Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem
PAUL greatly desired to reach Jerusalem before the Passover as he would
thus have an opportunity to meet those who should come from all parts of
the world to attend the feast. Ever he cherished the hope that in some way
he might be instrumental in removing the prejudice of his unbelieving
countrymen, so that they might be led to accept the precious light of the
gospel. He also desired to meet the church at Jerusalem and bear to them
the gifts sent by the Gentile churches to the poor brethren in Judea. And
by this visit he hoped to bring about a firmer union between the Jewish
and the Gentile converts to the faith.
Having completed his work at Corinth, he determined to sail directly
for one of the ports on the coast of Palestine. All the arrangements had
been made, and he was about to step on board the ship, when he was told of
a plot laid by the Jews to take his life. In the past these opposers of
faith had been foiled in all their efforts to put an end to the
The success attending the preaching of the gospel aroused the anger of
the Jews anew. From every quarter were coming accounts of the spread of
the new doctrine by which Jews were released from the observance of the
rites of the ceremonial law and Gentiles were admitted to equal privileges
with the Jews as children of Abraham. Paul, in his preaching at Corinth,
presented the same arguments which he urged so forcibly in his epistles.
His emphatic statement, "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision
nor uncircumcision" (Colossians 3:11), was regarded by his enemies as
daring blasphemy, and they determined that his voice should be silenced.
Upon receiving warning of the plot, Paul decided to go around by way of
Macedonia. His plan to reach Jerusalem in time for the Passover services
had to be given up, but he hoped to be there at Pentecost.
Accompanying Paul and Luke were "Sopater of Berea; and of the
Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus;
and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus." Paul had with him a large sum
of money from the Gentile churches, which he purposed to place in the
hands of the brethren in charge of the work in Judea; and because of this
he made arrangements for these representative brethren from various
contributing churches, to accompany him to Jerusalem.
At Philippi Paul tarried to keep the Passover. Only Luke remained with
him, the other members of the company
passing on to Troas to await him there. The Philippians were the most
loving and truehearted of the apostle's converts, and during the eight
days of the feast he enjoyed peaceful and happy communion with them.
Sailing from Philippi, Paul and Luke reached their companions at Troas
five days later, and remained for seven days with the believers in that
Upon the last evening of his stay the brethren "came together to
break bread." The fact that their beloved teacher was about to
depart, had called together a larger company than usual. They assembled in
an "upper chamber" on the third story. There, in the fervency of
his love and solicitude for them, the apostle preached until midnight.
In one of the open windows sat a youth named Eutychus. In this perilous
position he went to sleep and fell to the court below. At once all was
alarm and confusion. The youth was taken up dead, and many gathered about
him with cries and mourning. But Paul, passing through the frightened
company, embraced him and offered up an earnest prayer that God would
restore the dead to life. His petition was granted. Above the sound of
mourning and lamentation the apostle's voice was heard, saying,
"Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him." With rejoicing
the believers again assembled in the upper chamber. They partook of the
Communion, and then Paul "talked a long while, even till break of
The ship on which Paul and his companions were to continue their
journey, was about to sail, and the brethren hastened on board. The
apostle himself, however, chose to take the nearer route by land between
Troas and Assos, meeting
his companions at the latter city. This gave him a short season for
meditation and prayer. The difficulties and dangers connected with his
coming visit to Jerusalem, the attitude of the church there toward him and
his work, as well as the condition of the churches and the interests of
the gospel work in other fields, were subjects of earnest, anxious
thought, and he took advantage of this special opportunity to seek God for
strength and guidance.
As the travelers sailed southward from Assos, they passed the city of
Ephesus, so long the scene of the apostle's labors. Paul had greatly
desired to visit the church there, for he had important instruction and
counsel to give them. But upon consideration he determined to hasten on,
for he desired, "if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the
Day of Pentecost." On arriving at Miletus, however, about thirty
miles from Ephesus, he learned that it might be possible to communicate
with the church before the ship should sail. He therefore immediately sent
a message to the elders, urging them to hasten to Miletus, that he might
see them before continuing his journey.
In answer to his call they came, and he spoke to them strong, touching
words of admonition and farewell. "Ye know," he said, "from
the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with
you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with
many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the
Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have
showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,
testifying both to
the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith
toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
Paul had ever exalted the divine law. He had shown that in the law
there is no power to save men from the penalty of disobedience. Wrongdoers
must repent of their sins and humble themselves before God, whose just
wrath they have incurred by breaking His law, and they must also exercise
faith in the blood of Christ as their only means of pardon. The Son of God
had died as their sacrifice and had ascended to heaven to stand before the
Father as their advocate. By repentance and faith they might be freed from
the condemnation of sin and through the grace of Christ be enabled
henceforth to render obedience to the law of God.
"And now, behold," Paul continued, "I go bound in the
spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and
afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my
life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the
ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel
of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I
have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more."
Paul had no designed to bear this testimony; but, while he was
speaking, the Spirit of Inspiration came upon him, confirming his fears
that this would be his last meeting with his Ephesian brethren.
"Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the
blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare
unto you all the counsel of God." No fear of giving offense, no
desire for friendship or applause, could lead Paul to withhold the words
that God had given him for their instruction, warning, or correction. From
His servants today God requires fearlessness in preaching the word and in
carrying out its precepts. The minister of Christ is not to present to the
people only those truths that are the most pleasing, while he withholds
others that might cause them pain. He should watch with deep solicitude
the development of character. If he sees that any of his flock are
cherishing sin he must as a faithful shepherd give them from God's word
the instruction that is applicable to their case. Should he permit them in
their self-confidence to go on unwarned, he would be held responsible for
their souls. The pastor who fulfills his high commission must give his
people faithful instruction on every point of the Christian faith, showing
them what they must be and do in order to stand perfect in the day of God.
He only who is a faithful teacher of the truth will at the close of his
work be able to say with Paul, "I am pure from the blood of all
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves," the apostle admonished
his brethren, "and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath
purchased with His own blood." If ministers of the gospel were to
bear constantly in mind the fact that they are dealing with the purchase
of the blood of Christ, they would have a deeper sense of the importance
of their work. They are to take heed to themselves and to their flock.
Their own example is to illustrate
and enforce their instructions. As teachers of the way of life they
should give no occasion for the truth to be evil spoken of. As
representatives of Christ they are to maintain the honor of His name. By
their devotion, their purity of life, their godly conversation, they are
to prove themselves worthy of their high calling.
The dangers that would assail the church at Ephesus were revealed to
the apostle. "I know this," he said, "that after my
departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw
away disciples after them." Paul trembled for the church as, looking
into the future, he saw the attacks which she must suffer from both
external and internal foes. With solemn earnestness he bade his brethren
guard vigilantly their sacred trusts. For an example he pointed them to
his own unwearied labors among them: "Therefore watch, and remember,
that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and
day with tears.
"And now, brethren," he continued, "I commend you to
God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to
give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have
coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." Some of the Ephesian
brethren were wealthy, but Paul had never sought personal benefit from
them. It was no part of his message to call attention to his own wants.
"These hands," he declared, "have ministered unto my
necessities, and to them that were with me." Amidst his arduous
labors and extensive journeys for the cause of Christ, he was
able, not only to supply his own wants, but to spare something for the
support of his fellow laborers and the relief of the worthy poor. This he
accomplished only by unremitting diligence and the closest economy. Well
might he point to his own example as he said, "I have showed you all
things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember
the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than
"And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with
them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see
his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship."
From Miletus the travelers sailed in "a straight course unto Coos,
and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara," on
the southwest shore of Asia Minor, where, "finding a ship sailing
over unto Phoenicia," they "went aboard, and set forth." At
Tyre, where the ship was unloaded, they found a few disciples, with whom
they were permitted to tarry seven days. Through the Holy Spirit these
disciples were warned of the perils awaiting Paul at Jerusalem, and they
urged him "that he should not go up to Jerusalem." But the
apostle allowed not the fear of affliction and imprisonment to turn him
from his purpose.
At the close of the week spent in Tyre, all the brethren, with their
wives and children, went with Paul to the ship, and before he stepped on
board, they knelt upon the shore and prayed, he for them, and they for
Pursuing their journey southward, the travelers arrived at Caesarea and
"entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of
the seven; and abode with him." Here Paul spent a few peaceful, happy
days--the last of perfect freedom that he was to enjoy for a long time.
While Paul tarried at Caesarea, "there came down from Judea a
certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us," Luke
says, "he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and
said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the
man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the
"When we heard these things," Luke continues, "both we,
and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem." But
Paul would not swerve from the path of duty. He would follow Christ if
need be to prison and to death. "What mean ye to weep and to break
mine heart?" he exclaimed; "for I am ready not to be bound only,
but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Seeing
that they caused him pain without changing his purpose, the brethren
ceased their importunity, saying only, "The will of the Lord be
The time soon came for the brief stay at Caesarea to end, and,
accompanied by some of the brethren, Paul and his company set out for
Jerusalem, their hearts deeply shadowed by the presentiment of coming
Never before had the apostle approached Jerusalem with so sad a heart.
He knew that he would find few friends and
many enemies. He was nearing the city which had rejected and slain the
Son of God and over which now hung the threatenings of divine wrath.
Remembering how bitter had been his own prejudice against the followers of
Christ, he felt the deepest pity for his deluded countrymen. And yet how
little could he hope that he would be able to help them! The same blind
wrath which had once burned in his own heart, was now with untold power
kindling the hearts of a whole nation against him.
And he could not count upon the sympathy and support of even his own
brethren in the faith. The unconverted Jews who had followed so closely
upon his track, had not been slow to circulate the most unfavorable
reports at Jerusalem, both personally and by letter, concerning him and
his work; and some, even of the apostles and elders, had received these
reports as truth, making no attempt to contradict them, and manifesting no
desire to harmonize with him.
Yet in the midst of discouragements the apostle was not in despair. He
trusted that the Voice which had spoken to his own heart would yet speak
to the hearts of his countrymen, and that the Master whom his fellow
disciples loved and served would yet unite their hearts with his in the
work of the gospel.
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