The Apostle Paul’s graduation speech

Paul spent 3 years in Ephesus, church planting, training and doing a lot of lecturing at the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus… Here’s how Luke records some of what happened on Paul’s third missionary journey around 52 A.D.

Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord. — Acts 19:8-10

Imagine the apostle Paul staying in Ephesus for 3 years, spending at least 2 of those years lecturing to crowds of people, some of them apparently eager to know Truth.  He really would have gotten to know people, developing some strong relations.  In fact, we know that’s true from a talk he gave to the church elders from Ephesus the last time he ever saw them.  (Acts 20:13-32).  He was very fond of the believers in Ephesian and surely was quite well-known to lots of people there, even those who disagreed with him about the message of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and sitting at the right hand of God.

Now you all know that this is the season for graduation speeches throughout the country.  This morning as I read from Acts 19, I began wondering what the apostle Paul, the two-year teacher at the lecture hall of Tyrannus, might say to this year’s class.  

Would he say, “Be true to yourself?”  “Watch your backside?”  “Never quit.”  “No one is holding you back but yourself?”  “In the end, trust yourself alone.

Well, some of that perhaps. 

But I started thinking his graduation speech might rather sound a lot more like this …

Romans 8:26a. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

1 Corinthians 1:27b. “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:10. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

1 Corinthians 2:3. “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.”

1 Corinthians 15:43. “[Our body] is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”

2 Corinthians 11:30. “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 13:4. “For [Jesus] was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.”

         Would today’s graduates have any patience for a speech like that?

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