17 “When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.” (Acts 21:17–19)
Have you ever taken a motor trip and felt that the journey would never end? I remember the first time my wife and I, along with our small children, traveled to Florida by car to spend a week with dear friends who had recently moved to a community just north of Daytona Beach. The kids thought that once we crossed into Florida that the trip was done. Frustratingly for them, we still had another couple of hours yet to go.
I wonder how Paul, Luke, and their companions (Acts 20:4-5), felt after traveling for well over a month when they finally arrived in Jerusalem. It must have been a welcome relief to reach their destination, although they knew that the city was fraught with danger for Paul and those committed to the Gospel.
When they arrived, the Jerusalem believers in Christ gladly welcomed them. Luke recorded, “the brothers received us gladly.” To receive means to personally accept and have as a guest in one’s home.
The next day, presumably after a good night’s rest, Paul, Luke and others went to see James, the half-brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:19) and an elder in the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15). The other Jerusalem church elders were also present at the gathering. Following his greetings, Paul relayed in detail the events of the third missionary journey and all the things God had done among the Gentiles though his ministry in preaching the gospel of God.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The mention of elders indicates that the apostles, often away on evangelistic work, had turned over rule of the Jerusalem church to them. Some have speculated that there were 70 elders, paralleling the Sanhedrin. Given the large size of the Jerusalem church, there probably were at least that many. God had decreed that after the apostles were gone, the church was to be ruled by elders (cf. 14:23; 20:17; 1 Tim. 5:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Pet. 5:1, 5). Paul’s official report of his missionary work did not involve meaningless generalities; he related specific incidents from his journeys (cf. 11:4). As always (cf. 14:27; 15:4, 12), Paul gave all credit and glory for his accomplishments to God.”
Do you have a relationship with any of the missionaries supported by your church? If so, and even if not, make the effort to write a letter, or send an e-mail, to these families and get to know them. Inquire as to what needs they may have and uphold them in prayer. You may even ask them about their successes and encourage them because of any disappointments.
Soli deo Gloria!