Monday, April 22, 2013

Acts 20 - Paul in Macedonia and Greece

LINK: Acts 20

Paul's Third Missionary Journey, returning to Asia Minor and Greece c AD53-58

After the riot in Ephesus, Paul headed toward Macedonia (5). Titus was supposed to come to Troas (9) and give a report about the problems in Corinth, but he did not show up (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). But they met in Macedonia where Titus was able to give a good report about the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:5-7). 

After Macedonia, Paul and company spent three months in Corinth, Achaia (6, Greece). There he wrote the Epistle to the Romans.

While visiting the various churches, Paul wanted to encourage and strengthen the saints so that they would stand firm in the Lord and be a testimony to those who did not know Him. He was also making a collection to deliver to the believers in need in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-27; 1 Corinthians 16:1-9; 2 Corinthians 8-9). All the men mentioned who accompanied Paul on this journey (Acts 20:4) came from the different churches he had planted in Asia and carried an offering from their respective churches (2 Corinthians 8:1-21).

Paul did not sail from Corinth because of a plot to kill him (12:3). So, he returned through Macedonia, and you can follow the numbers of the map to locate all the cities he visited. It is interesting to note that the "us" and "we" in 20:5, 6 indicate that Luke, the author of Acts, joined the group. He was probably in Philippi and joined Paul for the last section of his journey. 

In Troas, they worshiped on the "Lord's Day" on the first day of the week (Sunday) and not on the Jewish Sabbath day (Saturday). This was the day Jesus rose from the dead (Revelation 1:10) so the early church practiced this. They followed the pattern of Acts 2:42 where they . . .  

1) Broke bread - This refers to the "Lord's Supper" where they remembered the bread as Jesus' body and the wine as His blood.  
2) Listened to the Apostle Paul's teaching. 
3) Had fellowship - This included a "love feast."  
4) Prayer is not mentioned, but I am sure they did!

Oh it also included a miraculous rising of Eutychus ("Lucky") from the dead after he fell asleep and out the window! 

Again, you can follow the numbers of the map to trace Paul's journey. He skipped Ephesus because he was racing to get back to Jerusalem by Pentecost which is 50 days after Passover. But he did call the elders of the Ephesian church to nearby Miletus (14) to bid them a final farewell and review the history of his ministry among them. It is so poignant and worth reading again and again. The "savage wolves" he warns them about in 20:29 were false teachers who would teach false doctrine. They are repeatedly referred to in the New Testament (1 Timothy 1:6-7; 19-20; 4:1-7; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:17-18; 3:1-9; Revelation 2:1-7). Paul also tells them that the Holy Spirit had warned him that prison and hardship awaited him. 

Yet, he kept on going. 


I wrote a whole reflection, but it was a bit whiny. So, I deleted it. The contrast between the sacrifices made by Paul who considered his "life worth nothing" and selfish believers who take, take, take and never think about giving of themselves astounds me. I will not go into detail, but I want to be like Paul rather than a selfish believer. Pray for my attitude right now. It is not very good. 

How about you? Are you willing to "endure hardship like a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3) to see the gospel of God's grace proclaimed throughout the whole world? Pray for a selflessness like Paul's. 

2014 Update: I have no remembrance of this (written in 2013). I have turned a corner in my attitude toward selfish believers! I am taking everyone as they are these days, and I like that. I will say that my husband and I are investing in a group of dynamic believers who are so other-centered it astounds me! 


Lord, give us a heart that gives, gives, and gives some more. Amen. 
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