Memory Text: “I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24, NRSV).
Luke’s account of Paul’s third journey starts rather abruptly. The text says only that after spending some time in Antioch, the center of Paul’s missions, the apostle set out on another journey, passing successively “through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:23, NRSV). So, the first 1,500 miles of the journey are covered in one sentence.
This is because the focal point of the journey was Ephesus, where Paul spent more time than in any other city in the course of his journeys. From the evangelistic standpoint, the ministry in Ephesus was very fruitful; the impact of Paul’s preaching reached the whole province of Asia (Acts 19:10, Acts 19:26). It was probably during this time that the churches of Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea were founded, perhaps through Epaphras (Col. 4:12-13), one of Paul’s co-workers (Col. 1:7, Philemon 23).
A remarkable thing about this journey is that it is the last one of Paul’s recorded in Acts. Paul undertook it as a free man. Luke records yet another journey, this time to Rome, but as a prisoner.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 8.