Thursday, 14 September 2023
Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. Acts 20:13
The words of the NKJV need help, “And we, having gone ahead to the ship, sailed to Assos, thence readying to take up Paul. For so he had arranged, readying himself to hike” (CG).
In the last verse, Eutychus was taken home alive, and the people were greatly comforted. With that noted, the journey for the missionaries from Troas was set to commence. Therefore, Luke next says, “And we.”
The “we” verses continue, showing that Luke is with the missionaries at this time. Everything recorded here would be from his first-person perspective. Understanding this, he next notes, “having gone ahead to the ship, sailed to Assos.”
The missionaries, inclusive of Luke, are departing by ship. The first leg of the journey is from Troas to Assos. Assos is about 20 miles south of Troas, but for those who sailed, it was about twice as far as they had to go around a cape. Of this location, Albert Barnes notes –
“There were several cities of this name. One was in Lycia; one in the territory of Eolis; one in Mysia; one in Lydia; and another in Epirus. The latter is the one intended here. It was between Troas and Mitylene. The distance to it from Troas by land was about 20 miles, while the voyage round Cape Lecture was nearly twice as far, and accordingly Paul chose to go to it on foot.”
Assos is only found here and in the next verse in the New Testament. The meaning is uncertain, but Abarim says the following –
“The name Assos may derive from a rarely used adverb ασσον (asson) and revel in the fact that it's Closer than some other place. Or it relates to the name of the local son and international hero king Assaracus, Number One and the patriarch of all things Rome.
Even in 1000 BC, when there was no Rome yet, the preference would probably have inclined toward Assaracus. Assos means Number One.”
Of this trip to Assos, Luke next records that they left by ship. Once they had arrived, the plan was “thence readying to take up Paul.”
Luke notes that while he and those with him would sail, they would be ready at their arrival point to take up Paul at that location. The meaning is obvious. Paul would travel another way to Assos. That is then explained by the next words, saying, “For so he had arranged, readying himself to hike.”
Rather than sail, Paul desired to go by land. Luke uses a word found only here in Scripture, pezeuó. It is ultimately derived from pous, meaning “foot.” Being a single verb in the present tense, the word “hike” suffices. A hike is something conducted on foot and is a little less arduous sounding than “trek” or “trudge” and a little more determined than “amble” or “saunter.”
Paul hiked to Assos. Quite a few reasons have been speculated as to why he did this. Some think he didn’t want to sail unless it was necessary. Others think that maybe he wanted to pray or contemplate life. Still, others suggest that he might have wanted to visit friends on the way. And yet, others think it might have been for health reasons. Maybe he wanted to race and see who would arrive at Troas first – the old competitive spirit and all. Only speculation can be made because Luke provides no further explanation.
Life application: The traveling noted by Luke as they sailed and Paul, as he walked, can be followed on google maps exactly. You can zoom in on even the minutest details, following along the ancient ports and paths that have been updated for modern shipping and automobiles. What is wonderful about doing this is that you can find assurance that what you are reading is reliable.
Luke didn’t just write a novel about the adventures of fictional characters. Instead, he has documented the exact movements of real people that really set out on these missionary journeys. If the locations, directions, time of travel, etc., are all reliable, why would anyone assume that the other details, such as the restoration of life to Eutychus are any less reliable?
It would make no sense to document the minutest details of one aspect of the narrative and then make up a bunch of fairytales about the other parts. Rather, we have a sure and sound word that is backed up by facts and eyewitness accounts. Let us not doubt the accuracy of what we read. Instead, let us be firm and confident in what is recorded. This is the word of God, and it is reliable.
Lord God, thank You that Your word is so reliable and verifiable. Because of this, we can know that when things are recorded that are difficult to grasp because of their miraculous nature, we can still have faith that they are true. Because of this, we can also know that what is detailed for the times ahead is also true. We have a sure and grounded hope because of this precious word! Amen.