Acts 18-19
(Don't Say You Didn't Hear It )
November 19th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

“ ‘Your blood will be on your hands! I am cleared of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ "

- Acts 18:6 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

This group of chapters depicts Paul’s first visits to Corinth and Ephesus, two important cities whose congregations would be the recipients of some of his letters that form a core part of the New Testament (1 and 2 Corinthians and Ephesians). Paul started “alone” in Corinth, but was later joined by Silas and Timothy. Yet he never was really alone to begin with. One night Paul heard God speak to him in a vision:

The point was proven one day when a group of Jews in Corinth tried the old trick of trumping up charges against Paul, but the local official saw through their plans and shut them down, noting that Paul had committed no crime against Rome.

Paul traveled to Ephesus in chapter 19, where his success was astounding. In the first account in this chapter Paul meets with a group of believers who had not yet received the Holy Spirit:

God's Spirit produced extraordinary results through the hands and voice of Paul. Even the sorcerers were convinced by his sermons, and demonstrated their belief by burning their valuable scrolls. However, in Ephesus it was the silversmiths who felt so threatened that they took action against Paul and the other believers. These smiths were concerned that they would lose an important part of their market if no one wanted them to create false idols. Therefore, they organized a mob riot that almost spun out of control. However, once again a local official stepped up and told them to cease and explained that any grievances should be taken up in the courts rather than trying to resolve them with vigilantism.

Reflection and Application

Corinth and Ephesus were two important cities near the center of the Roman Empire. Corinth was on a peninsula that had to be crossed or circumnavigated by trader merchants travelling east and west. It was also a center of sports competition and had a reputation as a wicked city full of drunks, idol worshippers, prostitutes associated with the temples of the Greek god Aprodite, and other savory characters. Ephesus was also on a popular trade route and was a center of sports competition. One of its focal points was the temple of Diana (the Latin name), also know as Artemis (the Greek name).

In both places, Paul had faced great challenges but also great opportunities, and he succeeded with the help of the Holy Spirit. As described in today's reading, Paul found some people who had become believers but had not yet received the Holy Spirit. This was an important step in their conversion, so he took immediate action. The difference between the preaching from John the Baptist and the work of the Holy Spirit is eloquently described in a commentary from the British author William Barclay:

In these chapters the Spirit is clearly at work and the tide seems to be turning towards the Way of the Christians. In both cities Paul was able to operate his mission without the manifestation of any physical danger because the local officials were upholding the law, and because God was with him.

If we live in a law abiding country that upholds freedom of religion we can depend on the same type of protection and a right to due process. This is not true around the world. In some places, a four word statement on Twitter can result in an immediate jail sentence for sedition.

For example, North Korea is ranked by the World Watch List as the worst of all countries in terms of persecution of Christians and people of other religions. The dictatorship of Kim Jong-un desires to be the sole focal point of worship and attention, much like the leaders of ancient Rome. In efforts to enforce this rules his regime executed 80 people in November 2013, many of them because they were in possession of Bibles. This story has been widely reported in the media, including the following article from the Christian Post: "North Korea Publically Executes 80 Citizens"

Unfortunately, North Korea is not the only country where persecution is severe. The situation is also tragically bad in areas of Iraq and Syria that are controlled by the terrorist group that calls themselves the Islamic State. Christians are asked to pledge the loyalty to Islam, or pay a fine, or be murdered. The small enclaves of Christianity in these countries have survived for centuries from the early days of the church until the 21st Century, but now are on the verge of extinction. Many of these Christians have chosen to leave the land of their ancestors and have joined the historic exodus in search of sanctuary in Europe or other places. One place to read more about the situation in Syria and how to help is the Open Doors USA website: Christian Persecution in Syria

Those of us who have freedom of religion should exercise it and share with our nation the good news of what God has done for us. The generations before us have sacrificed themselves to protect this right and many of our brethren in other countries have recently lost their lives because of their faith – we owe it to all of them to exercise it. However, it's important to remember that doesn’t mean anyone has to listen to us.

Some of the Jewish folks in Corinth had no interest in what Paul said, so he told them that “ ‘Your blood will be on your hands! I am cleared of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’ (18:6 - NIV).” We can remember that it is not our responsibility to make sure people listen or believe – that is God’s job. Our job is to communicate and give people the opportunity to hear.

One day in the New York City subway there was a woman preaching the Gospel, providing a four minute summary of the life and love of Jesus. She concluded by saying to her audience that they have heard the word today and cannot claim one day that they never heard it: “Don’t say you didn’t hear it, because you heard it today!,” she exclaimed over and over. If we have heard the word through a sermon or a friend or by reading the Bible than we also cannot say we never heard. Our responsibility is to believe and share our belief. If we feel inadequate to share then we can pray for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. If we fail to heed what we have heard than the blood is on our own hands.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is your favorite city that you have visited?
    2. How can you help to spread the Good News of the Christian Way today?
    3. Who should you be listening to today?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you send messengers with the Good News. Help us to stop and listen.

    Prayer Concern
    Public Preachers in all lands, persecuted Christians, and all people fleeing war and famine


    (1) Barclay, William, The Acts of the Apostles,Westminster John Knox Press, London, 1975, p.166

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Acts 20-21 (Paul Goes to Jerusalem)

    Comments and Questions
    Please add your thoughts to our Comments page or send your comments and questions to the author at or share your comments or question via the Listening for God Twitter account