Topic 4
Hall of Tyrannus
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Hall of Tyrannus
a powerful evangelistic model for today
MACRO TOPIC 4.1

Hall of Tyrannus

 How to tell two million people about Jesus in two years
 Most Bible studies on this site are about DOCTRINE
but this study is about METHOD

Never heard of it?

If you ask most Christians – even Christian leaders – about the Hall of Tyrannus, all you get is a blank stare.

Most Christians have no recollection of ever hearing about the Hall of Tyrannus, yet is the most successful evangelistic strategy reported anywhere in the entire Bible.

Apostle Paul's final grand strategy

The Hall of Tyrannus was the final grand strategy used by the Apostle Paul, the world's greatest missionary, to tell a million people about the gospel (good news) of Jesus in two years.

His audience was pagan unbelievers who had never heard about Jesus. His method of presentation was so powerful that observers said he was turning the world upside down.

After more than 30 years of experiences in presenting the gospel ('good news' about Jesus) to people in other cultures, Paul put all his experiences and hard-learned lessons together for a new strategy in the city of Ephesus, with amazing results!

Paul never had an opportunity to do it again – it was like his grand finale – because soon after, at about age 58, he returned to Jerusalem with an offering for poor people in the struggling church in Jerusalem, was arrested, held for two years as a prisoner, and then sent to Rome for trial and death.

This is the most under-told big story in the entire Bible. It's big because it's the core of what Jesus told us to do (Great Commission, Matthew 28:18).

Even though Paul learned this powerful strategy late in life and could implement it only once before his death, he left the outline for us. The Book of Acts tells in general terms how he did it.

What was the strategy? Will it still work today?

That's the subject of this Bible study.

KEY VERSES
Acts 19:8-10
'Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing [reasoning] persuasively about the kingdom of God.
'But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way.
'So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
'This went on for two years, so all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.'

Biggest under-told story in the Bible

This is arguably the biggest under-told story in the entire Bible. It's big because it's the core of what Jesus told us to do (Great Commission, Matthew 28:18).

This is a comprehensive lesson on good situation analysis ... search for opportunity ... thinking outside the box ... development of excellent teaching content ... economics ... venue ... risk taking ... creating buzz ... strong leadership ... and making everyone feel welcomed and accepted.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Of course, Paul stayed true to the message he received from Jesus and received daily guidance and strength from the Holy Spirit. The essential spiritual factors are not mentioned much on this page because the topic here is about method. The spiritual factors are covered in depth in topics on this site about doctrine.

The Hall of Tyrannus was not a church or a substitute for a church. It was an explanation and training center. It spawned new churches and supplied existing churches with new people.

An interesting perspective on this story is that Paul didn't have a Bible. He had access to Old Testament scriptures which could be read in Jewish synagogs, but he didn't have the New Testament because it had not yet been written. Little did he know that he was writing a big part of it!  

This story is a reminder that Christianity does not come from the Bible. It comes from the birth, life, teaching, sacrificial death, resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible is the written record to keep the gospel message from becoming distorted over the centuries.

LOCATOR MAP

Where it happened / AD 53-55

Geographic setting

This story of the Apostle Paul, the Hall of Tyrannus, and a resulting explosive growth of Christianity takes place roughly AD 53-54 in the lands along the northeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, all part of the Roman Empire, comprising most of modern-day Turkey.

The colored lines on the above map trace Paul's three missionary journeys and his voyage to Rome as a prisoner.

Paul's documented travels total more than 10,000 miles, mostly on foot. That's like walking from New York to Los Angeles four times! Not all of his excursions are documented, and we should also add circuitous routes and intra-city streets.

The sheer expenditure of time and physical energy for this much travel, often over mountainous terrain, is almost incomprehensible for us today.

The area inside the dashed circle was known as the Roman province of Anatolia. Early translators called it 'Asia' in English. Over time, the term 'Asia' was expanded gradually in everyday usage to include everything east of Asia. Eventually, 'Asia Minor' became the English terminology for distinguishing the circled area from the much larger Asian continent.

This area had been settled by Greek colonists centuries before Paul and remained thoroughly Greek in culture ... 'so all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord' ... as a result of Paul's ministry in the Hall of Tyrannus (map red dot). That's nearly everyone within the dashed circle.

APOSTLE PAUL

Cross-cultural communicator

Greatest missionary ever

For most of his life he was known as Saul of Tarsus, or simply Saul, his Hebrew (Jewish) name. Then, from about age xx forward, for better identification with his ministry to Gentiles (non-Jews), he was known as the Apostle Paul, or simply Paul, his Greek name.

He was born in the approximate year 1 AD into a Jewish family of high standing – Roman citizenship – in the city of Tarsus, a city still in existence in modern-day Turkey (map 24J). 

Tarsus was a very prosperous city of about 100,000 people ???? known for its fertile soil, excellent harbor, and gateway to the only major pass south through the Tarsus mountains. It was Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, etc.

Paul said: 'I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city' (Acts 21:39).

[NOTE: In ancient history, most dates are approximations. Dates and ages stated in this study are approximate within +-4 years.]

As a teen, his family sent him to Jerusalem to study under Gamaliel, the most prestigious Jewish teacher of that time, similar to a Harvard education today.

Paul said: 'I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained inured Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today' (Acts 22:3).

In the year or two after Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, a growing group of believers called the 'way,' became very troublesome to zealous Jews in Jerusalem. Saul passionate to put an end. Persecute, imprison and even death.

Dramatic conversion

'Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out

Saul of Tarsus / persecuted believers

Until his name was changed at age xx, he was known as Saul of Tarsus.

He was born in the year 6 AD into a Jewish family of high standing – Roman citizenship – in the city of Tarsus, modern-day Turkey (map 24J).

[In ancient history, most dates are approximations. Dates and ages stated in this study are approximate within +-3 years.]

As a teen, his family sent him to Jerusalem to study under Gamaliel, a very prestigious religious teacher, similar to a Harvard education today. When Saul was

Very well educated and connected to leaders of Sanheidren.

In the year or two after Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, group of believers call the 'way' troublesome. Saul passionate to put an end. Persecute, imprison and even death.

'And Saul approved of their killing him [stoning Stephen, a leader of the church]. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men dn women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went' (Acts 8:1-4).

One of biggest adversaries of Jesus. His own words:

'I persecuted the followers of this Way [Christians] to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison' (Acts 22:4).

Not a blazing missionary at first

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

Any failures. Cross-cultural.

Different than what was happening in Jerusalem.

Bible study on Apostle Paul

See the Bible study here on the life and times of the Apostle Paul.

ROMAN ROADS AND SHIPS

Carried the gospel to other cultures

Travel was necessary for carrying the gospel

To fully understand this amazing story from Acts 19, it helps to know about the modes of travel in Asia Minor in the first century to see how Paul moved from city to city and how the people he trained in the Hall of Tyrannus (red dot) carried the gospel message to all parts of Asia Minor (dashed circle).

Before electronic communications, personal travel was essential for carrying information from one area to another.

Jesus never traveled more than a hundred miles from where he was born, and his ministry was mostly in rural areas.

Paul, by contrast, traveled thousands of miles from where he was born, and his ministry was mostly in big cities.

It was in the urban centers where Christianity became clearly distinguished from Judaism, took root, and grew and spread as something entirely new.

There is no record in the Bible of more spectacular growth of Christianity than through the Hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus.

People in Asia Minor did a lot of traveling in the first century, facilitated by a vast network of Roman roads paved with stone, merchant sailing ships with established routes between coastal cities, and Pax Romana ('Roman peace') with soldiers for greater protection from robbers.

This was a wealthy, flourishing, modern part of the world.

Not like Galilee

The people in Galilee could not have understood all that was happening in Asia Minor. Jesus gave his message on hillsides in Galilee to fishermen, shepherds, and peasants who lived in a rural Jewish culture. Those people would not know how to bring that message to the well-educated, affluent people in the large coastal cities of Asia Minor, who lived in a Greek culture, worshiping many pagan gods.

It was like two different worlds.

Paul was the man God chose to spearhead this new initiative to bring the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews) in the Roman Empire ... and consequently to the whole world.

This study, and the companion Bible study here on Apostle Paul, shows Paul's constant struggles over three decades as he learns how to carry out this mission, eventually becoming the world's greatest missionary. His work is still the model for all missionary work.

Paul had to move out of his narrow ecclesiastical world into the big, tough, modern world.

To succeed, he would have to take advantage of the technology of his day: Roman roads and sailing ships to carry the gospel to new places and cultures.

Roman roads

Roman roads were engineering marvels of the day: Extensive surveying to make the road straight as possible but curve around massive physical features as necessary to minimize time and cost of construction ... drain marshes ... cut through forests ... divert creeks ... cut back mountain sides ... quarry and haul stones ... build sturdy stone foundations to withstand hundreds of years of weathering and heavy loads ... level road bed with slight camber on the top surface for drainage ... fill gaps with sand ... cross rivers with bridges ... traverse valleys with viaducts ... build support walls and terracing ... install signposts showing distances to towns ahead ... create gravel foot paths on the sides for pedestrians to step aside for soldiers and for horse drawn carriages, ox carts and other wheeled traffic.

Roman road
Remains of first century Roman Road

Standard width of a typical Roman road was about 13 feet, but wider in contested areas in and near big cities.

Major Roman roads had toll stations, like on our freeways.

Travel on the Roman roads was on foot except for government officials, commercial haulers, and the very rich who had their own chariots and carriages or chartered seats on transport coaches (like covered wagons with benches).

With a good road, good weather, and good health, a typical traveler could walk 15-20 miles per day.

Paul tells about many dangers and hardships when traveling long distances on the roads: 'I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country ... gone without sleep ... hunger and thirst ... cold ...' (2 Corinthians 11: 26-27).

In remote areas with long distances between towns, the government constructed mansions ('staying places,' like our highway rest stops) at intervals about 15 miles apart, where people on official business with a passport could use toilets, rest, sleep, and get drinking water and food. Typically, soldiers were garrisoned at these mansions.

A private system of inns grew up around the mansions offering the same kind of services, but they were usually expensive, filthy, and frequented with prostitutes and thieves.

Travelers would not want to leave the road to sleep camping-style because of the burden of carrying extra luggage and becoming easy targets for bandits. To arrive at one's destination with no money was a dire situation in those days. Soldiers patrolled the roads as best they could, but there was no protection at all in off-road rural areas.

Most travelers made arrangements in advance to stay with people they knew in towns along their route, or they rented bed-and-breakfast style in private homes based upon trust in a third party, as with a letter of introduction from a mutual friend.

Many travelers had no choice but to stay overnight in inns in the towns, but the inns were usually rowdy and dirty, and the innkeepers themselves would often cheat and steal from guests.

This is the network by which people moved the gospel on land from the Hall of Tyrannus to towns and cities throughout Asia Minor.

Roman sailing ships

Inn the first century, the Roman Empire completely encircled the Mediterranean Sea. It's waters not only provided fish for food but also facilitated trade between the provinces and trade with other countries as far as India and China.

There were no passenger ships in Paul's day, but there were large numbers of merchant ships moving on regular routes throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. We know about these ships through ancient drawings and underwater examination of shipwrecks.

Model of Roman sailing ship

A small merchant ship would be about 60 feet in length and carry about 70 tons of cargo. A large ship would be about 150 feet and carry about 600 tons. Ships relied upon a huge mainsail, square in shape, which made it difficult to tack in a zig-zag pattern against the wind, leaving ships largely at the mercy of the wind. As ship size increased, a second and even a third sail was sometimes added. Ships were steered by two large oars at the back.

Mediterranean ships were protected by Roman warships which could be propelled by one or two decks of rowers. Warships did not depend on wind conditions and had excellent manueverability.

Average speed of a merchant ship was 4-5 miles per hour. Sailing was completely suspended during the four winter months because of rough seas.

There were hundreds of merchant ships on the Mediterranean, mostly on regular routes, but time of departure and arrival were only tentative, depending upon weather. Grain, olive oil, wine, and spices and silk from the Orient were common cargo.

Passenger travel by sea was aboard merchant ships. A passenger would first have to find a ship planning to leave on an acceptable approximate day for the desired destination, then get the captain's approval and negotiate a price with him. There was no system of advanced ticketing as we know it. Departures and arrivals depended entirely on unpredictable weather conditions.

Some merchant ships had a few cabins at the stern, but they were affordable only to the very wealthy.

All passengers stayed on deck. They brought their own food, mattresses, blankets, and sometimes little tents.

Storms and shipwreck were always big threats in first century sea travel. There were no lifeboats and no way to call for help.

This is the network by which people moved the gospel by sea from the Hall of Tyrannus to coastal towns and cities throughout Asia Minor.

CITY OF EPHESUS

Paul's problems and opportunities

Ephesus / big city knows nothing about Jesus

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Remains of library in Ephesus

Show pic and explain library.

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

It was pre-Christian, similar to our situation, trying to find a method suited to post-Christian America. This is not to say that Christianity is not still a powerful force in American life, but it is declining and is no longer the standard.

No Christian background, like many people in US today.

Temple of Artemis / one of seven wonders of the world

One of the wonders of the world.

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

Remains of Temple of Diana in Ephesus

This is more about it.

Invented their own religion. Today designer religion, without temple. Own version of God.

Ephesus theater

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Remains of amphitheater in Ephesus (25,000 seats)

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Jewish Synagog / stuck in ritual and tradition

Diaspora.

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

Very closed society.

Ritual and traditon.

Not relevant in Greek culture. Not place to start.

Divine authority / no Bible, but physical healing

Authentication: Physical healings (before Bible)

Whenever a new person would come into a city and say that he is God (as with Jesus), or that he has a message from God (as with Paul), people believed that person is deranged and would not give serious attention to the message.

Paul's authentication: Physical healings (before Bible

To overcome that belief, God gave the power of physical healings to Jesus and some of his apostles to get attention and prove divine source of the message. The healings were public, widely confirmed, and reported by even by unbelievers. They were the talk of the city, and this happened with Paul in Ephesus.

Our

He had this advantage over us in first gaining a reputation as a man of God as he started the Hall of Tyrannus. Of course, many – perhaps most – though he was a sorcerer.

Healing abused. Simon the Sorcerer.

Was writing the gospel.

DISAPOINTMENT AND FAILURE

Almost always precedes big success

Jewish diaspora

Looking forward to Messiah.

PAUL'S NEW STRATEGY

Defining characteristics of Paul's bold strategy

Organizing principles

No doubt Paul was familiar with some of the military concepts of his day: mission, strategies, and tactics.

The Roman Empire was built upon the power and efficiency of its military, and the organizing principles used by its Army to achieve amazing results were applied also to its government administration and road building, and soon large merchants and traders adopted the principles to expand their businesses.

These same general organizing principles are still used around the world today in government, education and business, and in many churches and Christian organizations.

What the terms mean:

  • MISSION: The overriding goal, purpose or objective.
  • STRATEGY: The defined path for accomplishing the mission. This is the thinking done before the battle, and it is the framework for all planning.
  • TACTICS: The specific actions needed to carry out the strategy, with particular attention on efficient use of limited time and resources.  This is what is done during the battle.

A mission can have multiple strategies, and a strategy can have multiple tactics.

Much of the success of any endeavor depends upon the detail and clarity with which these components are defined and understood by the group responsibe for carrying out the mission.

After receiving the mission directly from Jesus, it appears from the Book of Acts that Paul tried many different strategies and tactics, and each one was a valuable learning experience. Now he puts all the best pieces together for a new grand strategy, which we now know as the Hall of Tyrannus strategy.

Paul's new strategy

Paul's mission had not changed. Given to him by Jesus. But Paul knew he had to change his strategy.

In summary:

MISSION: Bring the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews)

STRATEGY: Hall of Tyrannus

TACTICS:

1 KNOW the audience

2 CREATE a desirable setting

3 SIMPLIFY the message

4 TEACH by Socratic method

5 GENERATE buzz

The tactics are summarized below but are covered in detail in the Bible study here about the modern Hall of Tyrannus and related to opportunities today.

Part 1. He knew his audience

Innovation.

For the first __ years of his life, Apostle Paul was thorough ingrained with Jewish culture ... born and raised in a Jewish home ... studied in Jerusalem under Gamaliel ... temple life with leaders and devote enough to kill Christians. No relations with non-Jews (called Gentiles). Then, for the next __ years, part of the church and part of synagog, not too different. Then at age ___, called to be evangelist to Gentiles. Thrust out into the world of pagan polytheist belief.

What had worked before not working now. In fact, opposition.

In Corinth, 'Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles'' (Acts 18:5-6).

But he tried synagog one more time when he left Corinth and came to Ephesus, probably in an earlier visit to the City earlier that year, 'They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. But as he left, he promised, 'I will come back if it is God’s will.' Then he set sail from Ephesus.' (Acts 18:19-21).

Now he was back in Ephesus and to work through the synagog again, but with results in above inn key verses in yellow box.

Now Paul knew that he had to do something different, relative to his audience (secular people). And that's how we got the Hall of Tyrannus.

Not going anywhere. Clearly define and target. Not same for everyone.

Part 2. He found an appealing venue

Paul had learned a lot about culture. People need to be comfortable in places of spiritual learning.

Not religious.

Neutral place of learning. Image. Smart. Impressive. Quality. Time important.

Some manuscripts add 'from the fifth hour to the tenth,' which would have been 11:00 Am to 4:00 PM.

Greek for 'hall' is schole.

Reasoning (Greek dialegomai) – Acts 17:2,17; 18:4, 19; 19:8, Mark 9:34; Acts 24:12 not disputing. Interacting with listeners, answering objections.

Helpful to evangelize in the public square.

Part 3. He simplified the message

Unlikely taught the Torah. One God. Life change. No rituals and tradition to defend. Compare with other belief systems.

Paul had been used to a very complex system of ritual and traditions. Internal language. Almost impossible for outsiders to understand.

In working through the synagog, he had to carry all that baggage with him and try to explain.

NO POLITICAL

Part 4. He used an appropriate teaching method

Discussio3n. Socratic. Well educated. Respect.

Extended period of time necessary to interact with unbelievers.

Not doing it alone, 'took the disciples with him.' Paul led, but others shared too.

Part 5. He offered it free

Paul attitude. Avoid suspicions. Modern churches have reputation for motivation of trying to get money.

Paul did not solicit payment or reimbursement for his ministry. The book of Acts tells us in many places that he was a tentmaker (leather worker) who covered his own costs. Adverse to solicitations.

Can surmise from farewell words of Paul to the Elders of the church in Ephesus:

'I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'' (Acts 20:34-35).

Travel very time consuming, so probably not enough time to earn enough money for expensive ship travel. Other no doubt helped. As Priscila and Aquila, and room and board. If help, all quietly without solicitation.

Avoid suspicions. Modern churches have reputation for motivation of trying to get money.

Part 6. He created excitement

Multiplication. Excitement. Motivation. Changed lives.

Promoted. Went door to door.

Trading routes. People of influence.

Nothing boring with Paul.

Buzz.

These principles work in personal ministry, too
Apostle Paul put all of these principles together as a package for his Hall of Tyrannus group initiative, but each principle has its own merit and can be used alone or in a cluster by any Christian desiring to be effective in explaining the gospel to doubters and unbelievers in secular culture.

AMAZING RESULTS

Two million people heard the gospel

Amazing results

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Now here is something ...

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

EPILOGUE

His biggest success, then his life cut short

Trouble with silversmiths

Trouble when successful. Interfer with others. Pushback.

Cities decline

Coastal communities flourished and Ephesus especially, enjoy the great prosperity until the rise of Christianity when "earthly" advances in the region where the collected in anticipation of the second coming of Christ. Also ruined port.

Changed lives

Burned books.

One time only

Because Paul back to Jerusalem, then Rome as prisoner.

We can only imagine what would have happened if Paul could continue and refine.

WHAT PAUL TAUGHT

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The linch pin

The Kingdom of God

Quiet because subversive

Nothing like it before

Jews synagogs diaspora. Roman soldiers. All inclusive.

Movement

Exciting. Talk about possibilities.

Appeal to gentiles

Political. But risky as grows.

 The purpose of this site is to help Christians engage in intelligent and persuasive conversations with doubters and unbelievers
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