September 17, 2015

 

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe

 

 

Topic #IV: The Church Advancing to the End of the Earth (Acts 13-28)   

                    

Subtopic D: The Third Missionary Journey (18:23-21:14) 

                

       Sub-subtopic 3: Paul in Ephesus (19:1-41) 

                                    

                          

Lesson: IV.D.3.g: Paul's Statement of His Plans: Jerusalem & Rome (Acts 19:21-22)                    

 

 

 

Acts 19:21-22 (KJV)

 

21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Luke interrupts his story of Paul’s work in Ephesus briefly in order to tell us about the travel plans of the apostle and then moves on to tell about the riot caused by Demetrius.  He explains that Paul’s aim was to visit Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and finally Rome.  The itinerary is a summary of the remainder of the book of Acts.  Paul did visit all of those places, but he did not anticipate at this time what would happen in Jerusalem or that he would travel to Rome as a prisoner. 

 

In Acts 19:21, we have the first mention of Paul’s plan to go to Rome.  The fulfilling of this plan will be described in the last third of the Book of Acts.  Paul would soon write to the saints in Rome and express his desire to come to them (Romans 1:13-15; 15:22-29).

 

 

 

Commentary

 

21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

 

“After these things were ended”—that is, these experiences which Dr. Luke has recorded here.

 

Two-and-a-half years had now passed since Paul arrived in Ephesus on this, his third missionary journey.  Paul began to feel that his work in Ephesus was about over.  He had no intention of settling down in a resident ministry.  Again the Macedonian call was ranging in his soul.  Rome beckoned as it had always beckoned him (Romans 1:9-15).  Time and time again he had boldly written the name “Rome” on his itinerary.  Time and again the Spirit had overruled, but Paul had never ceased praying that God would prosper his plans to preach the Gospel in the imperial city so that he might be a help and blessing to the church there, too.

 

Not that Paul planned to stay in Rome.  His basic missionary principle, not to build on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20), made such a thought impossible. (According to tradition, Peter had already visited Rome.)   There was already a thriving church at Rome though Paul had not founded it (perhaps to his secret and sorrowful regret; how he would have loved to have had that star in his crown).  No!  Rome would be a steppingstone to further fields.  For instance, Spain called him (Romans 15:24, 28)—the most westerly boundary of the Roman Empire.  Beyond that his eye doubtless looked to the north, to the Germanic tribes, to the tiny islands of Britain, to the wild, untamed, and untutored tribes beyond the bounds of Roman rule.

 

Luke’s account of Paul’s desire to visit Macedonia and Achaia corresponds to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:5-6, and the plan to go to Rome is in agreement with Romans 1:15 and 15:24.  At one point During his Ephesian mission Paul spoke of his desire to carry on a mission in Spain and the western portion of the empire, probably hoping that Rome would sponsor him in the undertaking (Romans 15:24, 28).  The phrase “purposed in the spirit” may refer either to Paul’s spirit (AV) or to the leading of the Holy Spirit (RSV).

 

The Author of Acts does not tell us why Paul was interested in going to Jerusalem, but from the epistles we know that his purpose was to deliver a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.  Through this charitable gesture by the Gentiles, he hoped to alleviate the tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians. He explained to the Roman Christians that a collection for the Jerusalem Christians necessitated his going there before proceeding to Rome (Romans 15:25-31)—“After I have been there,” he said, “I must also see Rome.” This also explains the reference to his visiting Macedonia and Achaia.  Paul made it a point to revisit and strengthen his congregations, but in this particular instance his epistles reveal that he was particularly preoccupied with the collection on this final visit to Macedonia and Achaia.

 

Paul’s decision to go to Rome marks a major transition in the story line of Acts.  From this point on, the narrative will continually drive toward Rome as Paul’s final destination.  For the more immediate context of Acts his determination to go to Jerusalem begins an additional emphasis, his journey to Jerusalem which occupies Acts 20:1-21:16.  In many ways it parallels Jesus, “who resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

 

 

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

 

Paul sent Timothy and Erastus (probably not the Erastus of Romans 16:23) to Macedonia, but Luke does not tell us the purpose of the trip.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells the church in Corinth that he will send one of his oldest friends, Timothy, to them (4:17; 16:10), but he expected him to return to Ephesus (16:11).  Apparently, this is not the same trip to which Luke refers above. 

 

On the supposition that Philippians was written from Ephesus—which is in no sense established as a certainty or supported by all scholars—perhaps Timothy’s visit is referred to in Philippians 2:19.  The last time we met him was when he returned from Macedonia to rejoin Paul at Corinth (18:5).  He seems to have been with Paul at Ephesus and also to have run another errand for him to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10-11).  The other man was Erastus.  Some equate him with the man by that name who was at one time the treasurer of the city of Corinth.  We cannot be sure this is the same man, but if he is, he gave up a position of considerable power and prestige to become one of Paul’s missionary team members (Romans 16:23). We suppose that Timothy and Erastus were sent into Macedonia to make preparations for the collection of money which Paul planned to take to the poor saints in Jerusalem.  It was probably at this time that he wrote 1 Corinthians (about a.d. 56).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Free Website with Yola.