reconnaissance; then, third, actually launching and continuing the work. And he succeeded. The church was established and continued strong for centuries, long after Paul had left.

There were miracles as the power of God was seen.

The miracles were not done first to attract people, which is what some are saying should be done today. Rather, the preaching of the Word came first, God blessed the Word, and then the miracles followed—in this case through Paul, as God authenticated his message.

There were changes in the lives of the believers.

Many of them had been involved in the occult, as I indicated. But as the gospel was preached and the lordship of Jesus Christ emphasized, the believers saw that it was not possible for them to confess Jesus as Lord and still cling to their occult practices. They could not keep one foot in the church and the other in the world. So they repented of that sin (v. 18) and then brought their occult objects together and had them destroyed, particularly the magic scrolls that contained incantations.

Luke puts the value of the objects at fifty thousand drachmas. A drachma was a day’s wage. So if we can assume that a day’s wage in the United States in our time is roughly a hundred dollars (annual income $25,000), the equivalent of fifty thousand drachmas would be about five million dollars in our currency. That may be a high estimate, but by any estimate it was a large sum of money. What these Christians did as they heard the gospel and came to understand what they owed to Jesus Christ was to “lay it on the line,” as we would say. Anything in their lives that was holding them back or indicated a divided allegiance was rejected.

If you have something in your life like that, it is important that you get rid of it. If there is something you are hanging on to and do not want to give up but you know is inconsistent with your following after Jesus Christ, you need to get rid of it, as these Ephesian Christians did.

 “The word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (v. 20).

I link that verse with verse 10, which says that as a result of Paul’s teaching in the lecture hall of Tyrannus for two years, “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” There is a difference between those two sentences. As a result of Paul’s consistent teaching, everybody heard the gospel. But that is not the same thing as saying that the people who heard believed. However, verse 20 tells us that when the Christians really “laid it on the line,” the Word of the Lord not only spread widely but also “grew in power.” It was at this point that the people of Asia not only heard the gospel but also believed it and began to follow Christ. What happened in Ephesus should be a challenge for Christians in cities everywhere.

James Montgomery Boice, Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997), 319–326.

2 comments

  1. Paul started churches wherever he went. He started them in strategic places. I think that the book is making a good point and we should follow his example. Do you think there is room for other styles ministry or would this be the only Biblical pattern that everyone should follow?

  2. A very good point in the article was the part that said “If there is something you are hanging on to and do not want to give up but you know is inconsistent with your following after Jesus Christ, you need to get rid of it, as these Ephesian Christians did.”

    We may want to start churches, but are we willing to let go of everything and totally follow God?

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