On to Jerusalem for Pentecost

On a road trip some children (and adults) keep a journal. Luke seems to have kept one as he accompanied the Apostle Paul as he neared the end of his third missionary journey, recorded in Acts 20:1–16. But Luke is not just recording random travel items. His focus is on the risen Savior working through his powerful Spirit.

Walk the path your Savior walked. Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. Following the uproar in Ephesus, he traveled to Macedonia, Greece, and surrounding areas. This may have included other extensive missionary work, Romans 15:19. During this time he also wrote 1 Corinthians while Ephesus, 2 Corinthians from Macedonia, and Romans from Corinth or Cenchrea. Luke is present as this is a “we” passage. Luke had recorded a journey in his first volume (Luke 9:51; 13:22; 19:28), with which he may be drawing a parallel. The journeys share a conviction of coming suffering, Luke 18:31; Acts 20:22. Paul’s suffering is not redemptive, nor is yours, but if you are a joint heir of Christ, expect to suffer with him. You may not be on a road trip, but you are journeying through life. You have a destination in view.

Live in the power of the Spirit. Your first-day rest looks forward to entering God’s rest. Notice the day of the week on which the congregation at Troas gathered for worship. Sabbath rest looks back to creation, but not simply to God’s example of six days of creation followed by day of rest, true though that is. God rested and Adam and Eve were to enter that rest — but they sinned. Look at Genesis 2:3; Psalm 95, and Hebrews 3 and 4. Sin bars you from God’s rest, but where Adam failed, Christ succeeded.

“Christ has inaugurated Sabbath rest now for all who trust in him, are identified with his resurrection, and thus are represented by him in his position of rest. The inaugurated spiritual rest that saints have obtained presently in identification with Christ’s resurrection rest is one that continues every day of the week and not merely on Sunday. They have not yet, however, obtained the complete end-time rest in their bodily resurrected persons, since the continued expansion of Christ’s temple through them by means of the Spirit is not yet completed. There is, therefore, still a one-day special observance on Sunday for the church, the purpose of which is to look forward to the consummation of end-time rest in the new heaven and earth. This Sunday observance is a continuation of the creational Sabbath ordinance of Gen. 2:3, whose purpose also was to look forward to consummate eschatological spiritual and physical rest.”

”G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 798

The raising of Eutychus anticipates the final resurrection. Though expecting suffering, Paul was calm as he knew that God was in control. The resurrection of Eutychus must have reassured, not only the saints in Troas, but Paul himself. God, not the goddess of fortune, controls all and is the author of life. The miracle is more than something to marvel at. It reminds you of the raising of Dorcas, and of the miracles of Elisha and Elijah. The Lord of Life is your confidence, not only as you face death, but as you seek to live each day to the glory of your Lord. Earlier in Ephesus the presence of the Spirit had accompanied those who learned of and trusted in the Savior who had completed his redemptive work. In Acts 20 the Spirit is in view as Paul has the feast of Pentecost as the marker of when he hopes to reach Jerusalem. God is faithful to his people. In the miracle the life-giving power of the Spirit takes on visible form.

“Jesus’ resurrec­tion power flowed through his servant, and Paul re­stored the boy alive to those who loved him, just as Jesus him­self had raised and re­turned a young man to his mourning mother. (Luke 7:11-15; see also Acts 9:36-41).”

Dennis E. Johnson, Let’s Study Acts, p. 249

The miracle at Troas may wow you, but don’t overlook the quieter way he works through the ordinary means of grace. This is worship on the first day of the week. It includes the preaching of the Word by Paul, and the breaking of the bread. The power of the Spirit is evident in the generous provision for the suffering church at Jerusalem.

The Spirit, given at Pentecost, draws people to himself. In Acts 2:5–11 Luke records the gift of the Spirit as witnessed by the gathering of Jews and God-fearers. He has recorded the spread of the gospel, growing like rings from a pebble dropped in a pond. Now the ripples begin to bounce back. The church is more than individual congregations. The suffering of the church at Jerusalem draws gifts from a number of the mission churches, and brothers from those churches accompany Paul as he carries the gift, Romans 15:25–29; 1 Corinthians 16:4; 2 Corinthians 8:16–21. Notice the places from which Paul’s companions come, Acts 20:4. The Spirit, given at Pentecost, is working in the lives of God’s people. He continues to work in the life of the church as a whole as well as in the lives of you, the people of God, who make up the church.

Do not let the suffering you face blind you to the presence and powerful working of the exalted Lord who is life-giving Spirit.