After the dramatic events of 20.7-12 Paul lingers, it seems, whilst the rest of the group head off by boat (v.13). We then get a place-by-place itinerary of their trip; Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Miletus, Ephesus, and Jerusalem. Reading of a list of places like this (which can be found on any map of the time) adds a lot of authenticity to what we read. These aren’t fables and fairytales: this is the firsthand account of actual events.
We read that Paul decided to sail past Ephesus. Was this a slight on the church there? That wouldn’t fit with all that we know about Paul. He will, from v.17, call for the elders of the church, so we know that he still cared. Rather than a slight on this church, Paul had prioritised being at Jerusalem on the day of pentecost.
Oftentimes we are made to feel bad about prioritising by others.
‘Why did you say no to this…why aren’t you doing that…‘
Paul’s clear example here is that, sometimes, we need to say no to one thing to be present at another.
Yes, he loved the church at Ephesus, but this time had prioritised other things. Never feel bad for listening to the Lord and saying ‘not this time’ to appointments, people, and places if that is how you are being led (v.22).