Posted by: SandreS | December 6, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 34

The Few of Paul’s Ministry

In the early part of the book of Acts we read of the 3,000 and then of the 5,000. While reading on in the book of Acts, when we come to Paul and His Gentile ministry, we don’t read of specific numbers like this. How many were actually involved in Paul’s ministry? What do you usually visualize when you think of his work?

Let’s take the capital of the Roman Empire for example. How many believers were at Rome when Paul wrote to them? It would appear from Romans chapter 16 that there were as many as five households represented there (“the church in your house”). Now, how many saints could be connected with a specific household (family members, servants, friends, etc.)? Perhaps 10 to 30? These numbers multiplied by 5 household would be a total range from 50 to 150. This number would not just be men (as are the 5,000 numbered in the book of Acts), but men, women and children in 5 home gatherings in the capital of the Roman Empire. This was after some 15 years of Pauline ministry in the Empire. Impressive? It depends on one’s viewpoint; but the story grows more interesting!

Paul actually went to Rome and taught for two years. During Paul’s first Roman imprisonment he served under house arrest. This worked out to a great advantage for Paul, for we read in the Book of Acts,

And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him (Acts 28:30-31).

You would think after this two-year teaching ministry of Paul, out of his own rented house, that we might see a great influx in numbers. Yet the truth is that it got worse!

Paul wrote the Book of II Timothy from Rome, but when he writes Timothy this last time, what does he say?

All they who are in Asia are turned away from me (II Timothy 1:15).

Paul addresses the Asian problem because this was where Timothy was. This is the ruins of which Timothy was personally aware. That’s why he starts that statement,

This you know, that all they who are in Asia are turned away from me.

If the truth be known, this apostasy of the Body of Christ proliferated throughout the entire Roman Empire. While in this last Roman imprisonment Paul said, concerning his first trial date,

No man stood with me, but all men forsook me (II Timothy 4:16).

There was not one man in Rome who came and stood with Paul! This was after some 23 years of ministry in the Roman Empire. It was after writing an epistle to the saints at Rome, and it was after coming to Rome and having a two-year house teaching ministry there. What happened to the Roman saints? Now we can’t even count 5 households.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

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