Afoot to Assos -- By: Raymond L. Cox

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 04:2 (Spring 1975)
Article: Afoot to Assos
Author: Raymond L. Cox


Afoot to Assos

Raymond L. Cox

[Raymond L. Cox, a frequent contributor to BIBLE AND SPADE, is pastor of the Salem, Oregon Foursquare Church. He has traveled extensively in Bible lands and has written over 1650 articles on biblical and archaeological subjects. In addition, he is the author of four books.]

Why did Paul walk to Assos from Troas?

After the all-night meeting in the city in northwestern Asia Minor where years before the apostle had heeded the Macedonian Call (cf. Acts 20:7–12), Paul’s party proceeded to the port. Luke reports, “We went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot” (Acts 20:13).

But why? Was it a sudden impatient or impulsive gesture on the apostle’s part? Did a threatened delay of sailing irk his impassioned spirit? Perhaps when Luke and the others climbed the gangplank the crew advised that the ship would be held over in port for cargo loading or by threatening weather. Paul would not have risked missing the boat at its next port (Assos) if he had not been certain he could reach that city ahead of the vessel. He surely could not outstrip the ship on foot over those 20 miles, even though the highway then was probably considerably better than the same route is today.

I regret that I did not take the same road the apostle walked when I was last in Troas. Instead, I detoured back to Turkey’s main north-south highway (number E 24) paralleling the Aegean in order to escape the horrendous road continuing south to Assos. This so-called “stabilized” route’s southern continuation looked as bad as the gravely track I had traversed to get to Troas. To be sure, I reached Assos from Troas faster and more comfortably than if I had continued on the direct road, but I missed an opportunity to follow the apostle’s steps along a route which likely has not changed much, if any, since New Testament times.

The Scripture does not explain why Paul was minded to walk alone to Assos, leaving his associates Luke, Silas, and Timothy to sail between the two ports. I wonder if he wanted time by himself, free

from diversions, to meditate and commune with his Lord. Perhaps he desired illumination from God concerning some subject he would discuss in an ensuing epistle.

I can not picture Paul as champing at the bit over delay in a ship’s sailing schedule, as some explain his motivation for the long walk. On the other hand, the Lord may have directed him on the trek in order to encounter some way f...

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