Good morning! Today’s passage (Acts 19-20) reads like chapters from a travelogue, describing Paul’s travels in Asia and Jerusalem, then preparing to go on his way to Rome. I confess that I find nothing deeply stimulating in these stories, but take note of several things. First, observe that Paul contends with other populist movements such as that baptizing “into John’s baptism” (presumably John the Baptist). Christianity not only has to define itself against a hostile Jewish elite and polytheist Greek culture, but other purity movements as well. Second, this Christian movement, growing swiftly, continues to arouse resistance such as that which gathers in the theater of Ephesus in a riot. Paul wisely accepts the suggestion that he stay away for the good of everyone, and the riot melts away after a stern address by the unnamed but brave town clerk.
I’ve always appreciated the humor in Acts 20 where long-winded Paul goes on speaking to the crowd very late into the night, and drowsy Eutychus falls out of the window to his death. (That’s when you know you’ve been preaching too long!) What makes this a comic episode instead of tragic is that Paul brings the dead man back to life. Elsewhere, while meeting with elders of Ephesus, he foretells the challenges and trials “in every city” before him. Yet “as a captive to the Spirit” he feels beholden to walk this path, challenging though it may be. Paul says his farewell to these leaders he has ministered among for many months. His tender farewell includes these touching words: “I commend you to God and to the message of his grace”. This reminds me of other leavetakings I’ve had recently, and though Paul’s words are unusually formal for our day, people of faith could do worse than to imitate these when we take solemn leave of one another.
Here ends the commentary; let true learning now commence. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Acts 21-23. Thanks for reading!