The Third Missionary Journey
(Acts 18-21)

Paul’s third missionary journey was different from the first two.   On the first two journeys, Paul reached into new areas where he preached the gospel and planted churches. On the third journey, Paul visited no new areas, but went to strengthen believers in cities where he had already been (compare Acts 18:23).

On the second missionary journey the Holy Spirit directed Paul away from Asia (Acts 16:6) because God wanted him to spend most of his time in Europe (Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Athens, etc.). On the third missionary journey, most of Paul's time was spent in Asia, in the city of Ephesus.

The following map shows most of the places where Paul went on his third missionary journey. Keep in mind that most of his time (about three years) was spent in the city of Ephesus:

[The above map is taken from The MacMillan Bible Atlas by Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah (The MacMillan Company, NY), 1968, page 155.]

In this chapter of notes, we want to take a look at some of the exciting things that happened to Paul in the city of Ephesus. We also want to learn about Eutychus, a man who once fell asleep while Paul was preaching, and plunged to his death!

Superstition, Magic, Sorcery and Idols

The people in the city of Ephesus were very superstitious. They believed in magic and witchcraft. They worshipped idols and false gods. Paul came into this city with the message of the true and living God.

Special Miracles

God worked through Paul to perform amazing miracles (Acts 19:11). What happened to the sick who had diseases (Acts 19:12)? ______________________________________ What happened to those who were possessed by demons (Acts 19:12)? ___________________________________________

These miracles were done in an unusual way. Handkerchiefs, towels or aprons which had touched Paul’s body were brought to those who were sick or demon possessed and the diseases and evil spirits departed. This reminds us of the people who merely touched the H______ of His (Jesus’) _________________ and were completely healed (see Matthew 14:36). This does not mean that Jesus’ garment was magical or that Paul gave magical powers to handkerchiefs which touched his body. It just means that God chose to heal people in a very special way. If God wanted to heal everyone who simply touched a leaf or a piece of grass, could He do it? ______  There was one time when God healed a group of people, and the only thing these people did was to LOOK (see Numbers 21:6-9, and compare John 3:14-16).

Copycats of Paul

As the people watched these amazing miracles, there were seven Jews who wanted to try to do the same thing that Paul was doing (see Acts 19:14-15). They had observed that Paul cast out demons "in the name of Jesus," and so they thought that they would use this same formula. They probably said to themselves, "If it worked for Paul, then it should work for us!" They thought that if they used Paul’s "magic formula" then the demons would come right out of people!

These "copycats" came up to a man who was demon possessed. They probably said something like this: "Evil spirit, in the name of Jesus we command you to come out of this man!" Suddenly the demon answered them and said, "__________  I know, and __________  I know; BUT WHO ARE YOU?" (Acts 19:15).

If Jesus had told this demon to come out, do you think it would have obeyed (see Mark 1:23-26)? _____   If Paul had told this demon to come out, do you think it would have obeyed (see Acts 16:16-18)? ______  Did the evil spirit obey these "copycats"? _________________Why not?

Why was Paul so successful in casting out evil spirits? It was not because he used a "magic formula," but it was because the living God enabled him. The demons were not afraid of Paul, but they were afraid of the God that Paul loved and served.   Did these seven Jews love and serve the living God? ______ Paul had much more than a formula. He had the power of God backing him up!

Unsaved people sometimes try to copy Christians even today. Sometimes unsaved people pray before they eat. Often they go to church and say prayers in Jesus’ name and even read the Bible.  Does a person become a Christian by doing all these things? _____ These kinds of people are Christian "copycats," but God is not backing them up. They do not have a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You could go to the zoo and imitate the monkeys, but this would not make you a monkey, would it?

What happened to these seven Jewish men? They wanted to conquer the evil spirit, but instead the evil spirit conquered them! According to Acts 19:16 the man who was possessed by this evil spirit leaped on them with a furious rage.  He stripped them, wounded them and all seven of them ran out of the house.  How could one man overcome seven men? Are demons able to give a person superhuman strength (see Mark 5:2-4)? ______ These Jews learned that they did not have what Paul had, and they found out the hard way!

A Book Burning Party

When a person comes to know the Lord, he may have certain possessions that he needs to get rid of. These things were part of his old life, but they are no longer part of his new life. Suppose a man has marijuana, cocaine, LSD and other harmful drugs, and also bad magazines stored in his basement. One day he believes on Christ, is saved and has a brand new life (2 Corinthians 5:17). What should he now do with the drugs and magazines?  Are these things part of his new life? _____ Sometimes there are things in a person’s life that need to go!

Many of the believers in the city of Ephesus possessed certain books which were part of their old, superstitious life. They had all kinds of magic books, sorcery books and witchcraft books. What did they do with all these books (see Acts 19:19)?

a. They gave them away free to unsaved people.

b. They burned them.

c. They sold them for a large sum of money.

d. They kept them and continued reading them.

These books were worth a great deal of money (see Acts 19:19), but these believers wanted to destroy them. They did not want to sell them because then other people would read these evil books.

If you are really a Christian, are there any of your possessions that you need to destroy?    Bad music?  A book or magazine that is not good?  A DVD that is not good?   Other things that would be harmful to your body or mind?

Paul and the Diana Worshippers

In the city of Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world--the great temple of Diana. This temple was built to honor the goddess Diana (who was also called Artemis). Diana’s temple was famous throughout the world. It was a very large religious center made with more than 100 columns of marble. Each column was a huge stone sixty feet high. In the temple was a statue or likeness of Diana. The superstitious people of Ephesus thought that this image had fallen down from heaven (see Acts 19:35).

Because the people of Ephesus were so religious and superstitious, they loved to buy small statues and replicas of Diana made of silver. These were called "silver shrines" and were made by silversmiths. These little idols were copies of that great statue which was found in the temple. As you can imagine, the silversmiths had a booming business selling these "silver shrines" (Acts 19:24).

Something was beginning to happen in the city which caused great concern to these greedy silversmiths. Paul had come into their city preaching the good news of salvation. Many people were believing his message and were being saved. Should a believer continue to buy these "silver shrines"? ______ Were these idols a part of their old life or their new life? _______________________ Should Christian people worship something that has been made by human hands (Acts 19:26)? _______

Do you think the silversmiths were thankful that Paul was telling the people about the true God of heaven? _____ The more Paul preached, the fewer "silver shrines" were sold, and the silversmiths were furious (Acts 19:24-28).  They stirred up the people of the city, and a big crowd rushed into the great outside theatre (Acts 19:29). This theatre was somewhat like a football stadium, and it could hold 25,000 people! For about two hours this large crowd was shouting something. What were the people shouting (Acts 19:34)? ____________________________________________________________  Finally one of the leaders of the city was able to calm the crowd down and the uproar ceased. At this time Paul decided it was best to leave the city.

Almost everywhere Paul went, people either got saved or they got angry! This is what happened at Ephesus. Some became believers and others became belligerent (those who wage war and are very hostile).


As Paul was headed to the city of Jerusalem during the last part of this missionary trip, he stopped in the city of Troas.

A Long Sermon

On what day of the week did believers come together to break bread (communion) and to hear God’s Word preached (Acts 20:7)? _____________________________________________ What day of the week is this (think of a Calendar--which day comes first?)? ______________________  Do Christians today meet together on this same day? _______ What great event happened on the first day of the week which caused Christian believers to make this their day of worship (Luke 24:1,34)? ___________________________________________________________

As the people of Troas came to church on the first day of the week, who was their preacher (Acts 20:7)? _______________ The Bible says he continued speaking until ______________________ (Acts 20:7).  Has your Pastor ever preached until midnight? ______ We are not told when Paul started his sermon, but we are told that Paul was  ___________ preaching (Acts 20:9)! This was a very LONG sermon!

Sometimes a Pastor might preach a little longer than usual, and we need to have the right attitude about this. Have you ever sat at the television set for one hour or more without getting up? Have you ever enjoyed a good meal and sat at the table (or at a restaurant) for 45 minutes to an hour? The Pastor is presenting us with a message that is more important than anything we will see on television! He is giving us a spiritual meal that will feed our souls! We need to thank God for a Pastor who loves the Bible and who loves to teach us God’s Word so much that sometimes he does not even want to stop.  Remember, one of the greatest preachers who ever lived was L___________ preaching (Acts 20:9), and he once preached until midnight!

The Danger of Falling Asleep

In the building where Paul was preaching many believers were assembled together. Not only was it crowded, but it was probably very warm because of the lamps that were burning (Acts 20:8). It was also past most people’s bedtimes (Acts 20:7). One man, perhaps because of the heat and the lateness of the hour, fell asleep and fell down three stories to the floor below.  As the believers took him up, they found that he was __________ (Acts 20:9). What did Paul do for this man (Acts 20:10,12)? ____________________________________________________________________________

Eutychus did not stay alert and did not stay awake. Instead of concentrating on what Paul was saying, he fell asleep and fell to his death.

What about you? Is something terrible going to happen to you if you do not stay alert and listen to God’s Word being preached? If you do not concentrate on what your Pastor is saying, is some great disaster going to happen to you?

You are probably thinking, "Of course not! When I sit in church I do not sit in a dangerous place where I could fall and hurt myself. What happened to Eutychus will certainly never happen to me! If I do not listen carefully to what God says, I am not in any real danger."

The Danger of Not Listening to God’s Word

Don’t be tricked! There is a real danger if we do not listen to what God says in His Word. In fact, we could end up in more trouble than Eutychus. As you look up the following verses ask yourself this question: What danger is there in not listening carefully to what God has said?  See Hebrews 2:1-3; Hebrews 3:15; Hebrews 5:11 and Acts 28:26-28.

 Eutychus was in physical danger because he did not listen attentively to the preacher. We could be in great spiritual danger if we do not listen to what God says to us in His Word. May we learn a lesson from the man who fell asleep!

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