“After we tore ourselves away from them, we put out to sea, and sailing a straight course, we came to Cos, on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went aboard, and put out to sea. After we sighted Cyprus and left it behind on our port side, we sailed on to Syria and put in at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. After we located the disciples, we stayed there seven days” (Acts 21:1-4 NET).
One thing that becomes very apparent as we read about Paul’s travels is that he desired to be with Christians. It wasn’t that Paul wasn’t with Christians all the time – he was travelling with a group of at least seven other Christians (see Acts 20:4 and the “we” statements in Acts 21, indicating that Luke was also with him).
But notice as they traveled that their next stopping place after leaving Ephesus was Tyre. What did Paul do? He spent time searching out and locating the Christians in that town. That they stayed for seven days tells us that they were able to be with the Christians there for their Sunday worship. G. Campbell Morgan made an apt comment about this:
“These travellers, reaching Tyre, sought out the disciples. Do Christian travellers today, calling at Tyre, seek out the disciples? Is it not too often the case that when travellers are far away from home they try and miss the disciples for that occasion, and see and meet everyone and everything else?” (G. Campbell Morgan. The Acts of the Apostles, 1924: 371).
How many Christians, when they are away from home, perhaps on vacation, also take a vacation from the Lord? Is it that difficult today to discover where the Christians are meeting? If Paul could do it without telephones and the internet, surely we can put out a little effort so that we can be with other Christians and worship God.
As we continue to read about Paul’s journey to Jerusalem, we discover that this was, indeed, his regular practice. They traveled from Tyre to Ptolemais and what did they do? “And when we had greeted the brothers, we stayed with them for one day. On the next day we left and came to Caesarea and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him…After these days we got ready and started up to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Caesarea came along with us too, and brought us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple from the earliest times, with whom we were to stay” (Acts 21:7-16).
Why did Paul, even when he was just passing through, seek out Christians in that town? I believe he understood the need for fellowship, both encouraging the Christians in that town and also receiving encouragement. Paul realized the need for Christians to encourage and help each other.
“There is the very wonderful fact that wherever Paul went he found a little Christian community waiting to welcome him. If that was true in Paul’s time it is still truer today. One of the great privileges of belonging to the Church is the fact that no matter where a man goes, to the very ends of the earth he will find in every place a community of like-minded people into which he may enter. The man who is within the family of the Church is better equipped with friends than any other man in all the world” (William Barclay. The Acts of the Apostles, 1955: 168).
How very true! Let’s learn to treasure times we can spend with other Christians.
Readings for next week:
3 October – Acts 26
4 October – Acts 27
5 October – Acts 28
6 October – John 1:1-34
7 October – John 1:35-51