The first step toward miracles is repentance. The ancestors of Jesus generation were no strangers to the miraculous power of God. When you have to wait a long time to receive the things God promised, it’s easy to get lost along the way. Israel wandered away from the God who delivered them and broke covenant by worshiping other gods. God severely disciplined them and scattered them among the nations whose gods they loved. A remnant had returned to the Promised Land determined to obey every law of Moses, but it was little more than rote religion void of sincere love for God. Before Jesus healed bodies, cast out devils and raised the dead, God sent John the Baptist preaching repentance.
Following a similar pattern, God prepared the way for the Ephesians who wanted more when he sent Apollos to Ephesus. Apollos was a
“…learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. (Acts 18:24-25)
Just as John the Baptist paved the way for Jesus miraculous ministry, Apollos paved the way for Paul’s. Apollos spoke “boldly in the synagogue”; the same synagogue that asked Paul to stay so they could learn more about God. (Acts 18:26)
After Apollos departed for Achaia to minister in the Corinthian church, Paul returned to Ephesus. Before Paul returned to the thirsty Jews in the synagogue, God gave twelve men, who without doubt became the foundation for the Ephesian Church, more. God had already prepared the city for a great revival through Apollos accurate teaching and needed leaders full of his Spirit to shepherd the influx of new converts when the miracles started.
Upon arriving in Ephesus, Paul found some disciples.
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” (Acts 19:2-4)
Paul laid hands on the disciples and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. The stage is now set for miracles, but first the sheep must be separated from the goats.
LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 5: CONTROVERSIES BENEFIT