Article 2019-10 Back to Jerusalem & On to Rome
Chapter 59: Back to Jerusalem & On to Rome
Paul established multi-cultural missionary teams with which he traveled. His example to them was: preaching the Word and performing miracles. He was an example in attitude, ministry, suffering and compassion. He preferred suffering over safety, because suffering guarantees fruit. Even an imprisoned Paul was able to minister freely and effectively. He remained untouched by the corruption of those in authority.
He [Paul] was accompanied by Sopater … from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men … waited for us at Troas (Acts 20:4,5)
After sending his letter to Rome, Paul and his team left for Troas on their way to Jerusalem. For Paul that would be his last visit to the city. He had started his life’s missionary journey on leaving the city for Damascus, to persecute Christians – but never did so because the Lord ‘arrested him’ for His own cause. Now Paul returned to Jerusalem, after taking the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth that were reachable for him. In Jerusalem a new, different era would start for him. Most of his remaining years there would no longer be freedom to travel, evangelize, plant churches, and train new workers. Now came the time for prisons, waiting, praying and writing more letters. Let’s follow Paul on the remainder of his trip.
By the end of Paul’s third missionary journey, his multi-cultural team had grown considerably. Timothy was back and Luke had been with Paul all the time. In Troas they came together again and had a church meeting that lasted all night. A young man, Eutychus, for whom Paul’s sermon was too long, fell out of a window and dropped dead. Paul raised him, which was a tremendous encouragement for the believers.
The farewell meeting with the elders of Ephesus is touching. It gives impressing insights in Paul’s attitude, ministry, willingness to suffer for Christ and his compassion for the churches. One of his most striking ministerial characteristics is that he provided income for himself and his team, through manual labor. He chose to be a giver, not a beggar, which is one of the most convincing proofs of his integrity.
When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered,“Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:12,13)
The last leg of the trip to Jerusalem went via Tyre and Caesarea. In both cities the Holy Spirit warned Paul what was to happen to him in Jerusalem. This warning was interpreted differently by the believers on one side and Paul on the other. The former’s was the general human response of seeking to escape suffering; the latter knew that suffering would bring fruit. Suffering was a common theme in Paul’s ministry. He would endure its full measure in the near future for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike. He valued eternal fruit more to than temporary comfort. There would be little freedom in the next few years, but he would testify to kings and governors, write letters and pray for the churches. No saint has to remain fruitless because of limitations placed upon him or her: each can contribute to spread the gospel and extend the Kingdom.
Paul’s stay in Jerusalem was turbulent: he traveled from one lion’s den to another. The Jews from among the Gentiles stirred up the crowds of Jerusalem and Paul was almost killed, but was saved in the last minute by the Roman army. Never afraid and always willing to take risks for the gospel, he asked and got permission to address the crowd.
From now on, although allowed to speak freely, Paul was no longer free. The Romans had to protect him from the Jews. Firstly he addressed the crowd with his testimony, which was rejected. Then he addressed the Roman commander who wanted to flog him, with legal arguments. Finally he addressed the Sanhedrin, using theological arguments. Pharisees and Sadducees differed in opinion about the resurrection and he used this to confuse them. Twice more the Roman commander rescued him. The Lord encouraged Paul in a few words, but these were very significant because he now knew that he had nothing to fear until his mission to Rome was fulfilled:
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11)
Then he faced a long imprisonment, interrupted by hearings with different dignitaries, none of whom really knew what to do with Paul. The first was Felix. When the Jews presented their case against Paul we are surprised by its weakness. There really was no case against him and the one they made up lacked research, and contained lies, half-truths and assumptions. Paul’s defense was simple, factual and convincing. He was not sentenced, but not released either. Corrupt Felix’s term of service was ending and he hoped to receive a bribe from Paul, but got none. He then left Paul in prison to favor the Jews.
After him, Festus tried to do the same but Paul did not risk another murder attempt. Realizing that he was getting nowhere, with the governors he appealed to Caesar, knowing he had to go to Rome anyway. Later he made his defense before King Herod Agrippa II. In his speech Paul explained the situation, using his testimony, his early years of ministry and ending with his arrest, two years earlier. Felix, who did not follow what went on, burst out in anger. Paul, unruffled, briefly addressed Felix, and then returned his attention to Agrippa in such a personal way that Agrippa backed off. Finally, Paul was sent to Rome with an eventful trip ahead of him.
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me (Acts 27:23-25)
Discussion & dialogue
Discuss with your study group how to handle the following financial situations:
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of multi-national, multi-racial, multi-denominational and multi-generational missionary teams of about 4-8 people
- Discuss what components of Paul’s attitude gave him such tremendous freedom, that he preferred suffering over comfort, was free while in prison, did not care about corruption that worked against him and didn’t even mind to die
- Explain how Paul acted as saving ‘son of promise’ (theme 10) during his last sea voyage and also how themes 3, 4 and 8 feature