In 19:21 and 22 Paul purposed to go to Jerusalem and Rome. “And when these things were fulfilled, Paul purposed in his spirit, having passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, after I have been there, I must also see Rome. And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a time.” Erastus was a city treasurer of Corinth (Rom. 16:23; cf. 2 Tim. 4:20) of a high rank. He must have been converted by Paul’s preaching in Corinth (cf. Acts 18:8) and became an attendant to Paul.
According to 19:22, after Paul sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia, he stayed in Asia for a time. It was at this time in Ephesus that the apostle wrote his first Epistle to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 16:3-10, 19; 4:17; cf. Acts 19:20-23, 8-10, 17; 20:1).
Paul’s purpose in 19:21 was to carry out his loving concern for the need of the poor saints in Jerusalem. At this time he was at Ephesus on his third ministry journey, busy with a heavy burden to carry out his ministry in Asia (1 Cor. 16:8-9) and in Macedonia and Achaia (1 Cor. 16:5-7; Acts 20:1-3). Nonetheless, he still had a burden to spare a part of his time for the needy saints in Jerusalem. When he came to Corinth and wrote his Epistle to the saints in Rome, he expressed his purpose in this concern and begged them to pray for him concerning this purpose (Rom. 15:25-31). Although Paul was an apostle set apart by God for the Gentiles (Acts 22:21; Gal. 2:8), he was still concerned for the Lord’s interest among the Jews. His primary concern was for the Body of Christ universally, not merely for his part of the New Testament ministry among the Gentiles.
Besides this, Paul’s purpose in going to Jerusalem at this juncture might also have been to fellowship with James and the other apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning the Judaic influence upon the church there. The decision made by the conference of the apostles and elders in chapter fifteen to resolve the problem concerning circumcision should not have been fully satisfactory to Paul according to his teachings in the Epistles to the Galatians and the Romans. This should have troubled him because of his concern for God’s New Testament economy to build up the Body of Christ. After Paul arrived at Jerusalem (21:17-18), James’ word in 21:20-22 and his proposal to him to participate in the four Jewish believers’ Nazarite vow (21:23-24) seem to confirm this view.
In 19:21 we see that it was in his spirit that Paul purposed to go to Jerusalem. Because the Lord the Spirit dwelt in Paul’s spirit (2 Tim. 4:22; Rom. 8:10-11), he must have purposed according to the leading of the Lord the Spirit. Paul’s human spirit (Zech. 12:1; Job 32:8; Prov. 20:27) was regenerated by the Spirit of God (John 3:6) and indwelt by the Lord the Spirit. Paul’s spirit witnessed with the Spirit (Rom. 8:16), and in his spirit he worshipped God and served Him (John 4:24; Rom. 1:9).
Paul’s purpose to go to Jerusalem and his desire to see Rome were fulfilled. Paul did go to Jerusalem (21:17), and he did see Rome (28:14, 16). Paul’s desire to see Rome was fulfilled by the Lord bringing him to Rome through his appealing to Caesar (23:11; 25:11).
The time of 19:21 was both a difficult time and an excellent time for Paul. It was a difficult time because the Jews were opposing him and even seeking to kill him. But it was an excellent time in that the door had been opened for Paul to gain many for the Lord. Concerning this time, Paul says, “I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a door is opened to me, great and operative, and many are opposing” (1 Cor. 16:8-9). These words to the church in Corinth were written in Ephesus, where Paul stayed for three years on the third journey of his ministry. Therefore, the time of 19:21 was crucial; it was both a time of opposition and of great opportunity to carry out a fruitful work for the Lord.
The fact that Paul purposed in his spirit to go to Jerusalem indicates that he was absolutely for the Body of Christ. Because he was for the Body, he was very concerned about Jerusalem. From this we see that Paul certainly was a qualified vessel to bear the testimony of God’s New Testament economy. Paul bore this testimony in an up-to-date way.
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