The Lightening Rod: Acts 20:1-2
“1) After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. 2) When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece.” Acts 20:1-2
Paul had become a lightening rod for the Christians. The Jews had him in their cross hairs. He was the reason for the intense persecution. The believers had restrained Paul from entering the theater in Ephesus, now they wanted to keep him from public view.
After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples and gave them words of exhortation. Then he departed to trace his steps back through Macedonia.
On by one, he met with Christian groups and gave them lengthy messages. His goal was to build up each church group. Many of them met in homes. He sent some of his team ahead to arrange lodging and meetings in each town. The believers welcomed him openly. There is no record of any public meetings on his return trip. He did not set foot in any synagogue.
The “out-reach” phase of his ministry in Macedonia ended. Paul now focused on “in-reach.” His strategy was to build up the Christians and unleash them to reach their communities.
Ephesians 4:11-16 defines his philosophy of ministry at this stage of his work in Macedonia. He left the momentum in the hands of the disciples he had reached, instructed and raised up.
There is a principle in the New Testament that the ministry baton needs to be handed to the next generation. (See 2 Timothy 2:1-9) At this point, they could put Paul in prison, but the Word of God could not be imprisoned. Paul left behind mature, functioning and Spirit filled local churches.
I believe God wants every Christian to be a fruit bearer. (See John 15:8, 16) At some point the leaders need to step aside to make room for others to step up. Where do these leaders go? They start other works and pour themselves into more people. They become mentors.
In Paul’s case, God took him from the pulpit to the prison. He became a new kind of lightening rod of inspiration to the entire early church. He picked up the pen and started writing letters to many people and churches.
Soon many of his letters began to be copied, circulated and collected by the early churches. Many early church leaders like Peter, James and John started the same practice. Within a few generations these letters became the inspired cannon of the New Testament. The early Christians would die to protect these writings.
So one phase of ministry gave way to the next. The pen is mightier than the sword. God used persecution to accomplish a work that was destined to shape the course of human history. The Bible was completed, assembled and soon translated to many languages.
It is no longer counted on the Best Sellers list. It far surpasses the annual sales of any other book. It has been translated and printed into more languages than any other book. It has also be attacked and banned more than any other book.
In a sense, the Bible is a lightening rod. When the Spirit of God uses it to strike a human heart, home, community or nation; it ignites fires that cannot be extinguished. If you want to leave a legacy, spend daily time reading and studying your Bible. The Spirit of God will use it to change you and impact those around you!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
The Lightening Rod: Acts 20:1-2