Saying goodbye

Paul’s third missionary journey concluded with a series of sad goodbyes that escalated into a gut wrenching, heart breaking standoff between Paul and a prophet named Agubus who foretold of his arrest in Jerusalem. It says in Acts 21:13, “Then Paul answered, ‘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'” (NKJV). Paul’s determination to fulfill his ministry’s objective of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world caused him to ignore the counsel of his own elders and to separate himself from the people he dearly loved. The only explanation for his irrational behavior was that Paul was convinced that God expected him to eventually end up in Rome.

The final weeks, days, and even hours of Paul’s last missionary journey were choreographed around the collection and delivery of an offering to the Christians in Jerusalem that were suffering financial hardship as a result of their faith in Christ. After a riot in Ephesus, Paul went to Macedonia and Greece, then to Philippi and Troas. “Although Paul was in a hurry to arrive at Jerusalem by Pentecost, he remained seven days at Troas. This might have been because of a ship schedule, but more than likely the delay was in order to meet with the believers on the first day of the week to break bread” (Note on Acts 20:6).

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. (Acts 21:7-11)

The miracle Paul performed of raising Eutychus from the dead, not only confirmed his apostleship, but also seemed to testify to the fact that Paul was at the height of his ministerial career when he was arrested in Jerusalem. Like Jesus, who suffered the greatest persecution during the final days of his ministry, Paul was considered an extreme threat and hated by the Jews in Jerusalem. It was his staunch commitment to preaching the gospel that put Paul in danger of losing his life when he returned to the city where Jesus was crucified.

Paul told the Ephesians, “And now behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of grace of God. And now behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” (Acts 21:22-24).

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