Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Acts 18:18-23

After Paul's encounter with Gallio, he stayed in Corinth "many days longer" (v.18). After that, it was time for him to leave. It seems that this time, Paul was very deliberate in his leaving. It was time for him to go to a new city, and he knew exactly which city that would be. It also seems that this time, Paul was intentional in his strategy. He had a plan. He would go to Ephesus. First he asked Priscilla and Aquila to leave Corinth and move to Ephesus. He wanted them to go ahead of him, most likely to get settled and for Aquila to get his business going.

I've always been very fascinated by this story. The Corinthian church had been with Paul for over 18 months, and now he was leaving. Not only was he leaving, he was taking Timothy, Silas,Priscilla, and Aquila. What would they do? We have to remember, though, that they were not the only leaders of this church. If Paul could raise up leaders in just a couple of months, imagine the leadership that was in Corinth. The names we know are:
The lesson once again is that Paul trusted the Holy Spirit to grow the church and to raise up leaders.

Before boarding a ship bound for Ephesus, Paul cut off his hair. It is not completely clear why he did this. He most likely was coming to the end of a Nazarite vow that he had taken earlier. Part of the Nazarite vow forbid cutting one's hair (Numbers 6:2-5). At the end of the vow, the one taking the vow was called to shave their head, then dedicate it as an offering to the Jerusalem (Numbers 6:13-21). That is why Paul needed to go to Jerusalem.

Their first stop was Ephesus. They stayed there for a few days, long enough for Paul to spend a Sabbath at the synagogue. He reasoned with them there about the Messiah, but when he was asked to return the following week, he told them of his vow. They understood that he must go to Jerusalem. He did tell them that he hoped to return to them soon.

After leaving Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus, Paul, Silas and Timothy boarded a ship headed for Caesarea. Many scholars believe that this voyage marked Paul's second shipwreck experience (2 Cor. 11:25). From there they walked the fifty miles to Jerusalem. After fulfilling his vow and spending some time with the church, Paul, Silas and Timothy journeyed north back to Antioch.

This marked the end of Paul's Second Missionary Journey. The year was AD 52.

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