Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 20:1-12

During his time in Macedonia, Paul was continuing to collect the donations for the Christians suffering in Jerusalem. (These are the same donations we read about while looking at 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8) It's also believed that Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians while in Macedonia. The span of time represented in verse 2 is unclear, but it's interesting that Luke summarizes Paul's activity at this point with the word "encouragement". Paul is known to us, because of his writing, as a strong teacher. But more than just an intellectual, he was also a source of great encouragement to other believers. (v.1-2)

He stayed in Greece for three months, at which time he may have written Romans. In addition to many Jews wanting to kill Paul for what he was teaching about Jesus, he was also transporting large amounts of donated money at this time, increasing his appeal as a target for both murder and theft. Paul caught wind of the plans against him and made a quick change to his travel plans to avoid his capture or murder. (v.3)

For his trip to Macedonia, Paul would be joined by several men who met him at Troas. These men were likely the representatives of the churches that Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:23. (v.4-5)

Paul took time from his schedule to stay in Philippi for the Feast Of Unleavened Bread, which begins with Passover and lasts seven days. This detail is a reminder that Paul did not throw away his Jewish heritage or consider the ceremonies of the Old Covenant to be worthless. Rather, they likely became more meaningful to him in some ways because of what Christ had revealed and done for the Jews and all of humanity which fulfills the requirements of the Old Covenant. (v.6)

Matthew 5:17- Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Paul was a man who knew the value of time. He knew his time in Troas was short and so prolonged the time he spent talking to and teaching the people there. He spoke long into the night and apparently wasn't quite captivating enough to keep everyone present awake. A young man fell from the window of the upstairs room Paul was speaking in and was dead when they came to pick him up. But when Paul bent over him, his life returned. (v.7-10)

When God performs a miracle, it's never to simply dazzle, but has a practical purpose that we can almost always immediately see. In this case, this miracle validated Paul as a representative of Christ, and also allowed him to continue speaking, teaching and encouraging until morning, instead of having his remaining available time taken by the inevitable distractions of a sudden death. (v.11-12)

Next- A Farewell And A Warning

Coffee House Question- What form has "encouragement" taken for you when it has been most valuable and what form does it take when you "encourage" others?

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