Picking up from a general overview of Acts 20, my Mom asked me for a more elaborate take — or just more notes, really 😛 — on verses 1 to 12 (and I copy that part of her email verbatim) :
I was thinking of the first 10 verses, it described only of Paul’s voyage ON FOOT BEFORE JOINING LUKE IN THE SHIP. Luke didn’t say anything about Paul’s preference to go on foot. It’s a blind spot for me – since he cares for the poor, he worked too to have funds for the church or ministry. It’s possible, he walked to solicite donations from important persons along the way. Please give me your idea.
We have to take into account that it’s Luke who wrote the book of Acts 😇📓. The few verses/chapters on Paul is not sufficient, as Luke decided to write as many things as he can about all of the apostles he knew at that time. If we wish to know more about Paul, we have to look into his letters/epistles 😇📝.
Paul wore a lot of hats in his lifetime. In modern terms, he was:
1) an EVANGELIST — he made it his life’s work to spread the Gospel to the nearby nations. He consistently called on the power of the Holy Spirit and sealing the inspiration of God with communal prayer as to where he should go next. And even after preaching, he didn’t stop there: he made sure to support the communities he has built by building relationships (from Acts 20:22-24 Romans 1:14-17):
22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
2) a MISSIONARY — money is indeed needed, but it was not the primary purpose of his tours. His Number 1 priority has remained the share the Gospel, and money is only a means to his goal. It just so happens that in every community he has built, people were so moved by knowing what Jesus did for them, that the love and generosity of God flows through them (notes between [ square brackets] are mine):
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)41 Then those who gladly received his word [Paul’s preaching of the Gospel] were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47)
3) a CHURCH-PLANTER — the disciples, Paul, and the apostles, had a very rough start. Not only they had the Abrahamic tradition to contend against, but also the people baptized by John — not even to mention the pagan communities! Paul’s strategy was simple: gather people together, and preach; and those he preached to continue his work, thus setting up very “informal” churches: just small groups of people building each other up in the word of God and the love of Jesus, and sharing it to more and more people. Acts 18 is a quick example of that.
4) a PASTOR — Paul’s success was not just due to his being a good speaker, but it was also because he built relationships and built up other people for Jesus. The clearest example of this is his taking Timothy under his wing (from 1 Timothy 4:12-16):
12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
Therefore, Paul’s travels weren’t driven by money, but by an unrelenting passion for God and for spreading the Gospel. After all, Paul’s life, despite the trials, was the epitome of God’s promise in Matthew 6:33:
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
And what are these things (Matthew 6:25-32)?
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
As we like saying in church: “If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill 😋!”