The last half of Chapter 19 proves the difficulty in the change of culture that needed to happen for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ. A silversmith named Demetrius complained about how Paul was refuting his work, saying that his work was useless. Paul said he made false idols for worship, and that the works of human hands were not gods at all. That would mean Demetrius would be out of a job. A riot was almost started. It was so dangerous, the faithful made sure Paul would not come out and preach. It took some effort for the town clerk to convince the people to do everything through the legal system and not start a riot, which could have put everyone in danger.
Here you have a man, silversmith by trade, whose entire income is based on false worship. The Christian faith comes across as the enemy of his livelihood. Yet Jesus requires a radical commitment to follow Him. If he were to choose Christ, he would have to give up his job. We have no evidence of such a conversion from him; it seems Demetrius did not make the decision to follow Jesus.
This challenges us to make sure we do not have something we do that would keep us from making a decision to follow Jesus. The silversmith made graven images for worship. What do we make for worship? In other words, what do we put before God? What images are in our hearts that keep us from a deeper faith in Jesus? And yet Jesus still calls us. At first, sometimes we get angry. It feels like God is trying to control us, but we know it is for our good. We can justify ourselves with many reasons. For Demetrius, it was his livelihood. If we do not trust in Jesus, it is simply too much to make the decision to follow Him. It takes a deeper trust in God to completely give of ourselves in such a way as to make a total self-gift to God. God knows this. In fact, that is why He came and died on the cross for us, so that there would be a reason for our hope (1Peter 3:15). We do have a reason to believe.
As we continue on with Chapter 20, Paul gets out of town to avoid any violence. He makes substantial voyages at this time, for those who are interested in his trips at sea. This shows us that sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles. Is there hope of saving souls? Is there going to be a positive outcome? If not, then move on when it comes to evangelization. In this search for the salvation of souls, Paul was always dedicated to God’s holy will. He left everything to God and just simply tried his best to do His will. It is important to learn that lesson from Paul.
Paul gives a farewell speech in Miletus. In this speech, we see how Paul has the status of a mystic or prophet. He knows he will die sometime soon. He even declares that those in his presence will not see his face again. He seems concerned about the true teachings of the faith (v27). He talks about how he preaches to them and the importance of his preaching. He is particularly talking to consecrated priests (v17 & 32). He wants to make sure they teach the right things, but also warns of those who do not (v26 &28-31). He is actually giving instructions for the priests.
Paul reminds them of a fundamental need, “It is more blessed to give, than to receive” (v35). Truth and service come together to make a holy life; a saint. It is a life integrated in Christ fully. Nothing is lacking, neither truth, nor works, nor faith. They all kneel down to pray their last prayer with Paul personally. Imagine, a group of men in faith get on their knees to pray together. This is a true showing of masculinity. Ironically, as we celebrate the femininity of mothers this Mother’s Day, we discover the true strength of their counterparts in the family. Men of prayer have a grace to help mothers do what they do so well. Men of God, pray for your wives and mothers.