Acts 20:1-16 Cooperation in Fulfilling God’s Mission

It is noteworthy that Paul hardly ever travelled alone, and that when he was alone, he expressed his longing for human companionship, for example in Athens and in his final Roman imprisonment. That he favoured team work is specially clear during his missionary journeys. On his first we was accompanied by Barnabas and John Mark (until the latter defected), on his second by Silas and later Timothy, then Luke, and now at the en of his third Luke supplies his readers with a list of Paul’s friends. In most cases Luke supplies these men’s home as well as their name in order both to identify them clearly and also (probably) to indicate how they represented the different regions which were taking part in the collection. Thus, Macedonia was represented by Sopater (Berea), Aristarchus and Secundus (Thessalonica) and perhaps Luke himself (Philippi); Galatia by Gaius (Derbe) and Timothy (Lystra); and Asia by Tychius and Trophimus (Ephesus). Achaia is missing, but could have been represented by Paul himself, and/or by Titus.

In our minds, as we reflect on Paul’s associates, should be the threefold witness which they bear. The first is to the growth, unity, and even (one might say) ‘catholicity’ of the church. Already Christian leaders from inland coastal Asia Minor, from both sides of the Aegean, and from the northern and southern halves of Greece, know that they belong to the same church and in consequence co-operate in the same cause. Secondly, they bear witness to the fruitfulness of Paul’s missionary expeditions, since Derbe and Lystra were evangelized during his first, Berea and Thessalonica during his second, and Ephesus during his third. All nine men must have been the fruits of mission. But they then became the agents of mission. For, thirdly, they give evidence of the missionary-mindedness of the young Christian communities, which already gave up some of their best local leadership to the wider work and witness of Christ’s church.

John Stott

Heart Preparation
Read Acts 20:1-16. Take a moment to consider the list of names in verse 4. What is the significance of this men joining Paul in the mission? How are you doing at joining in fulfilling God’s mission and calling others to join in it as well?

Posted on: March 6, 2014 - 10:00PM

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