Every day for over two years, he taught them in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, which resulted in everyone living in the province of Asia, Jews and non-Jews, hearing the prophetic word of the Lord. God kept releasing a flow of extraordinary miracles through the hands of Paul. Because of this, people took Paul’s handkerchiefs and articles of clothing, even pieces of cloth that had touched his skin, laying them on the bodies of the sick, and diseases and demons left them and they were healed. (Acts 19:10-12 TPT)
EPHESUS- It was a very important city, and a center of a lot of trade going on in the then known world. Before Paul came there, Apollos was in this city already, and had preached his Gospel from a limited knowledge of the baptism of John. Though Paul had been in Ephesus before, but he had not stayed long to preach there. He just left Aquila and Priscilla (the missionary couple) there, while he journeyed to other places. Though Aquila and Priscilla were already doing some work in the land, but the work had not reached everyone. The couple was pastoral in their labours, and so did the best they could, but the whole game was about to change the moment Paul arrived there later in order to labour. What really happened?
There in Ephesus, Paul first encountered a group of 12 believers (or disciples) who have not received the Holy Spirit. Now, to their credit, these were believers as Paul himself would later attest by his question to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” However, whenever I look at that question, I perceive clearly that there were certin elements or realities that were lacking in the lives of these believers that made Paul to ask this question. Maybe they were not working in the Love of God and in Holiness, maybe they were not working in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and also were lacking His fruits, maybe there was no burden to preach the Gospel to others. These must have been a strange bunch of believers because they had not even met Priscilla and Aquila before now, nor had they met the Church in Ephesus- otherwise they would not have said that they had never heard of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost was a central figure in the Early Church, and no one who was really a part of the early church could have claimed not to have heard of the Holy Ghost. In fact, no one allowed you to do anything in the Church unless you were filled with the Holy Ghost. Paul taught them about the Holy Spirit, and they believed. So, when he now laid his hands on them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues and prophecy. Permit me to say here that whenever a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, amongst other things, one of the clearest, easiest evidences is that something must come out of His mouth (which is the only outlet from his heart) in praise and worship, tongues and prophecy. It is a non-negotiable reality for anyone who has been filled with the Holy Spirit. That was the beginning of the move of God’s Spirit mightily in Ephesus.
Another thing happened which essentially ‘forced’ the Holy Spirit out of His hiding (so to speak). Paul argued in the synagogue of the Jews (as was his usual practice) for 3 months, but he was constantly faced with hardenings of heart and insensible oppositions. The challenge became too much that Paul then took a bold step: But some of them were stubborn and would not believe, and before the whole group they said evil things about the Way of the Lord. So Paul left them and took the believers with him, and every day he held discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. (Acts 19:9 GNB) He separated to a lecture hall of one Tyrannus (either a Jew who had a rabbinical school, or a Greek who had a Centre for philosophical discussions). Some manuscripts signify that Paul taught there daily from ‘the sixth hour’ to ‘the tenth hour’ (about 4 hours of daily teaching). Now, do you want to force a revival out in a city? Do something daily for a long time, and you will surely force the Holy Spirit out. I have tried something close to it before. Some months ago when the COVID-19 lock-down first started, I was led to start a Bible study in my house in Enugu, and we met daily (except on Tuesdays and Sundays (which was for our weekly discipleship class)). Daily we met and studied from the book of Hebrews 11 and we prayed. I tell you, in that month-long experience, we (to some extent) forced out a revival. Some were filled with the Holy Spirit, some had their relationship with God restored, and some had God reveal to them their purpose in life. Every single young person that attended the daily classes had their relationship with God shifted to a new level, and they are still on the pursuit of God till today. Doors began to open into the lives of several other young persons in the area such that we were able to get many others to be saved and to become followers of Jesus. All in one month!
Now, imagine that Paul did this daily teaching, 4 hours every day, for 2 years! No matter how hard the city is, no matter how strong the people are, they must respond to the Lord. It is a must. Such things force out the Holy Spirit in a place. These days, we Christians of today do not know what it looks like to be involved in a daily fellowship or Bible study. Most of our crusades are just 3 days, or at most 4 days, and we can only accomplish so much in 4 days. Sometimes when some powerful men of God come to our city and hold a 3 days programme, I see myself wondering: ‘what will happen if this man stays for just 1 month, holding this meeting daily?’ I tell you, the Holy Spirit must be forced out, a revival will break forth, and even the hardest sinner will somehow acknowledge that there is something about God. This was how it was in the days of the earliest revivals in Christian history. I pray that such days come back.
This went on for two years, so that all the people who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the word of the Lord. (Acts 19:10 GNB) Through this daily labours, the door of ministry was opened to every person in Asia. Not like everybody in Asia came into that lecture hall of Tyrannus, but the ministry went from person to person till it reached everybody in Asia. During that our Lock-down Bible study, one day, we took a bold step and organized a get-together in an open place in the street for teenagers and children; without me even inviting anybody, we had almost a hundred persons in attendance. That day, if you entered almost every house, you will not see any teenager or children; they all converged at that open space to hear the word of God, all in one month! I just looked at what happened in one month and I wondered what would have happened if we had continued- not only in the life of those who were listening, but also in the life of the preacher too. I used to think that the only way to grow in anointing is to go for set-apart and sit down in one place reading the Bible and praying. But in that one month, I grew in Grace and in God more than I had ever done before now. This was exactly what happened to Paul too. Paul went on teaching daily for 2 years, and it reflected even in his own life. In that city, God wrought ‘special’ miracles through Paul. Do you know why the miracles were called ‘special’? Until Ephesus, Paul had never experienced that kind of miraculous power in his life and ministry. The daily teaching in Ephesus forced the miraculous power of God into Paul’s body and great things happened.
Great was what God accomplished in Ephesus through Paul and his daily teachings that men brought out their magical arts and materials and burnt them (the cost was up to several millions of U.S. Dollars). They renounced magic and began to pursue the Lord. And the testimony of Ephesus can be summarized by vs. 20, “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:20 KJV)
AND SO? I don’t even know how to apply this, but the principle is very simple. Do we want a revival? Then we must be ready to do something daily for a long time. Prayers, preaching God’s word, Bible study, etc. This is not to say that there may not be other keys to revival; but what simply happened in Ephesus was that the Holy Spirit came. It is true that He is with us in every service and in every crusade, but I tell you, we may not really have known what it is like when the Holy Spirit takes over a city. We can only pray that such days would come back again.