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A faithful minister

Walking through the Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A faithful minister
1 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.
1 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.
2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.
Martin Luther once said concerning being a minister these words,
“ Our office is a ministry of grace and salvation. It subjects us to great burdens and labors, dangers and temptations, with little reward or gratitude from the world. But Christ himself will be our reward if we labor faithfully.”
When we were last together Luke told us that Paul was planning three important journeys: to (1) Macedonia and Achaia, to (2) Jerusalem, and (3) then to Rome. shows us the completion of the first missionary journey and the beginning of the second.
It was Paul’s pattern was to return to the churches he had previously founded and to encourage and strengthen the believers.
Look at , When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
It shows tremendous courage that Paul would return to the cities from which he had been driven by such violent opposition just to encourage those who remain, now that’s faithfulness!
Paul’s warning to these Christians to expect many tribulations is echoed through his own account of his persecutions.
, ‘You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and suffering that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured: yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Often in Acts new believers are encouraged to persevere in the faith, and the reference to “tribulations” indicates that the Christian’s life is often beset by difficulties.
Only after his three years in Ephesus did he have opportunity to revisit the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, which were established on his second missionary journey.
Luke emphasizes the thoroughness of Paul’s efforts to encourage and warn the churches in our passage today, but most of all
Paul seeks to show us what a faithful minister looks like.
A faithful minister considers the church above all else, encourages it and serves quietly.
A faithful minister constantly faces threats courageously.
A faithful minister commits himself to the growth of his disciples.
A faithful minister compels the people through consistent preaching and compassionate pastoring.
So, you see here that the main theme in this chapter is faithful pastoral care and leadership, with Paul as the model, the very model of a faithful minister.
Let us pray...
A faithful minister considers the church above all else, encourages it and serves quietly.
The first two verses of this passage introduces the spirit of encouragement, the verb parakaleo is used twice.
The repetition of the same Greek word here which is the word “encouragement” in vv. 1-2, suggests that Christians are to be comforted as well as to encouraged, as Jesus once said. ‘In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world
1 a ‘After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them...’
The faithful minister considers the church above all, though there had been a terrible uproar and riot in Ephesus, Paul was faithful and encouraging. This attack, which was primarily launched against Paul, and even, involved some so-called believers, yet that did not minimize his faithfulness. Though Paul made a narrow escape; in his spirit he sensed that to continue ministering in Ephesus would only endanger more believers. 1b, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.
Why? Because true faithfulness requires putting the church above all else! Paul did not wish to bring any harm whatsoever to the people, so he called them together and embraced them and left for Europe. But before he left he left us some examples.
The first example of Paul’s ministry of encouragement comes immediately after the ending of the uproar in Ephesus.
Although Paul was in great danger and suffered considerable distress for the sake of Christ, how did he handle it? Well, Paul did not back up, he did not back down, he viewed what God had allowed to happen, not a setback but as a setup to show His power and His glory.
Paul was so centered on the welfare of others that he sent for the disciples, in order to encourage them! The verb parakaleo, para means to come along side, and kaleo means to be call. Paul as a faithful minister understood that he had been called by God to come along side his other servants and serve them through encouragement.
The faithful minister serves quietly, encourages much, so much happened during Paul’s life that we will never know. Paul served God and the church quietly, without boasting, with publicizing his own efforts. He was interested in one thing and one thing only which was to bring God the glory and reach people for Christ.
Promoting Christ and not yourself is a mark of a faithful minister. And because God planted this in the spirit of Paul, he planted it in the spirit of all the servants that he ministered to and developed this trait in the ministers of the early church.
Paul urges all his servants to work to glorify God because God is their only source and the only power behind their ministries.
Let’s look back that the text for a moment.
, When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece.
A good example of Paul serving quietly and encouraging much can be seen in here in these verses. His ministry in Macedonia lasted almost a year and invoked some outstanding events. Yet we know nothing about them except what little we can glean for his writing elsewhere in the Bible.
, ‘When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.’
Here Titus was supposed to meet Paul and report back to him in Troas.
But he was not there when Paul arrived. So, Paul then had to preach Christ’s gospel and minister while waiting for Titus.
Paul apparently suffered some serious illness and had to deal with an awful burden while in Troas, but he continued being a faithful minister.
, For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again”.
9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again”.
But because Paul was a faithful minister by the end of the 4th chapter Paul’s spirit proclaim something totally different.
, But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. And then we continues in , So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
In Troas even in the midst of illness Paul reasoning with believers using God’s Word. He reassuring believers, and encouraging believers that God was still in control. Paul uses both teaching and preaching as means of encouragement. Paul set out from Ephesus to revisit Macedonia, probably in the summer of AD 55, and travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people. He stayed three months in Greece. These three months were probably the winter months of AD 56–57, when he wrote his letter to the Romans from Corinth. Now just imagine Paul leaving Troas because he had no rest in his spirit, still dealing with the problems in the churches in Galatian and Corinth as well. Think about his concerns as Titus was running way behind schedule.
, For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn-fighting without and fear within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
All these events and many, many, more took place in one year, yet they are never mentioned. All Luke said was the Paul went to Macedonia and encourage many. The point is this: the faithful minister serves quietly and encourages much. He does not blow his own horn; he honors Christ and Him alone. He is not into building up himself but into building up the church and lifting up Christ. ‘For if Christ be lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself.’
, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
As minister we must remain faithful to the church above all, faithful to serving quietly and encourage others.
A faithful minister constantly faces threats courageously.
There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
Though Paul had suffered much opposition from Jews in Macedonia on his first visit, none of those events are recorded on this occasion.
It was rather in Greece that some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, and so he decided to go back through Macedonia. It is clear from vv. 16 and 22 that Paul’s precise destination was Jerusalem, Paul seems to have been successful in gaining the support of the Christians there for the collection he was about to take to Jerusalem.
, For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.
, And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.”
Luke mentions this collection only in passing, though the identification of representatives from those churches in the following verses may be an indication that this activity was in progress at this time.
The faithful minister constantly faces threats courageously, but yet intelligently. This is what was happening, Paul had been ministering in Greece for three months and was about to sail to Syria to visit his home church. Somehow he discovered a plot against his life. It seems as it the Jews in Corinth had never gotten over the ruler’s Galileo’s judgment against them and have been just waiting for an opportunity to kill him. They were either going to throw him overboard of else kill him someplace on the dock. So Paul immediately changed his plans and fled back to Macedonia. As a faithful minister and a faithful member of the church of Jesus Christ, we are to constantly to carry the message of Christ to an unbelieving world. Righteousness and truth disturb people, as well as immature and carnal believers inside the church. They are always a constant threat to genuine believers.
As believers we must live courageously, always being ready to make a change in plans under God’s direction, even as Paul did.
, Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Jesus warns the disciples about the persecution that missionary disciples will endure. Being wise as serpents and innocent as doves speaks to the fact that the serpent was the symbol of shrewdness and intellectual cunning. Yet, the dove was emblematic of simple innocence and purity in this crooked world.
We must remember that Synagogues were not only places of worship but also places where discipline was carried out (flog).
As Jesus foretold, the early church leaders would be called before Jewish officials, the secular authorities of Israel, and Rome.
Jesus encourages the disciples not to be anxious because the same Spirit who has guided and empowered Jesus will speak through his disciples amid their most difficult challenges.
That is why a faithful minister constantly faces threats courageously
A faithful minister commits himself to the training of his disciples.
, Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.
Luke now names seven companions on this journey from Greece to Jerusalem. Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, together with Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, emerged from Paul’s second missionary journey. Gaius from Derbe and Timothy from Lystra were the product of his first journey, though Timothy did not join Paul until the beginning of the second campaign (16:1–2). Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia were encountered on Paul’s most recent visit to Ephesus.
, “These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.”
These men were chosen by the various churches to help Paul deliver the relief offering being sent to the Jerusalem church.
These men represented ‘the fruit of his labors in the various areas of his work’. According to , Paul intended that local representatives of the churches he had founded should transport the money collected for the poor Christians in Jerusalem, perhaps in his company. It is reasonable to infer that those mentioned in (except perhaps Timothy) ‘were such local representatives and not assistant missionaries’. Luke mentions that these men went on ahead, and then suddenly intrudes himself into the narrative again, noting that they waited for us at Troas. This ‘we’ style first appeared in 16:10, when Paul and his team originally went to Troas. Luke apparently joined them there and went at least as far as Philippi with them (the first person plural ceased at 16:17). There is something to be said for the view that Luke remained in Philippi until this return visit by Paul. Luke’s more personal way of telling the story resumes in 20:5–6 and continues until the team arrives in Jerusalem (21:18), though it is absent from the scene in Miletus (20:16–38), where the focus is entirely on Paul and his encounter with the Ephesian elders. The journey is more vivid because of Luke’s involvement, encouraging us to take particular notice of the details he has recorded.
Paul was constantly making disciples, attaching himself to men to grow them up in the Lord.
, You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself.’
9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself.’
A faithful minister compels the people through compassionate preaching and consistent pastoring.
, On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread...
Some have suggested that the meeting of the Christians in Troas on the first day of the week in order to break bread is a pointer to a formal Sunday gathering for the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. This is the first time that ‘the breaking of bread’ has been mentioned since , where the context showed that the term refers to the initiating of an ordinary meal. Paul was not able to make it to Jerusalem for the annual Passover celebration, so now his goal was to arrive there at least by Pentecost (). Note the pronoun change to “us” and “we,” for Dr. Luke has now joined the party (see ). He had probably been ministering at Philippi where he joined Paul for the last leg of the journey. Paul must have rejoiced to have Luke, Titus, and Timothy at his side again. The men remained at Troas a week so that they might fellowship with the believers there. Perhaps they were also waiting for the departure of the next ship. Luke gives us a brief report of a local church service in Troas, and from it we learn something of how they met and worshipped the Lord. Consider the elements involved in “The Lord’s Day.” To begin with, the fact that they met on the first day of the week and not on the seventh day, which was the Sabbath. The first day came to be called “the Lord’s Day” because on it the Lord Jesus Christ arose from the dead early one Sunday morning.
We should also remember that the church was born on the first day of the week when the Spirit came at Pentecost. During the early years of the church, the believers did maintain some of the Jewish traditions, such as the hours of prayer. But as time went on, they moved away from the Mosaic calendar and developed their own pattern of worship as the Spirit taught them. The Lord’s people, the church met in the evening because Sunday was not a holiday during which people were free from daily employment. Some of the believers would no doubt be slaves, unable to come to the assembly until their work was done. The believers met in an upper room because they had no church buildings in which to gather. This room may have been in the private home of one of the believers. The assembly would have been a cosmopolitan group, but their social and national distinctions made no difference: they were “all one in Christ Jesus” ().
The Lord’s Supper in the early church was a “potluck” meal called the “love feast” (agape), after which they would observe the Lord’s Supper. To “break bread” in refers to the Lord’s Supper, whereas in it describes a regular meal. By sharing and eating with one another, the church enjoyed fellowship and also gave witness of their oneness in Christ. Slaves would actually eat at the same table with their masters, something unheard of in that day. It is likely that the church observed the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day when they met for fellowship and worship. In fact, some believers probably ended many of their regular meals at home by taking the bread and wine and remembering the Lord’s death. While Scripture does not give us specific instructions in the matter and speaks only of “ as often,” as you come together, the example of the early church would encourage us to meet at the Lord’s table often. However, the Communion must not become routine, causing us to fail to receive the blessings involved.
Acts 7b, ‘Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.’
The Word of God was always declared in the Christian assemblies, and this included the public reading of the Old Testament Scriptures () as well as whatever apostolic letters had been received (). It is sad to see how the Word is neglected in church services today. Knowing that this would probably be his last meeting with the saints at Troas, Paul preached a long sermon, after which he ate and conversed with the people until morning.
It’s doubtful that anybody complained. How we today wish we could have been there to hear the apostle Paul preach! The Word of God is important to the people of God, and the preaching and teaching of the Word must be emphasized. The church meets for edification as well as for celebration, and that edification comes through the Word. “Preach the word!” is still God’s admonition to spiritual leaders (). According to Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “the decadent periods and eras in the history of the church have always been those periods when preaching has declined”
, ‘There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.’
Whether it was the lateness of the hour or the stuffiness of the room (surely not the dullness of Paul’s sermon!), Eutychus (“ Fortunate”) fell asleep and then fell out the window, and was killed by the fall.
However, Paul raised him from the dead and left him and the church comforted. God’s power was present to work for His people.
Eutychus may have been a young man who was also a servant. He may have worked hard that day and was weary. No wonder he fell asleep during the lengthy sermon! Let’s not be too hard on Eutychus. At least he was there for the service, and he did try to keep awake. He sat near ventilation, and he must have tried to fight off the sleep that finally conquered him. The tense of the Greek verb indicates that he was gradually overcome, not suddenly. Also, let’s not be too hard on Paul. After all, he was preaching his farewell sermon to this assembly, and he had a great deal to tell them for their own good. Those sitting near should have been watching Eutychus, but of course, they were engrossed in what Paul was saying. Paul did interrupt his sermon to rush downstairs to bring the young man back to life.
, ‘But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “ Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.’
His approach reminds us of Elijah, , Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this child's life come into him again."22 And the LORD listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.
Then there was Elisha, , Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
Perhaps each of us should ask ourselves, “What really keeps me awake?” Christians who slumber during one hour in church somehow manage to stay awake during early-morning fishing trips, lengthy sporting events and concerts, or late-night TV specials.
Also, we need to prepare ourselves physically for public worship to make sure we are at our best. “Remember,” said Spurgeon, “if we go to sleep during the sermon and die, there are no apostles to restore us!”
That appears to be the meaning here also. Paul’s discussion with them occupied their attention until after midnight and again after the meal, suggesting that it was a very unstructured and informal meeting.
, ‘ And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.
Members of the Qumran community could be excluded from meetings for thirty days for falling asleep in this way, but Luke is not presenting this as a cautionary tale to his readers. The accident provided the occasion for a miracle by Paul and ‘serves no other purpose’.
Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. Then he said, ‘don’t be alarmed. He’s alive!’
Like the healing in 3:1–16, this miracle points to the new life available through the resurrection of Jesus, in all its dimensions and aspects. Then Paul went upstairs again and broke bread. After satisfying his hunger in the company of his friends, Paul continued talking until daylight. He had already spoken to them for a long time, but presumably the raising of Eutychus brought many questions and much excitement, motivating Paul to keep talking until dawn.
, And they took they youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.
The people took the young man [home] alive and were greatly comforted (lit. ‘Were very encouraged’). And they were comforted as well, this comfort came from Paul’s ministry as a whole to them, his teaching of them the farewell meal and his raising of Eutychus to life.
Some may try to use the story of Eutychus to warn against the dangers of sleeping in church—or of preaching too long—but the point of the story is simply the power of God to heal. Luke includes the story in order to show the great, life-giving power of God and to further authenticate Paul’s message as one who had “the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles”
, The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. The ministry of a true and faithful ministry will be known by the signs of considering the church above all, encourages it and serving is quietly.
A faithful minister will constantly face threats and compel the people through consistent preaching and compassionate pastoring.
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