This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Paul's visits to Troas

How Acts 16:6-11 explains 2 Cor 2:12-13
In Acts 16:6-11 we read that Paul and his companions were not permitted to preach in the province of Asia, which included Troas. They arrived in Troas but immediately are called to Macedonia. Evidently, they did not evangelize Troas or indeed its region, the Troad.

In 2 Cor 2:12-13 we learn that Paul's anxious desire to meet Titus drove him from the Troad to Macedonia. Paul had presumably communicated his Ephesus-Troad-Macedonia travel plan to Titus, who was to leave Corinth and travel to wherever Paul was scheduled to be at the time. Paul therefore knew that Titus would not arrive in Troas after the date that Paul had been due to leave. Paul, proceeded to Macedonia when this date passed because he was anxious to meet Titus as soon as possible. Paul had to stick to his original schedule to meet Titus the soonest. Now, Paul writes that he had gone to the Troad to evangelize and that a door was opened for him. The implication is that an unexpected opportunity for evangelism had arisen and that, had it not been for his anxiety, he would have extended his stay in the Troad beyond his scheduled departure date to exploit this opportunity. This makes it rather likely that Paul had not previously evangelized the Troad. If he had done so, he would have known what to expect and he would have been better able to judge how long he would wish to devote to that region. The opening of the door was unexpected because he had not tried that door before.

So, there is a minor point of agreement here between Acts and 2 Corinthians. Both imply that Paul did not preach in the Troad on his way to Macedonia.

How 2 Cor 2:12-13 explains Acts 20:6
When Paul went to Troas for the third time his desire to preach there was so strong that he spoke until midnight (Acts 20:7) and continued to converse until dawn (Acts 20:11), when he left for a full day's journey to Assos without having slept at all. He also devoted o fewer than 7 days to Troas (Acts 20:6), even though he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem (Acts 20:16)? Haenchen thought that Paul had difficulty finding a ship, and Pervo also suggests that the delay in Troas was involuntary, but this extended stay in Troas is simply explained by the priority that Paul placed on preaching in Troas.

All this agrees well with 2 Cor 2:12-13, which tell us that, a few months earlier, Paul had had to leave the Troad in a hurry, leaving preaching opportunities unexploited. It makes sense that Paul would want to spend a week in Troas to complete the work that he had cut short the previous year.

Acts and 2 Corinthians are in harmony here too.

The commentators seem to have missed these points.

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