October 16, 2018 Author: Dr. Jacob Palliparambil OCD 1 Comment

Paul experienced God the Father’s abiding presence in his life through his provident love.  Both the Acts of the Apostles and the Writings of Paul record many instances of God’s abiding love in his life as missionary. Born and brought up a Jew, “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of the Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee,” (Phil. 3: 5) Paul was a staunch believer in  God’s love in sustaining, protecting and guiding the history of mankind, especially that of the individual. Like his ancient and recent forefathers, he did experience love of God in his life. The foundation stone of his faith in the abiding presence of God in the world is put in evidence by his preaching to the Athenians at Areopagus, as narrated by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:22-31).   He was born and brought up as a Hellenistic Jew in Tarsus, (Acts 22: 3) and was also  called and entrusted with the mission of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15-17).   We should also take stoke  of God’s  interventions in Paul’s call  missionary activities and journeys, as narrated by Luke in the Acts of Apostles and in writings of Paul himself

God’s abiding presence in the Universe

As Creator of everything in the universe and of all mankind, God is Provident.  It was one of the foundational tenets of Jewish faith, in which Paul was born and brought up. Hence Paul also believed in the Providence of God as any Jew of his days from his early childhood.    It shaped in such a way Paul’s faith that it was rooted in God’s abiding presence through His providence. This is evident from the very sermon which, according to Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul delivered to the Athenians at Areopagus.   Luke puts in the mouth of Paul the basic tenet of early Christians’ faith in the Provident God, which we can assume to be that of Paul too. Let us summarize its content as it forms the basis of Pauline concept of Providence of God. 

First of all, God is the Creator of the whole Universe, who sustains it  in its existence, giving life and breath to all things and is the source from which all proceed (Acts 17: 24- 25).  Secondly,   God directs the growth of all the peoples and their distribution throughout the universe through His interventions (17: 26).  Thirdly, God is very close to each human person that he/she should seek and find Him with ease.  All live, move and have their being in Him.  Mankind is His offspring (17: 27- 28). God cares for human beings by all the necessary means for their full growth and maturity. Fourthly, being God’s own off springs, it is absurd from human side to reduce Him to the images of inanimate beings (17: 29). Fifthly, God has borne with this ignorance on man’s part for a long time (17: 30) and now He has sent Christ, His Son, to redeem us.  Christ’s authority is guaranteed by his Resurrection from the dead. God has appointed a day when the world shall be judged in justice (17: 30- 31). Hence, we assume that  the provident God for Paul, as expressed in Acts of Apostles, is the Creator, Redeemer and Father, who brings into existence, sustains, cares, protects and disposes everything, so that all may work for the  well being, both material and spiritual, of human beings, who are His own children.  On these basic tenets of faith that Paul’s concept of the abiding presence of God through his provident love has to be understood and explained.

God’s Abiding Presence in Paul’s Life

Abiding Love in the early life of Paul: Though the vivid and vibrant story of Paul’s life begins with his conversion “on the way to Damascus,” (Acts 9: 1-30), yet the Acts of the Apostles mentions casually at least of  the place where he was born in Paul’s words: “I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia” (Acts 22: 3).   Tarsus was the capital city of Cilicia in Asia Minor.  It was a Greek city within the Roman Province. He was also trained under the great Rabbi Gamaliel: “(I was) brought up in this city (Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God” (Acts 22: 3). Though Paul was a Jew by race and birth, yet he was brought up as a child in a Greek city under the Roman Empire. On account of that, he had the opportunity to get accustomed to the Greek language and culture. On the other hand, Paul was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22; 28; 16:37) and, therefore, Paul also was familiar with Roman ways, laws and customs from his early childhood.

As a Jew he was brought up in the strict discipline of the Jewish religious culture and was also well versed in the Rabbinic teaching as a trained Rabbi at the school of Rabbi Gamaliel. All these information imply that Paul was formed into a universal citizen from his early childhood by God’s provident disposition of events and persons.  His status as a Hellenistic Jew with the privilege of a Roman citizen would help him as an apostle of Christ, when he preached the Gospel to all mankind. God had providentially arranged his early education in a universalistic context, so that he may become a Universal apostle. We have to read here the provident intervention and planning of God with regard to Paul’s life from very moment of his existence.  When Paul explains his call and mission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, Paul also interprets it as God’s preplanning even before his coming into this world: “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace” (Gal 1: 15).  This is surely prophetic style (Is 49:1; Jer.1:5), yet alludes to the provident intervention of God, even before a human being is formed in the womb of the mother. This Jewish faith conviction is well expressed in Psalm 139: “For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb…Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of earth,. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in the book were written, every one o them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (vv. 13-16). Paul was surely convinced that God providently intervened in his life even before he came into being on this earth and that God allowed him to be born and brought up in this Greco-Roman environment, so that he may be a powerful instrument to realize God’s plain in Christ Jesus.

God’s abiding love in Paul’s call to the Mission: It was also God’s provident intervention that changed Paul’s life from a persecutor of the Christians into a staunch follower of Jesus and preacher of the gospel (Acts 9: 22:26). When Paul undertook this journey from Jerusalem, he had set his mind on arresting the believers in Jesus from Damascus and brings them to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, so that the highest Jewish authority may inflict severe punishment on them. This was his plan to destroy the new movement, began by the followers of Jesus. But God intervenes in his life in radical way. The One whom Paul wanted to eradicate from the minds and hearts of the believers appeared to him and occupied his heart and mind for ever. This intervention was sudden and unexpected for Paul, but in the plan of God, it had to take place at that particular time and place, so that God’s plan may be fulfilled in the history of salvation.  Though he was a tough and rough persecutor of the new people of God, God called him to be the chosen instrument to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). It is the Lord Himself who appeared to Ananias and sent him to Saul, so that he may heal him and reveal the mission to him (Acts9:10-19). 

This was also a miraculous and providential intervention in the life of whole Church, which receives a new direction in its growth and spreading. For this purpose, God encountered him  in a dramatic way on his way through the desert path towards the city of Damascus. Ever since that providential encounter with the Risen Lord, who asked him, why are you persecuting me, Paul will be a changed man and took to his heart the preaching of the same message, which he was trying to put an end. Luke in his history of the early Christianity tells us of the many missionary enterprises that Paul took upon himself to fulfil the mission of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ to all the peoples all over the world, then known to Paul. Paul through his letters also gives us glimpses of his missionary activities among the Gentiles and the provident God who paved the way for his missionary activities and protected and guided him throughout his missionary undertakings.

God’s abiding love in the missionary activities of Paul:

Paul undertook missionary commitments in various ways. They included preaching, writing, healing, and travelling, collecting money for the poor and, above all, sufferings for the cause of the Gospel (2Cor 11:23-29). In all these varieties of activities, Paul experienced God’s provident interventions.  Though we shall not be able to cover up all the spheres of Paul’s missionary enterprises, yet we shall focus on some of the instances and ways in which God provided him with His guidance and provisions through adequate events and persons, so that he could preach the Gospel in various parts of the Roman Empire. This will help us with a glimpse of Paul’s experience of God’s providence in his life, even though he went through difficulties and hardships.

Abiding Love in the Protection of Paul’s Life:  In a rare moment of boasting about his missionary enterprises, Paul enumerates a variety of   threats to his life. While he does it, he gives a lengthy list of sufferings. They have been much more than the sufferings and hardships of so called “super apostles”: “I am a better one- I am talking like a mad man – with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stone.  Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, dander from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the church” (2Cor 11:23-28).

This lengthy list includes threats that include physical causes, natural calamities, human inimical   interventions, that caused him pain and suffering, often the very danger of losing his life.   From Paul’s own writings and from the narration of the Acts of the Apostles, we are aware that throughout his missionary enterprises Paul had to face many a hardships and pungent threats to  life, but had survived all of them, because of God’s provident interventions in favour of him. At times, they were dramatic escapes with the help of Paul’s own faithful companions, but Paul believed that behind such human support there was the invisible presence of the Provident Father.

According to the Acts of Apostles, Paul started his ministry at Damascus itself by the proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Lord. In the synagogue Paul began to proclaim that the Crucified Jesus from Nazareth was the Son of God and to prove that Jesus was the One whom the whole Judaic population expected as the fulfilment of God’s promises. Such a daring statements on Jesus who was an “accursed” criminal for the Jewish majority (Deut 23:21 = Gal 3:13) provoked the anger of the radical Jewish believers in Damascus and they plotted to kill him. They watched the gates of Damascus city day and night, so that they might kill him, if he went out of the city. But the providence of God intervened and arranged his escape from them though the help of Paul’s own fellow Christian brothers. “But his disciples took him by night and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket” (Acts 9: 23-25). In his Second letter to the Corinthians, Paul also narrates a similar incident of dramatic escape from the enemies: “The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I do not lie.  At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands” (11:31-33). Paul was convinced that he escaped from the hands of the Jewish or Heathen enemies through the interventions of God in his life by means of his disciples. Paul understands it as the provident interventions of God through human instruments, who arranged his safe escape from with grateful heart.

Other such providential interventions are available to us in the missionary journeys of Paul. Let us bring to the focus some of such instances. 1) During their first missionary journey, at Antioch of Pisidia,  Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district (Acts 13: 50).  There was a dispute over them among the citizens of Iconium, “When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to molest them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled in Lystra and Derbe “ (Acts 14: 5-6). 2)  At Lystra, once again the Jews persuaded the people against Paul and his preaching. As a result people stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city.  But they left him outside the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and entered the city; and the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe” (Acts 14: 19-20). 3)  Paul was beaten at Philippi, and was also imprisoned. But there was a great earthquake at night and prison doors were opened. However, Paul and his companions did not escape from the open doors of the prison. The jailer was astonished at their honesty and was converted to Christ Jesus (Acts 16:19-40). 4) At Thessalonica, the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked fellows of the rabble, they gathered a crowed, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house Jason, seeking to bring them out to the people. …The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea (Acts 17:5-10). 5) Even at Beroea, the Jews from Thessalonica came to persecute Paul, “then the brethren immediately sent Paul off on his way on the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there” (17: 14). 6) When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack upon Paul and brought him before the tribunal. Gallio did not take any interest in Paul’s case as it was a religious matter (18: 12-17). 7) Paul was saved during the riot of Demetrius, the silversmith, at Ephesus on account of Paul’s preaching against Artemis, the main idol of their worship. On account of Paul’s preaching, people were no more approaching the silversmiths for making images and statues of Artemis for worship. This caused great economic disaster for these artisans and they caused a riot against Paul. The authorities however refused to take action against Paul and the town clerk spoke in favour of Paul to the people (19: 38-41). Such favourable reactions to Paul are to be interpreted as the providential interventions, so that Paul may continue his missionary activities among the Gentiles. In short, the Provident God is leading and guiding thoughts and actions of men, so that they may also help the missionary activities of Paul. In all difficult moments and threats to Paul’s life, God provided him with protection and care, because Paul was realizing God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.

Paul’s journey from Caesarea to Rome:  As we consider God’s providential interventions in the missionary activities of Paul, we have to also include also Paul’s risky and tedious journey from Caesarea to the Rome, because Paul’s life was in grave danger throughout this sea sail. As Paul had appealed to Caesar, the Roman Governor Festus made arrangement for Paul to go to Rome and appear before Caesar.  Luke, the eyewitness and companion in the journey writes: “Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, ‘You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go” (Acts 25:12). Accordingly Paul and other prisoners were entrusted with a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius.  They sailed to Italy in a ship that was going to Asia Minor. Sailing through the sea, they were often hindered due to heavy winds and agitated sea, but reached in the port of Fair Havens. When the authorities decided to sail further, Paul foretold about the dangerous weather and tried to persuade the Captain from undertaking this risky sail at that time of the year for Italy, but the authority did sail for Phoenix, a harbour of Crete, thinking they could reach there before the winter. Everything went very well in the first days, but after a few days of calm sailing, there arose a tempestuous wind and had through a rough weather. For more than fourteen days, they were left adrift in the sea. As Paul had prophesied, though they lost the ship and its cargo, yet no life was lost. All of them reached the island of Malta safe, though they had to struggle against many odds at the troubled sea. The author of the Acts indirectly at least implies that God protected all of them for the sake  of Paul, who was chosen to reach the Imperial city of Rome and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ among the Romans (27: 1-44). In fact, Acts of the Apostles ends with that good news: “And he (Paul) lived there  (Rome) two years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered”(Acts28: 30-31).  All through this tedious and dangerous journey, Paul and his companions experienced the providential protection of God from all natural calamities. At Malta, we are told that, Paul was even protected from bite of venomous viper, which had fastened to his hands (Acts 28:3-6).

Providing Paul with good companions and friends

When we consider God’s Providence in the missionary life of Paul, we cannot but wonder at the supply of so many good companions and co-workers to Paul. It is not expedient here to neither enumerate all their names nor narrate the context of their appearance in the letters of Paul and in the Acts of the Apostles.  We want bring to the attention of the readers that the meetings with people in Paul’s life are to be attributed to the providence of God and also desire to mention some of those names and their contexts.

The first name that comes to our mind is that of Ananias.  The Lord Himself appeared to him and  sent him to Paul, while he was blind and confused after his unexpected and violent encounter with Jesus Christ on the way to Damascus (Acts 9: 10-17). Ananias, the elder from Damascus, is the mediator through whom God communicates to Paul of his mission towards the Gentiles.

The second important figure in the missionary activity of Paul is Barnabas from Cypress. It is Barnabas, who came to Paul’s rescue, when he was at first rejected by the disciples of Jesus at Jerusalem. Paul had left Jerusalem in discouragement and had gone to Tarsus, his own native place for refuge. Barnabas went in search of him and found him and brought him back to Jerusalem.  He introduced Paul to the apostles and gave a good report about him (Acts 9: 26-30). He is also the one who accompanied Paul during his first missionary journey (Acts 13: 1-14: 28).

At Philippi he met the purple dealer Lydia at the river side (16: 13-15). She listened to him enthusiastically and allowed her co-workers to listen to Paul. Under her leadership, they all received baptism and a community of believers in Jesus Christ was established there. It is she who gave hospitality to Paul and his companions and supported them during their stay at Philippi. 

The couple, Aquila and Priscilla, played important role in the missionary activities of Paul. They met Paul at Corinth. They had been expelled from Rome, as all the Jews in Rome,  by Emperor Claudius, on account of their faith in Jesus Christ. They were in search of a new place for settlement and for job opportunity.  They had Corinth in the same period in which Paul also reached this city for preaching during his second missionary journey. In human calculation, it could be interpreted casual, but in divine plan it was providential. They became collaborators in the preaching of the gospel. Paul lived with them and worked with them, as they were tent makers by profession (Acts 18: 1-4; 1Cor 16:19)). It is this couple who will introduce to Paul the erudite Apollo, who became also his close collaborator    (Acts 18;24-19;7). Paul writes about Apollo in his letter to the first Corinthians: “As for our brother Apollo, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brethren, but it was not at all his will to come now (God’s will for him). He will come when he has opportunity” (1Cor 16:12).        

He was accompanied by Silas during second missionary journey, when he was left alone by Barnabas and Marcos. (Act 15: 39-40). Later he was joined by Timothy from Lystra (Acts 16: 1-4). Special mention is to be made of Luke and Titus, who have gone down in the history of the Christianity as great friends and companions of Paul. 

There are mentions of several persons and their names, who either worked together or supported Paul with food, shelter and other conveniences while he was travelling from place to place or staying at a particular place for preaching the gospel. God was providing him with protection and care in all his physical and material needs. Paul mentions of this provident protection of God through the believers, when he writes his letters to the communities.

He openly admits and thanks for this providence of God through the faithful, especially in his letter to the Philippians. While Paul was in the prison at Ephesus, the believers at Philippi sent Epaphrodites to Paul with some provisions and had asked him to serve Paul in whatever need Paul may find himself. “I have received full payment, and more; I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Phil. 4: 18-20). Unfortunately Epaphrodites got sick on his way to Paul and reached Paul very ill and on the point of death. Paul received him and helped him recuperate his health and sent back him to the Philippians with a letter of thanks. Paul saw in all this incident the provident God making use of the faithful, especially Epaphrodites to help Paul in his missionary activities.(Phil. 2:25-29). Paul acknowledges with gratitude the help and support he received from the brethren at Philippi: “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only; for even in Thessalonica you sent me help once and gain.” (Phil 4: 14-16).

Paul received support while he was in prison in Rome. Gratefully he writes to Timothy: “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, and among them Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrive in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me – may th Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day – and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus” (2Tim 1: 15-18).  “At the first defence no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2Tim. 4:16-18).          

Guidance during the missionary journeys: Paul undertook his missionary journeys according to God’s plan and guidance. He waited patiently for accomplishing his missionary plans and take up travels to distant lands. Paul himself writes about it in his letters. Paul mentions about his plan to visit Rome which was planned long ago, but  that he is only able to realized it at that moment of writing this letter, because God had to dispose everything for the journey in His provident way: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you…For I long to see you.. I want you to know, my brethren, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented)” (Rom 1: 9-13).  The immediate hindrance from travelling to Rome was on account of his call to preach the gospel to the Gentiles who were living within the boundaries of Jerusalem as far as Illyricum.  The territory of Illyricum is counted  the north-west of Macedonia, on the eastern shores of the Adriatic, now almost wholly comprehended in Dalmatia. It was traversed by Paul in his third missionary journey. It was the farthest district he had reached in preaching the gospel of Christ.

This reference to Illyricum is in harmony with Acts 20:2, inasmuch as the apostle’s journey over the parts of Macedonia would bring him to the borders of Illyricum. But when he writes this letter to the Romans he has already completed his mission in these areas. Paul did not want to preach gospel in those places where others had already preached (Rom. 15:20-22). Then he repeats of his desire to visit Rome and then Spain for the purpose of preaching the Gospel to the Unbelievers: “I have longed for many years to come to you. I hope to see you in  passing as I go to Spain , and to be sped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your e company for a little “ (Rom 15: 23-24).

Paul also mentions about his plan to go to Jerusalem to bring the collection to the poor: “At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem with aid for the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they are pleased to do it…” (Rom 15: 25).  He is asking for their prayers for the good outcome of  his journey to Jerusalem and later to them: “So I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God  on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem  may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. The God of peace be with you all. Amen “ (Rom 15: 30-33).

Paul writes to Corinthians about his plans for missionary journey: “ I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may speed me on my journey, wherever I go.  For I do not want to see you now just in passing; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.  But I will stay Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries (1Cor 16: 5-9)

Paul had to leave Thessalonica after three weeks due to the persecution from the Jews (Acts 17:4). Paul was very anxious about the new Christians there. He writes to them: “But since we were bereft of you, brethren, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavoured the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face; because we wanted to come to you – I, Paul  again and again- but Satan hindered us” (1Thess 3: 17-18). When Paul could not stand the anxiety and that he himself could not undertake the journey, he sent Timothy to know about them. Timothy returned to him with good news about these first Christians. After seeing Timothy Paul writes: “For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy which we feel for your sake before our God praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?” (1Thess 3: 9-10).

Paul was asked not to preach gospel in Upper Galatia (Acts 16:6-7). He has a dream in the night. A man from Macedonia calling Paul to that place and help the people over there. Paul obeyed this instruction (Acts 16: 9-10).  While Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision at night: “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you , to harm you; for I have many people in this city”.  Paul stayed in this city a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (17: 9-11).

He takes leave of Ephesus at the end of his second missionary journey with these words: “When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined; but on taking leave of them, he said: ‘I will return to you, if God wills’ and he set sail from Ephesus” (18: 20-21). During his third missionary journey, Paul stayed longer period at Ephesus. “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome’. And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, namely Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia (Ephesus) for a while” (19: 21-22).

Paul’s plans for the missionary journeys have been taken with the consent of God: “Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double pleasure; I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and I have now send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No” (2Cor 1: 15-18).

“When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia” (2Cor 2:12-13)

All these references to his missionary journeys vouch for his belief in the providential guidance of God. He depended always on the direction of God to undertake the missionary journeys, as he knew that he was fulfilling God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. His role as a missionary is itself secondary, but the main carrier of the gospel message and its salvation is the work of God. The loving providence provided ways and means for it and disposed the events of history and minds of people accordingly.

Author: Dr. Jacob Palliparambil OCD