As you read this week, allow yourself to experience the emotions, situations, and responses within the text. From Paul’s farewell to the elders in Ephesus to his final instructions to Timothy, Paul has to spend some time in reflection over his ministry. When he looks back to the church in Corinth, did he build in vain? God is the one who makes things grow, but will what he built withstand the test of fire (1 Cor 3:14-15). Paul’s care and concern for the church throughout his life and especially at the end is inspiring.
What are some things you admire about Paul’s character through these different scenes in our reading this week? One of the biggest things for me was how he acted on the ship. He is a prisoner who has appealed to Caesar. Throughout most of this scene, I picture Paul standing tall (though he apparently was quite short) above everyone on the ship. Everyone has given their attention to Paul as he confidently speaks hope into their desperate situation. The peace he carries with him is one of a man who is connected with God intimately. Where does your peace come from?
Paul’s goal was to literally take the gospel to the ends of the earth. In his day, that would be Spain. There are towns in Britain who claim that Paul made it all the way to their Island but we have no way of knowing for sure. Paul’s desire was that the whole world would know Jesus. When we think of mission, we often think of a location we arrive to in order to do mission work. Paul didn’t see it this way. Wherever he was, that was his mission field. Mission work was as he went and interestingly, whoever he was chained to. One of my favorite passages in Paul’s writing is Philippians 4:22, “All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.”
Can you imagine the changing of the guard with Paul? How do you think he approached these conversations? My guess would be he asked them about their kids, their spouse, what it is like to be in the Roman Army, etc. You know…life. Paul probably built relationships with the guards and shared Jesus with them through natural conversation. Jesus permeated everything Paul did so Jesus would naturally come up in everything Paul was doing. Over time, Paul seemed to have converted many in Caesar’s household. Paul ministered to the person in front of him. Who is in front of you today? How are you going to share peace and love with them that can only come from Jesus Christ?
Paul’s journey as an Apostle began with Barnabas putting his arm around him and guiding him in their first missionary journey and ended with Paul putting his arm around Timothy. Faith is passed through intentionality of more mature Christians guiding younger Christians in the faith. That’s what family looks like. Who is speaking into your walk with Christ to help you grow? If you don’t have someone, I would love to help connect you with someone who can walk with you. Who is the Timothy in your life, whom you encourage in their walk with Christ and help them grow? If you don’t have someone, I would love to help connect you.
Take a moment to pretend with me: Imagine that you are at the end of your Christian walk and you want to say one final bit of encouragement to a younger Christian. What would you tell that person? What would you emphasize about the Christian walk? About God? About Jesus? About Spiritual Disciplines? What is important to remember? Where should their focus be? What should they not get distracted by? If you are willing to share this letter with me, I’d love to read them!