Paul didn’t decide to leave Ephesus (v.1) because the “uproar” that Satan instigated (Acts 20:23-41) ran him out of town. He left because he knew his work in Asia was done (Acts 19:9,10). So he actually planned to leave for Macedonia before the uproar (v.21). He planned to go to “Achaia” because he’d heard that the church he established in the Achaian city of Corinth had fallen into sin. So he wrote them a letter and sent Timothy to deliver it (19:22 cf. ICor.4:17).
In that first Corinthian epistle, Paul really let them have it, and warned them of his plan to come and straighten them out further in person (ICor.16:5,8)—especially because he’d also heard some of the Corinthians were doubting his apostleship. So in that first epistle he warned them he was coming to chasten them with an apostolic rod (ICor.4:18-21).
But after all his big talk, he didn’t show up in Corinth. His detractors claimed that he was obviously a man who made promises lightly, and didn’t keep them (IICor.1:15-17). So Paul wrote them that second epistle, explaining he didn’t show up in Corinth to “spare” them (1:23-2:1). He didn’t want to have to use his rod on them, so he took some time to cool off in Macedonia before going to Corinth (Acts 20:2).
The Macedonian churches of Philippi and Thessalonica were among Paul’s favorites, but even they needed “much exhortation” from God’s Word (v.2)—and so do you! Be sure to be in church to get it, as often as you can.
During the time Paul was administering that exhortation, he was going through a rough time himself (IICor.2:12,13). When you find yourself going through tough times like he describes in those verses, be sure to do what he did and just keep serving the Lord in spite of it all. That’s the best cure for dealing with adversity. Then find God’s comfort in the fellowship of other believers, as Paul did (IICor.7:5,6).
Paul was also comforted by the news Titus brought him that said the Corinthians had repented (7:7). He was very comforted by this, for he’d repented of some of the things he said in that first Corinthian letter (7:8). Even Paul wasn’t always sure he’d done the right thing! I find that very comforting, how about you? We know Paul wrote II Corinthians from Macedonia due to the references he makes to Macedonia in it (IICor.7:5; 8:1; 9:2,4). He then visited the church in Corinth during his time in “Greece” (Acts 21:2).
It must not have taken Paul more than three months to write an epistle, for he wrote Romans during his three months in Greece (21:2,3). We know this because he mentions staying with Gaius, a Corinthian (Rom.16:23 cf. ICor.1:14). Of course, the writing of Romans got Satan’s attention, and he instigated a Jewish plot on Paul’s life (Acts 21:3). God was phasing out rescues like the earthquake in Acts 16, so Paul rescued himself. He heard the assassination was to take place near the ship he was taking to Syria, so he took a land route to Macedonia instead (Acts 21:3). We too must save ourselves from trouble by making adult son decisions like that!
Paul also gathered bodyguards (21:4), who also joined him to guard the money he collected from the churches in their respective cities (cf.Rom.15:26). After the Jews rejected the Spirit when they stoned a Spirit-filled man, He withdrew, and the ones He empowered to live as one, with no lack (Acts1:8;2:4;4:34,35), suddenly became “poor” (Rom.15: 26). The twelve asked Paul to help them (Gal.2:9,10), which Paul was “forward” to do by taking collections for those poor Jewish saints from the Gentile churches (Rom.15:25,26).
Paul sent Titus to pick up the Corinthian letter, but sent a man with him (IICor.8:16-19) to provide things honest in the sight of all men when it came to the Lord’s money (ICor.16: 1-3). Plus, the collecting of money can’t be kept secret, so Paul was “in perils of robbers” (IICor.11:26). So the more men involved in collecting and delivering money, the better.
A Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “The Travels of Paul” Acts 20:1-5