Saturday, December 09, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 21-22

You might remember our last devotional commentary in the Book of Acts concluded with addressing Paul’s determination to return to Jerusalem for the Passover (Acts 20:17-38).  Knowing the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin were determined to arrest and put Paul to death, believers along the way did all they could to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem.  Paul’s journey to Jerusalem continues in today’s scripture reading (Acts 21-22).

Paul arrived in Caesarea (Acts 21:8-14).  Because there is more than one Caesarea in the scriptures, this one on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea is known as “Caesarea by the Sea”.  A beautiful, picturesque location northwest of Jerusalem, in the first century, “Caesarea by the Sea” served Roman governors of Judea as a retreat from the capital city.  Saved by the sands of the desert, the ruins of the Roman fortress, a beautifully preserved amphitheater, and Roman aqueduct are visible today.

It is at “Caesarea by the Sea” that Paul renews his fellowship with Philip.  Philip, formerly a deacon in the church of Jerusalem, was one of seven men chosen to assist the apostles in the distribution of food (Acts 6:1-6; 21:8).  Our last knowledge of Philip was when the Lord commanded him to leave Jerusalem and go into the desert near Gaza where he met an Ethiopian eunuch of “Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure” (Acts 8:26).

This Ethiopian eunuch, a proselyte of Judaism, was reading the prophecies of Isaiah when Philip came upon him (Acts 8:26-30).  Asking the man if he understood what he was reading, Philip began to share the meaning of Isaiah’s’ Messianic prophecies of a suffering Messiah, and declared they were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:30-35).

Desiring to be baptized and identified with Jesus Christ as his Savior, the eunuch declared, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37), and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:38).

It is that same Philip with whom Paul renews his fellowship as he makes his journey to Jerusalem for the last time.  Philip, rather than return to Jerusalem and continue serving as one of its deacons, had made his way to Caesarea where we find him aptly titled, “Philip the evangelist” (Acts 21:8).  True to his testimony in Jerusalem as one of seven men “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (Acts 6:3), Philip raised a godly family in Caesarea of whom four daughters are described as “virgins, which did prophesy” (Acts 21:8).

We could focus on many things in today’s scripture reading (Acts 21-22); however, I limit myself to one.

Philip was a young man faithfully serving the LORD in the Jerusalem church when we first meet him in Acts 6.  He was distinguished as “one of the seven”, the first men chosen to assist the apostle in ministering to the church (Acts 21:8).

When the LORD called Philip to be an evangelist in Acts 8, he obeyed the LORD’s command.  What a joy that twenty years later he continues in the same and is known as “Philip the evangelist” (Acts 21:8)!

Christian friend, what title or designation would your family, friends, and peers give you?

When acquaintances hear your name, what adjective or attribute comes to mind?  What would they say compels or drives you? What is your passion?   What is your calling?  Are you today, plying the trade, the ministry, the vocation to which God called you?

It is with growing sorrow I realize there are few who, like Philip and Paul, continue in their calling and vocation. There are few who accept Paul’s challenge to Timothy and follow the apostle’s example:

2 Timothy 4:5-7 – But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith