Editorial ‘We . . . sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre . . . and finding disciples, we tarried there’, Acts 21. 3, 4
As we read through the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, it is often perplexing to know why the inspired writer should record in places the minute detail of Paul’s journey. The opening verses of this chapter are an example. As we know that ‘all scripture is given by inspiration of God’, 2 Tim. 3. 16, it is worth pondering what the Spirit of God would have us learn.
One simple and, perhaps, obvious point is that here Luke, the writer of the narrative, is with the apostle. Noting when the writer says ‘we’ or ‘they’ enables us to see whether Luke was present or not. Such detail adds eye-witness credibility to events and that is particularly important when we come to the account of the raising of Eutychus, Acts 20. 9, 10.
Another simple point that we might note is the journey, the route taken and the distances travelled. As many of us have the benefit of our own vehicle, as well as public transport, we might not appreciate what it meant to Paul and his companions to travel thirty or sixty miles, or how long it would take. Neither, I suspect, would most of us think of the dangers of such a journey. It is when we read Paul’s own account that we get a glimpse of the reality, ‘In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in peril of robbers . . . in perils of the wilderness . . . in weariness and painfulness’, 2 Cor. 11. 26, 27. Here was a man who could write to that same church, ‘And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you’, 12. 15. He did not count the cost to himself as he ventured forth in the service of his Lord.
Whilst we have noted when Luke was present with Paul and the obvious fellowship they had in the work of the Lord, it is also important to note Paul’s priority as he travelled. Our verses tell us that he found disciples. We do not believe that ‘he stumbled across them by chance’ but that he sought them out. Fellowship with the Lord’s people was a necessity rather than an interesting option. The true spiritual character of that fellowship is when the believers, together ‘with wives and children . . . kneeled down on the shore, and prayed’, v. 5, as Paul was about to leave. As many of us have known something of the isolation of lockdown measures, our prayer is that we might have a deeper appreciation of Christian fellowship and hospitality than we had before!
As we seek to continue the work of Precious Seed during these unprecedented times, there are a number of changes that we are making. Richard Collings has decided to retire from the work after eleven years. His contributions have been significant, whether assisting the editor, writing a regular Questions page, or compiling a book of past questions. He has been a valued supporter of myself and others and we will miss him. As a consequence of Richard’s departure, Brian Clatworthy will become joint editor alongside Sandy Jack, Frank Proudlock will take on the Questions page, and Tom Merriman of the Treorchy assembly in Wales will join us in the work. We would value the prayer support of fellow believers as we look to the Lord for His help.