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Paul and John

The question might be asked regarding why this study tour of these two significant Fathers of our Faith.  Let’s take John first.  It is believed (ancient tradition) that John was a cousin of our Lord and that the wedding He attended in Cana may have been John’s.  In addition, John along with Peter and James, formed sort of an inner trio of our Lord’s disciples.  For instance, they were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Peter denied the Lord with his words but John denied the Lord with his silence.  Of course both of these gentlemen were radically changed after the resurrection and the day of Pentecost. 

A significant part of John’s ministry was apparently in and around the city of Ephesus, which we will visit along with the 6 other churches to which the book of Revelation was directed.  John was the disciple of whom it is written that Jesus loved.  He continued to demonstrate that love as he was exiled to the island of Patmos, which we will also visit.  Prior to this, tradition says that he was cast into a vat of boiling oil but was miraculously delivered.  We have no proof of this but we do know that when he was an old man in his 90’s he was an exile on Patmos and wrote the final book of the New Testament, the book of Revelation.  When we are on that island I want us to think of how the Lord appeared to John in His glorified body and gave him this marvelous revelation of Himself and things to come!  According to tradition, John was the only one of the original disciple who did not die a violent death.

When I stand in a place like Patmos and think of what John and the other early Fathers did to pass the faith down to us I am thoroughly humbled and thankful.

Now as to Paul.  If we were to trace all of Paul’s life we would have to traverse the entire middle east!!  However, the most significant part of his ministry was in the areas we will visit.  For instance, it is so important to us that the Holy Spirit directed Paul and his companions to Europe instead of Asia.  We will trace his footsteps though Greece.  I especially love to sit on Mars Hill overlooking the ancient “agora”, or market place of Athens, on the one hand and the ruins on the acropolis on the other.  I trust that we will be able to read Paul’s discussions with the philosophers while we are there and his marvelous message to them and us.

Then there is Corinth.  When I think of this ancient city I must think of Paul having spent extended time there.  It was here he met Aquilla and Priscilla and worked with them in the tent making business to support his ministry.  We will even see the remains of some of the shops and wonder if one of these was Aquilla’s.  We will also stand before the same judgment seat (bema) that Paul stood before as he made his defense of the gospel in that pagan city.  We will lift up our eyes and see the remains of the Corinthian acropolis where there are remains of ancient temples dedicated to pagan gods and where over 1200 religious prostitutes plied their trade.  Corinth was an evil seaport city but it was visited by the Grace of God and two of our very important epistles of the New Testament were directed to this diverse multi-cultural worldly city.

Yes, we have some exciting adventures ahead of us as we are privileged to trace some of the “Footsteps of Paul and John.”