Understanding Acts | Encouragement | Acts 20.1-6 | movementministriesblog.com

by | Mar 31, 2023

“When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.” Act 20.1-6

Paul was an evangelist and an apologist. He took several missionary journeys in order to spread the Gospel. But one thing we don’t often attribute to Paul is the gift of encouragement. We think of Barnabas as the one who brought encouragement. Here’s an excerpt supporting this very idea about Barnabas:

“We have all been around exciting people who are passionate about the wrong things. What did Barnabas encourage them towards? “He encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (verse Acts 11.23c). Perhaps this was his way of saying: Remember this day always. Remain true even when temptation comes. Remain true when the culture goes against you. Remain true when you are threatened with your life (a reality for the early church and for many believers around the world today). Barnabas had a beautiful way of encouraging them toward the truth of the Lord, who loves us with all His heart.”(https://churchrenew.org/encouraging-people/#:~:text=What%20did%20Barnabas%20encourage%20them,true%20even%20when%20temptation%20comes.)

And whereas Barnabas had the gift of encouragement, (see Romans 12.8) so did Paul. Twice in this passage in Acts 20 it mentions Paul doing this very thing. “After the uproar, Paul sent for his disciples, and after encouraging them….” V.1. And in V.2, “He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people.” Barnabas was not the only encourager in the growth of the early New Testament Church.

What is an encourager? One source suggests the following, “The gift of encouragement or exhortation is found in Paul’s list of gifts in Romans 12:7–8. The word translated “encouragement” or “exhortation” is the Greek word paraklésis, related to the word paracleteParaklésis basically means “a call to one’s side.” Paraklésis carries the idea of bringing someone closely alongside in order to “exhort,” “urge,” “encourage,” “give joy,” and “comfort” him or her. All of these actions make up the gift of encouragement. For example, Paul often urged and exhorted his readers to act on something he wrote. A good example is Romans 12:1–2, where Paul urges the Romans to present their bodies to God as living sacrifices. By doing this, they would know and understand God’s will,” (https://www.gotquestions.org/gift-of-encouragement.html).

We too are called to be encouragers. I learned this gift from my parents and have thus developed it by the Holy Spirit over my lifetime. I would rather encourage than preach, teach or serve. Encouragement, which comes with listening attentively to the needs of others, is where I find joy. Ask me to preach and I begin to stress out. Ask me to encourage, to uplift, to support and I am at home in my wheelhouse.

Not everyone has the natural gift of encouragement but it can be developed and is essential to discipleship and evangelism. As we see in Paul’s ministry, who made time for encouragement, so we can do the same. In addition, Jesus was a great encourager — he helped people become who God has created them to be.

Who is God asking you to encourage today?

“O Lord God, in this season of Lent, with Palm Sunday approaching, I thank you for your encouragement in my own life. For your suffering, death and resurrection, you brought hope to the whole world. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and presence. Help us be the people you have called us to be. Help us come alongside one another and encourage in a way that is according to your word and filled with your love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen