When the apostle Paul came to the city of Ephesus, in Acts 19, he confronted various peoples who were very religious and fervent but who entertained hope in that which was hopeless.
First, in verses 1-7, Paul met more than twelve men who had false hope in an invalid baptism. They verily thought they were true disciples but quickly learned from Paul that their baptism was wrong. He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord, and they immediately obeyed. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 1:1-6; Galatians 3:26-27.
Second, in verses 8-9, Paul boldly disputed with and persuaded the unbelieving Jews who trusted in the Old Testament law of Moses. The Jews held a hope, but it was false. When they hardened their hearts, he departed and separated the true disciples from them. After Paul had preached the gospel in Asia for two years, a certain hybrid element of the Jewish community who wandered about practicing exorcism sought to use the name of the Lord Jesus and the name of the apostle Paul in their "faith." (13-17). They soon saw the hopelessness of their presumption.
Third, those who used curious arts (black magic) were convinced of the hopelessness of their practices. (18-19). They believed and confessed their faith by showing their deeds. Many of them brought all their books together and burned them. The wicked books were worth 50,000 pieces of silver.
Fourth, during that time, Paul traveled throughout all Asia from Ephesus, preaching that there were no gods that were made with hands that there was only one hope. (24-41). The worship of Diana and of the image which fell down from Jupiter was very strong in Ephesus, in Asia, and, in fact, throughout the Greek and Roman worlds. The people built a great temple to Diana that was revered as one of the seven wonders of the world. They magnified the image of Diana in their temple. When Demetrius, a silversmith, stirred a great uproar among the common people, they arrested two of Paul's co-workers, ran into the theater, and cried out, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," for two whole hours! Did they have a hope? Yes, but it was a hopeless hope in that which was hopeless to give hope!
About six years later, when Paul wrote a letter back to the church at Ephesus, he said of all of these, "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace, And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" Ephesians 2:11-16.
Dear friends, our hearts ache when we see the peoples of the whole world entertaining hopes in things that are hopeless! Some believe in Jesus but have their hope in invalid baptisms and in churches (denominations) that offer no hope. Matthew 15:13; 16:18-19. They may call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and invoke the name of Paul and of the other apostles, but their faiths have no basis in the Holy Bible, the Word of God. Therefore, their hope is hopeless. Romans 10:17; Psalm 130:5. Many continue to base their hope in the Old Testament. Others have hope in superstition and witchcraft.
There is only One hope! Ephesians 4:1-6. Our hope is Christ. 1 Timothy 1:1. It will be the saddest of all days when the hopeless millions stand before Christ in the final judgment and learn just how hopeless their hope is. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:21-23. Alas! No hope! Rt 5 Box 1468, Salem, WV 26426.
Return to West Virginia Christian