In today’s text we come to a fascinating and unlikely encounter. (Unlikely if not for Jesus) In the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys he has encountered many wonderful believers. But in today’s text (Acts 21:1-14) we see the Apostle is invited to stay at the house of a man named Philip the evangelist. Philip is the only person in the book of Acts specifically called, “an evangelist”. He got that title from a long track record of sharing the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:40 tells us of Philip’s first recorded act of evangelism in bringing the Ethiopian eunuch to faith in Christ. After that, he preached through the coastal region and ended up in Caesarea where he settled down and raised a family. Philip raised four daughters who were graced with the spiritual gift of prophecy (21:9). But all this in itself is not what makes this story unlikely and fascinating. Twenty years earlier while Philip was in the convalescent ministry in Jerusalem there was a great persecution headed up by none other than Saul of Tarsus. Saul’s (now Paul) persecution of the church was so great that believers scattered to other regions to escape imprisonment, torture and even death. Now here we are twenty years later and so much has changed. Saul had a powerful conversion and is now serving Jesus, preaching the Gospel under the name Paul. Philip opens his home up to Paul and the two enjoy warm fellowship in the love of Christ. Only Jesus could make this sort of blessed difference in people’s lives. Yes, Jesus changes everything. Now, because of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ countless ungodly Gentiles have been born again, thousands of religious Jews now have a living relationship with their God and the entire region is populated with an unknown number of Christians. I trust that Jesus has also made many great and wonderful changes in your life as well. If you are born again, it’s likely that there are even people in your life that were once enemies but now are trusted friends. Think about it. In our little fellowship of believers there are folks that would likely never connect or befriend each other. You had nothing in common. You would have no reason to have fellowship. But now, in Christ so many different kinds of people are brought together as one big family of God. And all this is because of Jesus Christ.
“For Christ himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” Ephesians 2:14-16, NLT