SOMETIMES WHEN I READ THE BIBLE something moves me – enough that it produces a warm feeling in my chest.
It happened again this week.
I was working on my emerging Bible paraphrase, the Casual English Bible, and I was reading about Paul’s Farewell Tour. It was his final mission trip. And he was about to take the last leg of his voyage home to Jerusalem, where he somehow knew he was going to be arrested and imprisoned in every city he would go to for the rest of his life. He said the Holy Spirit told him that.
In the scene that moved me, Paul was saying goodbye to leaders of the only church he stayed at for three years.
Most places he went, he stayed for just a few days or a few weeks. But in Ephesus, one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire, and located on Turkey’s West Coast, he settled in for a long stay.
When I put the Bible in my own words, I read it more deeply than I do when I’m studying it for other projects. I feel the words differently, I think. In a way, I kind of own them.
So maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m reading too much into Paul’s last goodbye to people he loved so well.
See what you think about it. Here are some of the words that moved me most. It’s a scene I relate to because of goodbyes I’ve had to make in years now gone.
Paul told the church leaders from Ephesus,
“I feel the Spirit driving me to Jerusalem. I don’t know what all will happen to me when I get there. But I do know this. The Holy Spirit has told me that in every city I go to from now on, I will face persecution and imprisonment.
What happens to me now isn’t important to me anymore. All I care about is finishing the work that I’ve been given by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling the good news about the kindness of God.
I know this too, my friends. Not one of you will see my face again—none of you whom I have taught about God’s kingdom…
Now my friends, I leave you in God’s hands. I want to give you a message about his kindness, too. God is able to give you all the strength you need. And God can bring you home to share the inheritance of all the people who have devoted themselves to him.”
…After Paul said this, he knelt with everyone and prayed. It seemed that everyone was crying. They hugged Paul and kissed him goodbye…
What made them saddest of all was that he told them they would never see his face again. They walked with him all the way to the ship (Acts 20:22-25, 32, 36-37, Casual English Bible).
Blog subscribers who win books this week
- Stanley Loper
- Paul Kim
I give away free books every week to randomly selected subscribers to my free blog or my quarterly newsletter.
Note to the two winners: send me an email and I’ll give you the full list of books from which you can choose.
The deal’s good for a month, or for as long as I have giveaway books available.