3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.
A Murderous Plan Foiled
"As he was about to set sail for Syria,"
Paul discovered that
"a plot was laid against him by the Jews" (RV).
The Greek suggests that this conspiracy was revealed to the apostle almost at the
hour when he was due to sail. The inference is that these Jews intended to kill him whilst the ship was at sea. Realising he was in great peril, Paul immediately changed his plans.
He "determined" to return through Macedonia (RV). A prompt departure by Paul gave little time for his enemies to form another plan for his assassination. Paul's example here is noteworthy.
He shows that Yahweh's saints should be always alert to dangers which may confront them, exercising wisdom in all such matters whilst at the same time being ever aware of the overshadowing guiding Hand of Providence.
Bro John Ullman - The Christadelphian Expositor
7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
To keep the first day of the week to the Lord is possible only for the saints. There is no law, except the emperor Constantine's, that commands sinners to keep holy the first, or eighth day, or sunday as the Gentiles term it. For a sinner to keep this day unto the Lord he must become one of the Lord's people. He must believe the gospel of the kingdom and name of Christ, and become obedient to it, before any religious service he can offer will be accepted.
He must come under law to Christ by putting on Christ before he can keep the Lord's day. Having become a christ[adelphian], if he would keep the day to the Lord, he must assemble with a congregation of New Testament saints, and assist in edifying and provoking them to love and good works, in showing forth the death of Jesus, in giving thanks to the Father, in celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and in praising and blessing God.
Under the gospel, or "law of liberty," he is subjected to no "yoke of bondage" concerning a sabbath day. It is his delight when an opportunity presents, to celebrate in this way, the Day of the Resurrection. He requires no penal statutes to compel him to a formal and disagreeable self-denial or "duty;" for it is his meat and drink to do the will of his Father who is in heaven.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1859
When in answer to ...the conclusion ...urged that "the Corinthian disciples broke bread every first day of the week," it was not meant to emphasize day as against night, but the day in the week on which bread was eaten-that day consisting of day and night.
No doubt the meeting at which Jesus instituted the supper was held in the evening, but there is no evidence that a particular hour of the day formed a feature of the ordinance as apostolically enjoined. The whole spirit of Paul's teaching is against the idea.
He was afraid of the Galatians, because they observed
"days and months, and times, and years."
The breaking of bread is essentially a spiritual institution-that is, designed for an effect on the mind, and that effect the bringing to remembrance of the Lord's death till he come.
If this purpose is accomplished, the end is attained, at whatever period of the day. To make the hour of consequence, would be to interfere with the character of the institution, and create insuperable difficulty, for the hour at which it is evening in Jerusalem is afternoon in Britain, and morning in America.
Had the time of day been a part of the institution, it would have been enjoined and not left to be doubtfully inferred. The question is pretty much one of convenience and suitableness, varying in different countries with different climates and customs. In the east, the "cool of the day" is the most appropriate time for spiritual exercises. In Britain, the morning provides the most impressible season. In America, we presume it is the same.
The Christadelphian, March 1871
As Bro. Roberts points out, the command to assemble and break bread is clear and unmistakable. To fail to do so is disobedience. Therefore, to have any meaning, the required frequency must have been indicated-if not as an unbreakable rule, certainly as the normal, desirable and expected thing.
The first day of the week was clearly not chosen for any particular convenience, because the 7th day was then, among the Jews (who were the first believers), the day of rest and freedom from work. So the first day must have been appointed for its significance-the day of the resurrection they were commemorating.
That it might not just rest on this one incident at Troas (which could be just a local arrangement), we find a passing but quite strong allusion to it in 1 Cor. 16:2, which confirms the general practice.
There Paul tells the Corinthians to lay a portion aside each first day of the week, that there be no last minute scurry of collections when he should come to get the gift for the poor in Jerusalem. If he meant just for each to lay by privately, there would be no point in specifying a particular day, nor would it serve the purpose he mentions-of avoiding hurried collections when he came.
"Observations on the Sabbath"
Let us now consider the principal arguments used by Sabbatarians in favour of it.
It must be conceded, that there is not in the New Testament any direct command to keep a Sabbath, either on the seventh or on the first day of the week: but it is claimed that the practice of the early christ[adelphians] is alluded to with sufficient clearness to determine the question. Let us see.
After careful research, I can find but two places where any such allusions are made. In Acts 20:7, we read:
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them,-ready to depart on the morrow,-and continued his speech until midnight; and there were many lights in the upper chamber where they were gathered together."
Now, observe, this was an evening meeting. In 1 Cor. 16:2, we read:
"Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."
From these passages it is evident that the primitive christ[adelphians] were in the habit of assembling together on the first day of the week. They met to break bread in remembrance of Jesus; because on that day he had risen from the dead. But what of this? There is not in these texts, neither do we find in Ecclesiastical history, the least particle of evidence that these early christ[adelphians] regarded the day in the light of a Sabbath; or that they discontinued their ordinary avocations on this day.
Besides, the thing in thousands of instances would be an impossibility. It must be borne in mind that the early christ[adelphians] were generally poor;-thousands of them were servants; many of them were slaves. Suppose one of them were a servant to a Jew. His Jewish master could not allow him to work on the seventh day; and is it probable, that he would allow him to keep the first day also, thereby losing two days of his servant's labor in one week?
The idea is preposterous. Suppose the Christian were a servant to a heathen; is it likely that his master would consent to lose his services on that day, just to gratify what he would regard as a superstitious whim? Certainly not.
All we can gather from these passages is just this;-that the early christ[adelphians] were in the habit of assembling together, on the evening of the first day of the week, after their ordinary avocations were concluded.
I therefore repeat it again;-There is not the least particle of evidence, or even the least shadow of a hint, that they met to celebrate a sabbath; or that they imagined for one moment that the obligations of the Jewish Sabbath, either wholly or in part, were transferred to the followers of Christ.
- Bro Dabb
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1859
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Repentance towards God," and "unto life," is a change of views and affections, resulting from belief of his promised goodness. Such an one hates sin, and does his best to keep from sin; but forgets the things which are behind for which he has obtained pardon in the act of putting on Christ.
The change of views and affections is synchronical with the truth heartily and lovingly believed. The excellency of this knowledge, which announces present forgiveness and eternal glory in God's kingdom, excludes sorrow or remorse by the joy it creates. What sort of sorrow is there in that heart which rejoices "with joy unspeakable and full of glory?"
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1855.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the holy spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the ecclesia of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The church [ecclesia] was associated with the apostles in the ministry of reconciliation. By "the church" [ecclesia] , I mean, not that multiform thing called "the church" by the world in these times; but that one, undivided body of disciples, collected together by the personal labours of the apostles and evangelists; and all through subsequent generations, who should believe and practise the same truth.
To this "one body", (Eph 4:4) energized by the "one spirit", (Eph 4:4) and "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment", (1 Cor. 1:10; Acts 4:32) and styled "THE BRIDE" -- is committed the work of making known "the manifold wisdom of God", (Eph. 3:10) as contained in the word; and of inviting the world to be reconciled to God. (Rev. 22:17)
No member of this body is exempt from the obligation of co-operating in this work. It is the duty and privilege of every one in his own sphere to endeavour to turn men to righteousness; for there is no distinction of "clergy" and "laity" in the family of God.
In the days of the apostles, things were very different to what they are now. There were many congregations, or churches [ecclesias] , but they were all one flock, or "denomination", and men endowed with spiritual gifts were their rulers. But even these were not distinguished from their brethren as " clergy", or priests; but as ministers, or servants.
Well knowing the presumption, pride, and arrogance of the flesh, the Spirit commanded them especially to feed the flock, and not to fleece it; to oversee it willingly and of a ready mind, but not for the sake of compensation; and to be examples to the flock, and not to lord it over the heritages. (1 Pet 5:2,3)
Elpis Israel 1.5.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock.
We see a different spectacle from what was presented to view in the first century, when the friends of Christ were organised into loving and enlightened communities, under the fostering care and guidance of shepherdly men, "feeding the flock of God, over which the Holy Spirit had made them overseers" (Acts xx. 28).
It is a day of devastation and downtreading for divine affairs, both in the national fold and the individual fold. It would be a beautiful and a glorious thing if God were to permit a clearing out and renovation and revival of the fold in which real and healthy sheep might multiply and dwell in safety. The prophetic word does not justify any hope of this sort, till the Great Shepherd of the sheep himself arrive, for, to the last, it speaks of darkness prevailing till the coming of Christ, and the prosperous ascendancy of ante-diluvian indifference till the very hour of his manifestation.
The most to be done with present agency is for believers, in the spirit of loving co-operation, to approximate, as nearly as they can, to the primitive assemblies, doing all things decently and in order, and all things for the edification of all, in the spirit of mutual and affectionate submission in the fear of the Lord.
By this co-operation, the one fold in little sections may be planted here and there, in which a little may be done in this evil day for the keeping alive of the testimony in the earth, and the development and preservation of a people controlled by the knowledge, love, and obedience of the truth.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
...the whole truth, unadulterated by crotchets and speculations which have sprung up with a thick luxuriance since Dr. Thomas first called attention to the law and to the testimony
The Christadelphian, June 1886
The word "clergy," as the title of an order, is assumed by men who have no right to it. It is a word which comes from the Greek a lot or portion; and is applied by the apostle in the text quoted to a single congregation of disciples; so that when he speaks of all the congregations of the flock, he styles them "the heritages".
But, in after years, the ministers of the heritages, or clergies, disregarded the commandment, and set themselves up as lords of the heritages, which they fleeced, and oppressed for lucre's sake. They even made the clergies of God believe that they were nothing more than mere commoners; while they themselves, the usurpers of the believers' rights, were God's peculiar lot, or portion, as the tribe of Levi were among the Israelites; and the distinction was then set up of "clergy" and "laity", from the multitude!
But the distinction belongs to the apostasy, and not to God's oppressed and scattered sheep. When "clergy" get in among them, it is "as grievous wolves, not sparing the flock, but speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them" for their own worldly gain. (Acts 20:29,30) They have nothing to do with the word of reconciliation except to pervert it, and to bring it into disrepute.
The principles of the apostasy, and indeed of all false religion, are such as result from the thinking of the flesh when left to its own communings.
Elpis Israel 1.5.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
These StarAngel men had been made overseers of the ecclesia of the Deity by the Holy Spirit. They were the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, who had been supernaturally qualified by spiritual gifts
"for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12).
With all the sanction of these gifts from the ascended Lord himself, they had been recognised by the flock they episcopized as the ministers of Christ. How unlikely therefore, that they would speak perverse things, and, becoming deceivers, rend the flock as grievous wolves, instead of feeding it, as they were exhorted to do by Paul.
But, unlikely as it might seem, such was the fact. It is true that the Lord had bestowed upon them spiritual gifts; but these gifts did not act compulsorily upon those who had them.
They did not compel them to speak only the truth, and to use them aright; they only qualified them so to do if they were disposed; but if, under the temptation of the flesh, they were indisposed, they could falsely teach, and speak perverse things, and misapply the signs and miracles they were able to work, to confirm what they said; for Paul says plainly that
"the spirits (or spiritual gifts) of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1 Cor. 14:32):
the prophets were, therefore, responsible for the right use of them.
They could abuse them, and many of them did, to the overthrow of the faith of those who heeded them.
It was by the inworking of these unfaithful teachers constituting "the Satan", "the Serpent," that the Christian Eve was "corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ. " The depths of the Satan as they taught (Apoc. 2:24) impregnated her with the mystery of iniquity. They formed within her the embryo of the Man of Sin.
They preached a Jesus which was not according to the Jesus Paul preached; they taught another gospel than that proclaimed by him; and denied a future resurrection of the dead; or, which was equivalent thereto, said that it was already past.
The Apostasy of the First Century
When Paul was at Ephesus, he forewarned the overseers of the congregation there, that these men would appear among them, that is, in the Eldership itself. "I know this," said he,
"that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."-Acts 20:29.
And when giving directions to Titus about selecting men for elders over the ecclesias in Crete, he cautions him to be careful whom he ordains, for these men were lifting up their heads in all directions.
He therefore insists on the candidates for office being ascertained to be men who hold fast the words of faith according to the teachings, that he may be able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision; whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said,
"The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bodies."
This testimony is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men that turn from the truth. They profess to know God; but in works they deny him. being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."
There were some of these Gnostical Know Nothings in the ecclesia at Corinth, who perceiving that they could not make merchandize of its members, so long as Paul's influence was paramount, set to work to destroy it, as the first step to the exaltation of their own. Hence, they accused him of walking after the flesh; that his bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible; and that being crafty, he caught them with guile.-2 Cor. 10:2, 10; 12:16.
The last four chapters of this epistle are his defence and justification against them. He denies that he walked after the flesh; and, though his personal bearing might not be commanding, nor his discourse eloquent, he was not to be judged by these exteriors; but by the matter of his speech, the divine power wherewith it was accompanied, the gratuitousness of his labours among them, the persecutions he suffered for his doctrine, and his perfect abnegation of self in all his dealings with them, that they might be presented perfect in the day of the Lord Jesus.
He was not of the number of those who commended themselves, like "the fools," they seemed to "suffer gladly," but he mentioned these things that they might judge righteously by a comparison of his faith with theirs.
These "fools" boasted that they were "Hebrews," "Israelites," "the seed of Abraham," ministers and apostles of Christ;" but Paul denied their claims, and charged them with being
"False apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ; Satan's ministers transformed as ministers of righteousness," preaching "another Jesus," "another spirit," and "another gospel."
The fifteenth chapter of his first epistle was written as an antidote to the gospel they preached. They professed to believe in a future state, and in future rewards and punishments therein; but they denied Paul's doctrine, saying,
"There is no resurrection of the dead;" or that "the resurrection is past already," which amounts to the same thing.-1 Cor. 15:12; 2 Tim. 2:18.
This was equivalent to saying, that man has an immortal soul in his mortal body, which at the instant of death goes either to heaven or hell. If they had denied a future state, then their denial of the resurrection would have been equivalent to denying incorruptibility and life, or immortality altogether; and they would have been mere French materialists, who proclaimed that "death is an eternal slecp to all mankind."
It was indeed, then, that immortal-soulism was the foundation of Gnosticism-the Gnosis professed by the false teachers of the First Century. This γνωσιϚ, or "science, falsely so called," was full of "oppositions" to "the faith; " which, if admitted, would consume it as a gangrene.
The faith of those who admitted it was regarded as "overthrown" and "shipwrecked;" and themselves considered "reprobate;" it opposes
"the wholesome words of the Lord Jesus,"
and taught that to believe the gospel of the kingdom and be baptized, was not enough for justification; but that they must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses also, or man could not be saved.-Acts 15:1.
It opposed the self-denial of the gospel, and taught that "gain was godliness;" it opposed the decision of "the apostles and elders, and brethren" of the Jerusalem congregation, and taught a distinction of meats and drinks; respect for holy days, new moons, and sabbaths; and beguiled them into a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.-Col. 2:16.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1857
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Why the tears? Paul realised the incomparable value of the truth. He knew that for his brethren to abandon the doctrines that he had delivered to them meant their non-approval at the judgment seat. He knew, too, the all too willing ear which human nature has for the seducer and corruptor.,
For this Paul was in continual heaviness-he ceased not to warn (Phil. iii. 18; 1 Thes. iii.5-6; 2 Cor. ii. 4; xi. 28). Is there less reason for sorrow, anxiety, and warning to-day than in the first century? Are the dangers to those in the truth less? Is man more prone to walk in wisdom's ways?
To these questions Christ's words form an answer-
"When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?"
Then let us not be indifferent and callous to each other's standing in the truth. Let us continually think of Paul's example, and cease not to provoke one another unto love and good works. ATJ
The Christadelphian, Aug 1887
WHEN Paul parted with the Ephesian brethren at Miletus, he said...
32 I commend you to God, and to the brethren word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Do we not find it so? The reading of the Bible is so up-building. It makes us feel so strong when we receive into the mind and heart the things it contains.
..."Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him."
How does he knock? By all the instrumentalities he has employed to secure the attention of men. These all focus in the Bible. In this he is knocking, knocking always. To open the door is to listen to the knocking in the reading, and to open the mind and heart to the glorious matters he has to present.
33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
'...whenever he was in a city as a preacher of the gospel, he would not accept financial support - as did teachers of every other kind - from those to whom he was actually preaching it at the time. If, later, they chose to send him voluntary offerings to assist him while preaching elsewhere, that was quite another matter. At all costs he wanted to avoid being confused with the itinerant philosophers of the day who peddled their worthless intellectual wares from city to city (1 Thess. 2: 9; 2 Thess. 3: 8 ; Acts 20: 34; Phil. 4: 14-17).
Letters to Corinth Ch 9.
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
There is no sin in desire or lust itself; it can be good or bad. The sin is in what is desired and why.
The reason why the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are of the world and ungodly is because they are all aspects of selfishness -- desires to get, and to gratify self.
We must get at the root of the desire. Is it a desire to GET, or a desire to GIVE? -- a desire to gratify ourselves or a desire to please God?
We must desire to give: seek opportunity to give, center all our pleasure and satisfaction in giving; be thankful of any opportunity, however small and insignificant, of giving, for -- said Jesus -- it is more blessed, more happy, more satisfying, more enjoyable to give than to get.
We must put aside all desire to get as evil, deceptive, self-destroying misdesire. Temptation, if traced to its roots, always works through the desire of getting something -- wanting something -- not being satisfied -- not being willing in thankfulness to accept God's way and God's provision.
Bro Growcott - Strong crying and tears.
38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
I could not say I would see their face no more, but I could say that for over 30 years I had laboured among them with one object only in view, however much unfriendly minds might doubt it, namely, to uphold the honour of God, and promote the well-being of man. If I was going, it was not by my choice: it was through the compulsion of circumstances that had got beyond my control.
And if I was going, it was not to new work, but to the same class in another country - a class not much reckoned of by current methods of regarding people, but people of great estimation when reckoned according to God's standard, which the world did not recognise - the sort of people described by God himself when He said that for them- "that feared the Lord and thought upon His Name, " "A book of remembrance was written before Him: and they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels. "
This class had been created on the other side of the globe by the agency that had created them here - the agency that had developed them in all ages of the world - the exposition and agitation of the things testified in the Word of His Truth. This exposition and agitation differed with the differing circumstances of the nineteenth century, but the result was in measure the same - the establishment of that conviction in good and honest hearts, which produced the faith that worked by love, and affected the mainsprings of human action, with the result of producing "the fruits of the spirit," and "a new man in Christ Jesus."
In our age, this result was almost exclusively confined to the English-speaking parts of the human race. The literature of the Truth in our day was chiefly an English literature. God had not given the gift of tongues in our day, nor had He started any promising activities in other languages than the English.
There was religious activity enough among foreign nations, but it was not the activity of the Truth, but of superstition garnished with scripture names.
The Truth had been revived in the nineteenth century by the instrumentality of Dr. Thomas; the results of its agitation had been meagre both as regards the number who had come under its influence and the intensity of their assimilation of its power, as compared with the harvest of the apostolic age: but as compared with the darkness and the sterility that prevailed in the ecclesiastical communions for centuries, there was something to be thankful for in the green sprouting that had followed the modern sowing of the good seed.
There might yet be a great improvement in this respect.
ALL DEPENDED UPON THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE SCRIPTURES WERE PRIVATELY READ. THE SCRIPTURES WERE THE ULTIMATE SOURCE OF ALL SPIRITUAL POWER.
The Scriptures had lost none of the power which Paul ascribed to them, when he said in his farewell speech delivered at Miletus, that they were "able to build up and give men an inheritance among all them that were sanctified."
Bro Roberts - Second Voyage to Australia