How the Church Grew in Ephesus

Text: Acts 19:20

When Paul came to Ephesus, he quickly converted twelve men (Acts 19:1-7). In three years (Acts 20:31), the gospel grew mightily (Acts 19:20) and the church went from just twelve men to “a considerable number” (Acts 19:26). There are challenges that come with being part of a smaller congregation. But we can still spread the gospel. The example of the church in Ephesus shows us how.

The Gospel Was Preached Regularly

  • Paul taught daily in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-10) – this reached a large number of non-Christians (Acts 19:10, 26)
  • Paul also directed his teaching to those in the church (Acts 20:31) – necessary to ground them in the faith and keep them from being led astray (Acts 20:29-30; Ephesians 4:11-14)
  • Preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) – from the Scriptures (“the word of the Lord,” Acts 19:10), reasoning (Acts 19:8-9; 17:2-3), and persuading (Acts 19:8; 2 Corinthians 5:11)
  • Preached despite opposition (Acts 19:9, 23) – teaching must continue (Acts 4:19-20)
  • Preached without the aid of any human institution – his preaching was very effective (Acts 19:10, 26); used no institution other than the pillar and support of the truth, the local church (1 Timothy 3:15)

There Was a Clear Distinction Between True and False Disciples

  • Paul performed miracles through the power of God (Acts 19:11-12)
  • Some Jewish exorcists attempted to do the same in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:13-14) – one evil spirit exposed them (Acts 19:15-16); caused the name of the Lord to be magnified (Acts 19:17)
  • Many claim to follow the Lord, but are not (Matthew 7:21-23)
  • Growth does not come by ignoring differences, but by exposing them (Ephesians 5:11)

Believers Were Willing to Confess Publicly

  • This confession (Acts 19:18-19) is not just referring to the step before baptism (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38) – meant in the comprehensive sense (Matthew 10:32); proclaiming faith in word and deed
  • They confessed belief in Christ (implied) – Paul preached “the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10); we must confess agreement with that (Matthew 10:32)
  • They confessed that they had sinned (Acts 19:18) – all have sinned (Romans 3:23), but we must be willing to admit this
  • They confessed a resolve to serve God exclusively – repentance (Acts 19:19); not enough to admit sin but remain in it (Romans 6:1-2)
  • They confessed a resolve to not return to their old life of sin (Acts 19:19) – they did not leave a convenient path back to sin (cf. Matthew 5:29-30)

Materialism Was Not a Hindrance

  • These people had invested a lot of money in these books (Acts 19:19) – but they were willing to lose it all for the sake of Christ
  • Materialism is a hindrance to one’s service to God (Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:9-10) – we must be willing to give up anything that stands between us and serving the Lord (Matthew 19:21-24)


  • The church grew in Ephesus as a result of the preaching and practice of the word – it can be done today
  • We plant and water, and trust in God to cause the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6)

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