voyageofPaul” Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.”   – ACTS 20:16

Following a three month stay in Greece encouraging the disciples, Luke tells us that Paul set sail for Jerusalem: ” We sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.” (20:6) So Luke begins the narrative of Paul, as on a predetermined schedule that he had carefully thought out, leaving Greece at Passover and heading for Jerusalem and the Day of Pentecost.

Why was he so determined to be in Jerusalem at Pentecost? Why was he deliberately heading in to the very heart of the camp from which his most violent opposition was coming from? We can never know for sure, but considering what is given us in Luke’s narrative together with what the Apostle tells us in his letters, we can make an educated but tentative suggestion.

One thing is fairly obvious to the honest reader of the New Testament documents and that is this: all the writers were in agreement that what had come to pass in the Christ Advent- his forerunner’s unusual birth and revival ministry (John the Baptist), his own miraculous virgin birth, his teaching, his miracles, his sinlessness, the manner of his crucifixion and resurrection, everything together convinced the writers that all that was promised and anticipated by the Old Covenant Scriptures found their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth.

In our last post we saw how Paul’s concept of the Law had been radically altered by the revelation he received from Christ himself. He explains in detail in the Roman letter, that the Law could never make God’s People holy, and that is the crux of the matter. So instead of bringing the untold blessings of the promised Kingdom, the inheritance promised Father Abraham, it could only reveal the “coming short of the glory of God” of the human race;  in place of blessing it brought condemnation and curse. At the close of the seventh chapter he cries out:

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

The Law fulfills the purpose intended when it produces the same cry from the heart of those seeking to please God and leads them to look outside of themselves for a worthy redeemer. Paul had in essence already answered his own cry as he started this section of his letter (Chapters 5-8). I urge you to take time to read 5:5-10  before finishing this post. I’ll put the link on the verses so all you will have to do is click and read. Verse 5, however, is the one I want to zero in on: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the HOLY SPIRIT who was given to us.”

This I think, is why Paul was so determined to go to Jerusalem for the very Feast which the Jewish nation on one hand was celebrating with the giving of TORAH utmost on their minds, while the heart of the Gospel Paul risked his life to preach was that on the very day of the ancient celebration, after Christ had been exalted in heaven, he together with the Father now gave something even more precious than the Law; the very thing the Law could not do for the worshipper of the Holy God. Pentecost is the very time for Paul to declare once again that God has given the Life giving Spirit of Christ.

There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ (i.e.from chapter six-those who have been baptized into Christ death and resurrection), who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death”.

What Christ the redeemer, accomplished for God’s people and finished once and for all (see the message of the book of Hebrews), was poured out at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit Himself was given to the disciples.

Undoubtedly Paul was hoping that the collection he had taken up from the Gentile churches for the Saints in Jerusalem would provide an opportunity to declare the faithfulness of God in keeping His word to the Fathers, and the promises made through the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others. As he sailed on toward Jerusalem I can almost sense that against all the warnings his friends uttered trying to persuade him not to go to what seemed like sudden death, he said : “None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God”.

This then is how Saint Paul celebrated The Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. How will you spend this date on the church calendar?

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