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Paul thanked God for other believers

January 4, 2008

In Acts 28, Paul finally arrives at Rome, where he meets some believers from that region.

There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. (vv 14-15)

Do you notice there how the fame of Paul was such that other believers came to see him? He must have been very well-known and admired. It also speaks to fellowship or catholicity of the faith shared between believers in different regions during this time (something liberal scholars fractionalize into different “communities” and “theologies”).

I am also struck at how often Paul thanked God for other believers. I think of the opening of Colossians 1:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. (vv 3-7)

We know from chapter 2 of Colossians that Paul had never met these believers. Yet they filled his prayers with thankfulness. I think the thankfulness had to be because of his faith that God had brought them to the faith, and had given to them perseverance in right doctrine, as he mentions. He also thanks God, I would imagine, at seeing Him at work in the spread of the gospel throughout the world (which he mentions in Col 1, cited above). The success of the faith among the nations by the grace of God gives great cause for gratitude.

But here is the main point I am after: we do not thank God enough for other believers. We do not pray for the spiritual success of other believers and other churches enough. May we pray for other believers, and thank God for them, in our times of corporate prayer in our own local assemblies. Let this be a new point of emphasis in our churches.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2008 4:14 pm

    I have been struck by the last “all” in Eph 6:18:

    Ephes. 6:18 (ESV)
    praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

    ALL the saints? That’s a lot of them! But that sure seems to be what Paul is here enjoining.

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