For centuries it was thought that around this time — almost 20 years after Jesus had returned to heaven from earth — Matthew recorded his testimony of the good news about Jesus, which recounts key events in the life & ministry of Jesus on the earth.
More recently, the prevailing opinion is that Matthew’s testimony was written much later and was built on Mark’s testimony of the life & ministry of Jesus. Precise dating of the document is difficult. But it remains the main means by which the Holy Spirit helped Matthew serve Jesus (273).
The Holy Spirit led Paul to continue serving Jesus in another way (274). After staying in Syrian Antioch for some time, he said to Barnabas: “Let’s go back & visit our brothers in the new church fellowships in Turkey & see how they’re doing.”
Barnabas was willing, but he wanted to take Mark along. Paul, however, insisted that they should not take Mark, since he had left them in the middle of the first mission trip. The contention was so sharp that Paul & Barnabas decided to journey separately. Barnabas took Mark and sailed on a mission trip to his native Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and departed for Turkey. The church in Syrian Antioch commended all four ambassadors for Jesus to the grace of God.
Paul & Silas began by going first through Syria & then through Cilicia, in southeastern Turkey, strengthening the local churches as they went.
Eventually they made their way west to the Turkish cities of Derbe and then Lystra, where a new Christian named Timothy lived.
Timothy’s mother Eunice was Jewish, but she had converted to become a follower of Jesus Christ. She and her mother, Lois, had raised Timothy to know God. Timothy’s father, however, was an unbelieving Gentile. Since all the believers in Lystra & in the nearby city of Iconium spoke well of Timothy, Paul wanted to take Timothy along on the rest of their trip.
And since all the Jews in that region knew that Timothy’s father was not a Jew, Paul circumcised Timothy so there would be no question about his Jewish heritage. (Paul always wanted Jesus to be exalted among Jews as well as Gentiles.)
As Paul, Silas & Timothy visited the new Turkish churches, they preached the good new about Jesus & the kingdom of God. They also delivered to the believers the basic rules decided upon by the witnesses & elders in Jerusalem. And those early Turkish churches grew stronger in the faith & in numbers every day.
God, please help me to love serving You every day.
(273) Matthew’s testimony about Jesus is incorporated into previous posts on this site.
(274) Acts 15:36-16:5