Mar. 20. 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 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, “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.