3. The Apostle plans to Return to Jerusalem, and then go on to Rome (Acts 19:21-22)
21 Now after these things had ended, Paul determined 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 Having sent into Macedonia two of those who served him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
The word Asia was used by the Romans to designate one of their regions in Anatolia, of which Ephesus was the capital and center of communications. Later, this word “Asia” was given to recognize the whole Asian continent, whose exact boundaries, regions, and details had been determined only about a century earlier.
In the Anatolian region first called Asia, Paul preached. There he spiritually fed those who hungered for righteousness for about two and a half years. During this time a living church was planted, whose lights of love shone all around it. The gospel of salvation reached even to the last village of the province. Ephesus became the third main center to send the gospel to Rome, following Jerusalem and Antioch. Paul wrote from this capital his two zealous epistles to the Corinthians. He suffered from their problems, and prayed to the Lord to enable the brothers there to discern the spirits, and free them from mental and psychological complexes.
During his stay in this city Paul took up a collection for the needy church of Jerusalem. He had the Greek and Anatolian churches participate in this important project, as we read in his second epistle (chapters 8-9). This city, in which John the apostle shepherded the flocks of Christ, continued to play a prominent role in the history of the early church for hundred of years. The living Lord spoke of it to John in his Revelation as the first and mother of all churches (Revelation 2:1-7). Several important councils were held in Ephesus, including the third Ecumenical Council (A.D. 431) at the time of the Byzantine Caesars. Paul thanked Christ for his triumph in Asia Minor at the end of his ministry there, in A.D. 55. The Holy Spirit clarified to the apostle of the Gentiles that he had to return shortly to Jerusalem, to link the new church with the mother church in Jerusalem.
But Paul wished to see the beloved members of the Greek churches once again. He planned through many prayers, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to travel first westward to Rome, and then eastward to Jerusalem. The apostle knew that the Holy City would not mark the close of his missionary journeys, for the Holy Spirit revealed to him that Rome would be his final goal. The Gospel was rushing from Jerusalem to Rome and from the center of the Holy Spirit to the center of secular authority, in order that the arm of righteousness might overcome all other injustices. Christ asks every town, party, and religion to submit to Him. He is Lord, and every knee shall bow before Him, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11). The glorification of this unique name was the motive and driving force in Paul’s missionary journeys.
Paul was not an isolated genius in the kingdom of God. He served with the participation of many brothers, who together represented the spiritual body of Christ. Not one of the brothers can serve at all times, not without his other brothers. We confess, therefore, that we need your prayers and fellowship, just as you need our service and invocations. We pray for you. Do you also practice prayer for us? Paul sent Timothy, who had served him faithfully as his son, to prepare his journey. Now he was about to pave the way for Paul’s great parting journey.
PRAYER: We thank you our Lord Christ, for neither worldly authority nor Satan can interrupt Your triumphal procession. You have admitted us into the expanses of Your kingdom. Teach us to obey the voice of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may run wherever You wish, and stop wherever and whenever You direct.
- Why did Paul have to go to Rome?