Salvation is free, ... but discipleship will cost you your life. — (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
The riot covered in the previous chapter put an end to any further usefulness for Paul in Ephesus. In verse one Paul arrived in Macedonia, in a state of spiritual depression. It seems that at this time he had evangelized the province of Illyricum, on the Adriatic Sea across from Italy (Romans 15:19). However depression didn’t keep Paul from his task of winning people to the Lord Jesus. So often depression is Satan’s tool to keep our minds on ourselves and off the need of a perishing world.
From Macedonia Paul went to Greece, and especially to Corinth. There he wrote his master piece, the epistle to the Romans. Every year a pilgrim ship went from the city of Cendrea to Palestine to take Jewish people to the annual festivals. Paul had planned to sail on one of these ships, but word leaked out about this, and the Jews decided this would be a golden opportunity to get rid of him. However Paul uncovered their plot, changed his plans, and headed back north to Macedonia (v. 3). In all their plots and attempts on Paul’s life we see the protecting hand of God. Over the centuries of the Christian church, the lives of God’s servants often have been in danger. Many have been martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. Others have suffered intensely. In fact, the church has always been at its purest when it has had to face suffering and martyrdom for Christ.
There was a group of men from the various regions Paul had evangelized, surrounding him (v. 4). He must have been very excited as he discipled these men and saw them begin to grow in the things of the Lord and start to move out for Him. He was reaping what he had sowed. The chief reason for Paul’s traveling with such an escort was the collection of money that he had been accumulating from his various Gentile churches for the poor in the Jerusalem church. These men undoubtedly came from the various churches that had contributed to this project. Here we see one of those missionary principles that so characterized the book of Acts. Paul was always careful to be above reproach and suspicion when it came to matters of money. He surrounded himself with safeguards to ensure that he could never be accused of misappropriation of funds.
If people try to hinder my witness for Christ, I do not need to be fearful of them. God can take care of me and protect me as He did Paul. Just like Paul, I will reap what I sow, so I need to sow bountifully in order to reap bountifully. A part of this involves discipleship.
After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.
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Acts 17:1-9Paul & Silas – Trust God’s Strategy for Ministry
Acts 17:10-15Obstacles that Hinder the Work of the Lord
Acts 17:16-34Religion ... Ridicule ... Results
Acts 18:1-4Paul Adapts to His Audience
Acts 18:5-11Opposition Enhances Ministry Results
Acts 18:12-17Paul’s Roman Citizenship On Trial
Acts 18:18-23God Works His Will in His Servants
Acts 18:24-28Tactfulness–Words That Work Mightily
Acts 19:1-7The Holy Spirit is a Person
Acts 19:8-16Miracles Performed by Paul for Authentication
Acts 19:17-22Beware of Cult Practices
Acts 19:21-41Results of Religious Greed
Acts 20:1-6Discipleship Despite Difficulties
Acts 20:7-12When, Where, How & How Long to Worship
Acts 20:13-21Paul–An Example of Faithfulness
Acts 20:22-24Paul’s Determination To Go To Jerusalem
Acts 20:25-31Paul’s Warning to the Ephesian Elders
Acts 20:32-38Paul Shares About Giving
Acts 21:1-9Paul Warned By the Christians
Acts 21:10-16Paul’s Determination & Warning from Agabus
Acts 21:17-26Compromise Recommended but Refuted
Acts 21:27-36Disaster is the End Result of Compromise
Acts 21:37-40Boldness At the Barracks
Acts 22:1-5Paul Defense of His Heritage and Ministry
Acts 22:6-16Paul’s Salvation Testimony
Acts 22:17-21The Jewish Crowd’s Prejudice Against Gentiles
Acts 22:22-30Paul–A Roman Citizen
Acts 23:1-5Respect is Always Appropriate
Acts 23:6-11Comfort In Times of Trial
Acts 23:12-22A Plot to Kill Paul
Acts 23:23-35God’s Timing is Very Evident to Paul