Do you find it easier to have a one-way conversation than a dialogue? Some overt introverts freeze during a free-flowing discussion or an exchange of ideas. They can stand up in a classroom and deliver a prepared presentation – a one-way monologue. But they become very uncomfortable when the monologue turns into a dialogue.

The Apostle Paul was equipped to do both – he could effectively deliver a monolog, but he was able also to engage audiences in discussions and a dialogue. No, Paul’s tool-kit included more than the one-way authoritative preaching of the Gospel. As necessary as that mode of communicating the truth was and still is, he also wisely knew when it was not the approach to use.

The first three months in Ephesus went somewhat smoothly for Paul. He was able to converse with audiences in the Jewish synagogue. He would present the truth and no doubt be peppered with challenging questions. Over time, some started to oppose the message of the Gospel and the truth regarding the Kingdom of God.

In response to the hostility, Paul did not dig in his heels to make a scene. He just left and made alternate arrangements for another venue to continue working with those who had a genuine interest in the truth.

The Lord opened-up the spacious Tyrannus Lecture Theatre for Paul to use during its off-hours. Tyrannus, the Professor of Philosophy finished his lectures at 11 AM each day, so his students could rest during the hottest part of the day – 11 AM to 4 PM.

As the philosophy students grabbed their tablets and books and headed home, another eager group filled the Lecture Theatre. These people would forego the common siesta, in favour of learning vital truth concerning God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Did Paul have a little sandwich board erected outside the TLT? Christian Dialectic Classes, Today from 11AM-4PM, All Welcome. No Collections

Whether the sessions were advertised formally or spread by word of mouth, we don’t know. We do know there was sufficient interest for Paul to continue with his daily discussions for two years!

And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning (dialégomai) daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:8-10 NASB)

Dialégomai is a method of teaching. It implies speaking back and forth, or presenting intelligent discourse and entering into a discussion. Paul held these five-hour daily Christian Dialectic Classes for two years. Two years is not an insignificant chunk of the Apostle’s time, suggesting his style and approach was not secondary or inferior to another method – but rather suitable, given the setting and circumstances.

W.E. Vine (a recognized and trusted Bible scholar, teacher, and writer) points out that the above mentioned Greek word, found 13 times in the New Testament and translated ‘preached’ twice in Acts 20, is actually the word for ‘discoursed or dialogued’ and then, WEV clarifies – “Not by way of a sermon, but by a discourse of a more conversational character.”

Sometimes, in thundering-out our solid commitment to the Scriptural authoritative preaching of the Gospel, we seem to minimize or relegate to an inferior status other equally Scriptural methods to spread the Gospel and promote the cause of Christ.

In our efforts to reach those who do not know our Saviour and know very little about God’s Word, don’t overlook one of the Apostle Paul’s frequently used methods of communicating the Gospel – dialoguing the truth.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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