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Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem
Paul greatly desired to reach Jerusalem before the Passover, as he would thus have an opportunity to meet those who should come from all parts of the world to attend the feast. Ever he cherished the hope that in some way he might be instrumental in removing the prejudice of his unbelieving countrymen, so that they might be led to accept the precious light of the gospel. He also desired to meet the church at Jerusalem, and bear to them the gifts sent by the Gentile churches to the poor brethren in Judea. And by this visit he hoped to bring about a firmer union between the Jewish and the Gentile converts to the faith.
Having completed his work at Corinth, he determined to sail directly for one of the ports on the coast of Palestine. All the arrangements had been made, and he was about to step on board the ship, when he was told of a plot laid by the Jews to take his life. In the past these opposers of the This chapter is based on Acts 20:4 to 21:16.
faith had been foiled in all their efforts to put an end to the apostle's work.
The success attending the preaching of the gospel aroused the anger of the Jews anew. From every quarter were coming accounts of the spread of the new doctrine, by which Jews were released from the observance of the rites of the ceremonial law, and Gentiles were admitted to equal privileges with the Jews as children of Abraham. Paul, in his preaching at Corinth, presented the same arguments which he urged so forcibly in his epistles. His emphatic statement, “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision,'' 1 garded by his enemies as daring blasphemy, and they determined that his voice should be silenced.
Upon receiving warning of the plot, Paul decided to go around by way of Macedonia. His plan to reach Jerusalem in time for the Passover services had to be given up, but he hoped to be there at Pentecost.
Accompanying Paul and Luke were “Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.” Paul had with him a large sum of money from the Gentile churches, which he purposed to place in the hands of the brethren in charge of the work in Judea; and because of this he made arrangements for these representative brethren from various contributing churches, to accompany him to Jerusalem.
At Philippi Paul tarried to keep the Passover. Only Luke remained with him, the other members of the company passing on to Troas to await him there. The Philippians were the most loving and true-hearted of the apostle's converts, and during the eight days of the feast he enjoyed peaceful and happy communion with them.
1 Col. 3:11.
Sailing from Philippi, Paul and Luke reached their companions at Troas five days later, and remained for seven days with the believers in that place.
Upon the last evening of his stay the brethren "came together to break bread." The fact that their beloved teacher was about to depart, had called together a larger company than usual. They assembled in an “upper chamber” on the third story. There, in the fervency of his love and solicitude for them, the apostle preached until midnight.
In one of the open windows sat a youth named Eutychus. In this perilous position he went to sleep, and fell to the court below. At once all was alarm and confusion. The youth was taken up dead, and many gathered about him with cries and mourning. But Paul, passing through the frightened company, embraced him, and offered up an earnest prayer that God would restore the dead to life. His petition was granted. Above the sound of mourning and lamentation the apostle's voice was heard, saying, “Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him."
With rejoicing the believers again assembled in the upper chamber. They partook of the communion, and then Paul “talked a long while, even till break of day.”
The ship on which Paul and his companions were to continue their journey, was about to sail, and the brethren hastened on board. The apostle himself, however, chose to take the nearer route by land between Troas and Assos, meeting his companions
at the latter city. This gave him a short season for meditation and prayer. The difficulties and dangers connected with his coming visit to Jerusalem, the attitude of the church there toward him and his work, as well as the condition of the churches and the interests of the gospel work in other fields, were subjects of earnest, anxious thought; and he took advantage of this special opportunity to seek God for strength and guidance.
As the travelers sailed southward from Assos, they passed the city of Ephesus, so long the scene of the apostle's labors. Paul had greatly desired to visit the church there; for he had important instruction and counsel to give them. consideration he determined to hasten on; for he desired, “if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.” On arriving at Miletus, however, about thirty miles from Ephesus, he learned that it might be possible to communicate with the church before the ship should sail. He therefore immediately sent a message to the elders, urging them to hasten to Miletus, that he might see them before continuing his journey.
In answer to his call they came, and he spoke to them strong, touching words of admonition and farewell. “Ye know," he said, “from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testi
fying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul had ever exalted the divine law. He had shown that in the law there is no power to save men from the penalty of disobedience. Wrong-doers must repent of their sins, and humble themselves before God, whose just wrath they have incurred by breaking His law; and they must also exercise faith in the blood of Christ as their only means of pardon. The Son of God had died as their sacrifice, and had ascended to heaven to stand before the Father as their advocate. By repentance and faith they might be freed from the condemnation of sin, and through the grace of Christ be enabled henceforth to render obedience to the law of God.
“And now, behold,” Paul continued, “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 the grace of God. And now,
And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
Paul had not designed to bear this testimony, but while he was speaking, the Spirit of inspiration came upon him, confirming his fears that this would be his last meeting with his Ephesian brethren.
“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not