Have you ever gotten a "Special Edition DVD"? These collections that have extra features like "alternate endings". During the sermon this week, it dawned upon me that this story in Acts about Paul can read like an "an alternate ending" to the story of Jonah.
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us. ”When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul.When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.
While Jonah runs in the opposite direction of his called city, Paul and his band take a "straight course".
Both cites, Nineveh and Philippi, are not Jewish hubs and have no "place of prayer". Both prophets bring a message to these cities and both wait outside their respected city.
While Jonah sits and complains, Peter sits and teaches. While Jonah is in a dry area, Paul is by a river. Both cities have a single convert who then begins to affect the city (the king of Nineveh and Lydia) in major ways. Paul is shown hospitality by Lydia and he stays with her and the story proceeds. Jonah still can be found outside the city walls of Nineveh wondering why God is so Graceful and Forgiving - even to the enemy.
The connections are too many to name in a little blog post, and it is not my intention to have a full exegetical conversation here, so I trust you can read both stories and make more connections on your own. (I ran across another writer who wonders why Paul never cites Jonah - which I think is a great question!)
The questions that I wonder about:Notice right away that both Jonah and Paul are told to go to a destination and while Jonah famously runs the other way, Paul takes a '
Is this story of Paul, possibly what the story of Jonah could have been?