how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house,Acts 20:20(NASB)
While Paul's epistles were written to specific people or church communities to teach doctrine, give reproof, provide correction, deliver encouragement, impart instruction in righteousness, and give guidance in Christian living, the book of Acts could more accurately be described as a historical document.
The first chapters of Acts records the happenings within the early Church from its beginnings at Pentecost, to Paul's final imprisonment in Rome. It describes the birth and early development of Christianity, and the perils that believers faced in those fledgling years. Later chapters give a detailed account of the ministry and missionary journeys of Paul and other servants of God, and details various incidents that happened along the way.
It was doctor Luke who wrote the book of Acts as a sequel to his gospel of Luke. In it, he sets out the work of the Holy Spirit in those early days, through apostles and other ministers. The latter part of the book focusses on the work and ministry of Paul and in this verse, we read that he did not shrink from declaring the whole council of God to those he visited. He proclaimed anything that was profitable for godly living, as he taught in public places and moved around from house to house.
It seems that the inevitable outcome of a visit from Paul to Greece or Asia Minor, was uproar and often outrage from its citizens. While many Jews plotted against him, some Gentiles resented his claims about Christ. Others however, welcomed him with open arms and were saved by grace through faith in Christ.
It was near the end of his third missionary journey, when Paul was compelled by the Spirit to get to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, that we find him at Miletus. He hastily met up with some dear elders who travelled from Ephesus to see him, where he gave a touching address to a group of dearly loved leaders and deacons.
From the moment that Paul set foot in Asia, his heart was with the people there, as he served the Lord with all humility and tears. He had to face many difficulties including nefarious Jewish plots against his life! However, he reminds them, "I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house."
Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for he knew that it was the power of God unto salvation for all, both Jew and Gentile alike who would trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin. He did not hold back from anything that would benefit the spiritual growth and well-being of this little group of faithful believers, whom he hurriedly met on His journey to Jerusalem.
Paul had faithfully preached the Word of God and taught the unabridged gospel message for many years. He had not shrunk back from declaring the entire purpose of God, even the difficult things about suffering for Christ's sake and the satanic attack on Church members, that would inevitably come from the enemy of their soul.
Paul knew that the message of the Cross is deeply offensive to the proud heart of the unregenerate man, but throughout his ministry, he never shrank back from declaring everything that would be profitable for their eternal soul. No doubt his courage, conviction, and unabashed witness stirred up the hearts of many dear and nameless believers to go into all the world, as Christ commanded, and preach the gospel to every creature.
We too need to be like that little group of faithful elders that listened to Paul's passionate preaching on the shores of Miletus, when he reminded them to be unafraid of teaching the truth and encouraged them not to shrink back from witnessing of Jesus – both in public places and private homes.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the witness of Paul who, despite many setbacks along the way, was bold in declaring the whole counsel of God with those he met. Use me to be a mouthpiece for Jesus in word and in deed, for Your greater praise and glory. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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