“I left Trophimus sick at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20).
As some churches tiptoe back into corporate worship and ministries reboot in a post-corona mode, those who are immune-suppressed or elderly are being gently asked to stay home awhile longer. Some church people are free to return except if they care for children or for others whom they don’t wish to expose, and some may stay away from gatherings till a vaccine is found. A local pastor of 10,000 tells me that after a survey of the congregation, 51% of that church says that they will be attending in person as of June 28, and 49% will not.
There’s a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. For some, it’s still a time to refrain from embracing.
Paul strode forth on his last missionary journey with a goodbye embrace for a dear ministry partner; he reported to Timothy that “I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus” (2 Tim. 4:20).
We know that Trophimus, a Greek, was from Ephesus, which was very near Miletus. He must have been sick indeed not to be able to travel the short distance home to recover. Friends and family would have been able to hurry over to Miletus to care for him, so Paul was not abandoning him.
Trophimus had long been a trusted sidekick for Paul (Acts 20:4), and Paul wouldn’t leave him behind lightly. Once when Paul and Trophimus were seen in Jerusalem together, the Jews were enraged; they thought Paul had improperly brought the Gentile Trophimus into the temple, resulting in what Mark Twain would have called “a misunderstanding conducted with crowbars.” Paul landed in jail because of the uproar (Acts 21:27-30). So he could’ve been excused for not traveling with Trophimus anymore; yet he did…