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Jesus verses Satan November 25 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Acts 18:23- 20:6

Spiritual Adversity; Paul's Third Missionary Journey

According to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2018), which produces a Christian World-Wide Database, “an average of 160,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year.” The Voice of the Martyrs organization chronicles the daily persecutions of Christians around the world. We should remember these people, pray for their families, and be willing to join in their spiritual battles when necessary.

The book of Acts details early persecutions of the church, but spiritual warfare seems to be particularly prominent during Paul’s third missionary journey.

The first place Paul and Silas travel to is Galatia and Phrygia, where the Holy Spirit prevented them from going in their second missionary journey. We don’t know the exact reason, but 1Thessalonians 2:18 gives us a clue. In this letter Paul states that Satan hindered him and his companions from visiting Thessalonica. Asia Minor (Turkey) was a hot bed of Satanic activity. Revelation 2:13 describes this area as the place of Satan’s throne, his seat of power on earth. It was a place of great idolatry and wickedness. Perhaps Paul was delayed from going to Galatia because Satanic warfare was also being waged there. Regardless of the reason for the delay, a lesson to learn is that we must be flexible with God’s plan and program, even if we do not understand it; God may even be protecting us from evil. On his third missionary journey, however, Paul and his companions are allowed to evangelize the people in this area for two years.

Those in the military tell us that battles are not won by single efforts but by team efforts. Many of the heroes do not come home. Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos join Paul in spiritual warfare. Priscilla and Aquila are tentmakers like himself, and they are in Ephesus. They help disciple Apollos, who is a Christian from Alexandria (Egypt). Apollos is a very effective communicator and a well educated man. “He vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ,” (Acts 18:28, NIV). When Apollos wants to go to Corinth, they encourage him. He becomes such an effective defender of the faith before the Jews that he is a great help to the Corinthian church.

Paul and Silas come to Ephesus and face spiritual adversity. When Paul teaches in the synagogue, some of the attendees publicly malign his teachings. Because of this resistance, Paul leaves the synagogue and holds discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. He does this for two years and also heals diseases and casts out demons. When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, attempt to do the same, the demons attack them. The residents of Ephesus practice forms of black magic, but when people turn to the LORD, they publicly burn their fetishes.

Do we face spiritual battles today? Yes! Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus,

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 6:11-12, NIV).

How do we fight against the devil? Should we cast out demons? Although there are instructional classes on how to cast out demons, we should take a warning from Acts 19 and know this practice is extremely dangerous. We should not underestimate the power of the devil and his demons. There were some that even Jesus’ disciples could not cast out (Matthew 17:15-20). Again, it should be repeated, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, NIV). This is what we should do instead of focusing our attention on exorcism. What is the armor of God? You can read about it when we come to our Ephesians Bible study or use this link for an explanation.

When Paul and Silas lead a great number of people to the LORD, it hurts the silversmith and idol making trade; fewer idols are being purchased. Because of this, the tradesmen incite the people of Ephesus against Paul and Silas, on behalf of their fertility goddess, Artemis. Paul's traveling companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, are mistakenly dragged in front of the crowd. The people create such a disturbance that the town clerk has to settle them down. When he finds there is no justifiable reason to keep them, however, he dismisses the crowd and lets the men go free. God is their defense in spiritual adversity, and he will be our defense.

Lessons to Live By

  • All who live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2Timothy 3:12).
  • The Bible testifies that there is an unseen warfare constantly going on between God’s angels and Satan’s demons (Ephesians 6:11-12). You should therefore “put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” (Ephesians 6:11, NIV).
  • Are you a true believer in Christ? (more...) If so, God is your defense in times of adversity.

Today’s Memory Verse

Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

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A Look Ahead: While Paul is on his third missionary journey he hears of serious divisions in the church of Corinth. Paul urges them to Be Sober-Minded –we are on the same team! Read what this means in our Next Lesson.

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