Luther’s depth of understanding of the theology of Paul set him up to look back at his life as an older man, and see that in everything God’s hand was guiding and leading. Even the so called bad times, and there were many, seemed orchestrated for a outcome that God had set that would make sure that God’s promise in Christ would speed on and conquer. Luther could be irritated and angry about all the sin and death around him, and watch human beings falling for the wiles of the devil, who has been defeated, and still claim that God was in control.
Like Luther, who was so excited after the 95 Thesis to see that so many people were beginning to see the great love of God in Christ that freed them and justified them, the second missionary journey of Paul started up with great hopes and expectations. He had the letter from the leaders of the Jerusalem church that the Gentiles did to not have to follow the ceremonial loss of the Jews. They were free and justified by God’s gift of grace in Christ. Paul was excited to go back to the churches and tell them, but instead a problem arises. Barnabas is ready to go but he demands that John Mark go with them to which Paul objects. Paul refuses to go if John Mark goes and they have a big fight. The Greek word used to describe the fight is “paroxysm”; they had a clash and an argument and it was an issue. At this point Barnabas decides he will go visit the churches they have already visited and take John mark with him, and it is agreed that Paul should go on somewhere else and take with him Silas. Where are used to thinking about Paul and Barnabas, but on the second missionary journey it is Silas. To make matters more interesting every where Paul wants to go is closed to him and he is frustrated. He uses words like “prevented” from going, or blocked from continuing. One of the commentaries describe it as Paul “running out of land”. After wandering around for a while not knowing where he was supposed to go, because the spirit was hindering him, he ends up at Troas and there in a dream he sees a man of Macedonia waving to him and saying “come and help us”. This is an example of how God is in charge of missions and mercy work and missionaries should take heed to what takes place at Troas. The mission endeavor is going to Europe. In addition, Silas runs into an old friend he had lost track of years ago. He finds him in the marketplace at Troas. The friends name was Luke. and Luke was a physician. Luke decided to follow along with Paul and Silas and he also recorded what he saw and heard, and he would later take up a “history” of Jesus and His work to save the world that became the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
Let’s think of something. Suppose Barnabas had gone on that journey instead of Silas. He did not know Luke and would not have recognized him or brought him along. Paul would have been deprived of a Doctor, which both he and Silas would desperately need, and there would have been no record or “account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. ” Luke would never have been able to “carefully investigate everything from the beginning”, or to decide to write an orderly account for history. In other words there would have been no Gospel of Luke or Acts of the Apostles.
Things like this are examples to both Luther and Paul, and they should be to us as well, of how God guides and directs history in such a way that the Gospel speeds on and people come to know Christ as Savior.
The Second Missionary Journey is an adventure story full of intrigue and plots and danger and politics. It is full of drama and humor as well.
There are folks up here in the North country who are taking a cruise to follow the footsteps of Paul on that journey, The cruise takes place May 6-16 of 2020. Information is available from Roger Weinlaeder in Drayton North Dakota. Call 701-454 3329. for a brochure and information.