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ACTS 20:1-6

When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-bye and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. (verses 1-4)


We get another sighting here of fellowship in the ongoing ministry of the Gospel in the early church.

Paul has just emerged from a season of significant ministry in Ephesus, capped by a near riot which was itself sparked by the effectiveness of that ministry. He leaves, travelling through Macedonia, speaking words of encouragement at every stop, and finally arriving in Greece, where he is met with further hostility. There’s a festering plot that’s serious enough to cause him to change travel plans, backtracking through Macedonia even though his heart is set on returning to Syria and Jerusalem.

Paul probably needed support and encouragement at this point. What a blessing he had seven travelling companions to share the twists and turns of the road. Some we know next to nothing about; some we meet on other occasions. Together they form a mobile community of support. Here’s a look at four of them:

Sopater is from Berea, a community that examined the scriptures closely to determine if what Paul said was true. Sopater seems to have been converted in the process. He’s likely the same man identified at the end of Romans as Sosipater, where we discover he was actually one of Paul’s own relatives (Romans 16:21). How good for family to engage together in kingdom work.

Aristarchus is from Thessalonica, but hadn’t embraced that community’s hostility toward Paul. Instead, he’s been a constant companion, getting himself embroiled in the Ephesian riot (Acts 19:29), and still being alongside Paul, much later, as he boarded a ship to Rome as a prisoner (Acts 27:2). This is a faithful friend.

Timothy is dear to Paul’s heart, engaging with him in the ongoing ministry of gospel preaching, church planting and leadership. He’s one of the Apostle’s closest companions. Of Paul’s thirteen letters, Timothy is included in the salutation of six, and was the recipient of two. Paul calls him “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2), “my son whom I love” (1 Corinthians 4:17), “our brother” (2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1), and “our brother and co-worker” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Paul loved him dearly, leaning on him for ongoing support – a son, and true friend.

Tychicus often turns up as Paul’s personal messenger (Ephesians 6:21, Colossians 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:12, Titus 3:12), faithfully sharing news of Paul’s circumstances with those to whom he was sent. The Apostle calls him “a dear brother, faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord” (Colossians 4:7). It’s high praise.

So often in these chapters the spotlight is on Paul. He’s the one we see in action. He’s a true hero of faith, a servant of Jesus, a man empowered by the Spirit, passionately sharing the grace and goodness of the Gospel. It’s his story that unfolds before us.

Yet, it’s not his story alone. He walked with others, not serving on his own. Some of their names appear in these verses; others spill over at the end of his letters. It’s what he meant when he told us that we are the body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27). He lived it. So should we.


Lord Jesus, thank you that you don’t intend us to go it alone. Thank you for those you have brought beside me in friendship and community. Give me open eyes and open heart to embrace others. Amen.


Reflect: Who has the Lord used in your life for support and encouragement? Give thanks.

Who is he calling you to reach out to with similar support? Pray, and act.

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