By Pastor Akinola
INTRODUCTION Continuing from where we stopped at the last session, we shall X-ray more about the support network of Apostle Paul. We cannot overemphasize the issue of our network, because someone has rightly said, “Your network is your net worth”.
THE MAKING OF APOSTLE PAUL’S VOCATIONAL NETWORK
Apostle Paul had a vocational network to support his apostolic mission that was developed in the Mediterranean region. He spent about 10 years to establish this regional support network (during his second and third missionary journeys).
Outstanding Fellow Labourers
One of the characteristics of the fellow labourers in Paul’s network is the ability of being able to risk their lives for him. A couple named Aquilla and Priscilla possessed this quality as seen in Rom. 16:3-4. Paul found both of them in Corinth, as they were together in the tent-making trade, and he stayed with them, while also working with them. (Acts 18:2-3).
He took Aquilla and Priscilla and sailed to Antioch of Syria (Acts 18:18-26) and left them in Ephesus to minister to the brethren. Both of them met Apollos, an eloquent teacher from Alexandria (Acts 18:24), and they ‘took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (vs. 26). Aquilla and Priscilla had a church in their house before Paul came. (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:9). They were with Paul for fifteen years.
Another person was Dr. Luke, Paul’s fellow labourer and companion for a period of sixteen years. (Philem. 24; Acts 16:10; 21:8). He travelled with Paul by sea to Rome, and was the only person with Paul in Rome during his final imprisonment. (2 Tim 4:11). Paul also mentioned Erastus together with Timothy as “two of those who ministered to me” (Acts 19:22). Erastus was the Treasurer of the City (probably Ephesus). He was also with Paul as he wrote his epistle to the Romans while at Corinth. (Rom. 16:23).
Gaius and Aristarchus, both Macedonians, were Paul’s travelling companions. They were seized by the people who rushed into theatre with one accord, when Ephesus was filled with confusion (Acts 19:29). Gaius was Paul’s host and the host of the whole Church. (Rom 16:23). Gaius also was with Paul at Corinth when he wrote to the Romans. Aristarchus sailed with Paul to Italy. (Acts 27:2) and was his fellow prisoner at Rome. (Col. 4:10).
PAUL’S MINISTRY ASSOCIATES
Paul also had some full-time ministry associates, who were strategically positioned in the 5-fold ministries. A few of these will be mentioned here, and we will mention more in the next session.
Epaphras was an intercessor who “always laboured fervently for (the Colosians) in prayers, that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”. (Col. 4:12). He was also Paul’s fellow prisoner at Rome. (Philem. 23). Nymphas of Laodicea had a church meeting in his house (Col. 4:15). Phoebe was a woman leader or pastor in Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1).
Paul also had two Thessalonian companions, Aristarchus and Secundus, Asian companions, Gaius of Derbe, Timothy, Tychicus and Trophimus (Acts 20:4), as well as Sopater of Berea, who accompanied Paul from Macedonia to Asia, a journey in which the Jews plotted against Paul. Sosipater (also called Sopater) was also with him as he wrote the letter to the Romans at Corinth. (Rom. 16:21).
We will conclude on these associates of Paul in the next session, and look at how we can make the best from our associates. These are rare nuggets for ministry breakthroughs.