Sep. 18. Concluding Remarks to Roman Christians Rom. 15:14-16:27
As Paul concluded the main emphasis of his letter it was his prayer that the Romans would be filled with joy and hope from God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul expressed confidence in the Romans that they had the strength to encourage and admonish one another. They had received the signs and wonders earlier that were necessary to establish their faith. Like people everywhere, they needed to be reminded of the basic principles of obedience and Christian living.
As he began to conclude his letter, Paul pointed out his policy of not preaching or building on foundations where others had established churches. In the case of the Roman church, he felt a strong desire to impart some spiritual gifts on them also. He reminded them again that as an apostle to the Gentiles, he most definitely wanted to visit them.
Since Paul had completed most of the work in the areas where he had established churches, he was prepared to go by Rome as he traveled to Spain. Spain was the next mission field that he had determined to work. He planned to make that trip after delivering the contribution from Asia, Macedonia and Achaia to the church in Jerusalem.
Paul expected confrontations with the Jews in Jerusalem and asked the Romans to pray for him as he made his journey from Corinth to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome and Spain.
As was his custom, Paul closed his letter by greeting various special individuals in the Roman church. He also sent greetings from other Christians who were with him at the time.
Phoebe received specific mention because she was the courier of this letter. She also would probably need assistance with her business matters while in Rome.
Priscilla and Aquila had been very prominent in Paul’s work. They had assisted him on his first visit to Corinth; had accompanied him to Ephesus; risked their own lives for him and had taught Apollos more completely regarding the baptism of Christ. At the time of Paul’s Roman letter, they had returned to Rome and had a congregation of the church meeting in their house.
Many of the people that Paul greeted had been converted by him. Some had been converted before he had become a Christian. Probably some of these Christians had been converted on Pentecost. Whatever their background, they had all been involved in Paul’s previous works.
It was the custom to greet one another with a kiss. It still is in some cultures today. Paul admonished the Romans to use a holy kiss—a warm affection for brothers and sisters in Christ. In our society, one would greet another with a holy handshake—a warm affectionate greeting.
Paul had used a large portion of the body of his letter to point out the errors and dangers of keeping portions of the Law of Moses in their worship. As he closed the letter, he gave the Romans another reminder and warning against following the Judaizing teachers. Those people were to be identified and avoided.
In addition to the greetings of Paul to various Christians in Rome, several of the people with him in Corinth sent greetings to the church. Timothy was the most notable of those mentioned. Tertius, the penman who wrote the letter for Paul also sent his personal greetings.
Paul ended his letter with an invocation, “To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”
Sep. 19. Third Missionary Journey Concluded Acts 20:2-21:17
With the contribution to the Jerusalem church in hand, Paul left Corinth. He had planned to go directly from Corinth to Syria, but because of a plot by the Jews, they traveled through Berea, Thessalonica and Philippi in Macedonia and on to Troas. Paul had sent Timothy and several other men ahead to meet him at Troas. Luke had rejoined Paul’s company at Philippi.
Since the Jews would be observing the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, Paul probably remained in Philippi long enough to preach to as many Jews as possible before leaving for Troas.
Paul stayed a week in Troas and met with the church to worship on the first day of the week. The purpose of the church’s meeting was to break bread (observe the Lord’s Supper)—not to hear Paul or someone else preach. However, since the church was assembled, it was proper and convenient to hear God’s word proclaimed.
The church did, indeed, hear the word preached! Paul continued speaking until midnight and Eutychus who went to sleep fell out of a third-story window and died from the fall. This gave Paul an opportunity to show the power of God. He fell on the dead young man, embraced him and said that his life was in him. After raising Eutychus from the dead, Paul had many instructions for the church and continued to talk until daybreak.
Paul departed from Troas and walked a few miles to Assos where he met his co-workers whom he had sent on a ship. They sailed from there to Mitylene, passed near the island Chios and arrived at Samos, another island between Ephesus and Miletus. From Samos the ship sailed on to Miletus.
The Feast of Pentecost was only a few days away and Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem at that time. It was not his purpose to observe the Jewish Pentecost in a religious service, but to present evidence of the unity of Gentile and Jewish Christians to the multitude of Jews who would be there. He had the contribution of aid for Jewish Christians that had been sent by Gentile Christians.
Upon arriving at Miletus, Paul sent for the elders of the Ephesian church, which was only a few miles away. In his farewell message to these men, he reviewed the three years that he had been with them. He reminded them of their responsibilities of keeping themselves pure and caring for and feeding (teaching) the members.
Paul concluded their meeting with a warning to watch for false teachers, and that some of them would even teach false doctrine. After kneeling in prayer, weeping and kissing Paul, the elders went with him to the ship to continue his voyage to Jerusalem.
Luke states that Paul and his companions sailed from Miletus to Cos, Rhodes and Patara. They changed ships (probably to a larger open-sea type vessel) at Patara and sailed toward Phoenicia passing by Cyprus and docked about three hundred fifty miles later in Tyre. While in Tyre, they visited with some of the disciples there for seven days while their ship was being unloaded.
As Paul and his group prepared to leave Tyre, the families that they had visited went with them to the shore. After a prayer, they boarded the ship and the disciples returned home. Notice that the people traveling with Paul and those whom they met were just like we are today with the same feelings, emotions and fears that we experience.
The next stop for Paul and his company was at Ptolemais. They stayed with the brethren there for one day and departed for Caesarea. Upon their arrival in Caesarea, they came to the home of Philip the evangelist and stayed many days. He was not one of the twelve apostles, but was probably one of the seven deacons who was chosen to help care for the Grecian widows more than twenty years earlier.
Paul was in great danger. The Holy Spirit had warned him; his plans to go directly from Corinth to Syria and Jerusalem had to be changed; and the disciples in Tyre had urged him not to go to Jerusalem. At Caesarea, the prophet Agabus came from Judea and took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet. He said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”
Upon hearing the warning from Agabus, Paul’s traveling companions pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. As a man of strong courage and convictions, he refused to turn back. He replied, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Are we that strong? Are we ready to die for Christ? Paul’s purpose in life was to serve. If it cost him his life, his attitude was, “SO WHAT?”
When Paul’s companions saw that he was determined to continue to Jerusalem, they said, “The will of the Lord be done.” That should be the attitude of every Christian.
Paul completed his third missionary journey when he arrived at Jerusalem. He did not complete a circle and end at Antioch as he had done on the first two journeys.