“And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.”
Paul’s journey had brought him almost to Rome. He had been arrested in Jerusalem, and then for his own safety, moved to Caesarea. After appealing his case to Caesar, he was transported toward Rome and was finally nearing his destination. For a long time, Paul had desired to see this great city. As the entourage traveled down the celebrated Appian Way, they passed two stopping places, “Appii forum” and “The three taverns.” The first location may have been as far as fifty miles from Rome. As Paul journeyed toward Rome, he was met by loyal believers who had traveled “as far as Appii forum and The three taverns,” in order to meet the aged apostle. Our text tells us that when “Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.” Their presence on the road to Rome, their faithfulness to Christ, and their desire to greet the soldier of the cross rejuvenated Paul. Meeting these fellow believers on the road to Rome caused Paul to give thanks, and it encouraged the great missionary.
There are two things that we all can learn from this experience in the life of Paul. First, we see that all of us need encouragement from time to time. We know that God gives us grace to endure whatever His will involves. When times are difficult, we are to press on and endure, knowing that God will see us through. But even the strongest of Christians can find themselves in need of some positive reinforcement. You might think that your spouse, friend, or even your pastor never needs encouragement, but that is not true. The surprising presence of these Christians on the Appian Way gave the apostle Paul the spiritual boost he needed. When he saw them, “he thanked God, and took courage.”
The second thing we should consider is that all of us are needed as the encouragers of others. These believers who took the time and put forth the effort to be there when Paul was traveling through Appii forum were just what the apostle needed. In fact, it was not even their words that uplifted the man of God. It was simply their presence. They were in the right place at the right time to encourage God’s servant. When Paul saw them, “he thanked God, and took courage.” May God use us to encourage others.