After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on our left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including women and children, left the city and came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed, and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home. The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. (Acts of the Apostles 21:1-7 NLT)
Sailing from Miletus, Paul's ministry team heads for Israel. Paul wants to get to Jerusalem.
They land, first, at the island of Cos and, the next day, at the island of Rhodes. The have, now, left the Aegean Sea and have entered the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Up until this point, they have travelled along the west coast of Asia Minor (Turkey). Now, they are traveling to it's south. The next stop is at Patara, the southernmost point of Asia Minor. They leave from there and head for Phoenicia (The region of south Syria). As they sailed this longest part of the journey, they passed the large island of Cyprus (the first stop on the first missionary journey) and landed at Tyre, in Syria. The ship had to unload its cargo there. The ministry team found the local believers and stayed with them for seven days. It doesn't say exactly what they did, but I speculate that they shared the accounts of their travels, preached and taught the Word, and fellowshipped with each other. The team apparently stayed in the homes of the believers rather than the local Holiday Inn (I know there were no Holiday Inns back then, I'm just being funny:-)). This shows the hospitality of the followers of Jesus. We, too need to be hospitable to our fellow brothers in Christ and even strangers (see I Timothy 5:10). Paul must have shared his intentions of going to Jerusalem with the congregation because they felt pressed in the Holy Spirit to prophesy to him not to do so. They discerned, in the Holy Spirit, what awaited him. When the ministry team went back to the harbor to board the ship, the entire congregation went along, including the women and children. This speaks like a megaphone about the love that the church had in that time. We can't get the entire congregation together to worship and hear the preaching of God's Word anymore, let alone escort someone to their point of departure. The congregation knelt down, on the ground, and prayed with these brethren. They too, like the Ephesian congregation, felt the sting of knowing this would be the last time they saw Paul (at least on this side). Farewells were exchanged and, I'm sure, some tears. This is a beautiful picture of the love God gives His saints. John 13:34 & 35 tells us "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (NLT). Let's love one another!
The next stop along the way was Ptolemais (just south of Tyre). There, the team stayed one day with the local brothers and sisters. We can call those who are born again our brothers and sisters. We are family. The Family of God!!
Rev. Curtis Norris