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Bible Gemz 1786 - Paul's Island Hopping Phase (Acts 20:13-16)

February 20, 2018

Paul’s Continued Travels Through Assos, Mitylene, Samos and Miletus

Paul went by land to Assos, where he had arranged for us to join him, while we traveled by ship.

He joined us there, and we sailed together to Mitylene.

The next day we sailed past the island of Kios. The following day we crossed to the island of Samos, and a day later we arrived at Miletus.

Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn’t want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost. (Acts 20:13-16)



The puzzling thing, that a number of you picked up on, is the fact that Paul walked alone the 32 kilometres from Troas to Assos. That no one accompanied him is remarkable. Why did he do that? Why did the others not protest given the animosity from the Jewish opposition? Wasn't it dangerous for anyone to walk anywhere alone? For some unstated reason Paul chose to walk to Assos alone while the others, including Luke, went to Assos by ship. Was this a deliberate plan on Paul’s part to be alone? Was he following in the footsteps of Christ? Look at the numbers of times Jesus chose to be alone, even at the most inopportune times or when the crowds were pressing in on Him the most.  I am not going to give you all of the references to such times in Jesus’ experience. They will stay with you longer and more clearly if you search them out for yourself. 


I wonder if Paul’s plan caught the others by surprise. I wonder if they were waiting for Paul to join them on board ship and when the ship was about to leave Paul just simply hadn’t turned up. Perhaps he had told someone to tell the others they should go on to Assos and he would join them there – “Assos - where he had arranged for us to join him”. The arrangement to join them at Assos may have been without their knowledge. Perhaps the arrangement had been with someone else and not with someone from among the travelling companions. 


As I told you in another Gemz this week, it is like Paul is rushing to get to Jerusalem so he goes from place to place without spending much time in each place. Yet he takes the time to walk 32 kms rather than go by ship. Given the right winds a ship is faster than walking pace for a man unless it is becalmed (caught without wind). Paul is island hopping: – first to the island of Lesbos, where Mitylene was the main town, then to the island of Kios and lastly to the island of Samos before finally arriving in Miletus. Luke tells us that Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus and not stop there because the urgency was to get to Jerusalem. But if that is the case then why bother to stop at all these small, inconsequential islands when he could have just by-passed them all. Unless the ship stopped there anyway and Paul was trapped as result of the fixed route the ship was taking. 


In order to navigate around the long promontory which has Smyrna on the north tip and Ephesus on the south, they had to sail across the open water toward Chios in order to round the point. Ships kept north of Samos and then passed along the narrow passage along the coast past Miletus. The ships often had to lay for the night opposite the island of Chios. It is not necessarily the case that Paul made landfall on Chios but rather Luke was just describing the standard route taken. Therefore they passed by those places but didn't stop there. 


Stopping in Miletus no doubt was a scheduled stop in order to take on supplies to reach Jerusalem. Paul possibly took the opportunity to call the Ephesian elders to meet him in Miletus. The distance between Miletus the port and the city of Ephesus was about 50 miles (80 kms). That is a significant journey for the Ephesian elders to make on foot. It must have been important for both Paul and the Ephesian elders to meet. Furthermore, there had to be time enough for the Ephesian elders to get there in time after getting a messenge from someone sent from Miletus. You can see the time needed to do all this. If this was indeed as I suspect, a scheduled stop to replenish food supplies and harbour in Miletus for a while, it would have given the Ephesian elders ample time to travel up to meet with Paul. Sometimes expediency goes hand in hand with opportunity. 


That is a good point for me to leave the Gemz while we wait for the ship’s crew to take a break and the captain takes on food and water etc for the onward journey. It is also possible that the winds were blowing against them, preventing them from getting out of the port again until the winds changed. Paul takes advantage of the natural break to spend time with the Ephesian elders, so too I will take advantage of the Christmas / New Year break to go to Brazil and teach Deeper Bible there. 


I also have another problem I have to solve. MailChimp has suddenly pruned all recipients of the emailed Gemz because of a change in the protocols they require. It seems you all need to sign up for Gemz on MailChimp for yourselves. It doesn't count if I added you to the list because you asked me to. You have to sign up for yourself. Also the old Gemz website ( is now inoperative. It no longer performs tasks it did in the beginning. I have had someone here in NZ preparing a new website for me based on WordPress ( I think now is the time to switch to the new website. I don't know at this point how you can get an emailed Gemz or Permata apart from MailChimp but I am seriously thinking of dumping MailChimp which has reduced my English Gemz mailing list from several thousand to just 10 after their latest change in protocols. I suspect it may be no longer practical for me to keep emailing the Gemz. But if you really want an email Gemz you could try registering on my MailChimp site. If that is too hard try signing up for the WordPress site. If that doesn't work well then I think I will be forced to stop writing Bible Gemz.  This seems a good time to test the practicality of all of these options. I will see what has happened when I come back from rural Brazil in order to make the best decision. I will also talk to the people advising me. 


From today there will be no more Gemz or Permata until at least late February. 



When nothing goes right go left. Ian


Sometimes the best thing you can do is to quit swimming against the current and instead go with the flow. Ian


Not all things were meant to be continued forever and a day. Ian


Character is easier kept than recovered. Ian


Your response creates your world. Ian

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